- Write a letter of recommendation- If you are in a position to write them a letter of recommendation, do it. If you offer and they decline, do it anyway. You never know when your friend might actually need it for a potential employer or maybe they will just need a reminder of their good qualities on a bad day.
- Recognize that staying home has its challenges too- In talking to one of my former co-workers about our lives post layoff, she commented on my "easy life". She found another position with our old company that required her to work crazy hours and commute more than an hour each way. I realize that her situation was less than ideal and I don't know if I would want to trade places with her, but the idea that I was on easy street since I was home taking care of my then nine month old was offensive to me. Whether you have a child or not, looking for a job is WORK. Taking care of a house and a family is WORK. Don't assume that your unemployed friend sits around sipping fruity drinks or catching up on Oprah and whine about having to go to work all day. I assure you, your unemployed friend would trade places with you.
- Offer childcare- if your unemployed friend has kids, offer to entertain the kid(s) for a few hours. I cannot job search while my son is awake. I cannot make follow up calls to potential employers with him in the background, screaming. I cannot research prospective companies while he is around. I would *LOVE* if someone offered to entertain him for an hour or two, even for me just to get my thoughts together. Offer more than once if you are turned down. Sometimes people are afraid to admit that they can't do it all. (Hello, my name is Jamie and I can't do it all.)
- Don't brag about your raise. If you just got a raise at work and maybe also landed a part-time job that you can do on off hours from your house, I as your unemployed friend am maybe not the one to gush to about that. I am happy for you, really, but at the same time, I am here just looking for one little job. The fact that you have TWO just doesn't seem fair at this point in the game. But really, I'm happy for you...
- Don't badmouth people who accept unemployment benefits- before I became unemployed, I had a friend who blasted her brother-in-law for accepting unemployment benefits. It went something like this: "I would never collect unemployment, I could always go out and at least get a job waiting tables or something that would pay more than unemployment!" This whole experience for me has been incredibly humbling. You don't really know what it's like until you've experienced it for yourself, so be careful about criticizing the choices that other people make, especially in front of your unemployed friend.
- Understand if your unemployed friend is a little grumpy and be willing to give a little more than you're getting right now. Looking for a job is emotionally draining. There's a lot of rejection and it wears on a person. Your unemployed friend is going to be cranky and needs your understanding and support right now.
Happy Job Hunting!