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The Dreaded Question

Dog shaking hands

“So what do you do for a living?”

Meeting new people can be stressful, especially when you are an introvert. It’s not the new people that bother me. What bothers me is that almost every time I meet someone new, I get asked the dreaded question – “What do you do for a living?” Since I am still unemployed, I loathe being asked this question. I don’t want to be seen as Debbie Downer and bring everyone down. How do you respond to this question without being seen as “that guy” and have everyone avoid you?

For men, we often associate our identity with what we do for a career. We want to be the provider (whether you are single or married with a family) and without a job we feel like a part of us is missing. There is a great article on Relevant magazine’s website that talks about not letting our occupation (or lack there of) determine our worth. Unfortunately it’s easier said than done not to go down the path of doubt and depression when it comes being unemployed.

In a recent conversation with a friend, he reminded me that I am so much more than any job. When people ask me this question, his suggested response was to tell people the truth – that I am serving through world missions, leading others in discipleship, and using this time to grow spiritually. I know that I will eventually have a job title as an answer to this question, but lately it’s been all about what to do or say in the mean time. At times like these, I wish life had a fast forward button so you could move on to the next stage of your life (while still attaining the lessons you learned or unlearned during the “fast forward period”).

If you have been without a job, how did you answer the dreaded question?

Photo Credit: By Shannon Yeh

  1. October 3, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Hi Scott. Given the unemployment rate over the past few years you have got to know that you are not alone. There are a lot of good people out there in the same boat and most people who have been in the working world for some time (myself included) have been exactly where you are at some point in their lives. I know it’s a really frustrating time but it is an opportunity to learn, grow and develop. When you do get your next opportunity you’ll be that much better for it. Good luck, I hope you’re time comes soon.

    • October 3, 2012 at 9:57 pm

      Thank you for your encouraging words Frank! That really means a lot to me. Good luck to you as well!

  2. Christy
    October 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Coupled with what your friend suggested above, think of the dreaded question as a maketing/networking opportunity for your next job. You never know if that new person you meet has a position that is perfect for you or knows someone that is looking for a person with your skills.

    • Scott Couey
      October 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      Thank you for your comment Christy! That is a great point.

  3. February 9, 2013 at 9:52 am

    With this question – I am being hit hard on it – I’m not sure the right answer. I said I am applying for my dream jobs which are “very good” and few and far between with all the other people probably doing the same thing, but who can speculate on the market—if I got a job I would probably perceive it easy to get employment.

    • February 9, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Thank you for your comment Alma! It took me almost 16 months, but I finally found my dream job. Praying things work out quickly for you as well.

  4. February 27, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Congratulations on getting the job! I, too, went through a seemingly endless period about 20 years ago without a job. I was saved from total dispair by my youngest. She met me at the door when I returned home from yet another fruitless interview. She asked me, “Daddy, did you get a job?”. When I told her I didn’t, she responded with a hug and the words, “That’s okay. You’ll always be my Daddy”

    From the mouths of babes…

    –Ralph Couey

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