Supporters: Great Assets or Your Worst Nightmare

I have not come across anybody writing or giving advice about changing jobs that has specifically addressed the people who need to support you I when you're looking for a new job. These people can be your finest supporters or your worst nightmare. They can be a tremendous asset in your looking for a job and performing well on an interview, or they can be one of the greatest hindrances you will encounter. I've experienced many well-meaning supporters in the form of spouses, parents, ex-spouses, relatives, friends, and acquaintances who can totally destroy an otherwise perfectly good job search process.

It is very important that you get as many of the supporters that you might have to read at least this chapter of this book. Certainly, you are going to read it; but it is especially important for those closest to you, who are going to help you in your job search, to be ready for the same roller-coaster ride that you are going to experience. What's so treacherous about the involvement of the supporters is that they can screw up the process more than they can help, and they do it most of the time in the most well-meaning fashion.

If the supporters become very aware of their positive role in your job search, they will help you not only get interviews, but perform well on those interviews. One or two of your supporters should be helping you every day to prepare for interviews. They should be helping you practice your interviewing skills and answers to the questions in this book daily.

I would like to address your closest supporters; please have them read this.

An Open Letter to Supporters

Dear (spouse, son, daughter, relative, or close friend):

As you know, your (spouse, son, daughter, relative or close friend)__is looking for a new job. I have been in the placement and recruitment business since 1973 and have been asked to pass along to you all of the things that I've learned that will be most beneficial in helping you to help him/her and support him/her in the job change.

One of the most important things that you can do to help_______ find a new job is to be aware of the fact that YOU can either be_______ 's most important supporter or you can be the worst nightmare. You can make an already difficult and emotionally charged process a lot easier or you can complicate it and make it ten times more difficult than it has to be. The choice is yours. Since you love_, you're probably going to want to help him or her as much as you possibly can. That's good. Your intentions to help have to be positive. But in my years of finding people jobs, I have seen a tremendous number of well-intentioned people make the matter of finding a job more difficult than it needs to be. I have known candidates that literally got divorces because the supposedly supporting spouse really didn't know how to help his or her mate in finding a job. Now, the job hunting process was probably not the cause of the divorce, and it probably culminated an already rocky relationship, but nonetheless, well-intentioned, sincere efforts can still screw up a job-finding process if the support is wrong. Hitler was sincere, but he was still wrong.

So, for the next few minutes, I'm going to talk to you about how you can best help_______ in his or her job search. Trust me; you can make all the positive difference in the world. Finding a job could and should be a team effort. It is a compliment to you that_______ wants you to help him or her in this endeavor, and I'm going to teach you how to be a very good coach. If you do it right and truly help, you will have a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction and share in his/her own personal gratification.

I want to start out by telling you that I really understand how difficult your job as a supporter and coach is going to be. Now, it may not have dawned on you yet that your role here might wind up being difficult. But here is what happens from a practical point of view. On the one hand, you're going to want to help_______ do his or her best in finding interviews, preparing for interviews, and eventually accepting a new job. On the surface, that looks really easy. But the difficulty is that you can't be the person actually getting the interviews, performing well on the interviews, and accepting the job. You're going to get emotionally wrapped up in all of this process, you're going to experience all of the ups and downs that_______ experiences, and yet you're not going to be able to do it for him/her. You are going to have a tremendous amount of input in the process, but you're also going to have to know when to draw the line and realize that_______ has to carry his or her own "ball" without you. There will be times when you will not only be frustrated for_, but you will also be frustrated with_______ because he/she didn't do what you thought should be done. So, you're going to take on the difficult position of being in the game but only in being able to affect it from a removed position. Being a coach on the sidelines can be very frustrating, especially when your life is affected so drastically by what goes on.

On the one hand, you're going to want to be close enough to the "action" to be able to help_. You are going to want to help him or her do research, prepare for interviews, role play, help him/her express thoughts, help overcome fears, and just be there for him/her. On the other hand, you can't be so close that you lose your objectivity and get frustrated with him/her when he/she gets frustrated with the situation. Or that you feel personally rejected when he/she gets personally rejected, and, because you love him/her, you get frustrated when he/she makes mistakes. Your role is very tricky. And on top of that, you haven't done this very often, and you don't really know the right things to do. I can help.

If there is one thing you need to be aware of before you begin to support and coach_, it's that looking to change jobs is one of the most emotionally difficult things person can do. If_______ has been out of work for any length of time, the emotional strain is even greater. You, as a coach and supporter, can help alleviate the emotional strain—if you help in the right way.

Remember, the four biggest challenges facing you in this endeavor are:

1. You love this person and don't see him/her the way the rest of the world does.

2. You love this person and see him/her the way you want to.

3. You don't have any idea what the market will bear for him/her and him/her skills.

4. You can't find a job for him/her... you can help . . . but you can't do it for him/her.

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