How to Talk About Your Job Search

Expect to talk about your job search A LOT when looking for employment; at networking events, with friends, family, and even chance encounters at the store or dog park. Make every moment count with every connection by practicing the way you talk about your job search.

Here are four ways to make those conversations more effective:

1. Avoid the backstory

We all tend to start with a backstory: “I graduated from The University of Oregon with two degrees, then moved to Portland where I…” This is very natural for most of us, because giving information in sequential order helps to create context. However, you must cut the backstory out of the intro.

People don’t care about your story as much as they want to know what skills you possess. Get to the heart of your job message first. This includes what kind of work you are looking for, what you can offer, examples of a few skills you bring to a job, and maybe a past outcome that highlights how awesome you are.

2. Have a clear message

Reluctance to craft a clear job search message can often leave you fumbling through conversations, leaving out key points, and starting with that backstory.

I recently attended Vicki Lind’s free job search workshop, held the first Friday of every month. The class forced me to practice my basic message with a group of people. I realized then how beneficial it is to have something crafted. Of course, how you deliver your message will depend on the person you are talking with. At the very least, have a list of bullet points to reference in your head, to make sure you hit the highlights.

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3. Be specific

I have the challenge of being interested in EVERYTHING, and I’m willing to do a variety of work in any position. When I attended RUNT, a quarterly professional development series from Mathys+Potestio, I learned that I needed to pick one defined item I bring to a job.

It only confuses employers and makes you forgettable if you are not specific. Don’t be afraid of pigeon holing yourself, because once you get your name out there, you can go in other directions. “Specializing is what will get you that first client, that first job, that first yes; and getting that first yes is the hardest part in this town,” explained Jackie Mathys, Principle of Mathys + Potestio.

4. Look for connections everywhere

When talking about what kind of job you are looking for, often people will say, “Oh, have you heard of XYZ company?” A common response may be, “Oh yes, I would love to work for them, I’ve even applied for a position there.” That answer pretty much ends the conversation.

Instead, respond with, “I’ve heard of that company and I love their mission. Do you know someone that works there, or someone connected to the organization that would be willing to talk with me?” Look at every dialogue about your job search as an opportunity to connect with someone in your field. After all, it’s all about who you know these days!