Your loved ones may mean well, but these job-search questions cause nothing but discomfort

You scour the internet each day, looking for a role that matches your skill set. You spend hours tirelessly crafting a professional CV and writing a cover letter. You fill out and send off applications and wait patiently, hoping that you'll hear something soon. There's no doubt about it – being a job seeker can be tough.

To make matters worse, there's a certain stigma attached to the whole thing. If you're unemployed, fielding awkward questions from your friends, family, and loved ones about your search can be both infuriating and embarrassing. With each word, you feel criticised and attacked, no matter how well-meaning they may be. Here's how to handle some of those unwelcome inquiries ‒ and maybe get something helpful as well.

"How's the job hunt going so far?"

As innocent as this question may sound, it may make you flinch. When you're absorbed in searching for a job, it can feel all-consuming. You'll spend the majority of the day doing what you can to find and secure your next role. When you finally get some downtime in which to socialise, the last thing you want to talk about is the search.

However, you could use this question to your advantage. Some experts estimate that around 85% of people find new jobs through networking and connections. Respond honestly, but also ask the person whether they have any possible leads. They may know about a recent opening within a business or be able to introduce you to the right people.

"Why don't you take the opportunity to retrain?"

If you've been searching for a new role for quite some time, you might hear this familiar question from those around you. Your initial reaction could be to take offence. You may have never thought of retraining. Equally, you could be insulted by the insinuation that you need to gain extra skills in order to land yourself a job.

Rather than answering this question defensively, try to keep an open mind. Consider what the person is saying and see whether they have any ideas. While gaining extra skills and qualifications can often be costly, your friend or loved one may know of schemes that can help. Take a step back and listen to what they have in mind.

"Job hunting is a full-time task, you know?"

OK, this particular question is a loaded one. It's a touch condescending, with the underlying notion that you spend all your time slobbing around rather than looking for a job. It's important to remember that the person asking this question is not necessarily being intentionally cruel. They may be trying to motivate you in their own way. But while you may understand this fact, it still stings.

Take a deep breath before answering. Instead of explaining yourself or getting upset, keep as calm as possible. Say that you understand that, but then ask the person whether they have any tips. You never know, they may have an insight into how you can boost your job-searching activities. Turn this awkward conversation into a productive one.

"Are you being too picky about roles?"

When someone utters these words to you, your heart might sink. It may feel as though they're saying you should settle for any opportunity that comes your way. Chances are that the person is simply worried about you and wants to help you to move forward.

Don't be disheartened. The number of vacancies in the UK has been steadily rising since 2012, according to government statistics. That means that you have a better chance than ever to bag your dream job. There's nothing wrong with trying for your ideal role, so long as you're willing to put in the time and work. Take this opportunity to tell your friend or loved one exactly what you're looking for and why. They may be able to help you out.


Feeling more prepared? While you're in the midst of finding a new role, dealing with awkward questions about the process can be seriously tricky. Learning to handle these situations and turn them into opportunities is your best line of defence. Now that you've got an idea of how to react and what to say, you can use it for inspiration.

A powerful CV can help you to shorten the search and eliminate these uncomfortable questions. See how yours stacks up by submitting for a free CV review.

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