Being the Network: How Members Can Help in Employment Efforts
Looking for employment can be a very isolating experience. Unemployment or underemployment can challenge job seekers emotionally, spiritually, and financially, and can add stress to their personal relationships. But instead of reaching out for help, many job seekers feel embarrassed or uncomfortable sharing their job search with members of the ward or stake or in Church settings. They may feel like they have failed at being self-reliant and that they need to get out of this struggle alone.
As a member of a ward and stake, you have the opportunity to reach out and support job seekers in ways that can have a significant impact on their lives. They need your love, support, and help now more than ever. With your help, job seekers do not need to go through the challenge of finding new employment alone.
One of the greatest needs a job seeker has is to be connected to opportunities and information. Members of wards and stakes are a powerful resource to help job seekers expand their network and find the information they need. Consider the following ideas to offer valuable support to those in your ward or stake who are seeking employment.
How Are You Part of the Network?
Every member is a part of the Lord’s storehouse. President Thomas S. Monson taught, “The Lord’s storehouse includes the time, talents, skills, compassion, consecrated material, and financial means of faithful Church members” (“Guiding Principles of Personal and Family Welfare,” Ensign, Sept. 1986, 5).
The time, talents, and skills that you have developed from your own professional and social interactions can bless job seekers with information about industries, professional development opportunities, companies, networking groups, contacts, and job openings.
Being the network doesn’t necessarily mean that you will personally find a job for someone seeking employment. Instead, it means being willing to connect job seekers to resources and contacts that they might not be aware of or might not have thought about. Effective networking happens when you:
- Seek to understand what the job seeker is looking for.
- Identify resources that could help the job seeker meet their goals.
- Follow through with connecting them to these resources.
Where Do You Start?
One of the best ways to start is to determine what the job seeker is looking for. Here are some helpful questions you might consider asking:
- What skills do you have?
- What are some of your career goals?
- What field or industry do you want to be in?
- What companies do you want to work for?
- What companies have you already reached out to?
- What types of positions are you looking for?
- What have you done in the past?
As job seekers answer these questions, it may bring to mind someone you know or a company that you’ve heard of that job seekers can reach out to for advice, information, and potential job leads. You might also invite them to connect with you on social media and identify any of your contacts they would be interested in talking to.
Give suggestions that coincide with the job seekers’ goals and work experience. Ask job seekers to be specific about what they are looking for so you can direct them to resources that will move them toward their goals.
You might also discuss some of the challenges they are facing in their job search. Consider how you can help support them by:
- Being a mentor.
- Practicing interviewing skills.
- Giving job leads and referrals.
- Providing rides to job interviews.
- Taking care of their children so they can pursue job leads.
- Looking into business partnership opportunities at your own place of employment.
- Referring them to an LDS employment center.
In addition to this list, get creative with your own skills and talents and think of other ways you can help.
What Can You Do If a Job Seeker Approaches You for Help?
Job seekers are encouraged to ask everyone they know for job leads and referrals. If a job seeker is interested in your company or industry and asks for your help, you can connect them to the hiring manager at your company, arrange for an introduction to a colleague that does the type of work they’re interested in, or give them a list of companies to look into.
If the job seeker is not looking for work at your company or in your industry, your network is still invaluable. What a job seeker needs most is connections to as many people and opportunities as possible. You have people in your network that they could benefit from talking to. Even if you don’t know many hiring managers or companies that are hiring, any ideas or contacts can help job seekers expand their network. You may be just the person they need to point them in a helpful direction.
What Can You Do If You Are Aware of Someone Who Is Looking for Work?
As members seek for better employment, their wards and stakes should be one of the top resources they can go to for support and direction. Some job seekers will come to you for help, but others may not. Reach out to all of them with love and support. The questions listed above in the section titled “Where Do You Start?” can guide both you and job seekers to understand what they are looking for and how you might be able to help.
Be sincerely interested in the job searches of those you know and be willing to offer help. Listen to their ideas and plans for their job search and offer advice and encouragement. Be sensitive to the challenges they might be facing, letting them know that they are not alone in facing them, and be specific and genuine with your offers to help. Follow up to see how your efforts turned out and what else you can do.
Helping others on their path to self-reliance is a great work to be a part of. As you help others succeed, you get to share the joy of their success and become a better-equipped mentor for future job seekers.
“Consider this your personal phone call. Now is the time to rally around, lift up, and help the families … who may be in distress. Opportunities abound, and yours is the opportunity and responsibility of marshaling the Lord’s resources” (Richard C. Edgley, “This Is Your Phone Call,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 53; italics removed).