By Lisa Parker

Family gatherings are such a joy for those out of work. There’s nothing like the a room full of friends and family members to bring out tons of inquiries on your job search efforts (usually in the form of “got a job yet?”), comments on how bad the economy is, suggestions on what you should be doing differently, and remarks about how you should or shouldn’t be spending your money this season. Ahhhhh, comfort food for the soul.

Before you give into the temptation to pour eggnog over the heads of some, keep in mind the intentions of those involved. Most of these people love and care about you. So why are they saying things that beat you down? It could be a few things. For one, they may naturally want to help you and you haven’t given them a way to do so. You haven’t specifically shared with them connections or ideas they may have access to that would enhance your efforts. If they have any knowledge you are under stress, there is naturally going to be a desire to want to help physically or mentally. If what they are offering in terms of help is off the mark, tell them so in a nice way and suggest alternatives.

Some might say avoiding the topic completely would be best. To accomplish that, you have to first ask yourself what signals have you been giving your friends and family members over the course of time. Has your job search and lack of employment dominated your world to the point it’s the only part of yourself you’ve shared with others freely? Are you so entrenched in the negative people are giving it back to you as a reflex? Often times what people say to us is in response, in some way, to what we’ve said to them first. People often mirror the actions, demeanor and words of others subconsciously. Before you judge those around you for not letting it go or for continually reminding you how awful things are, replay some of your own words and actions and consider if you’ve invited this on yourself.

For those who want a more positive experience over the holidays, I have two suggestions. One, come up with strategic ways your friends and family members can help in your job search and use the time with them to plant seeds. If that doesn’t interest you, come up with succinct and kind conversation redirects.


Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.

With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.

Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.

Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; career content blogger.


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