Getting Friends and Family On Board When You’re Unemployed

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There are just some things in life you simply cannot understand until it happens to you. So forgive your friends and family if they’ve never been unemployed – they just don’t know. But it’s up to you to help them get past the idea that you have absolutely nothing to do. They have to understand that you are not on a very long vacation. Your job search takes time.

Tell Them How You Feel
People who are unemployed don’t like to talk about it. During the workday, it’s hard to find people to talk to when you’re out of work.  Since your life has changed, it’s up to YOU to let friends and family know how you want your friendship and relationship to change.

It’s Not Fun
In 2008 when the recession started, some of the recently unemployed coined the word “funemployment.” It isn’t. But your friends and family who are working, maybe in jobs they’re not thrilled with, want some of that! Remind them it is not fun surfing the net to understand social networking. Unemployment is not a vacation and is far from being enjoyable.

Get Up and Get Out
When you lose a job, it’s hard to get started in the morning. If you begin each day on your regular workday schedule, it’s less likely that your friends and family will see you as someone who can be the emergency contact for their kids at school, or the baby sitter, or the errand runner. Even if you head out to the library, where they have materials galore for the unemployed, the act of being up and about will help deter everyone from their special needs requests.

Be Frugal, Not Miserly
Remember that life goes on after you lose your job. If you get into never leaving the house because of your worries about money, although you have a very tight budget, you still have to hang out with friends and family. You’re allowed to laugh and be with the people you care about. Your employed friends and family may feel pressured to treat you, and by all means feel free to accept sometimes. But you should also spend your own money some of time – be sure to fit some fun into the budget. Going out with the gang will give you a chance to laugh and be distracted from being unemployed for the evening.

Finding Employment is a Job in Itself
You want friends and family to think of you as a job-seeker, not an available-to-be-the-helper-they-always-needed. When your neighbor asks you to stop in and walk her dog during the day, let her know you’re going to the Department of Labor, because they have skills seminars that might help you in your job search. And when your husband asks you to go pick up the refreshments for his poker night, remind him that you’re spending time with someone you graduated with to talk about some possible opportunities.  After you turn them down twice, they’ll get the idea that your day job is to find a job!

About the Author

Laurel Bernstein is an Executive Coach working with senior leaders and business owners in the New York metropolitan area, and is a frequent contributor to She can be reached at