people keep sending me job postings that are way below my skill level

A reader writes:

I work in a director level position at a medium-sized nonprofit (not sure if my field is relevant to this question). Often times, I will receive emails and calls directly from friends and former colleagues with open positions in my area, or recruiters will contact me having been given my information from former colleagues. My problem is, the positions people are referring me for are either below my current level (think coordinator or low-level manager jobs) or are part-time jobs geared towards someone supported by another family member (I live in a very expensive area where even with a full-time job people have trouble making ends meet).

Is this normal for people to refer others for jobs that are lower than their current working level, or am I putting something out there that makes people not understand I work at a director level position, have the skills to be a director level position, and wish to continue at my current level? And how do I respond to these messages? I have been saying, “Thanks for thinking of me, but I love my current job and have no plans to leave in the immediate future” (which is true!), but is there a non-condescending way to say “Hey, I am more skilled than this position, please only send me job openings that are of a certain level?”

It’s totally normal. And yeah, it can be annoying and can make you wonder if your friends and former colleagues have totally missed what it is that you do, or if they think you’re at a far lower professional level than you’re at. In reality, though, people just never pay as much attention to other people’s jobs as they do to their own, and they’re just missing the details (both of your current job and of the jobs they’re suggesting to you). They see something involving teapots and they think “Hey, Jane works with teapots!” and so they send it to you, even though it’s for a teapot assistant job and you’re a teapot director. Or they’re not very good at parsing job ads and don’t even quite realize what the jobs they’re sending you are all about.

It can seem even weirder when it comes to recruiters, because you’d expect them to actually know what jobs would and wouldn’t be appropriate for you — but it’s common with them too because lots of recruiters take a scattershot approach to pairing people up with jobs. Some recruiter jobs (not all of them) are all about volume, and they figure that the more people they connect with, the more their chances of making what’s essentially a sale go up (because those types of recruiter jobs are sales jobs).

In most cases, it doesn’t make sense to try to get people to refine the postings they’re sending you — most people are only casually interested and aren’t likely to retain the details of nuance of what you would and wouldn’t consider applying for (with possible exceptions for people you’re very close to, like a best friend or spouse, who you can reasonably expect to pay attention to the details). If someone sends you something truly ridiculous, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Thanks for thinking of me, but this is an entry level admin role and I’d be looking for something at or above director-level” … but really, it’s likely to be wasted breath. This is just a thing people do because humans are weird and find startlingly unhelpful ways to try to be helpful.

{ 213 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Hills to Die on

    I have also found this to be the case when someone sets you up on a blind date. Do you not know me at all?

    Reply
    1. Jenn

      That’s almost always “Hey, this person is single and you are single and you’re both roughly the same age so . . . go! Have fun!”

      Reply
      1. annakarina1

        Yeah, one of my friends is well-meaning, but has tried to set me up before with guys that I don’t have anything in common with besides us both being single. She knew my ex-boyfriend well, as they are good friends, so I figured she would understand my taste in guys more than just “You’re both single, so talk to each other!”

        Reply
        1. Alienor

          Oh God, I have a friend like that. He’s finally accepted that I’m not looking for a relationship, but for years and years it was “so and so is single, you guys should date.” At the time he was not-very-happily married, and I got the impression that he wanted to experience the single/dating life vicariously through me (having forgotten that it actually kind of sucks).

          Reply
      2. ExcelJedi

        Oh my god, it’s even worse when you’re queer: “You like women and she likes women! You must have so much in common!”

        Reply
        1. all aboard the anon train

          I was just about to write this! I’m bi and a people do the whole, “I’ll send any gender who is single your way!”

          Uh, no, not how it works.

          Reply
      3. Falling Diphthong

        Like when you’re six and your mom is like “Joey is also six! You have a ton in common.”

        Reply
        1. SophieChotek

          My mother is still doing this to me. Except it’s more like “You’re 30-something” and the son of random-slight-acquinantance is also 30-something. You two should try to hang out.

          I should also point out, both times, neither of these 30-something men even lived in the same state as I do….

          Reply
      4. Mel

        A older female relative of mine decided that she would set her oldest son – late 30’s, never married, hasn’t asked for people to set him up on blind dates – with the daughter of her college roommate.

        The relative was super-excited about the two of them dating.

        I asked, “Other than “they are both unmarried” and “It would be such a great story about how they met”, what things do Oldest Son and Roommate’s Daughter have in common? What is Oldest Son bringing to the table for Roommate’s Daughter and vice versa?”

        *crickets*

        Reply
        1. AKchic

          At my last job, for a while we had an older receptionist who would try to set up any woman up with her son. Who was engaged to a woman she didn’t like (and already had a child with said woman). Including me, because she didn’t realize I was already with someone. She had been spoken to multiple times (both by management, each staff member she tried to set up, and her son (both sons actually, as she had tried to set both of them up on blind dates but one started dating a woman that she approved of). Nothing seemed to work until the son married the woman. Management never did fire her, she was nothing more than someone to answer the phones and sit at the front desk. All other work was removed from her because she couldn’t do it.

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          1. Close Bracket

            “Management never did fire her, she was nothing more than someone to answer the phones and sit at the front desk. All other work was removed from her because she couldn’t do it.”

            How do I get to be this woman?

            Reply
    2. CBE

      LOL. I have a friend who has a “one blind date” rule. Everyone he knows gets ONE chance to set him up and any time someone mentions setting him up, he says “You want to use your one shot on this person?”
      People who set him up with awesome people can get second chances, though. I set him up once and they went out 4-5 times but it didn’t work out. He said I chose well enough I can have one more shot if I want it. Still waiting for someone else worth using that shot.

      Reply
    3. LQ

      My friends and family seemed of the belief that I only cared about height (I’m very tall). Dear friend, is the only thing you know about me that I’m tall? Seriously? They’ve all stopped thankfully.

      Reply
      1. RUKiddingMe

        When my son was about 16 he met this guy who he thought was “cool.” Keep in mind that Son was 16… He decided I should meet the guy, which I did, casually in a gathering of a bunch of people. It took me about ten seconds (if that long) to nope right the hell away from that guy. A while later, like a few months later when Son realized the guy was a loser (i.e. LOSER) he said “Mom, I think I’ll just let you choose who you want to be involved with from now on.” Yay.

        Reply
        1. Charlotte Collins

          I’m sure your son has better judgment now, but what seems cool to the most mature 16-year-old boy would probably be pretty far from dating material for a lot of women…

          Reply
    4. Ella

      This is even worse if you’re gay/bi/queer/etc, where sometimes the literal only requirement to be set up with someone seems to be “hey you both date women!” Well, yes, but we have nothing in common, there’s a thirty year age gap, and she’s already married, but thanks I guess?

      Reply
  2. rubyrose

    It’s not you!!
    My experience is that the vast majority of recruiters do nothing to match their job against your qualifications. Family usually does not keep up on exactly what level you are at. You would think your former colleagues would, but that does not happen either.
    When my job becomes too stressful, I print out some of those obviously wrong positions (part time data entry contractor for a senior level Business Analyst) and keep them on my desk. They give me a good laugh and remind me that if I’ve had it with my current positions there is something else someone thinks I’m qualified for. As to a response – if I respond at all – “this is not in line with the type of work I’ve been doing.”

    Reply
    1. AnotherAlison

      The recruiters are the worst. Maybe I don’t understand their jobs, but I can’t see why they don’t know I am not a good candidate for what they are looking for. I am an engineering project manager, never worked in construction. This morning I got another email looking for a field superintendent for heavy civil construction, for $50k less than I make now. Happens weekly.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        When you think about what a recruiter does, you’re thinking about a “quality” recruiter – probably an in-house recruiter, for a smaller or mid-size company, or in a specialized field like tech recruiting. Their role is about making connections with the right people and sending managers handpicked candidates. They’re not the ones doing these shotgun-pattern blast emails to everyone and their mother. Those are the “quantity” recruiters.

        The “quantity” recruiters probably work for a staffing agency or do in-house recruiting for a very large company or with their high-turnover roles (call center, warehouse, that kind of thing). Their role is about putting bodies in chairs. Hopefully semi-matched bodies that will stay in the chairs for at least a few weeks or months, but they’re not taking the time – they probably don’t have the time, as they’re on quota or have hard deadlines with high targets to hit – to make careful matches between ideal candidates and the roles available. They are just literally running a keyword search on a site like Monster or Indeed or Careerbuilder or LinkedIn, and if your profile or resume matches their keywords, they’ll include you in the bulk e-blast they’re doing. They’re probably not even really reading your resume, to be honest.

        Reply
        1. Amber T

          I am a Teapot Associate, which in my field means I am one step above entry level (I have within 3-7ish years of experience). I have received everything from Teapot Analyst (entry level… which fine, but no) to Deputy C Level Teapot person… which is waaaaay above my pay grade. Granted, a lot of these emails *start* with “I have a role that I think would be perfect with you based on your job description!” (which on LinkedIn is blank, so sure, Random Recruiter), but always ends with “let me know if any of your contacts would be interested in this position!” So they’re going for a two-fer – maybe it’s a job I’m interested in/qualified for based on the Teapots part, but yeah I’ll definitely pass this super generic email blast to all of my Teapots contacts!

          Reply
        2. Specialk9

          I wish some recruiters would do a keyword search! Dude, I’m never going to work for your construction company, I’m a girly office lady who doesn’t even remotely do construction.
          -signed, Arrrrgh.

          Reply
    2. LW Here!

      Phew, I’m glad to know it’s not me! I was getting especially concerned when this would happen with former colleagues!
      Also, love the idea about saving the absurd job referrals!

      Reply
      1. rubyrose

        I’ve just had an idea that I need to play with in my head. Maybe I should go ahead and apply for one of those positions! See how far into the process I get!

        Reply
    3. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

      So I have two related things happening now – I seem to get a fair amount of the opposite – where I get contacted by recruiters for roles that I’m definitely too junior for. It’s a nice (very minor) ego boost, but I know no good will come of persuing something that’s not even a semi-reasonable as a reach (unless it seemed like the recruiter was taking a very personalized approach – then I might think the recruiter has a better idea of the role than what I’m seeing of the job description).

      Second, I get a bunch of people contacting me about roles with my former title (I was an admin assistant, now I’m not). That one drives me batty, though it’s mostly just personal thing – it felt like it took me so long to get past that title so I want nothing to do with those job ads.

      Reply
    4. Ama

      I still have family members and friends who don’t remember that I no longer work in university administration. I changed careers five years ago and I was not quiet about when I left or how much I like my current job.

      Reply
    5. Nanani

      I’m a translator. I get recruiter spam about interpreting, which is not the same thing, but OK a lot of people outside the field don’t know that, and a lot of translators are also interpreters.

      But I also get spam about voice over work, transcription, and most perplexingly, map analysis.

      I generally don’t respond to any of them.

      Reply
        1. Airy

          Translation is of written texts, interpretation is of speech. Interpretation has to be done much more on the fly, while listening to the speaker, while translation allows for proofreading and editing. Both require a good knowledge of both the source language and the target language but the specific skills involved differ.

          Reply
        2. Mephyle

          And in news stories, you almost always see interpreters referred to as ‘translators’, which helps to fix the wrong term in everyone’s minds.

          Reply
    6. ThatGirl

      I have work experience in journalism, content marketing and customer service. I once had a recruiter send me a food scientist job. It sounded like a very cool job I was in absolutely no way qualified for.

      Reply
      1. CM

        I’m a lawyer. I told a recruiter I wanted to work at a software/Internet company and specifically NOT at a law firm. He found four jobs for me: three at law firms and one at Ocean Spray, the cranberry company (which is over an hour from where I live).

        Reply
    7. Traffic_Spiral

      In my industry, all the recruiters have eyes bigger than their stomachs, I think, and routinely go for a notch higher candidate than what the job actually is. I think they’re hoping at least one person will say yes, and then they’ll look like they can bring in high-quality candidates.

      Reply
  3. Polymer Phil

    I can understand “Hey, Jane works with teapots!” from friends and family, but 95% of the recruiter contacts I get are like this too. It seems like almost every recruiter I hear from is fresh out of college and knows nothing about my industry.

    Reply
    1. BYOD

      To be fair majority of recruiters are fresh out of collage using this as a jumping point to either a job in HR somewhere or to moving to a account manager/client facing roles.
      All they have to go by is key word searches in their database and they don’t know what anything means.

      Reply
      1. Quickbeam

        You bet! I get recruiter calls for LPN jobs…I’m a 30 year RN. Just because the job requires a nurse….

        Reply
        1. CoveredInBees

          I’ve gotten recruiter calls for nursing jobs too. I’m not a nurse. I’m a former prosecutor turned grant writer. But apparently all your hard work and education were for naught because my background is “perfect for nursing jobs in your area”. I get that medicine can get litigious but this seems like overkill. SMH.

          Reply
          1. cookie monster

            I really think that abbreviations mess things up. For example, part of my job is CRA (community reinvestment act) which is a banking term for me. I started getting recruiters reaching out for health care related stuff and a quick Google search told me that CRA means something completely different in the medical field. I am willing to bet that so much of this happens when recruiters are just looking for key abbreviations but not also screening for field. I bet 10 people could chime in now with 10 different fields that use CRA to mean something.

            Reply
  4. Emi.

    As someone who applied to multiple PhD-requiring positions when she was in high school: some people just have no idea what they’re doing. :)

    Reply
      1. Emi.

        “The National Security Agency has provided an update to your application status on USAJobs.gov. Please log in to view your application status.”
        *reset forgotten password again*
        “Not Hired”

        Reply
      1. DArcy

        Sometimes it actually does. One of my college friends was hired for a PhD-requiring position even though he only had a Bachelor’s degree; on the other hand, it was a bachelor’s from *Caltech*, they were desperate because they hadn’t filled the position in over six months of trying, and he was able to demonstrate that he *had* the skillset to do what they wanted.

        Reply
        1. Susana

          I wonder if it’s one of those cases (more common during the recession) wherein employers demanded qualifications not really necessary for the job… simply because they thought they could.

          Reply
    1. Bea

      I smile over a 17 year old doing this.

      I have put my head on my desk to rest it from the number of non qualified applicants I weeded through this morning. I just need a little rest.

      Reply
  5. Jenn

    I work in a university so I know a bunch more students and recent grads than most people. Sometimes if it’s VERY low on the totem pole I have said “Oh thank you for sending this my way. I know of a few recent grads and they would fall into the 3-5 years of experience they’re asking for so I’ll share this with them” even if they’d mentioned me in the e-mail like “I saw this and thought of you!” But yes, I’m a director level as well and very often people are like “Hey, this seems great for you” and it’s like a PR Assistant job that would involve a $30k paycut.

    Reply
  6. Detective Amy Santiago

    I used to support an academic program for a type of job that requires you to pass specific exams and hold licenses and I frequently get recruiters reaching out to me for the licensed position, despite me having zero education in that area.

    Reply
    1. Jaydee

      So, like you were an administrative assistant to faculty at a medical school and you would get recruiters sending you physician assistant jobs. Because clearly you *assist* physicians, so that’s the same, right?

      Reply
      1. Who the eff is Hank?

        I get this a lot. I work in school administration on the operations side but get sent teaching jobs all the time. I have never been a teacher and have none of the education or training to be one.

        Reply
    2. Kj

      I have one type of license for therapy. I get SO MANY recruiters and Linked In adverts for jobs that have therapist in the title. Despite that an occupational therapist is different from a speech therapist is different from a marriage therapist…. but if you have therapist in your title, you must be the same, right? /s

      Reply
      1. Charlotte Collins

        Try having “Communications” in your title. No, I cannot work on your phone infrastructure. Nor do I want to work in your call center. (This also is due to the fact that I have trained CSRs, so “customer service” ends up being a keyword.)

        I could help your with your reading, writing, and editing, though.

        Reply
  7. That would be a good band name

    I get this from family/friends a lot in both directions. I’m more mid-level so in the same day I might have someone forward me a CFO listing (very laughable given my current level) and a cashier position because they both deal with money.

    You’d think recruiters would know better, but I’m betting they just reach out to everyone that even remotely might be interested in the hopes of getting someone to be interested.

    Reply
    1. Kathleen_A

      I haven’t had this experience with recruiters (yet…), but friends and family, oh my goodness.

      Alison’s right that a lot – and I do mean a LOT – of people don’t really pay attention to anybody’s job except their own, their spouse’s and (maybe) their children’s. I’ve been married for 30+ years, and I’ve been doing variations of basically the same job all of that time, but nonetheless, I’m pretty sure that my husband’s sister has no real idea what I do for a living. For that matter, I’m not sure my MIL knows, either. They know who I work for, and they know (I think?) that it has something to do with writing…and maybe shooting some photos?…maybe something called “editing”?….but that’s about it. I think this partly because of a semi-conscious bias in favor of actual blood relations, partly because of a wholly unconscious sexism (in their hearts, I’m sure they think the man’s job is automatically more important than the woman’s), and partly because…well, because they’re pretty self-involved people.

      Anyway, if they sent me job listings, they would absolutely get it completely wrong – wrong level, wrong job skills, just generally wrong.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        To be fair, some people have dreadfully boring jobs. My lovely husband explains what he does, and my brain numbs over with boredom. He finds it quite interesting.

        Meanwhile, my job sounds terrifically interesting, like I should be parachuting into wildfires or something very Hollywood. But it’s actually pretty mundane.

        Reply
  8. LQ

    Sometimes this isn’t just a “hey you apply” but a “hey are you interested or do you know anyone who might be, please pass this along to your network but I don’t want to insult you by making you think you might not be a good fit for this job” or “I’m sending the same message to everyone, I expect people to do with it what they will.”

    I found this a lot more in my last job (which was in a nonprofit) where people would send me job openings with hopes that I’d pass it along to someone I knew who was looking. Eventually someone in our community (that type of nonprofit in that area) put together a sort of informal job search email list, and a lot of job openings were sent around and she’d compile them once a week and send them out (and I am STILL grateful for her coordinating that).

    Reply
    1. Higher Ed Database Dork

      ” I don’t want to insult you by making you think you might not be a good fit for this job” – I’ve encountered this a lot from friends. I can head off that worry by telling them straight away I do not mind at all if they think I’m a bad fit and all they want me to do is pass it on. Works *most* of the time!

      Reply
    2. Economist

      Yes, I’ve passed on job announcements to senior-level colleagues with the intent that they would pass it along to their junior colleagues or students. I do usually put a note “please distribute to anyone who may be interested” or “please distribute to your students.” However, if I didn’t put a note, they’d understand why I was sending.

      Reply
    3. Lily Rowan

      That’s interesting, because I would almost always frame it as “in case you know anyone who might be interested…” rather than that the person I’m sending it to should apply — in the situation of sending it to professional or personal contacts I don’t know well, in the nonprofit world. Partly because if I’m sending it to their work address, it seems rude to suggest they might be looking, partly because I don’t necessarily know the details of their skills or aspirations.

      Reply
  9. Higher Ed Database Dork

    My dad tells people I’ve been a “database administrator” for 8 years. If I have been a DBA for 8 years, I’d be making waaaay more money than I am now. The truth is that I’ve been at my current workplace for 8 years in various roles, and working with databases (not as an admin) for the last 3. But he’s my dad and doesn’t really hear or remember the actual details of my job (especially since my actual title has an acronym in it), and just says whatever details his brain can grab onto.

    The recruiters bother me more because I clearly outline my title and skills on my LinkedIn/Indeed/resume, and they keep contacting me for things only tangentially related. Most annoying: I work at a university, get sent job ads for teaching positions in K-12. One recruiter sent me a message saying I’d “be perfect” for a training coordinator who wrote materials for nursing courses.

    Reply
    1. Turquoisecow

      My family has only a vague idea of what I’m doing now, despite my explanations. I work for a food retailer, so family suggestions are more like “oh you should check out x company” (like my the competitor my cousin works for, but in a completely different part of the business and on the opposite side of the state.)

      And since titles aren’t standardized in my industry, I get some recruiter suggestions (unprompted) that have very little relation to my industry. Also, since I work in a merchandising-adjacent area, I get a lot of sales/merchandising suggestions. Not interested.

      I really don’t think most recruiters bother to read LinkedIn profiles.

      Reply
    2. Hey Karma, Over here.

      Oh, you work with computers? I saw a great job for a systems analyst.
      Actually, I design websites.
      It’s COMPUTERS!
      Oh, you are designer? There’s web design position.
      Actually, I’m a graphic designer, I create artwork and page layouts.
      It’s DESIGNING!

      Reply
      1. FoxyDog

        I’m a web developer, and can’t convince my dad that I don’t know anything about networking or how to fix his printer. Because computers!

        Reply
        1. UK Nerd

          I find comparing IT to medicine is a good way to explain to people. Plastic surgeons and gastroenterologists are both doctors, but if you ask a plastic surgeon to treat your ulcerative collitis you’re not going to get very far.

          Reply
          1. Corporate Lawyer

            I use the same comparison to explain why, as a corporate/securities lawyer, I’m not going to represent someone in their divorce or write a will.

            Reply
      2. Natasha

        I’m a researcher in a type of science that has a weird name. The last time I tried to cross the US border, I was asked what I did. I said my job title (since that was what was on my entry form), the border guard was like “huh?”, and I stupidly said my standard cocktail party line, which was “I program computers all day.”

        “Oh, so you have an IT qualification?”

        No, I have a PhD in [science].

        “But how can you be employed to program computers if you don’t have an IT qualification?”

        I tried to explain that I got plenty of training in computer programming during my many years of higher education, that I now teach computer programming to students studying science, that I’m not even entirely sure what an IT qualification *is*…nope. SIGH.

        (He eventually let me through when I produced my staff ID and various official-looking paperwork related to my job, but, man, border guards.)

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        1. Specialk9

          Yeah, you need a better standard line for people who aren’t going to understand, but have power over you. Or just say, yup, I’m in IT.

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        2. Someone else

          That’s just a bizarre way for him to phrase it even if your job weren’t hard to understand. I’ve been in IT in one form or another for over 10 years, and I do not have “an IT qualification”. I mean, he makes it sound like qualification=credential or certification or something. I have none of those. Am I qualified to do IT stuff? Yup. I am in fact considered an expert in my super-niche field. But “having an IT qualification” is not a concept I’ve ever encountered. I wouldn’t have known how to answer either and probably would’ve resisted just saying “yes” to get on with it, lest I be charged with some sort of lying to the officer later, but this is like some dystopian bullshit question where if you say yes, you’re lying and can get caught out because he seems to want you to say you have a thing that doesn’t exist but if you’re truthful and say you don’t have it, you can’t pass because you don’t have the thing that doesn’t exist.

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        3. Lasslisa

          I’m wondering if this guy bought into some for-profit sales pitch or saw an ad for an “IT Certification” that he would need in order to get programming jobs. Or was told something like that as part of a job rejection.

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    3. Mike C.

      I used to work in a food laboratory, and I get multiple requests to apply as an assistant manager at fast food places thousands of miles from where I live.

      Recruiters are terrible.

      Reply
    4. Elemeno P.

      I just got a recruiter on LinkedIn doing something similar! She asked a) if I still lived in my previous city (it is on my profile that I do not) and b) if I’d like a financial position related to my industry (I have…absolutely no connection to finances). Like…the information is right there! What are you doing?

      Reply
    5. Young at heart

      I work with statistics. I have a colleague who explained to a family member that they were using stats to analyse a transportation network. Now at every family event he gets asked “How is the truck counting?” (despite having moved on to totally different projects over the years)

      Reply
      1. passing through

        Haha, I work in HR, contracts/grants, IT for a small nonprofit. Prior to working here, I was a volunteer and I still continue to do some citizen science volunteer activities, one of which is monthly outings to count and report on certain species. Everyone in my family thinks I do that all day, every day.

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      2. Specialk9

        To be fair, most people suck at explaining their career, and careers got pretty abstract in the past century.

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        1. barber's wife

          Yeah I was just thinking I’m glad I have one of the kinds of jobs kids dress up as for Halloween. No explanations necessary.
          (And no, unfortunately, I’m not a cowboy or professional vampire.)

          Reply
    6. kb

      With family, I like to keep in mind how little I know about their actual job specifics. So if they send me a job that makes no sense, it’s helpful to remember that I also have no idea what their job entails or what the hierarchy is in their industry.

      Reply
      1. Charlotte Collins

        Yes, but do you send them job postings?

        I’m happy that my family has never done this. They pretty much assume that I’m capable of finding my own job.

        I did forward a job posting to a friend recently, but she was a former co-worker who I worked very closely with and I understood her current job, her qualifications, and what the job (which was in my division) entailed. I would never have done so otherwise.

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        1. Specialk9

          It seems silly to get bent out of shape by well meaning acts that don’t actually harm you. They thought of you, but don’t really get what you do.

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          1. Charlotte Collins

            I wouldn’t get bent out of shape, but I can see it being annoying if it were too persistent. (Once in a while, OK, once a week or day, no.)

            Also, some people have family members or friends who try to manage the lives of those around them. It can add a different flavor to a “well-meaning act.”

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        2. kb

          I don’t and luckily my family doesn’t send me job posting often. This thought process is mostly helpful in alleviating the mild insult of realizing you’re Chandler and nobody knows what you do all day at work.

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    7. Bea

      My dad tells his hillbilly family that I’m an executive and make twice my actual rate. I smile at him and let him do his thing because he’s bragging to people who don’t know any better and I hate them anyways.

      When I do correct him he just says “well you deserve to make double tho! You make more than I did at your age.” Ah dads.

      Reply
      1. Higher Ed Database Dork

        Mine is doing pretty much the same thing. I didn’t bother to correct him the other day about me being a DBA because 1) the person he was telling, I will never see again 2) he’s just being a proud dad.

        I do wish he’d stop asking me how Google works, though.

        Reply
        1. Bea

          It’s like we can’t be mad, we hear those stories about parents who are like “but you shoulda been a doctor!!” or whatever. So I’m forever grateful that my parents ended up with kids that just “do better” and work hard at what they ended up in, they’re both thrilled we’re self sustaining. I’m the only one of my generation in the family who graduated high school. Their bar was so low…

          Reply
    8. AKchic

      I hear you.
      My family knows I work in “an office”. That’s all I can tell them, really. If I want to explain my job badly, I tell people I “type to fix the aftermath of Taco Tuesday and other things”. Otherwise, I stay vague.
      My last job, I told people I worked in records for rehab. Or admin. I still say I work in admin. Its so much easier because it’s vague and boring and nobody questions it. I’m a glorified paper-pusher.

      I get some interesting recruitment calls/emails. Especially since I’ve volunteered a lot in the community and have a lot of career experience in many realms. But receptionist at a hair salon? Never worked in one before. “But you know how to answer phones!” Yeah… but the monthly salary is what I bring home in a week, no thanks. Plus, I wasn’t looking anyway. Or part time cashier at a theater. Why? Because I’m a volunteer renaissance fair actor, so I must want to work in a movie theater. Nope. Not for minimum wage. Not part time. And again, I wasn’t looking for work. Why not ask my teenagers? Why think of me at all?

      Reply
    9. Thlayli

      Haha i did my PhD in clean energy and my boyfriend at the time told all his friends that my job was to “stop global warming”. I mean, technically it’s kind of true…

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        Well you have really screwed that up then haven’t you. (My job was research about and practice in citizenship education, so I feel your pain)

        Reply
    10. LW Here!

      Thanks everyone! Reading all these comments make me feel much better. I’m really proud that I was able to work my way up to where I am today, and was afraid that people just didn’t view me as qualified in my current job. It’s refreshing to know that ” humans are weird and find startlingly unhelpful ways to try to be helpful.”

      Reply
  10. Kate

    The recruiter if your not looking is odd. But friends and family it will never end. I partially support my mother (rx’s, any household repairs, water electric, cable, internet, car repairs & Cell phone bills) along with paying my part of our household bills and the extra expenses for my family. I have my masters degree and have been employed at this level for years. Yet when my 21 year old cousin was getting married and brought up to everyone how her fiance makes 16$ an hour and is getting promoted and going to hire someone to do his factory job (not what I went to college for or have worked in the past 15 years since I graduated college). Yet my mom and my aunts asked for a interview for me to help me out and get me a better job. If it’s any help this kind of thing is the highlight of my husbands time with my family, since he thinks it’s hilarious and now doesnt like missing my family events.

    Reply
    1. Hey Karma, Over here.

      But is pays BENEFITS! And you can MOVE UP! So much OPPORTUNITY!
      And conversely, fiance must have been flattered when his future in-laws announced that his job was so easy, that an untrained person could just walk in a do it.

      Reply
    2. Falling Diphthong

      That actually is really great on your husband’s part. Sometimes you don’t need someone who will help you be mad, but someone who will help you see the absurd.

      Reply
      1. SansaStark

        I completely agree. It’s 90% of why I bring my husband to family stuff. I need someone to remind me that it’s all just silly.

        Reply
    3. Jennifer Thneed

      Recruiters are playing a numbers game. They will totally contact people whose number they have without knowing anything about that person’s employment status.

      Reply
      1. Charlotte Collins

        It’s the flip side of people who send out a ton of resumes, whether they’re interested in or qualified for the job or not.

        Reply
    4. Thlayli

      I got emails from a U.K. recruiter for jobs that paid about £15 – £20,000 less than my current job for at least 5 years after I left the U.K. the first few times I replied saying “I’m only interested in jobs in this country for salary more than x”. Eventually i just blocked them.

      Reply
      1. Charlotte Collins

        I got a bunch of emails from a recruiter with a “job in your area.” It was about as far away from where I live and work as you can get and still be in the state. And I live in one of the big, Midwestern states. Sure, I would enjoy a 4-hour commute that would expand to 8 hours in the winter. Sign me up!

        Reply
  11. annakarina1

    Whenever I’ve been out of work and looking for a job, one of my aunts would try to set me up with librarian jobs, despite that I am an archivist. I don’t think she really understands what an archivist is, and just knows that I went to library school, so if she randomly meets someone who is a librarian and has a job open, she would push me to contact them. This often made me frustrated when I didn’t want to chase meaningless leads, but would feel pressured into it by family because I was unemployed, and inevitably, I wouldn’t have the credentials/experience for the job, and I’d feel like I wasted my time and annoyed at her for making me do it. I have had an archivist job for a year now, and if I am out of work again and she tries this, I would just re-state that I have my network and know where to find jobs.

    Reply
    1. Specialk9

      One of the interesting things about careers these days is that from the outside they look like little slivers of a pudding pie, but from the inside they’re a whole universe, with huge variety between jobs and stratification and gasp! I don’t do THAT job!

      Like people who go to librarian school and are upset people think they’re librarians. From the outside, it’s just a library pudding pie my dear.

      My career is exactly the same, so I’m laughing, but sympathetically. I have two insanely prestigious certs, in my field, but pretty much nobody outside of my field has ever heard of them. But they’re also from really different parts of my field, with very different demographics… But again, nobody out in the world is surprised by the range of experience or knowledge. I just give a general summary that’s sorta kinda accurate but not really, and only get into details with people in the actual industry.

      Reply
  12. AdAgencyChick

    This happens less often now than it used to, but I used to get postings that are superficially related to what I do, but hilariously wrong in practice. Analogy: say a journalist who covers cardiology gets an email “wanna be the head heart surgeon at a hospital?” I can always tell when someone’s been scraping LinkedIn for keywords and isn’t reading profiles in even the most cursory manner. (Maybe the bots have gotten better, because like I said this doesn’t happen as often as it used to.)

    So yeah, OP, what you’re describing is totally normal, although it kinda stinks when it’s a former colleague that does it. At least with friends and family you figure they don’t understand your job well enough to know the difference between a llama coordinator and a llama director, but someone who’s actually worked with you should have at least some idea of where you are now in your career!

    Reply
  13. Master Bean Counter

    My Mom used to do this when I had the old toxic job. It ended the day I looked at an ad she showed me in the newspaper and said, “I don’t want to take that kind of a pay cut.”

    Reply
  14. Former call centre worker

    I can definitely understand how this happens. I think if someone asked anyone I know other than my partner and current colleagues what I do for a living, they’d get “umm, she works for [company]… as a… umm… something in an office”

    Reply
    1. Higher Ed Database Dork

      Even my husband sometimes gets mixed up sometimes! To be fair, my official job title contains an industry-specific acronym and is just kind of obnoxious, and describing what I do involves a bit of education about data warehousing. So when I talk to friends and family about my work, I go with “database development” and that usually takes care of it.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        See, I never get why database folks even SAY database when they describe the job. Why not explain the real thing you do? Eg “I help the org keep track of who we’re hiring and how much money is left to do [the big picture mission]”. Nobody really cares about data itself, or how it’s kept, but the purpose of the data they do care about.

        Not that I have strong opinions, having partnered with several DB folks, and watched eyes glaze over when they enthusiastically explain arcane details instead of the big picture.

        Reply
        1. Someone else

          The problem with that is, the few times I’ve explained the big picture instead of the arcane details, the person got the totally wrong message and somehow decided that when I said “help the org [do stuff that they do as a result of analysing the data]” I get stupid follow ups about how it’s been lately helping org or if I worked with famous-person-who-works-at-org and all sorts of weird assumptions heavily based on my interacting with humans at said org. So even though their eyes glaze over if I give a more literal explanation, I prefer that because what I’d really like to say (and did once) is “it’s very technical and would completely bore you but in a nutshell I write code all day”. So if it’s too rude to say that, the very literal but arcane answer conveys the same message, which is more accurate. I prefer that. Not that anyone sends job postings my way, and I’m glad they don’t, but either way I’d rather have left it with the version that’s accurate.

          Reply
        2. Lasslisa

          But you’re not doing that. The contents of the database are often fairly immaterial to the database creators/admins – much more important is the size, say. So if you say you “manage the accounting information” that’s a totally different implied skill set and area of knowledge than if you “create and maintain the database for the accountants”.

          You can find my job boring but don’t ask me to lie about it to make it more interesting ;-)

          Reply
    2. Turquoisecow

      Yeah, my husband will ask me “how was the [X activity] today?” and I have to explain that I don’t really do [x activity] very often. He does listen though, he’s just trying to make my job into a short phrase.

      Trying to explain to family I see only every few months (or less?) is harder. The eyes glaze over if I go into too much detail, but if I’m deliberately vague, they want more detail. I have yet to figure out a good balance between (Blatantly Incorrect but) Simple and Ridiculously Long Winded Texhnical Explanation.

      Reply
      1. Professional Merchandiser

        Yep. I do merchandising work at a large discount chain, and try explaining that in a way that people will care about. Can’t do it. I’ve tried to come up with a good elevator speech but I can tell they really don’t understand or even care.

        Reply
      2. Specialk9

        I just go with a technically correct explanation that is super concrete and understandable… And not actually what I do, or only a tiny part of it. But I don’t really need people to understand, at the heart of it.

        Reply
    3. Lora

      Yeah…even people I’ve worked with for years don’t quite get what I do now, or why someone would pay me to do that.

      Reply
    4. hermit crab

      Also, titles are confusing and inconsistent, even within industries/sectors! One organization’s “associate” is another’s “analyst” and vice versa, and recently I feel like everyone I know is a “director” of something, but it turns out that all basically the non-admin staff at their organizations get that title. Meanwhile, I’m a mid-level manager with 10 years of experience, and my title makes me sound a lot more junior than that. I definitely cut people a lot of slack when they send me postings.

      Reply
  15. Fuzzyfuzz

    Unless they’re telling you that that they are referring you by name to the hiring manager, it could be that they’re hoping you have someone in your network for whom this could be a good fit. I’m a mid-level manager, but I have had plenty of interns/junior coworkers who I’d love to recommend for jobs and help work their way up. I just helped someone on my team find a job that way! My response to the original recruiter was ‘I would be looking for a department head role at this stage, but my colleague Susan Smith is a fantastic worker and could be a really great fit. Here’s her email [with her permission of course].’

    Perhaps you could think of it this way.

    Reply
  16. BeenThere

    I was unemployed a couple of years ago and it was a very painful time. I had spent 15 years working my way up to the middle-management level before losing my job. Every time the topic of my job search or unemployment came up, people would tell me about a new warehouse that was hiring entry level workers, or a “now hiring” sign they saw at a fast food place. I had a lot of fear about ending up under-employed, and these suggestions were very painful and fear-invoking for me. I know people were just trying to help, and I still feel like a jerk admitting that I felt the jobs were beneath my skill level…but still. I often wished people would stop trying to be so “helpful”.

    Reply
    1. annakarina1

      And when I was unemployed and would apply for those jobs, I wouldn’t get them because I was too overqualified, and they’d assume I’d leave quickly if a better opportunity came along. Which, true, but I still needed to pay my bills/rent.

      Reply
      1. Anonymosity

        Same. I’m caught between being overqualified because of Exjob and underqualified to make a lateral move. No shit job will hire me for this same reason and I keep getting rejected from stretch jobs I could actually do.

        Or they keep sending me stuff like call center jobs (I wouldn’t last a week) or “work for the post office!” adverts (I can guarantee they won’t hire me). Or when I try to explain that I can’t do certain jobs because I have dyscalculia, I end up having to explain THAT. And nobody gets it. They think I’m just being “negative.”

        *sigh*

        Reply
    2. AudreyParker

      Can totally empathize here! People are telling me to “just” take any job now, as if any of these places would hire me given how overqualified I appear/am for these jobs. I have to explain that it’s not just me not wanting to do x for various reasons, it’s also that these employers know full well that there’s no way I’m staying there for any length of time if a better opportunity comes up, so have no interest in talking to me, either. I don’t mention how demoralizing it is to consider applying for jobs that were probably beneath my skill level 15 years ago, and how it makes me feel like I’m doomed to poverty and underemployment to be even considering looking at entry level jobs again. All they hear are the official jobs numbers, and figure it’s all a cakewalk!

      Reply
    3. Chickaletta

      Don’t you just love how people throw out low-level jobs when you’re already low? My first job out of college was sales, and it wasn’t going so well, I wasn’t a great salesperson. So an acquaintance suggested I get into house cleaning and she didn’t mean running a house cleaning business. She meant actually going into people’s houses and cleaning them. She said I would be great at it. It took awhile for my confidence to rebound from that.

      Reply
    4. Argh!

      “Flattening the organizational curve” has put many of us in that situation mid-career. When it happened to me, I was devastated. I actually needed the time that I was unemployed to go to therapy to deal with the feelings of loss, betrayal and jealousy (my colleague who had very limited knowledge got put in charge of my dept. plus one other besides his — and he quit in a few months. I would have done that job and kept it).

      Not that I’m bitter…

      Reply
  17. Amaryllis

    It’s definitely not you. Recruiters seem to think I’d be excited to start over in an entry-level postion instead of using 15 years of experience. And temp jobs! Sure, I’d love to give up a full-time permanent position with benefits to move across the country for a 12-month job with no benefits whatsoever. Because I’m insane.

    Reply
    1. Another Person

      I get recruiters trying to get me to move across the country for 3-6 month contract positions! When I say I’m only looking for a permanent position, they respond, “But it’s renewable!”

      Reply
      1. Higher Ed Database Dork

        I’ve been getting this too, they keep pitching them as “3-6 month contracts that will *likely* be permanent”. Ummm no. I currently work for a state institution and I have friggin’ fantastic benefits, and that’s what I want right now in life, not a chance at a permanent job in a random city I’ve never been to. My only explanation is that outside of higher ed, the type of work I do is heavily contract/consultant dependent.

        Reply
    2. Mike C.

      I get this as well and I literally told the last one that unless he was offering $100k per year then he was wasting out collective time. He even had the guts to say that “he had my updated resume in front of him”. If he did, he could have easily known what I was currently making (ballpark) and my benefits.

      Reply
      1. Environmental Compliance

        I’ve had a couple recruiters from the same company do this to me several times in a row, and they’d always say “well I have your LinkedIn profile pulled up”…….so why again are you offering a 6-12 month contract, no experience necessary lab tech position that’s across the country to me? “It’s a great job for a recent graduate with a BS!” Then how about you offer it to someone who *is* just out of college instead of someone several years out with an MS that has obviously nothing to do with lab work, which you would have on the screen in front of you in my LinkedIn profile?

        Reply
    3. Wren

      I have gotten them for temp positions that are open because I just got hired for that same job full time and they need another temp now!

      Reply
  18. Glomarization, Esq.

    If you tell people you work in a “director level position” but your title is not actually “Director,” then that could contribute to people misunderstanding what professional level you’re working at.

    Reply
  19. Where's My Coffee?

    I think some of this is just that people don’t understand fields outside of their own (understandable given job complexity these days). They don’t get that finance and accounting aren’t the same thing, nor are benefits and labor relations, nor are network support and software development: they think “money thing…people thing…computer thing.”

    I just try to assume good intent when I’m sent misguided postings. (At least I hope the intent is good!)

    Reply
    1. LQ

      I think you’re right on with the “money thing…people thing…computer thing.” People who know me are convinced that because my new job is working directly with the IT department all the time it is a much more “computer thing” job and trying to convince them that it’s much more about strategy, vision, and teapots seems to be completely lost on people. I really want my closest friends who are going to ask about work every time we get together to get it, but the people I actually work with every day don’t seem to get it so I definitely can’t expect casual acquaintances to get it.

      Reply
  20. Dan

    When I was in grad school, there was an email list for potential jobs when you graduate. There were *so many* ads for experienced candidates, but the ads weren’t always explicit that that was the case. I once had a government job for a GS13 posted to that list. I emailed the fed contact about qualifications, and she was like “don’t waste your time.” (You can’t get into the feds with no experience as a GS13… you can get in as a GS11 if you have a PhD, but a GS13 position is inappropriate for a wide-distribution grad school list.)

    I get the “cast your net wide” idea, but I really wish that when one is sending out something to a student listserv, that the job clearly note when it is for experienced people only.

    Reply
  21. Bea

    Oh man…my mom just asked me what my title even is the other day. She is confused by the scope of it all. However my parents and friends all think too highly of me. It would grind all my gears if they were sending me postings or worse, recommending me in those cases.

    I do get recruiters for AP Specialist kind of positions sniffing around and I’m just happily declining the nudges. I expect that from recruiters, they’re not always sharp or savvy at reading the entire resume I’ve learned.

    It’s so many people, I assume they just want to help and don’t know your job well enough. So I would just point out that the jobs aren’t in your current career alignment and move on.

    They’re probably like the tragic ton if resumes I’ve been looking at tearfully these last few days that are not within the job description we posted at all. They’re so sadly off base, not even people in their current jobs know what they’re doing or how managing accounts isn’t the same as managing a department. Sigh.

    Reply
  22. Cube Ninja

    I had a recruiter ping me once for a accountant position. I was in the middle of something when he called and he started into his pitch right away, which put me off to begin with.

    I asked him where he found my info – LinkedIn – ok, reasonable. I asked him if he’d noticed that I haven’t worked in accounting for a decade – he had. I asked if the position requires a degree in Accounting – it did. I asked if he’d noticed I do not have a degree in accounting.

    I don’t think he was very happy when my next question was to as why he was calling me. :)

    Reply
    1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

      I worked in an accounting department but was not an accountant and did not have an accounting degree, which my job title made quite clear. A recruiter I was working with regularly sent me emails for jobs that required an accounting degree and several years of accounting experience. It was so frustrating, but was desperate to get another job, so I put up with it in the hopes that he’d eventually send me something relevant, which was maybe one or two times.

      Reply
      1. bonkerballs

        I get that too! Though, I also can’t seem to convince our executive assistant that I’m not an accountant and she needs to stop asking people “would you like to speak to our other accountant?” when my boss is unavailable.

        Reply
      2. Bea

        These recruiters must know the people who apply for FC Bookkeeping and have been in AR or AP their entire career *twitch*

        Reply
      3. Cube Ninja

        It really is frustrating. Another extremely guilty party was the person who tried to recruit me for a 6-month contract processor position at $14/hr when I’d managed that function for 3 years prior and my current role was more than double that rate. That got a very pointed response as nothing I had online (ie: only LinkedIn) indicated I was looking and I had just started at my current employer 3-4 months prior.

        Reply
  23. Managed Chaos

    Yeah, there is a recruiter who lately seems to send me every job posting they see. I’m a director in the financial services field and yesterday, they sent me a posting for Potbelly Sandwiches.

    Reply
    1. Cube Ninja

      If they’re that far afield of where you’re at, I’d ask them nicely once to knock it off, then flag anything else as spam. :P

      Reply
      1. pleaset

        Or write back and say “Oh, I don’t think it’d be appropriate for me to apply to that Potbelly Sandwiches opening, because it seems right up your alley and you should GO FOR IT! Good luck!”

        Reply
  24. Ruth (UK)

    I get this too, and especially from my family! Both my parents were teachers (they’re retired now) and worked almost their entire careers as such (basically, outside of some shop jobs etc they had when they were teens, that’s all they’ve done). As a result, they don’t really understand how jobs/etc work outside of the school system and will send me jobs that I’m hugely over- and under- qualified for.

    For example, when I was newly graduated and currently had NO experience outside of retail, my mother would send me job ads for director level positions and higher level management and insist I could easily do these jobs.

    Meanwhile, when I had to go to the job centre when I was on JSA (luckily only for a couple months) initially after uni, the ‘job advisors’ there (ie. people whose actual job it is to help me find a job – though job centres are known for being absolutely awful, to be fair) would insist I apply to anything from fork-lift-truck-driver (a real application they made me make despite my insistence I wasn’t qualified) to CEO, to door-to-door sales (a job I did actually do) and so on…

    Reply
    1. Nanani

      I come from an extended family of teachers, I know this pain all too well.

      Auntie: What are you working as now?
      – I’m a teapot designer
      Auntie: Great! You could teach design!
      – No I’m a designer.
      Auntie: But you’d be great at teaching! Townsville needs a new design teacher!
      – But I like being a designer, I don’t want a teaching job, and I don’t have a teaching qualification

      Repeat until the heat death of the universe.

      Reply
  25. Environmental Compliance

    My family members are in a constant state of confusion for what I do. A couple seem to think I am actually some version of law enforcement and carry a weapon, a few more are convinced I work in a lab. Thankfully none of them send me job postings.

    The recruiters who can’t seem to read my LinkedIn profile, however, like to send me random job postings all the time, which irritates the hell out of me. Every single one was a just out of college, lowest entry level possible, contract only lab tech position that even when I was gov’t would have been at least a 30% pay cut, and never in the right state. Finally got a couple to back off after cutting them off mid-pitch and asking them if they ever read LinkedIn profiles *before* contacting people.

    Reply
  26. Nanani

    The exception to this would be certain people, probably family but maybe not, who refuse to believe that your job/field/passion counts as a “real job.”

    Sometimes family members will send me job info for what they consider to be a real job, because they just don’t understand that my freelance business is already a full time, adequately paying occupation. In that case, employ whatever awkwardness-displacing tactics you need to get them to back. the heck. off.

    Reply
    1. Charlotte Collins

      I wonder if this happens to Beyonce? “Hey, you can’t do that singing gig forever. When are you going to settle down to a career with a consistent paycheck?”

      Reply
      1. Argh!

        How much to sing at my wedding? Would you do it for free? Or for the exposure? I know you sing because you love to sing, not really for the money! So how’s about it? After the reception we’ll give you some leftovers to take home.

        Reply
        1. Charlotte Collins

          You really want to do it for the exposure! Maybe someone else will hear you and want you to sing for them!

          Reply
  27. jo

    I can actually understand why some recruiters might take a stab at sending you less skilled job openings. Some people are so dissatisfied with their jobs (even despite good pay and/or high status in the organization) that they would consider a LOT of alternatives. We hear on this blog about people willing to take a pay and/or title cut to get away from their current jobs, or to significantly shorten their commute, or for scheduling flexibility, etc.

    I guess the recruiters figure they have nothing to lose and a small chance of making contact with someone desperate to change jobs!

    Reply
    1. Charlotte Collins

      When I left my last job, I would have taken a pay cut to leave (interestingly, I did not have to). However, I wouldn’t take the pay and benefit cut that was proposed. And nobody would hire me for some of those jobs, anyway. I was too skilled.

      Reply
  28. MP

    “This is just a thing people do because humans are weird and find startlingly unhelpful ways to try to be helpful.”

    One of the most true lines every Allison! I love this, “startlingly unhelpful ways to try to be helpful”. I’m in the process of starting a business, and I can’t tell you how true this line is :-)

    Reply
  29. Lynn Whitehat

    I think a lot of people who do this aren’t thinking too hard about whether the job is appropriate. They’re just trying to show solidarity by demonstrating that they’re thinking of you.

    Reply
  30. Kathy

    There was a thread on tumblr that I read through and contributed to that was titled “describe your job poorly” and I’m pretty sure that’s what these guys are using in order to pitch job postings. For example, I used to be a draftsman and that job described poorly is, I draw things. Suddenly I’m getting referred to creative fields when really, I work in engineering. I personally find it hilarious.

    Reply
    1. Cube Ninja

      I’ve seen a few of those threads and they’re hysterical.

      I manage a team that handles wage garnishments, aka I steal money directly from people’s paycheck and it’s totally legal!

      Reply
  31. it_guy

    At least once a week, I get an email from a recruiter who obviously hasn’t looked at my resume, so my assumption is that at least one word on my resume matched a key word they were using. I suspect there is some kind of robo-tool that is helping them load up the buckshot for the shotgun response.

    Usually when I get that, I send them a polite email indicating that. I also request them not to send me anymore unless there is an actual fit.

    Reply
  32. Ozma the Grouch

    This happens to me ALL THE TIME. I swear I have friends who still see me as the college student working multiple jobs and making minimum wage. Though they’d never say it to my face. It’s been over 15 years now. I’ve moved up in the world. Just because I live frugally doesn’t mean I’m broke. When my partner and I bought our house *within* the city limits, we actually experienced confusion from friends (and family) because they were surprised we could afford such a thing. I also get those bogus recruiter emails that have almost nothing to do with my skill set. I treat them like the spam they are.

    Reply
  33. kittycritter

    I wouldn’t be personally offended by these recruiter emails – as somebody mentioned above, recruiters often are either fresh out of college or otherwise quite entry level. They seem to locate resumes via a simple keyword search and oftentimes don’t have a real understanding of the industries they are recruiting for – which is understandable to a degree, that they will not know the particular ins & outs of job requirements in the same way that an actual hiring manager would. So they just search for resumes containing those particular keywords and hope they hit the target :) I receive all kinds of unsolicited recruiter emails for positions way too senior, way too junior, and completely unrelated to my current line of work……the only time the target is actually hit is when *I* do the job searching and find the job ads myself!

    Reply
  34. Random Thought

    Just in general, if a recruiter contacts me for a wrong-size position, I always let them know – “Thanks for contacting me. I’m currently working as a Teapot Director so I’m not sure this position would be the right fit for me. However, please keep me in mind if any Teapot Director or Vice President of Teapots positions come up.” Never hurts to hear about the opportunity (even if you’re not actively looking… my mom would tell you to Apply, Apply, Apply :-) )

    Reply
  35. Natasha

    I got the reversal of this once: a year ago a friend emailed me a job that would be my DREAM JOB in, like, 15 years time. I told her I’d send it around my network, assuming that’s why she sent it to me. She was like “no, you should apply for it, you’d be great!” I was like “lol, no” and forgot about it.

    Turns out she was on the hiring committee of this job and the person they did end up hiring was even less qualified than I was. *headdesk*

    Reply
  36. Front of the House Manager

    This makes me feel so much better.

    I, too, sometimes get contacted by recruiters for things like part-time positions or full time work that is obviously way below my pay rate (assuming, of course, that my resume was read/understood and that these recruiters are familiar with the industry at all). As someone whose self esteem and emotional well being has suffered greatly with her current employer, I was really starting to feel like something was wrong with me or what I was putting on my resume. Instead, now I know it’s probably a situation of “throw crap at the wall and see what sticks.”

    Reply
    1. Ali

      This is absolutely true about not understanding actual job history. I have a degree and a graduate diploma with a key word in it and regularly get recruiters suggesting jobs for that keyword when i have never worked in that at all. Ranging from entry level (fair enough but i have almost 20 years work history in a different field) or jobs you would need 20 years experience in the field for that i don’t have. It’s them not me.

      Reply
  37. Jennifer Thneed

    I have different ways of replying to recruiters depending on what they pitch, where I am in a job hunt, and if I know them already.

    Currently I’m not looking at all. I’m in a contract that will end, but right now I’m right in the middle of the project. For recruiters who pitch jobs I can’t do, they get “Not my field – I’m a technical writer” (and yes, just that terse for people who can’t read the resume they claim to have found). For recruiters who pitch jobs outside my area, they get “Thanks for thinking of me. Not interested in relocating from SF Bay Area”. For recruiters who pitch work I can do, they get “Thanks for thinking of me. I’m currently in a contract and I hope you’ll contact me again in (specific month at least 3 months out)”. (I do often hear back from them in the named month.)

    When I’m actively looking, they get slightly longer responses with full sentences and my resume attached. And also questions about location and rate. (I won’t go further without knowing those things because the Bay Area is a BIG place and many of the recruiters I hear from are out of state. Recruiters are often reluctant to share company names but that’s okay; I just want to know the city or neighborhood.)

    Reply
  38. A Nickname for AAM

    At least they’re not trying to convince you to be an administrative assistant, even though you don’t want to and have a higher skillset, because they think working “in an office” and wearing dress pants and a blouse is the be all and end all to successful jobs.

    *cough my parents cough*

    Reply
    1. Bea

      I smirked at this because I’ve known brilliant minds who failed miserably at administrative assistant work. It’s a different skillset not a higher one. I’ve also seen AAs move up swiftly to other roles that open up…so.

      Reply
      1. AudreyParker

        True – part of me despairs at having to be “just” an admin again. The other part thinks that may not even be a possibility because it requires a different skill set than the one I’ve been focusing on, so I’m not even particularly qualified. I think I was actually probably a pretty crappy admin because of this, although I used to think I was just not smart enough – but really, those skills just aren’t in my bucket of strengths, so I’m probably not going to ever be Star Admin. It’s not a guaranteed option by any means!

        Reply
        1. A Nickname for AAM

          That is the issue, it’s a different skillset and a different path than I want. I’ve done admin. It’s important and not easy and I find babysitting adults irritating. Throw out your own trash and oh my God I can’t tell you where your friend works if you don’t tell me his name, email address, phone number, or company.

          My parents seem to think that being an admin is entry level, and then you’ll get your boss’s job. Yes, if I become an admin to the CEO of Google, I’ll be the next CEO. Right.

          Reply
      2. Charlotte Collins

        My mother was a secretary back when that was more like an executive assistant. She eventually moved up, got her degree, and became an editor. Interestingly, she never suggested that I take on that role. (My sister did work in similar roles while she was in college.)

        The executive assistant for the director where I work now has all the skills you want in the role and then some. She is awesome, and we don’t know what we’d do if she ever left. (She reminds me of Sue from Veep in terms of ability to Get Things Done and Know What’s What.)

        Reply
  39. Airkewl Pwaroe

    I used to have the opposite problem, right around graduation time, where my FiL was so impressed by my incipient PhD from Harvard that he could not be convinced that I was underqualified for anything. University of Maine needs a new department head in vaguely my field! Vertex wants a senior VP in totally not my slice of biology! It came from a place of love and confidence and yet was slightly insulting that a retired engineer thought he understood my job market better than I did. It eventually ended when my husband, who’s very nearly the same kind of engineer his father was, started job hunting.

    (My parents also had the same belief re: the degree, but restrained themselves to buying a copy of Lean In.)

    Reply
    1. Gazebo Slayer

      Some of my family members used to be like that, except that I don’t have a PhD from Harvard (or anywhere else). It took them several years of my crap jobs to convince them that no, I was not remotely qualified for the amazing superstar career they thought I deserved because I was “smart.”

      Reply
  40. Leela

    Former recruiter here! I was constantly instructed by managers to send a lower-level job to a higher-level candidate and hope that they weren’t as high-level as they looked or that they’d know someone at that level who was looking. It never worked out that way and most of the responses I got were incredulous, angry, or both. I wanted to use that feedback to direct my approach but well, management has the final say and they really wanted this workflow, god knows why.

    Reply
    1. Bea

      Thank you for this. It’s much like those sales folks who are instructed to ask 3 times or the scripts that require a tech to ask you to restart your computer…despite telling them you already did. Sigh.

      Reply
      1. Leela

        This is one of the most frequent questions I get asked by friends who find out I used to do recruiting (the top one is of course why people won’t tell candidates what a salary range for a position is). I like to demystify where I can and make it clear that most of the things candidates hate recruiters doing are things that recruiters hate doing as well but kind of have no choice if they want to keep their jobs (and in the US where your healthcare is tied to your job, you do)

        Reply
    2. AudreyParker

      I do run across quite a few people whose titles are seriously inflated these days, too, so it doesn’t seem as crazy as it once might have, especially with the massive focus on networking now. I interact with a lot of cool & thoughtful recruiters on social media now, though, so am definitely biased towards giving most of them the benefit of the doubt, as long as they’re not completely off base! It’s a tough gig on that side, too.

      Reply
      1. Bea

        Yeah…I read someone’s title and then look at the information that follows. I still feel rage towards the places that call receptionists “office managers”. They tack manager into a lot of things I’m seeing more of.

        Reply
      2. Leela

        I definitely came across that too, even if the company didn’t do it it’s easy enough for someone to put “8 years C++ experience” when what they mean is they read a book on C++ 8 years ago, sorta did two or three personal projects and never once used it in a work capacity (this is a literal example I ran into when recruiting for a C++ programmer).

        Or people would put that they’re fluent in whatever programming language when what they mean is they did all the codecademy exercises in that language.

        Of course this is a lot easier to question and spot than someone with a solid work history of levelling up to a director position, and it’s odd to think that a director would want or be on par with an entry-level position. Of course, sometimes senior manager means that you managed a whole team, sometimes it means you were a one-person department and maybe managed one helper, too. Things you can’t necessarily know until you talk to someone but generally we realize how dumb it must look to a director to get a very low or mid-level req. It’s also frustrating because when we DO get a position at their level we now look somewhat incompetent/uncaring of their position and they go to someone else.

        Reply
  41. Videogame Lurker

    I just (over the weekend) finished earning my two-year degree (huzzah!), and have a part-time hourly position with the school district (have had it for five years this October, which is a damn long time in this job, and I am looking to become a part-time or full-time employee proper, instead of hourly because Edumacation K-12 system). My grandma sent me a link to a job posting for dental assistant (no degree required, just knowing how to use a computer!). And I’m like….

    But application slots are opening up now the school year has ended, so the ladder will move around some and I will be actively applying over my summer and on through the year and take online classes over the school year.

    Gramma means well (amusing considering she helped me network through the hoops foe the job I have), so I passed the posting along to some friends who are looking.

    Reply
  42. Nerfmobile

    I always love the recruiters offering a 6-month contract at entry-level wages in a low-wage area on the other side of the country. Sure, I’ll leave my stable well-paid managerial position on the West Coast for a temporary early-career position requiring relocation to a place I have no connection to or desire to live in for a total income that wouldn’t even cover the cost of relocation!

    Reply
  43. ScoutFinch

    The only reason I would pass on a lower position job is that if I felt the person might be looking for part time work & could do the job easily.

    Maybe, living in such a high COL area, people may think you are interested in something to ease your budget. I have delivered pizzas when I needed fast cash. Flexible schedule and not horrible pay. I work in IT in my day job.

    Reply
  44. Argh!

    Let me guess: LW is female?

    I have one friend who doesn’t really understand how special my specialty is, but she knows I’m unhappy here. She sent a few low-level job notices to me, and I finally had to say “I am unhappy, but I won’t leave for a job that pays less that $—k” That seems to have solved it. She meant well, and fortunately she’s the only person who’s done that.

    Reply
  45. Triplestep

    LW, you sound like my boss. Annoyance over people not knowing your job level to the degree that it warrants a letter to an advice blog … that sounds like her. She is hyper-focused on title and hierarchy to the point were she mentions these things when they don’t need to be mentioned and makes herself look silly. Like in meetings, where she’ll invoke names and titles of higher-ups to back-up her point when no one has shown any dissent whatsoever. Today she referred to a chair (A CHAIR!) as a “VP Chair” because a VP had used it. (We have furniture standards, but it’s not a VP Chair – its a highly adjustable ergonomic chair and the conversation was with someone whose back problem meant she needed a highly adjustable ergonomic chair. Said person was not impressed, even though she was meant to be.)

    Clearly you are not alone in your annoyance, LW. The comments to this entry show that confusion over job responsibility and level is something that annoys plenty of people. But it takes more than mild annoyance to sit down and write about something to an advice blog. You don’t say if you manage people, but as the direct report of someone who could have written this letter, I suggest you take an honest self-assessment and see if this focus on your level is bleeding into other areas at work. You may be a nice person, an able person, good at your job … but if you’re like my boss, people might be rolling their eyes at you the way they do with her. I can’t say that her hyper-focus on level is the reason I’m looking to leave, but its a result of her score-keeping mentality, which is definitely a factor.

    Reply
    1. epi

      This seems mean and uncalled for. Several other people in the thread also said it worries them and hurts their feelings when people make it clear they don’t remember anything about their work or think they have no significant responsibility. It hurts to put a ton of effort into working your way up and have someone basically tell you they think you haven’t progressed at all since your first ever job.

      I would suggest you take your own advice about self-assessment and seeing whether you are letting your personal issues bleed into your treatment of others. Not everyone who doesn’t like being insulted is your boss.

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Wow, I think that’s harsh and unwarranted. People write into this column with all sorts of things that aren’t earth-shattering but which they’re interested in getting another opinion on. Please be kind to letter writers here and give them the benefit of the doubt.

      Reply
  46. Stained Glass Cannon

    OP, I feel for you. If this makes you feel better, it’s not just recruiters and job postings. People in general really can be very clueless about the fit between person, project, position etc.

    A more cynical perspective is that they are hoping to get more value for less pay. At one point a few years ago I was regularly getting client referrals for projects way below my skill level and way below my average rates. A bit of digging would usually reveal that they wanted the cachet of having a “specialist in A-grade teapots” working on their D grade pots so that they could market their teapots at A grade prices, but they didn’t want to pay my A grade rates, so they offered me D grade pay on the justification that these were D grade teapots. I wouldn’t be surprised if some recruiters operate like that.

    But as someone further up pointed out, it’s not necessarily the recruiters’ (or the project managers’) fault. They may well be under orders to do it, and they don’t deserve an angry response. Though I wouldn’t worry about sounding condescending either. Think of it this way: you’re trying to give them a polite, informative response to minimise wasting any more of anyone’s time.

    Reply
  47. Liz

    I get this a lot, usually from people I worked with years ago but also from recruiters who are clearly getting paid to spam. With recruiters, I don’t bother answering unless it’s a single button click to say I’m not interested. With people I used to work with, I think it’s reasoable to say something casual to remind them that I’ve grown past that point in my career. I usually say, “that role is a little junior for where I am these days, but thanks for thinking of me!”

    Reply
  48. cantaloupe

    It’s not personal. Most people really do not understand the ins and outs of somebody else’s position. Just ignore it.

    Reply
  49. PolicyChick

    Ha, yeah I’ve been in LW’s shoes. One thing I get is folks forwarding on a job listing that I have to think they didn’t read, because there will be a requirement for say – ‘Must be fluent in Obscure Foreign Language’. I would hope even the vaguest of acquaintances would know I don’t speak OFL.

    On the other end of the scale from LW, is when my mom or dad forwards on a news article or some such, saying, “I bet this place is hiring!”, when This Place is like, the most prestigious, internationally respected, impossible-to-get-into NGO in my field. That’s based on another continent.

    Thanks for the tip, Parents!

    Reply
  50. MLB

    Recruiters are the most annoying. I get that they use programs to weed through applications, but if you’re going to send someone an email, take 5 minutes to actually LOOK at the resume and make sure it’s a possible fit. I had one email me once for a programmer job because the programming language matched the name of one of the companies I used to work for – had never programmed with that language, and hadn’t even been a programmer for at least 10 years. Not to mention the dozens of emails I get for short term contract positions in other states, which again if they looked at my resume would give them a clue that those aren’t something I’d consider.

    Reply
  51. DaniCalifornia

    I have a friend who does this. She’s never worked in an office setting and I don’t think she knows what I really do. When I mentioned I was job searching, she started tagging me in anything that was an office or church position. And most of them were entry level/min wage hourly paid jobs. Even though she knows my salary range is very different. I just usually say ‘Thanks’ and leave it at that. It’s a bit annoying but the intentions are good.

    Reply
  52. Arjay

    If it’s any comfort to you, this doesn’t only happen with lower-level jobs being pushed toward higher-level people. I’ve gotten referred to positions for which I’m ridiculously underqualified or which have literally nothing to do with anything I’ve ever done except both positions “involved” computers. It’s not a reflection of how people see your place in your career; it’s just that they saw the word “teapots” and thought of you.

    Reply
  53. Candace

    I am the dean of libraries at a mid-sized R2 academic research institution. I manage several libraries, have over 100 staff, a budget over $10 million, and make just under $200k. My salary is public. Yet I have had actual academic search firms, who hunt for senior academic administrators all the time, contact me about jobs that are managing a single library at tiny institutions that pay anywhere from $75k-$120k. You’d think these folks would do more research. I just say “Thank you very much for thinking of me, but a) I am happy where I am right now, and b) my interest is in mid-size to large research institutions. Also, my current salary is X and I am not interested in a pay cut.” Some of those folks have called back to point me to opportunities better suited to my interests and background.

    Reply
  54. Aaron G

    I think they’re trying to be kind. More of a “I know you love your job but it’s super hard. I could never do what you do. Here a job you could do. It’s really easy and the pay is good. I’d take it myself but [insert excuse here].”

    Reply

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