Being the Nightmare

Let me address here how you can become_______ 's worst nightmare and literally destroy his or her effective process of finding a job. These are a number of things that you shouldn't do.

Don't not get involved. This may sound strange, but I have seen a number of situations over the years where the spouse, parent, friend, or loved one simply didn't even acknowledge the fact that, in your case,_______ needs to change jobs. I've seen people who should have been helping, supporting, and coaching simply dismiss the whole challenge as, in your case,_______ 's problem. These people usually have a career of their own that they are focused on, and since they're not the one who's out of work, they simply ignore the fact that_______ needs help. This person's attitude is, "Well, anybody can find a job. . . . It's no big deal. What do you want me to do about it? I've got my own job, career, problems, etc. figure it out yourself. Don't ask me for help, I'm busy."

Usually, the people close to you who don't want to get involved aren't really as selfish and self-centered as this may appear. Most of the time, they are overwhelmed with what they are already trying to do and have absolutely no idea how they can help. Since they don't really know what to do to help, they shrug the whole thing off by ignoring the situation.

Don't get involved too much. You want to be involved to the point that you help, but again, you can't do this for somebody. You have to act as though you are not personally affected by what happens to_______ in the job-finding process. You know that you are too involved when you get mad or frustrated with_______ when he or she doesn't do it the way you would. You know that you're getting too involved when you get mad at_______ for not getting the interview or blowing the interview or not getting an offer, etc.

Don't criticize. "Why don't you do this? Why don't you do that? Why did you say that? Why didn't you say this?" is not the way to help anyone, especially in the emotional strain of trying to find a job. Communicate the idea that, "We're all in this together" and "Where you go, I go." The interviewing process is going to have fifty times more negative events than positive ones.

If you understand the job search process, you will realize that_______ is going to "miss" way more opportunities than he or she is going to get. If you really understand that all of us need to focus on the process, and not on the result, then you realize that there's no room for criticism.

The biggest difficulty with this concept is that_______ is going to receive what you perceive to be your most positive suggestions as criticisms. If the job-seeking process lasts for any length of time, don't be surprised if you have downright arguments about these positive suggestions. Please remember that you, _, and anyone else who is economically tied to _'s going to work, are frustrated and emotionally distressed over his or her needing to find a job. Even constructive criticism can be totally blown out of proportion. Just recognizing this makes it easier to deal with.

Don't think the rest of the world knows how wonderful_______ is.

This is the "halo effect." Anybody who would not hire_______ would have to be crazy. This is primarily because you know_. Part of your job as a supporter and coach will be to help_______ communicate what a wonderful employee he/she might be to prospective employers. But whatever you do, don't keep telling_______ how wonderful he or she is when he or she is having trouble getting an interview and not doing well on the interviews he or she gets. There is nothing more frustrating for any job hunter than to go out and get rejected by just about everybody and have you telling him how wonderful he is and how "crazy" everybody else is. Those "crazy" people are the ones that need to hire_. So, in the hiring category, your loving opinion of_______ doesn't matter. In fact, and we will talk about it, you need to see_______ through the eyes of a hiring manager. That's not going to be easy.

Don't commiserate. Don't "help"_______ bitch and moan that the job he or she has isn't good, or how badly he or she was treated in the job that he or she just left. Be empathetic but not sympathetic, then get on with the task at hand—no matter how difficult the task might be. Help_______ understand that there is nothing he/she can do about the past and the only way to deal with the circumstances of the present is to take action and change the conditions. In other words, "either shut up or do something about it!" Explain to _that you are more than happy to try to help, but dwelling on the past or the way things are presently doesn't help him or her take action to change. Understand_______ 's issues and concerns, but help him or her be as objective about it as possible and help him or her take steps to do something about it.

Don't act like you know everything about getting a job. This is especially the case if you are a spouse and you are gainfully employed. There is a tendency for people who are presently employed to take for granted the difficulty that another person, who is either presently employed and looking for a new job or unemployed and looking for a job, is going through. Flippant advice not only doesn't help, but it creates a tremendous amount of resentment. Admit that since you personally are not in the job market, you really don't know anything about what he or she is going through—or what's available—but you would be more than happy to help him or her in any way you can.

Don't work the process for_. Don't pick up the phone for _. Don't try to get interviews for_______ because you don't think he or she can get them. Don't take_______ to interviews. Don't wait for_______ in the lobby. Don't try to talk to a prospective employer about_______ after he/she has interviewed there, telling them what a wonderful employee_______ is. (Don't laugh at all of these things, because we have seen many supporters over the years try to help in these ways.) You can support and coach, but you can't do it for him or her.

Don't rub it in when things don't go well. Remember this is a "numbers" game. You may have to remind_______ this all the time. But you need to remember it, too. If you rub it in, you take away a person's dignity. There are going to be many times when_______ is not going to know why he or she didn't get an interview, how he or she didn't do well on the interview, or why he or she didn't get the job. Your questioning along these lines, even in a constructive manner, may be perceived in the wrong way. Again, you're going to get frustrated when things don't go well for_. Just try to make sure that your "frustration" leads to positive reinforcement. Remember, I did tell you that this was not going to be easy.

Don't become an enabler. This is that fine line again between being empathetic, which is good, and sympathetic, which may not be. On the one hand, you don't want be so sympathetic with_______ that every time he or she has an interview that doesn't go well or doesn't get a job, you comfort him or her so much so that you inadvertently reinforce his or her either staying out of work and looking for a job or keeping a job that_______ shouldn't.

Your "comfort strokes" could enable the job search process to go on longer than it should.

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