I'm still looking for your stories, dilemmas, awkward situations around layoffs (one's own or other people's) so send them in, if you've got them! You can e-mail me if you don't want to post in a public forum.
1. We need to come up with a better conversation starter than "What do you do?" Or at least, a good segue in case the person we've just asked says, "I'm looking for work right now."
2. As with those engaged in any long-term project--remodeling a bathroom, writing a dissertation, selling a house--don't ask job seekers how the job search is going every time you see them. If there's news, you'll know.
3. Don't ask questions that imply you're blaming the victim: "That's always been a volatile industry, hasn't it [so what did you expect]?" or "Wow, I thought someone with a law degree could always find a job [you must be a bigger loser than I knew]." This is like asking someone who was just diagnosed with cancer about their eating habits. The rain falls on the just and unjust alike; stop trying to find meaning in bad fortune, and just sympathize.
4. If you've been laid-off, let your friends know what they can do to help, whether it's to proof your resume, go jogging with you in the mornings, or pray for you. Asking for concrete acts of support is a kindness, because it's so terrible to know that a friend is hurting and that there's nothing you can do. Let your friends know, too, when and how you want to talk about what happened, your job search, etc.
5. Maintain boundaries. Help and ask for help, but don't give or ask for confidential company information. Don't recommend a friend for a job you know they're not qualified for. Don't expect "survivors" at the old company to be willing to listen to you trash the organization. Don't start selling makeup or baskets or lingerie to make ends meet and try to guilt-trip your laid-off friends into buying them. (Or puppies. According to Marianne in the earlier thread, "My husband is being laid off this summer and the announcement was made several weeks ago. Since that time, one of his co-workers had a litter of Black Lab puppies. She continues to try to talk my husband into buying one (to the tune of $700!!!), despite knowing full well that he is being laid off." Wow.) Hard times make people easily spooked, but don't jeopardize your reputation--personal or professional--with an indiscreet or desperate move.
What's your advice? Better yet, what are your stories?
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