Employment Change is Scary :: How Friends Can Help

I recently lost my job, or more specifically, my partners and I closed our store. It was a hard decision to make and while I told everyone I was fine, there was no way to spin the ache in my heart that hit every night as the house got quiet.

I felt lost.

Many of us have experienced a sudden change in employment or know someone who has. Only a few weeks before my store closed, a dear friend’s program funding was cut forcing her back into the job market and away from a career where she changed lives every day. I remember leaving a job to stay home with my first born, and I remember making that decision to go back to work once he was older. I’ve watched friends go through similar changes. Even when these employment shifts are our own choice, they can still wreck havoc on our schedules, our identities, and especially on our emotions.

I have a couple of fall-back positions when I hear of someone’s change in employment: I bring wine and schedule in some face-to-face time. If you’re looking for more, here is a list of do’s and don’t’s to get you started. Remember empathy, kindness, and a quiet presence, go a long way when we want to speak to the hearts of others.

Do offer your understanding, and if applicable, your condolences.

Make that contact and let them know you’re thinking about them. Pray for them. Ask them what they need and then follow through. If someone is going back to work, they might feel overwhelmed juggling such a full schedule. Feed them. When they need carpool help, volunteer.  It means so much to have those connections, especially when feeling unmoored.

Don’t ask for details.

Any decision involving employment is a tough one, often made with Leslie Knope level pro/con lists. It is also a very personal decision. Details come out in their own time.

Do suggest job opportunities.

If someone you know just lost their job, absolutely share an opportunity you just heard about or suggest a contact you know. So many disciplines are interconnected and in an area like greater Wichita, many of our contacts overlap as well. A good way to move your resume to the top of the pile is through personal connections. 

Don’t make a job offer that isn’t real.

Losing the first job can be soul-crushing, as can sharing the decision to return to work. No one wants to get excited about a new job possibility, make that follow-up call, and discover you were only being polite.

Do continue to be friends.

Employment, whether outside or inside the home, is a big part of who we are, but it’s not all that we are. Continuing to go out with friends and being included in activities, makes a difference. If someone can’t afford to do something or has a very full schedule, let it be their choice to say no. 

Don’t say it was for the best.

Job change in all its forms feels very uncertain. Please don’t make promises in the form of platitudes. While throwing your support behind your friends is important, no one knows what lies in the future. Enter that uncertainty side-by-side.    

I have a pretty amazing group of friends. I have honestly never felt so loved or blessed by each of them. Women who themselves were going through job changes, reached out with emotional support, sent the most amazing mail, and made plans to fill my schedule. And no one passed judgement when I suggested shoe shopping.  I’ve been showered with fresh flowers, homemade baked goods, and consistent support. It made all the difference.  

*At the time of this submission, Kristina is once again gainfully employed.

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