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5 Things You SHOULD Say to a Working Mom Who Just Lost Her Job

Working Mother logoWorking Mother 9/1/2019 Ellenore Angelidis
a person sitting on a couch: An honest conversation with a friend can be helpful. © Photo: iStock An honest conversation with a friend can be helpful.

Help her get back on her feet.

Losing your job is a huge and disorienting loss. You feel the earth move under your feet. When it happened to me, I didn’t know what to do next. I felt a sense of urgency without any idea of where to direct it. I sent emails to everyone I knew. Someone told me about LinkedIn, which was new to me, and I was willing to try anything. I went to networking events and applied to jobs online. I found some responses from my network were particularly helpful—and I would recommend using one of these phrases if you find out a friend or colleague has lost her job.

1. "I am very sorry for your loss."

Having my loss acknowledged was huge. I wasn’t looking for sympathy, but having someone validate the emotional toll and sadness that goes with job loss was a welcome salve on an open wound. Those who said it unsolicited, and in an affirming way, had an incredibly positive impact on me.

2. "I am happy to introduce you to people in my network who might be able to help you."

Many of my emails went unanswered, which was hard. These were people I knew, some very well, and not hearing back from them was tough. I know it was probably because they didn’t know what to say, but remember silence speaks too—and it is not kind. But some responded immediately and offered to make introductions to people who may be able to help, or who had been through a similar experience. Those gave me such a boost of energy to continue.

3. "Let me check what roles are available in my company that could fit your skills; I am happy to circulate your resume."

This offer gave me hope I still had useful skills to offer the world, which of course I did. But unexpected job loss makes you wonder about everything. Since I never thought I could lose my job this way, what else am I completely wrong about? Having someone willing to actively assist within their own precious network and at their company was a beacon that there was light ahead.

4. "Do you want me to review your resume or LinkedIn profile?"

Since I hadn't looked for a job seriously since graduating law school, this type of support was invaluable. It was also a concrete investment by the other person of their time and expertise. Those investments told me this person had a belief in me that was more than just words. Action has weight. And my resume and profile will certainly improve with valuable input from multiple sources.

5. "Let’s get coffee/lunch and we can brainstorm ideas."

It's totally energizing just to sit down with someone, especially when they remind you of the things you've accomplished, what types of roles you might be good at and who you should talk to next. Most of the job application process is solitary, so the connection to another human who knows you, a little or a lot, without any stress of impressing them so they can give you a job, was a wonderful anecdote to all the silence, rejections and uncertainty.

The good news for me was I found another role, at Amazon, through networking. My new boss was a colleague from my days at Sears. If you are in this situation, don’t lose hope. Reach out for help and keep the faith. If you know someone in this situation, reach out and use one of the phrases above. Nothing is worse than hearing nothing from those you are counting on when you are at a low point.

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