the things job seekers are tired of hearing from family and friends

If you have an out-of-work friend or family member, you probably want to be helpful and supportive. But sometimes people’s initial instincts for what to say to help can be … well, the opposite of helpful.

Here are 10 things that most job seekers are really tired of hearing from family and friends. Take a look and see if you’re guilty of any of these.

Do you have any interviews coming up? This is one of the most common questions that job seekers hear, and while it might sound like an innocuous way to take an interest in what’s going on with them, it can be pretty demoralizing to spend months answering it – especially if the answer is no.

Did you ever hear back from that interview you had last month? Again, to someone who isn’t engaged in the daily slog of a job search, this question can sound innocent, but it can be exhausting to have to explain repeatedly that no, that job didn’t come through.

Maybe you just need to get out there and pound the pavement. This is old-fashioned job advice that rarely applies in today’s market; most professional jobs today require people to apply online. These days, in most fields, showing up in person will make you look really out of touch and will not be a bonus to your candidacy – and yet somehow this advice persists.

Why don’t you apply at a coffee shop (or fast food or retail)? Any job seeker worried about their finances has considered this option – and has either rejected it or tried and failed. It’s not as easy as it might have been at one time in the past to just pick up a low-wage job; there’s far more competition for them now, and employers are understandably wary of hiring someone with no track record in their business and who’s likely to leave as soon as something better comes along.

Why do you think it’s taking so long? Believe me, your job-searching friend or family member is wondering this, too. Asking them to explain to you why they haven’t been hired yet borders on cruel. The reality is that some job searches can take a really long time. Sometimes that’s due to the market and the competition in the field or the geographic region they live in, and sometimes it’s due to weaknesses in their work history, skills or interviewing skills. Whatever the reason, it’s likely a question they’re haunted by regularly.

Here’s a (totally unrelated to your field) job posting that you should apply for! The impulse to forward job postings comes from a kind place, but if you don’t really know your friend’s field or much about what they do, this can end up being more frustrating than helpful. Many job seekers report getting bombarded by friends and family who urge them to apply for positions that are wildly outside their career paths. It’s not that you should never try to be helpful, but it’s a good idea to ask the job seeker in your life whether the types of ads you’re forwarding are in line with their interests or not.

Did you apply for that job posting I sent you? This can put your friend in an awkward spot because it can feel like nagging – and they may have already determined that the job wasn’t right for them. If you’re going to pass along job postings, leave it to your friend to manage them from there.

I hear tech (or nursing, etc.) is a hot field right now! Suggesting that your friend drop their career and go into an entirely different field isn’t usually practical (or welcome). Your friend may have no interest in or aptitude for the brand new field you’re suggesting, and switching fields usually requires significant work and often years of schooling. Plus, they may be deeply committed to staying with their chosen career.

You need to treat your job search like a full-time job. The idea that looking for a job should be a full-time endeavor has somehow turned into conventional wisdom – but for many people, if not most people, it’s wrong. Most job searchers will have better luck if they go for quality over quantity in their applications and only apply for jobs that are a strong match – and in many fields, there simply may not be enough openings to justify spending 40 hours a week on the search. Of course, a job search is about more than just sending in resumes and cover letters; it’s also about networking – but there too, 40 hours a week may not be anything close to a reasonable expectation.

At least you have a lot of free time now! This can come across as insensitive, since being unemployed isn’t a vacation. Your friend is probably extremely worried and anxious about their job search and finances.

{ 265 comments… read them below }

  1. Not Karen*

    Yep, I have gotten every single one of these.

    Why don’t you apply at a coffee shop (or fast food or retail)? …employers are understandably wary of hiring someone with no track record in their business and who’s likely to leave as soon as something better comes along.

    People kept asking me this question and every time I would respond, “And what am I supposed to say when they ask me how long I plan on staying?” Lo and behold, they didn’t have an answer for me.

    1. Audiophile*

      Yes. I’ve even interviewed with coffee shops and I’m sure it was obvious that I wasn’t planning on staying long. Plus I think for a lot of employers of these establishments, it’s likely hard to work someone into the schedule who a full-time job in a completely separate field. If you work 9-5 in your day job, you’re not available for callouts, inclement weather, or last minute emergencies. Most of these establishments want a part-timer with full-time availability.

      1. Liane*

        This is probably not a factor. “Try fast food/retail/newspaper delivery…” is usually directed to people who are job searching because they don’t have a job. I don’t think this is often suggested to someone searching while working full time, probably in their field, for other reasons (bad boss, little chance of growth/promotion, needs a change, etc.). I am sure those who have told family and friends they are looking to change jobs get some of the other advice Alison mentioned, but probably not this bit.

        1. OhNo*

          Sometimes it is. I think it just depends on context.

          As an example: I was job hunting a while ago in hopes of increased pay. I actually got this advice from several people, all of whom basically framed it as “If you need more pay, why not pick up a second job as a barista/server/sales associate?” – conveniently ignoring all the issues Audiophile mentioned, as well as the fact that I have zero experience in any of those industries.

        2. Audiophile*

          True, it’s most likely recommended to people who don’t have jobs.

          Though I’ve definitely had my mother suggest I hunt down these places to get a second job “because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make a pot of coffee. ”

          Regardless, it’s not very helpful.

        3. Aloot*

          It’s still not very helpful if the jobless person isn’t actually all that interested in that being long-term. You’ll still run into that “so how long do you see yourself staying?” “Until I find something better” problem.

          Coffee shops and fast food still has to train people – yeah, it’s “low skill” work but it will still take time to learn everything necessary – and that costs money.

          1. Thermal Teapot Researcher*

            Another factor is drug testing. Many coffee shops and fast food jobs involve drug tests that the employer pays for. Rapidly cycling though employees greatly increases this cost.

    2. Gandalf the Nude*

      Also, not everyone can succeed in those industries, and I find it super condescending to the folks that actually do retail/food service/etc. well to assume anyone can just pick it up. Even the three weekends I spent selling turkey legs at the Renaissance Festival was enough give me an even higher respect for the folks behind the counter.

      1. Moonsaults*

        Nailed it.

        Part of the huge turnover are folks finding out they’re not capable of doing the job that everyone likes to throw out there as a throwaway easy one.

      2. Anxa*


        I struggled a lot as a server. I’m not particularly good at following oral directions. I’d be much better off in a job with complicated SOPs (or writing manuals and guides, etc.).

        I also have a lot of ADHD tendencies, and I was incredibly stressed out as a server. It probably didn’t help that I worked for a boss that had several rounds of court-ordered anger management and worked in a really fast-paced environment, but I found that much harder than any of the more ‘skilled’ positions I’ve worked in. Tutoring college students with an elementary school level of understanding for the prereqs? Designing proteins to reduce off-targeting for genome editing? Informally counseling freshman students? A cakewalk in comparison.

        Nonetheless, I have applied. And you know what? With less than two years experience in that field, it’s been hard to get a job, especially as I get older. Also, it can be very difficult to get a job in the industry that matches your skills; people pigeonhole you based on your surface personality, gender, race, and age. I would apply to bus tables and wash dishes and would only be interviewed to host or serve.

        As for retail and fast food, they have online applications most of the time! Personality tests included.

      3. Jean*

        I agree – I took a job at Macy’s during my last bout of unemployment and I just could not physically do it.

        1. Xarcady*

          Human beings were not designed to stand for 8 hours at a time on hard, unyielding, concrete floors. And when the dress code requires nice shoes and not shoes that would actually help you deal with the impact of the hard, unyielding, concrete floors, that doubles the problem.

          Everyone I work with at my retail job takes pain killers to get through the longer shifts.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            My friend’s feet are premanently misshaped from where dress heels while retailing. She has bumps the size of toes on some spots on her feet.

          2. Panda Bandit*

            The carpeted floors aren’t much better. I’ve developed circulation problems in my legs from having to stand all the time.

      4. Two-Time College Dropout*

        My first full-time job was at an ice cream parlor/coffee bar.

        15 years and and ~5 jobs later, I still think that was easily the most difficult and demanding job I’ve ever had– the non-existent downtime + management’s “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean” attitude meant I came home exhausted and sore every day… and that was when I was 19 and invincible and in the best shape of my life. I can’t imagine how much a job like that would take out of me now.

          1. Two-Time College Dropout*

            The first time I worked in a place with a custodial staff, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it– You mean cleaning and emptying trash cans and stocking supplies is no longer my responsibilty?!??! Then what the hell am I supposed to DO all day?

          2. Kelly L.*

            I think every food service/retail boss has this saying.

            I was watching a Big Bang Theory rerun a few months ago and Sheldon said it, and I did this whole-body shudder. LOL.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            It seems that it is used mostly on younger people. Older people are allowed 30 seconds then they get The Look.

      5. Annie Moose*

        Oh man yes.

        My mom’s evening job is at Banana Republic, and she LOVES it! Genuinely loves it. She loves working with customers, she loves her coworkers, she loves the clothes. While it can be exhausting, she enjoys it.

        Me? Noooooope nope nope nope. No way. Not for me. I don’t have the physical stamina, I don’t have the temperament, I don’t have the patience. Sure, if I were in desperate straits, I could probably handle it for a few weeks, a few months even. But I certainly wouldn’t be good at it, and it would be misery the whole time. Retail is simply not a job I’m suited for.

        1. Chinook*

          Retail is my desperate, I need anything to keep a roof over my head, last attempt type of job. I have said so to my mother, who owns a retail store. But, on occasion to keep family harmony, I will work a shift there when I am visiting. Every single time she is shocked that I am good at (stock taking, selling to customers, cleaning). I have just learned to point out that, just because I hate a job, doesn’t mean I am not good at it. In fact, I hate it because I know how physically demanding it is do that job well and I just don’t have it in me to half a$$ anything. Plus, the hours are so unpredictable that it truly does interfere with me finding the better paying office or school based job I would prefer to do.

          1. SeekingBetter*

            Yeah, I think if I’m still unemployed any longer than this year, and it seems like no hope at all, then I’ll resort to getting another service job just to be able to pay my bills. When I did have a career in it, I was really good at it, but REALLY despised it because of all the wonky hours, lack of any life outside of work (I literally worked everyday) and the extremely low pay.

        2. Artemesia*

          The summer after my senior year of HS I worked at a greasy spoon as server, dishwasher and off peak short order cook and soda jerk. The next summer I worked at JC Penneys. Both jobs were physically incredibly tiring especially the retail one because there was no sitting down at all for about 9 hours every day. Even at 19 my back was killing me.

          I can’t imagine how people in their 50s and 60s and older manage this type job full time but many do to keep a roof over their head (or in the case of a friend of ours, she works retail because her husband’s business failed and she needs it to provide them with health insurance.

        3. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I enjoy retail– I like talking to different people, I like being helpful, I like finding THE PERFECT GIFT OMG, all that good stuff. But I’m aware it’s not for everybody. I’d be a terrible server, for instance. What I forgot about retail is how damn tiring it can be. The last time I worked a retail job was 12 years ago, when I was a younger woman, and it exhausted me. This time, the shifts are way shorter so I figured I’d be fine. I mean, I get through my shifts ok, but I am sooooo tired when they’re done. I don’t even work late, and I’m tired. I’m now in the running for a full-time corporate job that I really want, and I still want to keep this retail job on weekends through the holidays (discounts and commitments and all that), so if I do get the job, I’m going to be one exhausted AvonLady until 2017.

      6. Rachel*

        Yes! I would be a terrible server, and retail would be pure hell on earth for me. Plus I would need something with a consistent schedule, which these kinds of jobs generally do not have.

      7. Libris*

        Yeah, indeed – I kept getting this advice when job-searching and had to keep reminding people that no, I am physically incapable of that job, and no, managers won’t want to hire me to fill a ‘disability quota’ when tje disability means I can’t do the job in question.

      8. Pommette*


        I’m transitioning out of academia. I haven’t just had difficulty finding work that would allow me to use the skills I developed in school: I have had difficulty finding work, period. Most of my

        Many of my family and friends have suggested that I work as a barista. Having drunk a lot of coffee surely qualifies me to make a lot of it! (In the same way that loving computer games might qualify one to be a programmer, or that having had ill health might qualify one to be a healthcare provider?) The thing is, I’ve seen enough baristas at work to know that their job isn’t easy, and that it isn’t something everyone can be good at. As with any occupation, that takes practice and talent. In this case, I have neither: I’m incredibly clumsy; I have a hard time remembering names and faces, and a harder time making small talk. Those traits aren’t inherently bad, and they aren’t an issue in every field… but in this one, they are pretty prohibitive.

        Many have also suggested that I apply for “easy” jobs in organizations I respect, and work my way up to more “serious” positions. Easy jobs are jobs in administrative or customer-facing roles. The thing is, many of these jobs are actually difficult and important! When I apply for such roles, I’m competing with people whose careers are in those fields, and who already excel at what they do. Were I to succeed in securing such a role, it is in no way guaranteed that I would amaze my employers and be rewarded with promotions.

        The whole attitude is demeaning. It’s as if the people who make such suggestions assume that jobs that are poorly remunerated, or that lack formal educational or licensing requirements, must be jokes.

    3. AMT*

      If people reeeeeally feel the need to give advice, they should suggest temporary seasonal work where neither experience nor a long-term commitment is expected (e.g. Christmas retail, snow removal in some cities, summer day camps).

      1. Another Emily*

        I did this one summer (temped and mostly got gardening jobs) and I enjoyed it but it was very physically demanding. It is a good suggestion but seasonal work can be very difficult too. It is a good idea for avoiding the “how long will you stay” problem though.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I did work retail (Starbucks in a Target) while I was between real jobs. And for me it worked well. But I recognize that it’s not always feasible and may have been easier 9 years ago.

  2. Rincat*

    My mom is always asking me if I’d consider going back to school to become a doctor. I’m 32, I have zero training or experience of any kind in the medical field, and I like my current field (database stuff) – I just want a job at a different company. So no, I’m not considering going back to school to become a doctor!

    1. Annonymouse*

      Sure mom, I’ll do it… If you’re supplying the 250k + it will cost to completely retrain me.

      What? You can’t do that? Well:
      A) never mind then.
      B) what in the hell makes you think I have that kind of money?

      Depending on mood and how much you want to attend family events.

    1. Allison*

      Or “you should go into sales” in general. People have this idea that sales is an easy job everyone can do if they’re looking to make a buck, and that being able to sell is a valuable skill everyone should develop. Not everyone is suited for sales!

      1. Two-Time College Dropout*

        My dad worked in sales most of his career. He loved it and was great at it… but he says that since sales is one of the best options for someone with no education/skill/experience to earn a decent living, AND since sales jobs often have sky-high turnover, he’s worked with more than his fair share of shitheads.

        1. Chinook*

          “AND since sales jobs often have sky-high turnover, he’s worked with more than his fair share of shitheads.”

          I contemplated being a car salesman. Even had a dealer willing to send me to GM’s “university” to train for it after he saw my aptitude for sales when I was “merely” a receptionist at the car dealership. Your dad’s description of some of his colleagues is one of the reasons why I have never, ever regretted turning that down.

      2. what's all this then?*

        I would be the worst salesman ever. I’m just too honest. I have told clients not to use certain of our products because they suck. Rather use Competitor’s product.

    2. Marche*

      Literally had someone add me on Linkedin last week and right away they tried to recruit me for their MLM.

  3. Allison*

    Thank you! This is coming at a great time because I have two months to find a new job, and I want to post something about it on Facebook in case someone knows of something relevant to my interests, and so my friends know the position I’m in and why I’m holding off on registering for upcoming events for the time being. However, it’s currently on a need-to-know basis, because I hate the attention it tends to bring from people I barely know. I don’t want pity, and I don’t need everyone giving me advice, nor do I want people to throw random sales or admin type jobs at me expecting me to chomp at the bit, and then getting mad when I don’t gush with gratitude.

    1. TeacherNerd*


      It took me eight years (!!) to find a full-time teaching job. It did not help that my father kept asking me what my plans were, or, when I went about renewing my level one teaching license (good for three years, but in order to level up, one needs to teach for three years), the assistant principal who signed off on my renewal form asked why I couldn’t find a job (and then added that she had never met anyone who needed to renew their level one license before). Felt good, I won’t lie.

      1. Anxa*

        Ugh, the licensing trap!

        I got a state certifaction (not for teaching) in what I assume was at one point a somewhat recession resistant industry. Well, there were literally no openings in the counties I was eligibile to work in that would higher anyone without any experience. I even opened myself up to positions that required up to 2 years experience. Nothing.

        I eventually found positions when the politics had changed and hiring freezes were lifted, but at that point I was too embarrassed to keep listed old references (stupid in hind sight, but I was so ashamed). And when I did, still nothing. So my license lapsed. So frustrating, I wish volunteer work could count. But I’m not paying another few thousand dollars to relicense myself. I just can’t risk it. Now I see a lot more jobs, but I can’t apply to those.

  4. Gandalf the Nude*

    The only question I’ve posed job seekers that has consistently gotten a positive response is “If I make chili, will you help me eat it?”

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        No, in fact. That’s how you keep it from coming off as pitying, by offering chili to the entire friend group, not just the ones that need the free food. They’re more likely to accept if they don’t think they’re a charity case. I’ve kept a lot of underemployed friends fed that way.

        1. Nolan*

          +1 – A delicious solution.
          I actually do something similar at the convention I volunteer staff for. When I started there, I was young and broke and often struggled to feed myself over the course of the weekend.
          These days I live comfortably and when I have time to eat during the con (rare), I can even pay for a decent meal. But a lot of my underlings are young students or broke recent grads. The con pays for some food now, but not all meals, so each year I bake a bunch of quick breads and individually wrap them so my team can have decent snacks that are also somewhat healthy, and free.

    1. Fafaflunkie*

      I’ll be more than happy to help you with that offer. However, you may want to stay away from me about 20 minutes or so after I help you with this task. Unless you’re wearing a gas mask. Then you should be okay. :D

  5. Kai*

    Yes to all of these! As with many sensitive topics, this is a good one for asking whether the job-seeker is looking for advice or sympathy when it comes up in conversation. When my friends and I are looking for work, we’ll preface any leads with “I saw this posting for XYZ job that might interest you–do you want me to send you the link?” and then go from there. Sometimes you want to vent about how frustrating the search process is, and other times you really do want extra ideas (and often you would just rather talk about anything else!). Respecting wherever the job seeker is at the moment is so important.

    1. Allison*

      If I tell people, it’s usually to explain to people in advance why I’ll be going out less, or traveling less. And sometimes it’s because I want people to put the feelers out for me where they work, but that means specifying what I want and that can feel awkward with someone I don’t know well.

    2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      This! I have one friend who is happy to slog through most leads, as she is trying to move in a slightly different direction (same position, different industry), whereas our other friend who is looking finds it frustrating to review leads because he does something fairly specialized in IT and 99% of what people send him are for helpdesk type positions.

  6. Jane D'oh!*

    For everyone with an English degree: “Why don’t you just teach?”

    (Because educating children is something that should be done as a throw-away job when you can’t do what you really want to do, right?)

    1. Rincat*

      Gahhh yes!! I have an English degree, my extended family is always asking me this. My grandfather is still disappointed that I never got my teaching certificate “just in case.”

      It’s the same with higher education teaching. You typically can’t “just teach” with only a Bachelor’s. So when I tell people I’d need at least a Master’s to teach college level, they say, “Why don’t you just get a Master’s?” To which I reply, “You got 30k lying around I can have to pay for it?”

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          And if you live somewhere where people don’t leave after getting their MA, you would be competing with all those people for classes to teach.

          And being adjunct faculty for Gen Ed courses is a pretty inefficient way to starve to death. I made more working in a call center… And the work was more steady.

      1. Girasol*

        This! When I was laid off I thought I might parlay my English degree (with a Master’s) into a teaching position. I always wanted to teach. I would need a good bit of expensive training since I lacked a teaching certification. Then, local principals told me, they’d want to see me in action as a substitute for the first year or three, part time, as needed. In my area that paid about the same hourly wage as a fast food job and was likely to offer fewer hours. Once I got through training and this form of apprenticeship, if I were deemed worthy of a full time position, I could work my way up, in three to five years, to a third of my previous salary. I can’t imagine how teachers in our area survive.

      2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

        My friends asked me this when I couldn’t find a job in the publishing industry – I had to make the point that I specifically got the English degree and not the Education degree because my social anxiety and general dilettante approach to learning would make me a hideous fit in a classroom.

        The sad part is, I went to school with a few people who *did* want to teach, and really couldn’t do it. They loved kids and loved the subjects they wanted to teach, but the other stuff like paperwork, class management, licensing red tape, and political jockeying wound up torpedoing them.

        “Just teach” is such a misunderstanding of the profession.

    2. Alton*

      Or when they just assume you plan to teach.

      I had one guy say, “Oh, so you’re going to be a teacher!” when I mentioned I had an English degree. When said I didn’t think it’d be a good fit for me, he seemed completely baffled.

        1. OhNo*

          Oh god, yes. I got a bachelor’s in math and everyone assumed I was either going to be a math teacher or a banker. Just to screw with them, I ended up being a librarian. :)

          1. DragoCucina*

            And other librarians love you math librarians. Yes, I can do a cost analysis/ROI. I just don’t like it. It is another language to my brain.

      1. chocolate lover*

        I got a similar response for my own liberal arts degree. Everyone assumed I was going to be a K-12 history teacher or something. Um, no. I AM an educator in higher ed, but it’s not related to my major. They just couldn’t think of anything else one could do with that degree.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      As a former classroom teacher and still-educator, this mentality of “those who can’t do, teach” makes my blood boil. Getting an English degree (and, yes, I have one) doesn’t automatically make you qualified to teach.

      1. Jane D'oh!*

        My local paper ran an article in 2008 about the imploding job market and how a job fair was full of school districts hoping to suck up all the laid-off STEM employees. My brain broke. I wrote a LttE asking how these folks were supposed to know anything about ESL or IEPs, complete their student teaching, et cetera. They never printed it–no surprise.

      2. Annonymouse*

        Oh My Gawd, I see this all the time in martial arts (my volunteering/hobby).

        Random person to new black belt:
        “Oh you have a black belt? You must be ready to teach classes then!”

        Um, no?

        One has to be taught HOW to teach. It isn’t as simple as it looks. And just cause you got the physical skills doesn’t mean you’ve got the communication skills, charisma, clarity or energy to keep a room full of students engaged.

        1. Kristine*

          And they also think that black belt = super master level. No, there are multiple degrees of black belt for a reason. Getting your first black belt is like getting your high school diploma in that martial art. You need at least the bachelors to teach. My dojo required a 4th degree or higher to become an instructor.

    4. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      History major here and that was everyone’s favorite question when I was looking.

      1. Anonsie*

        Ugh, yes.

        Because, obviously, if I have an interest in researching the lives of dead people, I must also have an interest in kids, pedagogy, public speaking, and classroom management. Right?

      2. FN2187*

        Also a history major and I got this question for years in college. I work in education in a non-teaching position and there’s no way you could convince me to get a master’s in education. Kids are the worst.

        1. ReadItWithSpanishAccent*

          I am the crazy one with two (yeah, two) Master degrees in History. I have gotten the teach question even from employers!

    5. Not Karen*

      When I expressed my interest in working abroad, I got a lot of “Just teach English!” As if anyone can teach. As if I a) would be good at teaching and b) would enjoy it.

      1. Student*

        To play devil’s advocate, most of my teachers weren’t exactly Socrates, and many needed an ethanol-based coffee additive to “enjoy” teaching.

        I certainly got the impression while in public school and college that, while there were some true-believer teachers who really loved teaching and were good at it, many more people go into teaching because it is familiar and safe, because it’s easier than a lot of other degrees, because it’s portable, because they have to in order to do something else they actually care about (college instructors!), or because they like care-giving for children. I have a high regard for talented teachers, and think teaching effectively is difficult, but I think most people employed as teachers are bad at it. It’s a bit like construction: excellent building craftsmanship is hard, but most construction workers are not excellent craftsmen. It’s a low-paying field that isn’t trying to attract the best and brightest.

        1. Photoshop Til I Drop*

          I have a friend who was pushed into teaching by his parents–basically given no other choice if he wanted their support and approval. He hated it for 20 years, and finally quit when his parents passed away. He told me a couple of years ago that his dad was not drafted due to being in college for education, and he’s completely convinced that they forced him into education because they thought he would be “safe” if another war came.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      You can get substitute teaching with a degree (any degree in some places), but it’s not consistent and it’s not for everyone. I got this too when I was job hunting. No, just because I went to teacher school for a while AND THEN QUIT does not mean I want to be a teacher. If I wanted to do that, I wouldn’t have quit!

      1. Chinook*

        “You can get substitute teaching with a degree (any degree in some places), but it’s not consistent and it’s not for everyone.”

        This makes me weep. I have an education degree (but from the wrong province) and certification in two other provinces and this did not qualify me to substitute teach in Ontario. And the job market around here was so stiff that you had to interview just to get a chance to get on the list to be a sub (and you were competing to get on the list against people with excellence in teaching awards).

        1. HannahS*

          I’m in ON as well, and every time some well-meaning person asks me if I’ve thought about teaching, I want to tear my hair out. Great idea! Then I’ll be unemployed in TWO fields!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I looked at subbing for a while and concluded, “NOOOOO.”
        I think my boss described it the best. I said, “You are a VERY good teacher, why didn’t you teach?” She said, “I don’t mind teaching adults practical things. No kids. No school courses.” I get it. I have trained a lot of people at work. I don’t mind. It’s fun to see the ah-ha’s and to see them really excel at the job. That is rewarding to me, but if I had to teach Am Lit or Geometry, etc. I think it would kill me.
        Upthread people were talking about how much energy retail takes, in my opinion, teaching takes way more energy than retail ever could.

    7. Elsajeni*

      Not to mention, it’s not like the job market is overflowing with teaching jobs, either! This is basically saying, “You’re having trouble finding a job? Why don’t you put in a lot of work and spend some money pursuing a teaching certificate — then you can have trouble finding a job you’re less interested in, too!”

    8. Trillian*

      When I was younger, teaching seemed to be the default suggestion for a woman. Every time I struggled, I got the suggestion. I had no interest whatsoever in children or in teaching. And I was the daughter of a good, committed teacher (who incidentally never suggested I go into teaching), so I knew what a good, committed teacher looked like — the same kind of good and committed I had the potential to be to my profession, which seemed to go unnoticed because it wasn’t stereotypically female.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Growing up I was told women could be come teachers, nurses or secretaries. It was the 60s.
        I moved to a rural area and found myself sitting in the unemployment office and going to an employment counselor. He said, “Up here women can be teachers, nurses or secretaries.” That was the early 80s.

        There were women doing interesting things at those times but it was a secret. It took me a while but I realized that my thinking could only be as broad-minded as the people around me. Lesson learned. When people start talking about looking for jobs, I try to think across as many lines as possible or send them to someone who would have good suggestions.

  7. Merida May*

    Sort of a spinoff of the first one on that list, but the very general ‘So, you got a job yet?’ seemed to have more of a sting to me than questions about upcoming interviews. Whether or not the asker intended, it always felt confrontational.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I’d agree with that. A new job/car/house/baby people can’t wait to mention it. If you have to ask, then the answer is no.

  8. InboxIngrid*

    So what safe things should I be able to say to be helpful and supportive? Or is it safer to not mention anything about the friend’s job search?

    1. H.C.*

      “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help” and let your friend take it (or leave it) from there.

    2. Kelly L.*

      I think it depends on how often you see the person. Last time I was job searching, I was also temporarily staying at my mom’s at the time, and I saw her every day, and every day she would ask me if I got a call back yet. I finally told her I would tell her as soon as I had anything, and that having to answer that in the negative every day–thus experiencing her letdown on top of my own–was kind of painful. I think if it’s someone you’re really close to, and you see them all.the.time., they’re probably going to tell you as soon as there’s any news. Just talk to them about other stuff. They’ve probably had their head in job search stuff all day and would welcome the chance to talk about Westworld instead.

      If you don’t see them all the time, and you’re not close enough that they’d announce any news to you right away, I think you can say something like “So how’s the job search going?” Then let them take the lead on what aspect of it they feel like discussing, or take note if they give you “I don’t want to talk about this” cues.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        I agree so much with the “please don’t ask if there’s news” advice for closer friends/family. Believe me, EVERYONE will know when my never-ending job search finally ends.

        1. TheOperaGhost*

          Seriously. Within an hour of me telling my grandmother I got a job and I wouldn’t be able to drive her around town anymore, my entire extended family knew. Course she got what I did and when I started completely wrong, but they all knew I had a job.

        2. Rana*

          Oh, god, yes. Talking about my unemployed status was the last thing I wanted to do, let alone with people who kept making the Very Concerned Face at me. And when I let myself show my irritation, then it morphed into a “Poor Rana, let us fix her” discussion.

          I know it was because they love me and were worried, but ugh, do. not. want.

      2. Kristine*

        My friend talked me into watching the first episode of Westworld last night. I’m now trying to convince friends to let me mooch off their HBO Go account so I can get caught up.

    3. Important Moi*

      Something along the lines of

      “I’m sure you’re doing your best (with your job search). I’m certain you’ll find what your looking for.”

      then move to another subject.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      For me, the most helpful things have been, “I’ve been there, and it sucks. Hey, would you like me to introduce you to this person? He/she helped me in my job search a few years ago, and I think it would be great for you to talk.” A simple, “How are things going?” has also been great. If things are really rough, especially financially, offer to make dinner or come over for a walk or take your friend out for a cocktail.

    5. Grits McGee*

      When I have a friend going through something rough, I always ask if they’d like to talk about it or if they’d rather pretend it doesn’t exist for a while.

    6. hbc*

      You know what would be great? Giving a one time “I’m not going to bring up the job-hunting thing because I assume you won’t need an invitation to talk if there’s good news. If you want to vent or ask advice or dig for openings, I’m game, but this is the last time I’ll bring it up first.” Bonus points if you can show empathy by mentioning the time you were unemployed and hated getting the question, or some other time you were on tenterhooks and people kept bugging you (like waiting for a medical result.)

    7. Barney Barnaby*

      At times like this, it’s often best to not offer actual advice.

      I will talk to (younger, usually) people about what I went through, what I think I did right, and what I definitely would have done differently, and why those things worked or did not work. There’s no “do this” or “don’t do that;” it’s all “This thing worked for me because [describe in detail] but the downsides were [describe in detail].” It helps the job-hunter to take pieces of it, if they want, or neglect entirely if the set of factors don’t fit their own situation.

      1. Annonymouse*

        Oh I think there are some definite “Don’t do that!” s that we’ve seen here.

        I think your approach is best though.

        If someone is getting really bad advice (call everyday to follow up when you can’t show up in person! Send gifts and physical copies of your resume! $1 Starbucks card and CEO referral!)

        Then I think you can pretend you’ve done that before and say it really didn’t work out – the hiring managers told you straight up it was annoying, gimmicky, wasted their time and put you in the “never getting hired here” pile. (If you want, add a getting security called/escorting you out for emphasis)

        1. Barney Barnaby*

          To give an example:

          “When I graduated, the recession hit, hard, and it was really tough to find anything. I ended up doing X for pay and built by skills doing Y (at a very low rate of pay or for free). That was great because (describe problems with getting any experience), and it lead to me meeting people who ended up hiring me for (describe various connections that lead to progressively more meaningful roles). The downside was that a lot of interviewers in field W had trouble understanding why I didn’t keep doing Y, and it was difficult to explain (problems with low pay, inconsistent work, stressful work, etc.). Also, it was exhausting, even for someone in her twenties with a lot of energy. I wish I had thought of Z field earlier (current occupation), because they appreciate pragmatic people who enjoy streamlining processes.”

          I’m not going to tell people to take a pay cut to build skills, work two jobs to make ends meet, go afield in search of a good career fit, or “network” (whatever that means). But it might get the wheels turning, or it might provide some good ammo for telling other people that their advice is bad.

    8. Allison*

      The best thing a friend could do is offer to ask around where they work, and keep their eyes open, but the important part would be to ask me what I’m looking for, and only refer me to stuff that’s relevant to what I want. No “oh well you’re not going to find anything like that” or “yeah? well . . . good luck with that . . .”

      From there, tell me I got this. And be understanding if I want to keep spending to an absolute minimum.

    9. Two-Time College Dropout*

      I’d rather you don’t ask about my job search at all– if I want to talk to you about it, I will.

      *The only possible exception is if you’re local AND in a similar field as I am AND have an actual lead (not just “I heard Teapot Depot is hiring!!!”), but even that gets tiresome pretty fast.

    10. Bob*

      When I was out of work for 3 months during the recession, things got super tight financially. I cancelled my cable, drastically reduced my food budget, kept my house like a meat locker to reduce utility bills and eliminated my social life. It was nice when a friend would invite me over on a Saturday night to watch a big game or a movie that just came out and feed me a real meal.

      1. Chinook*

        What would be excellent is just inviting the person to do anything social. When I got laid off, my social life disappeared, making it feel like unemployment was contagious and the unemployed need to be quarantined to stop the spread.

        An invite to watch a game, go to a bar (the unemployed make excellent designated drivers as we have no money to drink) or even a cup coffee would be heavenly.

    11. ye old post*

      As a current job seeker, 2 things:

      1) If the person is asking about your organization and you are in a position to give a referral (and your friend is referral worthy), offer it. I had a friend do this to me and I was so grateful for the help (plus the fact that she didn’t let me beg on bended knees for one)

      2) If not, then just say, good luck, hang in there. You can do it! I had friends offer me this, and it always made me feel as if I am not worthless.

      1. Laura*

        Support, encouragement, and empathy go a long way. When friends have told me that they believe in me and know that I will land a job soon it’s really helped bring me up on the low days.

  9. JMegan*

    Oh, you should be a consultant/ open your own business doing [that thing you did at your last job!]

    There are lots of jobs that are suitable for this kind of work, but many more that are not. And just because someone can do [that thing they do], doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to be a consultant, or that they would be any good at the running-a-business aspect of it. Some people *want* to work in an office, with a steady income and benefits, and just be a SME with someone else to manage the organization.

    1. Important Moi*


      Yes!!! Every occupation doesn’t lend itself to an individual putting up their own shingle and doing [that thing you did at your last job!]

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        And even in occupations that do lend themselves to hanging out a shingle, maybe trust that the person has considered that as an option and decided against it.

    2. Allison*

      Ughhh yes! I don’t have the business savvy or the money to spend starting my own business. I’m pretty sure I’d suck at that. If I had an idea for a new product or new way of doing things, then maybe that’s something I could work towards, but I don’t.

      Also, I’ve been a contractor for years now, I want some damn benefits and vacation, I deserve it!

      In that same vein, I hate when people tell you you should just move somewhere else! I get that I’m not married and I don’t have any kids, and if there was ever a time to relocate to San Francisco now would be it, but I don’t want to. I’m in love with my city and I have strong roots here, I’m not leaving everything behind to build a life in a city I’m completely unfamiliar with.

    3. Mike C.*

      I remember this was HUGE back in 2008. “It’s the new normal to have to go out and invent your job and if you don’t hustle enough you’re a lazy, entitled jerk”. Christ, I still want to find those people and smack them.

    4. Anxa*

      Oh my goodness, yes.

      I always thought that going into business for yourself was usually something that, for people with my personality, is best done AFTER getting a few years experience under your belt.

      I felt so guilty for sitting on my butt applying for jobs I knew I’d never land when maybe I should just blindly go into consulting with pretty much zero real experience, because that’s what people with gumption or work ethic did. I never did go into consulting, thank goodness. Mostly because I have no safety net and am risk adverse, but also because I’d rather be a lazy layabout than seriously hurt someone with my ignorance.

    5. DragoCucina*

      Oh, there’s so much salesmanship in a consultant business. A friend wanted us to open shop, but she wasn’t willing to put in the time to sell us to potential clients. I couldn’t do it all.

    6. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Yeah, becoming a “consultant”.

      I belong to a professional IS/IT computing group. It costs bucks to go to the national conference to promote yourself. The local/region group meetings ARE cheap to attend – and educational – and high ground to network in, but in recent years, there have been a great many “independent consultants” showing up at these meetings.

      Ditto a big conference – in anything – some go to the conference and market themselves in the exhibit hall, going from table to table.

      Yes JMegan, I like getting a paycheck every two weeks.

    7. Laura*

      I completely agree! I work for non-profits, and when I’ve been out of work so many people have told me that I should just start my own non-profit. Because it’s obviously super easy. Way easier than finding a job at an established non-profit. Ugh!

  10. Stonkle*

    I’ve been out of work for more than a year and have gotten most of these. I think the most disheartening is family assuming I enjoy being unemployed and am just not trying hard enough. This is the first time I’ve been unemployed since I started working at 18. I’m not lazy and I resent feeling like I have to give detailed updates on my search to prove I’m trying. I’m also tired of idiotic suggestions to support myself by knitting booties or other clothes. No one has supported themselves by hand knitting baby booties in the history of forever.

    1. KellyK*

      Absolutely! The market for handcrafts is really not all that great. There are lots of talented people making awesome things who don’t bring in much income when you take their time and materials into account. *If* knitting is something you like and that keeps you sane, it *may* be worth seeing if there are small, cute items you enjoy making that would sell on Etsy to either bring in a small amount of cash or at least keep you in yarn. But it’s not a full-time job, and trying to turn your hobby into a money-maker might also just suck all the joy out of it.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I like to make my own cloth handbags and accessories. When I’m unemployed people get like, “YOU SHOULD SELL THINGS ON ETSY!” Which is a nice thought but a medium sized handbag generally costs me $30+ in materials, and Etsy takes a 20 cent listing fee, 3.5% transaction fee, and 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee. So if I charged $60 for a bag that would net me about $25 for 4-8 hours of work.

        If I ever chose to sell things on Etsy it would be because selling them on Etsy paid for the materials.

        (I made people cross-stitched stockings for Christmas one year and someone suggested I sell them. Each stocking involved $30-40 in materials and took about FORTY HOURS to make. In order to get two finished in time for Christmas I started in OCTOBER. I explained that to sell them I would have to charge $500 each.)

        1. Amy G. Golly*

          I have to explain this to people all the time about my knitting! I’d have to sell each blanket/sweater/whatever for hundreds of dollars to come even close to minimum wage on the labor, never mind materials.

      2. Anna the Accounting Grad*

        Exactly. I’ve been a knitter for years, and one thing a lot of people — few to none of whom are involved in crafty things — keep telling me I should sell stuff on Etsy. I usually shut them down with a lecture on why that doesn’t work: “I’m an accounting grad, and it’s unlikely I’d recoup the cost of materials (much less make minimum wage).”

        The other reason, which I usually use only for people who don’t believe that the math doesn’t work is that I too want to keep knitting a hobby. The minute I try to make money off of knitting, it becomes a job instead.

  11. H.C.*

    A No. 11 I’d add is “Maybe you shouldn’t have left your previous job after all [or so soon]?”

    I’ve heard that comment directed at my between-jobs friends and it is so NOT HELPFUL to the extreme.

    1. PermTemp*

      This. I was working a temp job working 10-12 hour days. I knew this job wasn’t going to lead to full time employment and when they asked us to step it up to 7 days a week, I was out. My time is better spent having time to look for employment.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I got that. What made it worse was remembering that the entire time I worked there, my family thought it was horrible for me. They complained that I didn’t have enough vacation and they hated that I had no benefits. They thought my boss was an asshole. They thought I worked too much. So then my company and I parted ways, and I heard, “Why did you do that????” Sigh.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Oh! Just remembered one, and I was actually employed when this one happened. I had a friend who thought I should be doing Bigger and Better Things. Specifically, Bigger and Better Things at her own workplace, and pushed me repeatedly to apply. Thing is, 99.9% of the rest of the time, she was bashing every dysfunctional thing about her workplace. Way to sell me on it!

    3. Irish Em*

      Igave one reeeeeeeeeeally sarcastic “oh, yeah, you’re right! You know what? I’ll just hop in my time machine and not do that!” and NOBDY ever said it again. I think it’s turned into a family legend, especially as I am not known in my extended family as having anything resembling a temper. Deadpan snark yes, angry sarcastic snark not usually.

  12. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    I’ve heard most of them, and what I’m tired about is people asking news in general, especially when that’s all they start chats with. So I’m replying “I hope to bring you good news soon” as soon as possible, but when there is nothing to say, well there is nothing.

    I feel crappy enough as is without a job and my situation is getting “dangerous” in the sense that finances are exploding in a bad way. I don’t need to be reminded every single day that I’m a job seeker, even though I may talk about it from time to time :( .

  13. Marche*

    All of these are absolutely dead on. I’d also add the more generic “How’s the job hunt going?” I’ve had the SAME PERSON ask me that at least two or three times a week for months. It’s all I can do to not glare at them and say “If it was going better don’t you think I’d have said something?”

    1. Laura*

      I don’t mind this question occasionally or from people I only talk to once every month or so. It’s when it’s asked over and over and over again that it gets annoying.

      Much better are the friends who just say “Any news?” and then move on with the conversation when I say no. This shows me they care but also that it’s not the only thing about me.

  14. Temperance*

    My personal favorite – “Why don’t you become a nurse? They’re ALWAYS looking for LPNs!”

    I have a JD and a BA in English. I have tremendous respect for nurses, but I a.) am a germaphobe and b.) have no tolerance for the type of shenanigans that nurses, especially LPNs, deal with on a daily basis.

    1. Case of the Mondays*

      With a JD you must also hear “well, you can hang your own shingle” or “you can do anything with a JD.” My dad literally thought I could just hammer a sign on my front lawn that said “lawyer” and I’d be set for life.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          I work with a number of people doing document review who’ve had to pick this up to supplement a solo practice. Honestly, the only people I know who’ve succeeded are insanely outgoing people with some sort of specialized background (like a naturalized citizen friend who speaks six languages and does immigration work).

    2. Audiophile*

      As the child of a retired RN, I STILLLL here this. “You should have become a nurse, there’s so many directions you can go in.”

    3. Qmatilda*

      I got this question all of the time during my job hunt. It didn’t help that I work in a medical involved legal field. Still, the idea of getting my RN and going through all of that, after all of the schooling I already have, then having to do my time on the floor. No.

      And yes, non legal field members seem to just think you can “poof” yourself into a solo practice. They have zero idea of the difficulties of doing so.

    4. Mike C.*

      After hearing talk of making it so that medical professionals can be “allowed” to work 24 hour or longer shifts, those folks can really get screwed.

      It’s always some insanely difficult job that is underpaid and involves insane hours and it’s always directed towards younger people.

    5. Kai*

      That’s nuts–even aside from your excellent reasons, it takes a LOT of time and dedication to become a nurse. My husband is going through the pre-reqs now after several years in a totally unrelated field. He hasn’t even been formally accepted to nursing school yet and it’s already been a lot of work to go through the classes he needs just to qualify.

      1. Alex*

        LPN here in school for their RN. The pre req classes alone take two years plus there is the wait list(most community colleges have them) and then there is the program its self which is another two years. It takes a loooong time to become an RN.

    6. SusanIvanova*

      Facebook’s so-called “targeted” ads sent me those all the time! FB has my demographic info – “female middle-aged Silicon Valley software engineer”. Why I’d leave that for a job that’s a stressful level of work for someone half my age, I have no idea.

    7. AnonNurse*

      While I see openings for LPNs regularly, they are usually in nursing homes or in offices where people make so much less than they deserve/could make in other areas. I at least understand people going with “you have a BA, you could get an accelerated BSN in a shorter time than others and you should be a nurse!” It’s still flawed and isn’t good advice for someone that isn’t actually interested in healthcare/nursing but at least it would make more sense.

  15. AnonNurse*

    Oh this is so accurate! I really wish people would stop pushing the “nursing shortage” fallacy too. I hear it all the time. People say “I told my daughter/niece/friend they should go in to nursing because they will have a good living and sign on bonus and there’s a shortage, etc”. While there is a shortage in some places, there are a lot of places that people can barely find a job. Beyond that, it’s not a simple bit of certification to get in to the field either. It’s a degree and training and caring. Just getting in to nursing because you “need a job” will most likely lead to disappointment.

    1. AnonNurse*

      I feel I should also put it out there that I got in to nursing after losing a job but it was more of a “I really need to finish my degree and do something I love” decision, not one based on false information about what the nursing field is like. I made a concious decision knowing the amount of education that would be needed, the hours it would take, the stress it would cause, as well as the financial investment that would have to be made. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it.

      1. Temperance*

        My mother is one of those people who is convinced that the nursing shortage is a real thing where she lives, and that nurses have cushy jobs (because the nurse at our former PCP’s office did have an admittedly sweet schedule/setup … that she lost when his practice closed). Meanwhile, I have friends who are nurses and had to relocate because they were unable to find satisfying work.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I think a lot of people for some reason don’t realize that job opportunities/shortages are very location specific. (This is why there are so few snowmobile salespeople in Hawai’i. Are there any?)

          1. Temperance*

            That is absolutely true. I’m from an area that is pretty undesirable (greater Scranton, PA area) and doesn’t have many good jobs. There was a legal job up there advertising $35k/year salary to handle legal aid for 16 counties, which meant extensive travel to very rural places.

    2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Also, even in locations where there are legitimate nursing shortages, the nursing SCHOOLS are at capacity/waitlisting. The main reason for the nationwide nursing shortage isn’t for lack of interest, but lack of training programs. (Lack of training programs are, in turn, because of lack of qualified nurses willing to teach in said programs … higher ed is getting away with the highway robbery that is adjunct work when it comes to the humanities, but medical professionals want no part of it!)

      1. Anxa*

        You know, I’ve actually thought about trying to get a master’s to teach in those fields. I can never do clinical work (medical phobia), but about 80% of my last job included teaching nursing and allied health majors. I wouldn’t be thrilled about adjuncting or part-time teaching, but it would (sadly) be more money and more steady than what I do now.

      2. AnonNurse*

        This is an excellent point. One of the main issues with waitlists isn’t so much that there isn’t space, which a lot of people seem to think, but rather, it’s not always easy to find instructors. Most programs (reputable ones anyway) desire nurses with a Master’s degree and years of experience but pay significantly less than bedside nursing. The upside of course is a good schedule with the downside being much less compensation for the amount of education and experience involved. On top of that, many programs are looking for doctoral prepared nurses. I’m not sure how that will effect the compensation level but it’s not easy to come by.

    3. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      The college my daughter attends is primarily a nursing school though she’s a communications major. Whenever I mention the school she’s attending, everyone’s first response is invariably “Oh, so she’s going to be a nurse?” And when I tell them no, often they’ll come back with “But why not? Nurses can always get a job after graduation.”

      As someone with nurses in my family, I have always felt that you really need to have a calling to be a nurse; if it’s something you do for solely for financial reasons you’re probably going to be miserable because it’s a tough job, many times with crazy hours and unpleasant duties and/or patients. I think my aunt put is best when she said she loved being a nurse because for as far back as she could remember, she’s had an endless well of empathy for sick people.

      My daughter, btw, would be a terrible nurse. She gets very anxious over certain things like having slimy/dirty hands and hearing people in distress. When I had a terrible case of the flu a couple of years ago she practically moved in with her BFF’s family until I was better. She is much better suited for the PR/Advertising career she’s currently pursuing.

      1. Temperance*

        Your daughter is my kindred spirit, lol. I was hospitalized earlier this year, and was very appreciative of the care I received, but seeing the BS that nurses deal with (like my elderly roommate who kept poaching the staff when they were coming to see me, and who also only used a bedpan even though seh didn’t have to) made me firm in my decision.

    4. Alex*

      There is no nursing shortage, at least not to the extent that they are willing to take new graduate nurses. There is a huge glut (although it is getting better) of new nursing graduates that can’t find work because they don’t have experience. “Just become a nurse” is terrible advice for someone who is already unemployed if their goal is to just find work. Unemployment, plus student loans, plus an extended time looking for work while student loan payment come due will probably end in disaster.

      1. Anxa*

        This is such an overlooked aspect of the ‘hot fields’ push. Very often there isn’t a shortage of new graduates, but there’s a shortage of trained, experienced workers (or trained, somewhat experienced workers). Or a shortage of workers willing to work for a lot less money than their predecessors.

        Then of course there’s the overlooked aspect that degrees take time and time changes things. Several of my classmates are still looking to get a toehold in their careers because we didn’t prepare well enough for the new economy before it arrived.

        1. Elsajeni*

          Yes! This is a big problem with the “teaching shortage” narrative as well — there are schools and districts that are desperate for staff, it’s not completely made up, but in a lot of places, there’s no shortage of new teachers; there’s a shortage of funds to hire them, and there’s a shortage of teachers, especially experienced teachers, willing to work for the lower salaries that creates. (And as AnonNurse said of nursing below, the places where there are lots of jobs available tend to be low-paying and in less desirable (higher-need, higher-stress) situations.)

          1. AnonNurse*

            That is such a good point! I know many teachers with their Master’s and 20+ years of experience who are treated as though they’re crazy for wanting a salary commiserate with those qualifications. It makes no sense!!

      2. AnonNurse*

        Absolutely! Yes, there are jobs but many of them are lower paying or in less desirable areas of nursing, such as nursing homes. Don’t get me wrong, working in nursing homes is a calling and a necessity but knowing your limitations is a good thing too. I know being in a nursing home would stress me out and burn me out faster than anything. But put me on a Med-Surg unit, 8′ a clinic or in other areas and I’m happy as a clam. Unfortunately, when new grads get put in bad situations they burn out quick and end up leaving the field.

      3. DragoCucina*

        Yes! I’ve been hearing about this mythical shortage for over 20 years. I’ve mentioned elsewhere my husband is a retired CRNA. One of the problems he faced in the last ten years was the huge number of CRNAs being pushed out by schools. They were willing to take half the salary than someone with 30+ years. Suddenly the hospitals had their pick.

      4. Anony*

        Happened to me in teaching. When I started college there was a shortage in my field (a subfield of arts education). Between more graduates, experienced people moving to the state for open jobs, and No Child Left Behind those positions were GONE by the time I was eligible to apply.

  16. Anonymous Educator*

    There’s another problem with the “Did you hear back from that company you interviewed with last month?” in addition to it being demoralizing, it’s also just not based on anything… if you haven’t heard back in a month, it doesn’t mean you didn’t get the job or won’t get the job or another interview. All it means is that you haven’t heard back in a month. I’ve gotten a couple of jobs from places I interviewed with and didn’t hear back from again in over a month.

    1. Nina*

      Yep. I had a second interview for a particular job and finally received the rejection notice…last week. No word from these people after the second interview. I had long since written them off, but it still stings. Sometimes they really don’t call back.

  17. Alton*

    Thanks for mentioning the quality over quantity thing! When I was job hunting, I’d occasionally come across people who’d brag about applying for 20 jobs a day, often with an implication that people who didn’t make job hunting their full-time job weren’t doing enough. It made me feel really inadequate.

    I’m sure I could have managed that if I applied for stuff willy-nilly, but I was looking for jobs in my area that I was qualified for and that were a decent fit for me. I didn’t have outlandish requirements. I just knew that I’d be horrible at commission-based sales or being a daycare worker (the two jobs I found the most of online).

    1. Allison*

      One of my best friends told me I needed to print out a hundred copies of my resume, go downtown, and hand them to every company I could until I ran out, then do the same thing the next day, until something “stuck.” According to him, because I wasn’t an engineer, I was desperate and this method was my only hope. “Apply to everything,” he’d tell me. Even if I didn’t want the job, even if I wasn’t remotely qualified, I should apply anyway, because “you never know.”

    2. Clever Name*

      Last time I was job hunting (still employed, so I was very picky) I applied to about a dozen jobs over a year-and-a-half period. Got 3 interviews, and one offer. It was kind of sucky to apply to so few jobs. I’d search listings maybe once a week, and there just weren’t that many jobs out there.

    3. Bob*

      This is similar to my issue which is people telling me I was too picky. “Beggars can’t be choosers”. I’m not saying I’m “too good” to do any job. However, I was making $35/hour and your job (that wouldn’t hire me anyway because I’m grossly overqualified) pays $14/hour. I’m not against taking a small cut if I need to but taking your job would be admitting I will lose my house, my car and basically move back in with my parents. Even if I could somehow exist on the lower pay, I would be stepping backwards in my career about 10 years. I would just take a job I hated or that had a super long commute before I would do that.

      1. Allison*

        Right. It’s fine to tell entry-level people that they need to keep their options open, but if someone’s been in the workforce for a few years, they know what they’re good at and what they’d most likely suck at, and they know what they like to do and what they hate to do, they have a feel for how much they can ask for and how much of a pay cut they can take. They know what standards they can reasonably have, and they don’t appreciate anyone telling them to throw those standards out the window.

  18. Dang*

    Oh gosh, THE FLASHBACKS!!!!!

    I’m so happy to have a job but I have job search PTSD and I’d estimate that 40% of it was caused by the constant questions from well-meaning family and friends.

    1. JAM*

      Today is my 4 year anniversary of being fully employed and I feel like it’s just yesterday. I am still so terrified of being unemployed again, being treated the way I was, etc. I have come so far but I really do feel like I have some sort of damage I will carry around because of being unemployed and constantly hassled about it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I stayed at a job too long for this reason, I had been unemployed and doing temp jobs for so long that the relief of not dealing with all that was huge. I kind of neglected to look at how toxic the job was, though, so that became another can of worms.

  19. deets*

    I’ve been in my current job for 2.5 years and this still brought back serious flashbacks of my search – which I did post-grad school while living with my parents to save money.

    My dad was the absolute worst. He meant well, but the last time he interviewed for a position was when he began his career track 30 years ago (his promotions have all been natural steps within the same company). He has zero understanding of how the current job market works and just could not comprehend that me sitting at home in front of my laptop constituted actively looking for work. He really thought I should be out visiting companies rather than submitting materials via email like the job postings said. The first couple times I just brushed it off, but when we had the conversation every day for months… yuck.

    Looking for work – especially when you’re unemployed! – is stressful enough without friends and family making it worse.

    1. Liz*

      My Bf’s dad is similar in the unable to understand why you don’t “pound the pavement” anymore and continues to push that agenda. Post job getting sympathies!

    2. Audiophile*

      Ugh so much this.

      “This [insert pointing to the laptop here] isn’t working. No one ever sees those applications, they wind up in a blackhole somewhere. You need to call places or show up there and hand them your resume.”

      Um, no, because if it says “no calls, no emails, no faxes, no walk-ins or drop-ins,” they likely mean it.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I think a few years ago, someone here proposed a coffee shop called “The Pavement” that everyone could go to and escape all the well-meaning gumptiony relatives.

        1. OhNo*

          Man, I would love that. Bonus points if they have punching bags in the back so you can “pound” on something when you get frustrated. There were so many days during my last job hunt when that would have made me feel much better about the whole thing.

          1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

            There’s one in the next town over called “The Office.” As in, “I’ll be at The Office until late Honey.”

              1. Fafaflunkie*

                Sweeeet. Of course around this part of the planet a proposed bar with that name would never get a liquor licence. Sob

      2. Xarcady*

        At larger retail chain stores, even if you do go in person to apply, they point you to a computer to fill out the on-line application. Going into the store gets you nothing but wasted gas/travel time.

      3. Sans*

        Here’s what I don’t get. I began working full time in 1983 and I NEVER would have thought to just show up at the office of a professional job to apply. Back then, I read the Sunday want ads and mailed in my resume and cover letter. Today, I apply online. I don’t understand all these people my age or even younger who somehow think you have to “pound the pavement” to get a job. Where in the earth were they living in the 80s and 90s?????

    3. SJ*

      but but but you need to show up in person and show the company how much you want the job! Go back every day if you have to until the manager agrees to interview you! Gumption! Bootstraps!

  20. Grey*

    I’m employed but my mother is currently looking for a job. I’m resisting the urge for payback by starting all of our conversations with, “So, did you find a job yet?”

    But now that I’m on the other side of it, I get where she was coming from. It’s natural to care if a family member has found the means to support themselves.

  21. Barney Barnaby*

    #11: please stop asking if s/he got a job from that informational interviews.

    There was a point in my life when I started refusing informational interviews so I wouldn’t have to explain to people that a billion-dollar company on a hiring freeze did not make a special exception to said hiring freeze just for my precious self.

    #12: stop asking why they didn’t get the job when there were two or three other finalist candidates.

    (I finally started answering, “Because I suck, obviously.”)

    1. Not Karen*

      Someone once responded to my lament about trouble finding a job with, “But there are tons of jobs in that field here.” So… you’re saying I can’t find a job because I suck? Thanks.

  22. AvonLady Barksdale*

    “Have you found anything yet? Do you have any NEWS? I’m concerned.”

    This is what I heard every day for the first two weeks after I left my job. I had to yell, then neglect to call, for them (mother and grandparents) to stop asking. I said, “If I have any news, I will tell you. Please stop asking.” Bottom line, I don’t want to deal with your anxiety on top of my own. The very best thing a relative said to me was, “I’m not worried about you.”

    I did get a seasonal retail job, at a local cookware store. My mother’s response? “Why didn’t you apply at Williams-Sonoma? Don’t they have a Williams-Sonoma there? I bet they pay better!” My grandmother said, rather accusingly, “Does that mean you’ve given up looking for a full-time job? Why would you do that?”

    Thanks, family, for alllll the support.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. I so relate to this. Family and their ill-conceived, random ideas with poor delivery on top of all that. The job hunter can end up finding all new levels of isolation.

  23. Intrepid*

    After you ask how the job search is going, do not follow up with “and what else?” Whatever your job-searching friend tells you, treat that as the complete update. Maybe pause for a beat or two when they’re done speaking to see if they have anything else they want to add, but then let the conversation move onto other things.

    This is a sore spot for me because I have a well-meaning friend who ALWAYS asked this question. I once had three interviews (!) in a week (!) and when I got done telling her about them, she said “And what else?”

    Nothing else. I worked full time and had three interviews with three different companies. The only other things I did were breathe and dry cleaning.

    1. Clever Name*


      “And what else…?”

      “Oh yeah. I forgot to mention. I won a Nobel Prize”.

      Seriously, what are people thinking? (I’m sure they’re not thinking)

  24. Shazbot*

    One piece of advice I wish would die is “You have to network!” where the advice-giver thinks “network” means cold-calling the older sister of the neighbor girl who used to babysit me 30 years ago, who works in an entirely different industry, and with whom I have possibly never actually exchanged even a sentence with in my lifetime. Because yeah, how could that call not instantly lead to a six-figure job? ::eyeroll::
    “Network” does not mean “call everyone to whom your parents have a tenuous relationship and beg them for a job.”

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My mother still tries to arrange what I call “play dates” with the children of her friends. “You should meet Sansa, she lives near you! I’ll tell her to call you!” Usually I have nothing in common with these people and they’re a good 15 years younger than I am. I’m thankful that she has absolutely no idea what I do for a living, because then I’d be bombarded with random phone numbers of people who are only tangientially in my field, like the guy who works IT for the type of company I used to work for. I am not in IT.

      On the other hand, people who do understand what networking is shouldn’t hesitate to offer that up! One friend of mine asked what type of work I was looking for, and when I told her, she introduced me to a guy with a ton of contacts and he’s been wonderful. That’s the way it’s supposed to be done.

    2. Temperance*

      YES THIS. OMG.

      My mother-in-law thought networking was telling her doctor (!) that she wanted a new job. He wasn’t even hiring at the moment. WTF.

  25. Kyrielle*

    Oh man, the job openings that are not relevant. Happens even from people who should know the difference better. (Someone who works in raspberry overglaze on white chocolate teapots, trying to recommend a job in white chocolate teapot spout attachment to someone whose entire career history *and* interest is in dark and milk chocolate melting and preparation for teapot molding….)

    (Okay, I was just having too much fun with the teapots thing. But seriously, the jobs in question have about as much in common – they often co-occur at the same company, at least, but that’s about it.)

    1. Kelly L.*

      My mom, who believes I am a Super Genius. “Here, apply for this!” “Umm, no, that’s the Vice President of Rocket Science at Brain Surgery, Inc.” “But I know you can do it! I believe in you!”

      1. Sans*

        Oh god that sounds like my mom! I happen to be a good writer. But that doesn’t mean I’m good at other things. She thinks I could be an engineer or a doctor if I really wanted to.

        Ummm, no. I couldn’t. lol

        1. Kelly L.*

          And I certainly couldn’t be one just by applying and gumptioning! There would be loads of school involved!

    2. Mike C.*

      Recruiters seem to fall into this hole as well. I worked in a food safety lab, and I get bombarded with ads and recruiters looking to fill cook and assistant manager positions at fast food places.

      1. Two-Time College Dropout*

        I worked for a company with a stupid misleading name– for the sake of example, say it’s a restaurant called “The Dog Pound”–recruiters always send me leads for jobs in animal control or veterinary clinics or whatever, no matter how many times I’d tell them The Dog Pound was a restaurant and I had zero experience in that kind of work.

  26. Michele*

    Thank you. My well-meaning parents keep suggesting I swing by previous or current contractors I work for to inquire about opportunities. I keep having to explain that it doesn’t work that way.

    I’ve been finding sidework but no staff positions. (I’m in media) I don’t know what to do anymore. I kept getting told to take classes, which I do, but I can’t afford higher education. Also, my insurance is going up by $100 next year; I’m looking at going to Medicaid.

    1. SeekingBetter*

      You should really look at applying for Medicaid in your state, especially if you’re paying a lot for it. I’m on it right now. It’s not great health insurance, but if your state doesn’t make you pay premiums for it each month, you’ll be able to save some money.

      Good luck with the job search!

  27. Meghan*

    It’s amazing how much bad info is out there, and dispersed by people who should know better. I just came off a recent stint of unemployment (just started my new job, yay!) and was required to go to this 4+ hour long session to “help” in job searching, but was an utter and complete waste of my time (3+ hours were just spent waiting). During the presentation, the person who WORKS FOR THE STATE EMPLOYMENT AGENCY recommended just showing up to apply for jobs (and she wasn’t just talking retail/restaurant) and said your resume needs an objective section. I was floored, because I knew both these pieces of advice to be completely outdated and likely to hurt your job search. Luckily, I was only out of work for about 6 weeks and managed to get plenty of interviews in that time (networking like whoa really helped), and kept the fact of my unemployment on a need-to-know basis, but I still fielded plenty of questions I would rather not have.

    1. Photoshop Til I Drop*

      I had the same experience. I had a state employment agency woman (who was 80 if she was a day, and was wearing a giant puffy bow blouse straight out of 9-to-5) lecture me about being a “job hopper” because my resume was full of freelance positions. The concept of a job lasting less than a year was completely beyond her comprehension.

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Yes (see comments elsewhere) – a friend of mine lamented that he wasn’t getting interviews. I asked him to show me his resume. After reading it, I said “this looks like boilerplate, like it was written by someone at the unemployment office, very generic” — and it was. Also advised him on LinkedIn – to link with people other than others out of work.

    3. Rana*

      Ugh, outdated unemployment requirements. When I was on it, I was required to show proof of “active job searching” AKA applying to any local job that looked vaguely appropriate if I didn’t want my benefits cancelled. The thing was, my field was (and is) fairly specialized, and a big part of why I was unemployed is that there weren’t enough jobs, period, let alone local to me. They tried to cancel my benefits once and I had to go in with documentation to prove that there weren’t any openings to apply to, and it wasn’t just me being lazy or something.

  28. ThursdaysGeek*

    I liked the “you should apply for this job that is a long way away from where you live, because even though they don’t mention telecommuting in the ad, perhaps they would consider it.” I was tempted, since sometimes there weren’t three applicable job listings in my area for the week, and unemployment required three job contacts. But no, if a company is going to consider full time telecommuting, they know how to put that in the job ad.

  29. Anxa*

    I would also recommend not pushing your friends and family into the military (or at the other end of the spectrum, acting as though they are crazy).

    Ideally, I don’t think most people should go into the military as a last resort. But if your friend is considering it, it’s likely not as impulsive as it sounds. There are only so many months or years one can go on volunteering or being unemployed and searching. Fast food jobs aren’t a guarantee. Sometimes there just aren’t enough ditches to be dug. The military may not be an attractive option for everyone, but it may seem to make more sense than chronic unemployment.

    On the flip side, oh please don’t push people into the military so that they won’t be unemployed. A lot of people can’t get in, anyway, which can lead to awkward conversations about medical issues.

    1. Creag an Tuire*

      On the flip side, oh please don’t push people into the military so that they won’t be unemployed.

      …Hell’s Teeth, do people do this? That’s basically — and I say this with all respect for those who choose to serve — saying “You’ve been unemployed for a while, so have you considered risking violent death?”

      1. Anxa*

        Oh yes!

        However, this often comes up while looking for jobs for financial reasons and I have yet to hear it come up as career search advice. But of course jobs and money go together. No less than 6 people have asked me why I don’t just enlist if I’m so worried about being unemployed.

        I have kind of felt the pressure to do it despite not really wanting to, because I know a lot of other people have had to do it, and why should I be a mooch when other people are making sacrifices to support themselves. But I still don’t think it’s wise to assume it’s a valid option for most people. And it’s very discomforting to be met with that advice.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Yes. Yes, they do. My dad did it to me when I was between jobs and living at his place. No Dad, I had to say, if I wanted to go into the military I would have done it ten years ago.

    2. JM in England*

      Plus not everyone is suited for the military, either physically or mentally……………….

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yep. Maybe when I was young, but now I’m 38 with a whole collection of aches and pains and Rice Krispy noises.

    3. Student*

      The military itself disagrees. They aggressively recruit young men in economically strained areas. The recruiters offer up food and act as sympathetic father-figure to high school boys who aren’t quite getting enough to eat at home. It’s also a common place to go if you’re not otherwise going to be able to afford a post-secondary education, or a young male immigrant looking to fit in / assimilate / get a leg up. It offers a lot of benefits to the desperate and marginalized, but not much to the well-to-do.

    4. DragoCucina*

      +1,000. As an Army veteran, wife of an Army retiree, mother of two veterans, this is a disservice to those who serve and want to serve. It’s not an easy life.

      There is often the assumption that if someone is poor, not well educated, have had trouble with the law, etc., the military is the cure all. No. I will admit I grew up eating a lot of welfare cheese. I qualified for the poor part and didn’t think I was smart enough for college. But, the Army was the place that told me to use my brain, my initiative, stand up for myself, encouraged to go to college, and rewarded for my good work. Ironically I was just telling someone today, ‘The Army gave me a functional family’.

      If someone’s been trouble with the law. They will rarely even continue the conversation. That Army of One slogan that was used for years was horrible. It’s a team, not an individual activity. An Army. If “you’re” anti-social. This is not the place for “you”.

      Those “cushy” jobs have a lot of people working to get into them. My youngest son was told that any type of medical job was only open to those who already have a degree/certificate in that field. The ASVAB scores better be off the charts. The same with many others. That was okay with him. He wanted to in the field. He was a Cavalry Scout and using extremely high tech equipment and driving a Humvee.

      It can be dangerous. My oldest son did search and rescue in New Orleans after Katrina and was in more danger there than any other assignment. One of the most dangerous parts? The woman in a little white compact that cut into the convoy and slowed to a crawl. He had to slam on the brakes of a 2.5 ton truck and swerve off the road, crashing into a tree. He did prevent a pile-up.

      It’s not just a job. It’s a different type of life. It’s right for some people, but it’s not a cure-all for a bad job market.

  30. MegaMoose, Esq*

    “Did you ever hear back from that interview you had last month?” So much this. Believe me, friends and family, you will hear if there’s good news. I don’t really talk to people in my life about my job search much anymore. Just recently I had an interview that felt like a really good shot right before a cabin weekend with friends, so I did mention it a few times as I was really excited about it. Of course it fell through. The really great part? My spouse accidentally leaked that some of my friends had been talking about throwing a “congratulations you got a job” party the next time we were in town. At this point I’m just not planning on seeing any of them until I find a job, even if it takes another four years.

    1. Intrepid*

      Even better is “Did you ever hear back about that [entry-level] job three months ago?” In what world does hiring work like that?

    2. Azalea*


      I once interviewed for a promotion with my job. My mom kept asking me if I had heard anything. I finally snapped at her that I would tell her if I had any news I would tell her. She was more than a bit wounded, but she backed off.

      If you are someone who the person knows well enough to tell that they had an interview, they will tell you if they have news about it.

  31. Xarcady*

    I still haven’t found a nice, permanent, full-time job, three years after being laid off. I’ve cobbled together a permanent, part-time retail job, and nearly full-time temping at one company, where’s there’s a chance that I might get hired, in the next year or so.

    So I’m still looking, as I’m underemployed, but working 60-70 hours a week.

    There aren’t many jobs in my field around here, and I’m sure the few that get advertised get many applicants. I’m getting interviews, but no offers.

    Yes, I’ve considered switching fields. There are two areas I might be able to work well in. Not getting interviews for those, though.

    The retail job would like me to go “full-time.” That’s 28 hours a week for full-time, as defined by corporate. At $10/hr. In a high cost of living area. Nope. It does not matter how many extra hours I could pick up (they keep telling me that, the full-timers keep telling me there are no extra hours). I make much more temping, even if I only work 10 months of the year.

    And I don’t like retail. I’m not a good salesperson. I can’t close a sale. What I’m good at is explaining the products to the customers and letting them pick which one works for them. But I show up on time or early, rarely miss a shift and don’t lose my temper with the customers, so they like me. I cannot tell my family about this, because they would think I’m nuts not to take a full-time job, that doesn’t pay the rent, with a company that is going to close 100 stores in the next two years–and mine could be one of those 100.

    I apply to about one job a week–choosing the best one that I see. Some weeks there are no suitable jobs to apply for. After the first few weeks of job searching, you can’t do 40 hours a week. You know all the websites to check, you are getting updates from the best sites, and there’s rarely more than an hour or two of work you can do, unless a good job pops up and you need to take 4-6 hours reworking your resume and cover letter, then struggling through the on-line application system.

  32. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

    Also, please don’t act like someone receiving severance means they don’t have any reason to be concerned. I received 3 months severance and it took 6+ months to secure a new position. My position was eliminated and announced a few months before I had to leave my company and so many coworkers acted like I had been given an extended vacation. (I didn’t tell them the details of my position being eliminated, but several assumed/guessed due to how things like this had been handled in the past.)

    Job searches are stressful, regardless of reason.

  33. Jean*

    I had to move home a few years after over a year of unemployment, and my dad just did not get that I couldn’t go out and look for jobs all day. He figured if I was on the computer, I was goofing off. I ended up having to go stay with my brother instead because my dad would get so angry at me.

    1. Creag an Tuire*

      Yeah, I think Allison’s list should specifically call out the corollary to #3, at least for those job-seekers who live with their “concerned” family — “Why are you spending so much time goofing off online when you should be looking for work!” Some people really don’t get that this is how job-searching works.

  34. Sans*

    My husband is unemployed. Every. Single. Time. I talk to my mom she has to ask if he has any offers, any interviews, etc. I told her not to keep asking, that I would be sure to tell her if there was news. I don’t want to hear it twice a week and it’s making me not want to call her. “Why hasn’t he found anything?” “What, is he retired now?” “What does he do all day?” “Does he at least do the housework?”

    I can’t stand it.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      That is just plain rude. There’s no excuse for that. Start telling her you have to hang up. “I have asked you nicely, not to ask those questions and you are still asking. From here forward when you ask, I am going to hang up.”

      Nagging harder does not make the job appear quicker.

  35. Jasmine*

    I currently don’t have a job and I hate when people ask me how the job search is going or if I have heard anything back from anyone yet. Obviously if it were going well I would say something. It’s so annoying when people ask that… ugh. Just don’t ask anything like that.

    How to talk to a friend who’s unemployed: Ask them what kinds of jobs they want, and look for that kind of job. If you find one like what they described, send it to them and ask if they’d be interested. And of course “let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help” is good too!! If the friend is bad at doing interviews, try doing a mock interview. Or, if the friend needs help formatting their resume, offer to help. Find out what your friend needs help with and help them! Or if the friend doesn’t want you to help, that’s fine too. Maybe they like doing things on their own, and that’s okay.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The sad thing is that many people do not know how to help. I think that if you don’t know how to help stay off the topic entirely.

  36. Nervous Accountant*

    I’ve been FT employee for almost 2 years now at a job I enjoy and am good at, but I still remember the sting of all these things. Some people were really shitty “lose your gut, take a shower and go outside and get job” or feeling like a total failure

    When I was studying for my licensing exam, I mentioned how difficult some of the questions were. I had a friend who would constantly tell me “why don’t you work at a daycare? It’s easy and flexible.” (keep in mind, she was in the same field I was trying to get a job in and I had told her many times I wasn’t interested in being a daycare worker/teacher but for some reason, that job wasn’t good enough for her?). I finally got frustrated that I called her out on it, and that friendship ended.

    After I got fired from one job… coworker from same job (or ex) said “OMG you’re so lucky I hate this place!”

    So yeah, people are shitty and thoughtless and I still remember feeling shitty that I couldn’t get a call back for a bakery.

  37. Elizabeth West*

    Don’t forget, “Just write a book!”

    1. It takes six months to a year to write a novel, edit it, get feedback from beta readers, hire an editor if you need one (plus money), etc. etc.
    2. It doesn’t pay anything while you’re writing it. How are you going to eat?
    3. Just because you write it doesn’t mean anyone will publish it.
    4. Self-publishing a (decent) product costs money. If you’re unemployed, chances are you don’t have any to spare.
    5. Just because you published it doesn’t mean anyone will buy it.
    6. Just because some people buy it doesn’t mean you’ll be rich!
    7. If you’re already a writer, you’ve had to listen to people say, “You can write your own ticket!” forever. Um no, it doesn’t work that way for all the reasons above.
    8. If you’re not a writer, you’re going to have to become one really fast. Good luck with that.

    1. Two-Time College Dropout*

      I have a family member who turned her moderately-successful blog into a book. Writing it took nearly two years, and she says she’s gotten about $20K total in book sales since the book was published… six years ago.

      That means her career as an author brings in almost TEN DOLLARS A DAY!!!1

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Hahaha if I said this to my family, they would say, “She must not be trying hard enough!” :P

        When I try to point this stuff out, they say, “You’re just being NEGATIVE!” No, dumbass, I’m being REALISTIC.

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Yeah, a lot of people think that they can be “sports bloggers” – and unless you can put together something successful (like – you will not make money. Here in the Boston area there must be 2,500 Red Sox blogs. I don’t know of anyone who makes money with them.

    3. Mimmy*

      Yup, I’ve gotten the “You should start a blog/write a book*” suggestions from my family as well. Sure, I do enjoy writing, but I am WAY too skittish to publish anything, though I admit I do have some ideas for both should I ever get the courage to do this.

      * It would be either autobiographical or some other topic related to my areas of interest.

  38. Fresh Faced*

    As a recent graduate looking for work I’m getting a lot of these, especially the:
    “why don’t you just work in retail?” (Says the people who’ve never worked in retail.)
    I had to explain recently to my dad that applying to a job to get in a “practice interview” is a waste of my time, the employers time (not to mention money), and is a generally rude thing to do.

    Since the industry that I want to go into isn’t particularly traditional and several months have passed with me being unemployed most conversations end with a “when are you going to give up on the jobs you want an apply to (and went to university for) and go for things we think are easier/better to go in to.” I’ve had people flat out say that they don’t think I can get a job in the field I want to work in because they know X person that’s trying for it and hasn’t got it yet. then they try and back-peddle when they find out that I (obviously) have a problem with what they said.
    Frustrating to say the least.

    1. Irish Em*

      Yeah, retail is hard. I went into retail because my Dad’s advice was “get some work experience outside of what you want to actually do, it’ll give you more skills and it’ll go well on your CV.” And I took that advice. And the global economy collapsed, so I stayed working retail, honing all those damn skills and losing the ones I needed for Dream Job. But I had a contract, and I had an income. Seven years, I spent in retail, and all the while my chances for a management career kept getting sniped because I was good where I was. So no growth opportunities and a soul destroying job that was also detrimental to my health. Any family member that asks if I’d not just get another retail job now gets their head chewed off. It was bad for my mental health AND my physical health, so no. Not going into retail. I admire and respect anyone who can do that work for longer than a few years, I really do.

      And the whole “oh, yeah, so-and-so is applying to that type of work, too” is so disheartening, aside from them telling you that someone else is having a hard time of it, they are also telling you who your competition is, and nobody needs that :(

  39. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    From reading AAM – because I’ve been in the same job for 21 years, and am “your parents’ age” (60s) – there isn’t much job hunting advice I can give. I’ve acknowledged that the world has changed.

    The only job hunting advice I’d give to those out of work —

    1) Network, network, and network. But network with people who are working. Many find solace in networking with those who are in the same unemployment predicament as they are. It certainly is consoling, but networking with others in your situation won’t likely land you employment. DO keep in touch with them – by all means, but be sure to network with people who are “in the game”. This includes your LinkedIn contacts — you’ve got to link in with those who are actively working.

    2) Ensure your resume / CV doesn’t look like some boilerplate document that was written by someone at the unemployment office. It must be tailored, and can be re-tailored for each position.

    3) Be careful what you do on social media. Potential employers will vet you there. And you may be eliminated before any of them call you, if they see something there they don’t like.

    4) Other than what I said – your parents’ advice can’t help. Neither can I.

    1. Observer*

      I’m going to disagree with the idea that “your parents can’t help”.

      Plenty of “older” people have a very good idea of what it takes to find a job. And some things have not changed. And, in the case of the some the things that have changed older people sometimes have a better handle on it.

      A biggie is that your reputation used to matter and it still does. And, by and large, older people seem to be less shocked than younger people when something posted on line comes back to bite them.

      Showing up to ask about jobs still works for certain types of jobs – and it was ALWAYS a bad idea for other types of jobs. So, the mismatch there is not as generational as it seems.

      Failing to follow the directions on a job posting has ALWAYS been a bad idea. “Gumption” has always been one of those things that sound better in theory than in practice. And, there are still the outliers that seem to think it’s a good thing, even when it isn’t. (look at the recent post about the guy who is trying to force his way onto a new team – and the boss likes his “gumption”)

      Understanding your workplace culture? Check. Work hard and prove yourself before asking for raises, promotions etc? Check. I could go on, but none of these things are new or unique to this generation.

  40. Sorgatani*

    So many of these ring true.
    I constantly get “Why didn’t you apply for X-job 5 years ago when they were hiring?” from my mum.
    That job has come up several times since, and it’s never been a fit. However, I did put my name in last time, because I needed to build the numbers on my search list. I never heard back.
    I live in an area without a lot of employment prospects, and most advice I see/hear/read/receive does not seem to apply to my particular region.

    Breaking my arm was a relief because people stopped asking me about employment and started telling me about which body parts they’d injured instead. Now I’m healing, I’m dreading the return of the unemployment tirade parade.

  41. Irish Em*

    The one I hate the most, that isn’t exactly on the list is “Well X is doing WONDERFULLY at [whatever job they went into]” with the look and tone that implies that if I was as clever as X I would have gone into whatever it is that she’s gone into – which, BTW is telling an arts&humanities postgrad to get a job in STEM – because so&so thinks it’s easy to do/get into because X is good at it.

    Or better again, why don’t I ask X for a job? Of COURSE! Why didn’t I think of that? Because it’s not what I want to do, not what I’m qualified for, and as far as I’m concerned, like a vocation. I admire X for doing well in her industry but I know that industry is not for me.

    I have an interview on Wednesday, and I sincerely hope it goes well, just to shut the relations up.

  42. Mimmy*

    Did you apply for that job posting I sent you? This can put your friend in an awkward spot because it can feel like nagging – and they may have already determined that the job wasn’t right for them. If you’re going to pass along job postings, leave it to your friend to manage them from there.

    I have a friend who’s done this, and it was extremely irritating. I finally got him to back off on this though.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The question could be replaced with, “You know that job listing I sent you, was I pretty close in understanding what you are looking for or did I miss some key points?”

  43. MillersSpring*

    Brilliant and perfect advice. Being unemployed, underemployed or in a soul-sucking job is rarely understood by family and friends who are on the outside looking in. Thank you for this column; I hope it goes viral.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I bet it gets printed out numerous times and left with more than one parent/friend/relative today.

  44. ye old post*

    I hate this advice “Oh I heard Company A is hiring! I have a friend who joined them a while back!”
    Usually unless the company is constantly hiring 365 days of the year, the fact that your friend already joined Company A pretty much means that Company A has ALREADY hired somebody and are not looking to hire another person again.

  45. ye old post*

    Also, a lot of the bad advice comes from a generational gap between parents and children – the job hunting methods are just too different. It makes me wonder what kind of generational gap may occur between us and our children?
    “Why aren’t you applying online to all those posts? Back in my day we worked hard on our computers to find our jobs! We spends hours writing cover letters, resumes…”
    “Dad, ungh, nobody uses COVER LETTERS and RESUMES anymore.”

  46. what's all this then?*

    All of the above! Especially from my mother.

    I hate it when they send me info about IT jobs. For some reason my friends and family think I’m in IT. I know as much about IT as I know about the history of quilting. When I tell them “That’s not what I do at all”, they say “but why don’t you get a qualification in IT” with this accusing tone.

    I blame People for all my stress

  47. Anxa*

    I initially hesitated to post this one, because it’s advice I see on this site all of the time, but I wouldn’t toss out temping as a stop-gap.

    For 8 years I have applied to part-time, seasonal, partially paid (stipended at less than min wage), and temp work directly, through temp agencies, and through programs.

    Most temp agencies have wanted someone with either more experience (read: any paid experience) or (especially lately), someone younger or more freshly graduated. I don’t know where these people hiring new graduates were when I was one, but it seems like I never really have what they are looking for. I have since moved and we’ll see how it works here, but I’m not counting on temp work.

    1. Pommette*

      Oh, temping.
      I’m sure that there are places and fields where it’s a valid temporary solution. But I can pretty much guarantee that if your friend or relative has been unemployed for any length of time and isn’t already temping, it’s because they aren’t in such a place/field.
      I was unemployed for eight months this year, and spent a lot of that time interviewing with agency representatives, doing skills test, and applying for position after position through agency websites. Nothing ever came of it. I suspect that agencies in my area/field have their pick of candidates, and can afford to only hire people who have already performed the exact role for which they are hiring.
      Good luck to you!

  48. CanadianKat*

    I’m going to go against the flow here and say that I disagree about the first two.

    It depends who is asking and in what context. If it’s a close friend who is asking in a completely non-judgmental manner, these questions express interest and concern — exactly what you’re looking for from a friend. You can argue that the job-seeker would have said something if they had an interview coming up, or if an interview resulted in something interesting, but that’s not necessarily the case. As a job-seeker, I wouldn’t want to bore my friends with the details and frustrations of my search unless I know that they’re interested. But if a friend asks if I have interviews coming up or how one of them went, this gives me permission to give them the whole story. As a pretty private person, I appreciate that. This is especially true where the friend is in the same field, so they would have an idea of what I’m talking about.

    Also, why should it be annoying when others ask how your job search is going? If somebody knows you’re job searching, it would be impolite of them not to even ask. You don’t have to give much details, e.g. “Not too bad. Busy applying.” Just like if somebody knew you’d been sick, it would be polite of them to ask how you’re doing now, and perfectly fine for you to respond, “I’m good. That’s all been resolved.”

  49. Hershele Ostropoler*

    I would tend to assume “pound the pavement” is meant metaphorically, which is a little patronizing, but if it’s meant literally it’s extremely patronizing.

    The reaction to the former is “you mean, if I want a job, I should look for one? Great Scott! Why didn’t I think of that?” The reaction to the latter is the same, plus there’s an actual reason I didn’t think of that.

    My mother used to suggest something similar to the metaphorical version: answer every ad, regardless of job or field, because that at least gets me in front of people. That’s how she got in the door at her current employer decades ago — applied to be a receptionist, got hired as junior spout technician (she’s now chief of spout engineering). But when my father and my sister and I, who have all applied for work more recently, noted that an application from someone who is completely unqualified will at best been seen by no human eyes except the sender’s, she believed us.

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