Have you ever wanted to help a friend, but whatever you did only made matters worse?

When a friend is unemployed, that is a prime opportunity for making bonds better or worse. Having just finished nine months of unemployment, which ended in our family moving to Utah, I want to pass on observations that will help keep friendships strong and may even help them get a job.

1. Don't preach trite solutions.

Entitled ignorance comes through loud and clear to someone without a job, especially whenever one gives a suggestion like, "Have you tried getting a job in the church? They're always hiring." This little gem was given me when I was living happily, if a bit jobless, in Washington. I was an electrical engineer specializing in semiconductor verification.

2. Internet searches can be done by just about anyone who has an Internet connection.

The fact that someone cared enough to go out of their way to search told me that there were folks out there who cared about me.

3. Take them to the unemployment office or LDS employment.

The long trip to the unemployment office is easier with uplifting pep talks from friends.

4. Take them with you to work.

Even if you're not a match at all, just seeing you in your place of employment can jog loose ideas and gets your friend out of the house.

5. Help them fix something in their home.

By helping, friends give the truest form of Christian service.

6. Find ways your friend can help you.

Knowing that I mattered to them — that I was needed — made all the difference in my attitude. If you have a friend, let them know that they are needed by inconveniencing them a little once in a while — ask them to help you. Not out of a "Hey! You've got nothing better to do!" but with the attitude "I value you and want your expertise."

7. Look over their resume; take a couple of copies.

Even if you don't know to whom to give the thing, you may be prompted, being in the right place at the right time. Make up a lame excuse if you must, but get a copy. Pass it along to your hiring manager. Share it with relatives.

8. Invite them into your house.

Play games. Take pictures. Celebrate. Send them home with leftovers. Repeat.

When you're unemployed, your ability to entertain dwindles. It's amazing how dependent we all are on this basic thing called money. Share your means by doing more than giving to the local food bank. Open your house, and be generous with all that you've been blessed.

For more tips and information about helping unemployed friends, go to MormonTimes.com. Click on "Mormon Voices," then "reader voices."

Raymond G. Bingham is an engineer who used to live in Washington and now lives in Bountiful.