Seniors, are you wondering what to say to well-meaning friends and family over the holidays when asked about your job search? I picked up a few tips from the “Class of 2011: Job Search” event that I would like to pass on to help you to navigate the dreaded question: “So, how’s that job search coming?”

Although these inquiries may sometimes seem annoying, it is a mistake to avoid discussions with friends, family, and associates about your job search. While you may be trying to enjoy the holiday festivities to (momentarily) take your mind off your job search, be sure to stay open to opportunities that allow you to network. You never know who has ties with an organization, or where you may meet an executive or recruiter. The best way to deal with questions about your job search is to be honest and open about your progress, and take advantage of the opportunity to ask for advice or referrals.

Here are a few potential “scripts” to use:

“I am looking for opportunities within (industry or field) and have been busy identifying and researching employers with the help of my career center, alumni, and others. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for my job search. ”

“In addition to following up on job postings available through my school, I have been networking with friends, family, and alumni. Do you happen to know anyone who works in the ______industry?”

“I am exploring all the resources at my disposal and am open to learning about as many others as possible. Do you have any suggestions?”

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), about 75-80% of jobs are landed by networking. Reaching out to people, no matter how awkward it may seem, is one of the most effective ways to not only learn about a company, but also establish contacts. Some of the best people to talk to are family and friends. If someone gives you the name of a contact, ask them if you can use their name when reaching out, or whether they could call in advance to let the person know you will be contacting them. You can also look up individuals using Facebook or LinkedIn and reach out with personalized messages to people with whom you would like to connect.

Here are some additional tips for job seekers during the holidays:

1. If you notice fewer new job postings online during this period, increase your industry research and individual outreach. During the holidays you may notice fewer online job postings. This is the time to expand your search beyond Internet job posting sites to identify unadvertised opportunities. Job postings only represent a portion of available job opportunities—if you focus only on the job boards you may be limiting your search. Using lists like Business Week’s “Best Places to Launch a Career” or’s “Top Entry Level Employers” may help you identify companies that match your career interests. From there, Wikipedia, Google News, and LinkedIn’s company pages are excellent ways to research and target specific organizations or corporations. Proactively reaching out to these organizations to inquire about potential opportunities will help you expand your search and tap into the hidden job market.

2. Take advantage of holiday festivities to network with as many people as possible and use time off from classes to network online. Meeting new people (either in-person or online) can broaden your network, so be sure to let others know that you are looking for a job. As mentioned above, tapping into the network of your family and friends is a great way to expand your contacts. Also, do not overlook alumni as another resource for your job search. Using the Alumni Careers Network (available on the Career Services website), you can reach out to established Princeton graduates who have volunteered to offer advice to students about their field or profession. Social media tools are becoming more and more essential in the job search and the networking benefits differ from one site to another. For example, sites like Twitter allow you to follow organizations’ posts to stay up to date on their news and events, you can “like” organization Facebook pages, and you can reach out to professionals in your field using LinkedIn. Using a comprehensive approach and a combination of resources will ensure the best results.

3. Schedule an appointment with a career counselor before leaving for winter break or during reading period. Don’t forget to take advantage of the personalized attention you can receive via a scheduled career counseling appointment in Career Services. A career counselor can help you develop a tailored strategy, direct you to specific resources for your field, and offer advice to improve your self-marketing skills.