Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Those Awkward Holiday Party Questions: STILL Unemployed?


Well, it’s becoming “that time of year” – Thanksgiving and the other year-end holidays are approaching.  Which means parties and family get-togethers.  And those awkward questions, specifically questions like this one:

So, are you still unemployed?

Even if you only lost your job last week, this question typically makes most people feel like absolute failures.  Assuming the question and comment are intended to be sympathetic and supportive, they can, nonetheless, be confidence killers and demotivating, making you want to curl up into a ball and disappear.
However, curled up in a ball is NOT a good way to spend the holidays nor an effective job hunting posture, so be prepared to handle this question.  Give your answer (see the options below), and move on!

Responding to Nasty People

In general, few people will purposely want to make you feel uncomfortable.  But, if you feel someone is being nasty, be brief, and change the subject:
  • “Yes, looking hard.  What’s new in your world?” 
  • “Yes, like millions of other people.  What did you think of that last game of the World Series?” 
  • “Yes, hardly working!  You still hate your job?”  
Best not to let them see they have succeeded at being nasty, but if they don’t take the hint, talk with someone else.

Responding to Everyone Else 

I think it’s best to assume that most people are not trying to make you feel uncomfortable, even if that is the result. If the person seems to be sincerely interested, perhaps they have some information that can be helpful for your job search.  So, take these next 4 steps…

1.  Ask for Contacts

Use your own judgement on when to use which of these responses.
  • “Yes, still unemployed.  It’s a tough job market right now.  I’m looking for a job with [name a couple of your target employers].  Do you know anyone who works there?”
  • “Yes, still unemployed and looking hard for a new job.  Know any companies who might be looking for or needing someone who is an excellent [your target job title]?”
  • “Yes, still unemployed, but definitely looking hard.  Know any recruiters or staffing companies who work with [your target industry, like retail or construction] or help employers find people in the [your profession or your target job title] field?”
  • “Yes, still unemployed.  They doing any hiring where you work?”
  • “Yes, still unemployed.  Know of anyone around here doing any hiring right now or needing someone like me?”
Feel free to ask the same person/people all 5 questions!
If you get good responses to any of those questions, write down the names and as much contact information as you can get plus the name of the person who gave you the name(s) as well as how your contact is connected to these people.
In addition, also ask for best (or worst) times to call or email, job titles, locations, and any other information you can get about this new potential network member.  That additional information will enable you to build some rapport with this new person, hopefully.

2.  Ask for Help Connecting

If someone has contacts, ask the for help connecting with those contacts.  The help could include:
  • Arranging a meeting with all 3 of you at a coffee shop, restaurant, or some place convenient for everyone.  Or, arranging a meeting for you and the new contact.
  • A simple emailed introduction, hopefully copying you on the introduction so both you and the new person have each other’s email addresses. 
  • A phone call to the person with a suggestion that they contact you.
  • A snail- or e-mailed version of your resume sent to the contact.
  • Other options that are comfortable for both of you.
Be ready for some people to decline all of the above requests for help connecting.  If they do, ask for permission to use their name when you contact the person and suggestions on how to connect most effectively

Tips 3,4 and complete article

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