Helping someone through hard times is part and parcel of being a good friend, and now that someone in your life has hit a rough patch, it's time for you to step up. If you don't know the right thing to say, that's OK. Focus on sincerity and use your listening skills instead of the gift of gab to help your friend see there’s a light at the end of the job-hunting tunnel.
Lend an Ear
Your friend is likely feeling a compendium of emotions: sadness, frustration, a sense of loss and even anger. Give her an opportunity to vent her emotions instead of trying to fix the situation, and then let her acknowledge her disappointment. If you aren't elaborate with words, a simple "I'm very sorry" can convey the message adequately, and then let her get her frustration off her chest. If she's feeling down on herself for failing to get the job, don't be afraid to point out her finer qualities to boost her up a little.
Avoid trying to assuage his feelings with empty platitudes like, "This only means there is a better job out there for you," or "When one door closes, another one opens." While well-intentioned, these pat phrases only serve to negate the emotion your friend is currently experiencing, explains Diane Machado in the Forbes article "How to Console a Friend Who Didn't Get the Job." Avoid trying to make him feel better by telling him about the time you were in a worse situation. This belittles his feelings and makes the conversation all about you. Don’t try to bash the other candidates or the interviewer -- it won’t take him long to clue in that your bashing is based on conjecture when you haven’t met either party, and only serves to keep the flames of anger fueled.
Instead of inviting your friend out for an elegant dinner to get her mind off her job troubles, remember that financial struggles may be at the forefront of her mind if she’s out of work at the moment. Look for budget-friendly ways to improve her mood: Propose you go out for coffee instead of a meal, invite her over to your home for a backyard barbecue or picnic in the yard, give each other manicures instead of visiting a nail salon, watch the baseball game on TV instead of picking up tickets, organize a movie night at home with baked goodies instead of an expensive evening at the theater. All of these can help to lighten her mood without making her feel uncomfortable about how it’s draining her wallet.
You may be able to help your friend in his job hunt, but follow his lead and respect his wishes if he'd prefer to handle the situation on his own. Otherwise, you can propose helping him polish his resume, online networking page or portfolio to make a better first impression, or use your acting skills to role-play with him to prepare him for the next job interview. If you are familiar with someone in his field of expertise, facilitate an introduction or let him know about the opportunity and leave him to pursue the lead on his own.
Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.
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