the Onion: 95% of grandfathers got their jobs by walking up and asking

The Onion has an awesome article that will resonate with everyone who’s ever been told by an elder to just show up at a business and ask for a job:

95% of grandfathers got their jobs by walking up and asking

I mean, I don’t know why you’re on your computer all day when you could get hired on the spot if you’d just show some gumption.

my parents say I should offer to work for free for a week to prove myself to employers
Ignore your parents! They are forbidden from giving you advice.
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more bad job advice from parents

{ 238 comments… read them below }

  1. Jamie*

    This is great. Oh and I thought of this yesterday when watching Food Court Wars (hundreds of channels and nothing on – don’t judge me!) and someone said they hired their partner because he came in every day for weeks begging for a job and he eventually relented.

    And now they are business partners.

    This will set the no badgering movement back decades.

    1. Stephanie*

      Wow. I did not know Food Court Wars was a thing. Remember when the Food Network had cooking shows where you learned how to julienne a carrot?

      1. Jamie*

        I know – the only thing I learn from there anymore is how much I hate Guy Fieri – and I already know that.

        One of the guys on one of the episodes was Partick Bertoletti aka “Deep Dish” who was the competitive eater featured on the Steve Dahl Show in days of yore.

        And if that isn’t one of my more obscure references I don’t know what is.

        I find it fascinating when people go on these shows to get a business to run, as opposed to just a reality show check, because I like to kind of vet them by their comments to see if they have any idea what they are getting into.

        But apparently Deep Dish and his business partner have a stall in Springhill Mall’s food court for a year, rent free, called Taco In a Bag. I don’t like tacos in a taco and I’m fairly certain I’d hate them more in a bag – but it was an interesting concept of making a messy food portable.

          1. T*

            That’s your problem in a nutshell – you were waiting for someone to tell you. You should walk up to the food court, bang your fist on the counter, and tell them you’re the person for the job.

        1. Stephanie*

          Wait, aren’t malls not doing well? Winning a stall in a food court is a prize? At least out here (Phoenix that is), it’s only the Nice Malls that aren’t half-empty and/or resorting to renting out space to military recruiters.

            1. JamieG*

              Poorly, at least a few years ago when I moved away. It had turned from the Nice Mall into the one I (as a kid) wasn’t allowed to go to.

            2. Stephanie*

              Yeah, not good. A lot of empty storefronts. What’s left are off-brand shoe and clothing stores and cell phone stores. The Arizona Republic had an article recently about some harebrained scheme to completely revamp it.

            3. JoAnna*

              MetroCenter has become the Ghetto Mall, sadly. Last time I was there (six months ago, maybe?) half the stores had gone out of business. It was a Saturday afternoon in the summer and hardly anyone was there.

          1. Jamie*

            I went to the mall to pick something up – should have been in and out but I got very lost because they keep moving everything. I swear the stores are like the staircases in Hogwarts – never where they were last time.

            But I digress, I ran in and I was struck by how long the line was for Aunt Annie’s pretzels. I’ve had one – they are okay – but this line was 20 people deep and the food court was packed.

            I don’t know how other malls are – but ours is always jammed no matter when you go – but then in suburban Chicago most of our kids spend more time there than at home.

            Anyway, I was shocked at how lucrative pretzels are…who knew?

            1. Midge*

              There is an Auntie Anne’s near my work, and if I happen to walk by it I am overcome with the immediate need for a soft pretzel. Something about the smell is sooo enticing. The pretzels actually leave a weird metallic aftertaste in my mouth, but I occasionally give in to the smell anyway.

              1. Cody c*

                Um the smell has the opposite effect on me and for that reason I call the store Auntie Gag me’s

            2. Nina*

              Those pretzels are really good, though. Plus, they’re the ultimate “convenience food”, meaning you can eat them while walking, talking, etc.

            3. SaraV*

              It’s not necessarily the pretzels, but the lemonade is awesome at Auntie Anne’s. Although, that smell is somehow intoxicating.

          2. Bryan*

            I read a story that I can’t recall where now that because of online shopping malls aren’t doing well (duh). But they still have a purpose just not as many are needed. Also Americans are preferring outdoor shopping plazas.

          3. louise*

            In addition to military recruiters, we also have mall store space rented to a state representative and a blood donation center. At least the blood donation isn’t a kiosk. That would be super creepy.

            1. Tinker*

              When I was in high school, they evidently held a blood drive in the wrestling room. The blood drive banner was under a motto painted on the wall, some sort of rah rah sports thing to the effect of “Give 110% Every Day!!!!!”

              …uhm, no thank you?

              1. E*

                I once went to a blood drive held at a funeral home in the middle of a cemetery.

                I’m fairly convinced the “nurses” were actually vampires.

          4. Arbynka*

            The mall I go to when I am in Phoenix is the one with the Lego store. I don’t know what it is called. And it might be in Mesa. I just know it is not so far from Sky Harbor International Airport. ( I no longer fly from Phoenix though. Once upon a time I could save bunch of money by driving to Phoenix and flying from there but now the ticket price difference is usually only about 100 $ – if any – and if you count gas and kids tagging along to go to the Lego store and then stopping somewhere to eat.. not worth it anymore. I might do it once a year for fun.)

            1. Stephanie*

              I think that’s Chandler Fashion Square (i.e., a Nice Mall). I don’t think Mesa has any Nice Malls (speaking as a Mesa resident).

              I’m surprised how many people make the drive from Tucson to fly out PHX. A few people told me it’s (sometimes) cheaper and a lot of flights get routed through PHX anyway.

              1. Arbynka*

                I know some people who still do drive to Sky Harbor. I guess it depends on how much money you save. There is a shuttle from Tucson to Sky Harbor I took once, I think it was around 60 $ ? and I had to leave at 4 am so I was the only passenger. But like I said for prices I am finding not much worth it anymore. I also usually do not get routed thru Phoenix, usually Dallas or Minneapolis. It always feels so weird to fly from Tucson to Phoenix. It is like 25 minutes and basically you finish climbing and the next minute you are descending again.

        2. LBK*

          They do have normal cooking shows still, but they’re pretty much all on during the day. Primetime is all reality competitions since that gets better ratings. When I worked retail and would be home until 2PM on weekdays I would have Ina Garten, Rachael Ray, Anne Burrell etc. on all day.

        3. Persephone Mulberry*

          Taco In A Bag is a county fair staple around here. I would kill to be able to get one at the mall.

          (I don’t watch Food Network so that’s all I have to contribute to this conversation.)

        4. Anonsie*

          “I know – the only thing I learn from there anymore is how much I hate Guy Fieri – and I already know that.”

          Amen to that.

      2. Kelly O*

        I detest Guy Fieri with the white-hot heat of a thousand suns. Or, as it’s more commonly known, the color of Guy Fieri’s frosted tips.

        I will however declare my undying devotion to Alton Brown and Good Eats. Bonus points because he introduced Lucky Yates to my life, and lord only knows we could all use some more Krieger.

        /end tangent

        1. OriginalYup*

          Did you know that Melissa McCarthy based her “Bridesmaids” character’s appearance on Guy Fieri? :-)

        2. ALT*

          Did you know Alton Brown has a podcast? And there is an episode that is with Lucky Yates. It is one of my top three podcasts.

        3. NatalieR*

          You probably know this, but Ray’s appearance is based on real life Lucky Yates. I felt vindicated when I read an article confirming this, because I kept insisting to my husband that Ray looked like him.

          1. Nina*

            I knew about Yates voicing Krieger, but not about his physical resemblance to Ray. That’s awesome.

        4. PuppyKat*

          Hey, Kelly O, it’s nice to see you in the comments again! Maybe I haven’t been reading as closely recently—but I haven’t seen you here lately.

          [Hope this doesn’t seem too creepy. I just enjoy reading your comments. :-) ]

      3. Poohbear McGriddles*

        I like me some Food Network, but they are straying further and further from actual cooking. There was actually a show not too long ago where this couple would pilfer items from kitchen supply stores to show the stores where their security weaknesses were. Not a darn thing was cooked – the only connection to food was that these places sold cooking supplies.

          1. Annie O*

            And when TLC stood for The Learning Channel, and actually showed educational programming?

          2. Audiophile*

            Hey now, A&E actually has some decent programming. I’m really enjoying Bates Motel. I miss Parking Wars, if for no other reason than that it was comical.

            But I can’t stand TLC anymore. And ID is quickly getting on my nerves how many new shows can you come up with to tell the same spat of murder stories?

        1. EA*

          It’s like ESPN … the Entertainment, Spelling, and Poker Network. (Not so much “Entirely Sports Programming Network” anymore)

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      Please tell us more about this Food Court Wars show. I am really desperate to know!

      1. Celeste*

        They have a set up in a food court, and they have weekly challenges (I forget the number of weeks) and the winner gets to have a business in the food court. When the pressure is on, you can really tell that some of them were home cooks who have a hard time doing food service. But they all seem very sincere, and you definitely start rooting for people.

        1. Jamie*

          It’s oddly interesting. The one I saw both teams had food trucks already and needed to transition.

          Weirdest thing from a business standpoint – one was named Glutton Force Five and the other The Fat Shallot.

          Just me or does anyone else thing it’s a really bad idea to have either glutton or fat in a restaurant name …I’m not going to a place where I have to be pre-ashamed of myself.

          Oh, and an aside – they named it the Fat Shallot because “Chicago is known as “the Big Onion” and it’s a gourmet play on that.”

          My husband and I both looked at each other in incredulity – I think if Chicago was commonly known as something so stupid we’d have heard of it by now.

          I know the word “Chicago” means “skunk” and was what the Native American’s called the Chicago River because of the wild leeks that grew there…but you will not find any I Heart the Big Onion t-shirts or bumper stickers.

          1. Bryan*

            I’m a fan of fat burger but even though I enjoy it I wish it was named something different. I totally get the pre-ashamed feeling.

            The big onion is a new one for me too. Was this an episode about marketing strategy?

            1. Jamie*

              They all have a component of marketing strategy – the winner being the team with the most viable concept including food, marketing, cost control, and customer service

              1. Arbynka*

                The closets to a show with food business marketing strategy I saw was streaming Bob’s Burgers on Netflix :)

          2. Diet Coke Addict*

            I loathe it when restaurants put words like “fat” or “chubby” or “glutton” or something else disparaging in the title. I don’t want to eat at Fat Bob’s House of Meat or whatever.

            1. De Minimis*

              I’m too afraid someone will see me outside and will say, “yep, there you go…”

            2. louise*

              Ugh. I agree. My favorite burger as the local greasy spoon is called the Chubby Cheese. I limit myself to about 1 every 18 months, for obvious reasons.

              1. Doreen*

                I try my best to just point to the menu when ordering the “big ass pulled pork plate” but someone always reads it aloud,

                1. Diet Coke Addict*

                  This is the “Moons Over My Hammy” paradox, where if you go to Denny’s and order said dish by pointing, the waitress will say “Oh, you want a MOONS OVER MY HAMMY” in a voice that could reverberate around cathedrals and everyone will look at you.

                2. Mallory*

                  “Moons Over My Hammy Paradox”

                  I know! I’ve never been able to bring myself to order the Moons Over My Hammy . . . it’s too corny and I would find myself ridiculous saying that!

                3. Agile Phalanges*

                  It’s better than Rooty Tooty Fresh N Fruity. Which my dad thought would be hilarious to order in a flambouant, lispy way from our clearly gay waiter when us kids were teens. Embarrassing on so many levels.

          3. Dan*

            There’s a very high end restaurant in the UK called “The Fat Duck”. It usually places high on “destination restaurant” lists.

          4. JustKatie*

            Lifelong Chicagoan here- I thought Chicago meant “stinking onion”. Apparently we’re all confused!

    3. Sasha LeTour*

      I love “wars” shows of any kind. And cooking shows, especially if they involve crazy tours of cities like New York and Tokyo. (Lookin’ at you, Anthony Bourdain.) I once spent an entire winter watching the back episodes of Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Kitchen Nightmares.’ So I think something like ‘Food Court Wars’ would be right up my alley.

  2. iseeshiny*

    You know where you get gumption? Walking to school. Barefoot. In the snow. Uphill. Just make sure you bring your bootstraps.

    1. Kay*

      Both ways. Don’t forget that. And how many cows they had to milk before school every day…

      (My grandpa is one of 11 kids and every one of them claimed they had to milk the cows before school. You know what really happened? Their mom milked the cows when they didn’t get it done!)

      1. evilintraining*

        I actually did have to walk uphill both ways. I lived on a big hill, and my school was up another hill. :)

  3. Bryan*

    ugh, this reminds me of the other day on the LinkdeIn home page there was an article telling people to send your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager directly to avoid the applicant system black hole and because it will show how you think out of the box and get your material before a human’s eyes. Cut to me screaming at my computer NO! it shows you can’t follow directions.

    AAM has given me an intolerance to bad job hunting advice.

    1. the gold digger*

      I usually like Liz, but that one made me roll my eyes.

      There was another guy who said that women who had been out of the work force raising their kids should put that they had become really good time managers in their cover letters.

      1. Clever Name*

        Yeah, I didn’t learn time management by staying at home with my son. I learned time management in high school. If anything, I learned how to careen from one mini crisis to another, which is the complete opposite of time management.

        1. Mallory*

          *raises hand* Really good at fudging how much I actually did in a day — that counts for something, right?

        2. Sasha LeTour*

          “I learned how to careen from one mini crisis to another, which is the complete opposite of time management.”

          Unless you work in advertising. Until I stumbled upon the fabulous blog, “Why Advertising Sucks,” I thought my workplace was unique. Turns out, I’m living the same “dream” as everyone who has worked at any ad agency, ever. The best part? What your clients will call a “crisis” is something that would not matter to any sane or rational person outside of this business. Like a font that is one point size too small, or a box that has a 2em margin instead of 1.8.

    2. Anonymous*

      Aside from which, when did mail become “out of the box”? Granted, it’s the box from at least ten years ago, but a box regardless.

  4. Hlyssande*

    My very good friend had to deal with this as well. Her father has never actually been hired for a job in his life – he worked the family beekeeping, then started his own business, sold that and started another one, has a few neat patents, etc.

    He’s in his 60s and while she was job searching, he kept harassing her to say that she needed to go up in person and ask for applications to non-retail companies.


    1. Kevin*

      I bet when your friend had to tell her dad that wasn’t how things worked it really stung.

      Sorry I couldn’t help myself :(

      1. De Minimis*

        Nope, not anymore. About 10 years ago I got a job at Borders by just showing up and asking for an application, but they started using an online system literally a couple of months later.

        And even then I didn’t “follow up” or anything after turning it in to them.

        I did pester my way into a fast food job about 20 years ago, but it ended up not going well in the end so I imagine that was the last time the manager hired someone who kept showing up and asking about a job every month or two.

        1. Dan*

          I find it a little funny that chain locations have computer kiosks at which to apply. If that’s how it’s going to be, I’ll just apply from the privacy of my own home.

          1. Stephanie*

            Well, to be fair, some people may not have a computer at home. So I get why Walmart has a computer kiosk for applications in-store.

              1. Stephanie*

                Oh, even sadder is that I have ATS preferences. Taleo’s toward the bottom, but iRecruiyment by Oracle (I think) is the worst. I spent 30 minutes today trying to find the appropriate “code” for my school and major.

                I’m a fan of Jobvite. Kenexa’s about middle of the pack. There are others, but those are the ones I can recall.

                Of course, an email address for cover letter and résumé is best.

                1. De Minimis*

                  I remember Unicru, I don’t know if that one is still around. Seemed like a lot of retail companies used that one.

                2. Sarahnova*

                  I am RIGHT THIS MOMENT trying to submit an application through Kenexa Brassring, but the final “Submit” button does not appear to do anything. Gah.

      2. EM*

        I have to say — one of my friends JUST got a job at Petco last week by dropping by in-person, with her adorable dog no less. Perhaps it was the dog that helped. ;)

        1. James M*

          Petco (at least where I live) emphasizes a personal love for pets in their prospective employees. Bringing your (well-behaved) dog to apply is probably exactly what they like to see.

        2. YogiJosephina*

          I work for Trader Joe’s, and part of our schtick is that we absolutely positively DO NOT do online applications. You HAVE to come in and apply in person. It’s part of our screening process because we want to see if we get a good feeling about you right off the bat. We ask you a few questions on the spot to see how we think you’d fit in with the culture, and if we like what you have to say you’ll be invited back for a more in-depth interview. I remember being super weirded out by all this when I was first brought on board there – I turned in my application fully expecting that to be it, but then they asked me a few questions which I felt I handled well. I was almost home, in my car, when the general manager called asking me to come back for another interview a few days later. I did, and two days after that, job offer. It was actually the best hiring process I’d ever been through, which makes sense because it’s also been the best company I’ve ever worked for and the best job I’ve ever had. It really is true that the hiring process is a good indicator of how you’ll be treated on the job as well.

          1. C Average*

            Aww, I love this! Thanks for sharing this story. It makes me feel even MORE warm and fuzzy about shopping at TJs.

    2. thenoiseinspace*

      The last time I tried to apply for part-time jobs in person (which was a few years ago), they looked at me like I was insane. Actual conversation:
      Me: Hi, I’d like to apply for a job.
      Person behind the counter: Okay.
      Person: So…what are you doing here?

      Literally every job application was online. Some places had a little card with the direct url on it, but most of them just told you to check their website.

      1. KJR*

        I wonder if this is a regional phenomenon…a few of my daughter’s friends work at the local mall, and all of them filled out paper apps at the store.

        1. Anonicorn*

          I’ve noticed some retailers have little booths in the store with a computer for people to fill out applications. I’ve most often seen them in those obscure areas for gift wrapping and that type of thing.

      2. Mallory*

        I had no idea that even fast food and retail had gone this way — until I sent my 17-year-old out to apply for jobs at some fast food places around town. They almost all sent her back home to apply on line. Only the local restaurants had paper applications.

        Back when I was that age, the only rule about applying at restaurants was not to show up during the lunch rush.

  5. Sascha*

    Loved the last line about how he “gave the pretty girl behind the counter a wink” and they’re still married. Alls ya need is some gumption.

    So Alison, how would one demonstrate “gumption” in the cover letter? :)

      1. Sascha*

        If you’re trying to get a job working for Ron Swanson, that is probably the best way to do it.

      2. thenoiseinspace*

        Actually, in the latest issue of Glamour, they talk about job hunting tips. One of them mentioned how impressed she was by a candidate who taped a cut-out of a man from the shoulders up to a pocket, then filled the pocket with magazine cut-outs of burgers, sporting equipment, etc. The last piece of paper said “I know what’s inside a man’s head.” And they were advocating this!

        1. Ali*

          I saw a segment on the Today show about a month or two ago when they were talking about things like job seekers putting themselves on eBay and one magazine job candidate putting her resume in a skirt she designed. And yes, the panelists seemed to be encouraging this! (I actually tweeted to Alison about it mentioning she’d be horrified.)

        2. Lily in NYC*

          Oh my gosh, how sexist and lame! I can’t believe that wasn’t in a “don’t do this” column.

        3. AVP*

          Either that one story from that one Glamour editor has been cited in dozens of “job hunting tips” articles over the years, or there are dozens of magazine writers and editors doing the same thing. Either way, one anecdote does not make a rule!

          1. fposte*

            Stuff like that is the magazine equivalent of email forwards–it’s not based on any original research or knowledge, it’s just cobbled together from stuff they found, and in turn gets drawn on by somebody else cobbling stuff together. All without ever interacting with anybody who knows anything about the subject.

            1. MJH*

              It actually does work, if the HR and hiring managers are easily impressed by gimmicks. (And sometimes they are, especially in creative fields. See: my old job.)

              But it’s not a guarantee of a good or even competent candidate. (Again, see: my old job.)

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I get interviewed for those articles a lot, and often the reporter will say something like “could you suggest tips like, say, a candidate who taped a cut-out of a man from the shoulders up to a pocket, then filled the pocket with magazine cut-outs of burgers, sporting equipment, etc.?” They sometimes spoon-feed you the answers that they want to make the article colorful. (I refuse to play along and wish others would too.)

            1. Anonsie*

              I need to hear this, too, because when I first saw it I died a little inside but then the more I looked over it, it looks like it was actually done as a work sample for some sort of marketing or design roles or some sort? I could never find any context for it when it was new.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yes! I think it was a work sample or assignment for candidates, not her actual application. As the former, it’s really cool. As the latter, it’s gimmicky and awful.

                1. hayling*

                  I agree. It’s weird that it was touted as being more of a resume, but if you read the article it was obviously part of the screening process.

    1. Sasha LeTour*

      Well, in matters of love, that might still work occasionally. At the tender age of 24, I showed up to my neighbor’s apartment in a short skirt, clutching a bottle of “just above bottom-shelf” vodka.

      Then, dear reader, I married him. : )

  6. Tinker*

    Isn’t that “grumption”?

    (Seriously, that word so much needs to take off. That along with “hlep”.)

    1. Elysian*

      Yesss!!!!!! Make it happen!

      I can only think of Gretchen from Mean Girls – “Stop trying to make fetch happen. It’s not going to happen.”

  7. Jennifer*

    Yes, this worked great for my mom in the 1960’s. Not so much now.

    Dear god, I hope her bosses don’t retire (unfortunately, they are making noises about it) so she doesn’t have to apply anywhere again.

    1. Sunflower*

      I feel the same way. My mother tried to give me job advice until she realized she hasn’t applied for a job in 20 years and doesn’t even have a resume. Thankfully she works in a small office that can’t run without her and her boss is younger than her so she will be retiring before him.

  8. Sunflower*

    I’m wildly curious how this advice would actually pan out today. I would love to see some sort of test study/video of someone walking up to offices and asking for jobs.

    1. Sascha*

      If I was a hiring manager and someone kept coming into my business day after day demanding a job, I’d get a civil injunction against that person, not give her a job.

      1. ryn*

        heh. we had somebody do that at my job. and now she’s been working here for almost two years. my place is basically backwards and won’t hire you unless you bug them and call them over and over. and they require you to come in and fill out an application in person and don’t take resumes. idk…

    2. Frustrated Job Seeker*

      This guy has done something similar. He spoke at my Alma Mater last year (I went because I’m chronically unemployed and had nothing better to do, and was curious) It was one of the most irritating lectures ever, and makes my Alma Mater seem even more 3rd tier than it already is.

    3. Kerr*

      I’ve been in the curious position of doing front office temp work while otherwise unemployed. Offices DID have people come in and ask about open positions. It was exceedingly weird to have to tell them no, we weren’t hiring, and no, there would be no point in filling out an application to “keep on file.” There was one older guy who insisted that he was a hard worker, etc., and he could fill it out in case we had anything open up. I always felt awful turning them down. (Although it’s possible that if there had been an open job, they might have accepted paper apps from walk-ins. How those would have been received, I have no idea.)

      I’m just grateful that I was too chicken to ever try cold-calling or walking in, as was recommended to me by well-meaning people.

      1. Stephanie*

        I wonder if some of those people were just trying to get contacts for the unemployment office forms. The state agencies make you list a minimum number of contacts, including in-person contacts.

        1. Jamie*

          Absolutely. When I did front desk in an industrial park eons ago I’d have people in every day asking for applications – sometimes in groups, when asked what kind of work they were looking for they had no answers and demeanor and dress clearly indicated that getting you to sign the paper they had that they’d filled out an application was the goal.

          I didn’t sign or give an application unless we had positions and there was at least a possibility they were really looking.

    4. Kimberly*

      Maybe the modern equivalent is sending “cold” emails requesting internships, volunteer opportunities, etc. I’m listed as a contact on my non profit’s website for various programs. I typically receive 3-5 emails A WEEK from people wanting to volunteer or intern with me as a way into a job with a non profit.

  9. Adam*

    You know, I don’t doubt that it often worked that way back in the day. But it just ain’t that way no more.

  10. Jane Fonda*

    I know we’ve talked about it in the past, but its interesting how many people don’t understand the basics of job searching. My mom is self-employed and my dad has been working at the same job for as long as I can remember. I’m the oldest and navigating the job market as a new grad kind of sucks. I can never get them to proofread my cover letters. Given that so much advice is bad advice, it can be disheartening to figure out what’s missing from your application to get you to the interview stage. At least my parents don’t try to force me to badger hiring managers ;)

  11. Laura*

    They also walked up the hill both ways. And made enough to buy a house, a car and support their family on minimum wage. And think somehow that nothing has changed in 60 years.

    1. Mints*

      The buying a car and a house thing is actually true based on statistical averages, and it seriously bums me out thinking about it

      1. Laura*

        Oh I know it was true, just people who mention it don’t realize it hasn’t been true in a very long time.

  12. A Cita*

    I think this may be my new favorite Onion piece, up there with:
    “Child abuse: How much is too much?”* and “Dolphins develop opposable thumbs. Oh shit, says humanity”

    Forwarding this to my boss. She’ll love it.

    *caveat, I obviously don’t think real child abuse is funny, if it needs to be said.

    1. Clever Name*

      Heh. I laughed at the headline about “how much is too much?”, and I’m a parent.

  13. CanadianWriter*

    I wonder how many young people were sent this article by their grandparents, saying “See! I told you so!”

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Holy cannoli, I have never seen that site before and I don’t think I am going to get any work done for the rest of the day. People are so gullible (then again, I believed my neighbor when he told me he had a coworker named Donald Duck who killed himself because he couldn’t take the teasing).

        1. Dan*

          The Onion has been around for A. Very. Long. Time. It was founded in 1988, and been on the web since 1996. So that makes it pretty damn funny when a politician quotes it and doesn’t realize the satire.

          It’s the modern day equivalent of April fool’s day, except the Onion is actually funny.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            I wasn’t referring to The Onion! I don’t live in a cave. I was talking about the link some1 posted that has hilarious comments from people who fall for the stories in The Onion.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          It’s incredible how many people believe that some dude had a Fight Club with a gorilla who lived in his basement!

      2. littlemoose*

        Dang, you beat me to it. I love that site. Some folks just can’t wrap their heads around the concept of satire.

    1. EM*

      Ha! My mom thought an Onion article about the author of Game of Thrones was real. She didn’t understand it was a satire site.

      She was all like, “See? If the author can’t even remember what he wrote, don’t feel badly you can’t keep track of characters!” (Said to a friend who was describing how hard it was for her to keep track of all the characters while she was reading the book before she started watching the TV show.)

  14. LBK*

    I feel very lucky to have a mother who’s been a hiring manager for years and who also got a new job herself a couple years ago, so she actually has great, useful career advice. She redid my resume and turned it from a horrible career center-inspired trainwreck into a sharp, smart marketing document like it should be.

          1. NW Cat Lady*

            It depends on the position. I used to take my old lady cat to work (in a shelter), and she would curl up on the desk and occasionally get up, walk across the keyboards, inspect everybody’s work, and then curl back up and take another nap. Everyone loved her and agreed that she was the best front desk supervisor ever.

  15. Ash (the other one!)*

    Can I admit something? My last job I got my walking up to my now former boss and asking for a job. And guess what? He gave me a shot (interning and then full time). It does happen…now if I can figure out how to get a new job all will be good.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Awesome! I am still shocked that I got a great job at a national magazine by applying to an ad in the newspaper classifieds. It seems so archaic even though it was the late 90s.

      1. Dan*

        My dad’s company (dad does the hiring) still advertises in the local paper. I keep asking him WTF every time we have that conversation.

        1. Dan*

          I make twice what he does and four times what his staff do, so thank friggin’ god he knows better than to give me unsolicited job search advice.

    2. LMW*

      I actually got my first job because I was out walking with my dad and he said, Hey, walk into that new store and ask if she’s looking for help. Which I did, with him standing about two steps behind me. And I worked there for 5 years.
      Although, to be fair, I was 15, it was 1995, it was a single-person business and I was the first person she’d ever hired aside from babysitters for her kids. It took us a year to mutually figure out there was such a thing as taxes (although that first year I was way under what was required to file, thank goodness).

    3. AVP*

      I have a friend with a similarly far-fetched story of how she got her job. Yes, she did use the type of gimmick that’s usually frowned upon, and it worked, but you better believe she was also pounding the online pavement, applying for dozens of jobs digitally, and not counting on that kind of luck to work out for her.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I actually know someone who got a jealousy-inducing job at Disney by handcuffing himself to something in reception and saying he wouldn’t leave until they hired him. It worked! I’m sure it helped that he was gorgeous and did have a good resume, and this was the 80s, – I’m sure if it happened now he’d get arrested.
        The job was to entertain VIPs who came to Disney for business reasons. The salary was ridiculously high. I’d be so good at taking people out to dinner and getting them drunk.

    4. Prickly Pear*

      I totally got my job cruising off the street one random day. Granted, that was forever ago, but I think from me walking in to starting was less than 3 weeks.

    5. Except in California*

      I got my first job from a lead I got from a guy I chatted up in the produce section at the supermarket. Since then, most of my leads (for contract web dev work) have come from friends, friends of friends, and Toastmasters. Basically, I don’t follow AAM’s advice, at all. Sorry! Sadly, I had to pay taxes on $107K last year. But what do I know…

  16. Poohbear McGriddles*

    That’s the great thing about Onion articles – it’s hard to tell fact from fiction if you don’t know the source!

    The next in the series should be “Only Thing Standing Between New Grad and Job is a Quick Call to That Guy His Mom Met at Church the Other Day”.

    1. Mints*

      I’m suddenly really grateful my mom limits job search conversations to helpful “keep at it,” “congrats on the interview,” and “good luck”

      1. the gold digger*

        PS Although I did notice in the bulletin for the church down the street that one of the new members is the president of a major company here. I thought, “Hmmm. I need to get on a committee with this guy.”

    2. Anonsie*

      Followed by “New Grad Could Have Job if She Would Just Apply to Ads Her Aunt Finds on Craigslist”

    1. Elsajeni*

      I like “Thanks, I’ll think about that,” delivered brightly and sincerely. Because I will! I’m just leaving out the minor detail that what I’ll be thinking is, “Boy, that advice Uncle Wakeen gave me sucked.”

    2. Puddin*

      “Thanks gramps, but I stopped doing that after one interviewer told me they could smell the whiskey on my breath. Hmmm, I’m thirsty…”

  17. TrainerGirl*

    When I was in my senior year of college, my father was preparing to retire from his government job and searching in the private sector, so we were job hunting at the same time. My mother gave the WORST advice to both of us.

    As a side note….I will admit that I did get my first corporate job by approaching someone from HR (I was temping there at the time) and stating that I wanted a full time job and was willing to start wherever needed. I was hired 2 days later. I think it was a right place, right time kind of thing, but it set my career in motion, so I can’t complain. Something like that would never happen today.

  18. Leah*

    This reminds me of the job search advice given in an oft-recommended job search book. There are references to Google and Bing but the writer states that job search hasn’t changed much since 1970. According to this person’s guesses, the best way to get a job is to flip through the yellow pages, write down places you want to work and just show up there. Apparently, the only reason that this is isn’t the standard way of doing things is because “workers in Western culture are too lazy”.

    The writer doesn’t actually use the words “gumption” or “moxie” but you know the writer really wanted to. There were useful aspects to the book but I’m glad I borrowed it from the library and didn’t pay for it.

    1. Collarbone High*

      I came home yesterday to find the yellow pages on my doorstep and I was shocked that they still exist. I just recently moved back to the States and I’d assumed that would have stopped publishing in the years I’d been overseas. It takes up half my recycling bin, too.

      (Other things whose continued existence surprised me: RadioShack, Little Caesar’s, Sears)

    2. Lynn Whitehat*

      Does the book title start with “W” and end with “hat Color is Your Parachute?”

  19. In progress*

    I have a question- if it worked then why doesn’t it work now? Did people enjoy being pestered back then?

    1. C average*

      The internet.

      Then, you had limited ability to advertise the opening (sign in window, word of mouth, walk-in inquiries, classified ads in the paper). So the pool of potential applicants was small.

      Likewise, for most job-seekers, the pool of potential employers was small, especially if they wanted to stay local. They could read the want ads, pound the pavement, or leverage their network.

      There are still pockets where the old methods work. My parents live in a very small town (900 people) and I would guess a high-schooler in that town could get a bag-boy job at the grocery store by happening to walk in and ask on the right day, or by asking regularly over time so that the manager thought of him when there was an opening.

      1. Pockets*

        I agree there are still pockets where these methods work. In the small town I grew up in (5,000 pop.), an unbelievable amount of the small businesses still don’t have websites. Everybody knows everybody, and they still expect people to show up, fill out paper applications, and show some gumption. :-)

        It really depends on what size town or city you are in, what size companies you are interested in, and whether or not said companies have websites, specific application instructions, and so on.

        I am only 34 and have gotten 3 of my 4 full time jobs through sheer gumption. (Sorry, I’m just enjoying using this word at this point.) The last one was in a larger city for a larger organization, and I got it by applying online.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        OMG! I so remember when I was 18 and had just graduated high school and “pounding the pavement” by driving around to all of the large local businesses and company buildings to fill out applications. What a pain!

        Back then most of the places had a receptionist at the front lobby and she would hand you the application form and, if you were lucky, you could sometimes speak with someone in Personnel Office. LOL!

    2. Dan*

      Probably because your options were to call or snail-mail in your app. I have to imagine that getting lost in the shuffle was pretty gosh darn easy. Warm bodies at the doorstep were easy enough to hire, because god forbid the hiring manager lost all of the hard-copy material.

      Email and applicant tracking systems have changed all of that.

    3. Artemesia*

      In the good old days people could just hire the son of their best friend and not have to fiddle with opening up the search to all those people and women and such. So jobs routinely went through nepotism or friendship circles. Showing up with the right stuff (and the right skin shape and color) and preferably with the right connections at the right time might well work.

      A company that hires that way now is running afoul of all those pesky laws about affirmative action (i.e. actually allowing the job to be publicized to anyone who might be interested in applying).

    4. De Minimis*

      I think pestering took more effort back then–the example I gave, the manager kept telling me to check back in a couple of weeks, a month, or whatever. He managed a group of stores and hired me for a different store than the one I’d applied to, about 3-4 months after I first contacted him and filled out an application.

      I agree with the previous comment that the internet has made a difference, I’d say also cell phones. Job seekers having to meet in person to get an application combined with having to go home or at least to a pay phone in order to call someone made things a lot more manageable for employers.

      One thing I did not like better though was that applicants were more likely to get the runaround since managers were less likely to want to tell someone no in person, and back then the runaround was literal!

    5. Josie*

      I would imagine the specialization of skills through technology and higher education also plays a role. In the fields where showing up and asking for a job can still work (i.e. retail), it’s because showing up tells them pretty much what they need to know about you – that you’re friendly, presentable and motivated enough to show up. When more places were looking for hardworking young people to train up, putting on a clean shirt and showing yourself to potential employers told them something about you.

      1. In progress*

        Now, of course, even to get a retail job they want to do administer a mini-SAT, run a credit check, demand 3 years of experience, and make you go through a psychological profile test. I wish I was kidding.

        1. Josie*

          True. I worked in one place about three or four years ago that did just take me based on my resume and the fact that I presented myself nicely, but the next place I worked did the whole personality test BS. There are some small franchises that don’t have a centralized hiring system, but they’re fewer and fewer.

    6. Layla*

      I think people don’t realize times are just different. Years ago, there was a lady who showed up in person at my cousin’s business for a job. My cousin decided to ask about the woman. Turns out the woman had multiple convictions of child molestation (and cousin’s business is a daycare). Granted, it’s an extreme case, but there are a lot of people who can sell themselves well in presentation but won’t cut the mustard in the long run for various reasons. And i think enough hiring managers have been burned not to intentionally put themselves in that position. I for one will never hire someone blind and risk having another bully on my staff.

    7. JCC*

      It’s partially a myth that “all it took was gumption”. In the 1930s, there really weren’t any jobs to gumption your way into because there really weren’t any jobs. After World War II, the current system of tiered requirements and personality tests was already starting to form in the larger companies. This was what Vance Packard’s classic book “The Pyramid Climbers” was describing. I think the biggest difference was probably that there were more small businesses in the past, and owner-operators often appreciate the direct approach, because with limited staff, a generalist with gumption is probably what is needed anyways. :)

  20. C average*

    When I was little, I actually thought “gumption” was a tangible material thing, possibly something you ate or smeared on your skin. (I wasn’t sure what the actual mechanism was, but in my mind “gumption” was a cure for cowardice/timidity the way “aspirin” was a cure for headaches or “Neosporin” was a cure for . . . bugs, or germs, or something.)

    I also thought elbow grease was an actual cleaning product and arson was a commercial chemical product used to start fires.

    Why “gumption,” “elbow grease,” and “arson” all came up in general conversation is, alas, lost to my memory.

    1. Kay*

      That’s adorable! I had a friend growing up who thought “pedestrians” belonged to a religion that didn’t allow them to ride in cars :-) Kids believe the cutest things!

      1. fposte*

        I thought Protestants came from Prodistan, which I presumed was near Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc.

      2. Cath in Canada*

        Love it!

        I have a friend who thought her religion was called “Public”, because her friends went to Catholic School or Jewish School, and she went to Public School.

      3. Loose Seal*

        My niece thought the word “allergic” meant that you didn’t like the food — sort of a polite way to decline being served something. Her mother got a frantic phone call from the school her first week in Kindergarten wanting to know why they didn’t have in my niece’s file that she was allergic to broccoli.

    2. Adam*

      When I was a kid my grandma referred to things as “watchamajiggers” all the time. It wasn’t until I hit my teen years that I realized it wasn’t a brand name of some come.

  21. hamster*

    I got my first job in a very funny way. At a career fair at my college ( a small lame career fair, not like the big flashy ones with all the big companies) i was just stumbling out from a lab or somthing. I decided to walk up to the stands and look out. I was dressed in a tee and shorts ( clams more likely). I stood by a booth where an older student ( i was finishing my second year from my 4 year engineering degree ) was discussing what to me seemed very cool rockety science stuff with the director of a company that run a small research team. While i was gawping , one grumpy tech guys sitting in the back was telling me , hey you, what do you know to do. I told him, ( a bit of this a bit of that , C in high-school, one semester of java/oop , some matlab, some microcontroller arch/assembly stuff but all VERY basic) , he gave me a card and told me “write me an e-mail with bulletpoints ” of all that you know to do. I did. They called me for an interview. I was young/naive/out of laundry and clothes ( hello freshman 15). A collegue drove me to the interview( jeans + a tee + sandals, i shudder). There was the director , the grumpy guy ( he proved a great mentor actually ) and the hiring manager ( one of the best managers ever). All but the tech in costumes with ties.
    But somehow i charmed them telling how i uses what little classes i got to build my own software to organise pics . I told them about ALL my school stuff. about my internship the previous summer. They hired me. I worked there 2 years and it was a stepping stone in my carreed. Had all the best reviews, and did cool stuff, and they let me work from home 3 months once because my school schedule was hectic.
    So all in all. No cv, no interview attire , a bullet point mail, and the answer to a logic/philosophic puzzle.

    1. Stephanie*

      Sort of related, I snagged a summer internship by just asking the campus recruiter if he’d consider me. The company did recruit on-campus, but I completely dropped the ball on uploading my resume to the online tracking system. The recruiter ended up squeezing me in during his lunch hour and we interviewed in a common room in one of the dorms.

      I talked briefly about career interests and my engineering class work, but the longest digression was about my hobby as a cellist. We spent 20 minutes just talking about this. He was fascinated I still kept it up through college and asked me all kind of things about how I found time to practice, if my roommates found it annoying or enjoyable, and if my quartet had managed to snag any gigs.

      I think the cello made me stand out a bit and gave some dimension to what was probably a kind of uninspiring resume.

      1. Stephanie*

        That being said…I wouldn’t advise this. I think I lucked out because (1) the company had an established recruiting relationship at my alma mater, (2) it was for an internship, so they gave me some job search and interviewing leeway since I was 20 and naïve, (3) as an intern, if I was a disaster I’d be gone in three months anyway and (4) it was 2007 and the economy was better.

      2. Dan*

        My background is in aviation, and I interviewed for an internship/part time job with an aviation consulting firm with offices in suburban DC with a nice view of the approach path to DCA. My interview was more or less just shooting the breeze, the guy and I had crossed paths prior to the interview.

        I concluded the interview by saying something along the lines of, “Sorry if I wasn’t paying too much attention to you, watching the planes land is a bit more interesting.” He told me that was a good thing, because he wouldn’t hire me otherwise.

        I always make sure to let a little bit of my personality show during interviews. That way if I get an offer, there’s a reasonable chance that they can put up with the real me.

  22. MissDisplaced*

    This is so funny!
    But you what’s so funny IS the fact that some people “back in the day” really DID get jobs that way. My husband’s dad actually got his job at Hughes Aerospace (yes, the Howard Hughes) that way. He kept going there every week until they hired him. Guy didn’t even have an engineering degree.
    Those kinds of things would never happen today.

    1. Ruffingit*

      No kidding, today if you went there every week you’d get a restraining order, not a job!

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I think someone in HR in the comments above actually did that!

        This approach “may” still work in small towns and with some small business owners, but with other places you’ll be the crazy one. My mom never gets the way things have changed either. She can’t understand WHY I have to go to 2 or 3 interviews to try and get a job. I guess there was a time when they told you that you were hired on your first interview.

        1. Sasha LeTour*

          I got plenty of retail and customer service-type jobs before I earned my bachelor’s by showing up and giving them my name. But that was a “long time ago” by today’s standards; hence, the economy was a completely different kettle of fish. And while it could still work in certain sectors – the NYC restaurant industry, I’m told, is one of them – it is definitely NOT the guaranteed method to landing a white-collar, salaried job that Gramps thinks it is.

  23. Ed*

    This reminds of when my parents give me dating advice. What part of dating nobody but my father and then marrying right out of high school qualifies my mom to provide dating advice? It’s a completely different world and dating advice from the 60’s doesn’t really apply.

    1. Tinker*

      Oh lordy. Over the holiday season this last year, one of the minor WTF moments was my mother pining over my squandered chances in the realm of love, inclusive of an obnoxious pickup artist who tried to run game on me at work. Apparently I was too harsh in turning him down for such trivial reasons of “not finding him attractive”, “finding him repellent”, and “dating someone else at the time”.

      There’s a sort of “never say never” thing that seems to come from growing up in a terribly small dating pool in a tremendously gossipy community and scales… rather poorly… to living and working in larger cities. I guess it’s something of the reverse of the set of assumptions that arise about job searching when jobs are much more available and information travels slower.

      1. Anonsie*

        There is definitely a pervasive idea (among people of all ages, really) that you should be most interested in a man who is interested in you. Because men hate relationships, see, so if he wants one with you and if he really likes you, that is what’s most important and that makes it special. And any man who won’t chase you down relentlessly is just not that into you.

        I think that’s what fuels this thing where people want you to give a reason why you don’t want to date a guy, or why you want to stop seeing a guy. Really it’s the other way around– do I feel compelled to keep seeing this dude?

        1. Tinker*

          Yes, there’s that and I think also a sense that if someone does pursue you, then that should be rewarded — because he took a risk and tried, didn’t he, and wouldn’t it be sad, y’know, if he went away empty-handed? After all, he showed he had gumption! And yet implementing the suggestion there obviously isn’t a sustainable practice for most people.

    2. OriginalYup*

      Indeed. One of my great aunts (who’s from a different country than I am) makes judgey relationship statements like “In my day, we didn’t quit on a marriage, we stuck in there and made it work” and I’m like, “That’s super, Auntie May. Wasn’t divorce illegal in the old country until about 10 minutes ago?”

      1. Ruffingit*

        OMG, yeah. I heard this from my ex-MIL (well before my divorce from her son mind you): “People just give up on marriage too easily these days…”

        Meanwhile, her marriage of 40+ years was to a man she married because she was pregnant and who treated her like crap on a regular basis, making her feel incompetent and unworthy. Yeah, let’s not give up on that paragon of marriage…

  24. Ellie*

    This article rings miserably true in my life. I am staying with a 70 something year old woman, and she feels the need to give me bad job advice all the time. She’ll say things like “You have to make yourself known! Just show up in person and ask for a job!” and tell me tales of “In MY day, I just showed up for a job and got one the very same day!” She also says that jobs aren’t found on the internet (?!?!). I know Alison’s advice is to not tell people about your job search; I don’t, she just tells me her advice freely. It’s crazy!

  25. Belinda Gomez-Maldonado*

    I meet a lot of people who started in showbiz by just showing up and asking. Spielberg snuck onto a studio lot. Working corporate jobs is very different, I understand. But personal contact still means a lot in entertainment.

  26. Erin*

    This is perfect. My 82 y/o grandfather truly believes this is how it’s still done and the reason I couldn’t find a job in my field was because I wasn’t going to offices and demanding I speak to the managers! No one can tell him otherwise!

  27. hayling*

    Ugh when I was job searching my dad kept telling me to “get on the horn” (i.e. call them).

    When I told my mom I had applied for a few jobs at Big Local University where she had worked briefly 40+ years ago, she suggested I stop by the Personnel Office.

  28. Loose Seal*

    Most of my counseling clients have felonies and are required to have jobs as part of their probation. I was in court with them a few weeks ago and the judge was talking to the group about how important finding a job was. He didn’t use the word “gumption” but he told them — from the bench, mind — that they should show the potential employer how hard they would work by working *for free* for a month!

  29. anon-2*

    Back around 24 years ago, I was an out-of-work late-30 something, and my parents thought that the best way to go about finding work was to be a pest.

    Also – blindly send in applications. Apply to any job advertised in the Boston Globe, even if you don’t fit the qualifications, because by golly, someone might take you up on your “gumption” and call you in anyway.

    My father would show me an ad in the Boston Globe – which may have been an IS/IT position of some type, and I didn’t even know what they were talking about. “Why don’t you apply anyway?” I said – it’d be a waste of time. They didn’t spend $3000 or more on an ad to collect resumes for non-qualified applicants.

    I finally found work – and we advertised for a particular position. I placed the ad in the Boston Globe.

    We had 450 applications. Out of those 450, perhaps only 25 even knew what the job was about, and maybe 15 were qualifed for it. But we had to date and file each application, and respond (we used a postcard) to inform those who had no idea what we were looking for that we received the application but were unable to call them in for an interview – if something opened up in this office we would let them know.

    My mother only worked at a few jobs in her life – and her main job hunting experience was during World War II – when jobs were plentiful. My father went from his business directly into schoolteaching – and stayed in one position for 26 years.

    Their experience is not what you find today — nor is it mine (my last job hunt was in 1996, but out of need in 1990)….

  30. Catherine*

    This was also my grandfather’s story, but the article left out the part about responding to all the potential bossman’s questions about race and place of origin with lies and more lies. (It’s also the story of How We Started Being White.)

  31. Stevie Wonders*

    Thank goodness our state unemployment insurance department no longer requires such “personal” contacts! This was the case 30 years ago, and even then it was wildly inappropriate for most white collar jobs.

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