Liz Ryan: How to support a job seeker
"My wife is job-hunting, and it's stressful," said the guy on the phone. "I want to be supportive, but she could be doing more. I need to nudge her to send more resumes out. Her job search is not her highest priority. Everything I read says a job seeker has to work on a job search full-time."
"I understand," I said. "A job search is fueled by mojo. Sending out more resumes won't help unless your wife's energy is up. You can help her build her mojo. Was her departure from the last job a rough one?"
"It was brutal," said the guy. "She worked there six years, and a new owner came in. He flew out from Philadelphia to meet the team. He praised my wife to high heavens. He flew back to Philadelphia and called six days later to say, 'Hit the bricks.' He told her to get her stuff and leave. He didn't let her finish the day."
"Ouch," I said. "That's a blow. When was that?"
"Back in February," said my caller.
"It takes time to recover from a trauma like that," I said. "I'm glad you're not pressing your wife to job-search harder. Her mojo is the only thing fueling her job hunt. Without that, she's got nothing to power her search."
"Well, hmm," said the guy. "She can still send out resumes."
"I gotta push back on that," I said. "Sending resumes into the void is exactly as effective as driving down the highway with resumes on your lap and letting them fly out the window. A resume might end up on the desk of a hiring manager. One of the resumes your wife lobs into a Black Hole could end up on a hiring manager's desk, too, but the sun may burn out while we wait for that to happen."
"What's the alternative?" asked the guy.
I said, "My 10 million articles on that topic are on my website, for free. Your wife can put a human voice into her resume and write pain letters to hiring managers. She can write to them directly, leaving the Black Hole alone."
"How can I support her?" he asked.
I said, "Tell her she's amazing. Remind her how tremendous she was on her job, and that it takes more than a Philadelphia toad-man to defeat her. Tell her she didn't deserve that, and that you're proud of her for bouncing back. Remind her of when she had her mojo around her, and that she'll be back in that state soon. Tell her she's beautiful and brilliant and sexy and powerful, and you're lucky to be married to her."
"Sounds soft and squishy," said the man.
"The soft and squishy stuff is the whole deal," I said. "When your wife rebuilds her mojo, she'll get a great job. You don't want her to take some stupid job just to be working, do you?"