'How's Your Job Search Going?'

Have you heard this question in the last 24 hours? The conversation, unfortunately, goes something like this:

Them: "How's your job search going?"

You: "Fine."

Them: "Let me know if I can help with anything."

You: "OK."

Uncomfortable pause.

This was a useless dialog. They didn't learn anything new and you didn't help them understand how they could help you. They might tell you about a lead they found for you on a job board. They want to help you but you are not helping them. You are not giving off the right signals.

Here's another example of sending off the wrong signals. I am working on getting my health back after ripping my calf last year, so I've been walking a lot this year. At one point in my walk I pass a row of trees and bushes. I've walked by these trees dozens of times and enjoyed the view, but recently I've been squawked at by an annoying, protective black bird.

This bird is saying one of two things:

Stay away! I am protecting something here and you better not go by it!

Or,

Hey, look at me! I'm here, chase after me!

The purpose is to drive my attention away from the nest and eggs and toward the bird. They funny thing is, I didn't know there was a nest or eggs there. I would not have known, except that bird drew my attention to it. If I were a predator I would definitely hunt around there until I found a nice little meal.

The bird was trying to communicate one thing but was really creating a potential disaster.

As job seekers we tend to do that. What we say, and how we say it, can be misunderstood (or taken at face value). Instead of saying "this is really lame, I just wish I had a job," we're really communicating something that can be a major turnoff. While your contacts care about you, and they want to help you, they probably won't trust you with key networking introductions unless they know you'll communicate professionally, and not take the same message you are giving to them, to their contacts.


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