I was extremely fortunate to have been offered a job before graduating with my master’s in May of this year. I applied to well over 25 jobs and landed the one that I wanted most of all before walking across the stage to accept my diploma. If this sounds like bragging, it’s certainly not meant to. Quite frankly, I wake up some days and pinch myself to make sure that all of that did, in fact, happen.
I’m the exception, though, and certainly not the rule. Many of my classmates, friends, and peers are still fighting the good fight. They’re submitting applications, and crossing their fingers that their phones will ring with good news. I know how competitive our field is. I hate that the job search often feels like a race to the finish or a competition to see who can get hired the fastest.
What can I do to best support these qualified, steadfast job seekers?
Don’t say “I can totally relate”.
Unless it’s true, of course. But, if you’re like me, you can’t relate to being unemployed six months after graduation. You can’t relate to the fear of looming student loan payments, bills, and having to say “no” to traveling, shopping, or plans with friends. Or to the embarrassment of asking friends or family for financial help or housing. You can’t relate to the feelings of self doubt, insecurity, and frustration. As much as I want to display empathy, I never lived these realities. We know that our interviews and resumes and cover letters were good enough because someone hired us.
Do offer resources and connections.
Know someone who works in Academic Advising at the institution that your friend is most interested in? Connect away! I decided not to end my daily subscription to the HigherEdJobs.com personalized job agents. Because who knows when I’ll stumble on something that will benefit a friend. Additionally, I try and tag peers in Facebook posts in groups like ‘Student Affairs Professionals’ when there’s a relevant job posting. Even though I’m not looking for a job, I can still look at the openings and spread the wealth! Plus, I work at a fantastic place. I’d love to recruit some of my graduate school peers to join me!
Don’t say “everything happens for a reason”.
Even if you genuinely believe this to be true, like I do, it’s not the most helpful sentiment for people who are discouraged, stressed, worried, or upset. It does not display a great deal of empathy, which is truly what our peers need from us most during this time. They don’t want to feel like they’re being talked down to or like we know some secret information about the future that they aren’t privy to. No, we need to sit down with them and share in their moment(s) of sadness and anxiety.
Do make sure that our friends are taking care of themselves.
We all know that, while you’re in the thick of it, the job search is all-consuming. We frequently tell students in career services that the job search will feel like a full time job itself. If we’re already employed, we can help our job-searching-buddies to invest in some much needed self-care practices. Without adopting a patronizing tone, we can remind them to get a few extra hours of sleep, drink a few extra glasses of water, and eat regular meals. More importantly, engage in these activities with them. Maybe a walk around the neighborhood, a movie night, or a long distance FaceTime date to talk about anything but the job search.
Have other ideas about how to best support our job seekers? I’d love to hear about them!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Dave Kerpen on Authenticity/ Branding on Social Media