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Career Corner: How to Help Your Loved Ones

Sometimes people don’t need to hear your unsolicited, and perhaps erroneous, advice. – Courtesy photo

By Angela Copeland

Job seeking is a daunting task. This is especially true if you’re unemployed, and you need to find something quick. It’s painful, long, and challenging. It can be demoralizing. Every day can feel like a struggle.

If you have a loved one going through this job search process, you might want to help. It’s the natural thing to do. You want to help make the pain stop. You want to step in.

The first place most people begin is with advice. As an outside observer, this seems to make sense. You can offer advice on anything from resume to interview skills to search strategy. You can critique the job seeker to help them in their search. There must be something they can do better and you know the answers.

But, this is where you might want to think twice. Do you work in the same field as your loved one? Are you located in the same city as your loved one? Has your last job search been recently? Have you looked for a job since online searching became the norm? If your answers to these questions is no, you might want to hold off on giving any advice. It’s possible that your situation may be a bit different than your loved one’s situation.

Very often, job searching can take months. This is normal. It’s not necessarily a sign that something has gone wrong. And, the higher the salary job, the longer the process takes. It’s estimated that for every $10,000 per year you make, it takes a month to find a job. So, for a $50,000 per year job, it could take five months.

When you reach out to help, the best place to start is by asking, “How are you?” If your loved one is comfortable, they will share more information. If they need advice, they will ask. Try not to start off with the question, “Did you find a job, yet?”

Very often, your loved one needs a sympathetic ear and someone who will encourage them rather than critique their approach. Job seeking can be a lonely process, especially if the person isn’t currently working. Listening is one of the most helpful things you can do.

Providing unsolicited advice can be like pouring gasoline on a fire. It’s not always helpful. In fact, it may communicate the message that you don’t believe they’re working hard, or that they know what they’re doing. It can discourage them and keep them from moving forward.

Job searching can be hard to watch. It’s like dating. It’s a messy, long process. You never know when it will end. You never know when the right match will pop up. But, just like dating, the best thing you can offer your loved one is support. Be accepting. Try to keep your judgments to a minimum. This, above all, will help your loved one to find a job faster.

Angela Copeland, a career influencer and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at

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