Job-hunting for my brother
September 16, 2012 11:17 AM   Subscribe

How can I help my unemployed brother find work?

My brother has been unemployed for 9 months after being laid off the beginning of the year. He has a stable work history and good professional references. He has 10+ years experience in his field (admin). I'm visiting him next week for his birthday and I really want to help him in any way I can. I am just a bit hesitant in how I approach this because he is 36, I am 24, and even though we have a good relationship, he is on the touchy side. A few months ago I even tried sending applications for him behind his back. He is living off unemployment and savings. He's doing his best in looking for work and has some interviews lined up. I just really feel sorry for him that he has been jobless for so long and the prospects are really bleak. He has depressive tendencies so I know they're exacerbated by his unstructured free time, although I can't confirm this, maybe it's just me being overly concerned. I regularly reach out to him and give him my moral support and encouragement (without being annoying of course) but I'm wondering if there is something more concrete that I can do for him.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total)
Whoa, there. I hope you know how out of line you are by sending in job applications behind his back. That is way over the line. Does he want your help? As a general rule, the best way to help someone is to ask what you can do, and then do that and nothing more. He's worked for ten years; he is clearly capable of finding and holding down a job. I know you care about your brother, but you can't fix his life for him, especially without his permission.
posted by something something at 11:27 AM on September 16, 2012 [15 favorites]

Yeah, I definitely wouldn't send in job applications on his behalf, especially if he's "on the touchy side." To help him find work, look for work on his behalf and, when you find candidates, pass them along to him. That can be a lot of work, and it can be pretty demoralizing for the unemployed person.
posted by waldo at 11:32 AM on September 16, 2012

I am just a bit hesitant in how I approach this because he is 36, I am 24, and even though we have a good relationship, he is on the touchy side. A few months ago I even tried sending applications for him behind his back.

You should be more hesitant than this.

When I was unemployed I used to get really annoyed by well-meaning people sending me links from the same websites I was scouring daily. It made me feel like they thought I didn't know I should be refreshing Craigslist 24 hours a day, which I was. It made me feel like they didn't think I was handling the situation, or wasn't capable of handling the situation, and that made me feel bad.

Since you say your brother is "on the touchy side" he might not really appreciate any help at all, except for something like a really solid job lead ("They're hiring at the place next to my job" as opposed to a link).

You have to just truly trust and believe he's doing the best he can in a bad situation, and then prove that trust by not trying to interfere. That is the best support a brother can give.

My advice would be, when you take him out for his birthday, show him a really fun time, pay for as much as you can and just don't mention the job thing at all. Let him escape for a few days.
posted by bleep at 11:46 AM on September 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

For his birthday, take your brother out, as your treat, and do not mention his lack of employment.

For his job search, ask him if it is OK to give out his contact information when you are networking in your own job.

Do NOT ever put out job applications for him -if he had already submitted an app for a job via a recruiter or other third party, this can actively hurt his chances at getting a particular job, or future consideration from a recruiter. Let your brother manage his search, he knows where he has put in, and where he has not. And, where a recruiter may have submitted him.
posted by kellyblah at 12:07 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Make sure he WANTS you to do anything, that he's even okay with the idea of it... he might not jump up and down and exclaim what a good idea it is, but you should get his permission to be looking for him.
My SO is unemployed and I wanted to help out by searching on Craigslist & other jobs sites for him, and would then send him links to things I thought he'd enjoy/would be qualified for. I thought I was easing some of the burden of sifting through the internet for opportunities, but turns out I was just driving him crazy.
posted by jorlyfish at 12:20 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wow, everything you've said would entirely backfire on me. In fact sending out job applications behind my back would be enough to get you banned for life if you weren't family. Even then... I doubt if I'd talk to you for a long time. Besides being ethically wrong, what he is hearing from that is "You suck. You can't get a job. You can't even fill out applications. So I'm going to treat you like an infant and send them in for you."

I know you're trying to be helpful, but he knows he's unemployed. He knows it much better than you. He's living with it every day. He wakes up thinking about it, he goes to sleep thinking about it. He knows he needs a job. It sounds like he's not slacking on the Trying To Find A Job front. A year of unemployment sucks, but is no where near unheard of in many parts of the US and many industries, so cut the guy some slack. This is something he has to do himself. As others have said, if you have a specific job lead that you know is a good fit for him, pass it along, but don't treat him like and infant. Treat him life a friend who's having a tough time. Take him out, have fun. I would pay for the Birthday dinner and drinks, but not take him out too lavishly because it would make many people uncomfortable.

What can you do that's concrete? Listen to him. Don't tell him stuff. Offer support, be available to help him in any way. Don't take control away from him. He's unemployed so control is one thing that he has very little of right now, it's precious to him. He has every right to be "touchy".
posted by Ookseer at 1:27 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Some of these responses seem a bit harsh. While I agree with other posters that your brother is painfully aware of his status, it is touching that you cared enough to take the time to send out applications on his behalf. One would hope that the gesture would be taken in the spirit with which it seems to be and concern and love.

If you can show him that same support and love in another fashion, even just offering him an evening of worry-free indulgence at a nice restaurant, etc., and letting him know on a personal level how much you respect him and care for him, that might help assuage the emotional bruises anyone would get contending with a brutal job market every day.

Your heart is clearly in the right place, anonymous. Good on ya.
posted by Kibby at 9:45 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can you start a little business? Something that would be part time for the both of you, be at least mildly profitable/break even, and allow him to list a current employer on his resume.
posted by anon4now at 1:13 AM on September 17, 2012

Don't do things behind his back.

You'll have to ask him what he needs. Some suggestions you might offer: comments on his cover letter / resume, a session with a job search coach or employment counsellor, a gas card, a new suit, dry cleaning of his suit, a regular weekly phone call.

Remind him that he's more than his employment status - he can still be a useful and valuable member of society while looking for a job.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 8:00 AM on September 17, 2012

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