The numbers are in for October, and things are still looking a rough in the job market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is hovering at 9.6 percent, where it’s been stuck since May.

What’s even harder to imagine, however, is that there are still 6.2 million people who’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or more. That means that 6.2 million Americans have been looking for jobs for more than 6 months.

Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who has a job, chances are you know someone who’s unemployed, and maybe even someone who’s been unemployed for quite some time. It’s time to take matters into your own hands, and do what you can to help them get back on their feet and find a job.

Tip #1: Stay in Touch
When things aren’t going well in your professional life, it’s easy to pull an ostrich: to stick your head in the sand and ignore the world around you. Don’t let your unemployed friends, family members or co-workers pull a disappearing act. Stay in touch with them—email them, call them, and bug them on Facebook. Send them updates on their industry (if you’re able), or just send them messages to let them know you’re thinking about them. It may not seem like much, but your support can go a long way.

Tip #2: Help Them Contribute
If they’ve been out of work for awhile, your unemployed friends, family members, or colleagues may be starting to doubt their skills and capabilities. Help them find places to contribute so they can keep their minds sharp and their self-esteem high. If you run a community organization, ask them to volunteer. If you run a business that they are familiar with, ask them for their feedback or opinion. If you have a project that you need help with, see if they’re willing to freelance or consult for you.

These outlets may not only remind help your friends and loved ones remember how talented they really are, but they could just be the networking opportunities that lead to a new job.

Tip #3: Forward Job Postings
If you’re online and have a social media presence, chances are you see a lot of job postings. Even if you do the bare minimum, such as subscribing to your alumni email list, I bet you see at least one of two job postings each week. Rather than hit delete next time one of these opportunities pops up in your inbox, take a good, hard look at the posting. Run through your mental list of contacts, and think about whom that job might be a good fit for. Then take the time to forward it to that contact with a personal note.

Tip #4: Help them Get Online
If you’re a social media whiz and your unemployed Uncle John still can’t quite figure out how to open an email attachment, it’s time to stage an intervention. Put your social media skills to work for your unemployed friends, family members, and colleagues. Offer to meet with them for coffee and help them set up a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook account, and a Twitter handle. Show them the ins and outs of Twitter chats, LinkedIn groups, and Facebook networking. It will only take an hour or two of your time, and can really have a huge impact on their job search.

Tip #5: Rally Your Mutual Friends and Family
I don’t care how resilient you are—a prolonged job search is a blow to anyone’s ego. That’s why now is the time to rally mutual friends and family members and give support to the person in your life who’s unemployed.  If it’s someone in your family, organize Sunday dinners, family outings, and movie nights. If it’s a friend, make a point to meet up with them for coffee, shopping, or football tailgates. If it’s a former colleague, invite them to work happy hours, trade shows, and networking events. Spending time with those who are unemployed will take their mind off the stress of the job search and give them an opportunity to recharge through your love and support.

Noel Rozny writes myPathfinder, the bi-weekly career blog for the myFootpath website. myFootpath is a resource to help you in your search for a college, degree program, career, graduate school, and non-traditional experiences. Visit myFootpath to start your college or degree program search.

Reprinted with permission.


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