What do you do if you’re currently unemployed (like so many others are in this economy), and you go to a networking function and are asked “What do you do?”

If that question makes you uncomfortable, it’s an indication that you are ashamed of that particular circumstance. That’s the first thing you have to fix. You’re unemployed not because you did something awful—maybe you were caught up in a layoff, or some other company misfortune. It doesn’t say anything about what kind of an employee you were, and in fact, we’ve all known of some really great employees who were let go through no fault of their own. So it’s not as much of a stigma for us. I want you to think that this is just a temporary situation—it can be changed with one phone call, one interview, or one job offer. That’s a thin line.

So when you’re at a networking event, it’s important to understand that everyone there has objectives, too. So when you meet someone and they say, “Who do you work for?”, consider saying something like, “I’m a networking engineer. I was previously at XYZ, and I’m looking for a new opportunity. What do you do? What are you looking for?” The idea is that you’re saying, “How can I help you with my network?”

Don’t be ashamed of who you are. Talk about your skill sets, jobs you’ve done in the past, and what you’re looking to do in the future—and then ask about them. Because people care about people who care about them. So if you can help them in any way, even with an introduction or a job link or an article link, that’s going to go impress them and they’ll go above and beyond to try to help you.
Many, many people are unemployed right now. It’s not an indication of who they are or what they have to offer. It just means that this is their current employment situation—and it’s temporary.

Author's Bio: 

Peggy McKee has over 15 years of experience in sales, sales management, sales recruiting, and career coaching. Her website, Career Confidential (http://www.career-confidential.com) is packed with job-landing tips and advice as well as the practical, powerful, innovative tools every job seeker needs to be successful.
Find out more about what interview coaching can do for you—job-search strategies, social media help, role-playing interview questions, resumes that get the interview, 30/60/90-day plans that get the job, and much more at http://www.phcconsulting.com/interview-coaching/. Learn to be the candidate that everyone wants to hire.