Being out of work is hard work! And it's psychologically tough. The toughest thing many job seekers face is opening their mouths. How exactly do you talk about your job search? It's not exactly comfortable to start a conversation, “Hi I'm Jane.” I'm out of work! ” (That's would be memorable, but not quite effective anyway.) So how can you talk about needing a job?
It turns out that it's very easy. As any brilliant conversationalist can tell you, you start conversations by talking about the other person. The easiest way is by asking a question. I like to ask about that person and why they are there. It's a simple opening.
When your conversation partner replies telling you something interesting, then you can make a comment. Your reply should be light and should express interest. So if they say, “I'm Joe and I'm here for the good food.” You can reply, “I can not argument with that!” Just deliver it with a smile.
It's also easy to ask them what they do for a living. Most people when asked will honestly reply. You can then ask them what they like about this line of work. Typically, they will tell you about their work environment. You can then ask what's the biggest challenge they face in that job.
Here's a key point. You want to chime in with anything that resonates with you. If they talk about finances, and you like finances you should say so.
You also want to offer them ideas. Perhaps you've read something about the issues that they've raised. This raises your creditibility. You can also refer them to resources that address their challenges. Whether you offer the name of a good plumber, accountant or lawyer, referrals work to increase the impression that you are a solution provider.
Notice, that you still have not talked about you. That's what makes this easy. But here is your chance. Inevitably the conversation will turn to your work experience. Reply that you previously worked at whatever company as whatever you were, but that today you are looking for opportunities.
Now hand them your card (yes, unemployed people need business cards!) And ask them to call you if they see anything interesting for you. If you find this a very valuable contact then ask if you can link to them on LinkedIn.
Being out of work is hard enough without the added social stress of awkward interactions and dreading the discussion. If you turn the situation upside-down and talk to them about their job, then you can make the interaction easy and productive.