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Help a Friend Get Hired

December 1, 2008 5:46 PM

Most of us don't have the ability to hire a friend, but we all have the ability to help someone who's looking for a job. At our recent GMA Job Fair in Chicago , one of the attendees gave me a tight hug and handed a little doll to me. It's a mini Spartacus with a tag that says "Spartacus reminds you that one person can make a big difference." This holiday season, we all have the ability to be that one person—and it won't cost you a penny!

1) Express interest and just listen
Call someone who you know is struggling to find a job. Ask about how it's going and be prepared to just listen. There's a short quote that I really love from Maya Angelou's new book, Letter to My Daughter. In it she writes, "I learned that I could be a giver by simply bringing a smile to another person. The ensuing years have taught me that a kind word, a vote of support is a charitable gift." You don't need all of the answers-or even any answers—but you can do so much by just asking—just showing you cared enough to have listened.

2) Be candid in sharing your own challenges
When I talk to people about my experience of being fired from a job I loved and the ugly period of unemployment that followed, there's an instant kinship. And it's not about having a big ol pity party to rail against the injustices of the world, but it's a way to let someone know she or he isn't alone. This has been a challenging year for millions of Americans and it helps to hear from someone who has overcome the dark days and is now in a better place. Sharing the obstacles you've overcome can boost another person's spirits by letting them know they're not alone and that the light is coming.

3) Make an introduction
Now it's time to pick up the phone. Make an introduction—or better yet, make 3 introductions if you can. The introduction doesn't always have to be directly to someone who's in a position to hire. Maybe it's someone who works in the industry that your friend is aiming for and this introduction could provide insights on the company or industry. Or perhaps it's an introduction to a close contact who will help with a further introduction.

4) Contribute advice to message boards
Sometimes the Women For Hire blog gets a bit heated with some very lively give and take—and it's like watch out! Other times-—and these are my favorite moments-—there's a genuine back and forth with visitors helping one another, sharing resources and offering support. I love that. I also see it daily on sites like LinkedIn.com where there are thousands of groups you can join and participate in the dialogue. We have a Women For Hire group on LinkedIn, with more than 6,000 members who ask for and offer advice to one another every day. There's a strong camaraderie among total strangers—all of whom are hoping to learn and benefit from one another. It's all free—so if you've ever wanted to mentor someone but you don't know where to start or how to get involved, this is a simple step. No long-term commitment, no strings attached.

Share your best wisdom and advice here for how everyone can help out this holiday season.

Comments (9)

Such a usefule blog…wow !!!!

I liked #1, about just listening. That means, also not giving advice unless asked and not trying to trivialize or make them feel better, because it makes them feel like you're trivializing. Also, #2 sometimes makes people who are in a horrible position feel like you are trivializing it. It's better sometimes just to listen and let them know you've been there but don't make it sound like you're giving advice or saying it's been done - by you. I liked when people paid for my cup of coffee and said - hey I've been there and this is what you do when you've been there. It makes you feel like you're not alone even among those who have jobs.

Thank you for the comments. My advice to anyone that is unemployed is to accept employment from the first source that may be reasonably available. I say that because early on in my quest for employment, I did not accept opportunities in areas that I was not initially attracted to. But now, I wish that I had taken some of those opportunities more seriously. The fact is, a job that is paying for your health benefits and meeting some of your needs in better than no job at all. I have still not found viable employment, but I have a home venture and I have been a consultant with a clothing company since 2004 but I am still looking for fulltime employment. I wish to encourage all that are unemployed and ask that you use this time to clean out closets and reorganize your life. Have a plan and work your plan. Before you know it, you will be back at work! May God Bless each of you! Hang in there! I am not sure about this, but since we are helping each other, we may need to do just that by contributing to someone that is more needy than we are. God Bless!!

Don't forget about employment firms like Pro Staff, Kelly Services, Robert Half, etc. I usually get my great positions this way.

Dear all,
I am still searching for work, I live in the state with highest unemployment rate.
Please send me a helper.
I would really apreciate real help from someone who can hire me.

washington DC

Currently I'm unemployed I graduated from Anthem College Online in August of this year with an Associate Degree in Medical Billing & Coding. I have'nt been able to find employment. Could someone please give me advice.


One key way we can assist a friend is to offer to review their resume! Furthermore, if you have a contact who is say, an Human Resources manager, ask them to review the friend's resume. I believe the average manager reviews a resume one minute or less -- certain errors can be fatal. Many people spend so much time reviewing their resume until often a simple typo or ommission is not noticed! A friend of mine had an incorrect telephone number, still another had her name truncated during reformatting! Granted, the average person lacks the expertise to critique a resume but a fresh pair of eyes check the basics can be a lifesaver.

Take time to say hello and really notice someone as a person. We're so busy in our lives that we walk by each other these days, but not as living objects and thus we creating a very lonely world. I attended a coffee networking session last year and I don't remember the speaker but she told us about a greeting that was used in an african country and it goes something like this: greeting is (so-u-bono) I SEE YOU ; the reply is (sik-hona) I AM HERE. Five minutes of your undivided attention may be the simplest gift.

I heard Tori tell her story on GMA and it reminded me of so many of my friends and associates who for many different reasons are all looking for jobs in this tough economy. I left my job last summer and have found that I now have time to make new friends and volunteer in different activities and organizations - something my job never allowed time for as I was constantly traveling. Meeting new people and making new friends is a huge positive in the often frustrating job hunt in this difficult economy. They offer ideas and provide opportunities for shared laughter and plans - a new and energizing perspective all of which make holidays easier and more fun at a challenging time. Looking for a job daily can be lonely and intimidating, but taking time to get out and do - volunteering - sharing your expertise and energy - and being with people I have found to be a wonderful way to recharge and stay positive.

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