Bagg Group tips to deal with “dreaded question” at summer barbeques


Everyone loves a summer barbeque with friends and family …unless you’re a job-seeker who, when in line for a hamburger, gets asked over and over by well-meaning folk, “So, how come you still haven’t managed to find a job?”

As one candidate put it, “I feel like that bridesmaid who keeps being asked why she’s never a bride.  When someone asks me when will I land a job, I feel myself tensing up.”

At The Bagg Group, we have placed almost 58,000 people successfully in full-time work, contract positions, and temporary placements for more than 40 years.   We have heaps of evidence to confirm that sometimes finding a job happens quickly, and other times it takes longer than expected.   You simply can’t control the timing.

But there’s no cause to be defensive or embarrassed.    Looking for a job is a job, and it’s one that requires admirable skills.    Anyone who has looked for work knows what it takes.  And those who haven’t yet will probably learn it one day.

When in the process of looking for a job, you’re activating fortitude, perseverance, commitment, focus, strategic thinking, interviewing skills, and more.   Friends and relatives should be giving the active job-seeker a high-five, not shaking their heads as they pass the ketchup.

Still, in this season of backyard get-togethers, it’s good to be well prepared for how to handle people who ask all the wrong questions, at all the wrong times.  Here are some tips from the experts at The Bagg Group who have coached thousands of candidates over the years.

Share the ups, not the frustrations:  It’s a party, not a therapy session.  Talk about the positives – how you get to enjoy more time for the family, how you’re reconnecting with former colleagues, how you’re upgrading your skills,  how you’re enjoying researching your sector as you seek a fit that’s right for you.

Be a spin doctor:  If you speak in negative, defeated, angry terms about your search, you’ll find yourself getting more and more down with every line you utter.  That won’t just ruin a party for you, it can also hinder your job search.

At The Bagg Group, we know from working with hiring managers at the best companies in the GTA that people hire those with positive attitudes, and pass on candidates who are negative.   When you’re looking for work, you‘re selling yourself.  And defeatism never sells.   It won’t sell you in an interview – and it won’t sell you to your cousin’s pal, who otherwise might have tried to get you a meeting with her boss.

Instead of complaining about the time it’s taking to find a job, explain why it’s important to take your time:   Mention that you’re looking for a right fit because you’d like a long-term relationship with next employer.

Use humour to deflect:  Everyone needs a break from talking about their day-job, and so does the job-hunter.   It’s fair to say to tell people you’re enjoying a time-out from “talking shop. “

One journalist, who was often short-listed for jobs before finally winning one, said he used to quip good-naturedly to those who asked,  “Yep, still always the bridesmaid, never the bride.  Always the godfather, never the god.”  That would make people laugh, keep the mood light, and get them talking about other things.

Recognize that you are a role model:  Today’s employee may be tomorrow’s job-seeker.

You’ll be employed again, but what you are learning now as you look for work about how to stay positive in tough times, and focused, will undoubtedly help someone else one day.    Act in a way that inspires those who may well be where you are now.

One thing you can know for sure, you’ll never ask someone who would just like a care-free moment with their hamburger: “So, how come you still haven’t managed to find a job?”  That alone will inspire appreciation…and relief.

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