August 12th, 2009

What to say and not to say to someone who lost their job

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Fired Chances are you know someone who lost their job within the last twelve months. Even though things are looking a little more upbeat these days, times are still tough and companies are still cutting back. When people lose their job, they have to face the reality of being unemployed and need to re-group. However, there are still ways of being supportive, encouraging and optimistic about the future. Since losing a job is a touchy subject, here are some things you should say or do when someone you know becomes unemployed:

1. Remind the person that this happens to talented and successful people too.
2. Point out their successes and strengths.
3. Offer to introduce the person to people you know who might be able to help them in their job search.
4. Take time to listen. Just being there and being present is enough to help.
5. Check-in periodically and stay positive.
6. Offer to go over the person’s resume once it is updated.
7. Be generous. Offer to treat the person to lunch or dinner.
8. Ask them for help or advice. It will make the person feel talented.
9. Be concrete. Offer tangibles. Email job tips, websites, pertinent articles.
10. Invite the person to a networking function.

Things to avoid saying to someone after they lose their job:

1. Things might come back around by next year.
2. What rotten luck.
3. I hear this recession is going to last two more years.
4. What are you going to do about health insurance, your huge mortgage?
5. Boy, I’m glad I left when I did.
6. Just think, you’ll have more time for golf, tennis, fishing, etc.
7. Just be glad this happened now instead of during the holidays.
8. Just be glad you don’t have a wife and kids to support.
9. You should have changed departments when you had a chance.
10. What bad timing! The unemployment rates just hit an all-time high.
11. Now you’ll be competing with all the boomers and recent college grads.
12. You may have to give up the new car you just bought.
13. They really missed out on you.
14. Everything happens for a reason.
15. Well, at least you tried your hardest.
16. It’s happening to everyone. It’s not the end of the world.
17. You have lots of experience so you’ll be fine.
18. Why didn’t you… or You should have…
19. Just be glad that you still get your unemployment checks.

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