Supporting your partner’s job search: what you can do to help

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By Therese Lardner

Job search is rarely stress-free, and supporting a partner who has lost their job and is looking for work can test your patience and your relationship.

Having a supportive partner can mean the difference between a smooth transition into a new job and an anxiety-riddled rollercoaster ride. 

Here are my tips to help your partner get the most out of their job search and reduce the impact on your relationship and household:

  • Recognise that job search is not easy. It takes time, effort and mental and emotional energy. Your partner may need more ‘space’ to really focus on their job search. It can occupy most waking moments. If they could click their fingers and get their dream job, they would.
  • Agree on shared job search goals. So many times I have seen job seekers struggle because they were not on the same page as their partner. Particularly when it comes to career change, ensure that you both agree on the next step and what it will mean for your relationship and your family. It’s also important to discuss things like how long each of you is expecting the job search to take. Different expectations here can lead to disagreements and disappointment for both of you.
  • Brainstorm together. It’s easy to get ‘stuck’ in your thinking when job seeking. Help your partner by grabbing a pad and pen and working through any blocks they may have. Write down any solution you come up with for each issue and see where each line of thought takes you. Two heads are definitely better than one here.
  • Listen. Sometimes, your loved one will be doing everything just right, but they just need to do more of it. If this is the case, you may need to listen to the occasional vent with a kind ear. Know that job search is not going to last forever.
  • Encourage and motivate. Take each small win (good conversation with a contact, secured an interview etc) and provide genuine praise. If it’s a big win, celebrate in a way that’s meaningful to you both. When you’re in job search it’s easy to lose track of what you’ve achieved and think you’ve done nothing. Help you partner reflect on what they’re achieving each step of the way.
  • Provide a support structure. Help your partner get into a daily job search routine. The occasional sleep in can be an unexpected benefit of job search but if it’s happening every day it can really impact on your partner’s momentum. Help and encourage them to set daily goals and even check in with them to see how they’ve gone.
  • Access resources and assistance. This could be financial planning assistance, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) support or even a career transition offered through the previous employer. This is the time to take all the assistance that is on offer. Even if they think they might not need it right now, this could be the chance to learn something that could help in the future.

Involuntary job search is often a bumpy ride, but having a supportive partner by your side during this process can make it seem just that – a process. Not a never-ending saga or a tunnel with no light at the end. It can be a step-by-step process that will end in a transition to a new role.

I hope the future is filled with challenging work and exciting career opportunities for you all.

Therese Lardner is an industrial and organisational psychologist with extensive experience in all areas of the employment cycle from recruitment and selection to development, employee engagement and career transition. She currently works for Lee Hecht Harrison in Brisbane. Click here to ask for Therese's expert advice on landing your perfect mining and resources job or moving up the career ladder in your workplace.

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