I know the look. It’s the crestfallen facial expression. The drooping shoulders. There’s an aura of defeat around them. A tinge of anger, bitterness, and frustration in every glance, in every word.
I’m talking about the job seeker. The one who, despite their best efforts, finds the new, exciting professional opportunity elusive. You know they’re exceptionally talented, even gifted. They have valuable industry experience. They’re not resting on their laurels, either. They’re working hard, doing all they can to chase the next promising position. They know you have a lot to offer but no one seems to notice. Interviews are hard to come by. After a while, solid leads for jobs suited to their skills and interests become scarce—or so it seems to them.
I feel their pain. I know their pain. I’ve been there. More than once in my search for a full-time job. It’s a horrible place to be in. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
Know someone in these circumstances? Here’s what you can do.
Offer your unqualified emotional support. Sometimes a shoulder to (literally) cry on makes all the difference.
Even better, provide leads to specific job opportunities at organizations where you know someone. Offer to introduce the job seeker to your contact. However you can provide access to something real, i.e. an actual job opening, the more you make a difference. Granted, it may not result in a job offer. The engagement itself nonetheless helps immensely to buoy the spirit. It highlights the real opportunities that do exist for even the most beaten-down job seeker.
Please don’t offer advice. Yes, I know, you think you’re being helpful. But offering the job seeker guidance about what they should be doing, whom they ought to reach out to, etc. only makes it worse. They already feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. They may be carrying around a boatload of shame, which your suggestions only add to. Besides, they already believe they’re doing everything they can while at the same time feeling they’re not doing enough. Don’t add to their woes by offering your opinions on the ideal job search process.