Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love a good meal!
However, not everyone is excited about the holiday season being upon us. Here’s why…
It’s the season for lots of get-togethers – and with that comes the dreaded question, “So, how’s the job search coming?” from family and friends. If you are one of the estimated 15M+ who is between jobs right now and actively looking for work, this question might as well be a hot poker being pushed into your gut. It’s hard enough to be out there looking right now. The last thing you need is a reminder of your lack-of-employment status from people who know how to push your buttons, right?
I understand. That why there’s the 3-step process I teach all the members of CAREEREALISM Club to use to shut down job search conversations at holiday events. In fact, last week I worked with a dozen members of the club, helping them find their own voice when using this process. We even had them practice what to say within the privacy of our network so they were fully prepared to us it. You could literally feel the sighs of relief through the computer! I promise. This works:
Step 1: The one-word answer. When you get asked, “So, how’s the job search coming along?” simply say, “Great. Thanks for asking.” Or, “Super. Thanks for asking.” Or even, “Fine. Thanks for asking.” Pick one word (i.e. It should be positive, negative words will only make the situation worse.), followed by a statement that implies the topic isn’t open for discussion. When you state, “Thanks for asking,” you are making it clear you don’t want to talk about. About 80% of the population gets this verbal cue. But alas, we all have certain family or friends who lack social intelligence. In which case, move to step 2.
Step 2: Remind them today’s a holiday. If the person persists with, “Well, what have you been doing to find work?” this is your opportunity to remind them it’s your day off too. I suggest you say something like, “I’ve been working at my job search full-time. Thanks for asking, but since today’s a holiday, I’m taking a day off from talking about it. I appreciate you inquiring though.” This is more blunt, yet still polite enough for them to take the hint without getting flustered. I know lots of you hate the idea of conversational conflict. Honestly, who likes it? But sometimes, you have to be more direct in order to get people to stop pushing. Now, for those family and friends who are truly clueless, there’s always step 3.
Step 3: Explain you only take advice from experts. When the overbearing in-law or snarky, jealous sibling decides to push the envelope, it’s time to pull out the honesty card and put them in their place. Unless they are a proven career expert with a track record of helping people find work, then truly, they have no business discussing your job search and making suggestions – which we know they are just dying to do. So, when they say things like, “Well, have you tried this?” Or, “So-and-so’s brother got a job by doing this,” you can respond with,
“I really appreciate your interest, but the experts I’ve been following and getting advice from are providing all the help I need. I assure you, I’m getting great assistance from professionals who know what it’s really like out there and how to get results. So thanks, but I don’t need any additional help.”
This will guaranteed shut them down. If they take offense, or say something about you not being appreciative or nice, simply say,
“Actually, I think I’ve made it perfectly clear today isn’t the day to talk about this. I’m sorry, but I feel you’re the one that is being disrespectful of my wishes.”
REMEMBER: We allow people to treat us the way they do. Not everyone is as nice or polite as you. That being said, this is your job search – not theirs. They have no business asking you about this – particularly on a holiday when you’ve already tried nicely to end the discussion. Don’t feel bad, fight back! It’s their insensitivity that is causing the problem – not you.
P.S. – For true success with this process, always end on a high note.
It helps to have a something positive to switch the subject to, especially if you had to use step 3. I suggest you think about something exciting or positive that has happened to you or someone you know and redirect the conversation to that. Talk about a great movie you saw, an event you attended, or accomplishment that you felt good about. Maybe you volunteered recently, or achieved a personal fitness milestone. It doesn’t matter, just find something positive to talk about that moves the conversation in a good direction. This will help any uncomfortable feelings around the job search discussion be buried quickly.
I hope this helps all of you out there realize that you are entitled to enjoy the holidays as much as anyone else. Being between jobs does not brand you with a Scarlet U. Being unemployed does not define you as a person and definitely doesn’t mean you should not enjoy your life. In fact, at CAREEREALISM Club, we remind members daily you must push ‘play’ on life, regardless of your job status.
FACT: Holding back from living will only slow your job search down. So, get out there and enjoy the holidays! Especially now, that you’ve learned the right way to control the conversation.