Whether it’s your friend who’s totally miserable at her job, your little brother who’s panicking about his post-graduation plans, or your child who you fear will never move out of your basement, we bet there’s someone in your life who could use a little help on the job search.
And if you’re like many, you probably don’t know exactly what you can do to lend a hand. Should you reach out to people in your network? Shoot over job postings? What would be helpful—and what would be, well, annoying?
Here’s our advice: Choose a few of our ideas from the list below, put them in an email, and ask your loved one if you can help and if so, which option would be most useful. You’ll be making the most of your skills, putting your energy where it matters most, and, most importantly, helping out in exactly the right way.
Lend Your Skills
Are you a great people-connector or an editor extraordinaire? When thinking about how to help your friend, think about the areas in which you feel most strong and confident. For example:
1. Offer to review your friend’s resume. But don’t just check for typos—really make sure each and every bullet point is sending the right message and selling him or her as the best person for the job. Our five-step resume-editing process will cover all of your bases.
2. Take a look at your friend’s cover letter. Just how awesome does it make him or her sound? If you think you could up the ante a bit more, revamp it.
3. Resume bullet points are infinitely better when they’re quantified: How much money was saved? How many man-hours were reduced? Offer to dig into Excel and do some calculations that will help your friend quantify each of his or her accomplishments.
4. They’re also better when they don’t use the same tired words over and over. Offer to spice up his or her resume with these 185 power verbs.
5. Put on your marketing hat, and create a list of sample taglines that your friend could use as his or her LinkedIn headline. (For a step-by-step process to brand yourself—or someone else—on LinkedIn, check out our career expert Lily Zhang’s tips.)
6. Offer to proofread his or her follow-up or thank-you emails. Most people like to get these out really quickly, which means it’s easy for typos to happen.
7. If you have design skills, offer to design your friend a new resume (or customize one of these ready-to-go resume templates).
8. Offer to set up your friend’s online portfolio or personal website. If you have an eye for design and basic web skills, you can easily set something up on one of these 14 personal website platforms.
9. If you have a camera and a bit of a creative streak, help your friend write, film, and produce a killer video resume.
10. More of a photographer than a videographer? Take an awesome headshot he or she can use on social media profiles.
Help Prep for Applications and Interviews
The process of sending out resumes, writing cover letters, and preparing for interviews can be daunting. Let your friend know you’re there to help with one of these ideas.
11. Google your friend and report on your findings, particularly if there’s anything that might be off-putting to a hiring manager (remember to look at image and video results, too!). Google results can be slightly different from person to person, so you might find something he or she hasn’t.
12. Send relevant job listings. (Note: Ask first so you’re not overwhelming his or her inbox—a better option might be sending a long list of links rather than IMing every post you see.) When you do send a listing, add an encouraging note with why you think he or she would be so perfect for the job. That confidence boost can do wonders.
13. Is your friend stuck on what types of jobs to even apply for in the first place? Offer to brainstorm together. Or, point him or her to our nine-question worksheet designed to help you find your dream career.
14. While your friend crafts his or her cover letter, do the Google legwork needed to track down the hiring manager’s name and contact info.
15. Channel your inner actor, and play hiring manager as your friend practices mock interview questions. Not sure what to ask? Take a few from our list of most common interview questions, or browse Glassdoor to see what questions are frequently asked at the companies he or she wants to work for.
16. Is he or she headed to a phone or Skype interview? Offer to hold a trial run to check for technical difficulties and lighting or sound issues.
18. Offer to drop his or her suit off during your next run to the dry cleaner’s. (Hey, sometimes it’s the small stuff.)
19. Help your friend practice his or her handshake. Sounds simple, but having a great one can go a long way in making a stellar first impression. And hey, follow these tips, and you might pick up a few pointers, too.
20. Help your friend craft and practice the perfect “So, tell me about yourself!” elevator pitch.
21. Print out a few copies of our All-in-One Interview Prep Guide, so they’ll be ready to go when your friend needs them.
22. Offer to put together a list of career coaches in your area. Look for people who specialize in your friend’s industry (marketing, tech, nonprofits) or specific situation (career changers, new grads).
23. Point your friend to The Muse’s free “Kick Start Your Job Search” class—we’ll do all the advice-giving for you.
Use Your Network
You’ve heard it before: Your network is your net worth. Invest a little of it in your friend by seeing if you have contacts who can help him or her out.
24. Browse your LinkedIn network to see if there’s anyone who might be helpful in your friend’s job search. If so, ask your contact if he or she might be willing to sit down for an informational interview with your friend.
25. Better yet, ask if you can connect your contact with your friend directly. Make an introduction that sings your friend’s praises, then step away and let your friend blow your contact away with his or her initiative and smarts. To make it even easier on yourself, here's a template to use for asking your contact if you can connect him or her to your friend, and then a template for making the actual introduction.
26. Ask your friend for a list of his or her dream companies, then search your LinkedIn network to see if anyone you know works there (or has in the past). There might be some surprising contacts you’ve missed.
27. Volunteer to attend a networking event together (believe us, it makes the whole process so much less intimidating). Make sure you split up, and when you meet someone who’d be a good contact for your friend, you can easily introduce the two of them.
28. Or, host your own networking event. Invite a few contacts, have your friend do the same, have each of those people invite a few more, and before you know it you’ll fill a room with interesting people.
29. Have your friend put together this “Help Me Find a Job” email template, than forward it along to anyone you know in his or her industry or dream companies.
30. If your friend has a blog or online portfolio, share a link or two on your social network. You never know whose eye it might catch (plus, your unsolicited participation will come across as a solid vote of confidence in his or her talents and abilities).
Show Your Support
The job search can be tough—it’s long, it’s frustrating, and it can really be a confidence-killer. So make sure you’re finding ways to be encouraging and uplifting throughout the process.
31. Offer up 30 minutes of your time for an interruption-free “seriously, this job searching business is the worst” venting session.
32. Send your friend an email sharing what you think are his or her strongest skills and abilities. It can often be hard to identify our own strong points, but an outside perspective can be really helpful.
33. Is your friend changing careers? Help identify the most easily transferrable skills on his or her resume.
34. Help your friend identify his or her superpower—the one thing he or she does better than anything else.
35. Big interview coming up? Invite him or her to a special lunch or cocktail afterward to celebrate.
36. If your friend doesn’t get a job he or she was really excited about, send an “it’s all going to be OK” email. Bonus points for including links to a few other exciting openings or ridiculous gifs.
37. Put together a pump-you-up playlist your friend can play late at night when he or she is scrolling through job postings (think Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” and basically anything Kanye).
38. Keep your friend accountable for his or her goals. Does he or she want to send out three applications each week? Go to at least four networking events this month? Offer to periodically (and nicely) check in and see how the search is progressing.
39. Make sure your friend isn’t just settling or taking any job just to have one. Debrief after each interview and make sure he or she is really stoked about the position. If not, encourage him or her to look for greener pastures.
40. Remember not to let the job hunt be your immediate and only topic of conversation. Has your friend picked up a new hobby, like blogging or web design? Taken up kickboxing? Tried an awesome new recipe? Your friend wants your support in his or her job search, of course—but sometimes, he or she may just want a friend. Period.
41. Do nothing—just make sure your friend knows you’re there if he or she needs help. Sometimes, that little knowledge will go further than you know.
Have other ideas? Share them in the comments section!
Photo of people working courtesy of Shutterstock.