A career expert shares the best ways you can help.

By Maggie Seaver
May 12, 2020
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Credit: Getty Images/Tim Robberts

What can you do when a family member, friend, coworker, or roommate loses their job? One of the harshest ripple effects of the current global health crisis has been the disparate and astronomical economic disruption, resulting in (to skim the surface) volatile markets, shuttered businesses, pay cuts, and job layoffs and furloughs. As of May 7, more than 33 million Americans had filed for unemployment insurance during the seven-week span of lockdown, Business Insider reports.

So even if your own job is relatively secure right now, you likely know someone who’s been let go (or about to be let go) as a direct result of the pandemic’s economic impact. If this is the case, you’ll want to know the best ways to support them during such a hard time. You may not be able to turn back time or lend them a year's salary, but there are tons of ways to be a source of comfort and advice while they get back on the right path toward a new role. LinkedIn career expert Blair Heitmann shares her best advice for what to do when someone you know gets laid off or furloughed.

No one likes to be overly pitied or prematurely lectured. At first, open yourself up and listen like a true friend. Instead of jumping in with advice and to-dos, show empathy and understanding for their situation and recognize that they’re on an emotional ride. “Acknowledge how challenging the situation is,” Heitmann says. “Be supportive and positive, but don’t rush to give advice at this stage.”

When they’re ready to dive back in, help them brainstorm new opportunities and how to get there. “Encourage them to make a list of their skills and accomplishments,” Heitmann says. “Ask what they enjoyed most about their work, what they learned and whether there’s something new they’d like to try.”

Finding a new job is a challenge in its own right—but that challenge has been compounded thanks to the current circumstances. “Ask what you can do—and don’t take, 'nothing' for an answer,” Heitman says. Make active suggestions, like offering to edit their resume, introduce them to free LinkedIn Learning courses (there’s one specifically on how to recover from a layoff), practice for an upcoming video interview, or check out career search engines for openings.

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“Since 70 percent of professionals find a job through connections, your network could be their ticket to a new opportunity,” Heitmann says. Do you know someone who’s hiring or have a cousin at the company your friend’s been eyeing? Make introductions and referrals when you can.

Most importantly, show some compassion through patience. This is not the time to be judgmental or pushy. Just because what they lost was a job—and not a person or pet—they still experienced loss. “Remember that everyone deals with it in their own way and at their own pace,” Heitmann says. “Be patient as your friend transitions through the stages of grief and begins to reach for new career goals.”

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