As anyone currently navigating the job market knows, employment numbers are grim and the economy is simply not creating enough new positions to accommodate the majority of job-seekers. Although they hear the bad news on television and through wordofmouth, people with stable jobs often appear unsympathetic to unemployed friends and family members. This situation is particularly prevalent between parents and adult children. To avoid inadvertently offending loved ones who happen to be unemployed, make a point of never making certain remarks in their presence.
"Just Take Any Job."
People who have been out of work for an extended period of time are often told to "just take any job." While it is commonly assumed the chronically unemployed are too choosy about the jobs they’re willing to take, this is often not the case. Additionally, many people who make this statement fail to realize that "taking any job" won’t necessarily pay the bills.
With the economy on life support, many recent college graduates and people who once enjoyed stable careers have been applying for jobs that don’t make use of their skillsets and are well below their pay-grades. To further complicate matters, many retailers and eateries are apprehensive about hiring overqualified individuals for fear they will promptly abandon their positions the instant something better comes along. Top this off with the fact that very few new jobs are being created and you’re left with a sad situation for people seeking any form of employment.
"Where Have You Interviewed?"
Although it may seem like a harmless question on the surface, asking over-stressed jobseekers about places they’ve interviewed is liable to fill them with dread. If they’ve been interviewed for jobs beneath their qualifications or usual pay-grade, they may find this very embarrassing to admit. Worse yet, unemployed individuals who have failed to secure any interviews may find it hard to save face.
Being curious about where an unemployed friend or family member has interviewed is perfectly understandable, but keep in mind not having a job can take a tremendous toll on one’s self-esteem. So the next time you have the urge to make this inquiry, simply curb your curiosity and take solace in the fact that if a jobless loved one wants you to know where she’s interviewed, she’ll tell you without being prodded.
"You Should Have Found Something by Now."
Telling an unemployed acquaintance he "should have found something by now" is a surefire way to bring him down. This statement implies he hasn’t been looking hard enough or is too selective about the positions he’s applying to. In addition, it places the blame squarely on the jobseeker instead of the struggling economy.
There are numerous reasons certain people take a long time to find employment, many of which are beyond their control. Since there are not enough jobs to go around, virtually every available position is flooded with eager applicants. In many cases, employers become so overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of resumes that they simply don’t have time to consider every candidate, qualified or otherwise.
"Having Time Off Must Be Nice."
Equating being unemployed with having time off is particularly demeaning to job-seekers. It implies they’re enjoying their absence from the workforce and treating it as a vacation. This assertion also negates the fact that "taking time off" generally requires a person to have a stable income.
Most people without jobs are not taking time off by choice. Each day without any job leads or earned income compounds their stress exponentially. Having time off is equated with enjoyment, not dwindling savings and feelings of inadequacy.
"Some of Us Still Have to Work."
Informing an unemployed spouse, significant other or even a roommate that "some of us still have to work" won’t do any favors for your relationship. This statement suggests you’re doing your part to make rent and pay bills while your friend contributes nothing. If she’s been out of a job for a while, your friend is probably racked with feelings of self-doubt, and being told she isn’t contributing will only serve to increase those feelings. Above all, jobseekers need the support of those closest to them.
As Bloomberg Business Week reports, the psychological effects of prolonged unemployment are nothing to take lightly, so it’s important not to make jobseekers feel any worse than they already do. A little understanding and emotional support can go a long way to help an unemployed loved one cope with the pressures of unemployment.