Skip to main content

5 questions your relatives are bound to ask about your unemployment

What’s worse than not having a job when it’s time to shop for holiday gifts? Having to explain your unemployment to your family...

5 questions your relatives are bound to ask about your unemployment

With the holidays in full swing, it’s time to start preparing for your relatives. Whether it’s your grandmother asking a barrage of questions about your relationship status or your uncle asking about your co-workers, you have to be ready for anything.

Being unemployed is tough, especially when your friends and parents keep bugging you about getting a job. Add all your cousins, aunts and uncles into the mix and it’s enough to make you want to reach or the eggnog.

We spoke to a few millennials who have had to put up with the worst, eye-roll-worthy questions from their relatives. Their advice might help you better handle these questions while at the holiday dinner table this year.

“How’s work going?”

This starts it all—you’re catching up with your aunt and she asks a genuine question about your life. She doesn’t know you’re unemployed, but do you tell her?

Connor Tennant, 22, of Seattle, has been in this exact situation. He says being between a job is a normal transition for anyone in a professional career, so there’s no need to be embarrassed. Instead, he suggests giving a quick response that hopefully won’t invite more questions.

“I would just explain that I’m currently looking for work at the moment,” Tennant says. “If they ask me to elaborate, I would give a few more details on the specifics. You can say what kind of jobs you’re looking for or where you’re interviewing. Give them a simple, satisfactory response and hopefully, that will be the end of it.”

“What happened? Why don’t you have a job?”

This question is brutal and straight to the point. This relative doesn’t want to hear excuses and wants to see you working tomorrow.

“The stock answer is that it's taking a lot longer than I anticipated to find my next job,” says Phipps.

“How’s the job hunt?”

This relative is in the know that you’re unemployed, but how honest should you be? It’s up to you, but, maybe leave out the part where you’re sitting in sweatpants binge-watching Netflix.

“If the relative is in the know, I simply say I'm still job hunting, and I'll send out an update once I'm employed again,” says Deanna Phipps, 36, of Burien, Washington. “If it's a relative who doesn't know, I try to redirect the conversation without lying, or failing that, let them know I've left my previous company, but I try to avoid sharing how long ago it was.”

“What’s going wrong on these interviews?”

Now your relative is prying and wants to know where you’ve applied and why the interview didn’t go well. They start quizzing you about how many interviews you’ve gone on and when your next one is.

“Tell them that the weeks leading up to the holidays is a really tough time to interview,” says Quinn Banford, 22, an office production assistant in Los Angeles. “It gets so crazy, even the traffic thickens. So many people are trying to get jobs that it's just easier to stay at home right now and line things up later.”

Besides, you’re not lying. The big months for hiring are January and February after hiring managers are back from vacation, Scott Testa, chief operating officer of Mindbridge Software in Norristown, Pennsylvania told Monster. "Job seekers who make contact right at the start of these cycles have the best chance of being hired," he said.  

“I might know someone hiring. Do you want me to make some calls?”

Now that they know you’re unemployed, they want to help. Do you let your relative help you find a job? While Phipps admits it’s easy to let your pride and arrogance can get in your way, if they’re someone you trust, and they know what you’re after, definitely say yes to this.

Especially for someone just starting out in your career, you never really know where your first job or next job will come from. Why not always say yes to this?

It’s your choice to share what you want with your relatives. Though their questions can be daunting, they are family after all! Rip the Band-Aid off and, before you know it, you’re peacefully eating pie while they move on to the next cousin.

Find your next job on Monster. 


Back to top