Help Your Spouse Find A Job Quickly
by Tom Washington
As a job seeker, please read this article and then ask your spouse to read it as well. Your spouse can be a great asset to you. Please take full advantage of your spouse to receive understanding, encouragement, and insight.
You will have more impact on your spouse’s success in the job market than any other single person. A friend, relative, or associate may ultimately provide the lead which will result in a job, but on a day-to-day basis, no one will have as much impact as you. You could be the greatest help to your spouse, or the greatest hindrance. It depends on you.
Your main role in the coming weeks is to listen and support. Your spouse needs someone who will simply listen without advising, cajoling, or criticizing. When your spouse asks for advice, give it, but give it in a spirit of love and concern. This demonstration of love and concern may help your spouse to remain open with you, when the tendency is to become closed and isolated.
Because of the nature of the job search process, your spouse is likely to experience a variety of intense emotions. Your spouse may go from the highest highs, to the lowest lows. During the lows, let your spouse know that you are available to talk. Also be prepared, however, to allow your spouse a day or so to recover from any bad news he or she receives, such as discovering that the job which seemed perfect went to someone else.
I often encourage people to feel bad for a few hours, or even a day, in the wake of a disappointment. But then it’s time to get on with life and the job search. The best antidote for depression is activity. If a person has several job possibilities cooking at the same time, it’s not so devastating if one of the possibilities falls through.
Do everything you can to help your spouse conduct a consistent and systematic job search. Do not place undue pressure on your spouse or load him or her up with tasks to do around the house. When a spouse is out of work, it is easy to assume that he or she has lots of free time, but that simply isn’t so. During a proper job search, an unemployed person should spend approximately 30 hours a week on the job search. I don’t ask people to spend more time because I believe hunting for a job is one of the toughest jobs there is. The mental aspects can be draining. Thirty hours a week is all one should expect.
In adding up 30 hours per week of job search activity, I count time spent at the library utilizing reference resources, writing cover letters and thank-you notes, responding to job postings, driving to appointments, the appointments and interviews themselves, and making phone calls. Also, throughout the period of unemployment, people with certain types of backgrounds should devote several hours a week to reading about their field. Such reading keeps people sharp, but should not be counted toward the 30 hours.
There is nothing magical about spending 30 hours per week on a job search, however. Just physically doing something 30 hours a week will not necessarily produce the desired result. How the 30 hours are spent is most critical. Because it is so easy to waste time, management one’s time is critical during a job search.
As long as your spouse is putting in 30 solid hours per week, treat your spouse just as you would if he or she was still working at a full-time job. If in the past you handled a certain household function, continue doing it yourself. That’s not to say that the spouse should not take on any extra responsibilities, especially if you are employed also, but do not add many things. Your spouse’s job search is a full-time job, and you should please do everything possible to ensure that the unemployment period is as short as possible.
At the end of the day, ask your spouse what he or she felt was accomplished, or what positive thing happened that day. Do not ask when he or she will land a job. That is absolutely the last question your spouse wants to hear from you or anyone else. Your spouse is just as anxious about the situation as you, but he or she simply won’t know when a new job will be obtained. Anything your spouse says in response to this question will be pure conjecture.
By asking what was accomplished that day or what positive thing happened, you will be doing several things. You will be keeping communications alive by showing genuine interest in your spouse. You will also be reminding your spouse that things were accomplished and positive things did happen. When one needs a job, however, any day in which a job is not attained feels like a failure.
Job hunters need a new definition of success. For many the definition of success is getting an acceptable job offer. Unfortunately, however, in a four-month job search, success will occur only on the 120th day. That’s a lot of days of failure if you believe success is determined solely by job offers.
I have alternate definitions of success for job hunters. Success is writing a tailored cover letter which may help get an interview when the standard cover letter would not have. Success is talking to someone who provides a lead. Success is a positive meeting with a person who may have a job in the near future. Success is obtaining useful insights from a friend or a person at the library. You get the idea.
Successes like these can and should occur every day. By asking your spouse to recount such successes, you will remind your spouse that positive things are happening. On occasion, your spouse may even claim that nothing was accomplished and there were no successes. Listen to what your spouse did that day and then tell your spouse what accomplishments and successes you believe occurred. As small as they may be, come up with something.
Be available when your spouse asks for help. If your spouse is writing a cover letter and needs an objective person, read it and supply your counsel. Do not use that time as an opportunity to criticize, however, even if it’s justified, otherwise your spouse may not seek you out again.
I am not implying that you treat your spouse with kid gloves or as some fragile thing that can easily break. Just be understanding. Before you say something, even if it is unrelated to the job search, ask yourself whether it will increase or diminish your spouse’s self-esteem. If it doesn’t build self-esteem, try to modify what you were going to say.
Don’t build your hopes up too high. If your spouse is among three finalists for a position, don’t assume he or she will get it. If your spouse does not get the position, indicate that you are disappointed for your spouse’s sake, not because it now looks like at least four more weeks of unemployment.
Instead, encourage your spouse. Remind your spouse that no matter how good a position may have looked, there is something even better out there. If your spouse wants to talk about what he or she could have done better, listen, but don’t judge. A good response might be, “Maybe it would have been better if you hadn’t said that (or, hadn’t done that), but that probably was not the deciding factor. The person who got it probably just had the perfect background. You’ll get the next one. I know you will. After all, you’re a very good (your spouse’s occupation).”
Although there are often things that can be done in the evening, such as writing cover letters and calling friends for leads, basically the daily job search ends at 5 pm. At that point, your spouse has done everything possible for the day, and there will be more things to do tomorrow. Occasionally, your spouse may finish the tasks for that day by two or three in the afternoon. Rather than asking if there isn’t something else that could be done that day, let your spouse call it a day. Job finding is not a straight nine-to-five activity. Some things are best done in the evening, while other things can be done over the weekend. As long as your spouse is putting in approximately 30 productive hours per week, give your spouse the freedom to figure out when to do it.
Remember, your spouse will find a job. What you’re both experiencing is temporary.