The Job Search - A Family Affair

The range of emotions that come following an unexpected career change are not just felt by the person experiencing the loss. The change and job search are most definitely a family affair. Such a transition impacts everyone that the job seeker holds dear to them. This includes their spouse/significant other/partner, children, parents, and close friends. Sometimes this major change hits the loved ones harder than the person who experienced the unplanned career transition.

The job seeker’s family often feels anger, lack of control, frustration, fear of the unknown, and loss of identity. It can be tough for the person in transition to move forward with a job search when these concerns exist. Moving forward can be further compounded by the perception that this person possesses “extra” free time now. And, as time lingers on in the search, the question “What are you really doing with your time?” becomes prevalent among the family.

In actuality a job search is a full time job and until someone goes through this experience, especially an unexpected job search (one day you are here and the next day you are gone), it is difficult to understand. A typical 40 hour work week or more is critical to finding the right work and environment. Home and hobby-related chores need to wait until the weekend or the usual time the job seeker previously fit it into their regular work schedule. With this in mind, the support of the people who are closest to the job seeker becomes paramount.

What can you do if someone close to you experiences an unexpected career change?

1. Talk about what both of you want and check in with each other to confirm that you are still aligned in your goals and moving in the same direction.

2. Involve children, depending on their ages, in a family meeting to discuss what has happened and how it affects them.

3. Collaborate and decide how each member of the family should respond to questions or statements from well-meaning relatives and friends such as:

  • Does ___ have a job yet?
  • Oh, no!  That’s awful.  What are you going to do?

4. Make a list of the positive opportunities and events that can come out of this experience. Think and talk about these instead of allowing negativity to creep in.

5. Encourage and support the person during this transition phase. Ask:

  • What can I do to support you during this time of change?
  • What was the highlight for you this week?
  • What experience surprised you the most this week?
  • What action do you want me to take in readjusting our family budget?

6. Catch your loved one doing well.

7. Encourage a career search routine.

8. Identify ways to substitute a family tradition that may cost too much money right now:

  • Instead of eating out at the regular place, try a new restaurant that is less expensive and offers a new experience, or host a potluck dinner at your home.
  • Replace a trip to an amusement park with a trip to the zoo or museum on days with special rates.

9. Identify people who believe in your significant other.  Seize opportunities to engage with these people more often.

10. Engage in volunteer activities together.

11. Take care of your own health.  Watch for and treat signs of anxiety or depression.

12. Celebrate the moments of success. 

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