A Thanksgiving word to the job-seeking wise

It’s almost Thanksgiving—that means catching with friends and loved ones. In countless kitchens and living rooms, around food-laden tables these folks will be talking sports, politics, old times and yes, getting reconnected too.  

Here’s a question you might get: “So… what are you up to these days?”

For folks in the midst of career or job transition, this is tricky. You may be feeling understandably wobbly, and/or a bit low on the self-confidence meter. So, a question like this can be seen as a clever disguise for “How’s the job search going?” or “Do you know what you’re going to do next?”, which COULD be interpreted as “Why are you still unemployed?”  or “What’s wrong with you?” or worst of all, “You must be a loser.” Ugh.

If this could be you, here are three tips for you to keep in mind as you seek to respond.  

  1. Do not go there
    By this I mean, don’t let a well-intentioned inquiry be twisted by your lizard brain into a hit on you, your life choices or your employment status. Try hard to take the question at face value.
  2. Answer the question
    If it’s true for you, how about, “If you mean how my search is going, it’s a great question—thanks for asking! I’m actually not actively looking at jobs now, but taking a pause to really think through what I’m excited about and what I’m really good at, so that I can be super focused and make sure my next move is a great one.” Follow that up with a request to talk with that person or someone s/he knows that is doing killer work in an area that interests you.
  3. Stand tall and proud
    Being between things, or taking a pause to think through when you’ve been happiest or in flow at jobs and to zero in on interests and energizing skills is you doing yourself a huge favor. (And, don’t be surprised if those you bestow this answer upon tell you that they wish they were doing it too!)

Have a restful, joyful, and thankful Thanksgiving!