Your friend Ted comes by your office to catch up. You've known Ted for a few years and he's someone you've always admired. He confides in you that he wants to make a career change in three months. His company is downsizing again and while his job isn't at risk, he feels it's time to move on.
Later that day, a recruiter sends you a job description via email to see if you or anyone you know might be interested in an executive job. This is the fourth such email you have received in the past three weeks.
Meanwhile, one of your favorite neighbors calls you and says her daughter Lisa graduated from college last May and still doesn't have a job. She wants to do web design and is wondering if you can send her resume out to contacts or meet with her yourself.
Sound familiar? We all have 'single' friends looking for jobs and looking for help. Maybe you sent Lisa's resume to three people. Maybe you had Ted call the recruiter or visa-versa
Is there more you can do? Is there more we all can do to put America back to work?
With 12.5 million workers out of work, our friend's kids, relatives, old coworkers are definitely looking. They also might be a bit bummed out or discouraged by the prospect of being 'on the market'... again. (Here is my last weeks blog -- Don't Stop Believing: Six Steps to Restore Sanity to Your Job Search).
A silent epidemic? CBS News did a report on the long-term psychological impact of unemployment on the individual. They cited Carl E. Van Horn's research out of Rutgers and shared that 63 percent of unemployed people are ashamed and 50 percent will reduce contact with friends, the very thing that might help open up doors to get their next job.
Solutions: Well if match.com and e-harmony are responsible for almost one out of five marriages in 2010, maybe social media and connecting via the web can be just as successful in helping our friends get their dream jobs.
Here are three strategies for helping friends -- and friends of friends -- to find the right job for them. Ten to 20 minutes a week could make a barrel of difference in someone's life:
1. Help Your 'Single' Friends Create Great Online Profiles. Often when a friend is newly on the job market it's like having a single friend who wants to meet a great mate. You think your friend is wonderful, so you want to fix him or her up with someone who might be a good FIT. The same applies in helping friends get jobs. 'FIT' is really important. I encourage you to spend some quality time over coffee with your friend and find out what exactly he or she is looking for. Really listen. Help them build or enhance their online professional profiles on Linkedin and other social media and/or to polish their resume and cover letter. Often we can point out to our friends amazing attributes that they were too shy to disclose.
Recently, one of my colleagues and I met with an entrepreneur who has a fabulous reputation. When we found out he was hiring, we told him about an awesome friend who was recently laid off and has outstanding customer service skills. After piquing this business leader's interest, we printed out her resume on the spot and he hired her two weeks later. Two months later she told me she found her 'dream job.' It felt great to help a deserving friend and equally great to reaffirm that companies value referrals highly as a way to find high quality candidates, faster.
2) Share Some Good Numbers! Over 92 percent of companies in a 2012 Jobvite survey said that they use or plan to use social media for recruiting. WOW! Why not help find your friend's or relative's next employer online. But as I mentioned above, a lot of times we don't know when companies are currently hiring. Yet they certainly want to, and they are searching for the best candidates. The numbers tell the story: there were 10 million job postings in Q1 of this year in our top 50 most populous markets. In the same Jobvite survey, 73 percent of companies said they hired people last year from social media recruiting and 43 percent saw an increase in the quality of candidates. As they say in the Hunger Games 'May the odds be ever in your favor.' Go to websites like indeed.com, Linkedin, and barrelofjobs.com. Look at the jobs and if you see potential 'FIT' share them with your friends.
3) Pay It Forward: "Find him a find, catch her a catch" isn't just a line from an old Broadway musical; it applies in today's job market, too. If you really want to be a 'matchmaker' and help a friend to find a job, start making a practice of asking people directly if their company is hiring and what they are looking for. When you become a quasi- recruiter for your friends, the personal touch matters a lot. Take the time to make personal email introductions, encouraging a coffee meeting or call between two people you know. If you are short on time, ask your friend to write a glowing email as a template you can modify and send. Someday you will likely be looking for a job again yourself. Ask yourself what you would want your friends to do for you? It's always best to introduce people before the job is listed so they don't have to compete with 300 other candidates.
While some people might look the other way or feel powerless in helping a friend to find a job, that's not you. Use these suggestions above and be proactive. Look at this as an opportunity to flex a new muscle and to do your part in putting your friends and America back to work.