Career pitfalls are a stressful and often unavoidable part of life. You never want to micromanage your partner’s career moves, but there are plenty of ways to provide them with much-needed support and reassurance.
Creating a new budget together, helping apply for unemployment benefits, and providing resources to help them persist in their job hunt are essential first steps. You can also assist your significant other in navigating the challenges of a career transition in the following ways.
Listen first; don’t jump to solutions
Research analyzed by the Harvard Business Review found that people with more conscientious spouses perform better at work. Having a conscientious partner is also correlated with higher promotion rates and earnings. It’s not surprising that supportive partners who help make life easier at home are good for their partner’s careers. This support is even more crucial when your partner is experiencing a career pitfall.
In an interview for Headspace, couples therapist Jonathan Shippey explains: “A lot of us feel good when we’re giving advice, and maybe we have ideas that really will help. But if you lead with that advice-giving, you run the risk that your partner won’t feel listened to and cared for.”
In other words, giving advice should be the last step in the process of supporting your partner through the loss of their job or any other career pitfall. The most important thing you can do when your partner first gets bad news at work is to listen and empathize with how they feel. Your partner needs to feel supported, and like they’re not alone more than they need to hear your ideas on what jobs they should apply to next. Reassure your partner, so they know that the two of you will work together to solve the problem at hand.
Have open conversations to ensure you understand their feelings and point of view. Ask follow-up questions to understand the types of emotional and material supports they need. It’s best to ask about your partner’s plans for solving their problem before you jump in with your advice. Then, ask for permission before sharing any of your ideas.
Now that you and your partner feel a mutual sense of support and safety while talking about career issues, you can move on to offering additional career building assistance.
Network behind the scenes
When your partner is looking for new career opportunities, your professional contacts can become theirs if you’re able to provide introductions. Simply mentioning to a colleague that your partner is applying for a job within their organization can improve your partner’s chances of getting selected for an interview.
If you and your partner work in vastly different fields or don’t have professional connections, social connections through family and friends can be beneficial to a job search. Attending a family picnic or helping friends move could be networking opportunities in disguise. You don’t want to make your spouse’s career search the only topic of conversation, but don’t be afraid to mention that they’re looking for employment opportunities.
You can introduce your spouse to people within your contact channels, such as an alumni network. However, be careful to stay behind the scenes. The last thing you want is to put off a potentially valuable connection by involving yourself in your spouse’s career search to an inappropriate degree. In this example, from Ask A Manager, a professional decides not to pass a man’s resume onto her company’s hiring manager because his wife asks for help on his behalf.
In contrast, proofreading applications and networking communications before your partner hits send is an excellent way to offer behind the scenes support.
Helping edit cover letters and resumes will help your partner make a great impression with their writing. It will help if you have decent proofreading skills. Still, you don’t need to be a professional editor to provide valuable feedback. Two pairs of eyes are always better than one when proofreading essential documents.
Having your partner read written application materials to you aloud will also help both of you edit for clarity, tone, and mistakes with increased accuracy. You’ll undoubtedly want to avoid this situation discussed in Ask A Manager, which can be summed up by its title: “help! My husband submitted an error-filled application to my employer.”
You might not be skilled at catching spelling and grammatical errors (spellcheck and services like Grammarly are your friend here). You can still help your partner rehearse and fine-tune their interview and networking communication techniques. Remember that partners have valuable insights into each other’s communication habits.
Do you often ask your companion to maintain eye contact during conversations? Do you have suggestions for how your significant other can work on communicating with more confidence? Maybe you can even channel your inner (kind) fashion critic to help your partner dress for success.
Taking time to learn about how to support your partner through a career pitfall proves that you’re becoming an even more supportive and conscientious partner. We wish you all the success in the future as your partnership’s strength helps you take on the world of career-building together.