Giving Job Search Help to Family or Friends


When you have friends, family, or other vets who are looking for a job, offer to help. Think of the things you do well and offer that type of assistance.

Easy Ways to Help

Offer your support in those areas where you are knowledgeable:

  • Do you write well? Offer to review resumes or cover letters.
  • Do you know how to market? Explain how one’s online presentation can be improved.
  • Are you good at research? Teach the person how to find target organizations.
  • Do you have experience interviewing and hiring people? Share ideas about how to connect with employers and succeed at job interviews.

All those and many other skills are very useful to anyone looking for a new position.

More Ways to Help

  • Remind the person of the strengths you noticed in working with her or him.
  • Talk about possible work options beyond what the person is already considering, based on your knowledge of the person and the potential jobs.
  • Select some of your contacts, as appropriate, as referrals for the person.
  • Offer information about an organization, when you have personal knowledge.
  • Pass on information about relevant jobs when you see or hear of them.
  • Provide information on professional groups to join, webinars or meetings to attend.
  • Contact the person periodically just to see how s/he is doing.

When you do agree to help someone, be specific about what you need from that person and what help you can offer. Ask the person exactly what they want from you. This reduces time-wasters and allows you to assist most easily.

If you agree to help, start with your own area of expertise! I ask for a resume first since that is what triggers ideas for me on what I can do to help. You may prefer to talk first, etc.

  • Choose what works for you, and do not be apologetic.
  • Never promise more than you can deliver.
  • Be clear up front about what the individual wants, and what you are willing to do.
  • Don’t be afraid to be constructively critical.

Keep on hand a few names and email addresses of people you know are willing to help other veterans. An agency or executive search contact is also a nice referral. Be selective – your own reputation also is influenced by these referrals.

Other good referrals are to appropriate professional organizations and meetings as well as to lesser-known websites.

Have openings in your organization? Anyone looking for a new position hopes a contact will say those magic words. First, evaluate the person’s fit into your organization as well as their skills. If you think there may be a match, go for it. Use your internal referral program or give the person the contact info and tell the contact of the person.

Why Bother?

Many folks help others just because they can, and it makes them feel good.

But you also can build your network this way – always useful.

You can learn new things this way, too, doing research and paying attention to what works and what doesn’t work.

Plus, you can build a reputation as someone with contacts and influence. It never hurts to know someone you can suggest when your boss or your organization or a good contact or friend suddenly has a new requirement to fill.

Helping Family Members or Close Friends

Helping someone close, whether relative or partner or friend, to job-hunt is really tough! Often you are torn between loving support and telling them exactly what they are doing wrong.

First, your real role is to provide support and comfort. Listen, and then listen some more. Let the person vent when needed, but don’t argue.

Don’t offer to help upfront. Do ask what, if anything, you can do to help as needs arise.

Provide support and reminders of previous accomplishments and current achievements. Looking for a new job is tough work. Help the person validate their self-worth before she or he gets too discouraged. Be realistic, but be positive.

With family, provide reality when critical. Sometimes a little shove is actually needed when the job hunt has bogged down and no progress is apparent. Do it kindly with an offer of help, but do it before you get mad – a tirade about every opportunity missed won’t help.

Bottom Line

Helping someone else find a new job can be a very positive experience for you as well as the jobseeker. You can usually be far more objective and creative about another person’s value to an employer, as well as their marketing materials, than you are about your own. It is a good time to discover your own strengths for helping others, to build your network, and to learn in the process.

Patra FrameAbout the author…

Patra Frame has extensive experience in human capital management and career issues in large and small corporations. She is an Air Force vet and charter member of The Women In Military Service for America Memorial.  Patra speaks and writes regularly on job search and career issues through her company Strategies for Human Resources (SHRInsight) and where she blogs advice for veterans and other job seekers. Watch Patra’s job search tips videos on YouTube, and follow her on Twitter @2Patra.
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