There’s something about asking for help that gets many people stuck after job loss. Maybe you don’t want to seem foolish. Or stupid. Or dependent. Or needy. Or imperfect. Maybe you think you should know how to maneuver this unfamiliar landscape called "unemployed." You did it once before, right? How hard can it be this time?
Losing your job is not just about finding a new one. The emotional upheaval, self-esteem hit, and financial, health, or well-being impact can be significant.
Not knowing how to do something or how to figure it out can block your career reactivation, push you into a negative spin, or sideline your progress.
Some people equate asking for help with being weak, and not asking as being strong.
But here’s the truth of it: we all need help in life.
We don’t grow our own food, make our electricity, weave our fabric, sew our clothes, do surgery on our bodies, invent our medicine, film our movies, or build our computers. At least, not most of us. We depend on knowledgeable others for these and many other day-to-day needs.
We’re dependent on others for non-things too. Love. Friendship. Compassion. Information. Insight. Needing, asking for, and accepting help isn’t about being strong or weak. It’s about being human.
When you approach seeking help as a common and natural process on the road to your career prosperity, the asking becomes easier. Here are three approaches to apply:
Your life-help list isn’t a network or connect-with list. Rather, these are people who would be willing to help you "in case of serious emergency." Think carefully. Add people who could, and would, help you weather this storm if it worsens.
Consider four categories of support: emotional, work, financial, and health/well-being.
Now go over your list carefully. Eliminate those who, if you were asked for help by them, you would hesitate. Hone your list to a core group who would help "no matter what" and you would do the same for them.
Don’t tap this list now. But, sleep well knowing you have this safety net, if you need one.
You may need an expert to help craft your resume or coach you through an interview process you haven’t encountered in decades. You may need a support group to help you wrestle with the loss you feel or an accountability buddy to spark your persistence. You may need community services to enable your retraining or a mental health professional to help you process your anger or feelings of despair. You may need a financial advisor to help you restructure your debt or a friend who will pull you out of your pajamas and into the world.
Chances are you’ll need one or more of these to help you along the way. And others, too. Don’t expect that who you need assistance from will be the same as someone else. Who and what you need is as individual as you are.
Companies hire people who are resourceful, who know how and when to bring in the right resources to get results. This is no different. Getting the help you need, when you need it, brings you closer to returning to the emotional, financial, and professional prosperity you desire. So, don’t delay.
When you can help others, you help yourself.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it,
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."
Make it a daily habit to help someone else reboot their career prosperity. Share a job marketing tip, pass along a resume to a former colleague, boost his energy, help her practice for an interview, send him a list of helpful job resources, post a new insight or learning to the Job-Hunt LinkedIn discussion group, or write a personal reference.
Actively help others succeed in their quest. Not only will you feel better about yourself when you do, but in time the law of reciprocity – you get what you give – will come your way.
Often lost in this concept of asking for help is what it does for the person whose help you seek. We all need to feel that what we do matters. Susan Collins puts it well, "Our success multiplies each time we lead someone else to success."
Get help - give help - we all need help along life’s journey. What you have to offer, someone else needs.
About this author...
Job Loss Recovery Expert Nan S. Russell discovered a Stanford degree didn’t protect her from being fired from her first professional job. From minimum wage to Vice President of a multi-billion dollar company, she learned the hard way. Now she helps others with what does and doesn’t work at work. The author of three career books including, The Titleless Leader, Hitting Your Stride, and Nibble Your Way to Success, Nan is a national speaker and work issues consultant. More at NanRussell.com; and her job loss seminar: Rebooting After Job Loss.