Sometimes, a job search can feel like a marathon. It involves going the distance, pushing through hard times and never giving up. If you’ve ever run a marathon, or even a 5k, you know encouragement from the crowd, your support crew and fellow athletes is vital to your success.
If you’re a job seeker, it’s important to seek out encouragement and also offer it to fellow job seekers. If you’re supporting a job seeker, it’s critical you be encouraging and supportive. In a marathon, the encouragement usually sounds like “You can do it,” “Way to go” and “Half way there.” For job seekers, the encouragement may take a variety of forms.
- Ask the job seeker about progress and congratulate him or her on even small steps
- Make yourself available to listen. No need to offer advice, just allow the job seeker to vent, share frustrations and verbalize fears. Sometimes just hearing “That sounds challenging” helps the job seeker feel better.
- Ask if there is a way you can help but don’t force help on the job seeker. Practical help can range from proofreading resumes to pitching in with childcare during job interviews.
- Offer resources and ideas but don’t force them. The job seeker has to run his or her own race and make choices about what will be most helpful. In a marathon, volunteers offer fluids but do not force runners to take a drink or insist it is best for them.
- Share success stories and positive employment news. Be sure it does not come off as “everyone else is getting hired, why not you?” (That would be like calling out to a runner “There are lots of people at the finish line, so why are you still here?” Not encouraging.)
- Offer to attend a networking event together. Even if you are not looking for work, your support may help the job seeker feel more comfortable about the event.
- Don’t focus entirely on the job search. When I am in a long race, my companions and I make it a point NOT to talk all the time about how our bodies are feeling, the miles we’ve gone or our time. Sometimes focusing on other interesting topics is helpful.
Even if you are looking for work yourself, you can still offer valuable encouragement to others. You should also actively seek it out for yourself.
- Let your partner, family and friends know you appreciate their support
- Join a job search group where support and encouragement is abundant
- Participate in online discussions that are positive. Avoid those where there is a lot of negativity.
- Start or offer to lead a group or organize a regular gathering of supportive people
- Participate in regular social activities and get-togethers
- Share this blog with your family and friends
Whether running a 5k or a marathon, just starting out or deep into a job search, we all need encouragement and we all have encouragement to give others. Tell us: How do you get and give encouragement around job search?