March 26, 2009
What have you done for your laid-off friends lately?
Much has been written about the survivor's guilt that can plague those who have not been laid off. But rather than avoiding certain subjects (your trying day at the office, the tropical vacation you're planning) while chatting with friends and colleagues who recently got the employment axe, a New York Times article from last Friday discussed going the extra mile to give downsized friends a hand.
Besides the always-delicate suggestion of lending friends money, the New York Times suggested several ways to help an unemployed pal, including:
1. Showing them how to set up a Web site or a LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter account.
2. If you're a business owner, letting them use a spare desk in your office, along with the free wireless service, printer, and copy machine.
3. Inviting them to industry and community gatherings so they can broaden their network.
4. Making them a nice home-cooked meal at your place.
5. Watching their kids for a couple hours so they can take a night off from worrying about money and spend some quality downtime with friends or their S.O.
While my cooking and babysitting skills leave something to be desired and my bank account isn't much to write home about, I do have job hunting skills to share (as a freelancer, my hunt for work never stops). As a result, I've been encouraging my unemployed friends to get on Twitter and explaining how they can promote their skills there, passing along job leads that come my way, reviewing and making suggestions on their resumes, and helping those friends striking out on their own a freelancers negotiate better terms in their client contracts.
We all have unique strengths and assets that we can offer our unemployed friends right now. Not only does lending a hand help ease some of the sting they may feel about having been pink-slipped, it helps alleviate a bit of the guilt and awkwardness you feel about having an income when a friend doesn't. So much more satisfying for all than replaying that old "This economy blows!" saw week after week.
Readers, what do you think? Do you have any success stories about helping laid-off friends to share -- or about receiving help from friends yourself? Any warnings (besides those involving friends and family who didn't repay the money you loaned them)? Do tell.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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