Job seeking can be challenging, confusing and take longer than you want it to. Experience shows that those who have a good ‘support crew’ around them have the best chance of maintaining the resilience and focus needed to succeed. My clients report that some of the best support has come from trusted friends, colleagues and family who are there to encourage them, proof read applications and generally listen to their plans and ideas.

Here are 5 ways that you can help your friends to make decisions about their careers, keep their job search on track and boost their confidence along the way.

1. Listen and listen some moreMore often than not, your friends will benefit from just having someone listen to their questions, issues and ideas. Try to suspend your own thoughts and suggestions, and the temptation to become a ‘problem solver’ for them. Allow them enough space to say what’s on their minds and give them your attention. Its amazing the clarity that simply listening can help people achieve.

2. Show your curiosity. Asking questions can help people to further clarify their thoughts, make decisions and take action. Trying asking ‘open’ questions that encourage your friends to explain or explore their ideas further, such as  ‘what is it that really appeals about that job?’ or ‘who could you talk to help you out with that information?’  The main thing is to be naturally curious and to listen to  answers without over-shadowing the conversation with your own opinions and experience.

3. Avoid overdoing the advice. How many conversations have you had when the other person has, instead of listening to you, has taken over with a mountain of information, advice and “should dos”? Despite our best intentions to help, giving too much advice (especially when it is inaccurate!) can actually be counter-productive. This is not to say that you won’t have helpful information and experience to offer, so go ahead and provide it. Just remember you do not usually need to solve your friend’s problem, rather you can be a great support by helping them solve it.

4. Encourage action. For many people, their job search or career planning is delayed or sabotaged due to take a lack of action. This can be caused by feelings of uncertainty, confusion, lack of confidence or  preparation, or unwillingness to take a risk. However if they have thought through their ideas and plans even a little, encourage your friends to  followed through on them. This could involve relatively straightforward things like signing up for job alerts on relevant on-line job sites; updating their resume; contacting a career coach; meeting with some people in their networks; or practising their interview skills. Encourage them to prioritise and have a go. Simply taking action, doing something, creates momentum.

5. Keep up regular communication. Let your friends know you are there to help if needed. You could send them an occasional useful link; occasionally give encouraging and positive feedback; make  constructive suggestions; continue to listen and ask good questions. In doing this you are giving your friends an amazing gift!

Go well!