Things You Should Never Say to a Job Hunter (and What to Say Instead)

by Claire Schmieder, Head Editor, INALJ New Jersey

Things You Should Never Say to a Job Hunter (and What to Say Instead)

Claire.SchmiederJust be satisfied with what you’ve got right now. You know who’s never satisfied with what they have right now? Driven, highly-successful people. In fact, the drive to learn more, to lead, and to innovate goes hand in hand with never being satisfied. From education to business, never being totally satisfied is a common characteristic of the leaders in those fields, and in many others, including librarianship.

What to say instead: I love how passionate you are! You may not understand their drive to succeed, to keep moving, and to do better, but that doesn’t mean that they’re wasting effort. Being supportive means accepting people for who they are, even if you don’t understand them. Instead of telling a job hunter to accept defeat, why not support them in their path toward the finish line?

Wow, it’s too bad you spent all that time and money earning a Master’s degree and now you can find a job. Yeah, it really is too bad that I spent time and money becoming well-educated and developing new skills. Being smart and talented is the worst. When people decide to go to graduate school, it’s rarely a half-cocked, poorly-thought-out scheme. And while there are some bad reasons to go to graduate school, there are plenty of good ones, too. The most obvious reason to go to graduate library school is that you need the degree to get the job.

What to say instead: Why did you pull the trigger on grad school? To wit, if you don’t understand why someone would bother going to grad school, then just ask them why they did.

I’d really hate to be in your shoes. Well, of course you would. Who actually enjoys being a job seeker, especially an unemployed one? Nobody, that’s who.

What to say instead: What’s the most exciting job you’ve applied for recently? Librarians are passionate people who care deeply about the work they do. Why not find out more about the jobs they’re applying for and why they applied for them?

You’ll get lucky eventually. Oh, boy. This one is the worst. When people say this, they’re negating all the hard work, effort, and time that job hunters put into their search. People don’t get jobs because they’re lucky. They get jobs because they’re qualified and a good fit for the workplace. Yes, of course “who you know” comes into play, BUT job seekers who do a lot of networking often know one or two people who are connected to hiring organizations. In fact, knowing someone can be a good reason to apply for a job in the first place.

What to say instead: I can tell how much effort you’re putting into your job search. I’m really impressed. Job hunting is, well, a job. And, it’s one of the least rewarding jobs ever. Cover letters, applications, researching positions, networking, and professional development – these all take time, energy, and effort. Why not take note of hard work and give the job hunter in your life a positive boost?

  2 comments for “Things You Should Never Say to a Job Hunter (and What to Say Instead)

  1. April 11, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Couldn’t have said it better. People who approach these conversations with a negative slant seem to be feeding into the cultural zeitgeist that higher education is a ripoff, that liberal arts is a waste of time, etc. We librarians are just the people to set them straight!

    • Lauren
      April 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      Love this article!! One thing that always annoyed me while job hunting was “best of luck.” I always think “I don’t need or want luck. I need a job.”

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