If someone close to you is currently hunting for a new job, there's a decent chance you're concerned about them. This is especially true if they are currently unemployed. If they're upset with their situation, you probably feel upset, too. You may secretly wonder what they're doing wrong and what you can do to help.
Figuring out how to proceed can be tough. One thing to keep in mind is that although the job market is improving, it's still not easy to land a job. Jobs are more specialized these days. Many roles are done by fewer people than in the past, and different markets and cities are improving at different rates. As you would expect, not every job seeker is having the same rosy experience.
Online recruiting and hiring processes also present huge challenges. It's hard to overstate this issue. Companies use their websites to collect resumes, but these applications aren't always seen by human eyes.
Because the online process seems simple, job seekers often grow discouraged when they don't hear back. They take it personally. This negative experience is only compounded when family and friends begin to question the job seeker regularly about their success – or lack thereof.
One of the best things you can do for the job seeker in your life is provide a listening ear. Job searching, especially when you're unemployed, can be an isolating experience. Job seekers rarely talk about their searches – especially the difficulties. Because of this, a job seeker often assumes they're the only one struggling.
A second helpful thing you can do is offer assistance. Offer to review the job seeker's resume. Offer to introduce the person to contacts you have. If you do offer assistance, be prepared to follow through on your promises. During a time of change, the person needs to know they can count on you.
Last, try to be understanding and supportive. If you haven't looked for a job in some time, realize that the job market is constantly changing. Finding a new job takes time, even for the most seasoned and successful professional.
It's also important to note that finding a job in one field (for example, technology) can be much easier than finding a job in another (for example, communications). Some fields are flooded with applicants, while others have very little competition. Certain jobs require certifications or specific degrees, while others are open to broader bases of candidates.
The bottom line is this: Don't assume the job seeker isn't trying or that they have chosen the wrong career path. If they are having a tough time emotionally, realize that it's just part of the process. They will find something new in time. Until then, try to be as patient and supportive as you can. It will help them in the long run.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.