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Resolve to Help the Unemployed - 10 Suggestions

After nearly a full year of unemployment I can honestly say that I have been comforted and helped in many ways by the support and generosity of my friends. I am one of the lucky ones who has been able to make the most of it, but it has still been a frustrating, frightening and humbling experience; never have I felt more vulnerable.

If you know someone who is unemployed, and almost everyone does these days, you want to help, but may have no idea what to do. The most important thing to remember is rather than asking "What can I do to help?" -- just do it.

1. Stay in touch, especially if you are a former colleague. Call, write, or drop by. Do something out of the ordinary such as offering to bring lunch or dinner. If they live alone, share the meal with them. Isolation can be devastating and your presence will help.

2. Don't ask if you don't want to know. Most people ask "how are you?" and don't really want to know. Letting out the real truth is invigorating and the unemployed need reinvigoration. Encourage them to dump on you if you can take it; if you can't, don't ask.

3. Include your unemployed friends in opportunities to network. Painfully obvious when you become unemployed is that your identity in Washington, D.C. is about who you work for and what you can do. Invitations stop because you no longer have the work identity; you lose your connections quickly. Include your friends in events with networking opportunities or simply to stay current in their field.

4. Share relevant information. Send helpful articles about employment trends, movements in the industry, or actual jobs. Tell them about your work and ask for their guidance. Give them the latest gossip When you are unemployed you miss the rush of being able to give advice and help others.

5. Invite them to meet for lunch during the work week. You do not need to buy, but do suggest a place that is inexpensive. While well-intentioned on your part, it is awkward to be on the receiving end of a free lunch if it not your usual arrangement.

6. Help them network by asking some of your contacts to meet with them for an informational interview. Forward their resume and give them contact information to make the follow-up calls. Building a network is the foundation for job-hunting success; each person they meet with should provide additional contacts. Follow up to make sure they have a clear plan of action for follow ups.

7. Offer to critique their resume and sample cover letter. This is invaluable help. Nobody can be objective about their own writing; you may identify obvious errors, lack of clarity, or inconsistencies that could cost them an interview.

8. Help them practice their elevator speech. In particular, those making career changes need practice selling their qualifications and their career objectives to others. Offer to listen and critique or get others involved and provide group support.

9. Put on a little bit of pressure. We unemployed are insecure and defensive. Unemployment breeds lack of confidence and your encouragement and gentle push can move them through the fear that poisons the ability to act. Be firm but kind when they need to do something differently or more diligently.

10. Ask them to use you for accountability. It may help for them to report to someone daily or weekly about the number of contacts they make or resumes they send. It helps to have someone to crow to and receive high-fives from. You could spur someone to action when they are feeling depressed and deflated.

Please make it one of your resolutions to reach out to someone who needs employment.

Katherine Dudley Hoehn is an active blogger and traveler who never goes anywhere without her camera. Her blog is and she writes from Falls Church, VA.


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