“What do you do?” should be an easy question to answer— unless you’re unemployed.
This is the Catch-22 of networking when you don’t have a job: You need to meet people to get another job, but, at the same time, people become disinterested when they find out you don’t have one.
We associate our identities so much with our jobs that it’s difficult to talk about who we are and what we do when we have no job.
A recent Quora thread tried to get answers for dealing with this scenario by asking the question: “How do unemployed people introduce themselves?“
We’ve picked out the most helpful suggestions.
Venkatesh Rao, a Seattle-based independent researcher and management consultant, advises using your answer as a networking opportunity by saying something like, “I am on the market. Know any good gigs for a [your profession here]?”
Even if you’re unemployed right now, you shouldn’t put off a desperate vibe. So exude confidence by communicating that you have options, says Rao. You can say something like: “I’ve got a couple of options brewing. Haven’t yet decided what to do.”
There could be several reasons why someone’s in between jobs, from being laid off to quitting your job to focus on your own passion project. This is why Quora users Joe Samson and Brian Greenhow think this vague answer works best for those who are unemployed.
If you confidently say “I’m in between jobs” or “I am taking some time off” like it doesn’t bother you, then it won’t be a big deal to others, says lawyer and technologist Gil Silberman. Instead, focus the conversation on your project, skills, or even volunteer experience.
“Usually it is best not to be desperate, and if you are desperate, it is usually for the best not to tell everyone about it,” he writes.
You can also say that you’re taking some time off to figure out what you really want to do.
Luckily, the entrepreneurial economy has made it OK to leave a full-time gig to focus on your own career endeavours. You can easily say that you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur, advise Pushkarr Thakre and Varun Upadhyay.
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