How To Support An Unemployed Friend

By Mike

joblessAt the beginning of the month, the most recent unemployment statistic was published. The USA reached double digits while Canada was close behind with 8.8% (as of June). The scariest aspect about these statistics is to think that once you stop receiving unemployment support payments; you don’t count as “unemployed” anymore. Therefore, the unemployment rate might be 10% in the States, but it is even higher in the “real world”. People stop receiving unemployment support but not necessarily because they have gotten a job.

Lucky you! You are still working this morning (you better not keep reading blogs all day during work though ;-) ). However, it might not be the case for all your friends. What can you do to support an unemployed friend?

#1 Be there

Losing your job is definitely not a happy moment in one’s life. We spend so much time working that when a job is lost, an important part of our life is lost at the same time. Our routine is disrupted; some of our friends are still at work and we miss the feeling of being useful to society. This is why it is so important to take the time to listen to your friend and let him talk about his pain, anxiety facing the future even anger. If it ever happens to a close friend, make sure to be supportive; to go out and have a drink with him to lend an ear. Your friend might have lost his job, but he certainly doesn’t want to lose the rest of his life.

#2 Pass the word around

So far in my career, I have had three different jobs. Each time, I got the job from “someone who knows someone”. Networking is always important in career planning but it becomes crucial when you are unemployed and looking for a new opportunity. As a friend, talk about him to every single person in your own network. You never know, maybe a friend of a friend (that you don’t even know!) is looking to hire someone.

#3 Be honest

He may be your best friend but you wouldn’t even hire him to wash windows? This is going to be hard but you are better off telling him the truth. If you don’t think that he is in the right field or that he has an attitude problem at work, you should tell him tactfully. Being unemployed is not always a positive experience. It can be a great opportunity to ask yourself if you want to continue with what you were doing. Perhaps take the time to improve your transferable skills in a specific field. If your friend gets a real picture of the image he is projecting, it will definitely help him in his job search. Since he just lost his job, the point is not to hammer him with all the negative points. Make sure to tell him what you appreciate about him as a colleague and point out his strengths. You don’t want your friend to stay unemployed and risk being depressed the rest of his life ;-)

#4 Lend money?

Aaaahh”¦. I’m not sure I like the idea of lending money to friends actually. I have done it a few times but only to one person and it wasn’t in a context of unemployment. I think your buddy need friendship more than money. And you will definitely help him more by finding him a new job or helping him getting on the right track for his next employer than supplying money. Once someone said: “Give a Man a fish, Feed him for a day. Teach a Man to fish; feed him for a lifetime“. While money will only offer tempororary support (unless you are really rich!), it may become a source of dispute if your friend remains unemployed. Usually, friends and money don’t make good partners.

#5 You don’t have to follow him

You have to be empathic to your friend’s situation but it doesn’t mean that you have to join him during his “black days”. Helping an unemployed friend is one thing, and you must know your limits. You don’t have to feel guilty either. This is called the “survivor syndrome”. If many people in our personal circle lose their jobs in the same field as ours, we may tend to feel guilty. However, it should not become a personal matter and you are not the one (hopefully!) who decided to lay off your friend!

Do you have any other thoughts about helping an unemployed friend? Did it happen to you? What did you tell your friend?

image source : khalilshah

11 Responses (including trackbacks) to “How To Support An Unemployed Friend”

  1. Craig @ MoneyHelpForChristians Says:

    Also don’t forget to encourage and perhaps even motivate. If someone is unemployed because of a job loss they are probably lacking confidence and self esteem. When you are with them suggest jobs you know they will do well and continue to encourage them to get out and find new work. At a time like this a person might just need someone who will believe in them and their abilities.

  2. Dramon Says:

    I would also recommend to review their resume if you are capable. It is hard to do a good resume and feedback is the way to improve it.

    Good post. I agree it is hard and for the first time, I have a number of co-worker/associates that are out there looking.

    In some cases, it is wrong place at wrong time.

  3. Craig Says:

    Need to just be there like you mention. Support is all anyone can really give to a friend in a situation like that. Help out a little if you could with maybe some food or place to crash but that is very temporary.

  4. Stephanie Says:

    “#2 Pass the word around” I would be a little careful with this one, some people are sensitive about being unemployed, make sure that the friend is okay with this before you spread the word!

  5. Shawna Says:

    As someone who is currently unemployed, I think this post is spot on. I lost my job back in May, but the worst part is that a year ago, I moved away from all of my family and friends. The best thing that a friend did to help me was to send me a funny greeting card. It wasn’t a huge gesture, but it made me feel better in that moment. I keep it on my kitchen counter, and whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself, I read that card and know that it’s not all bad.

    Other friends have helped in other ways (sending job leads, sending me expensive coffee beans, etc.), but so far, that card has been of the most help to me.

    As for the lending of money, it is my personal philosophy that money can be given as a gift to friends, but lending is off limits. A gift of money is unsolicited, and needs no repayment…lending of money can result in conflict if it’s not paid off, or worse, if it’s not used in a way that the lender seems fit.

  6. Tyler@Frugally Green Says:

    My roommate was laid off about 7 months ago. After searching for more work that fit his experience and education level for a few months with no luck, he finally took a job doing physical labor for very low pay.

    He’s always been a pretty optimistic guy, but ever since he took that job he’s become very pessimistic and, unfortunately, WHINEY! He’s a pretty smart guy who, from time to time, comes up with business ideas that he finds interesting. I’ve been trying to support and encourage him to start one of these as a side gig for awhile, but I’m afraid he just doesn’t have the motivation to do it, even though he seems completely miserable (and his misery is making me and my other roommate miserable as well!).

    Any ideas on how to encourage someone to take a leap of faith? He’s got a couple ideas that I know he could do very part time with very little up-front cost, but he just seems to broken to get started.

  7. Mike Says:

    Hello Tyler,

    I would suggest 2 things:

    – Try to change his mind (I like the Shawna’s example with her card).

    – Have this discussion with him. He might not realize how he affects people around him.

    Good luck!


  8. OneDay Says:

    I agree with you Mike. That’s not an easy situation. Losing your job is an obstacle, a setback. I would start listening to my friend. He needs someone to listen. He might want to talk about his situation and I could perceive how he really feels. If I listen and understand well, I am better able to help him and to encourage him.

  9. Charlie Bergen Says:

    Very good…it is a responsibility to help those around us. These times make it even more important. As far as #4 goes…whenever you are loaning money to family or friends make sure that you can spare it and assume it as a gift. That way it takes out the tension and if they ever do pay you back it is just a bonus.