A reader writes:
I am currently job searching and my dad let me know about an opening at his workplace that I qualify for. He works for a really cool organization that I’d love to work for regardless of his involvement. We wouldn’t be in the same department, but it’s a very small office and I’d have the cube next to his. I am working out my own comfort level with working right next to my dad every day until he retires in a few years, but I’m wondering if there are any pitfalls in general that I should think about when considering this.
Well, you’re asking for pitfalls, so I’m going to give you a big, scary list — but be aware that none of them might come to fruition. But you asked, so here goes:
For starters, if his company is smart, they’ll be very wary of doing this, because what if they hire you, it doesn’t work out, and they have to fire you? How’s that going to impact your dad? Is he really going to stay happy at a workplace that fired his daughter? Are they willing to accept that the price of hiring you could be to potentially lose your dad, who’s probably fairly senior, or deal with him being unhappy? (They probably shouldn’t be willing to make that trade-off, not unless your skills are unusually impressive and hard to find.) And are you willing to potentially put your dad in that position? (You probably shouldn’t be.)
You might think that’s a non-issue because of course you’ll never get fired, but no one ever takes a job thinking they’re going to lose it … and yet, people do get fired, all the time. You could have a crazy boss (and even if your father tells you the boss you’d have is great, she could quit tomorrow and be replaced by a loon), or it could just end up being the wrong fit. You can’t predict this stuff with certainty.
Pitfalls aside from that … You risk people thinking that you only got the job because of your father. You risk overhearing people saying things about your dad that you really don’t want to hear. You risk seeing your dad in a new light, one that isn’t necessarily flattering. (What if you find out he’s incompetent?) You risk your relationship with your dad changing in ways that you may or may not like, because he’ll see you at work, potentially have opinions about your work, and potentially have opinions about how you carry yourself at work — and vice versa.
Of course, none of it might play out like this, and you might discover that you both love working together. It might bring you closer in ways that you really appreciate. It might show you a different side of your dad that you value getting to see.
But you asked for pitfalls, so there they are. Let us know what happens!