Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Refusing help can upset acquaintances

This is something that I learned from experience.

Once people learned that I wasn’t working, I got a number of emails from friends, colleagues and even from minor acquaintances offering to help me find another job. A full time job is such an integral part of who we are that for many it is unthinkable that someone may not want one.

They would often ask for a copy of my resume to pass along, and also suggest job openings that they felt I would be suitable for. (This reminded me of matchmakers who are pressuring their single friends to pair up.)

However, my plan was to try out a lot of other things that I had been unable to pursue when working full time. So I thanked these friends, but I didn’t send them my resume.
Because I didn't respond in the way they expected me to, the phone calls and the emails stopped. I quickly realized that I had unintentionally offended many of these people who had only wanted to help me.

Lesson: So here’s something to keep in mind when you drop out of work. Prepare a well formulated response (just 2 or 3 lines) to send back to those who offer to send your resume around. In your response be extremely tactful, acknowledge and express your appreciation of their desire to help and ask for time rather than refusing the help outright. This is how I would do it, knowing what I know now.

There is also something very positive that I noticed as this unfolded: I was very heartened by the fact that people have such an innate desire to help others.


Vijay Khaitan said...

I read with interest your experience post retirement. I too have retired from active service. You seem to have so many well wishers who wanted to help you at post retirement stage. In my case, nobody came forward to help me after my retirement. I was so disperate that I had to advertise in newspaper for consultancy assignments. Luckily I have got one. I did it purely to engage myself and not for any monetary benefit.I am planning to engage myself with social activities which I have been wanting to do for a long time.


Arvind said...

Ram, I had to go to Japan on business for a couple weeks so couldnt call you although I have been meaning to. Sorry.

I find this post amusing. So much so, I have to ask you "Do you have an updated copy of your resume?"

Ram said...


I am deeply appreciative of your desire to help me. It means a lot to me at a time like this.

Please give me some time to update my resume and I will gladly send it to you.

Thanks again,