The end is near. You’re only a few steps away from finally wrapping your fingers around that diploma and waltzing off your college campus for good. Only a few weeks and a few pesky final exams stand in your way. So, naturally, everyone in your life is wondering what’s next for you. What do you want to do? What’s your plan? And, most importantly, do you have a job lined up yet? Believe me, I remember those seemingly never-ending pokes and prods for information. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me the standard, “So, do you have a job yet?” question right around graduation time, I would’ve been financially prepared to retire before ever even landing my first gig. I know all too well that responding to that same prompt over and over again can be both draining and frustrating. So, that’s exactly why I’ve pulled together a few canned responses you can use to address this question when it comes up again (and again, and again). Regardless of what your current situation is, these are sure to come in handy!
1. If You Already Have a Job
The Response: “Yes, actually! I’ll be working as a at. I’m excited to get started!” If you’re lucky enough to have secured a position before ever setting foot on that graduation stage, you’re lucky—not only because you’re ready to take a running leap into the “real world”, but also because you have a “get out of jail free” response for this question. Simply tell the person where you’ll be working and what you’ll be doing. Sure, giving the details over and over again might become sort of dull. But, it can also open up some great career-related discussions with the people in your network! People typically love reminiscing about their own first jobs.
2. If You’re Still Looking
The Response: “No, I haven’t quite found the right fit yet. If you hear of anyone looking for a, definitely let me know!” I get it. Not being able to reply to the question with a firm answer that reflects what an intelligent and qualified soon-to-be graduate you are can be a little disheartening. I’ve walked in your shoes—when I didn’t find a job right away, I felt like a failure who had wasted four years in college only to spend the summer doling out ice cream cones and fantasizing about my true dream job. Needless to say, that’s not necessarily something I wanted to explain to any inquiring passerby. Even so, your best bet here is just to be upfront about the fact that you haven’t found that perfect gig yet. But, you should also make your response work for you. How? Ask that person to keep his or her eyes open for you. The world is surprisingly small, and you never know who you could end up connecting with!
3. If You’re Taking Time Off
The Response: “I actually won’t be diving into the working world right away. I’ve decided to take some time off to travel/volunteer/identify the perfect career path/recover from that whirlwind called ‘college’.” First things first, if you have the ability to actually take some time off after college graduation, don’t feel guilty about that for a second! That period of time is a milestone in your life. And, I’m a firm believer that a little bit of time to yourself can work wonders for both your outlook and your future career. So, directly explain that you haven’t lined up employment yet, as you’ll be navigating a slightly different path for a while. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to provide a long winded explanation and justification for your choice, either. Trust me, after a short amount of time in the working world, you’ll learn that not everybody is always completely in favor of every decision you’ll make—and you don’t need them to be!
4. If You’re Tired of Answering This Same Ol’ Question
The Response: “Not yet. Hey, I remember you saying you were training for your first marathon. How’s that going?” I get it—eventually you’ll be so burnt out with answering the same thing over and over again, you’ll feel tempted to wear a sign around your neck that states, “Please don’t ask me about my career plans!” So, the best thing to do when you’re sick and tired of responding to that standard question—whether you have a job lined up or not? Well, the age-old tactic of avoidance always works. Provide a very brief answer (a simple “yes” or “no” will do!) so that you don’t shirk the question entirely, and then change the subject. This strategy works best if you’re able to change course and ask the person to talk about him or herself. After all, most of us like talking more than listening anyway! “Do you have a job ready and waiting for you?” Is one of those classic questions you’ll hear over and over again when your college graduation is approaching. And, having to politely respond time and time again can undoubtedly take its toll on you. But, don’t start tearing your hair out just yet! Instead, arm yourself with one of these simple responses, and you’re sure to be able to handle that situation with grace and poise.
Kristen Hamilton is the Co-Founder and CEO of Koru, the leader in predictive hiring. As a technology entrepreneur and executive with a passion for impact, Kristen has a successful track record driving value for customers and investors. She co-founded e-commerce pioneer Onvia and took it public in 2000. Kristen built the organization to 500 people, raised over $300 million of investment capital, and led the M&A team to acquire and integrate four private companies in two years. Kristen then shifted focus to education and talent acquisition, as head of educator strategy at Microsoft, and COO of World Learning, where she ran operations in 66 countries.More from Kristen Hamilton