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10 ways to help a friend facing a layoff

During a period of shock or loss, one of the toughest questions to answer is the well-intentioned, “how can I help?”

A layoff is one such moment. It can be awkward to ask for help and even more awkward to stand helplessly by, not knowing how to help someone grieving the loss of a job. As with any time of grief, instead of saying "I'm here if you need me" it can be powerful to offer specific ways that you can help.

We wanted to share a list of tangible tasks to support a friend or loved one as they go through the experience. Most are simple, some require a little more time, but all will help.

  1. Send a physical note. Express your commitment to be there during the tough time. It can be super useful to have a physical reminder that people are in your corner. Especially if that note contains a list of ways that you can help. Gifts that bring a smile can work too. Estimated time, 10-15 minutes.

  2. Grab coffee/drinks with your friend. When processing a layoff, people don’t want to feel alone. Just your companionship will help. Estimated time, 30-60 minutes.

  3. Help them to identify their strengths. Have they done StrengthsFinder? You can share that as a gift if they haven’t. We have a Personal Branding Exercise that we’re happy to share (contact us for a copy) – it goes a step further and gives someone a platform to ask friends and family for feedback. It helps to showcase when the person is at their best, arming them with great stories for interviews. Estimated time, 15-30 minutes.

  4. Help them figure out their values. Experiencing a layoff is a good opportunity to reassess and start hunting for jobs that align better with your values. Send your friend or loved one ProValues (with code JOBSRCH22 for complimentary access through the end of 2022) to give them a values-based framework for thinking through next steps.

  5. Endorse someone on LinkedIn. Give them a visual boost online that recruiters might pick up on. Estimated time, <5 minutes.

  6. Offer to look over their resume and share it. Even if you don’t have specific expertise, you can share what stands out on their resume to see if it aligns with what they’re trying to share. Try not to set unrealistic expectations about people who might be interested, rather, when they share a version with you, take time to think of others who might be able to help them. Estimated time, 30 minutes.

  7. Scan your LinkedIn contacts. See who might be useful to a specific friend. Rather than clicking through pages (or getting distracted by stories), download your LinkedIn connections to review offline (it's an amazing tool for a number of reasons). Estimated time, 30 minutes.

  8. Be a sounding board as someone tries to find their coping mechanisms. There are so many things that can be useful: a regular schedule, workouts, pickup basketball, walks in the woods, meditative breathing, engaging with others through a new hobby, spending time with friends, taking a course, getting caught up on years of reading. Everyone has their own mechanisms. It’s okay to ask what’s helping your friend and support them as they make their choices. It reinforces that they’re not alone. Estimated time, 30 minutes.

  9. Help a friend to practice for interviews. It’s incredibly helpful for people to do live practice. We have a video we are happy to offer people to prepare, but there’s nothing quite like one-on-one prep. Estimated time, 60-120 minutes.

  10. Offer additional household help. Do you have bandwidth to help them with additional responsibilities, like childcare, while they’re diving headfirst into the job search? Does someone need time with a partner to discuss plans? If so, it could be helpful to offer up some of your time to support them while they manage a new schedule. If someone it single, it might be offering to work together to finish up a household project. Estimated time, 60 minutes+.

Have you gone through a layoff? What are some of the other ways that people have helped you? Share in the comments below.

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