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10 tips for answering pesky ‘What do you do’ questions while jobless

Unemployment can be a nightmare, particularly in a difficult economy. What happens when a jobless individual attends a social gathering, only to find himself or herself faced with the dreaded question: “What do you do?”


Don’t you just hate it when that happens? Maybe it’s not so awkward after all.

How can you transform a casual, but probably uncomfortable, question into a personal positive? Try these 10 tips for answering such imposing inquiries to your own advantage.

1. Don’t start with “I’m unemployed.”

Often, social queries are not resume requests, but simple attempts to uncover possible common interests. A party guest who asks about your career may be quite innocently trying to start a conversation.

It’s OK to mention you are jobless, but it is a good idea to include a positive statement that identifies your professional milieu. “I’m an accountant,” “I’m a manicurist” or “I’m a research biologist” is helpful information. Follow up with the fact that you are presently seeking new employment.

2. Avoid bad-mouthing previous employers.

Lambasting of bad bosses and slashing supervisors is inappropriate at lighthearted social festivities. Even if your old employer did you wrong, you will gain no points by barking about it at a party. What's more, such behavior might cause others to tag you as a bad apple.

3. Describe your target job.

If a fellow guest exhibits genuine interest, why not talk about the career you would like to have? Discuss your plans to pursue additional education, training or opportunities in your field of interest. Perhaps you will gain helpful ideas or leads.

4. Outline your expertise.

Social gatherings are not job interviews. It pays to be brief. If you are job-hunting, or even if you are a smart manager of your career, you will have a one- or two-sentence summary of your most employable assets in your head all the time. You never know who might ask.

5. Tell the truth.

Lies always backfire. Even little fibs can be perilous to careers. Why issue mistruths that may come back to bite you after a social gathering? Honesty is simplest and best, instead of exaggerating job titles or elaborating falsely on career downturns.

6. Avoid oversharing.

If someone asks about your profession in a social situation, you can be truthful and direct without pouring out gory details of employment woes.  Try to keep conversations upbeat, if possible.

7. Never whine about joblessness.

It’s OK to complain to close confidants, although wallowing may wear out even the best listeners. Fellow party guests, however, don’t fit this category.

8. Look for opportunities to network.

Why not look at social gatherings as chances to mingle with potential colleagues and expand your circle of influence? That new acquaintance across the picnic table or banquet booth may be able to point you in a helpful direction for your ongoing job search.

Savvy job hunters print and carry business cards in a pocket or purse, just in case an appropriate opportunity arises. In a pinch, you can write down names, along with email addresses or phone numbers, after significant social conversations.

It is considered somewhat tacky, however, to pass out resumes at a party. Following up later is a much smarter strategy, as it allows you an additional contact with influential individuals.

9. Turn the tables on the inquirer.

Most people enjoy talking about themselves. Many relish revealing their own professional achievements and backgrounds. Ask a few open-ended questions, and you may be surprised to find folks are willing to share experience and career connections.

10. Try to receive the question as an opportunity, not an affront.

Who knows? A simple question at a party or picnic may become a bridge-building opportunity, leading to a possible job.

Business Introduction – ClipArtHeaven

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Are you self-employed, like 3/10 of the world's workers?

Whoa. Some 29 percent of the global workforce is made up of self-employed individuals, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Is that a good thing?

Self-employment certainly has its advantages, particularly for those who are skilled and motivated self starters. At the same time, working for oneself can be risky, particularly in difficult economic times and in poorer regions of the world.

The highest self-employment percentages reported by the Gallup poll were found in East and Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In some of these spots, individuals working for themselves reported incomes of less than $2 per day.

The lowest percentages of self-employment were in North America and the European Union.

The August 2014, Gallup study represents 2013 employment statuses of those surveyed.

Created by this user,
Adapting public domain clipart

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Does your workspace darken your mood?

Is your workspace a dingy, drab, or dreary spot? Maybe it’s time to lighten things up a bit.

Tons of factories, offices, restaurants, and other workplaces employ fluorescent lighting. It’s often cheaper than other kinds.

But fluorescent lighting (or insufficient lighting) can cause eyestrain. It can contribute to headaches and downward mood spirals. This old-school lighting can even herald seasonal affective disorder in susceptible individuals.

What a drag!

If you work in a place with poor lighting or fluorescent lights, why not bring your own desk lamp, floor lamp, or table lamp to illuminate your own workspace? It’s amazing what this simple change  can do to improve the workday.

Plus, a spiffy lamp is a great way to show off your personal style in a tasteful way at work.

 Natural lighting is a mood lifter.

Do you have a window-less workspace? How about stepping outside during a break or two? Even a short stop to peer out a window can make a world of difference in brightening one’s day.

Tiffany Venetian Desk Lamp
 NY Historical Society
Creative Commons Licensing

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Cutting email interruptions with pre-set check-times

How many times do you check your email every day?

Many of us have email capabilities on multiple devices: computers, phones, tablets, and other machines. Opening a few email messages may not seem like a titanic time waster, but the mental interruption can divert us, sapping our energy and even stressing us out.

Here’s a simple solution.

Why not plan ahead to address the whole matter of email correspondence at the beginning and end of each day? Add a pre-lunch checkpoint, if needed.

Scan through incoming messages. Delete spam. Attend to items that merit responses.

Boom. Done.

Certainly, if you’re waiting for an urgent response or responding to the proverbial fire, more frequent email interaction may be warranted. Still, as a daily practice, keeping email activity corralled to a few pre-set times can really free a person to attend to more pressing concerns throughout the work day.

Adapted from public domain image – ClipArt Heaven

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5 things I'd do, if I won the lottery

What would you do, if you won the big lottery prize? Just for fun, here’s a revival of a piece I published previously for a website that recently closed.

Five Steps I’d Take, If I Won the Lottery
A Handful of Hopes, in Case of a Sudden Windfall

About Pipe Dreams and Profit-Taking

What are your dreams and aspirations? Have you ever thought about what you might do, if you suddenly and quite unexpectedly came into a big pile of money?

Although I honestly have not obsessed about this rather remote possibility, this question seems to resurface as an icebreaker at social gatherings. And who hasn’t considered what might be done with a remarkable windfall?

For such reasons, when a publisher posed the question, the assignment carried some appeal. What would I do, if I won the lottery or instantly found myself with unlimited and unallocated funds?

First, let’s set a few ground rules.

Personally, I do not play the state lottery, the Lotto, Megabucks, Pick 5, Powerball or any of the major lottery games. In fact, although I am a lifelong fan of horses, I do not play the ponies, either.

So my windfall would be a true surprise, in every sense.

For the sake of fun and fancy, let us assume that the sudden financial upswing involves rather unlimited funding – totaling at least several million dollars – to make this a true rags to riches story.

What would I do with a huge pile of cash?

Here are five plans I might make, if I suddenly and unexpectedly gained significant and unlimited monies, going from rags to riches overnight.

Rags to Riches: Fund a Church Plant

Church planting is a personal passion of mine – and many others. In several countries, simple church buildings may be built for a few thousand dollars. For example, Samaritan’s Purse can build an entire in Cambodia or the Congo for about $25,000. (A mission hospital might cost $35,000.)

Pastors in underdeveloped countries often work for amazingly small salaries. Serve India Ministries can pay 100 missions pastors in India for a month for $3,500.

If I found myself with an astonishing amount of funding, I would love to build churches all around the world and pay pastors’ salaries to minister in each one.

Rags to Riches: Build a Home for Unwed Mothers

As an adoptive parent, I may be particularly interested in the plight of the unwed mother. After all, I have children because two courageous young women chose to carry their unexpected pregnancies to full term.

It may be fairly easy for many of us to claim to be pro-life and decry abortion. The harder question follows: What will we do to help those who are brave enough to follow through and offer their unborn babies a chance at life?

Of course, we can promote abstinence. We can debate issues of birth control and abortion. But wouldn’t it be helpful to offer a hand to those who already find themselves in crisis pregnancies?

With unlimited funding, I would love to build a great big home for unwed mothers, so they could spend their pregnancies in safety. I would hire competent staffers to provide good nutrition, medical care and even psychological counseling for these young ladies.

Rags to Riches: Sponsor 1,000 Needy Children Overseas

Countless caring families and individuals choose to sponsor needy children all around the world each month. With a sudden windfall, I would love to be able to establish a fund to sponsor a whole crowd of impoverished youngsters.

Children International, Compassion International, Save the Children, and World Vision are just a few of the philanthropic organizations that offer child sponsorship.

If about $30 is enough to sponsor a single child for a month, I would guess $1 million or so would go pretty far.

Rags to Riches: Start an Equine Rescue Facility

Ask anyone who knows me how I feel about horses.

If I instantaneously found myself with a giant pile of money, I would like to buy an expansive piece of real estate, way out in the country, and establish an equine rescue facility.
Several high-quality equine rescue and retirement operations currently exist. The Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses (CANTER USA), LoneStar Outreach to Place Ex-Racers (LOPE) and ReRun, Inc. are excellent Thoroughbred horse rescue groups.

With access to unlimited funding, I would probably open a big horse farm to welcome unwanted horses of nearly any breed and color.

Rags to Riches: Support the Fight Against Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

I truly believe that the current generation will see a cure for multiple sclerosis (MS). And I can hardly wait.

From stem cells to pharmacological therapies, multiple sclerosis (MS) treatments are in the works. Some therapies treat multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms (physical, cognitive and emotional), while other medical breakthroughs aim directly at the potentially disabling neurological disease itself.

With a giant windfall, I would love to wear my orange ribbons proudly and support the fight to end multiple sclerosis (MS) for good.

What else would I do, with unlimited funds?

Of course, if I truly had unlimited funds, I would also want to fund the search for a cure for cancer, feed the hungry people of the world, house the homeless, host world peace conferences, and send a contingent of humans to live on Mars (particularly if I had the opportunity to select those who would be sent).

But my top five choices would certainly be a solid start.

How about you?

If you won the lottery (or gained a sudden windfall), what would you do? Would you quit your job immediately, or would you still report to work? What wildest dreams would you try to fulfill with your new-found unlimited finances?

Created by this user – with public domain artwork

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