It is not often that someone gets under my skin. When it does happen there is always a lesson to be learned. One of my friends is out of work. No surprise in today’s environment – I bet you know plenty of people too.

I have tried to help him once in a while with some advice. He has bent my ear on many occasions about his financial woes and between you and I – it is not clear that he really wants to work. That can be very frustrating for me because I feel he is wasting my time.

He basically does nothing about his job situation except use it as a platform to gain sympathy with his friends. The conversation is always the same – about how little money he has and how much he needs to work. I know this because his friends come to me and ask me what they should do.

I told him get your feet moving and apply to some jobs at local companies – that was over six months ago – read about him here. I have called him on occasion when I see a HELP WANTED sign at businesses where I think he might be able to do the job – to date he has not applied to one of those positions.

A couple of weeks ago he calls saying he is getting conflicting advice – someone else is telling him he should be networking and forget about putting in job applications because it is the only way he will find a job. That is when I had to take a deep breath before I spoke.

It was time to share a story. Storytelling is effective because it takes the heat off the person who might learn a lesson.

Walk – Jog – Run

You want to compete in a marathon. It would be correct for someone to tell you just go out and run; however, it is unlikely that you will begin your training that way – especially if you are not a runner.

When we try to do something that is too tough, it is easy to give up. Think about how many times you have given up when you go after something too aggressively.

More likely, the first step in your program is to walk. The next step is to do a fast walk, then jog, then move into running. As you gain confidence and endurance, it becomes easier.

The same is true about job hunting.

It is true that networking is an integral part of finding a job; it is also a more advanced skill. If you have not networked in the past, there is a learning curve – read Do’s and Don’ts to Job Networking to get lots of tips and avoid the mistakes that many people make.

One of the key points is to know who your target market is and how to communicate that to your network. That requires some upfront work – akin to walking before running.

Your target market will be companies where you have put in applications or resumes for specific jobs and places where you want to apply for work. When you have taken this step you are better prepared to have a conversation with someone in your network:

“I recently applied for the Software Engineer job at Company XYZ, do you know anyone in the Engineering Management organization that I might be able to contact or can help me in the job process?”

If you have not made an effort to apply anywhere or you don’t know where you want to work, this conversation cannot happen. You have to take the beginning steps to show initiative and desire, otherwise your network does not know how to help you.

Your network is there to facilitate the job hunting process; they will not do the work for you.

So, while the advice to network was correct, it was not appropriate for the situation. Telling someone to do something before they are ready mentally, physically or emotionally continues to reinforce that what they need to do is too difficult and it is easier to give up.

This is where a coach can help you get to the finish line. Coaches help you identify and avoid the detours. Coaches slow you down if you need it because in the end you will have the confidence and stamina to meet your challenges.

In this situation, I am not his career coach. I am a friend. The thing about being a friend is that your advice is not taken seriously because there are too many other people being canvassed for their opinions. It doesn’t matter how good your advice might be – it really is not about you.

He is not committed to making a change and it is easier to avoid doing something by continuing to look for the silver bullet. People, who are committed, make an investment in time, money and resources to get their results.