Five Things Never To Say To A Job-Hunting Friend

This article is written by Liz Ryan, CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. You can read the original article in Forbes.

Dear Liz,

I’m job-hunting. I’m trying to keep my chin up. I know I will get hired, but it’s hard to stay positive sometimes. My friends are well-meaning but they’re not always helpful. They keep saying things like, “Don’t worry, Samantha!” but of course I do worry.

I’m temping and oddly enough, I get a lot of affirmation from the temp job even though it doesn’t cover my monthly bills. I know I’m smart. I have a good career history. It’s just hard, as you know, to slog through the steps of a job search when you’re working full time. I get interviews. Things are happening.

It’s just painfully slow and your ego takes hit after hit.

My friends offer me endless advice that I don’t want, not because I don’t love my friends but because their job search advice is terrible. It’s straight out of the 1990 job search playbook, as you would say.

Can you please write a column about how to be sensitive to a job hunting friend?

I know I’m not the only job seeker who would appreciate it.

Thanks, Liz!


Dear Samantha,

Practically everybody has been in your shoes. It’s hard to be a job hunter these days, and it can be hard to be a job-hunter’s friend, too. As the friend of a job-seeker you don’t always know what to do or say. Your friends may want to be encouraging, so they say, “Don’t worry!”

They don’t realize you’ve heard people say, “Don’t worry!” since the minute you started job-hunting and it gets old.

Try to take your friends’ attempts at moral support as helpful gestures rather than letting them frustrate you. It’s very easy, of course, to get more stressed-out than usual about little things like the expression, “Don’t worry!” when you’re simultaneously job-hunting and working at a temp job.

Nobody gets more unsolicited advice than job-seekers and pregnant women. Those two groups get pelted with advice everywhere they go.  It can become very tiresome after awhile.

Here are five things most job seekers are sick of hearing:

1. You’re still unemployed? Have you been taking your job search seriously?

(Don’t feel that you have to defend yourself against unfair criticism of your job search seriousness. It’s better to change the subject, for instance by asking your friend about something in his or her life.)

2. Have you thought about working for a big company like Apple or Google? They’re always hiring.

(Your sarcastic brain may want to answer, “That’s a great idea. I should have thought of that myself. How do you spell Google, exactly? Okay. Thanks. I’ll get right on it.” Resist the temptation.  It won’t make you feel better. Just say, “Cool!” and change the subject.)

3. Maybe you’re being too choosy. You should grab the first job you can get.

(Resist the urge to say anything that would prolong the conversation. You don’t want or need this person’s job search advice, although they might be a great advisor on other topics.)

4. I’ve never been unemployed for more than two weeks.

(Don’t say what you’re thinking. Smile, nod and say silently, “Everything that doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”)

5. I’ll bet you’re enjoying your long vacation!

(Grit your teeth, take a breath and say, “I’m having a great time, but I’m also looking forward to getting back to work.”)

Your friends want the best for you, but they don’t necessarily know how to show it.

You can set boundaries with friends who push too far.  It’s fine to say, “I’m grateful for your advice, but I think about my job search too much already. I’d rather just relax now. Thanks, though.”

This is a great time to become selective about who you choose to hang out with. Spend time with the people who build your mojo supply and avoid the people who don’t.

It’s your life. It’s your schedule. Invest your time and energy where you want them to go!



Career Money Life offers a diverse range of services to help transitioning employees land back on their feet. Contact us today or book a time now to learn more about our Career Transition Programs. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s