Jobless Buddy

18 Jun

Letterbalm Depressed ManDear LetterBalm: I have a friend who is unemployed and anxious to find a job. He wants to join the company where I work. I don’t think he’ll be a good employee right now, so I haven’t recommended him to human resources, even though he’s been pressuring me. My friend’s not thinking clearly – he’s complaining all the time, and he’s angry at the world. He blames everyone and himself, and he can’t concentrate on the job search with any clarity. He’s also drinking a lot when we get together for a night with the guys. I think he’s depressed (and the fact that he’s had several interviews that led to rejections hasn’t helped). What can I say to jolt him into the truth?

–Employed Friend

Being involuntarily jobless is one of life’s biggest challenges, and your friend is suffering all the classic signs of stress. He probably is depressed, too, and his confidence is at rock-bottom. Ms. L.B. senses that an intervention by several of his friends would humiliate him and push him further into anger and despondency. But as his good friend who already works for the company he wants, you have some leverage and may actually be able to help him. Talk with him privately (no alcohol) and don’t react if he gets angry or defensive:

Art, I’m about to give you the best advice since you got laid off. You’ve been pressuring me to get you an interview at Acme, but there’s no way I’ll do that right now. Why? You’re a first-rate technician, and you’d be a real asset to the company. But you’re in no shape to meet with anybody there. You’ll never get hired. You’re angry, defensive, blaming yourself and everybody for your life. How do you think that will come across in an interview? Your confidence is shot, and you’re having a hard time bouncing back. Plus, you’re drinking more than usual. Look, this isn’t criticism. You’re my good friend, and I hate to see you like this. I have a couple of ideas, hear me out. First, you may be depressed and you need to see your doctor for any medical problems and get into therapy. There’s low-cost counseling – I’ve checked out a couple of affordable places we can talk about. Second, you might want to consider project work, volunteering or teaching at the local learning annex. You’ve got a lot of skills and any of these will help you rebound and look good on your resume. When you get back your equilibrium, I’ll be the first to refer you to Acme. What do you say? Are you willing to get help and let me help you?

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