Tis the season for friendsgiving parties and eating until you can barely breathe. It’s also the time of year where you’ll see an endless stream of relatives – close and distant.  Now that you’ve officially graduated from school (and the kids table), those aunts, uncles, and cousins are all asking you some version of the same question: “Do you have a job yet?” It’s a daunting inquiry, because all you want to do is pile your plate with endless crescent rolls and eat six different kinds of pie – not be badgered about your employment prospects. We’ve put together this handy holiday survival guide to help you survive this festive season – whether you’ve got a “job lined up” or not.

Dealing with Unsolicited Advice

When you’re job searching, everyone seems to have their own suggestions on what you can do to improve your chances of landing a new gig. While it’s given with the best intentions, the advice you get from older relatives isn’t usually actionable. “Pounding the pavement” was a solid strategy for your Great Uncle Harry. These days, however, waltzing into an office to ask for a job will result in a request to apply online 99.999% of the time. Even job search tips from this millennium don’t always work. For example, copying the job description and pasting it in extra tiny white text on your resume isn’t going to help you get past an ATS – no matter what your Gen-Xer cousin Greg says.

The best way to handle the advice of relatives is easy: just say thank you. Even if their suggestions are impractical or ineffective, they are offered up simply because your family wants to help you. Thanking them for their advice will help button up the topic of discussion so you can move onto more important matters. Like a plateful of seconds (or thirds, we don’t judge).

Navigating Networking

Family and friends are often a great starting point for building your professional network. As they say, it’s not what you know, but who you know. Until the working world re-establishes itself as a pure meritocracy, tapping into your personal network is a great way to get ahead in the job search. There’s no shame in a family member pulling a few strings to help you get your foot in the door.

So if Aunt Kathy says there’s an opening at work and asks to pass your resume along, take her up on her offer. Even if it isn’t the exact job title or industry you’re interested in, it’s still great practice for future interviews. Plus, it could be a surprisingly great opportunity.

Putting a Positive Spin

Flip the script! School is stressful. The job search is stressful. You deserve some time to relax after graduation. Especially during the holidays! If you’re being badgered about your specific prospects, deflect with some cliches about trying to find yourself. Sure, you probably won’t go backpacking in Europe. But you don’t need to rush into the rat race just yet. Tell relatives that you’re taking time to explore different career paths and leave it at that.

Changing the Subject

Feel like you’ve become a broken record whose greatest hits include “I’m Still Figuring Things Out” and “But How Do I Get Experience Without Experience?” You’re free to simply say that you’re not sure and offer up a new topic of conversation. Ask them how things are going, what the kids are up to, and anything that will divert them off the path of your career options. If all else fails, ask your cousin to pass the potatoes and go to town.

The holidays can feel like a mine field when you’re not sure where you want your career to go. When in doubt, whip out this little holiday survival guide.  And if you’re looking for an easy way to get older relatives off your back, tell them you’ve started your career search with JobFlare! Playing games to get hired will baffle them and allow you to enjoy your Aunt Sally’s pecan pie in peace.