should you take off your engagement ring for job interviews?

A reader writes:

My fiance and I have been engaged for a little over a year and his mom gave us her old engagement ring as a gift (if she hadn’t, I likely wouldn’t have worn one due to my own discomfort with conflict diamonds and the like). It’s beautiful and few people even notice it unless it’s pointed out to them.

However, I was wondering if it’s appropriate for job interviews? I ask because I grew up in a conservative Catholic town where all the moms would take off their wedding/engagement rings for interviews. While I know employers cannot discriminate, I also know that they don’t have to tell you why they don’t hire you. Granted, I’m not especially old school, live in a progressive city, and am just as career driven as most single people my age — my fiance even jokes about being the “house husband” in the distant future when we have kids. At the same time, I’ve received advice from both sides. What call would you make?

I suppose there’s an argument to be made that if you’re at all concerned, you should take it off — because why have some risk when you can have no risk? Plus, if it’s going to make you at all self-conscious or concerned, why give yourself that extra challenge?

But I’m not going to argue that. I’m going to argue that if there really are still people who wouldn’t hire you or take you seriously because of your engagement ring, you don’t want to work there anyway. Those attitudes rarely stop at the interview, and you don’t want to sign up to deal with them every day.

And let’s say that you do interview without the ring, thereby successfully avoiding being discriminated against by some old-school sexist who sees your ring as an indicator that you won’t be around long or are just playing at working or whatever the hell they think. So then what happens when you then show up for work with the ring on?  They’re going to draw the same conclusions about you, only now instead of not taking you seriously in the interview, they’re going to not take you seriously on the job. And in promotions. And when giving out good assignments. And raises.

You don’t need that.

Wear the ring.

The goal isn’t just to get a job offer; it’s to get the right job, with the right people, in the right culture.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 256 comments… read them below }

  1. Rose*

    Not to play devil’s advocate, but there is the somewhat legitimate concern that she might be distracted from the job with wedding planning and might need time off for the wedding and honeymoon…. As an interviewer, I would be uncomfortable asking about it (because of discrimination reasons), but I would definitely be wondering ‘when is she getting married?’, ‘is it a big wedding?’, etc.

    1. JT*

      Yeah. But if someone wasn’t married, I might be worrying they’ll spend too much time out partying or looking for a partner. Could they really commit to work?

      Of course, if they are married, maybe they’ll be having kids soon and can’t commit fully to work. That could be problematic. I know we can’t ask about that, but come on – you have to wonder.

      Pretty much all of those would raise doubts in my mind if I was doing any hiring. I guess the safest thing, from a crass point of view, might be to hire widowers, but then you have to wonder if they really are over the loss of a loved one. I guess the prudent hiring manager should worry about that too. Right?

      1. Sophie*

        If you start thinking along those lines, then the only people you can hire without worry are humanoid robots. But then they might develop independence and a longing for something more… :)

        1. Tamara*

          +1 I was thinking the same thing! Love the “longing for something more” addition :)

        2. Piper*

          And then we’ll have a Cylon situation on our hands and no one will really be worried about hiring anyway. We’ll all just be searching for a new planet to inhabit.

      2. Charles*

        Who’s to say widows and widowers aren’t too busy trying to re-enter “the dating scene” to pay attention to their work?

        Or they are too busy with grandkids to do any overwtime!

        dangit! Employers just cannot catch a break ;)

      3. Rose*

        I was just saying that this person may be distracted by a very big event coming up in their lives (I think it is fair that most people make their weddings a big deal, as it should be if that’s what people choose). You could make a reasonable assumption on that, versus the unreasonable assumptions mentioned above for married/single/widowed people.

        That is why I agree with Alison on this advice in terms of wearing a wedding ring, because you really wouldn’t want to work for someone who discriminates against married women. But I could see situations where an interviewer might be concerned about a candidate being married soon. What if a big project is due at the same time? What if they’re accountants and its tax season? And I also think it is different from people getting engaged while on the job because its combining two disruptions for an office: hiring someone new and them taking time off to get married.

        I liked the commenter who said that she brought it up in the interview process because she would need the time off in a few months. But if your wedding is a ways off or you know you won’t take much more than a weekend off, I would either not wear the ring or mention it in the interview.

        Maybe this still makes me a horrible discrimination monster worthy of ridicule, but its the kind of stuff I think about when I interviewed while being engaged so I though it might be helpful to the OP :/

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But then instead of speculating, why not just ask candidates if they’re going to need any significant amount of time off in the next X months, or explain that it’s all-hands-on-deck from Feb to April and ask if they’ll be able to do that. This would be good to ask of all candidates in that situation, since you never know what other things people might have going on aside from weddings that could impact their availability.

    2. Jess*

      You would “definitely” be wondering about if she was having a big wedding and when she was getting married? Seriously? Don’t you have better things to be thinking about when you’re hiring?

        1. Charles*

          I do hope, Kristin, that you are not trying some good ol’ fashioned male bashing here!?

          For now, in most societies, men do NOT have the option of being “stay-at-home-dads” (at least not without being looked on as being lazy by many)

          When it becomes truly socially acceptable for men to become “house husbands,” like the OP’s fiance jokes; then some employers will wonder about the young men too!

          P.S. Maybe, I’ve lived under a rock too long, for I’ve heard of a Bridezilla; But, never have I heard of a Groomzilla!

          1. Kristinyc*

            I’m not male bashing. Just trying to point out how sexist it is that people have such concerns about women wearing rings, but if a man is wearing a ring, he’s viewed as a responsible family man.

            Before I had to plan a wedding, I though the concept of being a “bridezilla” was ridiculous, but after experiencing how the general public treats brides as public property and seeing how much pressure there is to planning a weeding, I see what drives people to that point. I’m pretty sure most brides WISH their grooms were groomzillas.

            1. Laura L*

              Yeah, especially because brides sometimes face pressure from their grooms to have a big wedding with all the extended family invited and blah blah blah, but they still expect the bride to do the planning.

              (I was in a wedding that was sort of like that. The bride wanted a smaller more casual wedding, but the groom didn’t, but she ended up doing the majority of the work for various reasons).

          2. Chelle*

            Not to get all sociologist on here, but there is no comparison to “people will think the guy is lazy” as opposed to “people will think she’s focused on her wedding.” One thought has no impact on the guy – he’s free to stay home regardless of what people think because those thoughts don’t matter. However, she is impacted because if someone really buys into that opinion, she doesn’t have a job.

            So those “problems” are not on the same level. I’d rather strangers think I’m lazy when I’m parenting than not get a job because of widespread stereotypes and gender role expectations.

            1. Alisha*

              Thanks, Chelle for pointing this out – this is pretty much exactly what I’m going through now living in a town where like 12 women in total work in tech, and most women opt out of the job market in their 30s to stay home and raise kids. A couple of my co-workers have called my husband names like “your wife” and “house husband” when he was working PT, going to school, and supporting me in my career. Their idiocy affected us not one iota – other than us thinking of them as idiots, morons, imbeciles, etc.

              But being a female breadwinner who can’t get hired because everyone in my small, conservative city thinks I’ll get pregnant and leave – yeah, that does affect my family, big-time. It’s 2012, and 1 in 4 wives are breadwinners, so I guess my town missed the memo there. Money is freedom, and it’s a freedom we don’t have at present – in fact, we’ve eaten through nearly 10K in savings since my layoff in November, because UI pays out at a subsistence level – which is why we’re choosing to leave a town where we’ve finally put down roots to move to a more progressive city.

          3. Anon1973*

            I’ve heard of Groomzillas. There are websites documenting their behavior. You should be able to find them by doing a quick google search for “groomzilla.”

          4. Anonymous*

            I, too, joked about being a house-husband before my wife and I had kids.

            Then I took two weeks off work to take care of our one-month old since my wife only had a four-week break from vet school.

            I found out very quickly I did not want to be a house-husband – it’s WAY easier to put in a day of work at the office than to stay at home with an infant…

          1. Jess*

            JT–I realized you were kidding, but I wasn’t sure if Rose was kidding with her comment that she would “definitely” be wondering about the upcoming wedding of a woman wearing an engagement ring!

    3. Mike C.*

      No, there is no legitimate concern that she might be distracted by wedding planning and a honeymoon, none what so ever and shame on you for thinking so. Do you think that women are simple creatures that can only keep a few thoughts in their heads at any given time?

      Why are you making so many assumptions about the candidate with regards to who is doing the planning and that it will interfere? How many people can she invite to the wedding before it’s “too big” in your mind to hire her? I assume a small private ceremony won’t distract too much from work, but what about 50 to 100 guests? Do you think her work will begin to suffer at that point? What if the couple plans on travelling internationally, those passport applications seem straight forward, but the stress of finding a lost birth certificate might stress her out, as an employer you just don’t know, right?

      As an interviewer, you shouldn’t be uncomfortable asking these questions because of some law, you should feel uncomfortable asking these questions BECAUSE YOU LIVE IN THE YEAR 2012. It’s people like you that make laws like these needed in the first place.

    4. Anon1973*

      Can most people really tell if someone is engaged vs married simply by looking at a ring? I can’t.

      “For now, in most societies, men do NOT have the option of being “stay-at-home-dads” (at least not without being looked on as being lazy by many).”

      I don’t know where you live, but I am American and was raised by a stay-at-home dad in the 1980s. I don’t recall anyone ever thinking he was lazy. If they did, we certainly weren’t friends with those people. When I was older he obtained a full-time job and worked there until retirement.

      1. Victoria*

        I’m not on Charles’ side on this, but I’m guessing your dad DID struggle with people thinking or saying “Why isn’t he working?” “He must be unemployed,” etc.

        It’s a real thing. The struggles women face in the workforce (and work/life balance, the “second shift” of housework, etc.) are real and need addressing. But it’s also a shame that men are often shamed for making a choice to scale back their career ambitions to focus on their family.

        1. Anon1973*

          My dad taught me an important lesson as a child, “don’t worry about what other people think, worry about yourself.” That was coupled with, “don’t tell people you can do XYZ, show them.”

          1. fposte*

            Yes, I think there’s an important difference between people’s thinking X about you and your struggling with people thinking X about you.

      2. Kate2*

        I thought the same thing, until I realized that a married woman typically has two rings, and engaged only one.

      3. sparky629*

        FWIW, I have a beautiful 1 1/2 carat diamond ring in a white gold setting that will blind you on a sunny day. :-)
        But I don’t wear if often because in the summer, my hands swell from the heat and in the winter having to constantly put lotion means that I have to take it off so it doesn’t get all grimy and yucky from the lotion.

        Also I don’t wear it to bed because it scratches my husband nor do I wear it around the house because I don’t want it to get damaged due to carelessness on my part. So on any given day, you will probably see me without a ring (they are soldered together so I have to wear both).

        A ring is not an indicator of marriage status.

        1. Andrea*

          Same here. I opted not to get a wedding band, and I have a white gold ring with a 2.5 carat oval sapphire flanked by two trilliant cut vintage diamonds. I truly love it but often don’t wear it. I work in my garden for a few hours each day, and then I walk my dog, and then I come in and throw in laundry or wash dishes or vacuum, and then I sit down to work. I also cook a lot and preserve veggies and harvest herbs by the bushel and stand at my sink rinsing and picking through the leaves with my hands in water for long periods of time. I don’t need to be wearing a big rock on my hand; it would get in the way.

        2. Natalie*

          My dad and stepmom have been married for 26 years, sans wedding rings. They were on a very tight budget when they got married and decided rings weren’t important to them, and I guess rings never became important enough to spend money on.

  2. Evan the College Student*

    Having absolutely zero experience with the subject beyond seeing rings on people’s hands… Is there some obvious way interviewers would be able to tell that it’s an engagement ring and not a wedding ring?

    1. Casey*

      Evan, engagement rings are usually bigger than weddings. Plus, if a woman is married she will usually wear the engagement ring and the wedding band (I’ve never met a woman who didn’t wear both). So if she just wearing one ring she’s engaged, two rings she’s married.

      1. Tami*

        I know women who use their engagement ring as both a wedding ring and engagement ring. There was a also a big trend for some time in rings that wrapped or “nestled” together. It was difficult to tell whether it was an engagement ring or wedding set.

        Regardless, it is ridiculous that someone would even be concerned about someone wearing an engagement ring or a wedding ring. If the person is qualified, has an excellent work history, a list of achievements, and great references, WHO CARES if they are engaged, married, single, or celibate? Bring them on board!

        1. Catherine*

          And then there are women (and men) who wear no rings at all. I have several friends like this, because they don’t like wearing jewelry, they have metal allergies, gold and platinum are friggin’ expensive and they don’t like other metals, etc. My husband lost his wedding ring in the Pacific Ocean and thus went without for about 5 months until we could save up enough to buy him another. So you just can’t make assumptions based on the type of ring someone is/isn’t wearing.

          1. jennie*

            I forget to wear my wedding ring so often that it now feels weird to have it on and my husband’s doesn’t fit him anymore. Some people aren’t that sentimental about jewellery.

        2. AMG*

          I wear only one ring–my engagement ring. Most people assume (correctly) that I am married. I have never found a wedding ring that goes with it nicely without having a custom-made interlocking one. Since there are diamonds on the sides that I think add to the style of the engagement ring, I don’t want to cover them up.

        1. Malissa*

          Usually the third ring is an anniversary band. Which I learned lately that it is a traditional five-year gift now.
          That said, my wedding “set” is three rings. In between my engagement ring and my wedding band is my Grandmother’s simple gold band that served as her first wedding ring.

        2. ImpassionedPlatypi*

          Three or more rings could signify you’re from a different culture. I know that for some Indian people it’s tradition for the father of the bride to give the groom rings for the wedding, and more and/or fancier rings signify how much the bride’s father likes/approves of the groom.

      2. Anon1973*

        “So if she just wearing one ring she’s engaged, two rings she’s married.”

        I wouldn’t put much faith in this “rule” as not everyone follows it.

        1. Jess*

          Yeah, agreed. If you want to discriminate against married/engaged women, you’re not even getting at all of them if you’re just looking at the rings! I wear an engagement/wedding ring combo that looks traditional in style (although the engagement ring is not a solitaire), but the stones are blue and not traditional diamonds. Who knows what people think about me when they try to judge my marital status.

          1. Laura L*

            Yep. I’m 100% single, but I often wear costume jewelry rings on my left ring-finger because it’s more comfortable. Although it depends on the size of the ring.

        2. Stells*

          Agreed. My engagement ring doubles as my wedding ring – mostly because we inherited a big diamond from his mom and spent 2x as much as we budgeted to get a custom ring made that I liked and would fit a pear shaped diamond.

          I have a $20 cheap-o band that I sometimes where when I don’t want to be walking around with something that has a book value with 5 digits, but I will often wear the big ring to job interviews. I also live in Texas where people get married “young” compared to my friends on the East and West coast, so it’s really common.

          Region makes a huge difference on this one, I’d assume.

      3. K.*

        My best friend has stopped wearing her engagement ring and just wears her wedding band. (I have no idea why; I know when she was pregnant her fingers swelled and the rings no longer fit, and maybe she just didn’t want to wear the engagement ring anymore after she gave birth.)

        I’ve also known a man who wore an engagement ring (it was just a simple metal band – I mistook it for his wedding band at first and once he married he wore one ring on each hand).

        1. Malissa*

          Diamonds that stick up can get int he way of things. I almost lost the diamond in my ring while dealing with shopping carts while working retail.

    2. Anonymous*

      Engagement rings usually have large diamonds (which I believe is largely a result of a very astute advertising campaign by de Beers), whereas wedding rings are generally much plainer.

      1. Victoria*

        Or not necessarily more plain, but wedding rings are generally… symmetrical? Something like that. They don’t usually have a central point of focus, with one or more large stones.

        1. Anna*

          I have ring with a large aqaumarine stone. I do not wear a wedding band; it is both my engagement and wedding ring. People generally assume I am married, not engaged.

          I wouldn’t put any faith in any ‘rules’ about rings. There are no rules; people do what they want.

    3. Laura L*

      Traditionally, an engagement ring has a solitaire stone or a few stones that stick out. Wedding rings are traditionally a simple gold band with either no gemstones or gemstones embedded in the band.

      That said, as others have posted, lots of married people don’t wear rings and a lot of people, especially 20 and 30 somethings don’t follow those traditions.

    4. Cassie*

      I never even notice rings most of the time. But apparently a lot of people do? My parents, who have been married for over 35 years, don’t wear rings and probably haven’t since their wedding day, so I don’t really use that as a determination if someone’s married or not. (Actually, I don’t really care if someone is married or not unless it’s relevant to my work).

  3. kristinyc*

    I’m engaged, and if I suddenly lost my job and had to go on interviews in the next 3 months, I would absolutely wear my ring to interviews. Mostly because I would have to negotiate really early on, “Oh yeah, I’ll need to take a week and a half off in October for my wedding/honeymoon.” That’ll be a lot easier to do if they already know I’m engaged.

    Also, I had a friend who was interviewing at my company, and she lived in another state. After her interview, my boss’s boss really liked her, and she went up to me and said, “I saw that she was wearing a ring. What does her husband/fiance do? Maybe we can help him find a job here so she’ll be more likely to take this job.”

    1. Anonymous*

      I agree with this. I went into a temp to perm contract in January of one year knowing I was going to get married in September. I told them straight away about that block of holiday and asked them if taking that amount of time at that time of year was ok or not.

      There are some jobs where that would have been a deal breaker and its best to clear it up front.

    2. Diana*

      Kristin, I am engaged and lost my job suddenly three months ago. I went on 30 interviews and took my engagement ring off for every one. I was afraid people would think that I needed too much time off and wanted to make sure they liked me first. I already have a ten day honeymoon booked and certainly wasn’t planning to get laid off.

      The funny thing is that I accidentally forgot to take off my ring when I was interviewing at the job I am at now. I started almost two months ago already. I couldn’t find a group who is more excited for me and understands this is a once in a lifetime moment to cherish – not worry. I guess that’s how I know I ended up in the right place!

  4. Sophie*

    This is an interesting question…and my advice to the OP is wear the ring. In addition to what AAM pointed out above, I just have a hard time believing interviewers would zone in on that ring and start thinking thoughts that would negatively affect you. I rarely notice jewelry in the people I interview. I really don’t care what kind of jewelry they are wearing. Also, a ring on the left hand doesn’t always indicate marriage/engagement, especially for women, because so many people wear fashion rings these days that look like engagement rings, and I have seen plenty that wear on them on the left ring finger. And since you live in a progressive city, I don’t see much issue.

  5. Lee*

    My advice is a little different – the only rings I wear are my engagement and wedding bands, and if I wear them to interviews they become a “fidget” item. I am better off not wearing them at all because otherwise they are a distraction when I am feeling nervous. I also wear my hair back for the same reason.

    So – by all means wear the ring proudly if you can resist fiddling with it, and practice making a brief statement about the ring if you are asked. Good luck!

  6. karenb*

    Is anyone else interested in

    “I grew up in a conservative Catholic town where all the moms would take off their wedding/engagement rings for interviews. ”

    If it was a small town wouldn’t everyone know anyway?

    1. Charles*

      Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

      Yes, those small, conservative, Catholic towns where everyone is just a busy-body. Thank goodness the OP now lives in a “progressive” city!

        1. Anonymous*

          No, she said she grew up in a conservative Catholic town. People are just choosing to equate “conservative” with “small town.”

          1. M*

            Exactly what Anon said. I have lived in towns all my life and cannot tell you the names of anyone except my neighbors.

            1. Anonymous*

              You know, I didn’t think about the fact that it might be the very word “town” (rather than “city”) that’s making people automatically go to “small town.” I think a lot of people use them fairly interchangeably. Personally, I call almost every place a town! But you’re right as well, even if it is technically a town, there are still different sizes, and it doesn’t mean everyone knows each other.

              1. Laura L*

                Yeah… I mean people use the phrase “home town” a lot, regardless of what size “town” they’re from. People call Chicago a “town” (my kind of town, Chi-town, etc.).

                I also often assume a town is a small town. It’s an easy trap.

  7. Meaghan*

    The only thing I would say is that if you’re interviewing at, say, an NGO that focuses on conflict diamonds and this thing is 5 carats or something, I would consider not wearing it (and not wearing it at work, either). I say this only because it might appear insensitive to their mandate and signal to the interviewers that you don’t share the organization’s values – which is clearly not the case from your letter, but first appearances and all that.

    There are a few other examples that could apply, particularly if the ring is very large or ostentatious – a poverty law clinic, a mining watch NGO, jewel thief rehab, etc.

  8. Melissa*

    I was laid off and looking for a new job less than a year after I married. I took off my wedding ring for those interviews because I didn’t want it to be an issue. Granted, I planned to leave the workforce when I had my first child, so maybe I was more aware of it because it was an issue in my case.
    I come from a religious background where a significant proportion of women still stay home with their children. So I don’t consider it sexist, or ridiculously outdated for an employer to be concerned that a woman about to be or newly married may not stick around. It’s prudent and in some areas the reality of the situation.

    1. Jess*

      Wow. I’m glad I live in a part of the country where this is at least less of an issue.

      I am a young (of childbearing age) married woman, and I have worn my wedding/engagement rings to interviews. Employers would be shooting themselves in the foot if they decided not to hire me because they figured I would have children and leave the workforce soon (or the office for an extended period of time on maternity leave), because I don’t plan on having children. You know what they say about assuming…

      1. Heather*

        Same here!

        Of course, if the interviewer was clueless enough to assume we would leave the workforce and then found out we didn’t want kids, they’d probably also judge us for not wanting kids! Either way, that would not be a place I’d want to work.

      1. Ivy*

        I’m on the not having kids, working woman in a big city side of things (just a precursor so you understand the angle I’m coming at this from). While it is sexist, it is in a way understandable. If an employer really wants to be picky based on marital status and potential time off in the future (which I think is a ridiculous way to hire someone, but lets just go with this assumption for a moment), then I think it makes sense to discriminate more against women than men. The reality of it is that in traditional families women are the ones that stay at home. If Melissa lives in a place where the majority of women become stay at home moms while the majority of men work regardless, then it would make more sense for the employer to be worried about the women than the men. Just purely based on statistics.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Sure — but still sexist and bigoted, since a defining factor of those things is judging an individual based on your beliefs about the larger group they belong to!

          1. Ivy*

            Beliefs vs Facts. Beliefs do not have to be based on facts, but facts can create beliefs. I’m talking about a hypothetical society (and probably a real one out there) where the majority of women get married, have kids, and drop out of the work force (within a couple of years of engagement). If you were a manager in this society (say the 1950s) and you notice the girl you’re hiring has an engagement ring, you would be a little concerned. You would not have the same concerns if it was a man you were hiring because men just don’t stop working when they have kids in this society. Now while I’m using the 1950s as a typical example, there are current societies out there where this still holds true.

            Although Melissa, while you may come from a religious background (i.e., you live in a city where you are a part of a community that follows the “have kids stay at home” rule), that does not mean that everyone or even the majority of people in your city follow this rule (let’s say there are 100 people in your city, 20 people in your community, 10 women, 5 are married and stay at home). It would not make sense for an employer to discriminate against everyone in your city because the majority of the people in your community act a certain way. How can the employer even know you’re apart of that community. He/she would have to make some pretty wild and discriminatory assumptions. So any reasonable employer just wouldn’t care. Of course I would have to go with my above paragraph if it was more like 100 people in your city, 96 in your community, 50 are women, and 45 are married and at home (aka 45 out of 50 women in your city).

              1. Ivy*

                Ya… I said it was sexist… I didn’t disagree there. I just said that it wasn’t completely baseless in the previously outlined situation.

                1. fposte*

                  Of course, you could make the same argument for not hiring men given their comparative predilection to violence. “Not completely baseless” isn’t the same thing as “not silly.”

    2. Liz*

      It is a problem for the women who don’t planting have children, however, and that kind of outweighs the “prudent” aspect of using assumptions about potential employee’s personal lives.

      1. Alisha*

        Yes. I don’t wear a wedding or engagement ring, which was a choice, mainly because I don’t like the typical designs. Today, I have an assortment of cheap black costume rings on several fingers and a thumb. Sometimes I wear stacked silver bands with engravings on fingers and thumbs. Nothing mistaken for wedding bands though. I like costume jewelry.

        The upside to not having rings in my town is that it gives an aura of “work-focused spinster,” which was crucial back when I still had a career here – it led to money and promotions. (This town is pretty much what Melissa describes, with no black middle class thrown in, and as a wife who has less than zero interest in children, I’m leaving because I’m tired of paying the price for stereotypes. My black colleagues and friends left years ago!)

        The downside is that some of the guys trying to pick me up get angry when I say I’m married, because they think I’m lying to get rid of them. I guess since someone asked what high school I went to last year, and people tend to think I’m between 18 and very early 20s, the idea of me having a spouse is not believable anyway…but people also get married young here…who knows? I can’t figure it out…anytime I’ve hired, I’ve hired the best person/personality for the job, regardless of whether they were single, divorced, or married, black, white, brown, or purple Martian, but I guess other people don’t do things that way.

    3. Job Seeker*

      Melissa, I am a middle-age wife and mother and trying to re-enter the job market. I really believe you are wrong about thinking a wedding ring will be an issue in an interview. Before our children, I wore my wedding rings and got jobs. A wedding ring should mean something so special to you. I also come from a religious background and I believe whether you choose to stay home or work when you have your family should be a personal decision. Many women do both. Remember, family life is a very important part of life. This is the first time, I have ever heard of anyone not getting hired because of their personal life.

  9. Blinx*

    When I first started a job, I noticed that one woman wore a beautiful engagement ring, and I asked her when the wedding was going to be. She looked a little flustered… she had been engaged for years, but had no intention of getting married. I’ve since then encountered quite a few “long-term-engaged” women (10 years or more), and thought, oh well, it must be a trend.

    Keep in mind that there are some people (men and women) who let every little thing about their private lives detract from their work… kids, spouse, divorce, upcoming wedding. And there are others who have a monumental crisis going on at home… but you would never know it! They are very discreet, professional, and organized, and never let their personal lives intrude on their work lives. I was surprised to learn that one woman I had admired for her professionalism had 6 kids and was working on her masters degree!

    So many wrong assumptions can be made about an engagement ring. Just be yourself.

  10. fposte*

    The way the OP phrases it, I’m wondering if this was a habit of yore (sounds like it was when the moms were entering the workforce) even in the “conservative Catholic town,” in which case it may well be dead there too.

    1. Long Time Admin*

      Not just in “Catholic towns” (what the hell ARE Catholic towns, anyway). I lived in a large city and it was very common when I was young. When I started working after high school, employers *always* asked young women if they were planning on getting married and having children within the next few years. At many companies, women had to quit when they became pregnant.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        To be clear, you’re not talking about the recent past, right? (I’m assuming not, but maybe there is some pocket in the country of widespread illegal and silly practices in this regard.)

        1. Jess*

          This was ~15 years ago, but even then, and in a liberal part of the country no less, my mother was still asked point blank by interviewers if she was planning on having more children when she was trying to return to the workforce after staying home with kids. This isn’t the same thing as employers forcing you to quit when you get pregnant, but is still illegal and shockingly recent for my tastes.

          1. Liz*

            I’m in supposedly liberal Seattle, and they don’t ask. They just sort of passive-aggressively hint that it could happen. They also assume the only reason I could have moved to the area was to be with a guy.

            It isn’t the norm, but there are definitely pockets where the culture assumes nice girls get married and have babies, thus disqualifying themselves for certain jobs.

      2. fposte*

        I went to college in what might be called a Catholic town–it was strongly Italian/Sicilian-American, and I suspect there are some predominantly Irish and Portuguese ancestry towns that are highly Catholic as well.

        1. Editor*

          I interviewed for a job in Pittsburgh and was basically told it was a Catholic town. (This came up in relation to the job, which involved covering lifestyle beats including religion, so it wasn’t an inappropriate conversation.)

          1. Laura L*

            Yeah, Pittsburgh was my first thought when I heard that. I lived there for a year and there are definitely a lot of Catholics.

            Boston might also be a Catholic town?

  11. Victoria*

    Corporette has covered this question pretty extensively, but from a slightly different angle: Should you wear your super-big, obviously-expensive engagement ring to interviews (or to work)?

    If I recall, the general consensus among commenters was that they didn’t notice rings that were “average” sized (I believe they were thinking something around 1 carat), but they did notice and draw conclusions about the person based on smaller or larger diamonds.

    They also have talked about expensive non-engagement jewelry, shoes, and bags. I think the commenters generally thought that junior-level people should avoid carrying Birkins, wearing Louboutins and wearing big diamonds (for fear of giving the impression you aren’t committed to work, given your trust fund/whatever), but that at some level it’s a useful status symbol.

    … of course, the world they were talking about (major law firms/NYC banking/etc.) is wildly different from mine.

    1. Andrew*

      Things like Birkin bags and Louboutin shoes are not so much status symbols as they are symbols of the triumph of marketing over common sense and good taste.

      1. Jamie*

        I’ll be honest, I see more people making minimum wage with this stuff…and people up the ladder talk about the purses they got from Kohl’s on a wicked sale.

        Doesn’t help that I can’t tell the difference between a knock off and the real thing.

        1. Editor*

          I was reading an article once about aspirational purchasing and jobs. One source in the story basically said, if your job ever requires you to entertain at home and you need Waterford crystal to do that in keeping with corporate expectations, you’ll be earning enough to afford the Waterford (or Baccarat or whatever). Not helpful advice for social climbers, but good advice for the practical.

          1. Liz*

            Waterford is tacky. It should be “You will be earning enough to know to travel to Europe so you can buy it there.” And Bacarat… don’t get me started :)

      1. Victoria*

        Oh, I don’t remember exactly – but I think it was along the lines of “married to a Creative” (i.e. artist, musician, etc.) or “married for love.” They were judging people in their own (highly paid, high-powered) offices, so they knew everyone had some money.

        1. Laura L*

          Ahhh, got it. That makes sense, I guess. Although, personally, I don’t pay enough attention to jewelry to notice rings unless they’re really big.

        2. Kristinyc*

          Lol, that’s my exact situation (in a corporate office full of women with super fancy rings, meanwhile I’m “marrying a creative for love” who gave me a beautiful but on-the-small side diamond ring). Doesn’t bother me though – I’m marrying someone who makes me happy, and the size of my diamond won’t change that either way. :)

          1. Jamie*

            “Doesn’t bother me though – I’m marrying someone who makes me happy, and the size of my diamond won’t change that either way. :)”

            Marrying someone you love who makes you happy – it doesn’t matter if you seal the deal with a cigar band…you can’t beat that. Congrats!

    2. Anon2*

      I find this just as distasteful as judging someone based on the fact that they have bright, blue hair. I guess I don’t see how this works in real life – rich kids get lots of opportunities through their family/friends’ networks but if they dress/accessorize as the rich kids they are they aren’t taken seriously? It doesn’t make sense to me.

      To me, it’s the same as saying that a married woman is less serious about her job because her husband makes a good enough living that she doesn’t “have” to work to pay the bills and retire comfortably. It comes down to the idea that the only people who are serious about their job are ones who are financially motivated to work because if they didn’t they’d rapidly descend into homelessness and poverty.

  12. Student*

    Don’t wear the ring, especially if it’s an engagement ring. Wearing an engagement ring is the equivalent of starting your interview with the statement, “I will need several months of vacation time soon after I start working with you.”

    Engagements mean weddings are around the corner, and weddings mean you’ll want time off. They also often mean children are in the near future, and nothing horrifies an employer like the prospect of someone taking 3 months off work.

    People will discriminate against you. You will miss out on job opportunities. We’re not talking about some 10% of employers who happen to be jerks discriminating against you – this will be more like a 50% or higher rate. Even many women will reject you when you’re obviously following the path that probably leads to a honeymoon absence and then a maternity leave right around the 1-year FMLA mark. Nearly every employer will have another candidate just as good as you at lower risk for taking off loads of time in the near future.

    Just take off the ring. Those really crazy people that don’t like women will still reject you, so you’re in no real danger of ending up with them. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot just to prove some non-existent point. Once they get to know you, after they hire you, they’re a lot more likely to warm up to you, see you as a normal person, and not view your potential time off as a huge faceless liability.

    1. Jess*

      Several months of vacation time? Really? When I got married, I took all of two days off of work. My husband took more days off after the wedding than I did. Again, assumptions get you nowhere.

      1. Anonymous*

        Where do I sign up for this unlimited special marriage vacation? Everywhere I’ve ever worked, folks fit their weddings/honeymoons into the same regularly allotted vacation time that everyone else got. My most recently married coworker took a 4-day weekend (2 days off) to get married in November, and then when his and wife’s new vacation time started in the new year, they took 2 weeks for a honeymoon in January, knowing that they’d only have 1 week (plus any comp time earned) left for the rest of the year.

        1. Stells*

          I wish I could have had 3 months of vacation time! That would have made that whole “planning a 150-200 guest wedding on my own” thing much easier!

          As an aside, I started a job 7 months before I got married and my supervisor was getting married on the SAME DAY during our busiest season. Somehow, though, we worked it out so that all of the work was completed – ahead of schedule – and there was coverage every day leading up to and after the wedding with the exception of the Friday before.

          That was almost 2 years ago. I still work here and neither of us are planning to have kids in the near future even though we’re coming up on 30 (she’s a year older than I am). We must be some sort of freakshow.

      2. Anonymous*

        yeah, this is ridiculous. I interviewed for my first job at my current workplace literally three days after I got engaged. it never occurred to me not to wear the ring (although I did wisely restrain myself from squee-ing when I used the phrase “my fiance” for the first time during my interview). our wedding was within a year of my start date, & I only took seven days off work–most of which were unpaid because my vacation hadn’t fully kicked in yet. five years later, I’m still here, & still haven’t taken maternity leave.

        anyone stupid enough to avoid hiring me for the reasons you outline above isn’t someone I’d want as my boss. (incidentally, when I switched roles, my job was filled by a man. he needed to take about three weeks off for his wedding/honeymoon ceremonies–events that weren’t telegraphed by jewelry–& then was gone within the year to start law school.)

        1. Another Anonymous Person*

          I absolutely, completely agree with you. This is ridiculous, the OP should just wear the ring and not worry about it.

          Also, I know a few women who are in fact married but, for personal reasons only wear their engagement rings on a regular basis. So, really, who knows!

    2. bemo12*

      Student, what you’ve just said … is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this forum is now dumber for having read to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I disagree with everything Student said — strongly — but it wasn’t rambling or incoherent. Please be civil here, even when disagreeing.

    3. Anon1973*

      I disagree. Unless you have peer-reviewed research to back up your claim (especially to the below statement), I suspect that much of your post is based on ancedotal evidence and your own personal experiences, possibly your own point-of-view.

      “People will discriminate against you. You will miss out on job opportunities. We’re not talking about some 10% of employers who happen to be jerks discriminating against you – this will be more like a 50% or higher rate.”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, I’m really questioning the 50% statement, given how many women of child-bearing age manage to find jobs. Student, what’s that based on?

      2. Liz*

        I think it happens in some fields – management consulting, law, investment banking, political consulting… They all depend on long hours and have a male-dominated senior level, which filters into hirin decisions by influencing what a “leader” looks like. Honestly, I disagree with Student, but I can see how she reached that conclusion.

    4. Mike C.*

      Student, you’re not doing much to help rid the world of those “really crazy people” by encouraging folks to go along to get along.

    5. K.*

      I’ve never known anyone who took “several months of vacation time” for ANYTHING – who gets that much time off? The longest any of my colleagues, at any job, took off post-wedding was two weeks.

      One of my best friends started a new job a few days after her wedding – she married on a Sunday and started work on Tuesday (which was the first day she COULD start work since that Monday was a national holiday). They’ve been married nearly two years and have yet to take a honeymoon, and they aren’t planning (as in, actively planning AGAINST) to have kids.

      It’s the fault of the employer if s/he assumes these things about women. Period.

    6. AX*

      So I guess my holiday weekend wedding that I planned in 3 months and took off exactly one day for means, what,I’m not really married? Deficient wife? and my one ring that served as both engagement & wedding band shouldn’t be worn because people might think I’m planning a wedding? Student, you need to check your sexist assumptions… They say more about you than employers

        1. AX*

          I was thinking of the “several months of vacation” comment, but now that I re-read, yes that was probably referring to maternity leave (calling it vacation threw me).

          Which makes my point even more… as a recently married person who is not planning on having kids soon/ever I’m actually pretty sick of the assumption that “young married woman” = “about to get pregnant”. It’s offensiveness is indescribable.

          1. Andrea*

            Exactly. I have been married for a decade, but I’ve known since I was much younger that I didn’t want to have kids. The assumptions that woman=mother and that wife=mother are quite offensive to me, as a childfree woman.

          2. Broke Philosopher*

            It’s especially great because the assumption is offensive to both mothers and non-mothers. The idea that the choice to have children and raise them is easy and automatic for women just because we’re female, and therefore that women who decided against it are unfeminine/masculine/cold/whatever is hurtful and obnoxious to all sides.

    7. Kristinyc*

      Wow, Student… I don’t even know where to begin. Have you actually worked in a company with adults who choose to get married or have children? People do that, and since those things are expensive, usually they have jobs at some point prior/during/after.

      Some companies actually want their employees to be happy in their personal lives, because an employee who is happy at home is probably going to be in a much better mood/more focused at work. For a lot of people (but not everyone), being in a stable, committed relationship improves quality of life. My company offers a PAID 3 month maternity leave for employees who have been there over a year. Guess what? That makes me want to stay with my company much longer.

    8. Heather*

      Have you just joined us from the 1950s via time machine? Welcome! Might I suggest a class reviewing the events of the past 60 years, which include reliable birth control, women entering the workforce in huge numbers, and the existence of stay-at-home dads?

    9. Blinx*

      OP, it looks like Student answers your question. In order to neutralize those who may have opinions way outside the norm, even in this day and age, don’t wear the ring.

    10. fposte*

      I both hire and turn out a lot of young women right at this stage in their lives, and I’ve never encountered any of this kind of hiring prejudice. Not even in the crazy people.

    11. Kathryn T.*

      So, she’d be going on her honeymoon without her husband, then? That’s the only way this even makes any sense. If honeymoon time off is a problem for employers, it is a problem for both male and female applicants.

  13. TwentyKittens*

    Seriously, in 2012, this is an issue?

    I wore my engagement ring, and later, my wedding set to interviews without a second thought. My martial status has absolutely *no bearing* on the skills, knowledge and experience I bring to a job.

  14. Wear the ring*

    I live in a conservative, traditional part of the US, and I work in an old-school male-dominated industry. NOWHERE in my interview, hiring, or daily office interactions has anyone ever said anything about my being married or rejecting my work/credibility/commitment because I might “go off and have children soon”. I’ve been married for 4 years, and I’m entering my late 20s, so I should be the prime candidate for such comments, as we’re a little “behind” already in starting to have kids.

    Wear the ring, since as AAM says, you don’t want to work for a company that still holds these ridiculous views in 2012. It’s a valid assumption that you’ll need ~1-2 weeks off for wedding/honeymoon, but all you’ll do is spend your vacation early instead of late. Heck, they can write it into the employment contract, “must pay back 2 weeks vacation if you leave the position in less than 1 year”! Besides, you could get in a car accident or have an ill parent that requires time off, and it has nothing to do with gender or life plans, so something temporary like a ceremony or vacation shouldn’t deter them from hiring a qualified individual. I seriously doubt wearing the ring will be an issue for you in your interviews.

  15. Henning Makholm*

    Okay, I’m so far out of the cultural loop that this is irrelevant — but if, half an hour ago, somebody had put a gun to my head and demanded that I predict which way a “conservative” religious American employer would discriminate based on marital status, I would have said that they probably would have a strong preference for employing a married/engaged woman, rather than a dirty liberal feminist sinner who fancies herself too good to get married like God has ordained every good woman must …

    1. Jess*

      Henning, I’ve also thought something similar. Not about what a conservative employer would think, exactly–but about myself, as an employment candidate in a non-conservative, transient city. I think that when people hear that I’m married, and that my husband works in this city, they may think, “Good, she has roots here and won’t move away.”

      But who knows, maybe they’re just thinking about my uterus.

    2. jmkenrick*

      I’m raised American, and until I read the question I didn’t realize this was something you could worry about.

    3. AMG*

      I was waiting for someone to make this point! I thought that having a ring would indicate that you are stable, have roots in the community and are less likely to move/need to find another job. Not fair to someone who does not wear a ring, but if someone were to analyze the ring, that’s where I assume most people would go.

      Regardless, I believe that the more critical point is that Alison is right on the money–wear your ring and if someone has a concern about it, you really didn’t want to work there anyway.


      My partner and I lived in different states for a few years and when I was interviewing for jobs in his city, I actually got grilled about our (lack of) marital plans at one interview. There had apparently been “too much” turnover in this position (two people in five years) and she wanted to make sure I was “stable” and wasn’t going to just move to this city and then dump the guy six months later and move somewhere else.

      But, then, they also freaked out when I told them an MBA was part of my long-term plan because too many people (two in five years) left to go to grad school.

    5. Anonymous*

      Statistically, employment discrimination happens against married females much more than single females. It happens to women with children much more than to women without children. It happens to fat women more than to thin women.

      For men, the employment and salary trends are very different. Fat men are more successful than skinny men. Men with children do better than men without. Married men do better than single men.

      Men outdo women in salary on average in every category except one: single, childless, young, urban women outdo their male counterparts.

      So, apparently the old coots you’re talking about think very differently than you assume. Given the extreme differences between the “successful man” stereotype vs the “successful woman” stereotype, the old coots are instead thinking something along the lines of “Mmm, nice butt on that one.”

  16. Heather*

    Not everyone has kids. I know most people do but not every single couple does. Also not every single couple has kids right away

    What about people who wear rings on their left hand but aren’t married? Who does that? Wait I do. There’s no law tfat says only engagement/ wedding rings can be worn there.

    This is why I’m against engagement rings for women only. They brand the woman but not the man. I’m going to get flamed for this but I don’t care

    1. Anonymous*

      If I could ban just two phrases from the internet, I think it would be “I’m not a bigot but…” and then “I know I’m going to get flamed for this but…”

      1. Heather*

        oh well pardon me for trying to head off the obvious arguments that I’ve heard a gazillion times already.

    2. VintageLydia*

      Engagement rings for men are becoming more popular, though most use the engagement ring as a wedding band after the fact. Its mostly younger couple who have enough money to buy two rings that are doing this, but it’s a trend I like for the reasons you stated. They mostly look like a regular wedding band but with a small, understated diamond set flush to the rest of the band. Very nice looking!

      1. Anonymous*

        You say that but we did this. His “engagement ring” was a ~$10 one and the wedding ring cost less than ~$60. My rings are rather more expensive however.

      1. Liz T*

        Yeah, many of my lady-friends feel weird about engagement rings. Not OPPOSED to engagement rings, just…weird. Like it’s an ownership thing.

      2. Alisha*

        I didn’t want one partially for this reason. And because the majority of my soon-to-be-former-town’s employers do discriminate against married women in the workforce, especially once they leave their 20s, because it’s assumed that children are their priority. Unfortunately, this phenomenon has been documented in well-formed studies.

        The few women I’ve worked with in my industry downplayed their home lives just like I did. We made the best of two bad choices because we needed our paychecks.

  17. Anonymous*

    This post came up with perfect timing for me. An old acquaintance of mine interviewed for a position with my company this week and when we had a couple of moments to chat after the interview she had mentioned that she was nervous wearing her engagement ring to the interview because a professor (of HR, at that) had told her never to do it and he would never hire a woman who came to an interview wearing an engagement ring. The only reason she wore it because she knew that I already knew she was engaged. I was shocked that people would still be so overtly discriminatory, and as someone who is currently engaged and planning a wedding myself, really offended that someone would consider the fact that I’m planning a party in my spare time to be sufficient to disqualify me from a job. I’m in a small office where there are 3 women other than myself planning weddings (all within the next 8 weeks!) and I have never identified a time when they were less committed to their work because of their impending nuptials. And while it is my desperate hope that by some strange coincidence they don’t all end up having children at the same time, even if they did none of that would negate the hard work they’ve done for the company during the time they’ve been here, nor the excellent work I’m sure they would continue to do once they returned from maternity leave. It’s so disappointing to see that there are still apparently so many others (though not many on this thread, thankfully) who choose to think otherwise.

    1. Wear the ring*

      An HR prof. said he wouldn’t hire a woman who came in wearing an engagement ring!?!?!? What was his reason for this? What could he possibly think is wrong with a woman with an engagement ring? Would he hire a man with a wedding ring? Would he hire a woman with a wedding ring? That’s just… how does he even hold a teaching position, while thinking like this? Does he allow engaged female students to attend his class? Because surely, there’s no reason for them to attend class and get a degree, since they’ll never be hired, since they’re only good for marriage!

    2. Editor*

      Wonder what the professor would do with me? I am interviewing now, and I’m a widow. I wear my wedding ring still and I also wear my late husband’s matching wedding ring on my right hand, since the ring is only a little loose. They’re both wide gold bands that are fairly plain, with a beveled edge and a (worn partly smooth) textured finish.

  18. AX*

    So, first, I have such a hard time with the distinction between “engagement” and “wedding” ring. Probably because my mother never wore a wedding band so I didn’t really get that particular cultural message until much later than most women. I think I have literally never noticed a woman wearing a solitaire with no band and categorized her as “engaged not married”. So that’s a tough mental leap for me.

    Second, I am married but, like my mother, don’t wear a wedding band (although my engagement/wedding ring is an heirloom estate piece and doesn’t scream “engagement” ring anyway). I recently interviewed with 5 people at a firm (3 separate interviews) and I don’t know if they noticed my ring or not, but I do know that they hired me.

    I’ve been in the working world for almost 8 years and I have never met a manager, even at the conservative family-owned business I worked for, who would think that an engaged woman is a bad hire because she’s itching to procreate and will need time off for all that stressful wedding planning (because we all know how delicate lady-brains can’t handle more than one complex task at a time).

    I mean, OP, do what makes you comfortable, if you’ll feel self-conscious wearing the ring take it off. But don’t do it just because you’re so certain you’ll be discriminated against.

    It’s probably worth noting that I live in one of the most liberal cities in the states and for any particular job there will be candidates who stand out WAY MORE than a completely conventional woman wearing a ring on her left hand.

    1. Catherine*

      “…because she’s itching to procreate and will need time off for all that stressful wedding planning (because we all know how delicate lady-brains can’t handle more than one complex task at a time).”

      LOL. I know my delicate lady-brain can’t handle much whilst I’m so very procreation-itchy.

      1. jmkenrick*

        Not totally relevant, but I hate that I can’t ever coo at a cute baby without people asking if my “ovaries are ticking,” or giving each other knowing smiles. Ugh.

        1. AX*

          Agreed! Listen, new moms, I don’t even think your baby’s that cute, I’m just trying to be polite. (This is kind of a lie, I love adorable babies, but that still doesn’t mean I’m knitting baby booties all day pining for one)

        2. Anonymous*

          Another take on this – I have a co-worker with severe, untreatable fertility issues. No matter how badly she and her husband want to get pregnant, the reality is, she will not be able to carry their baby.

          How do I know this? Another co-worker is actively pursueing fertility treatments and talks to us about them constantly, then teases my coworker and I about our “ticking ovaries” (we’re both under the age of 25). This wasn’t a big deal for me since I’m no where near considering having kids, but eventually my infertile co-worker snapped from the “friendly pushing” since she would, indeed, love to have a child, but can’t.

          Discussions about your marriage/family life/family plans have no place in the work place, and another woman’s ovaries and child plans are not your business in any circumstance. These subjects are incredibly sensitive and you never know what is going on in someone elses life.

          1. Anonymous*

            Agreed. I have a colleague at work who is trying and one whose wife is several months pregnant. Constant stories about both keep getting discussed and it hurts since I’m trying to jump through hoops with the NHS (I’m UK based) to get fertility issues sorted out which I haven’t discusses at work.

            If anyone was to get in my face about ‘clocks ticking’ or anything they’d get told to back of and go away.

  19. Hello Vino*

    Wear the ring. Your engagement is part of your personal life, and you’re looking for a job offer that will be a good fit for you and your life as a whole. Some employers may see the ring and discriminate against you, but like AAM said, you don’t want to work there anyway. If they’re going to discriminate against you during the interview, it will likely continue if you end up working there. On the other hand, some employers may worry that single/unmarried employees might spend too much time partying/dating. Wearing the ring may even work in your favor. Who knows?

    A little something I thought I should share: I actually included my wedding as a project in my design portfolio. (I’m an architect turned graphic designer.) It was a very unique project that showcased my range of skills, but I was still a bit hesitant to include it. Every interviewer responded extremely well to it. I talked about the creative process behind it in the very same way I do with all my other projects. I’ve been told that it was very refreshing to see my abilities demonstrated in a personal project versus client-based one.

    P.S. You mentioned the issue of conflict diamonds. You might want to check out conflict-free diamond jewelry from ethical origins. They’re also made from recycled metals, which is pretty nifty.

  20. fposte*

    I think among hiring managers, it’s only a subset who would even notice what was on your hands, and it’s a smaller subset who would interpret the ring as meaning you’re engaged. And among that subset, I suspect the number who would care enough to hold it against you is actually minuscule. Don’t sweat it.

  21. Anonymous*

    ….we could not afford enganement rings but I am sure the crazy people who think a little piiece of metal is a n excellent predictor of a worker’s conduct might have found some henious meaning behind that.

  22. Anonymous*

    Yeah, I do not think I would look at someone’s hand enough during an interview to decipher whether it was an engagement ring or a wedding ring, and likely wouldn’t notice the ring at all! People usually make eye contact throughout an interview, and you typically shake hands with your right hand, so I do not think this is a problem at all (although the ring should not be a problem…). It honestly never crossed my mind when I was engaged, nor does it now that I am married.

    As someone who has been a bride-to-be, and as someone who has a lot of engaged friends at the moment… I think this might just be someone who has “I’m engaged! I’m getting married!” on their mind, and this temporary sense of *bride-to-be, look-at-me* is leading her to very much over think this, as most people generally do not notice at first glance you are engaged because they aren’t examining your hand, and in all honestly, most people don’t really care!!!!!!! (hard to believe, I know, lol)

    I switched jobs when I was engaged, wore my ring to every interview, and revealed I was engaged solely because my honeymoon was already booked. Wasn’t a big deal.

  23. Andrew*

    Did I fall asleep, go through a time warp, and wake up in 1962? Have we all been watching too much “Mad Men?” Are we really that retrograde?

    Wear the ring if that’s what you prefer–no decent interviewer for a good company will even notice, let alone care.

    At this rate, someone will be writing in to ask whether women should go to college if all they plan to do is get their “MRS degree.”

    1. Blinx*

      My boss from 20 years ago revealed that he met his wife at college. I asked what was her major and he replied that she was going for her MRS degree. I had NO clue what he meant, and after he explained, had a much lower opinion of him for saying that about his wife!

        1. starts & ends with A*

          MRS sounds like a degree term, so is a way of saying a female just went to college to find a husband, and thus become a wife and be addressed as Mrs. So-and-so

          1. jmkenrick*

            Yeah, I think Henning is joking – “residential science” as a fancy way of saying “housekeeping.”

  24. Suz*

    Another vote for wearing the ring but for a different reason. If you wear the ring most of the time, you may have a tan line from it. If the employer would hold it against you for being engaged/married, imagine what they’ll think if it looks like you’re trying to hide that fact.

  25. Sarah Fowler*

    As AAM said, you don’t want to work for any company that would make that assumption and punish you as a result.

    There are many reasons women wear rings – you’ve heard many already: long engagements, married women without a separate wedding band… there are also heirloom rings women wear on that finger because it’s the only one that fits, women who wear promise rings, and widowed or divorced women who keep wearing a ring on that finger because they’re used to it.

    In addition, I once worked with a company that discriminated against me for being single (lower pay, fewer advancement opportunities) because I “was probably going to get married soon”. In my first review the company president actually admitted that to me, and I began to look for a new job as soon as I got home!)

    In short, an engagement ring (or lack thereof) is no different than any other physical sign – there are a million ways to interpret it, and you’re never truly safe from discrimination. Just be honest and wear it proudly! Best of luck with your job hunt :-)

  26. Job Seeker*

    I think this is a real stupid concern. I have the most beautiful rings and have been married 30 years and would never think of taking off my rings for a interview. Even when I was first married, before our children that would have been ridiculous. I have a gorgeous diamond and wedding ring and I am going to wear them. I have never heard of anything so ridiculous.

  27. Anon*

    I have a questions that is slightly off topic but in the same genra -I recently got engaged and the ring is beautiful but pretty big (almost 2 carrots), and there is a halo (diamonds surrounding the ring), making it pretty flashy. I work in the non-profit industry and am starting a new job in a few weeks – also in the non-profit industry (got engaged literally the day after I was offered the position- so there was no ring to worry about during the interviews). Anyway, I feel slightly self-conscious about wearing it because a) It might be too flashy for the industry I work in b) My new co-workers may judge me and c) I don’t want those who hired me to think I hid the fact that I was engaged from them. Thoughts?

    P.S. I am completely aware of how first world problem this is: “Waaah my engagement ring is too big, what do I do?!”

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Is the nonprofit one that directly services low-income constituents? If so, there’s potentially some sensitivity there, during that particular work.

      But if you’re just going to be around your coworkers … well, I’m not going to say some won’t dismiss you as “someone rich who’s just playing at work,” but I really don’t think you should cater to those people by removing your ring. It’s your engagement ring, for god’s sake.

      1. Anon*

        Wow, thank you for the quick response!
        I will not be directly working with or serving an underprivileged population (although the target population of the organization is low-income/under-privileged – but I guess that is the case for most non-profits anyway). I was actually curious about your thoughts for this particular situation too, so good to know!

        Right – well if there are some people who dismiss me as that, it will just give me even more motivation to work hard, and prove them wrong! Anyway, thank you for your advice! It’s much appreciated.

    2. AX*

      In my experience it is not that uncommon for women to have a “flashy” engagement/wedding ring even if they aren’t *that* wealthy. Granted I’m a pretty low judgment person, but it just seems like most people wouldn’t see a large diamond and think “Oh, look at miss richy-rich over there COVERED IN DIAMONDS.”

      Again, assuming it’s your coworkers who’ll be seeing you… like AAM said client work may be more sensitive (or may not be… depends on the clients).

      1. Anon*

        “Oh, look at miss richy-rich over there COVERED IN DIAMONDS.”

        -Thanks for that (and your advice), I lol’ed!

        1. Jamie*

          This cracked me up…and ITA that a big engagement ring isn’t usually seen as flashy. For a lot of women it’s the piece you will wear most, hopefully for most of your life…and it’s the only one on which the jewelers advise men to spend the equivalent of three months salary.

        2. Job Seeker*

          You can not please everyone. I have a very beautiful engagement and wedding ring and also a beautiful sapphire ring with diamonds my husband gave me. I wear these everyday. I also have a gorgeous diamond heart necklace, my husband gave me for my birthday. It is expensive and you can tell but it has meaning to me. I have worn it on interviews before. Sometimes people will assume if you are in a higher income bracket why are you looking for entry-level work. I was a stay-at-home mom for a long time and I am not a professional. Looking for a job is about me and not my family income.

      2. fposte*

        Well, and I think what’s large for a diamond is still pretty small for a thing. Honestly, the amount of visual field any ring, let alone any stone on a ring, takes up is pretty teensy.

        1. Laura L*

          That’s actually a good point.

          I have an inexpensive replica of Princess Diana/Kate’s engagement ring and it’s much bigger than the average person’s real engagement ring.

          Come to think of it, I actually have several rings with gigantic cubic zirconia rocks. They’re fun to wear, but I don’t think people mistake them for engagement rings.

      3. VintageLydia*

        I know a lot of lower to mid income couples who have larger rings than their income would normally explain. Mine was certainly a lot flashier than people would expect for some retail worker. But our logic, and the logic of a lot of people I talked to about this, is he’s not likely to buy me super nice jewelry again, this is something we plan on wearing until the day we die, and we’d like to pass it down to family if we can. Why NOT buy something nice?

        So I’m with you. People who care about that sort of thing are probably overly judgmental people, anyway, os who cares what they think?

  28. Jamie*

    My husband is going to be so mad at you guys…

    I lost my wedding ring years ago and so I just wear my engagement ring (one of those bridal sets where I have to have a new one made so it fits) and this reminds me that I haven’t annoyed my husband for a replacement in quite some time.

    Time to revisit the delightful comments I make about being perpetually engaged. I know, he buys them and I lose them – that’s fair

    I have to say, this is a new one for me. I have never given one moments thought about what anyone infers from my ring…except that my husband…who should infer that it needs to be replaced.

    1. Anonymous*

      Why don’t you just go buy one? You’re already married, and you’re the one who lost it. Seems silly to involve him in the process of replacing jewelry when he’s already demonstrated that he isn’t interested in buying another one for you.

        1. Jamie*

          That is – although I seriously laughed out loud.

          The one thing he hates more than anything is when I try to assign deeper meaning to something he has done or not done…it’s a running joke that he keeps telling me he’s not deep enough for hidden agendas.

          It’s funny that because I got chatty now total strangers are assigning meaning to this.

          1. Anonymous*

            I’m not assigning meaning to anything. It just seems silly to wait around for him to buy you something that’s important to you but not to him. How many years will you drop hints at him instead of wearing a ring like you want? I’d give you the same suggestion if you said you really wanted your husband to buy you a car, a better TV, a pearl necklace, a better vacuum cleaner, or a bunch of flowers, and he hadn’t done so after multiple years of you asking. It seems odd that you expect that he’ll suddenly change his mind and go buy it if you just ask one more time.

            Besides, since it’s a rather emotional investment, he might be rather hurt that you lost the first one.

            1. Jamie*

              My original comment was tongue in cheek – because I really had forgotten about it until this thread…so it really doesn’t matter all that much to me.

              And not that it matters, but for the record I may have left it on the nightstand to fall on the floor, but he’s the one who emptied the vacuum cleaner canister and put the garbage out before I could search it…so did I lose it or did he throw it out? Debatable, but not worth resurrecting a 7+ year old fight to hash it out.

              It was just something I found amusing…which doesn’t always translate. :)

              1. Liz T*

                My boyfriend’s first gift to me was a cheap skull-and-crossbones necklace off Etsy. My first to him was a cheap pair of frog cufflinks off same. We each lost the first version of said gift. I bought him replacement cufflinks…and am actually waiting around hoping he’ll buy me a replacement necklace, as though I can’t buy one myself. (I wore that thing almost every day, and I really miss it! But it’s not quite the same if I buy it for myself.)

                Gifts are different than Stuff.

  29. Joey*

    I’ll share a similar experience. I hired a professional employee that hid the fact that she was pregnant in the interview process. On her first day she shocked us by showing up in maternity clothes. I understand why she did it, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth. It made me wonder what else she hid from us and/or whether she questioned our integrity/culture. Either way it still felt like a slap in the face. And yes we still would have hired her anyway since she planned on coming back in a reasonable amount of time.

    1. Natalie*

      So, I’ve never been pregnant and I’m not super familiar with maternity wear, but… are you sure this person hid their pregnancy deliberately? Maybe they just had a really good interview suit and no one noticed.

    2. Jess*

      The point of an interview is for you to assess if you want to hire someone or not. If it is illegal for you to make hiring decisions based on her pregnancy status, why should the fact that she’s pregnant ever be something that comes up in an interview?

      The OP was asking if she should wear an engagement ring that she normally wears, and most people agreed that she should–but no one is saying that she should go out of her way to tell an interviewer that she is married. Pregnancy is similar. It is legally not relevant to hiring and so it has no place in an interview discussion.

      1. Joey*

        The pregnancy itself has no bearing but the time off she needs sure is relevant. I go to great lengths to find coverage if a new hire needs time off but I need to know what I’m working with. Even though she couldnt possibly give me definite answers she should have at least told me before hand how much time she was planning on taking off and approximately when.

        1. Jamie*

          I think pregnancy makes it a murkier issue, regarding your need to know at the interview stage.

          I mean a woman could get pregnant the night she got a job offer…which would necessitate the same amount of time off as if it was a week before.

          There is a real risk in disclosing that during an interview, the risk being that they wouldn’t hire her because of the pregnancy even if it couldn’t be proven. At the interview stage you can’t expect anyone to trust your integrity or culture – you’re all still virtual strangers.

          I have to fall on the side of a woman’s right to privacy trumping an employers right to know every time.

          Although once employed, letting them know before the baby is crowning will help with the transition to maternity leave.

        2. Jess*

          Yeah, but if it is not relevant to if you’re going to hire her or not, it doesn’t belong in the interview. Period.

          I wear my wedding rings to interviews, but I seriously doubt that I’d bring up that I was pregnant during an interview if it was not visually obvious. Discrimination against hiring pregnant women is a real worry, one that for me seems too pervasive to just say, “well, you didn’t want to work there anyway if they didn’t want to hire a pregnant woman.” She didn’t know that you would have hired her anyway.

          1. jmkenrick*

            True, but it might have been good form for her to alert the company after she accepted the offer, but before she showed up to work. I mean, once they’ve made the offer and she lets them know, they can hardly take it back without it being clear that it’s a result of her pregnancy.

            What Joey describes below just seems like such deliberate cover-up, I can see why they were a bit taken aback.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I agree. I can absolutely understand not disclosing it during the interview, but why wouldn’t you raise it once you have an offer? At that point, it would start to feel liek bad faith to me too.

            2. Jess*

              Yeah, I agree with y’all that a pregnant woman should say something once she’s gotten the offer, especially if her absence will be soon. It’s the statement that she should say something during the interview that I disagree with.

          2. Joey*

            Are you really arguing that someone who needs a significant amount of time right after theyre hired should have no bearing on the hiring decision?

            Had I not hired her it wouldn’t have been discrimination just because she was pregnant and needed time off. It would only be discrimination if men who were temporarily disabled due to a medical condition were allowed to take time off and women weren’t.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              That’s actually what the law says though — that you can’t decide to not hire someone on the basis of their pregnancy.

              I actually don’t agree with that law (as I’ve said here before), but it is the law.

              1. Joey*

                Sure, but you can fire them as long as you also fire temporarily disabled men. Dumb isn’t it?

                1. Jamie*

                  Can you? I didn’t think you could ever fire someone for pregnancy, regardless of what you do to the men.

                  And while I do think the inconvenience sucks, I’m a little in awe of someone who can pass for not pregnant at 7 months. I’ve had three kids and even if I could find a magic coat to hide the bump my cover would have been blown the first time I tried to rise out of a chair.

                  Godzilla moved with more grace than I did when 7 mos pregnant.

                2. VintageLydia*

                  I’m 6 and a half months along and I waddle :/ Haven’t been able to hide my bump for the last 4 or 6 weeks, either.

                3. fposte*

                  I don’t know if it’s that dumb, though. If you can’t keep a job open for an employee taking non-protected leave, you can’t. It doesn’t make much difference if it’s from a difficult pregnancy or a stroke recovery.

                  I’ve thought about it a lot since nearly being in that supervisory position–a viable candidate turned out to have been pregnant, and would have needed four months’ leave after working for five months. So if she hasn’t achieved eligibity for FMLA or for PTO, and there’s no such thing as a skilled temp for this position (or any way to hire one in my system), and the only other eligible staffer (me) can’t handle doing her work on top of my own for four months, do I hire somebody else and let her go?

                  I’m really glad I didn’t have to make that call.

                4. Joey*

                  Alison, it’s absolutely true. If they temporarily can’t perform the functions of the job (which tends to happen when you have a baby) there’s no job protection if they haven’t been there long enough to qualify for fmla. You might qualify as an a**hole but the law says you can fire away as long as you fire men who don’t qualify for fmla.

                5. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  That is VERY interesting. But wouldn’t that mean that you could legally not hire someone because she was pregnant and planning to take maternity leave, if you would also not hire a man who was planning to take 2 months off for, say, cancer treatment? (Just asking this question is icky, but I’m trying to get clarity.)

                6. Jamie*


                  The link is from the dol regarding the prohibition specifically against discriminating against pregnant women in the workplace, including hiring.

                  I understand the point about FMLA but this reads to me as an additional protection beyond that.

                  FMLA doesn’t kick in immediately but the illegality of discrimination applies at the hiring level.

                7. Joey*

                  Let me clarify a bit. You can’t legally consider the time off a pregnant woman may need when hiring but you can fire them when they take the time off since they can no longer perform the functions of the job. As long as men who can’t perform the job are treated the same way. But I argue that it wouldn’t be discriminatory if you don’t hire anyone, men or women, who plan on taking time off. That’s assuming the woman plans on taking time off. So what the law really means is that you have to treat pregnant women who need time off more favorably than say a man or woman who may need time off for say a surgery. You’d have to hire the pregnant woman but you wouldn’t have to hire the surgery folks. But then you could turn around and fire the woman when she actually has her baby and needs time off. The meaning of the law is noble but in reality it doesn’t work as well as it was intended to.

        3. AX*

          A good friend of mine had a baby while in law school, gave birth on Monday and was in class on Thursday. Not all women take a long leave and if an employee has been with the company for only a short period of time (less than 6 mos? not sure) you are not required to extend FMLA privileges to them.

          Of course your company may take a more “family friendly” stance and be willing to work with a new hire/new mother, but that is still not relevant until you decide to offer her the job.

          I wouldn’t hide a pregnancy, but I can see why someone would and it wouldn’t make me think they are shady.

    3. Anonymous*

      Traditionally, people don’t announce their pregnancy until it hits the 3-month mark. There’s a higher rate of miscarriage in the first trimester. Miscarriages are often very tragic events for the woman, equivalent to losing a newborn. The custom of delayed announcement started as a way for the woman to still deal with the miscarriage privately without having to tell all her excited friends (or co-workers) that she lost the baby early in the pregnancy, which, for some grieving people, is just as bad as the death itself.

      It could be that she wasn’t far along enough yet in the interview to want to mention it. Wouldn’t it be terribly awkward for her to start her new job and have to explain a miscarriage if people were expecting her to be pregnant?

      1. Joey*

        She wore a coat to the interview in warm weather and just it explained it away as she got cold easily. She had her baby about 2 mos later.

    4. Charles*

      AAM, what’s the law (I know, I know, you’re not a lawyer, sorry) on this?

      Would a pregnancy, when hired, be considered a “pre-existing” condition and so the company doesn’t have to pay for time off, healthcare, etc.?

      Or does “when” the employee became pregnant not matter? If this latter does that mean an employee is hired and then 2 days later take maternity leave?

      1. Rana*

        As far as I know, it’s primarily an issue for people who are self-insuring. Every private insurance policy I’ve ever looked at that includes maternity coverage (and most of them don’t) requires a full year of premiums before they’ll cover anything related to pregnancy or birth.

        Employer-offered insurance plays by different rules, but I know of at least some instances where an employee became pregnant, and didn’t realize that maternity care wasn’t part of the standard compensation package. You’re pretty much up a creek at that point.

  30. Janet*

    I would love to say “Wear the ring!” but just 4 years ago at a major organization I was involved in a hiring team for a new full time middle-manager worker. One girl who interviewed was my top pick and a co-worker wanted someone else. One of his points against my selection was “I saw she’s engaged on facebook [he had looked up her profile page] and I’m not in the mood to hire another woman who’s going to take 3 weeks off for the wedding and honeymoon and 3 months off the next year when she has a baby. I’m tired of it.” So it is absolutely something that people think and sadly even say.

    1. Jess*

      I’m still a proponent of “wear the ring,” but I am always shocked at the things people will actually say out loud. Just this year a colleague of mine said that she didn’t want to hire any more people of childbearing age, because she had several women quit on her when they had babies (and a man quit when his wife had a baby and quit her job, so he then needed a higher-paying job). She somehow thought this was okay to say because she was implicating both men and women, and because she’s a woman with a child herself.

      Sadly, I was so shocked that I didn’t comment on the grossness/illegality of what she said.

      1. Laura L*

        Ick. Also, just because someone is of child-bearing age doesn’t mean they are going to have children right this second. I’m not, that’s for sure.

  31. Julia*

    I took off my engagement ring for the job interview. I’m married but wear only my engagement ring day-to-day, but on that day I swapped out and wore my plain gold band instead. If you’d asked me a few years ago I would have never even thought about it, but after my husband and I were married, we spent over a year fielding countless “so, when are you getting pregnant?” questions. It seemed like everyone on earth assumed that we would have kids immediately after getting married, even though most of these people knew that I didn’t want kids. I didn’t want a total stranger to assume the same thing.

  32. Another Job Seeker*

    I have a different opinion about this one. People in a terrible job situation or those who have been unemployed for a significant amount of time might be willing to take a less than “perfect” position. Discrimination exists in many (not all) workplaces. It is veiled and difficult to prove, but it is there. I have found that it is best to recognize it, address it, but not become bitter about it. If I had a job that I enjoyed but I was seeking other challenges, I would probably wear the ring (with the knowledge that some interviewers might discriminate against me). If I had a terrible job or no job at all, I probably would remove it. The poster who mentioned the tan line had a good point, however. I might wear another ring (that obviously was not an engagement ring) instead.

  33. Chaigrl*

    I think the exact opposite of the questioner. I have a theory that companies are more likely to hire someone WITH a ring than without. For someone looking under 35 a ring shows stability and no (seeming) fear of commitment. The last time I was applying for jobs I was 31 and never married. When I went on interviews I put a simple band on my ring finger and I got offers from all of those interviews. Sure, it was a very small and unscientific test but I still think my theory has some merit.

  34. spiny*

    If the possibility of this being an issue will bug you if you don’t get offered the job, don’t wear it.

  35. Lisa*

    this is still true with teachers. Let’s face it, most teachers are hired by people that have been educators for 30+ years back when hiring a newlywed was considered a bad risk due to eventual pregnancies. My friends that were interviewing in college were told to not wear any rings when interviewing for teaching jobs, because there is still a bias there.

  36. Lisa P*

    I’ve felt a little concerned at job interviews before because I’m NOT married or engaged. I get worried that an employer might find someone my age and married more mature and stable or something.

  37. Anonymous*

    I worked at a steak house in high school with a young woman who got pregnant. We all knew about it because she didn’t care who knew. She’d already been working there several months, though. She never got any paid time off at all. In fact, she tried working extra hours the closer it got to her due date. My favorite manager let her be cashier every time he worked and found her the nicest office chair to sit in even though it wasn’t allowed. She worked up to the day before she had her baby then came back to work two days later. It worked better in that environment because of the shift scheduling. It didn’t particularly inconvenience anyone and there were enough of us willing to work late or cover her shifts. When you work in a restaurant, you can always use a bigger paycheck.

  38. KiwiGirl*

    Interesting. If I were to interview for a new job (I’m 31), I’d probably want them to know I was married, if it came up in some natural way in the conversation. Because I would think they would consider me in a more stable life position. In two interviews I have been involved in, the successful women were both married, and we viewed that as a good thing, on top of the real reasons we hired them. In our line of work though (science) most women keep working after baby, whereas younger unattached scientists tend to flit from job to job. This question could apply to so many things: “Should I wear make-up, glasses, skirt vs pants, reveal my age through use of schooling dates, hide my highest qualification, lifestyle choices etc?” Some people will discriminate on all sorts of things, you can’t adjust for all those people, so just be yourself!

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