Q: My husband lost his job more than a year ago. I want to be a supportive wife, but it seems that he should have a new job by this time. Talking with him is difficult, because he becomes defensive. I don't know how to help or encourage him. - Danielle
Kate: When my husband was unemployed, I referred him to another Five O'Clock Club coach. It's commonly known in the career-coaching field that a spouse cannot coach a spouse. I urge you to urge him to meet with a local career coach (one who charges by the hour, not one with heavy upfront fees), and restart his search.
Dale: You hear that cliche "looking for a job is your job," and it's a cliche for the best of reasons. But here's the thing: You are thrown into the job of job searcher with little or no experience or training. Then, unless you get lucky and find a job through contacts, you slug on without a manager or co-workers for support and advice, and without performance reviews or any type of feedback except for silence and rejections. My point is that you shouldn't resent your husband; he's stuck on the gerbil wheel of frustration and doesn't know what to do except get defensive. Kate's right. He needs a coach or a job-hunter group. Your state or county career center will have lists of the latter.
Kate: Your husband needs support and so do you - from other people. He can't support you in this, and you can't support him. But you can find encouragement in knowing that there is help out there.
Q: I recently received a cold call from a recruiter. We had a pleasant chat. He promised to e-mail job information to me, and we set up a phone call for two days later. I never got the information, so I found his Web site and sent my resume. When I called at our set time, he told me that he had to take another call. He never called back. Did I do something wrong? I asked about salary range in our initial conversation, but I didn't disclose my current salary. I find the events that transpired quite unsettling. - Cheryl
Dale: I doubt the problem was with you, Cheryl. The problem is with the decline of courtesy in business, especially in job-searching. Yeah, there are jerks out there, and just behind them you'll find kindhearted people.
Kate: It's not just a matter of heart, but time. You have to assume that people will spend time with you only when they need to. You can't take it personally. Learn to say, "It's just business."
Dale: In this case, "just business" would mean that the recruiter found the "perfect candidate" in the interim, or heard that the company was making an offer to someone else. Rather than explain, he shrugs and moves on.
Kate: Speaking of moving on, you should remember that any given recruiter might place just one or two people a month. But don't let that lead you to ignore a recruiter. Rather, make it easy to work with you. If you contact recruiters, send a cover letter that tells them exactly what you're looking for. And don't bother with follow-up calls - they'll contact you if you fit one of the searches they're working on, and won't if you don't. Don't expect them to find you a job, but give them a chance to help themselves by helping you.
After all, it's just business.