Friday, October 30, 2009

What Not to Ask an Unemployed Person

With unemployment rapidly approaching ten percent in the United States, chances are you or someone you know is looking for a job. For most people, this is a tense situation. It’s easy for a well-meaning friend or family member to stick their foot in their mouth and not even realize it. Here’s my list of the top five questions I hate being asked (and my tongue-in-cheek responses.) Avoid letting any of these questions slip from your lips.

Have you found a job yet?
Trust me, if I had a job, you would know about it. Everyone would know about it. I would be shouting it from the rooftops.

How’s the job search going?
Poorly, otherwise I would have a job. See above.

Where have you applied?
This is a tricky one. If you’re asking just because you’re curious (this describes everyone who has ever asked me this question) then I say mind your own business. I’ve applied to scores of places and I can’t remember them all off the top of my head. I don’t have any desire to re-live all my rejection with you.

If you’re asking because you have a lead on a great job I would be perfect for, then it’s ok. Although, in that case, I think it’s better if you just say, “I have a lead on a job I know you’d be perfect for” without giving me the third degree. If I’ve already applied there, I’ll let you know.

What do you do with yourself all day?
I keep fairly busy by trying to find a new family and some new friends who won’t ask me invasive, demeaning questions, so I don’t ever have to talk to you again, but I also apply for jobs and write your asinine questions down in my blog for posterity.

What do you do for money?
Sell crack. Are you seriously asking this question? What do YOU do for money? Unless I’m asking you for a loan (and I’m not) it’s none of your freaking business.

I know the people who ask these questions mean well. What I don’t think they realize is how often the unemployed are asked the same things over and over again. After awhile, it gets tiresome.

People who are unemployed are dealing with rejection on a daily or weekly basis. There’s a tremendous amount of shame that comes with that. Most people don’t like being asked lots of questions probing into painful areas of their life and I don’t think this is any different.

Tone and context are also factors. I have two friends who begin EVERY email to me with, “How’s the job search going?” Being unemployed doesn’t define me, or at least I don’t want it to. There are other facets to my life; ask about those first. Additionally, being asked the same question over and over again makes me feel like I have to check in with them, as if I’m a child and they’re my parent asking how my homework is coming along. It’s demeaning.

Stop trying to figure out what must be wrong with me that no one wants to hire me and start being supportive. Let me lead the conversation about unemployment. If I don’t want to talk about it, respect that.

1 comment:

  1. hahahaha

    I have to stop myself from asking my sister about her job search every time I talk to her.

    I know that when I was looking- those questions drove me bonkers- and I just ended up taking a nanny job to get people off my back. I hate being in limbo! (But that is a me problem. Not because they were asking too much.)


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