In general, change can be really stressful. It can be especially stressful when change comes at you when you aren’t expecting it. For me this happened when I was 25 and working in finance. The company that I was working for got acquired by another company, and I was offered another job in Minneapolis. After a lot of thought, the idea of moving from my family, friends, and life in New York City to a brand new job, city, and life in the Midwest was even more daunting than trying to find a new job. So I decided not to take it. I found myself unemployed in 2008, in the thick of the Great Recession. I was scared, overwhelmed, and totally unsure of where to turn for help. As bad luck would have it, my best friend and roommate also lost her job at the same time. So, we had each other to lean on as we navigated this new phase of our lives.
Here are a few things that we were able to do for each other that really helped the both of us after we got laid off:
1. Offer to have your friend over for dinner
The first impulse after someone loses a job can be to ask your friend to go out and party those negative feelings away. The only problem with that is, your friend wakes up hungover, with a dent in their already thinning wallet, and sadder than they were the day before. Having your pal over for a homemade dinner (or a pizza, no need to get fancy!) will not only show that you are there for them, but also that you’ll be there to hang out with even when money is a little tight.
2. Be an accountability buddy
What makes losing a job really difficult is the loss of structure in your day-to-day life. Learning how to function when you only have to report to yourself can sometimes be challenging. Offer to talk to your friend about their goals for the week and promise to check in with them at the end of the week. Having someone to report progress to makes every win feel bigger, and the other person will be less likely to drop the ball on what they know they need to do.
3. Be a practice interviewer
If someone has recently lost their job, they might be a little rusty when it comes to interviews. It is so helpful to practice with a friend when the stakes are low. You can easily find interview questions online and give your friend the chance to practice and get out all of their jitters so they feel more confident going into their real interview.
4. Go with them to networking events
We all know that networking is a really wonderful way to find a new job, but going to events by yourself can be intimidating. Having a friend there can make it easier to talk to others and to make connections. As an added bonus, you might grow your network as well.
5. Be available
This next phase of your friend’s life is going to be full of ups and downs – and having you as a constant friend is such a huge deal. Being there, taking their call after a bad interview, giving them a pep talk when they are feeling insecure before sending out a resume, or taking them out for a drink when they get that new job will be so meaningful to your friend!