Desperate vs. Dignified: Job Titles for the Jobless

Amongst the hungry and sometimes fickle young professional (YP) crowd, job title judging can feel like an everyday thing. From our LinkedIn page to our business card, our online dating profile to meetings with new people, our pro designation is so much of who we are, as well as how we judge others. So what about those without one? How do the job seekers, the enthusiastic, and unemployed networkers respond to those horrid four words, “What do you do?” In chatting with some currently job-less YPs, and taking a look through LinkedIn, we found some clever – and not so clever – interpretations of this uncertain status. While some versions convey class and tenacity, others are just plain sad. If you are “presently looking” yourself, check out this list and our vote for top pick: 

Searching for work: Straight and to the point, this status is no frills. The voice is active and determined, albeit a tad old school and gruff. If you are looking for work, any work, this is the way to go. (For something a little less rough around the edges, try seeking employment).  

Presently unemployed: While perhaps more formal than the previous, this status does not get our vote. “Presently unemployed” sounds stagnant and complacent, conveying a lack of desire for anything more. If you’re happily unemployed, own it and say it! If you’re unemployed and looking, consider revising to the following:   

Actively looking: On the other end of the spectrum is this energized status. It generates an image of someone up early, scrolling job postings, making calls and shaking hands. The trouble, however, is that it sounds a bit OK Cupid, if you know what we mean. To keep things in focus, specify a position or industry. (Same goes for available now.) 

Auditioning various options: While we appreciate the effort of this self-assured status, it’s a little highfalutin, don’t you think? Unless you are an in-demand VP or CFO, as a YP you aren’t auditioning anything; the job force is trying you out. It’s great to feel and look secure during a potentially precarious period, but get real and realize your role as potential employee, not director.       

Freelance/Contract…professional: This is a common option for many YPs not currently employed by a formal organization. It portrays an air of busyness and independence. However, if you are looking for permanent work and choose this status, we do have two notes of caution: 1) Don’t abuse it. If you’re not really working, don’t say that you are out of respect for those YPs actually trying to make a living as freelancers. 2) This status can sound vague. Be sure to include that you are also still seeking a permanent position while working on your own.   

Currently exploring new opportunities: This popular status gets our vote for top choice. It’s honest and humble, yet confident and optimistic. While it can sound a tad cliché, we think that’s because it’s the go-to description that employers respect and appreciate, which is really what it’s all about. 

Obviously, choosing a response to the “what do you do?” query and filling in our employment status on social media are very personal processes, particularly when unemployed. You may find your own perfect status is a combo of these options. Either way, know that what we do for work only makes up a small portion of who we are as people, and that being a YP is not just about our job, but about being young and energetic, professional and bright, in all that we do.


Cover Image: Property Solutions