Image for a moment you’ve fallen down a deep dark well.
Friends wander by and hear your calls for help.
They lower a six pack of beer and tell you to cheer up. You drink more than you should. They do the same. You feel better. As they leave, they say you’ll have to do it again. They prove to be good for their word. You get drunk with them regularly and you notice you’re developing a beer belly.
Your mom wanders by and she says you’ve got to eat right. She sends you all the food you can eat, and now you’re getting heavy. A deep dark depression sinks in.
Your dad introduces you to his shrink. Because it’s been more than two weeks, the shrink says, “Your problem is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.” He gives you antidepressants. They don’t work. He says, “Give them time.” Now your weight gain goes into hyperdrive.
You develop type 2 diabetes. A doctor drops insulin and the shrink says you’ve got to exercise more. But this hole is so tight exercise is not an option. You develop insomnia and anxiety. “You’re in luck,” the shrink says, “I’ve got pills for that too.”
Occasionally a friend drops a rope and offers to pull you out. However, after a few feeble tugs they drop the rope for fear you’ll pull them down the hole too. Although you say you’re sorry you’ve gotten so fat, the truth is you secretly wouldn’t mind the company. You build quite a collection of rope down there in the bottom of the deep dark hole.
Next people start dropping in books, which you find hard to read due to the darkness. Some are books written by mountain climbers with years of experience who have been rescued after falling in holes worse than yours. Never mind that they were saved by large search and rescue teams with helicopters.
Other books are of the self-help variety written by idiots with cockamamie theories about how all you need is some rope and you can pull yourself up out of deep dark holes.
Then one day, a friend appears at the top of the hole accompanied by a stranger.
They drop a rope and the two of them are strong enough to pull you out of the deep dark hole. Once you are in the light your depression lifts and the shrink says, “See… those pills cured you of your chronic depression after all. All it took was time.”
That’s bullshit, of course. It was your circumstances that were chronic.
I’ve been in that deep dark hole and I know how it works.
In July, 1993, I was let go from a job in Tokyo. I had a wife and kids. In two weeks I’d be shipped home to an economy in recession. I had few contacts, and most of them were unemployed like me.
Friends offered to buy me drinks. They told me I’d be fine. They were confident. But they didn’t tell me why they were so sure.
Then a colleague, Ted, found me in a hallway.
“You don’t need drinks with friends,” he said. “You need a job. In two weeks it will become expensive for you to meet people in Japan. Get out a notepad.”
Then Ted picked up the phone and began calling.
“Bob,” I’d hear him say. “There is this guy you need to meet; take my word for it. He’s returning to the States soon, so tell me, would tomorrow morning for breakfast, coffee, or lunch work best for you?” After a pause, “Coffee at 10 it is. Thanks.” Then he called the next person. “There is this guy you have to meet. He’s in Otemachi tomorrow meeting someone. Does breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea work best for you?”… “Lunch it is.”
In a few hours he filled my calendar. My depression and anxiety lifted immediately. It’s been nearly 3 decades and that feeling has not returned since because I tell people what I need is to be pulled up, and I don’t refuse their help when they do.
Don’t give your friends job hunting advice. Get them a job instead.
Simple. Just follow the advice you would give them. Tell prospective employers that you are acting like an unpaid recruiter. If they still don’t understand your motives, send them a link to this article.