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Jude's avatar

I have a family member who has been looking for work for three months now and isn't having much luck. They're feeling rather discouraged. What do I say to them?

Asked by Jude (31980 points ) April 20th, 2010

They’re desperate for cash at this point and not landing anything is really starting to get to them.

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12 Answers

partyparty's avatar

The job situation is pretty bad worldwide, so tell them they are not alone.
Just be there for them, and perhaps help them in their search.
Do you know of any vacancies that they could apply for? Perhaps you could ask your neighbours, work colleagues etc.
Just be there for them, and encourage them to continue searching.
The right job will come along eventually.

ambos's avatar

I would encourage them to look for jobs that might not necessarily be their first choice. It will give them a sense of purpose and they are making money. They can continue looking for a better job while earning an income and feeling like a contributing member of society.

CMaz's avatar

You give them a hug and make them dinner.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

If “desperate for cash”, then it’s time for them to consider jobs that they might normally consider “beneath” them, whatever that might be. (I had a girlfriend a few years ago who was between jobs as a retail store manager, who drove a school bus while she kept looking. Another worked at Taco Bell, even though she had skills way beyond that.) There’s no shame in honest work done well.

Tty to get them to see beyond the immediate lack of cash. If they have a home and regular meals then they’re still doing better than most of the world.

It’s also a good time to reevaluate ‘need’, too. I’ve cut a lot of unnecessary stuff from my life at these times.

Wish them luck, and take them to dinner once in awhile, too, as @ChazMaz suggests.

marinelife's avatar

Tell them that the economy is turning around, if slowly.

Offer to look over their resume (to see if there is a problem).

Have they considered relocating to get a job into a better market? Not all parts of the U.S. are the same.

My sister got a job after more than a year of being out of work.

Silence04's avatar

It’s taking people from 6–8 months on average to land jobs right now…

YARNLADY's avatar

My son, three adult grandsons and their mother have all five been out of work for months as well.

Ask (them) if (they) want any help finding job leads, and do what you can to help. Suggest food stamps and other government agency help.

evandad's avatar

Be less particular

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Bravo @ambos!
I also have been looking for a ‘real job’ since being laid off 3yrs ago. In the meantime I have worked less than my ideal jobs but have had no problem in finding them. Several years running, I still average between 50–75hrs a week, it’s not fun but it’s better than sitting at home and feeling like I’m unemployable and not being able to make my basic living expenses.

dalepetrie's avatar

OK, been there, done that.

I just today received a job offer starting in May, but the last company I worked for shut down in February…of 2009! I have a Bachelor’s Degree and nearly 15 years of experience in my field and it took me 15 months. Being realistic is important, and here’s the first dose of reality….

Things are bad, there’s a lot to be discouraged about. Stats I’ve heard:

- There are 6 people looking for work for every job out there.
– Unemployment is over 10%, NOT counting people who have quit looking for work or who are working less hours than they’d like or in temporary and/or outside their field of expertise jobs.
– The average duration of unemployment is at its highest level since 1948, 30.2 weeks
– 6.3 million Americans have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks.

The point of that is not to discourage your family member, but to let them know that they are not alone by any stretch of the imagination, but also to let them know that they have to change their mindset into thinking this is a short term thing. If you are unemployed right now, you have to plan on being unemployed for several months.

If after only 3 months they are already truly desperate for cash, something has gone severely wrong. Essentially, I could continue to draw unemployment until October before I would completely exhaust my benefits, because the Federal government has extended benefits many times, up to 84 weeks, so basically you know it’s bad. Hopefully this person qualified for unemployment, but of course, one should make sure that they are actually applying for the benefits, some people actually don’t even think about this being available to them, but it can truly be a lifesaver.

Now, I’ve employed a few strategies to bring in extra money while I’ve been unemployed:

1) I have a spouse who works ½ time, and she has been able to pick up substitute hours at her work…if there are any other people in the household, they too can perhaps try to put in more hours if that is feasible.

2) Sell stuff. My wife and I have used the time on our hands to go through our house and downsize significantly. Things that I used to think I was really attached to, when it got right down to it, I realized a lot of it was just false sentimentality. Here I am hanging onto things I hadn’t looked at in a couple years because I couldn’t bear to part with them. If this is not something you ever look at or use, ask if you really need it, and if you don’t, ask if you can get money for it. Craig’s List is a great way to sell things, but we’ve also sold our son’s old clothing to second hand kids’ stores, I’ve sold CDs and movies to used CD stores, and hey, it’s garage sale season! Old books, games, electronics, clothes, media, furniture, appliances, etc. can all net some extra cash.

3) I found interesting ways to make money for just temporary gigs. For example, I used my skills to do the books for a former co-worker who had started his own business when the company failed. Use your skills, even if they’re mowing lawns, painting, or some other kind of manual labor, or even if they’re specialized white collar skills, you can be a hired hand. Maybe you can type up term papers, run errands for someone, whatever you can do that people might pay money for, try to find someone who will pay you to do it. Craig’s List will even allow you to post your services for free.

4) If this relative lives in a major metropolitan area like I do, there are often market research companies which are willing to pay you to do focus groups, on line surveys, taste tests, etc. Not a huge source of income, but some extra cash. Same with online survey companies, sign up for a few, they might get a few bucks here and there. Secret shopping is also something to bring in money and maybe get some free stuff, it’s not a lot of pay for the effort, but every little bit helps.

5) If you have credit cards, use them. I’ve been a big believer in keeping my credit cards paid in full on time, but when a loss of income hit, I bit the bullet and paid high interest to keep myself afloat.

6) Don’t be too proud to take charity, be it from a family member or friend, or an organization.

7) Look at any ways you can consolidate bills or refinance your house….hopefully if this person is a homeowner they are not under water, but the government has a pretty aggressive plan in place to keep people in their homes if they’ll just call their mortgage companies and try to get their rates lowered…you can borrow like 95% of your home’s value at rates as low as 1%. There may also be programs that one can qualify for, like when I bought my house, I qualified for a 20% tax credit each year when I do my taxes on the mortgage interest I pay, it really helps at tax time.

8) If you have a newer vehicle, you might be able to take the title in to a bank and get them to give you a secured loan even if you have trouble getting credit cards.

9) Don’t go out to eat, shop at thrift stores, discount stores, second hand shops, etc., find ways to do what you’re doing cheaper, clip coupons, and don’t take the attitude that a few cents won’t help, because a few cents a hundred times is a few bucks. They might be able to go to a budget haircutting place if they now go to a stylist. Maybe they can look for savings on things like phone, internet, TV, by investigating the myriad of options that are out there, and by not really buying anything they don’t need.

10) Recycle cans, sell blood, get a paper route, work in fast food.

11) Use indeed.com for a job search, because it looks at all the job sites and aggregates them, making your job search FAR more efficient.

12) Look into other government programs…there are a lot of things that maybe you could qualify for financial aid on.

13) I’ve seen some go back to school because they can live off student loan money and come out on the other end with a greater skill set.

14) Always keep an eye out for opportunity, whenever you’re talking to someone, you are networking…don’t just up and ask people for work or if their companies are hiring, but converse with people, look for opportunities to make connections and fulfill needs. Consider volunteering just for the contacts you might make…you never know where that next opportunity will come from.

15) Make good use of the public library…everything from job listings and guidebooks on how to find a job, write a resume, network and market yourself, to things to entertain you when you don’t have an entertainment budget can be found.

16) If they have a house with extra space, consider taking on a renter.

17) Try to cut down on transportation expenses, if that means taking public transportation or riding a bike more places, or even selling a vehicle. Raise deductibles on car insurance to save on premiums.

18) As other’s have said, don’t overlook ANY opportunity, even if it means lowering one’s standards. For example, I know that I could stretch my unemployment benefits even further, because if I had part time work, at least in Minnesota, my benefits are only reduced by 45% of what I make, so I’d get every penny I earned, plus about half of my unemployment, and that money would then stay in the account and extend the amount of time I could draw unemployment. Maybe there’s a job that always sounded like “fun” but just didn’t pay enough. Like for me, working in a book store or record store or a radio station would have been fun, but wouldn’t pay nearly what I can make as an accountant.

And for all those bad statistics I put forth, there are many good ones. Such as the fact that the trend shows we’re at the end of the job losses and about to start gaining jobs. People like me are getting back to work after a long time out. I’ve known people who’ve managed to find work the week they got laid off, so it’s not impossible to find work. Things are getting better, companies which aren’t starting to hire are showing signs that they are thinking about starting. Unemployment rates are starting to go down gradually. The worst is over, and the recovery is long, but things ARE getting better. Just tell your family member to live as frugally as possible, look for any and all (legal) means of bringing in cash, and to just look at finding a job as their current job, and eventually it will happen. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and whatever you have to do to survive, don’t let pride get in your way.

JohnRobert's avatar

I would encourage some volunteer work to keep spirits up, so that when he/she does get an interview, your family member will have a more positive outlook. Perhaps it could lead to a job as well. I can’t say that I’ve done this, but it is something that I think I would do if in that situation.

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