How To Talk About Having A Job When You Don’t

College graduation is such an exciting time – endless new opportunities, new places to see and people to meet, and all sorts of potential jobs. What’s not so exciting? Chatting to people about a new job if you don’t quite have one yet. It seems like as soon as you get close to graduation you have a sign over your head blinking Ask Me About My Non-Existent Job, and it totally sucks. It’s not like you’re not trying, right? It’s just harder than people think. While you’ve still got your job hunt hustle on, here’s how to deal with all those people hounding you with questions.

Let them know what you are doing.

Just because you’re not getting ready to head in for your first day at your first grown-up job doesn’t mean you’re not doing anything. You’re probably hard at work on the job hunt or raking in some extra cash through a part-time job. Maybe you’re volunteering or working an unpaid internship. Take advantage of all of these extra things you’re doing to give people something to talk about that isn’t the job you don’t have yet.

Try saying things like, “you know, I haven’t quite landed the right job yet, but in the meantime I am logging in part-time hours at the pizza shop downtown. I want to save as much money as I can in any way that I can.”

Give them an idea of what you want to be doing.

Maybe you know exactly what you want to be doing, but you just haven’t find that opportunity yet. That’s totally cool – most folks are in the same spot. Instead of getting grumpy or irritated with people asking about your job, try filling them in on what it is that you’re looking for. Who knows. They could be privy to the perfect opportunity for you, and your conversation could be the start of something new.

Be open to any kind of help.

Look, while it’s totally okay that you don’t have a job yet, you should still keep in mind that you (and all other current graduates) aren’t really in the position to be snobby about you who get some help from. In today’s job market, you can’t turn your nose up to networking with anyone.

Which is why you can turn any conversation about a non-existent job into an opportunity to make some connections. While you don’t need to beg on your hands and knees for someone to help you find a job, try dropping a line like, “yeah, I’m still kind of on the hunt. If you know anyone hiring recent grads, please send them my way!”

Learn how to be clear.

We get it. Nothing makes you feel more defeated than having to repeatedly explain your lack of job prospects. You worked hard for four years with the expectation that you’d be able to get a job. And now you don’t have one?! It’s a frustrating feeling, and we don’t blame you for being bummed (even though we definitely encourage you to keep your chin up, buttercup!)

Some people genuinely are asking you about your potential jobs because they care about you and are excited for your future. Channel all of your patience in those moments and give those people the benefit of the doubt.

But we also get that some people are just being nosy, and might end up being a little rude about asking you all about jobs. In those instances, we still suggest you channel all of that patience, and this time say something like, “I really appreciate your interest. It means a lot that you are so excited about my future, but the job hunt is actually a very stressful topic for me right now. I’d love if today we could just chat about positive things.”

Talking about getting your first job is a conversation you’re just going to need to have when you graduate college – it sort of comes with the territory. But being armed and ready with certain responses is super important to make sure you keep your relationships with your loved ones as stress-free and positive as possible.