Way back in the mid 1970s, Richard Bolles hammered that the professionals who get the job are not necessarily the most qualified. Instead, they are the most skilled (and clever) at searching and presenting themselves for work.
That insight is still on the money. You can read it in the 2015 edition of Bolles' "What Color Is Your Parachute."
So, the best holiday gift you can give to your unemployed family members, friends, and colleagues is how to improve their job-hunt game. No, you aren't going to recommend they enroll in a pricey coding course. The focus will be on playing lots better the cards they already hold.
The reality is that the economy has come a long way from where it had been post-financial meltdown. Those who don't have paid work of some kind are likely going about it all wrong. Here is how to course-correct most of that.
Give them a copy of Bolles' book. Gently explain the best hunter for work is the one who brings home dinner. This dates back to caveman. Survival then was all about targeting the right areas, how he handled himself, and what he learned from going hungry. Survival today is no different.
Be there to hear about their current MO. Listen. Don't pounce with nonono. Takes notes. That builds trust. And it re-builds their self-confidence.
Open up the conversation. Ask them what they might course-correct and try out. What's off might be the kinds of work they are seeking. If they are journalists, ask if they are willing to redefine their skills in terms of a more marketable field such as public relations. If they are lawyers, ask about openings in compliance, loss prevention, and property management.
Pitch in on any and all overhauls. Sit side-by-side as they re-do resumes and cover letters for where they can be more marketable. Use the inductive method. Ask if they consider such and such wording as effective.
Be a supportive audience for role-play. All the world's a stage ... Almost everything depends on how they present themselves. That includes attire, facial gestures, body language, and aligning with what the interviewer wants to hear. Interviews are not about us. They exist to reassure employers that they won't have buyer's remorse.
Both of you should laugh off stupid moves.
Sketch out the utility of a survival job. The brutal reality is that the ability to comport oneself in the workplace atrophies when unemployed. A job, any job, helps the rusty regain a healthy work mindset and reflexes. Work retail at Petco this holiday season? Why not.
Back in November 2003, a therapist, medical doctor, and friend who was a lawyer gave me the gift of re-learning how to earn income. That began with a security-guard contract assignment at Sephora. Within 10 months I was back heading toward six figures.