Developing Your Career

Bring Good Tidings and Cheer This Holiday Season

By Greg Simpson on December 17, 2012

It’s the season of giving and as we rush about town looking for the perfect gift for everyone on our list, we may forget that for some it may not be as merry or bright.  For your unemployed or underemployed friend or family member, the holiday season can add a lot of stress.

When someone loses a job, the initial outpouring of empathy, support and goodwill from former colleagues, friends and family members bolsters the job seeker through the difficult first weeks of his or her search. However, if the weeks grow into months, the support often wanes. Friends may no longer know how to help and as the search stretches on this is precisely the time for more support.

What can you do to help someone close to you who is in a job search? How can you make their holiday season a little bit brighter?

  1. Lend a listening ear. Invite the person and his or her spouse out for a holiday lunch where you can catch up with his or her search activities. Offer suggestions as to companies to target and provide possible contacts.
  2. Provide a fresh set of eyes. Volunteer to take a look at the job seeker’s resume and cover letters and offer suggestions. Even if you’ve done this before, it’s a good time to circle back and find out how you can help.
  3. Share your expertise. Offer to conduct a practice interview. Find questions on line and go through a mock interview, critiquing and/or coaching the job seeker’s responses and nonverbal communication.
  4. Spread good cheer. If you know your friend is struggling financially, provide a holiday meal through a gift certificate or by inviting them to your house for dinner. Or consider a delivery of something practical for the entire family – a holiday basket with fruit, popcorn, or cookies.
  5. Offer a connection. Set up a networking lunch including your unemployed friend, a key networking partner and yourself. Your presence as a liaison will help oil the wheels of conversation and will be greatly appreciated by the job seeker.
  6. Encourage socialization. Many job seekers avoid holiday parties because the first question many people ask is, “What do you do?” Volunteer to go to the gathering with your friend and work the room with him or her.
  7. Ask what they need. Sometimes the direct approach is best. Tell your friend that you know it’s been rough and tactfully ask what you can do to ease their burden a bit over the holidays.

As you’re celebrating, remember there are millions of unemployed and underemployed workers who may be having a hard time financially and emotionally. Chances are, you know one of them. Through your small, unexpected act of generosity you’ll be demonstrating the true spirit of the season.

Leave a Reply