Work, Humor, Now + Beyond

9 questions unemployed folks are tired of answering

And don't say it's "well-intentioned".

Unemployment is tough. You’re already juggling between salvaging your haemorrhaging savings and the stress of finding new work. The last thing you want to deal with, then, is well-meaning people bent on discussing your lack of work in depth. Bless them, really, but when you’re unemployed, you’ll find that every person and their Aunt have some words to share. 

Here are 9 conversations you’re sure to find yourself in when you’re in between jobs:

1. What do you do all day?

A cartoon teal cat with a large red nose is sitting at a table. It drinks from a juice box and is using a desktop computer.
[Image description: A cartoon teal cat with a large red nose is sitting at a table. It drinks from a juice box and is using a desktop computer.] Via Tenor
Naked truth? I sit in my pajamas, munching on my go-to chocolate cereal and read, or I’m watching Netflix. Also, I’m waiting to be pleasantly surprised by a call or email asking me to come in for an interview.

What I’ll say instead – “Oh you know, hunting for jobs online, applying, honing my skills. You know what they say, being unemployed and looking for a job is a job itself, haha!”

2. Are you sure you’re trying hard enough?

A brown-haired boy in a red hoodie is speaking to a brown-haired girl in a green hoodie. He says "I try really hard actually."
[Image description: A brown-haired boy in a red hoodie is speaking to a brown-haired girl in a green hoodie. He says “I try really hard actually.”] Via Tenor
What does that mean? Am I supposed to be chained 24/7 to my laptop applying incessantly? Am I to knock on doors, harass employers until I land a job or a get escorted out by security? This question really rubs me the wrong way as it implies assumed laziness. 

3. How long have you been searching?

A brown-haired man in a red checked shirt throws his head back in exaggerated exasperation as he rolls his eyes.
[Image description: A brown-haired man in a red checked shirt throws his head back in exaggerated exasperation as he rolls his eyes.] Via GIPHY
When you’re fresh out of work, this question seems harmless. Give it a few months and then it seems like an opening to be judged. Is there a point to knowing how long? Do I unlock badges for crossing period milestones?

4. Where have you applied?

Two men are seated across from each other on white armchairs. The one on the left is in a black suit and has short brown hair, while the other is in a gray suit and also has brown hair. The man on the left unfurls a long scroll which opens onto the ground, unrolling comically.
[Image description: Two men are seated across from each other on white armchairs. The one on the left is in a black suit and has short brown hair, while the other is in a gray suit and also has brown hair. The man on the left unfurls a long scroll which opens onto the ground, unrolling comically.] Via GIPHY
Suffice to say, unemployed people generally don’t carry a laundry list of every place they’ve applied to. 

5. So-and-so just landed a job at so-and-so. You should apply there!

A brown-haired, bearded man in a white tee blows a kiss while smiling widely.
[Image description: A brown-haired, bearded man in a white tee blows a kiss while smiling widely.] Via GIPHY
Bless the people who think of others, really. Though it rarely ever pans out unless a person is totally in tune to the opportunity or work you’re looking for, but this level of consideration is definitely to be encouraged. 

6. Have you thought about going back to school?

A black man in glasses and a green sweater holds a large roll of paper. Nervously, he says "I have what doctors call 'directional insanity'. I once got lost on an escalator."
[Image description: A black man in glasses and a green sweater holds a large roll of paper. Nervously, he says “I have what doctors call ‘directional insanity’. I once got lost on an escalator.”] Via semi-hiatus on galgadot.blogcrib.com
I always wondered why this is a valid suggestion. I’m clearly looking for a job so 1) how will I afford higher education? 2) why go back to school when we know on-the-job learning surpasses book learning?

“People think you lack direction,” is the nugget of wisdom my sister dropped on me when I voiced my musing aloud. I can’t speak for others but, personally, school always messed up my compass.

7. Maybe look into switching careers… ?

An older white man with salt-and-pepper hair presses his fingers into his eyes, shaking his head, as he leans his elbows onto a table. He's wearing a charcoal black shirt.
[Image description: An older white man with salt-and-pepper hair presses his fingers into his eyes, shaking his head, as his elbows rest on a table. He’s wearing a charcoal black shirt.] Via GIPHY
This is specific to certain career choices – journalism, for instance, and more specifically, writing. It’s hardly seen as a sustainable path and I’ve often been told to either join the family business or look into picking up another degree and starting afresh. A bit insensitive of a suggestion, tbh.

8. Are you being too picky?

A brown-skinned woman with long, black hair firmly says "I am not picky. I just have standards."
[Image description: A brown-skinned woman with long, black hair firmly says “I am not picky. I just have standards.”] Via Tenor
If you can afford to, then yes, be picky. After leaving a less than desirable position, I’m in no rush to land myself in another cesspool. Thank you very much. 

9. Do you know why you’re not being hired?

A cartoon clip shows two dark-haired children - a boy and a girl - saying "I wish, I wish" as a green energy begins to form next to them.
[Image description: A cartoon clip shows two dark-haired children – a boy and a girl – saying “I wish, I wish” as a green energy begins to form next to them.] Via Tenor
I wish! We all wish! Knowing why you were rejected for a specific position can do wonders as it might expose an area where you need improvement. This would be a huge help down the line when applying for other positions.

It’s best to keep in mind that people often don’t strike such conversations out of malicious intent. Often, they’re either genuinely interested in helping you out of your unemployed status, or they’re just making small talk. It’s up to you on how to respond. You can either be honest or just throw out a non sequitur and barrel ahead – whichever works!