Grow your career on

Advanced Search

Answering Rude Questions During Your Job Search
October 25, 2016

By Kristine Penning,

You’re at a family gathering this summer and your uncle sits down next to you and asks if you have a job yet.

If you’ve been in the job search for a time (it might not have even been that long!), you’re bound to get questions like this. There’s a bad stigma that comes with being unemployed and with that, unfortunately, come several inconsiderate questions. But don’t let them get you down. Here are some smart, shut-down responses to rude questions during your job search.

When someone asks if I have a job

“Any luck in the job hunt?”

This is the typical small talk you’re likely to hear from anyone who knows you’re out of work. Instead of asking them to lay off or bringing yourself down by answering, “No,” try, “Yes, I’ve been hard at work writing my resumes and applying to several exciting openings, so I’m confident I’ll get an interview soon.”

“I saw this position in the paper/online. You should apply.”

If this position may not be your cup of tea, politely let them know. This is a question that may come off as rude to you if you’re sensitive about being unemployed, but they’re really just trying to help and it’s coming from a good place. Tell them what you’re really looking for to help them help you. If nothing else, smile and say, “That sounds great, I’ll have to look into that.”

“What are you doing with all your free time?”

Again, they may be just trying to make conversation, but it may imply laziness. You may be wanting to grit your teeth and ask, “What do you think I’m doing? Searching for jobs.” A little nicer way to answer might be, “Well, I’m putting a lot of effort into perfecting my resume, tailoring my cover letter, researching companies, and preparing for interviews. I know something is likely to come up soon so I will be ready when it does.” You can also let them know you are working part-time, working on a project that will help your career opportunities, or considering going back to school. All of these answers show that you are very career-driven and confident in your ability to secure a job.

“Where have you applied?”

This is a nice way to make conversation, but it may set you up for an awkward and difficult conversation later if you were really banking on a job and end up not getting it. Avoid that added negative stigma and just let them know, “I don’t want to give any specifics right now, but I’ll be sure to let you know if I get any offers.”

“Apply everywhere. You can’t be picky in this economy.” “If you get an offer, take it!”

Not so, and you know that. It’s very much worth it to be happy in your work, so let them know that. Answer, “I’m being very open, but I have to do something that I know I will be happy doing. I don’t want to settle for a job that won’t be fulfilling to me day in and day out.”

“Well, something will come along eventually…”

This is likely to be the statement that caps off your conversation. It’s a nice, hopeful reassurance from whoever you’re talking to. But hearing it again and again may make you crazy. Just answer, “I’m sure of it. I’m really excited about the opportunities I’ve applied to so far.”

Now that you’re armed with some great responses to rude questions during your job search, silence the haters: head to and your search will be over.

Red Alert

Register for your free account to receive exclusive information and features.

Candidate | Employer