Six things to say (and NOT to say) to someone who’s lost their job

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If you've ever received word that someone you care about has lost his or her job, you usually feel really bad for them (or should!). You worry about how they'll bounce back, pay bills or get a new job. However, soon, your concern might be overshadowed by an unintentional awkwardness. How can I relate? What can I possibly say to make them feel better? It turns out, there are quite a few things you can say or do to make someone's day a little brighter, without being too overly sympathetic. Here are my top six things to say (and what not to say) for someone who's lost their job.

Things to say:

  • "I'll keep my eyes peeled for any job openings that might be a good fit for you."
    A little help on the job search front is always a great way to help someone who's lost their job. Whether they're interested in the job or not, it's nice to see that someone cares. You can also help by connecting them with a job recruiter, offering to proofread their resume or serving as a character reference.

  • "Let me treat you to lunch so we can catch up."
    Your friend or loved one may really, really want to go out for drinks or dinner with you, but finances might not permit it, especially if their job loss was unexpected. Offer to treat them to a lunch (if you're in a position to do so yourself) and have a heart-to-heart. Chatting with a friend can do wonders for someone who's been recently let go, plus, it gets them out of the house and gives them a sense of purpose for the time being.

  • "Even though I know you're scared, you'll get through this and be just fine."
    It might be hard for the job loss recipient to hear this, but the more they hear it, the more they'll start to believe it. They're most likely at a low point right now so you can never be too encouraging.

Things NOT to say:

  • "So, how are you paying bills?"
    Stop. Asking them about their financial situation and/or money is just flat out rude and insensitive. Don't go there.  

  • "OMG, I wish my company would fire me! I hate it there."
    No, you don't. Just because you hate your job, doesn't mean you can relate to the situation in any way, shape or form. The loss of a paycheck (and identity, for that matter) is no joke and shouldn't be treated as one.

  • Nothing.
    Silence is the worst thing to hear from a friend – especially if it's someone you're really close with. Your friend or loved one needs a strong support system as they go through this career transition. Even if you might not know exactly what to say, not showing any sign of care or concern is awful for the person who's lost their job. It's noticeable and can damage your friendship or relationship.

Losing your job sucks for anyone. Nevertheless, with a strong support network of friends and family, the job loss recipient will be able to face their new, uncertain future much more easily. Just showing up for the person will help tremendously.