One reader writes:
How do I reconcile a friend’s expectations, how can I help her find a job, how much time and support can I ACTUALLY provide?
I am a career bureaucrat. Most of my connections are in government and nonprofit industries. My friend is unhappy at her job and has been for some time. She never hesitates to tell me how much she wants a new job and has constant applications and interviews (but never an offer). She uses her entire network (friends, family, professional contacts) to get job recommendations. My network usually spawns governments and nonprofits (which they don’t want because of “low pay” when the government can pay well if you find the right role).
She’s frustrated and upset at me that I’m not going to “rock my network harder” to find the tech and corporate jobs she wants. When I tell her that I’ve achieved as much as possible but have no clues, she tells me that I’m not trying hard enough.
I’m at the point where I’ll tell her I can’t help anymore … but I know what it’s like to be in her position and want to help. Thanks for any advice.
You are too accommodating to someone who doesn’t treat you very well!
You offered her access to your network. She doesn’t want what you offered. She wants you to magically offer her something else that you can’t. You told her you did as much as you can and she told you that you haven’t tried hard enough. That … is not really about her to say. It’s your network, your time, your efforts, your sense of how much more is possible.
If she thinks there is more you can do, she should tell you exactly what she’s hoping for. “Shake your network harder” is not. It would be one thing if she asked for an intro for Rupert Bumblesplat at Company X, for example. But “you can do more, I don’t know what it is, just do it” is not reasonable.
And being mad at yourself for not doing more is overkill.
To be honest, even if it’s there became The more you could do, you would have the right to decide that you were not comfortable doing it. Your reputation is at stake when you vouch for someone on your network and you decide when and how to borrow that reputation.
How close is this friendship? If you’re not around I would seriously consider distancing yourself – not because she’s asking for your help, but because she’s an idiot.
if you are close, it pays to sit down by her and say, “Okay, tell me specifically what to do that I haven’t done yet because I can’t figure out what other help I can offer. Are there certain people on my network that you are targeting or what? Specific Things I should do to help you? “Unless that is cleared up (or even if, frankly), you probably also need to tell her that it is not okay to accuse you of not helping her, when you’ve done as much as you can think of and that it is, it’s not okay to be mad at yourself for not having the magic to conjure up exactly the kind of contacts she wants.
Many people struggle with finding a job, asking their friends for help rather than berating them and getting angry at them when jobs fail. I would take a look at what else might be wrong with her or the friendship.