When I became unemployed (both times) I lost my close network of friends. My life had been built around a career with the same company and so many people that I worked with were my dear friends. In my case I was one of hundreds of people who’s position was either eliminated or replaced by the acquiring company. In addition I moved away from my home and where I live now is far out in the country. I feel isolated and disconnected from those who were my support system.
As I am reading the early responses to the Unemployment Survey it is evident that I am not alone in feeling alone. Additionally the anger, embarrassment and frustration of being unemployed wears you down. After awhile you start to doubt yourself…worry and fear grow. Now add to all of this the stress of job hunting. With each “thanks for your interest but the candidate pool was so rich that we selected a more qualified person” e-mails confidence erodes. Pull all of these emotions together and is it any wonder that anyone that is unemployed feels discouraged?
This is where you and I come in. We need to “be there” for our friends & family that are struggling with this new chapter in their lives. If you take the time to look closely you’ll realize that this is totally new to them (and us if you are also unemployed.) If they are older or relatively recent college graduates the challenges appear overwhelming. The experienced generation may have developed a lifestyle that they can no longer afford and have to compete with younger and less financially strapped candidates. Recent graduates have to compete with experienced workers and face the additional stress of continuing to live with their parents or support a young family. Each group has their own set of challenges. It’s important not to dismiss their concerns.
Being there doesn’t cost you a cent. It does however take your sincere desire to be a friend. Try these Simple Steps to build a bridge out of isolation:
- Check in regularly. Once a week or more often if you can call your friend. When you do have a idea what you want to talk about. The key here is not to ignore their situation but to focus their attention on something good that is going on that they can be part of. For example if you have a special occasion coming up ask them to help you with ideas. As the discussion progresses invite them to help you with some of the arrangements. Be appreciative of their time…don’t take it for granted just because they aren’t working that they are “free” labor. The idea is to engage them in a positive activity where their contribution is needed.
- If you live close invite the to join a social event where they have never been. For example if you have a book club that meets weekly or you are part of a neighborhood watch group invite them to join you. If there is a local park that is planning a community clean up or spring planting event ask them to come along. Besides drawing your friend out of the house it gives them the opportunity to meet new people.
- Ask for them to send you a copy of their resume. Look for opportunities to share it at work or with your network.
Become the “life line” for your friend that pulls them out of isolation….and into the promise of a better future. When you too are unemployed you build a strong network of support for everyone!