Lending a Hand to Uplift: Helping Your Friend Get the Job
Paying it Forward
In today’s competitive corporate culture, “looking out for number one” is common practice. Many of us are taught to focus on our own success and do whatever it takes to make it to the top. But, is this truly fulfilling? Is this the kind of culture we want to continue to thrive in, one of cutthroat strategy, winners, and losers? While it’s important to help ourselves before we help others, we must not forget to do the latter when we are able.
Reaching out to others who are struggling in their professional journey or who need a little bit of motivation and support is a beneficial practice, not only for those receiving the help, but for those providing it, as well. Everyone wins when we help each other succeed, because in doing so, we improve the lives of everyone around us. A company gains a great new hire, your friend gets the job she always wanted, and you have the benefit of knowing you’ve made a difference. Helping others may even benefit you directly; people notice when you go the extra mile, and may extend opportunities or benefits to you in return.
You may not feel comfortable or confident in helping others with their job search, but you likely are able to provide value in more ways than you believed were possible. Let’s go over some of the methods and rules for providing professional resources and guidance.
Do Your Research
Before you can offer help, you need to know what your friend needs. Understanding factors about their personal life, such as where they live, if they have any dependents, and any current interests and skills they may have is key to knowing how you can best help them. These factors may rule out certain job openings that may come your way, whether it’s due to distance or responsibilities they will take on. If they quit, were fired, or were unsatisfied with a previous line of work, factor that into your recommendations for them. If something in particular, like long hours, drove them away from their previous job, then a new position with those same hours may not work out well for them.
Once you understand what their current situation is, you can provide them with relevant information. Send your friend any job postings you come across online or out in the world that fall within their field of interest. They are likely doing their own research, but they might not have access to the same resources you do. New listings also update quickly, they may have trouble staying on top of all of their sources.
While you may be eager to step up to the plate when you see someone in need, it’s best to play it cool and allow them to take the lead. Asking for help can make some feel vulnerable, so it’s typically best practice to let them be in control of the situation. Always ask before offering help. Don’t just send them the information you think they need, ask for what they need and if what you can offer would be valuable to them.
Moreover, be specific with how you offer to help. Simply saying that you’d like to help doesn’t prove that you may actually be able to provide them with valuable assistance. Name ways that you think you can help or ask specifically how they would like to be helped.
On another note, be mindful of their previous career status. If they are trying to keep a career change on the down-low, refrain from making public statements about their situation on social media or sharing information about it with them there. It is typically not considered very tactful to be openly searching for a job while currently employed.
Building Up Confidence
Practice makes perfect, and only by practicing certain aspects of the application process with your friend, can you help increase their confidence in their ability to perform. There are many different ways you can accomplish this. Craft an elevator pitch with your friend and be a sounding board for them to practice it, once you perfect what they’re going to say. You can also conduct a mock interview with your friend, where you pretend to be the interviewer. This can help them think about their answers, take in some constructive feedback, and build confidence for the real interview. Furthermore, you can help them shop for a professional outfit if they are unsure of how they should dress for a job interview. This can be a fun experience for the both of you if you like fashion and are able to make a day out of it.
After they have attended a job interview, go over what happened during the interview with them. Talk with them about aspects of the interview they believe went well, as well as parts where they were a little unsure of their success. Analyzing their performance in a kind and supportive way can help them better understand how they should change their approach for the next interview. It’s all about building skills and methods that can help them anticipate and overcome obstacles to their success.
One of the best ways you can help someone advance their career is to connect them with people who could open the door to a job. With permission, provide your friend with contact information of hiring managers and recruiters you are familiar with. Introduce them to people in your network and your community that could help them in their field. You can also attend networking events with them, especially if they find making connections with others difficult or intimidating. Having a wingman can help build their self-confidence and encourage them to introduce themselves to others.
If you are already employed let them shadow you or shadow someone else at your place of work. Similarly, set them up with a mentor looking for new mentees- just make sure to run this proposal by the person you are approaching, or by your place of work, before you make it official with your friend. You can provide a referral for your friend at your own place of work, if you’re aware of any relevant openings for them there. It could mean a bonus or other benefits for you, if the placement works out well. If you feel comfortable doing so, write them a letter of recommendation. This could be a huge help to them during the application process, since people willing to be references are few and far between.
If all else fails, introduce them to your university’s career success center. If their needs are beyond what you can provide, maybe they need more detailed information or more time and energy than you are able to allocate. In this circumstance, the career center may better be able to help them.
Cleaning Up Your Act
On a more technical level, going through their physical and digital content and fixing it up can greatly improve their professional image. The most important task to accomplish is to proofread their resume, cover letter, and letters of application. Sometimes we fail to catch our mistakes, and employing a fresh set of eyes can help us see our work more critically. This can help take some of the stress off your friend’s shoulders and reassure them that they are on the right path. Quantify the points your friend makes on their resume to give some factual evidence to their claims. Elaborate exactly how much they improved their company’s bottom line, among other similar experiences. Additionally, you can help them add powerful verbs and keywords that will attract the right recruiters and help your friend’s profile stand out among other applicants.
Don’t forget about their online presence, too. Both of you can go through their social media accounts and any mentions of them online to find anything that may look out of place or unprofessional. They can delete or edit any digital representations of themselves to make sure that their online personality is consistent. Do you consider yourself a LinkedIn expert? If so, then consider helping them fix up their LinkedIn profile. If you or someone you know has great photography skills, help them take their profile picture. If you are a great writer and proofreader, help them draft different parts of their page, like their personal statement and their past experiences. Lastly, if you are knowledgeable in website design, offer to set up a personal website for your friend. This would be especially helpful if they have impressive skills, such as writing, photography, or other art-related abilities, that they could organize and display on that website.
Being There for Support
At the end of the day, the most important way you can help anyone is by being emotionally present and by being a good listener. Listening is the gateway to understanding, so always allow them to talk before giving constructive criticism. Offer understanding of their situation, but give realistic suggestions for moving forward. Be specific about where there is room for improvement and give solid action items.
There are also ways you can help them that seem small, but make a big impact. Doing favors or pitching in to help them with other aspects of their life lets them focus on what needs to be done in their professional life. Offer to drive them to an interview if they need a ride, dry clean and press their interview outfit, watch their pets while they are out job-hunting, etc.
If they believe that it would be beneficial for them, you could act as an “accountability buddy” and keep them on track during their search. Some people do better when there is a guiding hand or someone around to remind them to stay focused. Just make sure to give them some space when they need it and to keep their best interest in mind. Progress is only good when it is leading them in the right direction.
Uplifting others is one of the best ways we can support women in business. It’s no small feat to use your influence, your knowledge and expertise, and your resources to help a friend in need of some support on their career journey. Not only will it reflect positively on your character and professionalism, but it always feels great to have made a positive impact in someone else’s life. I think Maya Angelou said it best when she said, “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” So, don’t be afraid to extend a helping hand when it’s most needed!
By: Lauren Miles