How Can I Help?

Scott Tarlo

I read an article about how to handle the delicate questions about one’s unemployment as the holiday gatherings kick into high gear. Generally, the author got most of it right – keep a positive attitude, suggestions on making “kinder inquiries”, giving “kinder responses”, and how to deal with unsolicited advice.

Let’s face it – unemployment is a sensitive and emotional issue. Regardless of the intent of the inquiries, someone will be left feeling awkward. The stigmas the long-term unemployed face continue to remain unchallenged. “Is there something wrong with the person?” “Must not be a good interviewer.” “Boy, it must stink to be him/her.” These are all thoughts that might ricochet through the head of those blessed enough to be working. 

Look . . . the ranks of the long-term unemployed have swelled to over 5 million and the real unemployment rate is around 14%-15%. Someone you know, or someone who is only separated from you by one degree has been impacted by this recession, and the economists note that it’s not going to get better soon.

There are enough tips for the unemployed out there to make the average computer burn out trying to read them all. So, how about a tip for those who are employed, but want to avoid the awkwardness of the “unemployment conversation” and still keep the holiday spirit?

If you find yourself in a conversation with someone who is looking for work, offer this simple question,

“How can I help?”

 Of course, the question should only be offered if:

    • You are authentic in your offer.
    • You are willing to open your network to the person.
    • You are willing to put forth a small effort to make a connection or two.

This is a remarkably simple question that is open-ended, intentional, and in the spirit of the holiday season. It can be a positive boost to the person who is unemployed, and it can be a positive boost to you, as well! We can only solve unemployment by helping each other. This is a great way to start, and offering a hand is a gift that will never be forgotten.

Scott is a native of Pittsburgh, PA and currently lives in Coatesville, PA. While looking for full-time employment, Scott serves as a business consultant and coach for small businesses and individuals seeking to maximize their performance. A passion for people has led to Scott’s model for excellence – Discover. Grow. Transform.™ You can find out more about Scott at

4 thoughts on “How Can I Help?

  1. I have seen your work on Linkedin, Scott, and thank you for sharing your ideas here. It’s perfect advice, due to the fact that my friends, virtual and in-person, don’t understand why I am not unhappy and depressed these last several months out of work, and I think it puts them off just a bit. Now, I have some useful insight to give them for those times my friends may run into other unemployed people. I posted this to my facebook friends. In November, I finally got the job I wanted but it turns out to be a part time position. Onward.

  2. I am retired and not looking for employment but I still find these “conversations” very interesting. I am especially impressed with Scott’s input. It’s so frustrating and depressing to be out of work. It must be a daily challenge to” keep on keeping on.” Good luck to all who are trying to find employment; I hope the new year will be a good one for you.

  3. Can work ever be fun? Without someone getting hurt? I think I have you all beat.
    First, I can recall perhaps two jobs, where I actually quit with proper two week advanced notice. The rest of my employment years were filled with humiliation of getting fired. Not one person will give me a good reference. Not one job, gave me a personal, or business friend, to be there for them, and vice-versa. It’s so bad in the real world, guess that’s why I had chose to leave it, to the point that I support myself from disability checks, and they won’t even hire me, to let me repay them for their help in my lifetime. Thank you all for letting me hear what the reality is like. I won’t trouble anyone by asking for an application. Instead, I’m going to gracefully accept who and what I am, what I can do on an everyday basis, like putting a smile on someone’s face…listen to others…it’s a kind, yet as trivial as it seems, well…it’s a giving — caring thing, and I enjoy it freely!

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