Handling The ‘What Do You Do?’ Question When Unemployed
This question comes at the most inopportune time every Christmas Season. If you’re unemployed, your mind races as you hear this question, sweat is now gushing from your temples, neck and arm pits….why me?!? why now?!?
Unemployment is no fun and particularly at this time of the year. We don’t need to review all the reasons, most of us have lived them and shudder at the memory. So for those experiencing unemployment for the first time or for those who have been there before and would rather just stay at home than face the question, here are a few suggestions so you can prepare for the encounter and maybe just maybe turn a tough situation into a positive.
First, embrace the situation. It is what it is and there are many in the boat with you and many, many more who have been there before. In other words, this is not a slap at you personally it is a result of a number of events and decisions we have little control over. So embrace the fact you are unemployed.
Here’s three useful pointers when it comes to describing your situation:
Be succinct: Be direct. You’ve been in the situation where the person feels the need to describe their situation completely so everyone fully understands and they go on and on and on. Don’t ramble. It gets uncomfortable for the audience be it one person or a table full. When asked what you do simply state “I am on the market exploring new opportunities”
Be honest: Exploring is true and it is not looking for a job. The latter gives the perception of desperation and even if you are desperate I bet you are exploring opportunities because you want to find the right job and the right employer. Be prepared for the follow up question: “how is it going?’ You may want to respond with, “the market sucks and I can’t get a return phone call.” Instead try, “I haven’t come across the right company or position.” Then you may be asked, “what are you looking for?” Perfect, be prepared, rehearse your answer directly and with confidence. “I’m currently exploring the market for a company in need of an accountant with my expertise,” notice we didn’t say experience.
Be confident: Expertise and experience is fine, remember confidence goes a long way. I’ve mentioned in other blogs I come from cattle country. I grew up watching men with little education who were the wisest most successful businessmen I’ve met in my life and yes I’ve been exposed to some of the greats in New York, NY and on Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto, Calif. These men of my youth oozed confidence….but, they always and I mean always displayed a high degree of humility. Which gets to a final point…
Smile and be humble. I don’t care how tough your situation is as there is someone, somewhere, who is facing a situation that isworse. However, if you work at your situation with humility and retain the ability to smile and laugh at yourself, you will put those around you at ease and may be surprised at the help you get in your search (exploration), likely from the last person you would have imagined.
Have a great time.