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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

Dear Everyone: Please Stop Saying These 5 Things to Your Unemployed Friends

upset person

The smartest move I made after losing my job last year was announcing it on Facebook. As uncomfortable as it was to post that status (and as much as I cringed typing it out), it led to several leads from people I never would’ve thought to personally reach out to.

Unfortunately, it also led to a lot of friends and family members weighing in on my situation and offering their advice, thoughts, and semi-related anecdotes that seemed to serve no purpose other than to keep me up at night (“My cousin got fired once. Lost his house. Then his legs. Good luck out there”).

What quickly became clear—besides the fact that everyone fancies themselves to be some kind of feel-good Oprah-career-expert hybrid—was that people tended to say one of five things to me. In fact, I heard the same lines so much that I can only assume they’re passed down from generation to generation. And that’s no good because rather than being reassuring, they’re annoying.

So, to prevent you from being that person in your friend or family member’s life, avoid saying any of the following:

1. “My Job’s the Worst—I’d Rather Be in Your Position Than Deal With My Boss!”

What I Hear You Say: “How Can I Make This About Me?”

Would you really? If so, all it takes is one email to your manager letting him or her know you quit. While an employed friend’s usually in for work venting, someone who’s recently lost his own job (and his own “horrible” boss) probably isn’t the best person to approach with your complaints right now.

What You Should Say Instead

“That really sucks, I know you were really close with your co-workers. Can I buy you a drink?”

2. “Now You Can Have Some Well-Deserved Vacation!”

What I Hear You Say: “Must Be Nice Watching Netflix in Your Pajamas All Day.”

I think we define vacation differently. An unemployed person’s typically not vegging on the couch 24/7, but rather actively job hunting, networking, writing cover letters, translating legal jargon in severance packages, trying to figure out if Cobra’s kidding with that bill, and then doing some more job hunting.

What You Should Say Instead

“Man, that’s the worst. I know you worked really hard there. Hey, how about I purchase you an alcoholic beverage?”

3. “My Company’s Hiring for a [Position Unrelated to What You Do] Right Now—Can I Pass Along Your Resume?”

What I Hear You Say: “Give Up on All Your Hopes and Dreams. It’s Over. Take When You Can Get”

Your intentions are noble, but your words are unhelpful. Unless your friend’s been looking for months on end or has mentioned using this opportunity to make a career change, she probably doesn’t want to hear about unrelated openings.

What You Should Say

“Shoot me an email with what kind of position or company you’re looking for next and I’ll send it out to my network. You never know who knows who. Then, if you’re free later, let’s go to happy hour—my treat!”

4. “Your Field’s Really Unstable, So You Can’t Be That Surprised”

What I Hear You Say: “Bet You’re Jealous I Went Into Accounting Now, Huh!”

You and your logical way of looking at things. While this may be true (and it is in so very many fields in 2016), it never does the trick of cheering a person up. In fact, assuming he or she wants to stay in the same industry, it’s probably only more anxiety-provoking.

What You Should Say

“Knowing how hard your field is to break into, it’s pretty impressive you got hired at this past job. And because of that, I know you’re going to get through this. In the meantime, do you want a beer?”

5. “How’s the Job Hunt Going—Any Good Leads?”

What I Hear You Say: “How Are You Possibly Still Unemployed?”

I know, you’re just checking in to see how it’s going. However, I can assure that the person’s actively looking for these good leads, and as soon as he or she’s secured that awesome new gig, you’ll know.

What You Should Say

“I’m sure you’re crazy busy looking for that next amazing opportunity. Probably also stressed. I heard wine fixes that—I’ll bring over a bottle. Maybe two.”

While your friend no doubt appreciates what you’re attempting to do, he or she would probably prefer your company—whether it comes with alcohol or not—over any career advice right now. That is, of course, assuming you don’t have any of those amazing jobs leads up your sleeve…

Are you guilty of saying any of these? Has someone said one of these lines to you? Are you guy who lost his job and his legs? Tell me on Twitter.