With the difficulties of the pandemic, the shortage of affordable housing, and other economic woes, it is likely that we all know friends and family going through a job transition. It may be difficult to admit, but at some point we run out of helpful advice. We may even start to avoid these wonderful people who need our assistance because we feel embarrassed that we don’t know what to do or how to help.
I suggest that we all consider four areas where we can make a meaningful impact. What may surprise you is how basic these ideas really are and yet I rarely observe them being utilized effectively. For your consideration:
1. Be Active Listeners
Too often we may have a tendency to launch into offering solutions before we have a full understanding of the issues. Sometimes those who seek our help just need to vent or be heard.
2. Be Candid
I have had countless job seekers tell me how much they appreciate me sharing honest and tough feedback with them. It is in our nature to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, but we are doing more damage than we can imagine by not sharing the truth.
3. Be Encouraging
Encouragement is not the opposite of candor! I meant every word I wrote in the second point about sharing the difficult truth. But we also need to be encouraging to those in career transition. This is a very tough phase of life for anyone. Just consider for a moment how we would feel if the roles were reversed.
4. Act Immediately
Based on my experience and feedback from others, we often have a conversation with a job seeker and think of multiple referrals we can make to useful contacts in our network. But maybe we get back to our other priorities and forget to follow up. Remember that all job seekers are racing the clock and the financial and emotional pressures are mounting daily for them.
Some Practical Steps
Here is a helpful checklist to make your interactions with job seekers more impactful:
- Ask the job seeker to invite you to join their LinkedIn network and get back to you if they see useful contacts.
- Challenge the job seeker to develop a target list of specific companies they are interested in, and ask them to email you this information.
- Pull out your phone in the meeting and share phone numbers and email addresses of helpful contacts with the job seeker. Why wait? Have them reach out directly, copy you on any emails and you have just saved a huge follow-up step!
- Ask the job seeker to follow up with you on any action items in your discussion, as well as to keep you updated on the progress of their search.
- Ask the job seeker to send you a short email recapping the meeting with their resume attached. Let them know that you will be forwarding that email on to people in your network with a recommendation for a meeting. For example:
Thank you for meeting with me today. I really enjoyed our conversation and appreciate your willingness to help me grow my network. As we discussed, I am looking for a senior sales leadership role in a growing technology company. I have a long track record of success in my past roles and will bring leadership experience, a great reputation and a wealth of contacts to a new position. Again, I am grateful for your assistance and I look forward to speaking with you again soon.
Have you noticed that in most of the examples I gave, the job seeker is given a specific follow-up item? This is important because you are asking this individual to help you… help them (sorry for my Jerry Maguire moment!). This approach is more efficient and contains more accountability. Ultimately, it gets the job seeker what they need most from us - warm contacts.
Let’s commit to pray for and engage without delay our brothers and sisters in Christ who need and deserve our best efforts. This is a wonderful focus for all of us this Lenten season. As we go forward, please remember the Golden Rule and reflect on this powerful quote (attributed to many): « There, but for the grace of God, go I.”