Job searching is often described as taking the same amount of time and effort as a full-time job. So, if you have friends who are trying to land a new gig, you’ll probably notice (read: have a hard time getting on their calendars).
If you’re feeling generous (or if you were asked and feel weird saying no), there are plenty of ways for you to help no matter what part of the job search your friend might be going through. Here are a few ideas.
Resumes and Cover Letters
1. Be an Editor
The most obvious way to help a friend with a resume or cover letter is to proofread it. Nothing beats a second pair of eyes when it comes to reviewing a document you’ve spent too much time with. Just remember to be delicate when giving feedback—resumes can be pretty personal documents. After all, it’s essentially a person’s entire professional life boiled down to a page. If you want to give it a go, try these pro tips for editing a resume.
2. Do the “Personality Check”
In an effort to sound professional, people often lose their personalities when putting together their resumes and cover letters. So, do a check for sentences that sound like a robot wrote them. Ask your friend to explain to you what he or she means by a particular phrase or sentence, and try to replace the robot language with the language he or she used in conversation.
3. Recommend or Introduce
For hiring managers, nothing beats an endorsement from a trusted colleague. So, if your friend is looking for a job with someone you’ve worked with before, the best thing you can do is to give your heartfelt recommendation. If you don’t feel comfortable giving a direct recommendation, you can instead try to connect your friend with people in your network and leave the work of making an impression for him or her. Make sure anyone you’re connecting your friend with opts in to the intro, then use this email template to put them in touch.
4. Show Your Love on LinkedIn
Or maybe you don’t have anyone in your network in the right industry. A different way you can help is to endorse your friend’s skills on LinkedIn or write a recommendation. (Here’s how to write one in five minutes or less!) Obviously, you would have needed to work with your friend in some professional capacity to write about his or her work. Try to think of any instances where you were friend’s client, or even connect the recommendation back to your college days if that makes sense—LinkedIn actually allows for recommendations for both work and educational experiences.
5. Practice Sample Questions
Just helping your friend practice answering interview questions aloud is invaluable. Nothing is better preparation for an interview than a mock interview. Go over some of the more common interview questions like “Tell me about yourself,” or if you’re feeling especially helpful, brainstorm some questions particular to the job description.
6. Keep it Positive
Actually giving feedback during a mock interview is a little trickier if you’ve never had any experience being a hiring manager. Regardless of experience though, one thing you can always check for is negativity. Encourage your friend to keep his or her responses somewhere between neutral and positive. You can also try to repeat the main gist of your friend’s responses back and see if what you heard aligned with the point he or she was trying to get across.
It can be a delicate situation when a friend is looking for a job, and different situations and people call for varying levels of help and, let’s say, finesse. But, no matter what you ultimately are able to do, just having your support will at the very least build your pal’s confidence—and that’s half the battle.
Lily Zhang serves as a Manager of Graduate Student Professional Development at the MIT Media Lab where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author