Super Team Guide
The “Super Team” is a hand-selected job search support team that can include family members, friends, former colleagues and co-workers, or a coach of some sort. In addition to your partner, family, friends, and potentially former colleagues or people that know your industry, also consider adding a “wise counselor” – someone with the capacity to offer deeper meaning and bigger perspectives to events; possibly a spiritual or religious advisor, teacher, or mentor.
Who you ultimately choose and how and when throughout your search that you choose to utilize them, is entirely up to you. I recommend selecting trusted, emotionally available people in your life who are willing to listen empathetically, are willing to be on your Super Team, and will promise to make themselves available for conversations when you need them, and let them know how you see their role in your job search. In other words, don’t wait until you reach an emotional crisis in your search and then pick up the phone and start venting, catching the person off guard!
This section is specifically written to your Super Team, with questions, prompts, and activities from our IMPACT Group coaches that they can use to support you! This is the time to hand over your copy of this book to the people in your life who are rooting for your success and have volunteered their time and support to help you achieve it.
How to be a Helpful Super Team Member
Don’t feel the need to “fix” their situation, especially at first. The greatest human need is to be heard. Ask the job seeker questions like what’s on their mind and how they’re doing, and then listen to their responses without passing judgment or trying to fix their situation. Recognize that what they’re going through is not easy, emotionally, mentally or physically. Provide a safe, judgment free space where they don’t feel pressured to pretend “everything’s fine” - where they can feel what they’re feeling, express themselves, work through their emotions and when they’re ready, take the next step of moving forward. This can be especially helpful for wives of proud men who value their role as “family protector.”
Watch Your Language
People generally don’t like to be told what to do. Therefore, do your best to avoid black and white language like - “You should do this,” or “You need to try that.” Rephrases might include, “Here’s something I do when I feel like that,” or “I’ve heard that this is a successful strategy.” Communicate constructively, understand, and validate.
When the individual feels ready, sit down together and write, and agree on an accountability plan. Schedule appointments whether daily, weekly, or monthly, in person, by email, phone, or social media, to check in on the job seeker’s progress, and the actions they’ve taken since your last check-in.
Change the Subject
“How’s the job search going? Have you found a job yet?” When someone is between employment, a constant barrage of questions about their job search, even from the most well-meaning people can feel tiring and even defeating. Make it a point of focusing on other things happening in the person’s world, personal and professional (perhaps they’re taking an online skills certification class). Be a safe refuge from the constant job search talk.
Catch Them Doing Things Well
Recognize something that the individual has done well in their past or present and take the time to mention it. Sometimes in the haze and stress of the job search, they may forget past accomplishments. This also means noticing the small wins in their job search and reminding the person to celebrate! To intentionally prompt a celebration, ask the job seeker to make a list of all their achievements (whether lifetime, short term, long term or recent is up to you and them).
How Can I Show Up Best For You?
Ask, rather than assume that you know what they need. Maybe they just need you to sit quietly with them, or put your arm around them or hug them. Ask, “How can I give you what you need in the way you need it?” It might be check-in texts or emails, accountability checks, help shopping for interview clothes, brainstorming with them about jobs that fit their skill set, proofreading their resume and other documents, or being their mock interview partner including offering feedback on their body language, rate of speech, eye contact, and other aspects of interviewing.
Helping Introverted Job Seekers
Understand that introverts generally will process their emotions internally first before sharing them with another person. Therefore, allow the individual time and space to be alone and quiet to experience and process their emotions. Let them know you’re available to talk and provide emotional support whenever they’re ready. Offer to connect the job seeker with potential networking contacts via personal email introductions, which will get the conversation rolling while allowing the job seeker to respond how and when they want. You might also set up a coffee date with yourself, the job seeker, and another person you think has connections in their industry or functional area, as a way of taking the social pressure off.
Helping Extroverted Job Seekers
Extroverts tend to process their emotions externally by sharing and talking through them with their family or friends. Therefore, as a member of their Super Team, you can help by being readily available to the job seeker from the get go, to help them talk through and process their emotions. You can also provide the individual with a list of networking contacts and groups, and they are more likely to enthusiastically reach out and engage on their own with little prompting needed.
Offer to be a source of distraction! This might mean suggesting breaks and distractions from the stress of the job search with fun activities like weekly coffee, movie, or TV binge watching date. It could also mean volunteering together, as a way of moving the focus away from their struggles and onto others. Or, from the standpoint of self-care and exercising to stay healthy and burn off steam, you might suggest working out or going for walks, runs, or bike rides together. An increase in activity can help process many of the emotions associated with the job search.
Being between employment might feel isolating, so sometimes it’s helpful to remind the individual that they’re not alone, and perhaps share a story about a time when you were in their situation. This does not mean to downplay or generalize their specific situation but rather to emphasize that they will get through this - there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Remind them that this situation isn’t their fault and they are not being “punished.”
Manage your own Emotions
It’s easy to imagine how a spouse/partner can become emotional about the job search process as well. Maybe you feel like you’re picking up an extra emotional load, plus the same chores around the house (or more if you’ve cut back out outsourcing help for financial purposes), and if you’re working, now the financial well being of the family may feel like it’s on your shoulders. You adding your own emotions to the mix certainly won’t help your partner land a job more quickly, but it’s still important to be self-aware of your emotions too.
Rather than giving in to your emotional instincts, first see if your emotional state is a reaction to your partner’s. For example, if you’re frustrated he’s not getting off the couch, then what is the emotional driver for his current state and see how you can help him get to the root cause to solve that block within himself. Or if you’re feeling fearful of your financial situation, it’s best to get that out in the open, not in a blaming or hysterical way, but to make sure you both are dealing with the facts of your financial circumstances. Do you need to agree to cut back on spending together? Solid communication during this time is key, but make an effort to have additional emotional outlets for your concerns besides your partner to keep them as unburdened as possible.
Have Your OWN Super Team!
Especially for spouses/partners of those in career transition, find a confidante for yourself so you can stay objective, supportive, and to avoid taking things personally. Also, be sure to educate yourself on the emotions of the search by reading everything else in this book!
Emotion Specific Strategies
Disentangle Your Own Ego
Understand that the job seeker is going through a stressful time and may lash out at you and others at times. Try not to take it personally. Listen and be supportive, removing yourself from the situation as needed.
Seek to understand how the job seeker deals with stress and frustration. Do they need space? Do they want to talk about it? Do they need reassurance? Try to pinpoint what area of the job search process angers them the most. Is it the aftermath of an interview? Is it networking? Is it resume writing? Perhaps there is a stumbling block that someone else can help the job seeker with. A career coach, a counselor, a peer or even a class or training session might offer some solutions for the job seeker to move past that area.
Set a Timer
If the job seeker seems stuck in 'venting mode' make an agreement that for future conversations there will be 5 minutes for venting and then the rest of the conversation needs to be on actions for moving forward.
Be an extra set of hands! Offer to run errands for them so they can focus on their job search activities.
Validate, validate, validate! Do not discount their fears. If you’re hearing something that sounds irrational, ask questions about it to help them come to the conclusion on their own that the fear is irrational. Examples of questions could be: “What makes you think that would happen?” “What is the worst case scenario, and how can you plan for it if that should happen? What can you do to keep that from happening?”
Name it & Claim It
Help the individual name their fears out loud. Naming fears can help to release them - or at least begin to assess the rationality of the named fear. Once you and the job seeker have named their fears together, brainstorm potential action steps for overcoming them.
Avoid “All or Nothing” Thinking
Help avoid catastrophic thinking by gently reminding them to take one day at a time.
Be Encouraging But Realistic
Do NOT provide false hope ("oh, you will be fine" "you will get hired in no time”) while also offering validation of their job search efforts and encouragement to keep moving forward.
Help the individual celebrate the little wins. Even the smallest things are big when in a state of fear and job transition.
Go through your respective contact lists and combine your networks, identifying all the possible people that could be of help in their job search. Just seeing that list of potential supporters and resources at the ready, may help calm fears and anxiety.
Remind the individual of times when they conquered fear in the past. Encourage them to step out once again and “do it afraid” because you have faith that they can!
Encourage the job seeker to try holistic approaches to incorporate into their daily life to help manage the fear/anxiety, which can include: meditation/breathing exercises, yoga/physical exercise, spiritual/faith practices, and dietary changes (including reducing caffeine and sugar intake).
Willfully ignoring facts about being in transition helps some people keep their wits about them in chaotic situations. They might need more time than others to face the realities of how they ended up in transition.
Calmly Repeat The Facts.
Without sounding judgmental, calmly present the facts. Write them down, if that helps. Repeat. And repeat again, as necessary.
Distinguish Denial From Lack of Knowledge.
Share articles. Encourage conversations with experts, or with others who've been in similar circumstances.
Encourage the person to talk about the very things being avoided. Gentle questions around the job search can help the person explore what they're running from. Gentle encouragement is based on authentic compliments and helping them to see their strengths from the best possible light. “You can do it,” or “you’ll get an offer soon!” is not specific enough and might just come across as an empty platitude.
Denial vs. Giving Up
Don't confuse denial with giving up hope. Denial is avoidance. A clear grasp of the factual realities is among the many aspects of a healthy, hopeful perspective. Help the person in transition keep the hope alive every day.
Don’t push them at first. Denial is a buffer that initially protects them from often very strong emotions (such as shame, loss of self-identity, self-confidence and purpose, etc.) and allows them to continue functioning. Rather than thrusting the “facts” of the situation in their face, step back and see if the person needs more time to process their emotions first.
Make it “We”
If you need to have a tough talk with the person, schedule a specific time to do it. Don’t bring it up unexpectedly. Make it a “we” conversation and refer to the situation as “ours” not “theirs” alone. Without sounding judgmental, calmly present the facts. Then explain that you want to help (with whatever the issue is at hand) – even if it is just a chance to listen and allow them time to reflect.
Reflecting on problems or hiccups in the job search is pivotal to moving through this stage. Don’t enable them to stay in a negative thought process.
Neutralize the frustration. When you try to control a frustrated person in a career transition, they may become defensive and more frustrated. The calmer the support person remains, the quicker the frustration may subside.
Be Assertive and Respectful
By being assertive, you empower your partner to take their share of responsibility for how they ended up in transition.
Practice Patience and Compassion
Beneath frustration typically lies deeper and more vulnerable emotions such as fear, sadness, or pain. This is why patience and compassion are key not just through frustration, but throughout the entire emotional process of the job search.
Ask what the job seeker feels they have done well with their job search and acknowledge and validate each item.
Help them break down the job search into smaller parts so that the whole process does not feel overwhelming (week one, resume; week two, cover letter; week three, LinkedIn).
Prompt the job seeker to make a list of the parts of the job search they have control over and the parts they do not. Encourage them to let go of what they do not have control over, and focus on action items where they do have control.
To alleviate interview anxiety, offer to help them prepare for interviews including practicing mock interviews. Another idea is to watch YouTube videos together, of individuals answering tough interview questions.
Gratitude & Mindfulness
Encourage the job seeker to set daily habits in place like exercise, gratitude journaling, meditation, and other calming practices.
Ask questions to get a sense of how the job seeker is spending their days and how those activities are making them feel. For example, are they spending 8 hours a day online doing nothing but applying for jobs, leaving them feeling lonely and frustrated? Sometimes simply asking the questions and getting the information out into the open, is enough to prompt a productive conversation leading to changes in behavior.
Find reasons to get the person out of the house and participate in outside activities (small and low risk at first and gradually bigger). Encourage them to re-engage with groups or professional associations they were interested or involved in before their job loss.
Feeling the Love
Encourage the job seeker to make a list of all the people who love them and all the people they love back.
Let Them Be Where They Are
To the job seeker, self-compassion is letting them be where they are in the moment without getting stuck, down on themselves, or ruminating in negativity. It’s being able to let go of any unproductive thoughts or feelings, letting them pass through like floating feathers. As a member of the person’s Super Team you can support this notion by helping them see the bigger picture, the question - “What purpose does it serve to beat yourself up?” “How is it serving you to bang your head against the wall wishing you were in a different place than where you are now?” To continue moving forward productively, it’s important for the job seeker to be aware of where they are in each present moment and just acknowledge it. It’s okay to be in that spot at that moment in time - it’s part of the process.
Encourage self-compassion in the job seeker by extending your own compassion to them, through things like listening as they share their feelings and validating their feelings. Also help the job seeker reflect on times when they have had compassion towards others and remind them that they deserve the same compassion.
Ban Negative Self-Talk
Set a rule in place with the job seeker that any negative self-talk is prohibited (and make them commit to the honor system when you’re not around). You both might establish something like a “swear jar” where the person has to pay up whenever they get down on themselves and say something negative.
All members of a job seeker’s Super Team can encourage the job seeker in extreme self-care (meaning the job seeker makes an extremely strong, DAILY commitment to it): Healthy food, exercise, time in nature, mindfulness practices, relaxation, socialization, and volunteering.
Build up confidence by reminding the job seeker of all they have accomplished, small and large scale. Point out the job seeker's strength and give sincere compliments like, “I think you’re being brave right now. I think a lot of people in your shoes might be really frustrated, but you’re handling this well.” Ask questions like, “What are you doing that makes you feel good about who you are?”
Research shows that adopting empowered body language, or “power posing” creates the physical and chemical effect of confidence and strength in an individual. An example of “power posing” would be to stand up tall, expand your body to fill the space you’re in and with head held high, place your hands on your hips akin to Wonder Woman. Make it a game with the job seeker by doing the poses together!
Notice What Excites Them
Make it a point to be observant and reflect back to the individual, where in their life they’re showing excitement and encourage them to do more of that activity. This could be going outdoors for a walk, other forms of exercise, reading books by a certain author, listening to certain music or specific songs, watching a favorite TV show, or having conversations with a special person in their life. As a Super Team member, you have the opportunity to be their extra set of eyes, making them aware of a source of potential excitement that they might not have noticed.
You play an important role in your job seeker’s search. Recognize that and embrace your role!