Posted: by HRNasty in Job Interview Tips, Networking

Job Search Support

Do you have job search support?

I was recently working with a married couple where the Mr. Boomer Generation is unemployed and the Mrs. is employed.  After they explained their story, I mentioned this post and they encouraged me to post it.  Some of what they shared was a theme I hear on a regular basis from candidates looking for work:

  • “I have no job search support.”
  • “I feel all alone, I don’t want to tell anyone I am unemployed.”
  • “My partner / parent does not understand what it is like trying to find a job in this economy.”
  • My partner asks me “What did you do all day?” when they come home from work.

If your partner is looking for a job, I thought this might help clarify the job search fallacies for the both parties because everyone needs job search support.

I have worked in HR a long time and I have seen a lot of relationships become strained when one partner is looking for a job and the other is gainfully employed.  I have seen this phenomenon happen more often in the last few years and especially if one person hasn’t had to look for a job since 2007.  I thought the following might provide some context.

It’s not easy finding a job in any economy but this economy is a real bitch.  Here is the breakdown:

  • Flood of talent:  With more young people with less experience (which means lower salary requirements) coupled with experienced workers (with higher salary requirements) who lost their retirement funds and still need to work.  This generation is working where they would otherwise be retiring out of the workforce.
  • Economy: With fewer jobs and more candidates, this economy allows companies to be pickier than ever before.
  • Technology:  Looking for a job is no longer just opening a newspaper and typing up a resume.  Candidates need to be familiar with new technologies (social media, search engines and online application forms) that have only become available in the last few years.  If you haven’t had to look for a job in the last 5-10 years, you missed the emergence of a lot of new technology.

Many candidates feel alone in their job search.  It’s not intentional, it’s just habit.  Recent generations haven’t experienced this type of employment market and in the past, support wasn’t needed.  Jobs came quickly.

I have noticed an inverse relationship with the length of the search and the amount of support provided.   Support doesn’t just go down over time, it becomes a negative influence.

Most of us feel we should know how to interview because we have had success in the past (in a different economy) but it isn’t that simple.   (SEE THIS POST on why it is so hard to find a job)

I help candidates with job interview skills and when I send candidates home with interview questions or resume tips and suggest they practice with their partner, I usually get the following.

  • “I couldn’t do that”.
    • Why the Eff not?
  • The Ocho Cinco “Child Pleeeaaase” look / response
    • Oh no you didn’t!
  • “They don’t know anything about interviewing, they can’t help me.”
    • But they know about how to listen

Any of the above is my first tip that there is no job search support.  When the partner isn’t involved or supportive, self-doubt will start to creep into the candidates mind.  Over time, most candidates don’t even realize how beaten down they have become.  Just like gaining a pound a month for 24 months you wake up and realize you let your body and your confidence go to crap.  As the recruiter interviewing your partner I see it plain as day.

What your partner needs more than ever is your support.  If you are not able to provide support, then in the least, please be mindful of the rolling eyes, snide remarks, and the tone of your questions around the job search.  Finding a job today is not like finding a job or 10 or 20 years ago.  I know plenty of people who landed jobs 20, 15, and 10 years ago within a week.  Now they are having a tough time just landing an interview.  It isn’t your partners fault, this economy is a very big factor.  Asking the question “what did you do today” while rolling your neck isn’t helping the situation.   Rolling your eyes when you hear a response is a bitch move.

WORK AS A TEAM.  You and your PARTNER signed up for a life together, through thick and thin, till death do us apart.  Practicing interview questions, resume reviews and moral support are just a few places that you can help.  If you feel that helping is like teaching your spouse to play golf and shouldn’t be attempted for the sake of your relationship, that is OK.  Finding someone who can help is a form of job search support.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOUR PARTNER?

Share your personal and professional network with your partner.  It surprises me how many people I work with do NOT leverage the network of their partner.  Don’t be stingy with your network doling out a single name here or there.  Spill the entire Rolodex! 

I repeatedly hear the following answer when I ask about the partner helping with the networking aspect of the job hunt.

  • I don’t want to ask my partner for access to their network.
    • Uhhh, Why the Eff not?  You must not need a job badly enough.
  • We know the same people.
    • Uhhh, no you don’t.
  • My partner doesn’t know anyone that is hiring.
    • Uhh, they don’t have to know anything about hiring.
  • My partner is a stay at home
    • They probably know other soccer mom’s and other football dads

If you do nothing else, share your Rolodex with your partner.  Most jobs are landed through networking.  Introductions are a big difference between landing an interview and waiting by the phone.  It’s not what you know, it is who you know.  Your partner’s job hunt is YOUR job hunt.  Yes, as a couple you have an immediate circle of friends that you both know, but beyond that immediate circle, the buck stops.  Both partners have a different set of interests, different friends, and different job histories.  It only takes one person to forward the resume to the right person and they don’t even have to work in your industry.  You don’t need to know anyone that is hiring and you don’t even need to be working.  You only need to know people that work and trust me, they don’t even have to be hipster or have their act together.   You have friends that work for companies that are hiring, and most companies offer their employees a referral bonus for hired employees.  Your network WANTS to see your partners resume’s.

What else can you do?

  1. Don’t be embarrassed for your partner.   This economy has affected millions of individual’s world wide through no fault of his or her own.  Recognize that it isn’t your partner’s fault.  Let your network know that your spouse is looking for “new opportunities”.  “My dead beat husband is on the couch watching Maury Povich, he can’t find a job” doesn’t count as support.
  2. If your partner asks you to review their resume for typos give constructive feedback.  Avoid ticking off every mistake with a red marker as if you are the teacher and they are in the 2nd grade.  Make suggestions vs. pointing out mistakes.   Typo’s are the number one resume killer.
  3. If they want to practice interview questions with you, don’t hesitate.  Don’t practice just once, practice till the answers are polished.   It isn’t the person that is the most qualified that lands the job, it is the candidate that that is the most prepared for the interview that lands the job.  If you are not the right person to practice with, maybe you know someone that will practice with your partner.

There is a saying in the world of recruiting.

It is easiest to get a job when you have a job.  Why?  Because when you have a job THERE IS NO PRESSURE.  When candidates don’t worry about blowing an interview because they have a fall back plan, they perform better in the interview.   If the candidate doesn’t have a paycheck, bills are piling up, and they know their partner is going to add additional pressure with a dirty look when they come home, that is the shits.  Don’t be shitty.

See you at the after party,

HRNasty

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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  • Back in 2010 I suffered a HUGE career setback that went from bad to worse and kept me unemployed for 11 months. I had to take an entry-level job at a call center to acknowledge I was at rock-bottom after losing a high-level civil service job. (I’m well on my way back)

    I’m not going to accuse my wife of getting in the way of my job search and recovery, but this post really rings true for me. I wish this kind of advice was available to us back then.

    Last year, she was under threat of having to switch careers (she recovered), and while I was more than available and worked on her CV (I still am the one who updates it for her), I could have done better by following the advice here during that stressful time.

  • This is super spot on. Through personal experience, a secondary effect is the masculine/feminine politics, that although awful and incorrect, still manage to stick around in the back of your head. Males get very little pleasure being supported by their female partner, they may even feel resentful. Females get frustrated by providing for their supposed provider, who probably hasn’t taken over her other tasks while she is working (i.e. house cleaning). None of it’s right, but it can still lurk deep in the dark corners of a tense relationship.

    Finally, one thing that should be accepted in this economy, is that their employment stature may never return. Your partner may end up working in a job far below their abilities, just so that they can be employed. Personally, it makes me love the person even more who is willing to work in anything just so they can contribute to the relationship – but others may soon find the ugly question of “when are you going to get a proper job?” being asked.

    It’s all really hard work on both sides. A lot of sympathy for each other is pretty much the only way to avoid resentment. Neither the employed or unemployed person is winning, but it can be easy to forget from both vantage points!

    • Sarah,
      Thanks for stopping by as always, I could have sworn I responded here earlier. . .not sure what happened. Thank you for saying what I as a “male” had a hard time articulating and ended up leaving out. (probably my overly sensitive HR side, not wanting to speak to what I haven’t experienced) I didn’t want to speak on behalf of females being frustrated or resentful with their help being rejected. I think you captured the point perfectly and we men should realize that a relationship is a team effort and we both help each other when the chips are down. Thanks for speaking up!