It wouldn't be shocking in this economy to find yourself thankful for your job and surrounded by friends and family who are unemployed, some for an extended amount of time. Feeling guilty? Feeling smug? Don't. You're one of the lucky ones, and there's no need to feel bad and definitely no need to feel too proud either. So what are the rules of etiquette when you're still working but your best buds are not?
Don't complain about work: When your friends are struggling to pay the bills and thankful for the small amount that unemployment sends, do not complain about your boss or co-workers or about how you received only a lousy 5 percent raise this year. It's uncool and selfish. That doesn't mean you can never mention your job again, but keep it light, and always remind your friends that you've personally submitted their resumes to the HR department and will let them know if anything comes up.
Don't treat: Your friends want (and need) to go out and blow off some steam and have a night free from worry. Nobody wants to have another person cover him or her over and over again (once or twice is fine, but not all the time). Resentment builds on both sides. Naturally, high-priced restaurants are out, but why not make plans such as having the gang over to your house for a night of Netflix and homemade cocktails, suggesting that everyone bring a snack or a drink?
Ask and listen: Don't pretend that your friends are fine and that everything is the same. It's not. Things are confusing and scary and financially stressful for them right now. Be a real friend and acknowledge that. Ask how they're handling things and let them vent. Offer suggestions and encouragement.
Coach them: If the tables were reversed, you would be grateful for any motivational help and guidance your friends could offer, right? So be a career coach for your friends today. Ask whether they want you to review their resumes or whether you could go to networking events together. Talk to them about alternative career choices based on their interests, and send them some links with interview and budgeting tips, as well as possible educational opportunities. Talking is great, but actions can sometimes be even better.