Many job seekers need all the help they can get in the current employment market. If you have friends or former colleagues who are looking for work, recognize that there are many things you can do to assist them in their search—as well as a few actions that could do more harm than good.
Following are some do’s and don’ts when helping others find work in the creative field.
Don’t be too rosy. Telling someone who was recently laid off or has been job hunting for months “not to worry” and that “things will get better” isn’t helpful; it may even seem condescending. It’s a lot easier to be upbeat when you know where your next paycheck is coming from, after all. Instead, serve as a sounding board. Let the person vent their frustrations and provide advice if asked. Simply listening and offering your insights can boost spirits more than empty words.
Do spread the word. Finding work is almost always about who you know. Be on the lookout for employment opportunities or contacts who might need assistance. Check out your firm’s internal job listings and pass the person’s resume to members of your network in case they know of an organization that is hiring.
Don’t spam them with job listings. Make sure you truly understand the job hunter’s skill set and the sort of work he or she prefers so you can offer targeted advice and leads. While a former creative director may be open to a position a rung or two below her last role, or similar work in another industry, forwarding her information about an entry-level graphic designer opening won’t be helpful.
Do provide formal praise. Endorse your contact with a recommendation on LinkedIn or offer to be a reference. Check your company’s policies beforehand, however. Some firms don’t allow current employees to give testimonials about former colleagues, for example. If you are unable to provide this type of assistance, there’s still much you can do: Offer to proofread a resume and cover letter, or provide feedback on the person’s portfolio.
Don’t be a flake. If you offer to assist someone, whether it’s writing a letter of recommendation or making an introduction to a recruiter, follow through in a timely manner. Taking too long to deliver on your promise can affect a job seeker’s morale at an already tough time and may also create future challenges should you need this person’s help down the road.
Do offer freelance projects. Many companies that aren’t filling full-time roles are bringing in contract workers to help during busy work periods. If your group needs extra support, consider asking an out-of-work friend if he or she would be interested in the project. It’s a great way for job seekers to make money while keeping their skill set fresh, and demonstrate to hiring managers that they remained productive while unemployed. At the same time, project work can lead to more connections and assignments—and, in some cases, full-time work.
Don’t overexert yourself. Helping others is almost always a good thing to do, but there are times when you’ll want to limit your efforts. If the person you’re assisting is late for an interview you arranged, for example, it’s your reputation on the line. Set boundaries if a job seeker is barraging you with requests for help after you’ve already made a few connections on his or her behalf. Kindly let the person know that’s all the support you can currently offer.
Even with your help, unemployed colleagues or friends may not find a position right away. Checking in with them regularly, or even meeting for coffee on occasion, however, can provide much needed moral support as they continue their job search. Often, it’s the little things that help people persevere in tough times. Trust your instincts and remember the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated in the same situation, and you’re bound to do the right thing.
The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing advertising, marketing, creative and web professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at www.creativegroup.com. Keep up with The Creative Group at facebook.com/thecreativegroup or twitter.com/CreativeGroup.
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