ask the readers: weird job advice your parents gave you

Over the years, we’ve heard about some really weird job advice and other actions from parents. Some examples:

* “My mom once tried to go into a job interview with me, when I was 23. I told her ABSOLUTELY NOT. (She did a lot of crazy things when I was that age, but I eventually trained her out of the helicoptering.)”

* “My father accused a recruiter that had called me of working for a “fake” company. Apparently she misspelled the name of the company she worked at, and when he googled he was redirected to a porn website. The company was legit, but the recruiter was so offended that never called me again or returned my emails.”

* “My dad told me to wear jeans to a job interview when I was a teenager. Everyone else was in smart trousers, I didn’t get the job, and have never been able to figure out if he genuinely thought this was a good idea or if he didn’t think the job was suitable and didn’t want me to get it…”

* “My dad once insisted on accompanying me to a job interview that turned out to be for Cutco knives. He embarrassed the hell out of me by hovering over me while I filled out the application, loudly yelling about the “inappropriate rap music” that they were playing in reception, and snorting conspicuously throughout the presentation. I practically had to fight him not to come into the one-on-one with me. Of course, they offered me the opportunity, because anyone who needs her dad to go to interviews with her must be a rube. I didn’t take it, of course.” (Okay, this one is pretty awesome.)

So: Did your parents give you weird job advice or otherwise try to interfere in your career in bizarre ways? Or have you heard an outrageous story of that happening to someone else? We want to hear about it in the comments.

{ 1,118 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. I'm A Little TeaPot

    Some of the clothing my mom has thought was work appropriate… luckily, she also had a policy of not buying me clothing since she couldn’t figure out what size I am. But she’s sent me links to things. One was actually a full length evening dress.

    Reply
      1. I'm A Little TeaPot

        She hasn’t worked in an office since I was a baby, and then she worked for the state government. In a totally normal office. Granted, it was the 80s.

        Reply
    1. lyonite

      When I was interviewing for a summer intern position in college my mom loaned me one of her old “power suits” (this was in the late 90s). Shoulder pads, gold buttons and everything. I got the job, but I still cringe when I think of what I looked like showing up in an ultra-casual scientific lab like that.

      Reply
      1. AKchic

        *shudder*
        I have so many stories I could tell of the clothing power struggles my mom has tried to foist on me.

        Some of those clothes still haunt my nightmares.

        Reply
      2. The New Wanderer

        Oh, the late 90s, it had its own issues. My mom’s contributions to my work outfits were sheer white blouses. With no camisoles. She either didn’t know they existed or that they needed to be worn under sheer blouses for modesty’s sake. To be fair I didn’t know that either, but I used to argue that I wouldn’t wear the shirts because my bra could be seen and she would try to tell me that that was the style. No, no it wasn’t. Weirdly, I did occasionally see other (usually older) women wear sheer-ish blouses where their bras were visible, and every time it was pretty clearly a fashion faux pas.

        Reply
        1. another Liz

          There was a time, 1992 I think, where it WAS in fashion to wear a boldly colored bra under a sheer blouse. Thankfully the trend didn’t last.

          Reply
            1. Optimistic Prime

              It’s back already. You can especially find it in the spring months, under “festival fashion” – brightly colored bralettes that are specifically designed to be worn and seen under sheer/eyelet/lace blouses.

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            2. Stranger than fiction

              Oh terrific, something to wear on top to match the sheer “leggings” that show everything underneath. Brilliant

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              1. Ego Chamber

                Do you want to know the secret of how to make leggings die forever?

                Whenever you see a woman wearing leggings, tap her on the shoulder and say “Ohmigod! I love your stretch-pants!” Do this consistently enough, and I swear the trend will die (there is a reason leggings didn’t survive the 80’s and I firmly believe that reason was the name we gave them back then).

                Reply
                1. Bea

                  Nah. I used to roast my mom for her stretch pants and now I have started buying them for her when I find ones I like too. I also used to pick at her coloring in her eyebrows too, low and behold I have introduced her to much better makeup for the job.

                  Unless you’re targeting teens, late 20s and 30 somethings dont give a fffff what you call them.

          1. Not Rebee

            In my opinion, if your bra is going to show you should always make sure it’s a fantastic looking one. Essentially, if you can’t fix it, feature it.

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        2. Elizabeth H.

          A few jobs ago I had a supervisor who wore this style (and I think she still does) – sheer blouse and visible bra. She was at the director level and continues to be active at that level in our organization, after being my boss she left for a 2 year federal appointment! It doesn’t seem to have held her back. But it’s definitely not everyone who can pull off that style.

          Reply
      3. Optimistic Prime

        I used to interview undergraduate RAs and trust me, lab managers and professors are used to undergrads coming in in all sorts of things. Few of them have good quality professional clothes at that age, so many of them are borrowing from friends and relatives.

        Reply
    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      My mom doesn’t understand business casual, nor does she understand that my industry tends to be pretty casual, nor does she comprehend that dressing in a completely counter way to an office’s culture can be detrimental. She’s a physician and has never worked in a corporate setting. By the time she worked in a non-clinical office, she was very senior and basically set her own rules. Every time I start a new job, she goes on about buying me a new wardrobe. I have a perfectly fine wardrobe of nice jeans and tops, with a collection of fantastic dresses that I never get to wear anymore because I don’t see clients as often (I have vowed to start wearing them again, non-client-facing be damned). “Mom, I wear jeans to work.” “WHY??? If you don’t dress well, they won’t take you seriously!” “Mom, my boss wears shorts and hockey jerseys to work and sometimes he thinks I look too buttoned up.” She’s horrified by these things– especially the boss in shorts.

      Reply
      1. peggy

        I worked with a guy who very occasionally wore a really nice suit because it made him feel happy and organized and powerful. Our office is super casual – jeans, sneakers, sometimes people keep their workout clothes on after a morning workout break, hoodies, etc. Anytime he did it, people were like “did someone die or are you going to a job interview today?”

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        1. essEss

          I used to start dressing in suit jackets and more ‘grown up’ clothes at one of my jobs whenever the supervisors were overloading me with too much work and not listening when I told them it was becoming unmanageable. I knew that they had a lot of respect for my work and would not want me to leave so I just did it to make them a little nervous since they would never come right out and ask if I had an interview that day.

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          1. Jesmlet

            Totally stealing this. I usually bring food and eat at my desk but from now on, whenever they’re dumping too much on my plate, I’ll dress real nice and take my full hour for lunch out.

            Reply
          2. Alli525

            At my last job, people in my role did not need to dress more formally than “non-jeans and a nice top” even though we were technically business/biz-casual. When I interviewed at my current job, I “had a first-thing doctor’s appointment” and changed out of my interview clothes and into work clothes before hopping in a cab back to my old job. I do hate that I had to do it at the place where I interviewed, but I was friendly with the receptionist and I don’t think she told anyone (and I wasn’t about to change clothes in the actual cab!).

            I still got questioned about why I was wearing mascara.

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          3. peggy

            Ha! One of my tricks when I was feeling overworked and unappreciated was to clean out my desk and bring everything personal home, and ask people if they needed things like, “Hey I have a ton of post-its over here, anyone need any?”. It immediately made people think I’d been interviewing and was prepping to leave. It accomplished nothing other than making me feel better. Must be used very, very sparingly.

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          4. CQ

            I worked in a pretty casual office as well. I only wore suits when I had a client meeting with any of our bank clients (my colleagues always knew the day I had a meeting with the bankers!). One day just for fun we all decided to do a “power suit” day. It was so much fun. We all showed up wearing power suits, and, admittedly, felt more powerful that day. We took photos in power poses and shared them on our social media. I would like to do this again maybe for a team morale boost, or perhaps as a fundraiser for a local organization.

            Reply
        2. Wannabe Disney Princess

          I do something similar. I’ll do my hair and makeup if I’ve been feeling off for whatever reason (recovering from being sick, bad day, anxiety, etc). That way when I look in the mirror my brain goes “Oh! You aren’t feeling so bad, you look great!”

          Reply
        3. TC

          My boss does something similar — we’re super casual, but he likes wearing suits. You’ll see him in seersucker in the summer and tweed in the winter. Occasionally I’ll ask him how his court appearance went or whatever, but overall it’s just accepted that’s how he dresses. We’re all for it.

          Reply
          1. CoveredInBees

            Is your boss a criminal defense attorney in Brooklyn? If so, that collection of seersucker suits was amazing when I was at the Brooklyn DA’s office. If not, then there’s at least two of them!

            Reply
        4. Autumnheart

          I had a coworker who did that as well. He said, “I have these nice dressy work clothes and I never wear them, so I am making a point to wear them sometimes because I deserve to be fancy.” It was cute. He got a few of the other guys into it too. And really, I see his point. What good is it to have nice things if they just sit around gathering dust?

          Reply
            1. OhNo

              My new resolution for 2018 is Friday Tie Day – dressing up with one of my fancy ties I never wear every Friday. Gotta wear them some time!

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              1. Parenthetically

                My male students did Friday Tie Day one year! They lobbied for, and got, an exception to the uniform policy to dress UP, because they are certifiably insane, and I love them for it.

                Reply
            2. JoAnna

              The ladies at my office actually did “Professional Wear Tuesday” one time as we all had cute, classy professional business wear from former jobs but now worked at a super casual workplace (jeans and yoga pants, t-shirts, etc). We invited men to participate as well but I don’t think any of them did.

              Reply
            3. curly sue

              My partner works in an incredibly informal segment of his industry, to the point where someone could probably work a full day in the office in a unicorn onesie and barely get a comment. They did Formal Fridays for a while – waistcoats and ties and power suits and all – and had an absolute blast with it.

              Reply
      2. seejay

        I’ve been in casual work environments for 20 years. I’m a software engineer at this point and I live in San Francisco. People *really* don’t care what engineers look like for the most part, unless you’re working at a bank or something really more conservative. I wind up working in startups or other really casual laid-back work environments. As such, I’ve had my hair coloured the entire hue of the rainbow over the past 20 years and I have multiple tattoos and have had visible piercings all over since my late teens (not many on my face because I just don’t want them, but I have at least 14+ in my ears). I tame it all down when I’m looking for work, just to make sure I don’t trip someone off, but once I’m settled in, I’m back to my normal everyday look.

        My mom still insists on bringing up now and then that I won’t get a serious job / be taken seriously / whatever else “adults” are expected to dress conservatively, with normal hair and proper jewelery… this is despite the fact that I’m regularly employed, have lived on my own for 20 years, and am in my early 40s. :|

        Reply
        1. SusanIvanova

          Way back in the early 90s, my Silicon Valley job had a customer at a financial group in Iowa.
          Monday: they report a bug. Sales panics, schedules me for a redeye that night! My manager pushes back – nobody is going to do good work after a redeye with a 5 hour layover! – and gets them to schedule a normal direct flight on Tues. Also Monday: I fix the bug.

          Tues: I fly out anyway. Sales had insisted I wear a dress. It’s Iowa! It’s finance! I take a look at my closet and find a jacket that had belonged to my brother – think Miami Vice, but light gray instead of pastel. Put that on over a nice top and slacks, I’m good.

          Weds: Sitting in the lobby of the place, it feels like something straight out of Mad Men. All the men in suits. All the women in dresses. The software guys I’m there to meet tell me they looked around the lobby and said “aha, she’s got to be the engineer!”

          Reply
          1. NacSacJack

            Having worked at a financial group in Iowa in the early 90s, I’m glad you did this and got that reaction. :)

            Reply
        2. Geoffrey B

          My mother, bless her, was convinced that my ponytail would prevent me from ever getting a research/engineering job, even when I was in one. She told me that “engineers pay a lot of attention to how you dress” and was quite distressed by my clothing choices (which were considerably more formal than my boss’s).

          Reply
          1. The Other Katie

            “She told me that “engineers pay a lot of attention to how you dress””

            All my whats to this. Most of my friends are engineers of some sort, and as far as I can tell, they only care that you _are_ dressed, at least enough to avoid the effects of climate exposure.

            Reply
              1. whingedrinking

                My first boyfriend was a physicist. He routinely wore tie-dye and had the kind of hairstyle you only get with natural curls, a strong resistance to haircuts, and no idea what conditioner was for. (What can I say – he made me laugh.) Admittedly, this was as an undergrad; the last time I ran into him, during his PhD., he’d cut off the hair but grown a truly horrible beard, and I think he only stopped wearing the tie-dye shirts when they actually fell apart, so he was just on regular t-shirts and jeans.
                A subsequent gentleman caller was also a physicist and had dreadlocks. However, in his case he was black and his dreads were well groomed and maintained. He also left science to become a diplomat, so he was kind of in a different camp altogether.

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            1. starsaphire

              Sure, engineers will compliment you on your superhero T-shirt that matches theirs, if they look up long enough to notice it.

              Thaaaat’s about it for engineers paying attention to your clothes. *looks around my cubefarm at the endless sea of engineers in T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers*

              Reply
            1. Geoffrey B

              You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But in fact she knew quite a few IT-type engineers including her husband, my father. He’s never had a ponytail AFAIK, but his wardrobe is… about what you’d expect from a professor of engineering.

              No, it was just a peculiarity of my mother’s. She was a very bright and kind woman but I think she worried about me being judged and excluded by others (I’m autistic, so I was always a bit of an outsider) and sometimes she took things a bit out of proportion.

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              1. Paula, with Two Kids

                Be fair, at one point, every engineer in America wore slacks, button downs, and ties (the male ones anyways). Until about 2000…

                Reply
      3. Annabelle

        Omg your mom sounds like my mom. My boss also wear shorts, and lots of other people do the athlesirue thing. She nearly had a stroke when i explained this to her.

        Reply
      4. 2 Cents

        Yes! Wear your fantastic dresses, even if there isn’t a “reason”! My New Year’s resolution a few years ago was to just say “yes” more often — and that included wearing the stuff in my closet I’m forever “saving” for special occasions (client meetings, etc.). Except I usually end up saving stuff till it’s no longer quite in style, then I get rid of it, practically unworn.

        Reply
        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          I got sidelined by a knee injury (limited my shoe choices) and this cold snap! But now my knee is better, so the dresses and boots will come out of the closet. Oddly enough, I had plans for drinks this evening, so I put on tights, an amazing wrap skirt, cashmere sweater, ankle boots… then my boss told me to stay home because of the weather (our roads will get progressively icier this afternoon). Harrumph.

          Reply
          1. 2 Cents

            Oh no! That outfit sounds really cute! But yeah, I’m in the middle of the storm hitting the Northeast, so better to stay in that go out :P

            Reply
      5. Bigglesworth

        I used to work in a fairly casual office at a university. Jean Friday’s every week and all during summer break. Monday through Thursday was usually business-casual leaning heavily on the casual front (slacks and polo shirts or stretchy business slacks, dressy tank top, and cardigan. I think I started off worrying everyone because I would wear my business dresses and more professional wardrobe frequently. Everyone eventually got used to it and it made hiding that I was interviewing elsewhere a lot easier when the time came to move on.

        Reply
      6. Mary (in PA)

        One of my previous jobs was in an office with a super-casual dress code, so one department did “Formal Friday” instead of Casual Friday.

        Reply
        1. techandwine

          Hah did we work at the same job? One of the teams at one of my previous jobs did that. People would get super dressed up and it was awesome.

          Reply
      7. Katie C.

        I actually got talked to by a manager for dressing too nice. I was a tech support, but my mother insisted that I needed to dress in office clothes, complete with pumps and blazers. I wasn’t told directly to dress down, but that left the impression that I was trying to be management.

        Reply
        1. Yvaine

          My first day at my current job I was flat out told that I was overdressed and should show up in jeans the next day. It’s not like I was all that dressed up, just black pants, a sweater, and flats.

          Reply
    3. LawLady

      I feel this so hard. About 4 times a year my mom sends me something “for work”. It’s always something appropriate for HER work (as a school counselor), but would be very out of place in my business formal, suits every day law office.

      The last one was a floral A-line skirt with big red flowers on it. She insisted it was work appropriate because it would go past my knees. (But actually I do love it and wear it on weekends. Just not at work!)

      Reply
        1. LawLady

          It really is. She is wonderful and loving and supportive. Just doesn’t understand why I can’t wear her “fun” clothes.

          Reply
    4. Annabelle

      My mom fully believes the whole “you can never be overdressed” thing. I work in an extremely casual office. Like, some people wear literal sweatpants level casual. She’s been trying to buy me suits for the past year. I appreciate the gesture, but I would look wildly out of sync in a suit.

      Reply
    5. Cake Wad

      I seem to have the opposite mom problem. My mom doesn’t try to get me to dress more formally for work… she thinks I should be wearing short mini skirts and short dresses, or long tees with designs on them with leggings. I’m 42 years old and work in a slightly more formal than business casual environment.

      Reply
      1. Alienor

        When I was in high school (mid-80s) my mom was forever accusing me of dressing like an old lady because I wore the baggy sweaters and big shirts that were in style at the time. She thought I should wear miniskirts and tight, low-cut tops so I could attract a boyfriend…actually she probably still thinks so now that I’m in my 40s and widowed, she’s just learned not to say so out loud.

        Reply
    6. Ramona Flowers

      When I got my first proper full-time job my now-estranged mother gave me a desk set: pen pot, in-tray and something else I forget. It was pale lilac suede. In 2006. I worked for a videogames magazine and was the only woman in the office. Lilac suede. Lilac.

      (NB this is not why we’re estranged.)

      Reply
          1. Arjay

            https://youtu.be/T3xDI_NXHKQ

            Ethan Hawke’s character gets a desk set for Christmas. It seems like an ok gift until he reveals that his remote and formal father gave him the exact same desk set the year before for Christmas. They decide to send it flying like a frisbee off into the snow.

            Reply
    7. The OG Anonsie

      My mom grew up in a very conservative environment and has historically had a lot of Ideas about where the line is for something to be too sexy. Namely, if it fits you, it’s too tight and you look like a tramp. I remember absolutely swimming in oversized, frumpy clothing when I was younger.

      Once I was trying on slacks and said they were too big because the legs bagged out into loose folds around the crotch and seat, and I pinched in the sides to get rid of the bagging and show how much extra fabric there was. She hissed at me “your clothes aren’t supposed to be painted on like that.”

      Reply
    8. Sleepy Librarian

      My mom once told me not to dress too nicely for a job interview because then “they’ll think you don’t need the money.” I hope she was joking…?

      Reply
      1. Plague of frogs

        My mom expressed surprise that I was wearing glasses to a job interview, and pulling my hair back. She said, “Don’t you want to look pretty?” I had to explain that as a young female engineer, the last thing I wanted to look was pretty.

        Then when I got a forearm tattoo, she was worried that it would keep from getting future jobs…in high tech…

        She also can’t get over the fact that we drink at work.

        Reply
          1. Plague of frogs

            Once she grasped that I had entered a culture with which she wasn’t familiar, she started asking open-minded questions and expressing amazement without judgement, just like she does in a foreign country. She also grabbed one of my industry-specific magazines, read an article about our market, and told me that my company needed to improve our market share.

            In other words, she’s awesome and I’m lucky to have her :)

            Reply
      2. CoveredInBees

        I’ve heard that before…from my grandfather who spent his entire life at the same engineering job he got straight out of school.

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      3. Deb B.

        I wore a silk blouse to an office job I had years ago and one partner commented to the other that they must be paying me too much ( they weren’t).

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    9. Tech Comm Geek

      My mother used to be terrible at this. When I worked for a software company in the 90’s (t-shirt and jeans), she bought me hot pink silk capris with a matching gingham checked satin tank! With a matching screaming aqua set!

      I ended up giving them to a friend who’s a drag queen. He loved them. :D

      Reply
    10. Leela

      My parents still push me hardcore to job search by walking around to buildings with an armload of cookie-cutter resumes that list every job I’ve ever had (even my high school laundromat job from over ten years ago. I’m a VFX artist now), shove it at the receptionist, ask to speak to the hiring manager right then and there and if they tell me s/he’s busy, say “no problem, I’ll wait” and then just awkwardly loiter in their lobby until I am presented with the hiring manager — or much more likely if I ever tried this, forcibly removed.

      Also, they want me to not even have the resumes in a folder because they want the hiring manager to see that I have them and they might “lose” me to someone else. Like anyone wants such a clueless, pushy employee!

      Reply
      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

        My Dad still suggests this. Most of the temp agencies around here, even, have locked doors and you can’t just barge in and ask to talk to someone. You need an interview appointment.

        Reply
    11. Nana

      And for those who remember “Dallas” and/or “Dynasty,” all the women in all the offices wore cocktail dresses. Lots of cleavage, lots of spike heels…I never walked into a ‘real-life’ office that looked like that.

      Reply
    12. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      I never felt so out of place as the time I walked into an interview for an archaeology job in a suit and heels at my mother’s behest. The office was, of course, dirty and full of dusty artifacts, tools, etc. and my interviewer was dressed in field clothes (jeans, scruffy sweatshirt, hiking boots). I did not get the job.

      Reply
      1. Had Matter's Pea Tarty

        I dressed up pretty nice for mine but they had literally seen me five minutes before dressed in a thick fleece turtleneck and covered in mud, so the effect was diluted somewhat.

        Reply
    13. esto perpetua

      Thank God. I thought issues with my mother and my professional wardrobe was just me. Happy to see I have some friends in the comments. Our office culture is a little mixed. Located in the PNW and the manager of our office says we have the “cowboy exception.” Meaning it’s perfectly acceptable to wear jeans and cowboy boots to the office. My mother about fainted when she saw my outfit when she dropped in unexpectedly for lunch. I still haven’t heard the end of it.

      Reply
  2. ZSD

    This isn’t exactly bad advice, but my mom (who hasn’t had a full-time job since 1971) just doesn’t understand how I’m able to find job listings on the internet. Like, where do you go? Is it like a newspaper, where there’s a classifieds section? And can I just send my resume to employers and ask if they have any positions available?
    She’s not really trying to advise me, though. She seems to understand that she doesn’t know how modern job searches work, and she wants me to de-baffle her.

    Reply
    1. Rosamond

      Yeah, my mom often asks how I find jobs. I tell her all the jobs in my industry are posted on about 3 different websites, so you just check them all. She doesn’t fathom it.

      Reply
    2. Sparkles

      My mom is the same way! She doesn’t understand that you don’t just go in and hand them a resume. She insists that you need a face to face contact (and she is not wrong) but you do that today, and everyone will just direct you to apply online.

      Reply
      1. Wendy Darling

        I went to two job fairs and then stopped going because every time I tried to talk to someone at a booth they told me to apply online and weren’t able to answer any questions except where to apply online. I had to leave the second one after about 20 minutes because I was about to shriek “WHY ARE YOU HERE???” at someone.

        Reply
        1. eplawyer

          Okay shrieking aside, that is a very good question. The whole point of job fairs is to meet candidates for jobs, answer questions about the jobs you have and accept resumes/applications. If all you can do is stand in a booth with some handouts for your company and robotically repeat apply online there is little point having a booth.

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          1. Wendy Darling

            It seems like a lot of effort and expense to just stand around and tell people to apply online. I asked people what types of openings they had, whether they were looking for people with X or Y skills, etc and they just told me to look online! But asking someone “What’s the point of you?” at a job fair isn’t very polite… :P

            Reply
          2. Rachel in NYC

            I’ve gone to some pretty good job fairs. Not recently but back when I was looking for work, so its unnfortunate that you had this experience. Though I admit the ones I went to were organized by universities for their alumni so maybe that had something to do with it.

            Reply
        2. tink

          Job fairs like that feel like the most colossal waste of my time, especially when it’s a mixed careers fair and they can’t even give me information about the types of positions that are currently open for their company specifically. I don’t want to take their time or mine if they’re only hiring for something I’m completely unqualified for or uninterested in.

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          1. Elizabeth West

            I’ve never found a job at a job fair, even when people can tell me about the company. However, I do tend to walk away with a ton of swag. Those little branded Digiclean things that wipe your phone screen are the shit.

            Reply
            1. Kimberly

              I was hired from a job fair – but I’m a public school teacher. There were 2 follow up interviews one with the district and one with the grade level team and background check also.

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          2. Starbuck

            I’ve had good luck at college job fairs getting useful information. I went to several environmental career fairs and still recall the conversation I had at a booth about what the application and training process is to be a fisheries observer in Alaska. I still think about doing that sometimes when I’m between gigs… the thing that I found frustrating about those career fairs was that most of the positions being promoted were unpaid internships, which wasn’t practical for me.

            Reply
        3. Jadelyn

          …wow. What’s the point then? When we do job fairs, we take a list of our current openings, copies of job descriptions for all the open positions and some of the more common positions that we don’t currently have openings in but inevitably will soon, marketing materials of the “about us” and “our story” variety, and like…pens and stuff, little swag items. I honestly hate doing job fairs solely because by the end of a 2-hour event my throat hurts and my voice is hoarse because I’ve been doing so much talking. We explain our company, our mission and culture, and our jobs to people, I ask them about their experience and do short mini-screenings basically, take their resumes, and then give them info on how to formally apply if they want to follow up or want to apply for a position that’s not open right now, once it comes open in the future.

          Job fairs are supposed to be a relationship-building, community outreach event. Give candidates a look at your company, make a good impression as a place they want to work, and just build some name recognition for your organization while you’re at it. If you’re not going to do that, then why would you bother paying money to register and sending humans to staff the table?

          Reply
      1. ZSD

        Yes, although when she opens IE, she thinks she’s opening Google, since that’s her homepage. But she knows how to search the web to find information she wants. I guess it’s just that she’s never tried job searching via the internet.

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        1. Cringing 24/7

          Ugh. If I had a nickel for every time someone thought that their homepage was the gateway to all of the internet, I could finally buy my house made of avocado toast.

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        2. 2 Cents

          At least she understands how to use Google! My dad didn’t understand what Google was — he thought it was just another website — and that people memorized the URLs they wanted to visit … because that’s what he does.

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          1. Specialk9

            Aww poor guy! He’s spending 10,000 times the effort of everybody else on the internet. Memorising URLs…

            Reply
    3. LadyL

      My mom is the same way, she think anything on the internet is inherently sketchy. Like if we’re arguing a fact and I google it she will dismiss my findings no matter the source.

      Mom: Oh, what, just because *the internet* says it you think it’s true?
      Me: Mom, it’s NPR.org. You trust NPR!
      Mom: Well that’s the radio. Those are real journalists. Find a real source and we’ll talk.
      Me: *muffled screaming*

      Reply
        1. LadyL

          Maybe! Would your mom say anything to win an argument, up to and including that the entire internet is unacceptable to use for research? ;)

          Reply
      1. essEss

        I had a coworker that would constantly send out scam warnings and ‘sign this petition and get money back after it reaches x signatures’ and junk like that that she found on the internet to the entire office distribution list, including external clients. Every time, I’d find it on Snopes.com and show her that it is a scam and I would demand she stop sending them out when she was doing it as a representative of our company. She actually told me that I can’t prove that snopes is a valid site and if it was telling the truth so she was going to continue to send them. I had to go to her supervisor to get her to stop.

        Reply
        1. LadyL

          It’s not just the older folks, apparently during the 2016 election some of the conservative media did a good job of painting Snopes as some kind of liberal conspiracy site (I think they claim George Soros owns it or something?). It’s pretty genius, when even the most basic verification sites are FAKE NEWS you can say anything with absolute impunity.

          Reply
          1. Alienor

            Ugh, that drives me crazy. Snopes has been around for literal decades–I remember going there to check potential scams back in the late 90s/early 2000s–but now that it suits people’s purposes to believe whatever they want, it’s suddenly a liberal conspiracy.

            Reply
      2. Artemesia

        Being distrustful of the internet when old is a lot smarter than swallowing everything you read on the internet as a whole lot of older people in the thrall of the propaganda forces on the internet and at Fox News do. So your mom is one step ahead on that. Helping people properly evaluate internet sources is really difficult; skepticism is a good stance to take.

        Reply
        1. LadyL

          Sure, but if you trust BBC News the TV station, then you can probably trust the BBC News official website. With NPR sometimes the articles are literally just a transcript or summary of what they read on the air. Nothing about it being online makes the info somehow less valid then when it was read on air.

          Reply
        2. YuliaC

          Yes to this! My mom spends untold hours every day reading conspiracy theorists websites, and will frequently cite such places as proper sources in our discussions. I would love it if she acquired a modicum of mistrust for the internet.

          Reply
          1. CoveredInBees

            Reminds me of some people in my FB parents’ group. Multiple published medical studies are a “conspiracy” whereas a random blog citing “mom intuition” is to be taken as gospel. (sigh)

            Reply
    4. Wendy Darling

      My dad worked until pretty recently but was at the same company for 30 years. That job and the one before that both headhunted him from his previous jobs and he didn’t job search at all. So my dad has not actually job searched since the early 70s.

      This has never stopped him from giving me ALL KINDS of job search advice of the usual gumption, pound-the-pavement, call-them-every-day, show-up-and-ask-for-an-interview type.

      Reply
    5. seejay

      I’m looking for work right now and my mom said to me “what happened to walking into places and dropping off resumes??” I told her that it wasn’t done that way anymore and the conversation was over, I wasn’t talking about my job search with her anymore.

      The last job she had, she got through a friend and this was… 25 years ago? She stayed there for 15 years and changed jobs internally through different departments, but she hasn’t had to look for a job in a quarter of a decade and is of the mindset that you get a job at a company and stay there until you retire or die.

      Reply
      1. CoveredInBees

        There’s a certain infamous job hunt book that recommends you not only do that, but demand to speak to “the hiring manager” on the spot as if they had nothing else to do but wait for you to show up.

        Reply
      2. Ugh

        My parents are attached to the “stay there until you retire or die” thing (though my dad would probably add “or get laid off” since he’s in an industry where that happens more frequently). I don’t think they fully understand why I’m planning to move on from my current job in the next few years, but changing jobs like that is exceedingly common among my peers.

        Reply
    6. Elizabeth West

      My mum is like this too–but at least she understands I need internet for this. We were on the phone a couple of weeks ago and she said, “I heard about this one place you can look for jobs online….it’s called Indeed.” Yes Mum, I look at it EVERY day!

      It took her a while to grasp how internet chatting worked, too. I think she thought the folks in my chat room were either imaginary or dangerous. FWIW, I have been in this group for fourteen years and some of us have met each other offline. She’s come a long way, though–I invited two of my European friends (whom I met IRL previously) to watch the eclipse with us and she not only hosted them but can’t stop talking about how awesome they are. :)

      If she and my auntie in London weren’t so put off by computer stuff, I could teach them how to use Skype and they could talk more than once a week. I think it would blow her mind to find out I could have an interview that way.

      Reply
    7. whingedrinking

      Are we secretly sisters? I think my mother intellectually understands that one can use the Internet for stuff, but she still thinks it’s a sort of bleeding-edge, out-there thing. Like – she did her master’s degree online a few years ago, but that’s okay because universities are into strange experiments like that. Meanwhile, she got frustrated at me recently for “not looking for housing” (I’m being renovicted), and when I told her I’d looked online, she told me, more or less, that that was silly.

      Reply
    8. Joanne

      This is late, but my mom, who left the workforce in ~2000 after giving birth to my youngest brother and hasn’t had a full-time job since then, doesn’t understand how Indeed or ZipRecruiter works, or what updates to computers do.

      She hasn’t updated her resume since the 80s/90s, and doesn’t understand that you can apply through Indeed or company websites, or that resumes need to be customized for each position, or how to write a cover letter.

      My brothers and I have all tried explaining to her that her resume needs to be updated and customized to each position, keep a copy on her own computer and that computers do need to be updated. The last time she updated her computer it slowed down significantly and freezes up every time it gets turned on.

      She believes that once a computer freezes up all the time it’s time for a new computer (She’s not wrong, but do some diagnosing before spending hundreds of dollars on a new one), and that everyone should apply for positions through word-of-mouth, not applying online.

      Reply
  3. PB

    I love this thread idea! I’m sure I’ll think of more, but to start, my father and stepmother can’t understand why I don’t “just get a PhD.” You know, because it’s that easy. It’s also totally not necessary in my field. It might be helpful if I wanted to become an administrator some day, but even then, it’s not required. Pursuing a PhD would eat up all of my free time for years, and even with my employee tuition benefit, it would be expensive. There’s even a section in our employee handbook that says, basically, “You can get one if you want, but you don’t need it, and you’d probably be better off writing for publication, instead.”

    I’ve explained this, multiple times, to no avail.

    Reply
    1. EddieSherbert

      Oh my gosh, this is my dad too. He’s very “science-minded” (the man can do crazy calculus like it’s nothing but misspells his grocery list) and is just baffled that I have no intention of continuing onto Masters and eventually PhD level (I’m in Marketing).

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        I know several Harvard PhDs who make less than I did at my first (poorly paid) business job, entry level. I’m starting to think that science is simultaneously incredibly important, and a giant scam that eats people alive. If everyone you know is dirt poor, overworked, and without basic labor rights, that can seem normal.

        Reply
    2. Snarkus Aurelius

      My dad wants me to go to law school. He refuses to believe that my current salary is more than the starting salary for recent law grads. He also said the over abundance of law school grads was a myth.

      He also wants me to get an MA. I look at the course listing, and I’m like, “I could teach that class” or “How to conduct a public relations campaign? You know I’ve already done that a zillion times, right? And I get paid to do it as opposed to me paying?”

      Reply
      1. PB

        Along those lines, my father also told me once that he thought I’d be a better doctor than a lawyer. This means nothing, anyway, as I’m not in either field and don’t want to be, but I would be a terrible doctor. I panic at the sight of blood, I’m afraid of needles, and very squeamish about anything that happens under the skin. Biology is one of the only classes in high school I struggled with, and my hands would shake during dissections. Why he thought I’d be a good doctor, I can’t begin to imagine.

        Reply
        1. attornaut

          Maybe he was just being really insulting about your abilities as a lawyer (which you also don’t do and don’t want to do)? ;)

          Reply
        2. Specialk9

          To be fair, my sister is an incredible doctor and surgeon, who also fainted at the sight of blood. For her, it had to be coupled with purpose and action before she could handle blood and such.

          Reply
    3. AMT

      My mom’s the same. Why don’t I apply for some Ph.D. program abroad? Maybe because I have a wife, apartment, master’s degree in a specialized field, well-paid job I like in a great city, and the opportunity to teach and write in my field without a Ph.D.? Maybe because my friends with Ph.D.s are working for half my salary? Maybe because a Ph.D. is not the ticket to riches so many Boomers seem to think it is?

      Reply
      1. Another person

        I once had an advising job where the Ph.D’s coming out of the department had fewer job opportunities at lower salaries than I did with a master’s degree. Didn’t stop my boomer parents from needling me constantly about when I was going to finally go for that Ph.D.

        Reply
        1. Sam

          Yeah, I left a PhD program mid-dissertation and switched over to student affairs. One of the (many) reasons I decided to do so was learning how little early tenure-track faculty made in my discipline. It was very much not worth continuing to put myself through that. And that’s tenure track! So many of them end up adjuncting long-term!

          Reply
        2. Artemesia

          So smart. A PhD is required for some fields and most of those fields are overstocked with PhDs so it isn’t only a PhD you need but one from a top school in your field and the active help of top scholars in your field to get a job. Get one from Podunk U and you go nowhere good. And a PhD can be an anchor around your neck when looking for jobs for which it is not a requirement; you seem likely to be disappointed to be in a job that doesn’t require it because you ‘failed to get a job for which it is required.’ Might not be true but that is what it looks like to employers.

          No one should get a PhD who is not driven by the desire to do research in a particular field; you have to love the field and the research for it to make any sense. And then you have to weight the potential opportunities for the program you enroll in. A PhD from a correspondence school or part time is likely to hurt you more than help you.

          Reply
          1. Emma the Strange

            Yeah, my mom helped run her university’s PhD program for years, and this was always her advice. If you’re getting a PhD for economic reasons (or really any reason other than a deep and profound love of the subject), you need to be doing something else.

            What really confused my mom was the occasional student who would *pay* full tuition for their PhD (or more likely, have their rich parents pay). If you can’t convince a good university to give you a full ride, you probably won’t be able to convince any to hire you when you’re done.

            Reply
          2. Tau

            +1, from another person with a PhD who started off wanting to go into academia and finished really, really not wanting to. It was an exhausting, demanding and stressful experience and sometimes I look at how far I could be in my career if I hadn’t done one and want to cry. And it’s definitely something I have to explain in interviews etc., even though the field I switched into is actually decently welcoming for it (I have a pure maths PhD and went into software engineering.)

            Anyone who doesn’t *both* want to go into a career which requires one *and* love research should really, really think hard if they want to do a PhD.

            Reply
            1. Dr Wizard, PhD

              Yup. I did mine because I loved my subject *and* had a free ride, and it was still exhausting, stressful to the point of burnout, and didn’t lead to an academic position.

              It’s been useful in job interviews as an example of focused project planning, research work and commitment, and it seems to impress some people, which is useful, but friends who went into technical fields out of their bachelor’s degree are out-earning me.

              Reply
            2. whingedrinking

              I’m a teacher, and when applying to grad school I applied to (and was rejected from) a nearby university that’s considered extremely prestigious. In retrospect, it was really better for me; I ended up in a master’s of education program that was oriented towards people who were, and wanted to be, teachers, not educational researchers. That in and of itself wasn’t a big deal – we need both, right? However, I get the sense that various people at Prestigious U. have lost some contact with reality. Once a job search revealed that they had some openings in my field, so I had a glance. They wanted ten people with PhD.s, for a one-year contract, with the possibility of renewal. To teach the kind of course that I myself had been doing with a bachelor’s and a specialist teaching certificate, and had five years experience in. That at their sister school, I have since learned from another member of my cohort, is being taught by people with master’s or who are just in a master’s program. That maybe, if you decided to change over to research, wasn’t what you were really interested in and passionate about anyway. But nope, they are Prestigious U. and all their faculty must have doctorates, so here we are.

              Reply
        3. Ugh

          One of the best decisions I ever made was not going after a Ph.D. Instead, I have a masters, still work in academia, make decent money, and am probably a lot less stressed. Plus, I wouldn’t even be done with my Ph.D. yet if I had gone in that direction…

          Reply
    4. Another person

      You too? My parents have been after me to “just get a Ph.D” for 15 years even though I don’t want to put that kind of time and effort into something that wouldn’t advance my career. Dad dropped out of college and mom never started; they just think it would be neat to have a Ph.D in the family.

      Reply
      1. PB

        Yes, it gets very frustrating. When I was job searching a couple years ago, I’d describe a position I applied for, and my father would be like, “And you don’t need a Ph.D for that?” No, I don’t. After I got, in their words, “a lot of rejections” (it was three), they said the reason must be that I don’t have a Ph.D. I’m in a small field and know the people who got those jobs. None of them have Ph.D’s, either. I told them that. It did not matter.

        Reply
      1. MBA fan

        Unlike a a PhD, however, an MBA from a decent school is an extremely versatile degree that in most circumstances will boost your earning power.

        Reply
    5. Olive Hornby

      Ha, this is my parents, too–they work in a field where it’s necessary to have a specific advanced degree, and so they can’t fathom that I’ll be able to continue moving up in my company with just my undergraduate liberal arts degree. I think they now finally trust that my job is secure, but for a long time, my dad was telling me that I could “still go to medical school.” (Sure, Dad, except that I’m 30 and didn’t take any of the requisite undergrad classes…)

      Reply
      1. EddieSherbert

        Haha, I think we have the same parents. They are still not convinced I can have a legitimate career with any kind of “Bachelor of Arts” degree! Also despite the fact that I’ve been doing that for quite a while now… *eye roll*

        Reply
    6. Xay

      My mom is on this too – especially now that my employer offers free college credits through its partner university. She doesn’t seem to understand that the demands of a PhD, the university doesn’t offer a PhD in any discipline I am interested in and that a PhD wouldn’t really help my career anyway.

      Reply
      1. The New Wanderer

        Pretty sure that was the motivation when, after I dropped my engineering major for the social sciences, my mom begged me to go pre-law. I had never been interested in becoming a lawyer. I still believe it’s because if she couldn’t say her kid was an engineer, she at least wanted to say lawyer.

        But then I got a PhD, and I’m pretty sure if my career ever comes up they just name whatever company I was working for rather than My Daughter the Doctor, probably because my specialty is not well known.

        Reply
    7. Wendy Darling

      I have my MA in a field with no directly related job prospects, so I’m already simultaneously overqualified (I have an advanced degree!) and underqualified (…but not in the thing they want!) for every job I apply for. The only things a PhD would qualify me for are 1. the tenure-track academic job Hunger Games, and 2. adjuncting for shit pay with no benefits. Also it turns out I hate teaching, I hate academic politics, and I can do all the stuff I LIKED when I was in grad school but actually get paid for it in the private sector. I actually have to explain this in the vast majority of interviews I go on because no one understands why you’d get an MA in a non-professional discipline and then stop.

      Unless they’ve also done it. The people who don’t ask tend to have PhDs.

      Reply
      1. Ghost Town

        I left an MA/PhD program with an MA b/c I realized, like you, that I didn’t like or want the end result and what went into it. I’ve transitioned to higher education administration and having an MA (in that specific discipline) did help me get that first job. In my MA discipline, “they” have been saying that the old guard is going to soon retire, leaving a large number of openings for the new class for at least 2+ decades now. I don’t think the old guard will exactly retire, and combined that with the reduction in honest-to-goodness tenure/tenure-track positions and the increasing number of admitted and graduating graduate students, there will never be “enough” positions for the new(er) classes.

        I completely get stopping with an MA in a non-professional discipline.

        Reply
    8. Lady Anonymous

      This is such an interesting perspective to me, as I’ve discovered in the last few years that I pretty much *have* to get a PhD in order to advance in my field, and though I’m nervous about the financial side of things, my parents are probably more reluctant than I (I’m in my early 30s, and I think sometimes they’d prefer to see me making stronger progress towards buying a house, etc)

      Reply
    9. Middle School Teacher

      It’s funny that you say that, because I have a colleague who I think wants to get her PhD, but her mother is strongly discouraging it. It will make her “too intimidating to men” and no one will want to marry her :(

      Apparently with her masters, in teaching, she’s already too educated in her field and too scary to men. (Of course, if she was a doctor, that would be different…)

      Reply
      1. Snark

        That’s not a good reason not to get a PhD. There’s plenty of good reasons not to get a PhD, but that’s a terrible one.

        Reply
      2. Language Student

        The kind of men who would be intimidated by women having a PhD are not the kind of men I’d want anything to do with, so that’s almost an argument *to* get a PhD.

        Reply
          1. sap

            I have this one casually misogynist friend that I still keep around anyway, and back when I was still single he often gave me “advice” about things I was thinking about doing being turnoffs to most men, and this was always basically my response. “Wait, if I do this thing it will help me avoid wasting my time on dates with the type of man who thinks women as a gender shouldn’t do some things? I’m doing it.”

            Reply
      3. The New Wanderer

        It’s definitely true that grad degrees can be intimidating in the dating world.
        It’s also true that it helps weed out the ones who’d be bothered by that.
        If I liked quantity over quality, I wouldn’t have gotten the advanced degrees in the first place.

        Reply
        1. Kj

          So true. I was in grad school when I started dating in my current city and my friends and I had TONS of absolutely horrifying stories about what men on dating sites would say to us when we said we were in graduate school. From making fun of our field, to getting weirdly competitive, to being passive aggressive about it… it was a side show of horrors. Thankfully, I met my husband, who loves that I have an advanced degree and is always supportive of me. But some men do get weird about women they are dating having more education than them.

          Reply
      4. Temperance

        Those are the kind of low-quality misogynist losers that a heterosexual woman should want to scare away. Good for her!

        Reply
          1. Temperance

            Oh no, these men absolutely exist. My own grandfather once told me I had “too many opinions” to meet a husband, and it was a regular issue with the men in my former community. They didn’t want women with more education than they had, or more money, because that’s emasculating somehow. These are low quality jerks, though, and are somewhat of outliers.

            Reply
            1. Dr Wizard, PhD

              Oh no! My parents have a lovely story where, when my Dad told my Mum’s parents they were engaged, Grandad (my Mum’s father) declared ‘Well isn’t he doing well for himself, her with her two degrees!’

              Reply
      5. Artemesia

        She hasn’t pointed out that she isn’t interested in a man who wouldn’t find intelligence the most important characteristic in a mate? My husband is attracted to smart women; my son is attracted to smart women. They both figured out ways to meet women who were smart as the first step in a future relationship. (yeah smart isn’t everything, but for the man I want, it is a basic requirement)

        Reply
      6. Middle School Teacher

        To be honest, according to my colleague it’s a cultural thing. Her mom is super old-school Chinese, so my colleague already has two strikes against her: she’s a teacher instead of a doctor, and she’s single. I’m pretty sure if they were in China her mom would be in the park with her info on a sign so prospective mates could check her out. (Yes, that is a thing.)

        I’m also single and we’re in our late 30s, so we routinely commiserate about how we’re terrible daughters who will die alone.

        Reply
      7. Plague of frogs

        I had a friend who was putting together a resume for an arranged marriage. I, of course, was fascinated, and asked her what kinds of things she put on it. I asked her if she put her grades down, and she said no because her grades were too good and thus would be a turn-off.

        I’m happy to say that she ended up marrying a lovely guy she met in law school, who is happy to have a smart wife.

        Reply
      8. Specialk9

        A master’s degree… in teaching… would be too intimidating to men. (Blink blink) I’ve had a lot of teacher friends, and that just wasn’t the case, though granted I have lived in big cities where grad degrees just ain’t no big thing. But the kind of dude who gets intimidated by a grad degree is also the kind of guy to dismiss the masters because it’s in women’s work of education. So yay on screening them out?

        Reply
    10. (Different) Rebecca, PhD

      There are two reasons to get a PhD: 1) A deep seated love of the subject you’re pursuing, and 2) a desire to teach full time/tenure track. Reason 1 is distinctly necessary to finish the degree with even a modicum of sanity left.

      Reply
        1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD

          On the occasions that the first one failed me, I had the second, and vice versa. I got through, but I’m pretty stabby with people who are like “so, when are you going to become a double doc? heh heh heh!” Like I’d put myself through that mess again…

          Reply
          1. Tau

            The “multiple PhDs” thing really confuses me. It seems to be a staple of fictional geniuses, among otherss, but seriously – who *does* that? Who would voluntarily do a second PhD (I third lighting myself on fire), and why on earth would one be necessary?

            Reply
            1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD

              I’ve thought about going for another MA or MS in cognitive neuroscience, but only if I end up wealthy and bored, because that’s something that interests me and would keep me from going completely spare if I were in fact wealthy and bored. Another PhD? Effing NO.

              This represents two “only” states of being for me: the last time in my life a small group of people can yank me around that hard without my consent (as you can’t exactly fire your committee and quitting your degree is…bad, yo. Very, very bad. But I’d happily quit a job that did that–there’s almost always another job to be had…), and one thing that no one can take away from me–I’ll be Dr. Different until I die.

              Reply
              1. Tau

                I can see that! If I were wealthy and bored (and didn’t have an executive function disability that made university a misery) I’d probably pursue some degree(s) as well – I did a course in linguistics and absolutely loved it, for instance. But that would be bachelor’s or Master’s. Not a PhD. Under no circumstances a PhD.

                And agreed on being Dr. Tau! That’s turned out really handy, too – I look almost a decade younger than I am and have a speech disorder that I think sometimes makes people assume I’m stupid (:/) so having “actually, it’s Dr. Tau” in my arsenal is very reassuring. Especially in Germany, which tends to take academic titles very seriously.

                Reply
            2. The Other Katie

              The only person I know who has actually done this leveraged the same research into applications in two different fields. It was by no means necessary, she just has an unhealthy love of the challenge.

              Reply
            3. sap

              I also wonder when these fictional people found the time to accomplish things in their field at the age they purport to be.

              It’s just not physically possible to have gotten PhDs in three unrelated fields where you can’t overlap research, and also have built a billion dollar business after getting 3 PhDs, and also be 45. Because you can’t expedite a PhD THAT much–you can’t magic required classes to occur faster than courses occur, or your teaching duties to not take an entire semester each time, etc. That’s not how life works–no matter how smart and efficient you are, universities have a pre-existing schedule for when the things required for a PhD are offered.

              Reply
              1. Dr Wizard, PhD

                While I agree that these characters are always ridiculous, the UK model for PhDs would allow it to be done faster than is generally possible in the US. Thesis-only in the vast majority of cases – median and expected time four years, but three is possible and happens.

                Reply
                1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD

                  I did my (American) one in 3.5 years, but I also went into it with a fully formed project idea, and advisor who was mostly on board with said project and how the dissertation would look when it was finished, and a burning desire to do the degree and get the eff out of dodge so I could start teaching. As I’m unlikely to have anything of the sort ever again…no.

            4. Cedrus Libani

              I had a relative with several PhDs. She was of an age (born ~1910) and social class (rich) where married women did not work. Her husband didn’t want the shame of her earning a salary, but she didn’t want to be a housewife. So they compromised, and she stayed in school for her entire “working” life.

              Good for her. Personally, I’d had more than enough by about 0.6 PhDs, and while I hung in there, I’d also cheerfully scrub toilets for a living instead of going back for a second PhD. (While I understand the value of the training, there’s something unhealthy about having Your One Project, which you must complete to Your One Supervisor’s standards, no matter how unreasonable. And if you fail, you were obviously unworthy…nope, once was enough!)

              Reply
              1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD

                Daaaaaaamn, she can get it!! That’s massively awesome, and good for her!

                I’ve scrubbed toilets for a living before. In some ways, it was easier, as the expectations were considerably lower, and the work day ended when all the houses were cleaned.

                Reply
            5. bean

              I had a really lovely professor in college who did this… I’d taken a few different courses with him by the time I learned he had two PhDs. In totally different subjects. He had started college himself really young, and he had done one PhD in theoretical physics and the other in sociology. Blew my mind. He wasn’t one to tell you all about his accomplishments if you hadn’t asked, either.

              I did one doctorate and I barely made it through that in one piece. People have suggested to me that I should “just go back” for “one more degree” in [related field X or Y or Z] and whenever anyone makes that sort of suggestion it makes me twitch. I have a master’s and a doctorate and I’ve been working since I finished, but truthfully I’m still figuring out what I actually want to be when I grow up.

              Reply
              1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD

                *reflexively twitching in sympathy* I knew exactly what I wanted to be, and I still have moments/days of existential why am I even doing this type abject misery. Mainly if I’ve found a plagiarist among my students.

                Reply
                1. bean

                  Yeah, I am so done with school. I finished about 4 years ago and I think it’s time to switch gears somehow. I never taught, but I can’t imagine finding a plagiarist – how demoralizing. What I’m struggling with is that I always thought I knew exactly what I wanted to be and what kind of setting I wanted to work in and all of that, and it’s just not feeling like this actually suits me as well as I’d thought it would, and isn’t sustainable long-term. I think I need to take the knowledge/skills I’ve acquired, because it’s plenty, and figure out how to, well, refocus it to use it differently, if that makes sense.

                  I should also clarify that my wonderful professor didn’t seem to have done his two different doctorates out of any kind of dissatisfaction – when he would speak about them, he made it sound like he had just been pursuing the natural progression of interests, as if the two *of course* led to one another and this was the most natural thing in the world. (Of course, this was way long ago – he somehow managed to start his undergrad at like 15 or something, and he would have to be around 80-90 by now.) He apparently developed different methods of mathematical modeling for social structures and such. Brilliant guy, and very humble, especially for having had such a fascinating life. But I just remember thinking, “What? Two doctorates? Who does that? And then acts like it’s normal?” :)

      1. PB

        Yep. I have no desire to teach. I tried it, and hated it. I’m still in an academic field and I’m on the tenure track, no PhD required.

        Reply
      2. Optimistic Prime

        Well, there is a third reason in some fields, which is that there are some non-academic jobs that require or strongly prefer PhDs. I work in one of those fields, in the tech industry.

        Reply
    11. Healthnerd

      This is my dad as well! I work in research management (with 2 relevant masters degrees) and he’s still of the mindset that more education equals more pay and more opportunities. He still constantly asks me why I don’t get my PhD. Despite my explanations that it would completely pigeon hole me, would be financially draining, would require me to eventually relocate and that I actually like the position I’m in. Plus I’m still early in my career and may decide that I don’t want to stay in academia forever. Its the same conversation with him every year.

      Reply
    12. Just another fed

      Ha, my experience was actually the opposite: when I told my parents I was applying for PhD programs, they basically sat me down for an intervention and ask about my back up plans. I’m pretty sure they thought I’d need to pay for it, so when I said I’d only go on a fellowship (with stipend), they lightened up considerably. I would not recommend it as a thing people just go do without a very specific goal/plan in mind…

      On the other hand, my parents tried to convince me to take the LSAT and apply for law school – in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t take on debt to be in a field I didn’t want to go into when I would have graduated right in the recession…

      Reply
    13. LJL

      How funny..my experience was the opposite! When I started back to work on my doctorate, my father told me not to do it as I’d be over-educated and never get a job. (To his credit, he’d seen that happen in his field.) Since I’m in academia, a terminal degree is pretty much required (at least in my area). I did learn a valuable skill.. the ability to say “thank you for your input, I appreciate it, but this is what I need to do.” Oh, he was proud when I finished to be sure, but also quick to say that he hadn’t been much support.

      Reply
    14. Jesmlet

      My mother keeps asking me if I feel bad because two of my cousins are getting their Masters degrees. My response is to remind her that I make $75k a year at the age of 25 and they’re both in endless student loan debt and there’s literally no reason why I’d need an advanced degree in my field. She still doesn’t get it. Meanwhile she has her Master’s from Columbia and has never used it one day in her life.

      Reply
    15. Optimistic Prime

      My dad was the opposite. When I was in a PhD program, he kept trying to convince me to drop out. He kept telling me that with my MA, I could go be a school principal or something and make a “lot of money.” Never mind that my MA was in public health and I did not have a teaching license nor any K-12 teaching experience.

      Reply
      1. whingedrinking

        Speaking on behalf of educators everywhere, THANK YOU. Education is a specialized professional field, and it drives me up a tree when people are dismissive of the depth and breadth of knowledge (not to mention experience) it requires. People who would never dream of questioning the advice of their doctor, lawyer or accountant feel completely free to tell teachers and administrators how to do their jobs because “it can’t be that hard”.

        Reply
    16. crookedfinger

      Hah, my parents said something similar after I got my BA. I had to explain that a masters degree was very unnecessary in my field unless one is interested in becoming a director or teacher, neither of which I will ever want to do.

      Reply
    17. Katie C.

      In my field, it can actually be a detriment. I know more than a few PhD people who struggled to get jobs after they graduated, mostly because they were now too specialized for most markets outside of research and academia. One guy I worked with was extremely bitter that he wasn’t paid more than anyone else, but really, he wasn’t contributing any more than any other person. He was a code monkey, just like the rest of us.

      Reply
    18. Birch

      I’m so sorry you get that! If it makes you feel better, for every “just go get a PhD ” comment you get, other people are getting “why did you bother getting a PhD?” Truly no one can win when it comes to the advice of other people about your life.

      Reply
    19. no one, who are you?

      …are we siblings? When I told my family I wanted to pursue a master’s in social work, my dad told me he wanted me to be the first person in the family with a PhD. You don’t need a PhD in social work unless you want to teach university full-time, and I assuredly do not. And anyway if I do want to teach, my MSW and a couple years’ experience is all I need to get started.

      Reply
    20. Kate H

      My grandpa asks me every time I see him if I’m thinking about going back to school. To be fair, when I graduated with my bachelors’ I applied for grad school and I did express intentions to try again in the future. Now I have a good job in a completely unrelated field and while I’m not ruling out graduate school, I definitely don’t have concrete plans to do so now, especially when I’m still paying off the loans from last time.

      Reply
    21. LiveAndLetDie

      This is my father. I already don’t use my masters in history in my professional life (much to my chagrin, but history jobs aren’t exactly lucrative or easy to get right now), why would I ever drop what I’m doing and go be a PhD student right now? It’s the worst choice for me, financially and professionally.

      Reply
  4. Cassandra

    When my sister graduated from information school, our parents dissuaded her from applying to a fellowship with the Smithsonian Institution. “Not prestigious enough,” they said.

    THE. FREAKING. SMITHSONIAN.

    That turned into a long arduous job search for reasons I don’t even want to get into (but the phrase “clueless helicopter parenting” would figure in). I was so glad when sis finally landed a job, I can’t even begin to tell you.

    Reply
      1. Cassandra

        Oh, yes. Our father is an anthropologist.

        This probably came from our mother, though, and she always had — weird (not to say outright twisted) notions of prestige. Some of it was garden-variety classism. Some of it I just never could make sense of.

        Reply
        1. Manders

          My mom was like this too, although not quite that bad. Both my parents taught at a well-regarded research institution you’d almost certainly recognize, but mom was pretty insistent when I was looking for colleges that it wasn’t good enough and I needed to do better.

          People who’ve been in academia their whole lives develop really odd ideas of what prestige means, possibly because only the top sliver of grad students end up making it (in the sense that they get a tenured position at a research university) in any given field.

          Reply
    1. Amber T

      The whole “prestigious” comments/advice kill me. Slightly off topic from job advice, but when I was in high school my dad was convinced that I would never get a job anywhere “prestigious” if I didn’t go to an Ivy League school. He said all of his coworkers went to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc. (which now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure how he would have known that, so this may be an instance of BS that I’m just realizing years and years later…). He didn’t appreciate my argument that he himself didn’t go to an Ivy League school and did just fine. No, I didn’t go to an Ivy League – I went to another very good school and had a great experience.

      Apparently my current company isn’t prestigious enough because he hadn’t heard of it… (he’s maybe heard of two or three companies in my industry, and really knows nothing about it.)

      Reply
      1. I'm A Little TeaPot

        In my industry, if you make the evening news, that’s really, really bad. The last big one everyone thinks of involved a minor company no one’s ever heard of, Enron.

        Reply
      2. limenotapple

        My dad still tells me to apply for jobs at prestigious universities. Nope! Happy working at my liberal arts school where there is little red tape, the students are a mix of backgrounds and races, and the campus is small and close-knit.

        I think I missed out on a lot of great opportunities when I was younger and listened to him, and I worked in a lot of places that were not a good culture fit because I was more worried about what people thought of the name of my company than what the company had to offer that was right for me.

        Reply
        1. Rachel Green

          I felt a lot of pressure from my Dad to get a job at a prestigious, well-known company when I graduated from college. I ended up not getting any offers from those huge, global companies and now work in government. I’m pretty happy with where I ended up, but I think my Dad is convinced that I “settled” and will eventually move on to bigger and better things.

          Reply
        2. Sterling

          I work in administration in higher ed. My mom was really upset that I turned down an interview with Stanford. I couldn’t make her understand that state schools and community colleges tend to pay their administrators better than the Ivys or private schools. I had a friend 2 rungs up the ladder at Stanford who told me his pay. It was way less than I was already making. There was no way they would pay me more.

          Also my mother never understood that in state schools you don’t really negotiate a salary or benefits package. They plug your info into a computer and it tells you the scale for which the state will pay you. There may be some wiggle room but typically not a lot and no you can’t get extra vacation or PTO to make up for it.

          Reply
          1. Sam

            I really appreciate that public schools universities publish salaries, but I really don’t have a sense of how much private schools differ. I’ve developed most of my professional network while working at state schools, so I don’t have a lot of industry friends to compare with, either. I currently work at one of Stanford’s peer institutions, and I definitely earn more and have more promotion potential in my current role than I ever expected to have without a PhD, but I may’ve just gotten really lucky.

            Reply
            1. Sterling

              I only know because I have asked. Also some of it may be public vs private in California specifically. With my field I have seen that as a very well known private school in California they paid nearly 40% less that the same role at the local community college. Some of this probably has to do with the specific field but over all it seems that the private schools do not pay as well in student services and the public. I don’t know what the difference may be in faculty salary.

              Reply
      3. Olive Hornby

        I will say that I have a lot of colleagues who went to Harvard, and they manage to bring it up in conversation quite a bit…

        They’re otherwise lovely people, though!

        Reply
        1. Peter the Bubblehead

          That’s like the old saying; How do you know you’re in a room with a Naval Aviator?
          He’ll tell you!

          Reply
        2. Artemesia

          the usual is that when you say ‘where did you go to school’, they say ‘in the northeast’ or ‘I went to a school in Massachusetts’ — you don’t say ‘Harvard’.

          Reply
        3. Clewgarnet

          There are two varieties of people who say they went to university ‘in Oxford’.

          There are those who went to Oxford University but don’t want to be one of Those People.

          And there are those who went to Oxford Brookes but want you to think they went to Oxford University.

          Reply
          1. Violet Rose

            Them there are the brookes students who hang out with students from Oxford University but seem really embarassed about where they go.

            I also had a friend who went to Harvard for his undergrad – and started every comparison to his old uni with, “Well at Harvard…” I’m not sure if one of us finally said “[Name], we’re all at Oxford now, no one cares!” (He was a lovely person; I think he just had a bit of a blind spot there)

            Reply
      4. H.C.

        Ditto, every time I read/hear prestigious – I think of the Dear Sugar snippet about its origins (“derived from the Latin praestigiae, which means conjuror’s tricks. Isn’t that interesting? This word that we use to mean honorable and esteemed has its beginnings in a word that has everything to do with illusion and deception and trickery.”)

        Reply
        1. Alienor

          I never thought of that, but it makes sense, b/c “prestidigitation” is a five-dollar word for magic tricks. You learn something every day!

          Reply
      5. whingedrinking

        There was a study a few years ago that tracked people who were admitted to the Ivy League, including the ones who didn’t go. The findings basically showed that if you had what it took to get in, you were probably going to be successful in life whether you went to Harvard or to Podunk U.

        Reply
    2. JustaTech

      Some people have the weirdest ideas about “prestige”. A high school friend of mine had her grandmother freak out when my friend said she was going to MIT rather than Harvard because the grandmother believe that MIT was “just a state school”.
      Oh we laughed and laughed.

      Reply
        1. nonegiven

          My son flunked out and worked for a while before he went back to finish his Bachelors. Before he was readmitted to MIT, he was required to do well in 2 classes at another school. He took the two classes from Harvard.

          He graduated from MIT in 2010. We couldn’t afford to go to the ceremony so we watched it streamed live over the internet.

          Reply
          1. Meghan

            They warn you at the opening ceremony that 1 out of 3 don’t graduate in 4 years, but that doesn’t mean we don’t ever graduate. It took me 5 years. He’s in a good club.

            Reply
        2. Zirco

          Front of t-shirt: “Harvard”

          Back of t-shirt: “Because Not Everyone Can Get Into MIT”

          (Yet another MIT grad)

          Reply
          1. Violet Rose

            Caltech has similar shirts for MIT – and thus the cycle continues! (I never attended Caltech, but I lived close enough to take the college tour!)

            Reply
    3. paul1010

      I have a funny sort of personal issue with this same topic. I have only had jobs at prestigious organizations in my field, and I’m finding it hard to expand my thinking about potential new jobs that aren’t at similarly well-known places. Like, if you’ve only ever worked at the Guggenheim, the Met, and the Louvre, it is a bit of a challenge to conceive of a job at the Art Museum at the University of North Dakota at Hoople, even if the job is running the place. There is a lot of weirdly skewed thinking like this in the world of big nonprofit institutions.

      Reply
  5. Antti

    My dad once told me I should gun for a particular kind of position in my current company because they make the big bucks. As an industry outsider. Who only seems to know anything because my aunt once worked in this industry as well. (Spoiler alert: you can make decent money, but I certainly wouldn’t expect to be making six figures as a junior Teapot Evaluator.)

    Funny thing is that I did end up becoming an Assistant Teapot Evaluator. Though not at all for the same reasons I was advised to do it.

    Reply
    1. Juli G.

      This reminds me of my family.

      My husband and I live in/near our hometowns and our families are still around. There is a major employer here that is a big, big company. The perception is that everyone that works for them is rich. I started working for them at 33k, a little below the right pay for the job/level. I still work for them and make way more now but am probably a little underpaid for my experience.

      There are family members that are convinced we are rich because I work at Big Company. They don’t even know what I do. Big Company just hands money bags to employees when we walk in the door.

      Reply
      1. eplawyer

        I got this when I told people I was applying for law school. “oh you’re going to be making $150K a year.” Well no, I am planning on working in the nonprofit sector. I finally had to flat out say “You know they don’t hand you a check for a $150K with your diploma.”

        Reply
      2. Don Lucia's Mullet

        Well, I suppose if you went to work for an armored car company, and part of your job was transporting money bags, then they might just hand you money bags when you walk in the door. But you don’t get to keep that.

        Reply
      3. Ghost Town

        My husband and I both work for the university in town. The university is definitely a big employer in a small pond and most people assume that anyone working for them is well to extremely well paid. This is not always the case and we encounter the same assumptions from friends and family.
        In my old position, it felt like we were barely treading water. Doing much better in my new position.

        Reply
    2. JokeyJules

      My grandfather proudly told me to apply for the most executive position they had at any company, whether it was available or not and “theyd be so surprised by your balls theyll give you a great job”

      Sure thing, pop.

      Reply
      1. Amber T

        Lol I can just imagine a cover letter/resume for that – “I’m applying for the Chief Financial Officer position. My experience includes one year as a Junior Teapot Analyst and President of the Business Club in college.” Sounds like a great fit!

        Reply
        1. Startup fan

          Join a startup. It’s a great way to leapfrog titles early on. And yes, I’ve known people to parlay startup experience into senior roles at big companies (assuming you still want to do that).

          Reply
      2. Middle School Teacher

        We actually got a letter like that once! It was for a part time teaching position, and the guy who wrote the (three-page, single-spaced) letter talked extensively about his amazing life experience, the songs he wrote and sang that we probably heard on the radio, the education he had, that he could do any job at our school up to and including superintendent, that he should have been a superintendent by now but “the man” kept him down, and in conclusion, we would be very fortunate to have him and we should hire him immediately and he would solve allllllllllll our problems.

        We laughed and laughed. Then we scrunched up his letter and chucked it.

        Reply
        1. Hildegard Von Bingen

          Poor guy. Imagine going through life that clueless. I think reading that letter would have made me sad. Also, not inclined to hire him.

          Reply
        2. Hey Nonnie

          Heck, I would have framed it and used it as a teaching tool.

          “Don’t do this, kids. Don’t do this ever.”

          Reply
      3. Meganly

        That reminds me… When I was living at home post-college and searching for a Residence Director job (person in charge of a college dorm), my mom would try and convince me to apply for jobs at the top of the Housing totem. It didn’t matter how many times I explained to her that no, I barely have the experience to be an RD; no one is going to hire me as a friggin Vice President of Housing or whatever. She said something along the lines of how they’ll be impressed by my gumption and put my application at the top of their RD pile. I never did end up getting an RD job.

        Reply
  6. Snarkus Aurelius

    My mom, raised in the 1950s, would get so upset when I’d negotiate pay. She thinks that’s the most horrendous thing in the world, and that I should be lucky to even get an offer. When I was an unpaid intern, my mom would get mad that I’d consider leaving or ask for, you know, money.

    I seriously think she’d be thrilled if I was an unpaid intern for the rest of my life.

    These days, she’s horrified that I’m constantly looking for more money. I guess because I pay my mortgage with good feelings? Ugh. “My daughter can be bought off?” Yes, Mom, yes I can.

    Reply
    1. Antti

      “Money doesn’t buy happiness!”

      Maybe not, but it does pay the bills and put food in the kitchen. Sorry, I can indeed be bought off.

      Reply
        1. LadyL

          My grandpa used to say, “Listen, you can be poor and unhappy, and you can be rich and unhappy. But if you have the option definitely choose rich and unhappy, it’s much better”.

          Reply
          1. paul

            Exactly. The analogy I’ve heard that I liked (about a different topic but it works here): A bathroom isn’t the only room in the house, and if I hate the rest of the house I’m not buying it just because of the bathroom. BUT I DAMN WELL WANT A BATHROOM!

            Reply
          2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

            What’s the saying? “Money can’t buy happiness, but it’s much more comfortable crying in a Porsche than on a bicycle.” Something like that.

            Reply
        1. Recruit-o-rama

          You can’t say that universally. I certainly don’t think money is everything, and I have struggled many times in my life. Actually, that’s why I know, that for me, money is not everything.

          It is important though.

          Reply
          1. Blue

            I am definitely motivated by money, but there’s a limit. I’m being nudged into a promotion I don’t want, and my mom’s first question was, “Would it be more money?” Well, yes. But not enough to make up for the fact that I’d be taking on management responsibilities. I’m not making a ton of money currently, but I can live comfortably enough (even alone in a big city) that I’m willing to weigh other considerations. (In case it wasn’t clear, I’m definitely someone who should not supervise other people. I’d be terrible and I’d hate it!)

            Reply
            1. Recruit-o-rama

              Exactly my point, I totally understand your perspective. There are some aspects of my job that I would not trade for more money. That doesn’t mean money isn’t important to me, it is, but it’s not everything.

              Reply
            2. LBG

              I was nudged into a supervisory position a few years back. Took it on as “acting,” as a favor to the boss, almost didn’t submit an application (required) for the position. Two things pushed me: Projects that I knew I could accomplish that the office needed and fear of the unknown supervisor who would come from the outside and not know our needs. The thing that crushed my soul was managing people. I escaped from that job after 5 years, and my sanity is just returning. Don’t let them push you if you don’t have the people skills. I didn’t. I could have taken on those projects without taking on the supervision, if the right manager had been hired.

              Reply
          2. Hey Nonnie

            I’m not motivated by money. But I am motivated by having enough food, having shelter with adequate heat in winter and a bed to sleep in, having plumbing and access to water, having electricity, and having access to healthcare. And ideally I’d like to be able to have and do things beyond the basic necessities of life. In a capitalist system, which we are stuck with whether we like it or not, these things require money. Even if I want to, completely independently from an employer, go out and do meaningful work (which is my primary motivator), even doing it for free, that costs money too. At a minimum I need tools and supplies for the work, and ideally I’d be working with other people who also need basic necessities and are required to spend money to get them, and so should have their time and talent respected. It’s impossible to achieve without money.

            Money may not be everything, but it buys the things that are. No one can disregard money prior to money-based economic systems being torn down and replaced with something else.

            Reply
      1. paul

        Money doesn’t buy happiness is a phrase that hits almost all my hot buttons.

        Most folks get a little more stressed with they’re homeless/at risk ya know?

        Reply
        1. Antilles

          Interestingly, there’s actually been some research on this in the past few years. Apparently, “money doesn’t buy happiness” is true…but only once you’re past a certain point (the usual estimate is about $75,000 a year).
          If you’re below that level, extra money *does* mean extra happiness, because it removes some kind of financial insecurity in your life causing stress/unhappiness. Above that level however, more money doesn’t improve overall happiness, because you’re already making enough to avoid the major sources of fiscal unhappiness.

          Reply
          1. Colette

            In addition, I’ve read that money can buy happiness … if you spend it on other people. So doing something great for other people (via a charity or directly) will increase your happiness. Spending it on yourself will not.

            Reply
          2. Mike C.

            I hate these studies because I’ve seen them used as excuses not to increase compensation. Even if they are absolutely true (and who knows, it’s a handful of studies in a very limited context), having a bucket of money makes it much easier to eliminate, mitigate or otherwise compensate for a whole lot of things that will cause me to be unhappy.

            Reply
            1. SusanIvanova

              They’re taking the entirely wrong lesson from it – I’m in Silicon Valley, living example of the effect. Yes, above a certain level, more money is not going to motivate people if the rest of the situation is suboptimal, but that doesn’t mean more money is irrelevant. It’s a tangible sign that they really do appreciate you. I get warm fuzzies from being told I got an above-average bonus, even if I don’t bother to look at what that bonus actually is.

              Reply
            1. paul

              I would gladly be a control case here; they can hand me sacks of 100 dollar bills and I’ll tell them when it stops making me happy.

              Reply
            2. Antilles

              That study doesn’t say that. It says that people are happier when they spend money on the things that make them happy.
              However, the study doesn’t actually address is the idea of diminishing returns (which is where that $75k number comes from).
              Let’s say your personality is “conscientiousness”. If you’re going from $30k to $40k, you’ll almost certainly be happier – that extra money gives you the chance to pay a personal trainer or to travel to a triathlon or etc. But if you’re going from $70k to $90k…well, you might get a better trainer or be able to do more exotic triathlons, but it won’t be nearly the same level of added happiness that you got previously.

              Reply
          3. Hildegard Von Bingen

            Given the lamentable state of healthcare in the U.S., money can indeed buy happiness. And, quite literally, life (yours, your spouse’s, your child’s, your friends’).

            God, how I wish that weren’t true. I agree with those who say that people who use the phrase “money can’t buy happiness” and mean it haven’t really been up against it financially, or maybe they don’t know anybody else who has been. Or maybe they’re just not very curious about how things work in this country for people who aren’t doing very well financially…which is an awful lot of people.

            Reply
            1. Hey Nonnie

              I’m in the ironic position that if I start making enough money to live, I’ll lose my access to healthcare for at least 3-6 months. Healthcare that I am currently very actively using, for the first time in years, because I was spending so much of my income on premiums there was literally nothing left for co-pays. I have years’ worth of issues to untangle at this point. And now that the individual mandate has been tossed in the trash, I expect marketplace plans to be out of reach just on the basis of premiums, nevermind co-pays. I’m a pawn in a political “neener-neener” game where the GOP has a strong emotional need to “prove” that Obamacare was a failure, so they sabotage it.

              Reply
          4. CinnamonRoll

            So money can buy happiness. It just can’t make you any more happy if you are starting out at a happy level ($75k).

            Reply
          1. MaureenS

            And paying a cleaning service to come in once a month makes me very happy! I hate vacuuming and scrubbing bathrooms. Money well spent.

            Reply
          2. saffytaffy

            I’ve always suspected that ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ is something powerful people say to the employees they underpay.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              Sure. But they didn’t think it up.

              All you need is to look at the lives of a lot of rich people to see the truth of this. That’s not to say that money is “nothing” or unimportant. But, that’s a different thing. Food won’t buy most people happiness, but you can’t live without it.

              Reply
        1. Not that Kat

          My last boss drove, among other cars, a pretty new Maserati sedan. The engine kicked the bucket at some point. He paid as much for the replacement engine as I made in a year at his company. I know because he told me the exact figure.

          Reply
          1. Snark

            In fairness, any new car is more reliable than just about anything from the ’80s. But Italian cars are still….special. They have a lot of soul. Character.

            Reply
          2. babblemouth

            My boyfriend’s boss likes to golf in a new country every third month, and was telling him all about the great golf courses he saw in Portugal. Told my boyfriend he should try golfing, it’s such a fun sport and you can see so many awesome places. Boyfriend nodded and invited an urgent TPS report to write to escape the conversation.

            Reply
      2. Blue_eyes

        Exactly. There have actually been studies that show that money DOES increase happiness, up to a point. When you’re worrying about covering necessities, more money correlates with increased happiness due to reduced stress. If I remember correctly, they found that above about $70,000/yr income, more money didn’t significantly increase happiness.

        Reply
    2. ZSD

      Oh, my dad absolutely is opposed to negotiating anything about an offer. He’s counseled all of us kids to just be happy we’re getting an offer and to make do. His whole career, he never made as much as he was worth.

      Reply
      1. peggy

        I knew nothing about negotiation when I got my first post-college job and my dad sat me down and gave me an extremely stern talking-to about how I had BETTER NOT lose that offer by trying to get greedy and ask for more, and how I was basically nothing because I had zero experience and I’d turn off any employer if I asked for more money, it was irresponsible and stupid to negotiate at the start of your career when you had absolutely nothing going for you, no experience to leverage, etc.

        My dad is a super nice guy, and was very good to me in almost every way, but had a weird way of making me feel really stupid and worthless in certain types of situations. (Not all situations – he is truly a great dad overall.) I had no reason NOT to believe him so when my first offer came in in 2004 for $20k a year, I took it. WHAT A SUCKER. My counterparts were making $30k, I got lowballed and they expected me to negotiate. I was walked over the entire 2 years I worked in that dump – I set the stage for it by laying down and letting them steamroll me with a joke of an offer. I had never worked outside of retail, I had no idea what I was worth or what I deserved, but it was a PROJECT MANAGER role in 2004, 20k was CRIMINAL – I was working 60 hrs a week! And I was a huge idiot for being like “sure, thanks, I’d love to work for you for what equates to below minimum wage!” Thanks Dad!

        Reply
          1. peggy

            The short version of this story is, at that job I couldn’t. I had one shot at it and I proved myself as the weaker party and I never got what I needed or what was fair with them from that point on. It was a medium sized family owned business and the owners were sociopaths who took a lot of delight in abusing their staff. They brought in a lot of people without degrees and constantly reminded them of how lucky they were given a chance without education, and they’d never make it anywhere else. People heard that over and over, and they stayed because they started to believe they were worthless in the workforce and owed everything they had to these two losers!

            It was my first job out of college and I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was a coward and had some issues with self-worth. I had to grow up a little and stand on my own two feet for a bit to realize I was being mistreated and to convince myself that I did deserve better and could do better.

            14 years later, all good. It’s been onward and upward ever since. 24 year old me is kind of in awe of where 38 year old me ended up, actually. :)

            Reply
            1. peggy

              I should add, i DID have a degree but no experience, so they wanted me to grovel at their feet daily thanking them for giving me a chance. When I quit, the owner told my friend who did payroll, “that bitch is such an ingrate, I can’t believe she doesn’t appreciate everything we did for her.” (like 2 years of abuse and 60hrs a week at a 20k salary and no benefits and no time off… yep, super grateful.)

              Reply
        1. SusanIvanova

          Wow. In 1992, coming to Silicon Valley from Texas, I had no clue what I should be making – and neither did the VP of Engineering because he’d bought his house in the 70s. I actually got a lot more than what I’d asked for, but what would’ve been a lot in Texas barely covered rent here. There were 3 of us in that situation and when the CEO found out, she made sure we got the highest raises the finance department would allow until we were up to par.

          Reply
        2. Hildegard Von Bingen

          No, you weren’t a “huge idiot.” You were inexperienced. Please don’t run those old tapes in your head – just pitch ’em. Maybe you meant it in jest, but even thinking that about yourself is counterproductive. We all make mistakes. You learned from yours. (Big idiots don’t learn from theirs.) Congratulations.

          Reply
          1. peggy

            I needed that comment. I WAS speaking about my 24 year old self in jest, but I do often need reminders to be kinder to myself (both my present self and in reflecting on past experiences). It’s not productive to think of myself as worthless or an idiot, and even if I’m joking, it can chip away at you. My self-esteem and battles with self-worth have been evolving my entire life and I think it would serve me well to be a little less deprecating even when I’m joking around! Thanks for that reminder. :)

            Reply
    3. Just a Thought

      My husband went to a fundraising workshop for the nonprofit he worked for and the presenter said: “more money is better than less money”

      That is our family mantra.

      (The presenter was combating the idea that nonprofits *should* operate on bare bones budgets).

      Reply
      1. cobweb collector

        Dear borrower,

        We can only accept it if you also make a blog post saying how nice we are as a mortgage company so we can get exposure.

        Regards,
        your bank.

        Reply
      2. whingedrinking

        I do theatre out of the kind of love I would never give to another human being (a partner who wants all my time can expect to meet Ms. Curb; a production will make me cry because there aren’t more hours in the day to give it), and few things send me up the wall more than having twenty people say, “I dunno, I guess I could come if the show were free [even though it costs less than two pints at my local]. Hey, if you comp me I’ll write about it on my blog [which is faithfully read by their mom who lives two provinces away].”

        Reply
    4. Amber Rose

      My dad was upset when I left my minimum wage job for a job that paid double but had less awesome benefits.

      You can’t pay bills with prescription drug coverage. You can, however, buy prescription drugs with cash.

      Reply
    5. Catalin

      Though not ‘bought off’, I will confess to working harder/putting up with more for more money. I mean, doesn’t everyone?

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        Yeah, it’s a lot easier to put up with BS if you have less stress due to being financially secure or are otherwise able to indulge in something like having a new car or take a nicer vacation.

        Reply
      2. Jadelyn

        It’s a “you get what you pay for” thing. If you pay me $10 an hour, you are buying $10 worth of my labor. If you pay me $20 an hour, you are buying $20 worth of my labor, so I’ll be willing to expend a lot more energy and give-a-damn on your business. If you pay bare-minimum wages, you’ll get bare-minimum work in exchange, because people aren’t stupid and they’re not going to give you more of themselves than you’re paying them for just out of the goodness of their hearts.

        Reply
        1. whingedrinking

          A manager at an earlier job cut my hours and then wanted to have “a talk” with me about my attitude – not how well I was doing the job, just that she felt I wasn’t displaying the proper “wow, I love my workplace!” vibe. In her words, “I feel like this is just a job to you, you know?” I worked in a coffee shop that seriously tried to insist the employees had to pay for their drinks*. She was amazed that my response was basically, “Yeah, and I worked hard until I noticed that I never got compensated for it.”
          *Fair notice to anyone who’s thinking about owning a cafe: your workers will be making themselves lattes whether you allow them to or not; I advise allowing it, because the amount of ill will you will engender by making and enforcing such a rule is stupendous.

          Reply
    6. cobweb collector

      I sense a bit of enforced 1950s gender roles going on here. As the woman you’re supposed to just “bring in a little on the side” while your husband “provides for the family”. Feh.

      Reply
      1. Snarkus Aurelius

        That’s the irony! She was one of the first women in her generation to pursue a career , get a grad degree, and stay the course. She chose working over staying at home.

        Plus she worked her butt off. She was vastly underpaid, especially when she could have gone to the private sector. As a public employee, she knew how much everyone made and she knew when raises were available.

        She still wouldn’t ask though.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          Because it’s not LADYLIKE. And, you know, she’s supposed to be working for the challenge, desire to be of service and the benefits of being in the workplace rather than the home. Not, heaven forbid, from GREED. Oh, no.

          Reply
      2. Sled dog mama

        People are still weirded out when they find out that I work full time and hubby is a stay at home dad/home manager (a decision we made before our first was born due to the fact that straight out of grad school I was making 2.5x what my hubby was making with 10years in his field). He contributes so much that I have a really hard time figuring out how people function with two working parents, of course I also am in a position where I work many evenings and my hours are kind of irregular.

        Reply
      3. Mike C.

        I hate this so much – I look at what I make and I would absolutely love it if my wife made way more than me. For several when we were first together she was and seriously who cares!?

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          My (male) partner currently makes about 30% more than I do. However, over the life of our careers, my earning potential is much higher as I get to higher levels of responsibility within my field, and he’s joked with me about how much he’s looking forward to being a “kept man” once I make enough to support us.

          Whereas he has a coworker, doing the same job as him, whose wife incidentally also worked in my field before they had children, and they were at that later point in careers where she made more than he did. But he got all prideful about it and refused to be the stay-at-home parent even though that would’ve made much more financial sense (specifically because of gendered expectations, he’s told my other half this outright that a man provides for his family blah blah), and so they’ve always struggled financially, when they didn’t have to if he’d have been willing to set aside outdated gender crap and make the best decision for the family.

          TLDR I wish more men were that sensible about women out-earning them.

          Reply
          1. krysb

            When my grandma retired in 1990 from GM, if she had stayed a couple weeks longer, her pension would have increased significantly (nearly double). My granddad wouldn’t let her, because then she’d be making more money than him, and that was unacceptable.

            Reply
    7. Serin

      The spouse is really freaked out about negotiating pay! When I got an offer for my last job and I counteroffered, he was in a fidgeting, pacing, chattering anxiety for the three days it took them to respond. He knew I had consulted with Bestfriend, who is my advisor in everything related to grown-up life, and he kept saying, “And you’re sure that Bestfriend told you this is the kind of thing people do?”

      Reply
      1. Adlib

        At a former job, some of my coworkers looked at me like I had two heads when I told them I was going to ask for a raise after we hadn’t just been given one. Guess what? I got it. They acted like that was literally the scariest thing you could do. The worst thing that could happen was that I could get told no. People are so freaked out by money!

        Reply
    8. Nea

      Are we related? My mother insists that I’m wonderful, beautiful, brilliant… OMG, I want THAT much money?!! Call them back and say I’ll take less.

      Reply
    9. Ghost Town

      My husband’s family are all huge Specific State University fans, and so is he. University Where We Work gives us paychecks and benefits. As long as they don’t play each other ;), husband is a big fan of University Where We Work and relishes rooting for them at sporting events.

      Our loyalty can be bought….

      Reply
  7. Red

    I didn’t have any sort of interview clothes because I was spending all of my tiny paychecks on groceries, so I asked my mom if she had anything I could wear to an interview. It was for Tuxedo Junction in the mall. She gave me a sun dress and sandals. I did not get the job.

    Reply
  8. NewHerePleaseBeNice

    My mother took me shopping to buy smart clothes / a suit that would be suitable for job interviews during / after university. She wouldn’t let me try on any suits that were ‘boring’ dark grey, navy blue, black, and tried to steer me towards a ‘lovely’ pastel blue number which would help me to ‘stand out’. This was the late 90s, in the UK, and I was (still am) short and almost as wide as I am tall. And ginger. A pale blue suit would not have been A Good Look.

    I bought my own (dark grey) jacket and trousers in the sale…

    Reply
    1. PB

      My mother tried to give me one of her old suits from the 70s. She said it was a “classic look” that would never go out of style.

      Yeah, it was a suit from the 70s, and everyone who saw it would know that.

      Reply
    2. AnnaleighUK

      As a fellow ginger I sympathise! My mum tried to force me into getting a bright pink shirt to go with my ‘boring’ black suit. I wonder if inappropriately coloured outfits are a British parents in the late 90’s thing…

      Reply
      1. paul

        My (American midwestern to Texas transplant) MIL tried to convince my wife to wear a godawful paisley and floral abomination to interviews…so it’s not exclusively British

        Reply
        1. nonegiven

          That seriously makes me think of the news anchor on the local tv channel. She looks like her clothes are made from rug or upholstery material. Oh look, the weather person must have borrowed a necklace from news anchor! (Over sized and gaudy) I don’t want to make fun of her clothes, I just wish she’d dress in the same solid colors the male anchor wears every day like a uniform, just without a tie.

          Reply
      2. NewHerePleaseBeNice

        Aaaaah, I’d love to be able to wear bright pink. It’s not a good colour on me, but I love it as a concept!

        Reply
          1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

            Or brown, because you look like a Cadbury’s Crunchie bar….
            Or black, because you look like a Duracell battery….

            Reply
        1. AnnaleighUK

          I can’t wear any shade of pink. I’m a dark ginger but still pale as pale can be. Pink just does not work, which is why Mum was so misguided on that one! I ended up with white shirts out of sheer panic, I’m sure there were better colours but I was at uni and terrified of making a bad impression! Mum hates that the majority of my work wardrobe now is dark greens and blues. She maintains that I’m dull. That’s fine by me, I look professional and that will do nicely!

          Reply
    3. Gen

      My mom gave me a red and black 80s shoulder-padded power suit for a job interview in 2004. Fortunately I was three sizes too big for it. Five years later I interviewed for a job at her organisation and I all the women dressed in that style, it was like stepping into a time machine

      Reply
      1. 2 Cents

        At Old Job, there was a women who must have bought all of her outfits in 1988 and then never bought anything ever again. Every time I saw her, I swore she’d just gotten out of her Delorean.

        Reply
    4. Boy oh boy

      Very similar here! My mother took me to a UK department store that has a good range (John Lewis) but bought me a bizarre beige thing with lace trim. It made me feel like a sofa trimmed with doilies.

      Reply
      1. Hildegard Von Bingen

        I feel that away about big floral prints. That kind of thing looks like it should cover a big, squishy sofa on somebody’s screened back sun porch in Georgia or the Carolinas. Nope.

        Reply
    5. JustaTech

      My MIL once offered to buy me a blazer to wear to work (I work in a lab). That shopping trip nearly ended in hysterics when she insisted that I wanted a St John suit and would not listen when I said that while my aunt the litigator wore St John it was super not right for a very junior scientist. Even the sales lady was trying to steer her away from it, but nothing go through until I nearly screamed “Condaleeza Rice wears St John, I can’t!”.

      I don’t think my MIL has ever worn a suit in her life and lives and works in a very casual area, so I have no idea why she was so fixated on it.

      Reply
    6. Katie C.

      My mother’s advice to interviewing: Show some cleavage.

      First, I was a b-cup. There wasn’t much going on in that department.

      Second, I was mostly interviewing at tech companies. Looking like a sex pot was NOT going to win me any points. The less they were reminded of my gender, the better.

      Third, in her career, she never really ‘interviewed’ for positions. It was all done by the numbers. Whoever had the most years and didn’t completely fall over during the interview got in. Once, two other people were competing for the same position, and she was horrified since normally every new position was a shoo-in. She couldn’t conceive of a world where one had to compete against droves of strangers.

      Reply
  9. Forced to be formal

    My dad used to tell me to call all the higher-ups “Sir” or “Madam” (not Ma’am, Madam) for at least the first two weeks of any job.

    This was while I worked in retail/hospitality during (and just after) high school. Rest assured I very quickly got corrected once I was actually in the world of work.

    Reply
  10. Rosamond

    Not terrible advice, just misguided. When I was in high school and college, my mom really pushed me to look for office jobs rather than retail. She thought entry-level office work was more prestigious, interesting, better paid, and would look better on my resume later. After all, that’s how she started out in the 1960s. I listened to her and ended up working for two toxic managers in struggling small businesses, which of course were the only places that we’re hiring teenagers to do office jobs in the late 1990s. I got fired from both of them. I stopped listening to my mom and worked in a string of service jobs for the rest of college, all of which had competent and respectful managers and were generally fine places to work. I think my mom is still disappointed.

    Reply
    1. paul

      How did you find multiple retail jobs that all had good managers?! I had a few good managers during my retail and restaurant stints in HS/college but goodness, there were a lot of bad ones too

      Reply
      1. Rosamond

        I wouldn’t go so far as to say they were all “good” – just competent and respectful, which neither of my office job managers had been. My managers in retail we’re mostly nose-to-the-grindstone retail lifers who just wanted everyone to show up to their shifts, try to make their numbers, and not create any drama.

        Reply
    2. Snarkus Aurelius

      Similar to what I originally posted, my mom also thought I was ungrateful for wanting to do more than entry level or office work. She still says that volunteering to make coffee or take notes or order office supplies shows I’m not too good to do anything and everyone will appreciate me. What she fails to realize is that’s *all* I get stuck with if that’s what I’m aiming for.

      For some reason, it really gets under her skin that I won’t unload the office dishwasher or I only volunteer to do substantive work. I keep reminding her of how easy it is for women to get stuck with stereotypical women’s work and she thinks we’re being snobs, completely ignoring that men get out of this work.

      Reply
    3. Junior Dev

      My aunt believes, for some reason, that white collar managers are never abusive and service industry managers usually are. She was expounding on this while I was working for the first in a series of emotionally abusive bosses in tech jobs and missing my days as a server in a cafeteria.

      Reply
    4. Triplestep

      I don’t know that I’d call this advice “misguided”. Maybe for a high school student, but for college? One of my kids got summer internships in office settings (State agencies) throughout college, and it does look good on her resume. It’s unfortunate that you had toxic managers, but I don’t think that makes the advice “misguided.”

      Reply
      1. Rosamond

        I certainly wouldn’t argue that internships look good on a resume, Internships are different than part-time jobs. This was the 90s, when internships were barely a thing.

        Reply
    5. Katie C.

      My mother insisted that the only job I should ever hold is a government job. There so easy to get! Just fill out an application and something will turn up!

      The reality? She was lucky there was a war on when she got in, because that was the last time it was ‘easy.’ Nearly all hires today are from contracts or inside, and there’s not NEARLY as many positions as there once was. Oh, and no one is hiring some wet behind the ears kid unless they’re amazing or the niece/nephew of someone important.

      Reply
      1. Government job

        “Oh, and no one is hiring some wet behind the ears kid unless they’re amazing or the niece/nephew of someone important.”

        This is untrue, and the government job hiring process in the US is optimized to prevent it.

        Reply
  11. Aphrodite

    Not weird but outdated.

    The bad: My dad always advised my sister and I to show up in person about jobs. “It will show you are enthusiastic about the job, he said. This was in the pre-Internet age but was when most job ads gave a fax number (and no company name) and told you to fax your resume. He couldn’t believe it when we told him we didn’t even know, in many cases, who the potential employers were.

    The good (really good): Wear good clothes any time you show up for an interview or even to just fill out an application. This once made me stand out when I showed up at a group orientation for FedEx–where anyone can come and they tell you all about the company and job and have you fill out an application–and discovered that I was the only one in a suit. One other man, perhaps a little older than me, came in black slacks and white shirt, looking very nice. Other than us, everyone was in jeans and tee shorts and I think one guy was even in shorts. Out of around 30 people I think they offered six of us interviews–and I got hired.

    Reply
    1. Mockingjay

      “The good (really good):” I advised my girls to do the same when asking for applications at small businesses – the ones without online applications. Their appearance often netted an interview.

      Interestingly, my oldest worked for Cutco during college as the interview booker for sales reps. She would call people to schedule interviews and advise them on the dress code. The vast majority made no attempt to comply.

      Reply
    2. Peter the Bubblehead

      When my daughter came of working age in HS, the one piece of advice I impressed on her was “Always dress nicely for a job interview, whether its for Register at a grocery store or Manager at a retail location.”
      While she hasn’t gotten EVERY job she applied for, she often stands out against the other applicants (and has been told such by the hiring manager) and has never had much trouble finding a job of some kind or another.

      Reply
    3. Jadelyn

      Ah, yes. Good old “pound the pavement” advice. My dad was the same way – this, coming from a man working a specialized skilled job in a small industry where one changed jobs by word-of-mouth and networking. Aside from the one time he got laid off in the late 80s/early 90s, I don’t think I ever saw him actually *apply* for a job – it was just, “So-and-so from Other Bigname Company reached out to me today to ask me to come interview next week.” And he never really got the whole apply-online thing no matter how many times I told him showing up in person would just get you told to go to the website.

      So I just smiled and nodded and ignored his advice until one time he was being particularly pushy and insisting that the reason I was unemployed (during the recession, when jobs were not exactly thick on the ground) was because I wasn’t “getting out there and pounding the pavement” and I finally snapped back, saying “Dad, remind me, when is the last time you actually had to go on a job search? Back in the 80’s? Oddly enough the world has changed in the last 20-plus years and the way you got work back then is not the way I can go about getting work now.”

      It only shut him up for a couple months before he was back at it again, but god was it satisfying to say.

      Reply
    4. LiveAndLetDie

      My mother-in-law definitely told me to print out my resume on nice paper stock and go in-person to local businesses to drop it off with receptionists and then follow up with nice thank-you cards. Which maybe was a thing back in the 80s or 90s when she last looked for a job, but is definitely not what you do now.

      Reply
      1. The Expendable Redshirt

        Oh Gosh, my mother told me the same thing. The last time that she applied for a job was in the early 90s. Mom has worked for the exact same company for about thirty years. I honestly didn’t know where to buy this mythical nice stock paper. All paper was the basic white printer stuff right? Now days, the receptionist where I work doesn’t accept paper resume submissions. Everyone who applies is redirected to the company website.

        Reply
  12. EA

    Lord, the career advice my mother gave is a mixer between things that are 90% untrue with a tiny hint of truth thrown it, and a hell of a lot of narcissism.
    – when I graduated colleg pitched a huge fit about me not moving back to my home town immediately (I had a nanny job and wanted to try and get a job for a few months, and I got one), claims that the only way you get a job is through connections, and that looking for jobs ‘on the computer’ was a waste of time, as those jobs get hundreds of applicants. (I got a job randomly applying)
    -when I was interviewing for said job, kept telling me I would never get it. As according to her the company probably had a nepotism hire all lined up, and just had to interview me for appearances. She kept calling my interviews fake.
    – when I got the job, told me it was pure luck and because I am pretty.
    -referred to my unpaid college internships as volunteer work. Told me that if a company starts off not paying you than why would they ever.
    -in an internship I told her I needed to ask for time off, got mad and I said I shouldn’t have to ask for vacation, as I am not being paid (clearly asking was a formality, I just wanted to let them know)

    Reply
    1. AliceBD

      I got a very good internship in college and 2 of 3 post-college jobs from blindly applying, writing good cover letters, and having good interviews. No connections used (not for lack of trying.) After the job I got this summer, the second one I got without connections, my parents have finally stopped saying looking online for random companies is a waste of time.

      Reply
      1. Triplestep

        I network like crazy, both for myself and my friends. I have ONLY ever gotten jobs by applying to online posts, and before that, newspaper ads. (I am 54)

        Reply
    2. Cassandra

      Wow. A lot of that is straight-up negging. I’m glad you don’t seem to have internalized it — I hope you haven’t!

      Reply
      1. ContentWrangler

        I got my current job through connections (well, an internship which I then turned into a permanent job). It’s definitely not the only way to a get a job but I’ve found that it can be really helpful to branch out of your desired field, at least at the first level of connection. I went to school with a girl who’s mom was in banking (definitely not my field). But she was a really nice woman and had been living in my city for a long time and was really involved in the community. She had a friend who was in my field, so she helped set up an informational interview. That friend sent out my information to some companies/people he had worked with previously and that’s how I got the internship. So, it was more a chain of connections rather than happening to know the perfect people right away.

        Reply
      2. Junior Dev

        I got my current (about to start) job through a friend and my previous job through a Twitter follower. But the previous job sucked so I don’t know that that says anything about the success of that method.

        Reply
        1. EA

          It’s not that I think getting a job through connections is bad or not a good method, I just think that if you don’t have connections you should definitely apply online.

          Reply
          1. the gold digger

            I think it would be wonderful to have connections! I just have never gotten a job that way. My jobs have all come from either the career center at the University of Texas or from online ads. It seems like it would be a lot easier to go through connections.

            Reply
      3. Typhon Worker Bee

        I’ve managed it, but I work in a small field in my city, where everyone knows everyone.

        Job#1: I got my first job in this city by applying from a different country – didn’t know anyone
        Job#2: my head of department from Job#1 has a very successful spin-off biotech company, and set up interviews for me there with various department heads
        Job #3: in a different research department in the same organization as Job#1, with someone who collaborates with Boss#2’s wife, who works in the department from Job#1 (although that’s not how I got that job! Boss#2 didn’t know I was looking, so it was just a coincidence). NB the various departments in this organization operate somewhat independently.
        Job #4: in yet another department of the same org, with a team I first met while working in Job#3 (Boss#3 collaborates with a lot of people from that department). Two friends from Job#2 were already there, and a couple more from that company joined while I was working there
        Job#5 (current job): with someone I met while working in Job#4 (he was a co-applicant on one of Job#4’s grants. As was Boss#3. And also Boss#2’s wife, again)

        Reply
        1. JanetM

          I got my first full-time job sort of through connections: my Dad came home from work one day and said, “The janitorial agency that cleans my building is hiring. Go apply.” So I did, and found out they had a receptionist position open, so I applied for that as well, and was interviewed and hired. Over time, I moved into a position where I was actually recruiting and hiring mechanical and electrical assemblers, technicians, drafters, designers, and engineers for contract positions.

          My second job, I applied to a classified ad for a word processor that offered a higher pay rate than I was making as a recruiter, and was interviewed and hired.

          When I moved to Tennessee, I temped in admin support positions for a few years and then was hired direct by the law firm where I’d been temping.

          When I left that job, I temped again for a year, and the wife of the man I was working for asked me to apply for an admin assistant position in her department. I was interviewed and hired. A month later, she accepted a promotion from Director to Vice Chancellor, and I moved up with her.

          A few years after that, the administration was restructured, all the Vice Chancellor positions were eliminated, and another Director asked me to come work for her group.

          Then, last year, I applied to take a course in Project Management, and was promptly offered a junior PM role (which I am really enjoying!). With any luck, I’ll be in this role for six more years, when I plan to retire.

          Reply
    3. GG Two shoes

      your mom sounds… fun. :/

      My father-in-law was convinced that my company wasn’t a real company and was going to fold any minute. It’s over 120 years old, in the life insurance industry. It’s fine.

      Reply
      1. SanDiegoSmith82

        I’m in the insurance biz too- on the Commercial P&C side- i work for one of the giants, and am doing quite well with plenty of growth potential- but my parents keep pushing me to go back to my old barely above min wage job and work for State Farm (my first job/first boss)- in their town- so I can answer their questions and be “their agent”. That’s a negative- in so many ways. That’s actually their main advice- work for the little small business owner instead of the corporation- needless to say- after having to do things their way due to my previous area of residence- I plan to stay with the giant corporation for a LOOOOONGGGG TIME. Like “work here until I’m retirement age in 35 years” long…

        Reply
        1. JessaB

          I know little about insurance but unless you’re talking some teeny two person agency, I cannot imagine any mainstream insurance company permitting someone to write/maintain/service policies for their direct relatives. The conflict of interest would be crazy. Any job I ever worked that had any kind of fiduciary relationship with clients, would never allow that. I mean I once worked for a magazine company and if I got a screen up that had someone related to me or even a friend I knew I had to put it back in queue. I wasn’t allowed to call them because I might convince them to spend money they didn’t have because they knew me.

          Maybe explaining to your parents that even if you came home you wouldn’t be able to handle their account anyway.

          Reply
      2. Puddingpye

        My first job interviews did benefit from my dad’s skepticism about the companies I applied to. Because of his doubt, I did extensive research into the companies and their products (mostly to say, ‘see dad it is a real company’). So when I went on the interview I think I surprised everyone (myself included) with my company knowledge.

        Reply
  13. Lynca

    At my very first job, I was about 18 or so, my dad wouldn’t let me drive 10 miles home at night from the big retail store I worked at. I would get dropped off/picked up because they didn’t want me walking to the car in the dark or driving home in the dark because ‘bad things would happen.’ Should point out that I was not the only one leaving when the store closed so there were plenty of people around. Thankfully the helicopter parenting was restricted to just this one job.

    You can imagine how I was the butt of jokes with the other cashiers though.

    Reply
    1. Juli G.

      I just found out my parents sat in the parking lot across from my first job at night to watch me and make sure I was safe.

      In their defense, I often worked completely alone until 10pm at 16 which as an adult I realize wasn’t exactly safe. But if it was my kid, I would have helped them realize it was unsafe and encouraged other employment.

      Reply
      1. paul

        I worked in a rural grocery store; I was pretty happy to get picked up after work sometimes. Employees had to park at the back of the lot, I worked late, and there were critters. They once had a black bear get into the summer squash that was in big display bins in front of the store…

        Reply
        1. Adlib

          My parents live in a very rural community, and the crap that goes down out there sometimes worries me more than my living in a big city does!

          Reply
    2. Molly's Reach

      Slightly off topic, but there’s a fairly popular barber shop here that opens at 7am. A woman in her 70’s opens up the shop at 7 (she is retired but still does this to stay active). Her husband doesn’t like her being there by herself (with whatever random customers come for a cut) before the rest of the staff come in , so he comes in with her every morning and reads the newspaper until the others arrive. Sometimes he’ll chat with the customers while she’s cutting their hair. So sweet.

      Reply
    3. ContentWrangler

      I do some extra work on the weekends at a local venue as an event manager (basically I open things up and shut them down when the party is over). This venue was in a very nice park in a nice part of town. But my mom still insisted on meeting me up there (super close to their house) my first couple of times closing late so that I wouldn’t be the only one in the building or in the parking lot.

      Of course, my mom is 5’2″ and super petite, so I’m not sure what she could have done if we’d been attacked by hooligans.

      Reply
    4. CheeryO

      This is kind of cute, even though I can see how it would bother you at 18! My dad would always get on my case about driving super carefully when I got out of my 2-10PM shifts at my first job. It was all of 1.5 miles from our house, in your average suburban area.

      Reply
    5. Frustrated Granddaughter

      My grandparents live in a small beach town with hundreds of seasonal jobs, so during college I lived with them in the summers and took a job a mile from their house in an extremely low crime area. I frequently worked ’til 11 or midnight and would bike home (less than a 10 min ride) along a very well lit, well populated route with tons of pedestrians, which I’d been traveling my entire life. I’d call my grandparents before I left work to let them know to expect me at home within 10 minutes, but that wasn’t sufficient safety measures for them – my then-80yo grandfather would insist on driving his clunker car uptown to meet me, and then would follow me home in the car while I biked ahead of him.

      I was grateful for his concern, but it got pretty annoying knowing I had to either wait for him to accompany me or get in a big argument about how unsafe it is for young women to be out at night.

      Reply
    6. Hobgoblin

      My mom told me to call her as soon as I got home from my first career-type job so she’d know I got home safe. I was (still am) a police officer…

      Reply
      1. Rusty Shackelford

        On the one hand, this is hilarious. On the other hand, if my child were a police officer, I just might insist on a daily post-shift “I’m not dead” phone call…

        Reply
        1. Hobgoblin

          Haha well she probably would love a daily phone call. My other fun “but, Mom, I’m a cop!” story is this: we met up for coffee while I was on shift and, when we were leaving, she put out her arm across my chest to prevent me from stepping off the curb into the parking lot because a car was coming. Sigh. It was very motherly but made me look stupid. There I was, in tac gear/mirrored sunglasses/bristling with weapons, and my mommy told me to look both ways before crossing the parking lot. It’s pretty funny now but not so funny when I was still young and kind of new.

          Reply
  14. Brandy

    We were watching Judge Karen and Karen was arguing with a unemployed defendant to get off the computer and go look for a job. Stop in the stores. My mom is fairly progressive and teaches me stuff she learns on the computer, but we argued about this. I said even WalMart, Publix, etc you fill out an online application. My mom said you go there and fill out the application on their computers they have there. U said you could do this from home. Needless argument as we both have office jobs and shes retiring in 4 months but still. Judge Karen said they get so many online applications they need to see you. I think this is bad advise.

    Reply
    1. Justme

      I agree with you. Even if you use the store’s computers (which are notoriously awful) there’s no guarantee that anyone who matters in the hiring process will see you.

      Reply
      1. Liane

        Yes, when I worked Customer Service at one of those retailers, our application kiosks used the World’s Largest and Worst Trackballs. Over a dozen years into the 21st century. The only upgrades made to them, as of when I left a couple years ago, was they were finally unplugged and plastered with out of order signs. They really did not work well, even when they were working.
        My spiel at the Service Desk when someone asked about applying was, “You can apply online at Retailer dot com. I strongly recommend going online from home or the library, although you can use kiosk there or in back. But online from a computer will take much less time and effort.”
        I did have a few people call or come to me and ask to “Follow up/speak with the hiring manager.”

        Reply
    2. Doreen Kostner

      To be fair, although large chains like Walmart or Target certainly do have online applications , and walking into the store is not going to be helpful , there are also a lot of retail-type jobs that don’t even advertise openings online and basically rely on signs in the window. You can apply for Home Depot online, but you’ll never know Harry’s Hardware with 5 employees is looking for help unless you actually go there.

      Reply
      1. Peter the Bubblehead

        When my daughter applied in person to retail stores like JC Penny and Wal-mart, she was told she needed to fill out the application on-line and if she qualified the company would call and arrange an interview. The big retail stores are not accepting in-person applications anymore at all!

        Reply
      2. Liane

        My state’s unemployment office, per the worker who saw me, counts “Walking into a business, asking about jobs, and being told to go to the website” as an in-person job contact, and one of your minimum 3 job contacts/week has to be in person. So yes I pay attention to signs in windows and ask my friends.

        (But the paper record you must keep asks for a name and title for *every* job contact, regardless of method. I hope putting “ATS Software Name” or the web address of the online form is acceptable, because that is what I have been doing.)

        Reply
      3. As Close As Breakfast

        Well, maybe. But I’d think most of the ‘Harry’s Hardwares’ out there are actually posting free job ads on Indeed or Craigslist at the very least. And if they aren’t currently, they will be. (Probably as soon as someone working there goes “Wait, you’re looking for employees how? Let me show you how to post one online.”)

        Reply
      4. Pollygrammer

        My first job was at an ice cream place, and the manager was a 20-something stoner. I showed up a couple times after putting in my application (with the excuse of getting ice cream). It worked to remind him that 1) I had applied and 2) he was supposed to be hiring at all.

        Reply
  15. Amber T

    “You’ll never get a job if you get a tattoo!” (in response to me getting a small tattoo in an easily covered area)

    Half of my coworkers have similar tattoos (small and in covered areas).

    Reply
      1. EddieSherbert

        Oh the other hand, weirdly enough, my mom spent YEARS encouraging me to get my nose pierced? When I didn’t want to and had never said I wanted to?

        Reply
      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        My mother thought the scar from my eyebrow piercing (which I got, and also took out, while I was still in college) would be a permanent hindrance in my career.

        You can’t even see it unless you’re about five inches from my face.

        Reply
        1. Wendy Darling

          Also I’m pretty sure like half of everyone who went to high school between 1990 and RIGHT NOW has that scar. If “I had an eyebrow piercing one time” scars disqualified you from jobs the unemployment rate would be astronomical.

          Reply
        2. k.k

          Ditto on the scar from a years-ago lip ring. It’s a tiny dot under my lip. Even if you notice it, it looks like a little freckle or something.

          Reply
          1. Ramona Flowers

            I’ll see your lip ring scar and raise you an ex ‘Madonna’ top lip stud and two eyebrow piercing scars. That nobody notices.

            Reply
          2. peggy

            i’ve got that lip ring scar! i also have a chip on my tooth from biting down on that lip ring, which i someday intend to fix but yet never do.

            Reply
        3. SarcasticFringehead

          I have acne scars that are much more visible than my former eyebrow piercing, and I didn’t have particularly bad acne.

          Reply
        4. Autumnheart

          And why would it disqualify you anyway? If you had any other scar (from a zit, from chicken pox, falling off your bike, car accident) it wouldn’t disqualify you.

          Reply
        5. OlympiasEpiriot

          I have two scars on my face and multiple small scars on other bits of my body. None have stopped me from having a job that I know of. How odd.

          Reply
      3. Kate

        My postdoctoral adviser’s told her daughter that a tongue ring would make it harder for her to get a job. I told her, “I had a tongue ring when you hired me.” She had no idea.

        Reply
    1. EddieSherbert

      This as well – and a lot of my coworkers have large uncovered tattoos! We’re in an office for a software company. The best part is that my tattoos are on easily covered areas (and I’m not about to wear a backless shirt, crop top, or short-shorts to the office ANYWAYS, mom!).

      Hilariously, this complaint also spilled over to my wedding dress when I got married – everyone would see my unseemly tattoos! I was very curious what kind of dress they were picturing that would show my thigh tattoo…

      Reply
    2. Esme Squalor

      I’ve run into this belief with a lot of boomers. I think the social context of tattoos has shifted a lot since they were starting out. At my last job, my department head had full sleeves, and she usually didn’t bother covering them. No one cared.

      Reply
      1. Triplestep

        I am 54, born in 1963, so “Boomer” by many standards. I think that views on tattoos have softened, but I also think it depends on so many factors: How many, where they are, what they depict, and the quality.

        I am a very visual person and work in a deign field, so when I see a beautifully done tattoo that’s clearly had a lot of thought put into it, I find it attractive no matter if I’m in the office or elsewhere. But when I see multiple random tattoos (as opposed to a sleeve, for example) that just seem like an odd collection, it does make me wonder about the person. Are they indecisive? Did they really think this through? Were any of these done impulsively? Those aren’t the kinds of things people want their hiring managers, bosses and/or co-workers thinking about.

        Obviously I don’t speak for my generation, but permanent visible marks on your body – that are intended to be displayed, and by many accounts mean something to those sporting them – might say things people don’t intend.

        Reply
        1. Annabelle

          Most people who get tattoos aren’t doing it all in one go, so having different subjects doesn’t mean they’re indecisive. Good tattoos are expensive and take a while to get done, so multiple ones with different themes probably just mean that someone has a multitude of different interests or things that are important to them over the years.

          Reply
          1. Triplestep

            Yes, I get that. I still think those tattoos would be more aesthetically pleasing if some thought were applied as to placement. Otherwise people risk looking like a sticker book page with stickers randomly applied – any bare skin real estate will do.

            Reply
    3. Red Reader

      Haha, woo. My dad used to give me that lecture. At the time, I both lived at home still and worked in my father’s store. So I saw him on a pretty frequent basis right? One morning, he walks into my office and starts in. “OH, IS THAT WHY YOU DIDN’T GET HOME UNTIL LATE LAST NIGHT?” and I was like … what? Cue tirade about that tattoo on the back of my neck, how amazingly unprofessional and obvious it is, and he can’t believe I was out late on a work night getting a new tattoo ….

      I waited him out, and then when he took a breath, I said “Just one thing, kay? I got that tattoo eight months ago, not last night.”

      Fifteen years and 20+ tattoos later, he has not said a single word about any of my tattoos since that morning. (Amusingly, I am in fact now at a job where tattoos must be covered per the dress code. Except I work remotely, so it doesn’t matter. Plus they are all fairly easily cover-able.)

      Reply
    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      My husband’s mother and grandmother seem to periodically forget he has tattoos and both get upset all over again when they see them and act as if he’s ruined all career prospects for himself. His grandma sometimes sees them and bats at him with her cane in anger (she is 101 so he can withstand this attack).

      Reply
      1. EddieSherbert

        MY GRANDMOTHER DOES THIS TOO!! Minus the assault via cane. Just offended yelling and then I remind her that I got “that thing” two years ago and she’s already berated me for it.

        Reply
      2. Machiamellie

        I got a tattoo at 20ish and showed my dad. He huffed and said “Show your grandmother that!!” so I showed Gram. She said, “Cool!” She was like 80 at the time. She was an awesome lady.

        Reply
        1. The New Wanderer

          Mine too! My parents were aghast, they didn’t believe I would go through with it because needles, but I did. Then they tried to embarrass me in front of my grandmother. She thought it was perfect, and she showed me her “tattoos” (two ink dots indicating previous radiation treatments for breast cancer).

          Reply
          1. Grumpy

            My friend’s (now deceased) father had a forearm tattoo, courtesy of a work camp he escaped from. He never tried to hide it. I miss him, he was so positive and awesome.

            Reply
      3. Mockingjay

        My mother almost fainted (in the waiting area at Outback Steakhouse) when she found out my oldest daughter got a tattoo. It took her years to warm back up to her.

        Reply
      4. Gen

        My grandfather went bananas when he found out the care home manager had a small forearm tattoo. He was convinced he was going to abuse the residents and steal all their money. Then he turned to me -purple hair, eight tattoos, seven piercings- and sort of wound down mid-sentence before starting up on why they should hire me. Not even close to being my area of competence but I never could work out if he’d decided it was a good industry or thought I should rob people like he’d just accused the manager…

        Reply
      5. Wendy Darling

        My college roommate wanted to dye her hair purple. Her mother and grandmother both had epic meltdowns about it. They had taken us out to lunch one day and were berating her about how she would never succeed in life if she dyed her hair purple, and sensible, respectable people did not dye their hair unnatural colors, and ISN’T THAT RIGHT WENDY??? I was a placid, well-behaved straight-A student so they thought they had this nailed down.

        I told them I had blue hair freshman year.

        Reply
        1. Liane

          When I worked at Retailer, I was talking to one of my favorite supervisors about my daughter applying–which was fine as long as she didn’t work in same area. I said something about the dress code mentioning natural hair colors*. She replied, “You really think they enforce that here?” indicating her hair, which was some rose-red shade. I laughed and pleaded a brain-blip.

          *not even mad Excel skills would help you keep track of Daughter’s hair color/style changes in the last couple years of working at Other Retailer.

          Reply
      6. Plague of frogs

        I visited my grandpa shortly after getting a tattoo.

        Me: I just got a tattoo.
        Grandpa: Your mother told me. I’m completely horrified. (Cheerfully) So let’s see it!

        Reply
      7. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

        My grandma HATED my first couple of tattoos. Over 9 years and 17ish tattoos she went from wanting me to get them laser removed, to grudging acceptance that I wouldn’t, to acknowledging that some of them looked good. When she was in hospice, she saw a mandala tattoo in a magazine and told me it would look nice on me, and helped me plan what her memorial tattoo would include.

        Reply
    5. Kiki

      I have 7 tattoos and no one at my current job knows I have any. Right now I’m looking at another job and I looked up my potential interview on LinkedIn. She has multiple visible tattoos and magenta hair.

      Reply
      1. Former Hoosier

        I say let you be you but to be fair some companies do have no visible tattoos policy including healthcare.

        Reply
    6. DaniCalifornia

      Lol my dad told me something similar when I got my tattoo on my wrist. “Well now you can’t enlist in the military.” I was 23 and not interested in the military anyways. Also, that doesn’t disqualify you from the military. You just have to keep it covered.

      Reply
      1. voluptuousfire

        That’s strange. Don’t many military people have tats to commemorate their time in the service? Two of my cousins were in the navy and both have navy themed tats–mermaids, anchors, etc.

        Reply
      2. essEss

        The Chicago Police department tried to suddenly crack down on tattoos in 2015 and issued a new policy that ALL tattoos needed to be covered up. There was such a backlash from the police officers, especially former military personnel, that they had to rescind the policy.

        Reply
        1. Pollygrammer

          A Philly cop was the center of a scandal because he had an openly displayed “German heritage” tattoo on his forearm. Definitely not a Nazi symbol! Just an eagle emblem that was ~used~ as a Nazi symbol and the word “Fatherland.”

          I totally support policies requiring police to keep tattoos covered.

          Reply
            1. Pollygrammer

              If he was a Nazi who wanted to show off that fact and his department was either aware or in total denial and he wasn’t dismissed from the force?

              Reply
    7. Don Lucia's Mullet

      I work for a company that has a pretty strict dress code for folks working in customer-facing roles – no visible tattoos, only 1 piercing per ear and only in the earlobe, only 1 ring per hand (unless you’re working in food service, then it’s none due to health codes), no unnatural hair colors, etc. It won’t prevent someone from getting hired, but you will be made aware of the policy during the hiring process, and asked if you’d be willing to cover up the tattoos, remove extra piercings, etc. If you then show up for orientation out of guidelines, they’ll either ask you to correct it immediately, or reschedule your start date.

      Reply
      1. The Luidaeg

        All of my tattoos are covered by my clothing (except for the one on my upper arm, and I don’t wear short sleeves at work). I purposely, when I worked with my first artist, designed them to be completely covered by work clothes.

        I got my first one in my 20s, living on my own . . . and when I was stupid enough to mention it to my parents (who I was going to be traveling with for 2 weeks), my mother told me several things, including that no one was ever going to love me. Because I had done this to myself. I’m sure she has forgotten she said that, and has also changed her mind, considering I’ve now been married for 17 years.

        Where I work, several people have tattoos (some visible, some not). Not as big of a deal as it was 20 years ago, to be sure.

        Reply
    8. peggy

      I have tattoos that are not covered by my regular clothing (big chest piece that comes up out of my shirt). It’s floral and inoffensive, and I don’t wear shirts that show very much of it but you definitely see the upper parts of it with any regular neck shirt (i have 1 cowl neck sweater that covers it and it’s covered if i wear a hoodie or a scarf, but otherwise you get at least a few leaves & petals in view.)

      At this stage of the game, I wouldn’t take any job that wouldn’t have me because of tattoos. I’m just not interested in any line of work where it would matter. I always used to have people say to me, “what will you think of your tattoos when you’re FORTY, UGH!” so 40 feels like the magic number. it’s 2 years away and i’ll be treating myself to a nature-inspired full sleeve on my right arm. like “i AM 40 and i still love this! and i’m still the only one who makes decisions about my body! and i still don’t care what anyone thinks!” :)

      Reply
      1. Brisvegan

        I got my first tattoo because I turned 40! :)

        Just got my 6th.

        I am an academic and it hasn’t been an issue so far. I’m tenured and work for a fairly progressive uni though, so thats might not be the same for everyone at every Australian uni.

        Reply
      2. Wannabikkit

        Go for it! I’m nearly 46 and got my first tattoos a few weeks ago. I have every intention of getting more!

        Reply
    9. Radiant Peach

      Oh! Just thought of another: if go to grad school and make less than six figures on your first job, you’ve wasted your time.

      Reply
    10. SuchaFineGirl

      My pops said this too – and then when he retired he went out and got a tattoo. (What? I don’t have a job anymore!)

      Reply
    11. Typhon Worker Bee

      I’ve always wanted a nose piercing – just a teeny tiny silver stud. I was actually planning to do it for my birthday in a few weeks (I decided that wanting the same thing for >20 years means that I’m probably not going to change my mind, lol), but then I started a new job a couple of months ago and my boss and the office manager both have the exact kind I want. I kind of feel like it would be weird to do it now.

      Reply
    12. SubwayFan

      I got this too, I have a tiny diamond in my upper lip (a Monroe piercing). When I got it my older relatives said I’d never get hired again.

      Honestly most people never even notice it. I had one guy I had worked with for 5 years look at me one day and say “Hey, did you get your lip pierced over the weekend?” and I had to tell him, no, I’ve had this since before we started working together.

      Reply
    13. Kuododi

      Neither DH or I have tats. I’ve always appreciated the esthetics of a well done tattoo however I am enough of a needle phobic I realistically don’t see getting a tattoo in my future. DH has always worked in either Hospice or Hospitals and their policies have been very firm. If you want a tattoo…it must be discreet and in a location where it can be covered up while on duty.

      Reply
  16. CA in CA

    My mother told me to put my social security number on all my resumes I was handing out (this was back when you applied by putting a physical resume in someone’s hand, no online applications). So God only knows who has that info now. Le sigh.

    Reply
    1. Lemon Zinger

      Conversely, my mom told me to never provide my social security number for employment. She even showed up at my first job to speak with my boss because she wasn’t comfortable giving me my social security card that was REQUIRED because I didn’t have a passport.

      Reply
    2. the Olden Days

      That was standard in the old days. If it was pre-computers, typed on a typewriter, I’m not surprised. Everyone did it.

      Reply
      1. Liane

        Not just for applications but *everything.* My first bank account, in college where my dorm address would change every year, the *bank* advised me to have my SSN on my checks in place of an address and I did it.

        Those of you who work in banks, financial services, IT, security, please accept my apologies for causing horrible nightmares.

        Reply
        1. puzzld

          I just added a new dog to my records at the vet (that I’ve used for 30 years or so) they have a new form to collect Rover’s info and it asks for SSN. I just about died right there.

          Reply
        2. Victoria

          When my husband was at Basic Training, his SSN was part of the address for mail. The envelope would have this:

          Husband’s Name
          000-00-0000
          Company and Unit number
          0000 Barracks Name
          Fort Lost-in-the-Woods, Missouri 00000

          Deity knows how many USPS workers have his SSN now.

          Reply
        3. Rusty Shackelford

          Back in the day, kids, it was a time-saver to have your SSN printed on your checks, since otherwise you’d have to write it by hand, or read it off to the cashier so she could scribble it on your check.

          (I had more than one job where SSNs were printed on time cards, which were in view of all employees. Once, an employee used another’s SSN to pretend to be her and cancel her phone service. The reaction of both the phone company and the employer was “Huh. That’s too bad.”)

          Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        I still see paper applications sometimes that ask for it. I applied for a job in a law office (just clerical) and they emailed me a PDF of an application with a line on it for social security number (I left it off, because no). It was not a fillable form, either. I had to print it, fill it out, scan it, and email it back. They never called me. Um, good.

        Reply
    3. Talia

      There is a *solid* chunk of municipalities that require you to put your social security number on the application, which they usually then want you to send as a plain unencrypted email attachment. I have never gotten an interview anywhere I refused to do this, although occasionally I will get someone from HR calling me and saying “You didn’t put your social security number on the form, I need it to complete your application!”

      Reply
    4. cobweb collector

      I once got a few resumes like this. They all came from the same University so I assumed they all got that advice from the same professor/career center. It made me very uncomfortable. Rest assured I did make sure to shred them when I was done with them.

      Reply
    5. Adlib

      I was working with a recruiter a while back who asked me why I didn’t put my SSN on my application. I asked why they needed it. She told me if I got a contract position where they had to pay me they would need it. I told her they could have it then but not before. Blew her mind that someone wouldn’t want to put it on there.

      Reply
      1. nonegiven

        When they switched to having the portable lab come out to sending people into town with a form for random drug tests, that was the first time DH knew his SSN was printed out on the form. He lost his sh!t. They stopped putting it on there.

        Reply
    6. MostCake

      In Nevada in the 80s your driver’s license number was your SSN and you definitely had it printed on your personal checks because no retailer would accept a check without it. And at my tech college in Texas in the 90s your student ID number was your SSN, which was printed on your ID badge. Le gasp!

      Reply
  17. Amber Rose

    At some point during a job hunt right around finishing university, mom said I should be applying to a hundred jobs A DAY. Basically, every job I saw I should apply to. I mean, I tried, but realistically I managed about ten. There aren’t that many hours in a day, or a hundred jobs a day posted that it even makes sense to try and apply for. Like, I’m not going to apply for registered nurse or long distance truck driver (I didn’t even get my GDL Class 5 until a year after I graduated). And since I half-assed the ones I did apply for and wasn’t really qualified for those either, I didn’t get any interviews.

    I ended up working at a place where they interviewed in batches of 20 and the “interview” was a test to see if you could count to ten and use a hand scanner. Everyone who passed was hired. That’s the kind of job you get with that tactic.

    Reply
    1. EddieSherbert

      My parents also suggested this tactic, and would send me links (unfortunately, they figured out how to work online job sites) to random jobs that had nothing to do with my degree or interests and occasionally threw in the encouraging words “I know this isn’t what you’re looking for, but you need to do SOMETHING.” (I literally was hired for my first post-college job 2 weeks after graduation).

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        The one job I put effort into applying for and was related to my degree hired me after I’d been working at hand scanner place for a month and a half.

        Turns out it actually is quality over quantity. ;)

        Reply
    2. boop the first

      Especially now that applications require so much work we might as well be paid for it! I remember getting frustrated trying to apply online for a part time job at a craft store. It took 45 MINUTES because of all of the bogus “personality” quizzes.

      Of course I didn’t even get a phone call. I’m much too old and jaded to pass those quizzes.

      Reply
      1. LadyL

        Those quizzes are so useless. A lot of them ask the most absurd questions, like:

        “Your co-worker has a 1 year old and you caught her stealing a can of formula from the store. What do you do?
        A) Help her steal higher value items
        B) Detain her, scream “SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!” as you lightly flog her, then call the manager to fire her immediately”

        Obviously I’m being a bit facetious with the answers, but I have seen (a version of) that question at so many stores, and the answers always amount to either “I love crime” or “I’m a narc”. I always want to respond instead, “Are you openly admitting that you don’t pay your employees enough to survive on?”

        Reply
        1. nnn

          Reading without my glasses, I read that as “Your co-worker has an 11-year-old and you caught her stealing a can of formula”. And I was thinking that’s oddly specific…

          Reply
        2. Rusty Shackelford

          A manager at Giant Soul-Sucking Retail Store told me you’d be surprised at how many people answer A.

          Reply
          1. SevenSixOne

            I’m not surprised that a significant minority of employees would DO option A, but I am a little surprised that they’re dense enough to ADMIT it to a stanger, especially on a job application.

            Reply
      2. Birch

        In the early 2000s I was made to spend hours on one of these at a Target before they would even let me fill out an application, then they never called me back. I studied psychology so it wasn’t like I answered badly!

        Reply
  18. designbot

    My parents really stressed me out about finding a job senior year of college. They insisted that everyone who was going to succeed in life had a job lined up by spring break at the latest, but Christmas break would be preferable. Apparently this is how things worked… in engineering… in the 70s. It was NOT how it worked in architecture in the 2000s. I unfortunately let them stress me about about it enough that I took the first solid offer I had, a month before graduation. The week after graduation I had no fewer than 30 calls and emails regarding opportunities, and responsible person that I am, I told them I was already spoken for. Big mistake, as some of those opportunities were way better than what I’d taken.

    Reply
    1. Triplestep

      Ouch. My architecture degree is from the late eighties, and the only people who had jobs anywhere near graduation had taken teaching jobs. I decided to work in light construction, certain that some future design firm would be impressed with this choice (especially since I am female). Not so much; most of them wanted cheap near-newbies who some other poor shlub had taught to do construction documents!

      Reply
    2. JustaTech

      I wish my parents had pushed a little bit about looking for jobs before I graduated, but I was so depressed (in hindsight) about not getting into grad school (dodged a bullet!) that I probably wouldn’t have listened.

      Reply
  19. OlympiasEpiriot

    Actually, mostly I had really good job advice from my parents. (This was quite a while ago, I’m now in my 50’s.) But, I do recall my mother having some odd hangups about thinking volunteering (rather than asking for money) “showed what kind of a person you were”. My response to that was always “yeah, either an idiot or someone really rich with a martyr complex.”

    Fortunately, my father thought people should be paid for their work and backed me up when it came up in his presence. (They were divorced, so it didn’t work out that way all the time.)

    Both, however, gave me truly terrible dating advice and both in their own ways were terrible about my college education application process…one was extremely hands-off even though I begged for advice, the other kept vascillating between trying to get me to apply to inappropriate programs for my interests and making extremely intrusive (to the admin or profs) connections for me to follow-up on in programs I *was* interested in.

    Reply
    1. Cassandra

      I hope your sense of “intrusive” wasn’t too strict. Talking with prospective students is one of the best parts of my (instructor in a professional program) job. Granted, not everybody feels the way I do about it (which is why I do a lot of it compared to my immediate colleagues), but like hiring, higher education ought to be a two-way street.

      (Especially on the post-baccalaureate level. If you can’t get anyone from a graduate department to talk with you, RUN AWAY and find a better one. It’s a sausage factory that is much too likely to make you miserable.)

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        My daughter is applying to grad programs now, and does this two-way interview process. But it would be really, really weird if this was set up by me calling the university and saying “Hi, my daughter Rising is a genius and you should interview her, I looked at your program and decided it was a great fit for what I want her to do.”

        Reply
        1. Cassandra

          Oh gosh, I misconstrued the grammar entirely! My bad!

          Our departmental admissions administrator does occasionally have to deal with helicopter parents. I do not envy her that. I do see parents of applicants occasionally — they have usually longish-distance-transported the applicant to the visit, which is fine — but not an over-intrusive one yet.

          Reply
          1. OlympiasEpiriot

            No, more like, let’s say, she knew a lawyer who went to Big Ivy League and was a member of Private Men’s Club with somehow whose wife was the assistant to the director of admissions at Exclusive Women’s College (that might have had a program related to what i was interested in, but i wasnt thinking of applying to for any of sevetal reasons) and said wife loved William Morris’s work and my mother would finagle a garden party invite and schmooze with this woman and offer an introduction/invite to the home of the person in the US with the largest private collection of Morris’s work…

            and then she’d come home and press on me how important it was for me to pursue this connection and ALL the WORK she had put into it…blah, blah, blah…my protestations that I was already in correspondence (multiple letters back and forth) with Big Professor In My Field at university with a bigger program covering what I was looking for fell like a lead balloon because she had just Gone To All This Trouble.

            Reply
            1. Cassandra

              Oh, criminy. That’s epic overinvolvement. I’m sorry.

              Though I’d have gone to that person’s home just because I am a giant William Morris fan… one of the last of the great polymaths, and a mostly-decent person to boot. (Not perfect. But mostly decent.)

              Reply
              1. OlympiasEpiriot

                My mother never did anything by halves.

                That collection is, I think, now in the Huntington Library. It belonged to Sanford and Helen Berger in Carmel, California. In actuality, it wasn’t hard to see as they were amazingly hospitable to anyone who was a Morris fan or even just a bibliophile. They loved sharing their luck and passions. Both architects.

                Reply
    2. strawberries and raspberries

      Volunteering to volunteer can actually be great career advice, because if you take it seriously enough and build relationships with the agency there may be a job at the end. (Many people I know, including myself, have come into full-time positions after volunteering.)

      Volunteering to do a paid job for no pay, as in “I know you won’t hire me but just let me work for free and I’ll show you”, is terrible career advice.

      Reply
      1. Elemeno P.

        I’m a huge advocate of volunteering in general (the charitable kind, not the “please hire me if I do this for free” kind), and I agree that it can be a great career step. It shows that you have the dedication to a cause to do something on your own time and do well…and you meet a lot of people with similar interests, and occasionally careers you’re interested in.

        I volunteer in an entertainment hospitality venue and work in a hospitality venue. Most of the other volunteers also work in hospitality. There is SO much networking when someone mentions looking for a job.

        Reply
      2. OlympiasEpiriot

        The problem was more around (for example) being a cicerone at my high school during the summer and she wanted me to refuse the tiny “gas money stipend” they gave us to make up for interrupting our vacation to show prospective students around.

        Or neighbors who *wanted* to pay for someone to come in to water plants, feed fish and check on their homes while they’re away.

        Or the woman who ran a small clothing store/boutique who offered me a part time job because she liked how I could chat in a good salesperson way with other customers. My mother ranted at me about how the owner couldn’t be making much and I should be working for free to “help” and besides “sisterhood” because women get the short end of the stick. That last bit led to a HUGE fight about the feminism-payscale-women-undervaluing-themselves. I was NOT having it. (1970’s)

        I volunteered for things all the time. I did petitioning for ERA for my state, community center work, tutoring, etc. But, if someone wanted me to babysit, there was at least barter in my book.

        Reply
  20. Meh

    I was applying for a company to do video production work. I also had t-shirt printing equipment for a side gig. My dad suggested using the equipment to print the logo of the company on drawstring backpacks to take to the office during the interview to show how creative I am and that I had other talents outside of video. I was hesitant to the idea, but decided to go along.
    But the funniest thing, was that it worked! I got the job and later asked what was the deciding factor, and they told me it was the bags. Though the company ended up being a bit dysfunctional (whether or not the acceptance of the bags was an indicator, I’ll never know). When I was looking for another video position, I decided to try it again and it worked a second time! I don’t know if the bags were the deciding factor, but they didn’t prevent me from getting the job. So I guess not all “weird” advice is bad.

    Reply
  21. Temperance

    I know I’ve shared this before, more than once, but it fits.

    My FIL is “quirky”. A few years ago, he decided that he wanted to move to our area and needed a job. So … he put on a suit and handed copies of his resume to anyone who looked “important” on the street. (Other men in suits. Only men.)

    He also went to a few luxury car dealerships and pretended to be interested in the cars so he could talk himself into a job by showing off his expensive car knowledge, which he does not have because he’s only driven Fords his entire life.

    Reply
      1. Temperance

        I bet you are not surprised to know that neither of those weird schemes worked. I’m so thankful to this day, lol.

        I wish I knew how the men he approached responded! If you ask my FIL, he got a good reception and felt great about it, but he’s nuts, so you can’t really take anything he says as fact. (Which is probably obvious from those little schemes. )

        Reply
    1. Anansi

      This is hilarious! It reminds me of a time when my husband and his friend had just graduated college and went to a networking event, and spent the whole night trying to talk to this group of men in super fancy suits, since obviously anyone dressed that well must be important. At the end of the night, they realized they were unpaid interns.

      Reply
      1. Sartorial

        But it does show that the comments upthread, about dressing well, are not irrational. Dress well, and people will treat you with respect, even if you’re an unpaid intern.

        Reply
  22. Coalea

    When I was job hunting for the first time after college, my dad read my resume and suggested that I add that I was unmarried and had no children, and that I was in good health.

    Reply
    1. Hey Karma, Over here.

      I was helping my sister update her 1976 resume in 2006. Yup, health, weight, marital status.
      I pointed out that she could say she was a non smoker now!

      Reply
    2. Hildegard Von Bingen

      Don’t forget to mention your ballroom dancing skills. You never know when your ability to do a mean foxtrot will snag you the job of your dreams.

      Reply
    3. Wendy Darling

      I was screening resumes THIS DECADE and got a cover letter where the applicant explained that we should hire him because he was single, had no children, and was in good health, so he could work long hours and lift heavy things.

      Reply
    4. Plague of frogs

      During your job interview, let them inspect your teeth to verify your age. Oh, wait, that’s horses.

      Reply
  23. KJDubreuil

    My mother (still living, born in 1928) told me more than once “Never learn to type, that way no one can make you be their secretary.” This said while she was typing my high school term papers for me. On a manual typewriter. Wearing those knit gloves with the fingertips missing. And a wool hat.

    My mother failed to predict that 1) she would not be lurking around my college campus to type those papers for me, 2) the computer revolution was coming like a juggernaut and 3) my chosen profession is not secretary but does require lots of typing and pays less than some well paid secretaries while requiring extensive overtime.

    Reply
    1. nnn

      Heh. I had multiple adults recommend that I try to earn money by typing up people’s papers for them. This was around 1994.

      Reply
      1. Mabel

        I was really glad my dad made me take typing in high school. I typed papers in college for extra money, and when I was between careers, I was an administrative assistant. I’m really glad I can touch type.

        Reply
      2. sometimeswhy

        I *did* earn money by typing peoples papers for them in college in the late ’90s.

        I was a non-traditional (read: older) student and associated heavily with other non-traditional students, many of whom just skipped right over the computer revolution waiting for the fad to pass. Whereas: both of my folks were Day One, Hour One participants in said revolution.

        Reply
    2. AdaLovelace

      My mother, of a similar age, gave me the same advice to not learn to type: she had trained in a professional role (think lawyer/accountant) in an age when many potential employers wouldn’t let her meet clients. So it made sense in the 1950s, when her peers would see a woman lawyer and think “I can get her to type up my letter rather then ask the typing pool”. It wasn’t so useful for a female software engineer in the 1990s.

      Reply
    3. Fiennes

      Typing used to be a skill higher-up executive people not only didn’t have but *refused to learn.* It was a marker that you were clerical only, and from the days when secretaries took dictation.

      The personal computer put paid to that quickly enough.

      Reply
      1. Mabel

        My dad is a retired attorney, and he can probably still type >80 wpm. He had a secretary, but he often needed to type notes and other things. We still have letters he typed to my grandparents when he was abroad with the Navy. But he is a white, middle class man, so he wouldn’t have had to worry about being mistaken for support staff.

        Reply
      2. Kate

        I once worked a couple days on a huge, HUGE budget movie, working under a production supervisor who made almost $5000 a week. And yet I have never seen another human being in my life struggle so hard to type up the movie’s on-screen credits (just a simple list of names and contractually-mandated titles) into Microsoft Word. Three year olds navigate iPads with greater skill.

        Reply
    4. twig

      I have had multiple women who were BabyBoomers or older tell me that they refused to learn how to type because the did NOT want to be secretaries. ( I think this was when I was in college in the 1990’s). These were generally women with other professional ambitions who did not want to be pigeon holed. it was like an older version of “don’t set yourself up to appear to be the office mom/wife”

      Reply
      1. Pollygrammer

        The equivalent young-person advice I heard a lot 5-6 years ago was “never let them know you’re familiar with social media.” It was enough of a mystery to higher-ups that it would become all they would want to assign you. :)

        Reply
      2. Vertigo

        Man this whole conversation is so fascinating; I’m in my late 20s and in my generation (or at least my experience) touch typing was something everyone was at least supposed to learn – there were endless typing teaching programs and games. I remember by 3rd grade “computer class” always started off with at least ten minutes of one of those typing games.

        The weirdest part (at least, to me), is that apparently kids aren’t really learning touch typing anymore, or at least not the spread out hands home row type stuff. My mother and several of my friends are teachers, and they tell me that with touchpads and smartphones being so common, kids usually just type with two fingers. Time marches on, I guess…

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          I came of age in the 60s when women were legally and overtly kept out of most business roles and from most opportunity in professions. A woman who could type was likely to be put in a menial role even when supposedly a peer. And a generation ahead of us, well Sandra Day O’Connor who was near the top of her law class (2cd or third) was offered only a job as office manager in major law firms when she started out.

          Reply
        2. Nanani

          I learned to type on a typewriter because my area’s curriculum had yet to be updated to computers. My younger sibling learned on a computer because it was updated between our years, but it was then taken out completely.

          Sibling is now a high school teacher and this is a real problem – kids can’t type. Someone somewhere assumed they all would “just know” from growing up with electronics, but two-thumb text typing is not really suited to long-form essay writing, so a lot of kids are in a bit of trouble as they literally can’t produce the amount of text needed in a comfortable manner :/

          I hope the curriculm gets updated again.

          Reply
        3. Cyberspace Hamster

          Mid twenties here. I had a quarter year worth of lessons on touch typing (i.e. just long enough to get frustrated with it but not long enough to get good), promptly forgot it all and am now a software developer that gets by just fine using just three fingers.

          Reply
    5. The New Wanderer

      20 years ago I had a senior manager once walk by when I was typing up a storm. He jokingly said something like I was setting back the ‘women’s movement’ because I could type so fast (I was in a technical role, not secretarial/admin role, so I guess it stood out?).

      Reply
    6. OlympiasEpiriot

      Look, this isn’t totally ridiculous. When I joined my current firm — IN THE YEAR 2000 — I had been at my job for one and half days, sitting at a desk doing a sketch of a retaining wall with a stress diagram and some calculations and someone (male) came to me and asked me to type up a short letter he had written out in longhand. I said, sure, but I’m not a very good typist so it might take a while to be accurate…an admin might do it faster and better…and, SERIOUSLY, he said, but you’re a woman! Why can’t you type? I answered that before I studied engineering I was a carpenter and didn’t have much opportunity to type. He was shocked. I don’t think he spoke to me again for 6 months.

      Reply
        1. OlympiasEpiriot

          It was pretty funny.

          He started using me on his jobs when it got around the firm that very aggressive contractors we had dealings with were calling the office to complain that I was too stubborn and too demanding in my QA/QC. Even two death threats I got rolled off me.

          One of the partners offered at the first one to take me off the job if I wanted. I said something along the lines of I’m not made of sugar…don’t melt in the rain…this is my job…let me run it. I still get sexist b.s. in the company (and, damn, is it EXHAUSTING) but, some are little frightened of me, too. No one asks me to type.

          Reply
    7. Triplestep

      My mother – born in 1931 – told me I should not learn how to work the office coffee pot, the phone system or the copier, all for similar reasons.

      Reply
      1. That Would Be a Good Band Name

        I do not know how to work the office coffee pot and have no plans on learning since I don’t drink it. When the woman who makes coffee is off work, the men that drink it go without. She’s left instructions taped to the wall above the coffee pot and they still won’t make it!

        Reply
      2. a nonny mouse

        I’m an administrativeish person in an office that has fortunately, historically, expected employees to be relatively self-reliant on a lot of things… but after we got a new boss and a coffeepot (as opposed to everyone going across the street to fetch their own), I’ll admit that I very carefully did not make a pot of coffee for a week or so out of fear that I’d become The Coffee Girl.

        Fortunately the self-reliant attitude stuck around and people are pretty equal about making a pot if they’re first in or if they take the last of it, so I no longer worry about taking care of it when it’s my turn.

        Reply
    8. essEss

      Ha… my mom was the opposite. Although she was adamant that I was to be on a college (science based) track and would have a professional job, I needed to know how to type just in case I needed something to fall back on if I ever hit hard times. She felt that companies would always need typists, even if it was just for a temporary job.

      Reply
      1. OlympiasEpiriot

        I learned how to type, just like I also learned to work on the internal combustion engine, read a compass and take bearings with a top map, and run a wood lathe. No knowledge is ever wasted.

        But, I have been known to lie about an ability if I think I’m about to get trapped into something.

        ;-)

        Reply
      2. a

        That was what my mom said too – learn how to type, so you have something to fall back on! Look at your sisters (they both had part time office jobs in college). I didn’t actually have a choice in the matter – my high school required typing as part of the curriculum for everyone. But I was all…”I will never need to fall back on a typing job!” I can still only type 40-45 wpm.

        Reply
    9. Pommette!

      My mother (born in 1951) took this advice to heart. For years, she got by with two-finger hunt-and-peck typing (working in a text-heavy field). After having received a big promotion in her late forties, she decided that it was finally safe to learn. She is still inordinately proud of her ability to type.

      My grandmother (born in 1924) was a secretary, and super proud of it. (Given her background, it was an ambitious thing for her to want to become, and she ended up really enjoying her career). She typed all of her children’s assignments (up to and including theses). She kept her old manual typewriter on hand in order to do the same for her grandchildren, and was shocked and disappointed to learn that I wouldn’t need, or be able to avail myself of, her help. (I’m in my thirties; like all of my peers, I learned to type at a young age, and did all of my work directly on the computer).

      Typing is a skill with such an interesting cultural history!

      Reply
    10. antigone_ks

      My mother gave me the same advice when I was in high school in the 90s. She was furious when she found I was enrolled in keyboarding (what do they even call that now?) until the school told her it was required for every student. She told me never to let a workplace know that I could do stereotypically girly things – never type, never bring in cookies, never plan/set up/tear down a party, never clean a goshdarn mug that wasn’t my own. If they know you’re a woman, you stop being their colleague and become just “a woman.” Sadly, for some workplaces that turned out to be absolutely true. Glad I learned to type anyway, though.

      Reply
    1. PB

      My FIL saw an item on the news about how much money the founders of Google have and asked my husband “When are you going to do that?” He could play computer games, check email, and surf the net, so clearly he had the skills to make the next Google.

      Reply
    2. Serin

      Oh, christ, Herb Caen died during the spouse’s journalism days, and my father-in-law hounded him relentlessly to go down to the San Francisco Chronicle and “put in an application,” since Herb Caen had died and so they had an opening!

      Reply
    3. Elemeno P.

      My mom is pretty good about most job-related things, but she did keep telling me to apply to Google.

      I am…not sure what she thought I could do there.

      Reply
    4. voluptuousfire

      I truly LOL’ed at that. A hearty guffaw. Call Google to see if they’re hiring! Unintentional comedy at it’s finest!

      Reply
    5. Ashie

      My company had an issue with our website a few years ago and my elderly boss instructed our IT guy to call Google and tell them to fix it.

      Reply
  24. GiantPanda

    My mother has never written a job application in her life. On her advice, my brother’s resume contains a section on his parents and siblings and another on his hobbies. They make up more than half of it.
    I’ve tried to talk them out of this with little success.

    Reply
    1. Merula

      This is the best. I am dying to know more. Is the Family section bullet points? “-Mother: Jane, 62, avid gardener who enjoys reality TV and crosswords”.

      The only way this could be better would be if this pushed his resume to two pages and he attached a photo.

      Reply
    2. Rookie Manager

      One of my reports handed me his CV on my first day in post. It included his wife’s and 2 childrens qualifications and current job title.

      Reply
    3. Meißner Porcelain Teapot

      This was actually taught to me by career coaches when I was in 10th grade (this was in Germany, not US) in 2004! Presumably, you were supposed to do that to highlight that you did not come from a family of lazy monkeys and your hobbies were supposed to support your soft skills, so we were even coached on which hobbies to put on there! Swimming? Boring and loner. Karate? Aggressive trouble maker. Volleyball/basketball/any team sport: great team player! Also, you were supposed to do that so long as you did not have enough jobs to make your resume 2 pages long.

      I did that exactly once and got a nice phone call telling me that I was NOT invited to the interview and that I should really drop those sections. Never did it again.

      Oh, also, the same career coaches advised that we list “general competences” like “proficient Microsoft office products” or our driver’s license (which, in Germany, is not the go-to ID as in the US and you’ll find many more people who don’t have one in Europe than in America). Needless to say, I never bothered to include those again either.

      Reply
  25. clow

    My parents told me that I should walk into places with a resume and tell them why they should hire me. They also told me that I should call companies that I want to work for, and to keep calling companies I had applied to. Even when I told them most places I needed card access into a building, my dad would say ‘call them up, tell them you want a job’. Did this ever work? He also advised me to never negotiate a salary, just take what they offer. Yeah my first job in my industry, I was grossly underpaid. Like 5-7 per hour underpaid.

    Reply
    1. AndersonDarling

      Ugh. A while back I had to watch the phones when the receptionist was on break and I’d get those calls. “I’m calling for a salesperson job.” We weren’t looking for a sales person, and our industry required licensing for sales so cold calling would never work. My favorite was the “I wanna be your sec-a-tarty” call. She didn’t even say hello, or any other greeting when I answered. I actually thought it was a crude call until I realized she meant “secretary.” And again, not looking for a secretary.

      Reply
      1. clow

        LOL I am glad I have too much phone anxiety to make phone calls, I never did it. I can’t imagine getting a call like that. I would think the same thing at first..like who is this creep?

        Reply
    2. Temperance

      It does not work. I can tell you that way back in my shared office space days, some of the companies would actually have us keep a list of any names who called or especially anyone who showed up to look for a job, and they would blackball those candidates. I agree with this – they put “no calls” in the ads, so if you show up or call, you’re showing that you can’t follow basic directions.

      Reply
        1. a nonny mouse

          THANK YOU. If I never have a stranger show up and spend half an hour trying to get an unscheduled immediate meeting with an editor, it will be too soon.

          Reply
  26. nnn

    I mentioned in passing that jobs in my (small, highly specialized) profession are hardly ever advertised. My father looks at me like I’m stupid: “Of course they’re advertised! Just look in the newspaper classifieds!”

    No, they aren’t advertised. Including in the newspaper classifieds, which have never within my adult life contained ads for white-collar jobs.

    Also, there are literally zero jobs in my profession in the city where my parents live. It doesn’t exist at all, like how there would be zero jobs for snowplow drivers in the Sahara Desert. Even if my profession did routinely advertise in the newspaper classifieds, my father would have never seen such an ad.

    Out of curiosity, I searched my library’s newspaper database, which includes classified ads. There has never once been a single classified ad for jobs in my profession.

    Reply
    1. k.k

      I once worked in the classifieds department at a paper. The listing for that job wasn’t even in the classifieds. (

      Reply
    2. Serin

      In my current city, white-collar jobs do show up in the newspaper’s online classifieds — like it’s not unusual to see a listing for an obstetrician or a museum marketing director — but I get the impression that this is the result of a major campaign by the Chamber of Commerce to make employment more accessible.

      It’s terrific, but when you see those ads, it really brings home to you how unusual it is to see those words in a classified ad.

      Reply
      1. As Close As Breakfast

        I have to wonder though, are people contacting the paper to post the ads? Or is classifieds person contacting companies that had postings on Indeed or something to see if they want to put an ad in? No matter how aggressive a Chamber of Commerce campaign was, I don’t think it could convince many employers to pay to post white collar job ads in the paper. Unless it’s just become a local ‘thing’ there? I don’t know why but I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around this!

        Reply
    3. MashaKasha

      In fairness, I did find one of my job (software developer for a dot-com startup) in the classifieds. But that was in the 90s. And I left that job three months later, because they’d screwed me over on everything except the pay. Everything else – the work that I did, the commute, the location, the people I worked with – was not as advertised.

      Reply
    4. Autumnheart

      I got my first web design job via a classified ad. :) This was in 1996, when a fair portion of that job was explaining to potential clients what the World Wide Web was. No, you do not need a computer for customers to view your webpage. No, your computer does not need to be on for your website to be seen.

      That job did make me really good at using analogies to describe complicated technological concepts to the non-technical, which is actually a useful skill.

      Reply
  27. Zoomie

    My dad was a construction worker for 30 years, and his retirement was based on the number of hours he worked rather than years. So we almost never took vacations when I was a kid, because he was working a lot. He did retire at 58, so I guess it paid off in the long run for him, but it seriously skewed his perception of vacation. If I mention I’m taking eight days off work to go on an international vacation, he just gets this horrified look on his face. I think he thinks I’m going to be fired or looked badly upon for actually using my vacation time. Luckily my job isn’t like that and actively encourages people to use their time off.

    Reply
    1. [insert witty user name here]

      My parents weren’t ever in construction, but they FREAK THE HELL OUT when my siblings or I take time off, especially for being sick or doctor’s appointments (my brother has a chronic illness and has a lot of appointments and procedures). All of us work in 8-5 office jobs, most of us with flexible schedules and/or the ability to work from home. They still freak out that we’re going to take too much time off and get fired. For some reason, it’s usually when we take off a day or two here or there, but not for a full week vacation? It’s SO weird.

      Reply
  28. topscallop

    When I was job-hunting to get out of my last (toxic) job, my dad, who has had the same academic job for over 30 years, had all sorts of unhelpful advice he would repeat. He especially wanted me to get in touch with former supervisors from my first job out of college, which was with a government agency, to get them to help me network. Never mind that, 9 years later they’ve mostly retired or are no longer working there, have moved out of the country (international development), or barely remember me.

    Reply
    1. Networker extraordinaire

      “Never mind that, 9 years later they’ve mostly retired or are no longer working there, have moved out of the country (international development), or barely remember me.”

      This is hardly bad advice. A former boss who has moved on to a new company can still help you network. I keep in touch with all of my former bosses. The same is true of someone who has moved out of the country, *particularly* in a field like international development. It takes no more effort to e-mail someone in Kenya than in Kansas.

      As for bosses who “barely remember you,” much successful networking is due to “soft connections”; it’s not your best friend from high school who refers you to a job, but a second-degree connection, or someone you’ve only met once.

      Reply
    1. Really though.

      Well, this comment isn’t exactly helpful and I’m sure you could have phrased that MUCH more politely.

      Reply
    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      And… if there was such a post? Even recently? You think this is a subject that doesn’t have unlimited tales to tell? Hmm.

      Also: rude. There are other blogs if you find this one too redundant.

      Reply
    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      Actually, no, there wasn’t. There was one on “gumption” though. But given that I publish ~30 letters here a week, which is a huge amount of content, that’s a weird charge.

      Reply
      1. This Daydreamer

        Just so long as you only have the one post about whether or not an employer’s actions are legal I don’t see a problem.

        Reply
    4. Esme Squalor

      There was a column on bad gumption advice in general, which is a different topic. Also, I’m enjoying this thread immensely myself. I’m not sure why you felt the need to be so snarky.

      Reply
    5. Yvette

      So what? It is still fun, and if I recall it was a specific ” What’s the worst “you need to show gumption to get a job?” advice you’ve heard? There’s a whole field of career advice that’s based on the idea that you need to show “gumption” to get a job”

      This is specifically about wierd advice from parents. Many of whom had not had to job hunt for decades.

      Reply
  29. AlsoInGradSchool

    My younger brother has lost his way a bit after graduating for college and starting a career position with a major insurance company only to realize it wasn’t for him in a big way. My mother who hasn’t worked in twenty years told him that the best next step is to go further into debt and get an MBA from our local small college until he figures out what he wants to do. Aye aye aye.

    I feel like this idea of using graduate school as a furthering of an undergraduate experience is so common these days.

    Reply
    1. Lemon Zinger

      It is way too common. I am in a graduate program directly related to the field I work in, and many of my classmates are recent college grads who don’t know what to do with themselves, so they picked this program because “it sounded easy” or “it seemed fun.”

      I also have a relative who is getting her MBA because her very niche college major (and poor people skills) haven’t translated into a job yet. I cannot imagine the debt she’s in!

      Reply
    2. Cassandra

      Our professional program’s applicant-review rubric tests specifically for this. If an applicant’s career aspirations don’t make sense or don’t even appear in their essay (commoner than I wish it were), that moves the applicant down the list.

      Partly this is self-preservation; we need our students to land jobs after they graduate! This tends to be harder for dilettantes!

      Reply
    3. L Dub

      My ex-husband did exactly the same thing, except he did a year of law school, realized he hated it, then got his MBA. He’s absolutely furious about the fact that he has about $225k worth of student loans, and has even gone so far as to contact his alma mater to ask them how he’s supposed to be able to repay his loans.

      Reply
    4. Rainy

      I field questions fairly often about whether someone should go to grad school because they’re not sure what to do next and they need some time to figure it out, and I’ve started being super blunt.

      “If you can afford to go through grad school without taking out a cent in loans, and if you genuinely love your subject and are really excited about the prospect of digging deeper into some specific aspect of it, you should 100% go to grad school…so that you can get more in-depth knowledge of your discipline. If you just want some breathing room, there are cheaper ways to get it than by going to grad school. And if you want to put off jobseeking because you are afraid of rejection, ha! ha!, grad school is not going to help with that!”

      Reply
      1. minuteye

        Although if you fear rejection and you’d like to get over that fear very quickly through exposure, grad school will help you with that!

        Reply
  30. Ros

    My mum, who’s generally quite liberal and sensible, said that I (a woman in her twenties) should wear a skirt to job interviews rather than trousers. It was such an odd piece of stand-out sexism that I was taken aback, and she never did give a solid reason.

    Reply
    1. Yvette

      For a very long time trousers were still considered inappropriate for women in the work place, at all levels. I am 56 and skirt suits were quite the norm for professionals when I began my career in IT.

      Reply
    2. CheeryO

      My mom insisted I wear heels to all of my interviews. I’m sure there are fields where that really is a requirement, but (a), she runs a small business out of the house and hasn’t had a job since the 1980s, and (b) I’m an engineer, and really, no one expects heels. I can’t walk in heels. Eventually I just brought flats in a bag and switched in the car.

      Reply
      1. Nea

        OMG, yes. My mother cannot figure out how I could possibly be hired if I’m not wearing hose, heels, pearls, makeup, but for some reason, I’m not supposed to tie my long hair back or put it up.

        Reply
      2. Sk

        I think I once lost a job opportunity for this. Immediately out of college I applied to work at an animal kennel and showed up for an interview in a blouse, slacks, and heels. The interviewer looked me up and down and said “How do you feel about cleaning up pee and poop and vomit.” I had just come from a camp counselor job and explained in addition to having pets of my own I’ve been doing all kinds of dirty work for children and I can certainly do it for animals.
        He wasn’t convinced.

        Reply
  31. LadyL

    Nothing too outrageous, but my parents absolutely committed the classic out of touch parent advice faux pas when I was younger.

    1) Always telling me to call employers back repeatedly, show up unexpectedly, “be tenacious!” “be a go-getter!”. I honestly think the real reason behind this was that my parents mostly just refused to come home from a busy day at work and find a teen chillin’ on the sofa, so if I wasn’t going to get a job over the summer then they figured I ought to spend the day stressing about it. But yeah, no, employers really don’t want you to call them repeatedly (especially when you’re a teen with no car and no experience who is only available for the summer).

    2) Once I was “interviewing” for a volunteer job at YMCA camp and my mom was going on and on about how I needed to dress professionally. She wanted me in business casual, and was appalled that I was going to wear more casual wear. I had planned to dress like every other camp counselor: shorts and a t-shirt, but she kept insisting that I was going to miss the opportunity because I didn’t look professional enough. We compromised on me wearing nice jeans, a dressier shirt, and casual-ish wedge heels. Well it wasn’t an interview, the YMCA just needed warm bodies to watch the kids and didn’t care, and I looked like a freaking idiot chasing kids through the mud wearing wedge heels. Next day I came in tie-dye and cutoff shorts, and I fit right in. Now I know that what you wear the first day really varies by industry.

    Bonus Grandparent Bad Advice: When my mom was in high school (70s) she was a highly competitive straight A student who was on track to be valedictorian. She was in the top math and science classes her school offered, and was getting the best grades in them. She planned to go on to major in Biology in college. My grandpa, who was fairly egalitarian but also very practical, insisting my mom take a typing class because he just really didn’t think that as a woman she would be able to find jobs that didn’t require typing. It’s not that he was trying to limit her potential, he just was trying to be smart about the world they lived in, and figured she had many years of being someone’s assistant/secretary ahead of her. Well my whip smart mother sucked at typing, and got her first C, meaning her rival got to be valedictorian instead of her. And yes, my mother is still bitter about it.

    Reply
    1. JamieS

      Well on the bright side typing is a needed skill and in today’s world pretty much everyone in an office job has to be able to type not just secretaries so his advice wasn’t that terrible even if she lost out on being valedictorian.

      Also curious if she did wind up being a secretary for a bit.

      Reply
      1. LadyL

        Nope, although briefly after college she worked in food service (another idea of my Grandpa’s that my mom still bitterly complains about. She ended up reporting that place to the better business bureau, lol). She also still can’t type (neither can I, must be genetic). We’re both pretty fast at hunt & peck though.

        Reply
    2. Rainy

      My mother grew up in the cult she eventually raised me in, and she won a scholarship to her state university that her parents wouldn’t allow her to accept, because the cult had a college and why didn’t she try harder to get into the cult’s college (which was not accredited).

      Reply
      1. Thany

        I feel like there is more to this story. Did your mom ending up going to the cult college? Did your mom or you eventually get out of the cult? Did you go to the cult college? So many questions.

        Reply
        1. Rainy

          I don’t think she applied, and even if she had, her parents wouldn’t have paid to send her, so she couldn’t have gone.

          I left home at 17, mostly to get away from the cult. My entire family was in it (dad’s side) or had been at some point (mum’s side). And no, of course not. The whole point for me was to get the fuck out. I went to actual universities. Most of my family still in the cult left some years later after the schism began, some to slightly more mainstream Christian denominations, some to other Christian cults.

          Reply
  32. Snark

    My parents insisted that I sould dress in business casual for every even vaguely professional job I had. She didn’t really grok that field work was not really the place for it. “You work for a prestigious consulting firm! Act like it!” “MA. I’m a field crew slave and I get paid ten bucks an hour to walk transects looking for a single endangered cactus or whatever. I literally stepped on a rattlesnake yesterday. I sweat so much the back of my shirt looks like the rim of a margarita glass. If I wore chinos and a shirt doing that, they’d be shredded. Get off my back.”

    Reply
    1. Sabrina

      In a similar vein my mom never really understood that field work was work.

      “Have fun playing outside with your friends!”
      “Mom I’m walking 10 miles off trail and taking detailed notes of every possible sign of dessert tortoises. It’s going to be a 12 hour day, I’m carrying all my own water/food/gear, and I’ll be doing this six days a week for the next three weeks. I do have fun, but it’s exhausting hard work.”
      “Ok, enjoy your walk!”

      Reply
      1. Snark

        I think my parents were imagining me as some kind of consulting engineer, standing with the clients, holding a map, wearing a jaunty hard-hat and pointing sagely at some feature of the landscape.

        Reply
          1. Snark

            They’re interior designers and furniture people. They never expected to have a scientist in the family. They’re supportive, proud, encouraging, and even 15 years into my career I think they still frame what I do in terms of stock photos. I’ll take it, but it’s occasionally very funny.

            Reply
        1. Not that Anne, the other Anne

          My parents certainly thought that’s what my fieldwork was like. “Oh, enjoy your trip to the national park!”

          Uh. Sure. It takes an hour on a high-clearance one way road to even get from the research station to the trailhead and then I have to hike up another mile to get to the actual site. And then I’m not sitting around on a lounger.

          Reply
        1. Snark

          Is that at all like a chocolate turtle? Or is it a tortoise just nomming down on some cake? Either way I like it.

          Reply
          1. Plague of frogs

            It’s the tortoise that brings you your dessert. The slow service allows your anticipation to build.

            Reply
      2. Wendy Darling

        I started a work-from-home job a few years ago and my parents were unexpectedly clueless about it. They just assumed they could pop in at 1pm and ask me to do something with them and I would be available. They were genuinely shocked when I told them I couldn’t because I was working, and it took them a good six months to stop intermittently trying even though I was *literally never* free from 9am-5pm.

        Reply
        1. The Other Katie

          This is my mother every day. She tries to IM me about 5-6 times a day, and just doesn’t get that my phone logs me into fb messenger but I’m still actually working. “But you work at home, you can set your schedule!” Yes, but that does not mean I want to spend Friday night finishing a project I should have finished Friday afternoon so you can tell me about my aunt’s routine doctor’s appointment!

          Reply
    2. Lynca

      Sounds like my mom. She didn’t have a concept of a woman working a job where you needed to wear clothes you could get dirty.

      Now a guy? Sure but not me. I can literally come home caked in mud up to my knees depending on site conditions. Wouldn’t want to deal with that in business slacks.

      Reply
    3. PB

      Business dress is hard to get through to my parents! I told my father that my office is business casual. He wasn’t sure what that meant, so I described what I’d wear on a daily basis (trousers or skirt, solid shirt or sweaters in cold weather, flats), and he thought it sounded far too casual. I asked what he thought business casual should look like. He said, “Suits.”

      Reply
        1. PB

          I’m not entirely sure. I explained that “suits” are business formal, not business casual, and he conceded the point, but I was too flabbergasted to think to ask. He was a teacher, so I think he just had very little understanding of office norms

          Reply
    4. paul

      *twitch*

      What species? I’ve stepped on/into C. atrox twice that I can remember but thankfully they just slithered off…I still haven’t bought snakeproof chaps

      Reply
      1. Snark

        It was a very, very lethargic C. oreganus lutosus on a chilly morning in early April, which is probably why I didn’t have a REAL bad day.

        Reply
        1. paul

          Almost jealous (I’ve never had the chance to find C. o. lutosus) but man oh man that pucker factor! All we get are atrox and viridis (in abundance though–I’ve found an even dozen viridis in an hour before).

          Reply
      1. Snark

        He was cold and sleepy, and it was more that I kind of tripped over him – no harm done to either party, thank God. I was still glad I was wearing calf-high Danners.

        Reply
    5. Hey Karma, Over here.

      Friend told me he showed up at his first day as a chemist in a nuclear plant wearing his suit. Boss told him, “Don’t wear what you can’t afford to throw away.”

      Reply
            1. whingedrinking

              I’m a teacher/tutor, and my age group skews older (my classroom students are all adults in second language acquisition, and my youngest tutoring student is ten). I once allowed myself to be talked into filling in for a colleague just for a morning with the daycamp kids. I left afterwards for lunch with a friend, who said, “Why is there paint in your hair?” I didn’t even know, I hadn’t gotten anywhere near the paint.

              Reply
    6. Bionerd

      Haha. I had a relative tell me that at least I could take my infant son to do biology fieldwork with me (in the desert, in summer, in rough terrain, all day everyday) in a baby carrier backpack. So I could save on daycare cost and still be a good mom who didn’t let other people raise my kids for me.

      She just couldn’t get how it wasn’t like taking a hike on the local paved nature trail. She wouldn’t believe that…no you can’t just quit whenever you get hot or tired…yes you have to carry 1.5 gallons of water and gear…and it was really a stupid idea to bring a baby into that sort of heat and UV.

      Though we once had a worker bring her dog to fieldwork. It almost ended in disaster (dog was fine ultimately but wasted many hours and gave us all a scare).

      Reply
      1. Not That Anne, The Other Anne

        There was a very long, impassioned discussion on a science listserv about babies and fieldwork a few years ago. It was highly entertaining, mostly because you know that if you have five scientists in a room (even a virtual room), you’ll have at least seven opinions.

        Reply
      1. fposte

        This is kind of like the baby-name thing–ordinarily sane people just lose perspective sometimes when it comes to their kids.

        Reply
        1. Snark

          Oh, I meant more that, aside from telling me to wear business casual while doing field work, they basically avoided some of the insanity in other comments.

          Reply
    1. Elsajeni

      To be fair, I think a lot of these are loving, supporting, sane parents — they’re just generalizing too broadly from their own experience, not super knowledgeable about modern job searching, or suffering from some common delusions that affect even basically sane parents (like “my child is uniquely talented and special and of COURSE other people will recognize that” or “my child, age 35, is basically still 7 years old and in need of my constant guidance”).

      Reply
  33. the one who got away

    They insisted on sending college graduation announcements to two major names in the field (think Bill Gates and Steve Jobs), thinking that my chutzpah would lead them to find me and offer me a job. I begged them not to do this and was horrified when they did it anyway. Sadly, no jobs materialized.

    Also, every time I have ever complained about a coworker or boss or office policy I found unpleasant, they’d press me to go to the CEO about it.

    Reply
  34. Mockingjay

    My dear husband used to tell my girls during high school: “just show up and ask to speak to the manager, multiple times” for retail / restaurant jobs. He was a civil servant and hadn’t interviewed in a VERY long time. As a contractor on yearly expiring task orders, I pointed out that I had a lot more experience in this realm and that they should not do this. He insisted anyway.

    My youngest got yelled at by a grocery store manager, who informed her that she did not have time to speak to everyone who just shows up, because the manager would never get anything done. She did not get the job.

    Reply
    1. Grumpy

      I still see kids being dragged around the mall by their parents. My heart aches for these kids who have clearly figured that this is not the way…

      Reply
    2. k.k

      The last time I worked retail was a small store, the kind that still used a “Help wanted” sign in the window and handed you a paper application. But even there that advice wouldn’t work, because half the time the manager wasn’t there. We’d get people who got pretty rude demanding to hand their application directly to the manager, when I was literally the only person in the store. Some eventually caved and just gave me their applications, which mysteriously ended up in the trash bin.

      Reply
      1. Inference

        “Some eventually caved and just gave me their applications, which mysteriously ended up in the trash bin.”

        Which goes to show that they should have handed to the manager after all.

        Reply
    3. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand

      My dad used to tell me and my siblings this, too–until he got laid off from his job and had to job hunt for the first time since the 80s. (This was in 2009.) He caught on pretty quickly to the fact that times had changed after that.

      Reply
  35. Anne Onne

    I was 16 and phone interviewing for a job as a lifeguard at a pool in the worst part of town (my summer job has been delayed for various reasons and the “preferred”pools were taken).
    My mother overheard the address and started screaming into the phone that there was no was she would ever allow me to work there, hang up now, full on helicopter tantrum.

    They were desperate, I was desperate, so we agreed to try it (wink wink, nod nod, don’t tell her mother).
    It was the best pool ever. The parents and caregiver were crazy strict with their kids and wouldn’t let them out of their sight, let alone misbehave. They brought me water and snacks to thank me for working there. No issues ever.

    To this day my mother doesn’t know.

    Reply
    1. SLF128

      My mom is like that about parts of our town. There were great places in our area I missed out on visiting, because the Neighborhood was “Bad”. But of course, she has always been like this. I am in my 30’s and she had a fit last year learning I took a vacation by myself to the Biltmore. I was literally locked in the gates at night in the hotel there.

      In high school, I worked at a store, 5 or so blocks from my house, but I didn’t drive at the time. I wasn’t allowed to walk there, so my mom, dad or sometimes grandparents had to drop me off and pick me up. Same after college as well. I didn’t get a license until about 9 months after I graduated college, so someone had to pick me up and drop me off every day from my job because public transportation was too dangerous. I was living at home at the time still.

      Reply
    2. Anonymosity

      Mine did that to me once when I was offered a summer job with a traveling carnival. She basically told me that if I accepted, I would be disowned and could never return. Because carnival folk are dirty and evil, don’t you know.

      In hindsight, I wish I’d done it anyway.

      Reply
  36. TBoT

    My dad gave me some of the standard bad advice, like following up relentlessly until you could get your foot in the door. But really the *worst* advice he gave me was to apply for jobs I didn’t want and knew I would hate. (He didn’t specifically say, “Apply for jobs you don’t want and know you’ll hate,” but he encouraged me to apply for jobs that fit that description, like a customer service call center job at an HMO, which I was not a fit for at all.) Some of this was motivated by his exasperation that I’d had to move back home after graduating from college. He was eager for me to be out of the house, and I couldn’t afford to do it as a temp, even though I had lucked into an ongoing temp assignment that had me working steadily at 40 hours a week for the foreseeable future. So, Dad encouraged me to get a job, any job, as long as it would allow me to get out on my own.

    The result was that I got a job (with that same HMO, although in sales support rather than in customer service). It did allow me to finally move out into my own apartment, but it was a horrible place to work. I was absolutely miserable. And it really set the stage for the first part of my career, in which I spent several years working for a series of draconian, unpleasant employers doing work that wasn’t challenging or interesting, all for not nearly enough money. In the long run I think I would have been better off if I’d held out for a job that I was remotely suited to, ideally at a company that wasn’t so toxic.

    Reply
  37. Notthemomma

    My father staunchly argued in the early ‘90’s with me that I (and other women) shouldn’t go up against men in a job because the men ‘have families to support’.

    My husband is worried when I work from home that I’ll get in trouble; my manager and rest of the team is in another state and have no idea nor do they care where I am plugged in.
    A friend will go through the car wash before an interview in case anyone looks outside before/after the interview.

    Reply
    1. Liz2

      The car wash thing is weird- I’ve had two places practically order to walk me out to the door/my car and it was obvious they wanted to get a look at it. But those are also the people you don’t want to work for anyway so…

      Reply
        1. As Close As Breakfast

          I’ve heard it has been a thing, at least for women applicants, to see if there is a car seat in the car or something that gives away that she has children other than asking. Because obviously women with children can’t be great employees (/heavy sarcasm/.) This could be urban legend, but after everything I’ve read about here I wouldn’t be at all surprised it does/has happened.

          Reply
          1. Inference

            They want to see if you care for your car, or whether it is sloppy. Which I think is a good idea. They know that you’ll be on best behavior for the interview itself and shine your shoes, but applicants are less likely to care about their cars.

            Reply
      1. nonegiven

        My son said when he traveled to the city his new job was in to look at apartments, they wanted to see his car. He didn’t own one, he was moving from a city where he didn’t need one. He said, “I don’t know what it will tell you, it’s a rental.”

        Reply
    2. SLF128

      My father is basically the same. He still to this day believes women entering the workforce is what has caused the decline of our society, by taking the men’s jobs and emasculating them and also not being at home to reer the children.

      Reply
  38. Kit

    Sometimes even when parental advice is spot-on it doesn’t have the intended effect… When I got to the point in high school where I needed to choose a foreign language to learn, my dad spent a fair chunk of time proclaiming that if I *really* wanted to be a teacher I would take Spanish, it was the only logical choice, anyone with half a brain could look at the demographics in public schools and see that studying Spanish was the only rational path, think about future employability, etc., etc. Which is how I ended up taking three years of German.

    Reply
    1. Falling Diphthong

      My daughter followed that advice, taking Spanish throughout middle and high school. In college, she’s done research stints in Germany and Switzerland. But no Spanish-speaking countries.

      Reply
    2. Midge

      Hahaha! Whenever my dad tried to talk me into some lesson or class I wasn’t interested in (Spanish when I had taken French forever, piano, golf), my response was always, “If it’s so great, why don’t you do it?” That did not go over well. Though to this day, I still don’t speak Spanish, play the piano, or golf.

      Reply
    3. Apostrophina

      My mom did that too! My dad went to the information session at my school and ended up being quite taken with the German teacher.
      …As you might have suspected, this is the story of how Apostrophina took French.

      Reply
    4. Catarina

      As someone who has seen the bills for technical translation services, I highly recommend learning a language uncommon to your area, rather than one common to your area. These days, learning Spanish is the language version of getting an MBA.

      Reply
    5. kible

      I took German because I knew I’d actually learn something in those classes, because less people taking it = smaller class size. Spanish classes had 30+ students per class, my German class had 8 total.

      Reply
  39. EddieSherbert

    My parents were (and still are) really big on “loyalty” to a company. In their minds, the company gave you this job and you should grateful / they spent all this time and money training you / they pay you and even gave you a raise! and are fairly aghast anytime I’ve moved onto a new job.

    The silliest examples:
    * In high school, I worked a VERY awful food service job (like “your shift is 11.5 hrs so you will only get one break, which you will take one hour into your shift”) and they convinced me to stay there for over two years! Without any raises.
    * Tried convincing me to stay at my unpaid internship when they asked me to stay on longer… when I had already decided I didn’t want to follow that career path AND had a paid internship lined up for the nest semester (I left anyways)

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      OMG my parents were similar with the bad advice! At my first job, one of the managers was preying on teenage girls. I was afraid of him. My parents wouldn’t allow me to quit and accused me of just being a liar/lazy. So I asked the GM if I could switch out of his department into another one, which I was allowed to do. They were LIVID that I didn’t ask permission first (which they would have declined, as they insisted I lied). The second job was way better and I worked there for years.

      Reply
      1. Esme Squalor

        That is appalling!! Have you ever brought this up with them as an adult? E.g., “hey, guys, remember that time you tried to force me to work for a sexual predator?”

        Reply
        1. Temperance

          Oh there are so many worse things that they did that I haven’t brought it up. When I was speaking to them, I did point it out, and my mother made some kind of comment about the girls lying about it. (They weren’t.)

          Reply
      2. Plague of frogs

        My aunt told me that back in the 60s the father of a child she baby-sat would try to grope her when he drove her home. My grandparents wouldn’t do anything about it, and neither would the parents of the other girls her age who baby-sat. So the girls would only baby-sit at that house in pairs, to keep themselves safe. They were 13 and 14 year olds.

        Reply
    2. saffytaffy

      Can I just say, and I’m sure your parents are lovely whole human beings with many good qualities who raised a wonderful kid, but there MUST have been feudal serfs and slaves and all kinds of people in wretched situations since the dawn of man saying this kind of thing. It’s baffling.

      Reply
    3. Emalia

      My dad told me that he wished he had moved around in his career. He learned his loyalty wasn’t reciprocated by his company when his department was closed a handful of years be for he could retire.

      Reply
    4. Djuna

      Oh boy, my parents are like that too – but in the opposite way.
      I was laid off (with my entire team) from a job I loved, and there was a hiring freeze which meant I couldn’t be rehired in another department.
      I spent almost a year fruitlessly looking for another job, and had to move home for a while (the mortification, I had not lived at home since I started college 25 years earlier).
      The hiring freeze at old job ended and they contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in coming back.
      Different role, but similar money and benefits.
      I jumped at it.

      My parents tried to talk me out of it.
      No amount of explaining to them how rare it was that a company would bother to remember me and reach out like that had any effect. Nope, they were disloyal and terrible and not to be trusted.

      It’s taken three years and a string of promotions for them to come around to the idea that maybe it’s an okay place for me to work.

      Reply
    5. H.C.

      A variation of that, every time I tell my folks I changed jobs (for better pay, more growth opps, improved quality of life, etc.) – their first questions are “Did OldJob fire you?”

      Reply
  40. Master Bean Counter

    When I was looking at getting out of old toxic job my mother, being helpful, one day showed me an ad in the paper for an open position. She said it looked like something I could do and had the salary listed.
    I looked at the ad, looked her right in the eye and said, “I could do this, but I don’t want to take that kind of pay cut.” The position was for entry level in my field and I had 10 years of experience at that point.
    My mother, being a smart person, has stayed out of my job searches since then. She’s also started putting much less of a fight when I want to pick-up the dinner check.

    Reply
  41. Linzava

    So, I’ve mentioned this story before on this site. When I was 25, my mother sent an 18 page fax to my therapist about how awful and dramatic I am. She said I was a liar and so on.

    Moving forward a couple years, I was working for a very toxic boss, she yelled at me and called me stupid a lot, so basically, she treated me like my mother did. Boss admitted she’d looked up my mother’s company online and gushed about how beautiful she was and how kind she seemed (My mother’s pictures are prominent on her website) . I have no proof, and feel a little paranoid for thinking this, but from that day forward, I knew there was a chance they secretly became friendly. I never tell my mother the name of the companies I work for because of the therapy thing and a few time she contacted my managers when I was in my 20s.

    Reply
  42. DaniCalifornia

    My mom recently told me that even though she knows you have to apply online these days, it couldn’t hurt to call the office after submitting my resume. She worked in HR a very long time ago (>20 years) and said that yes it was annoying when someone would call about the job after submitting their resume, but she’d usually go look at their resume anyways. I just nodded and smiled, knowing I would never do that.

    I assume that even if I could actually figure out the HR team or hiring manager after I’ve applied online, that if I took her advice my resume would go straight to the rejected file. About 1/3 of the companies I apply to online, don’t even give their company name! Many just say ‘Real Estate Firm’ or ‘Accounting Firm’ or something vague.

    Reply
    1. CheeryO

      One of the only real fights I’ve had with my dad as an adult was when he started to get on my younger brother’s case about not calling to follow up on his online applications. My dad is in a really small field, so whenever he needs a new job, he can make a few calls and get something within days. He truly did not understand how it was different for my brother, who was applying for engineering positions at companies all over the country.

      Reply
  43. Goya de la Mancha

    My father has never understood the word “appropriate” and he’s a many of few words.

    I worked for his company my summers in college and on the car ride to work one day we (mostly me talking…) were discussing some big changes coming up with shifting of positions. I asked why Wakeen was given the job over Jamal. Dad’s response was *shrug* “It’s not what you know, but who you blow”.

    Reply
  44. nnn

    I’m pushing 40 and have been in a specialized profession for my entire adult life, and my mother still thinks I should add tangentially-related extracurriculars from high school to my resume. Her stated reason is “So they know you’ve been into this stuff for a long time!”

    And it’s not even relevant. For example, one of the ways I add value to my employer is by being bilingual in English and French, so I can work with clients in Quebec as well as in the rest of Canada. My mother thinks my resume should say that I was in Spanish Club in high school “so they know you’ve been into this language thing for a long time.”

    Reply
    1. Aixi

      My mom does this too! When I applied for my current job she told me not to forget to add that I was in Brain Brawl (basically Jeopardy! club) in high school to my CV.

      I’m a professor.

      Reply
  45. Wannabe Disney Princess

    At a former mom-n-pop retail job, I was a manager. I had many parents who would collect applications for their kids. Most of said parents returned the applications. (Those usually went to the bottom of the pile…)

    My favorite? Was the mom who talked to me, at length, about her son. He wanted to start a similar business. So she urged him to apply with us so we could share all our insider knowledge, show him how to run a business, get the names of all our suppliers, learn our recipes, and then open his own. Yeah….hard pass on that one. She was LIVID when we didn’t grant an interview.

    Reply
  46. Mockingjay

    As for my parents, my dear dad knew that I had a strong interest in science, particularly lab work. So he thought it would be great if I worked in the local hospital and drove me down to apply one summer.

    Just two small problems: 1) at the time I had a strong aversion to blood and things medical, and 2) my parents wouldn’t let me get a license, so I had no way to get there.

    (*They had really ‘old-fashioned’ views about girls shouldn’t do pretty much anything, but brother could – whole other story. They’ve grown out of that mindset, mainly because my sisters and I grew up as really strong women. We had to be, to push back on the restrictions and get somewhere in life.)

    Reply
    1. Goya de la Mancha

      *snicker* I still have that strong aversion to blood and medical stuff. Family joke while I was in college was that I was going to school to be a nurse.

      Reply
  47. Moo

    A few years ago I got a job and I wasn’t sure about the culture and whether it might turn toxic – turns out it was fine and the problems that I had heard about were resolved – anyway I was talking to my dad about it and saying ‘if X happens then I’ll quit’ (where X is something I’d heard had happened to others). I have a sought after speciality for which there are more jobs than people with experience and know I could easily find a comparable role. My dad was horrified that I would leave under any circumstances and advised me (should this happen) to stay in the role but do nothing until my contract was up. He was very surprised when I said that that would make me miserable and tank my career.

    Reply
  48. Talia

    My mother has this idea that I absolutely need to wear full pantyhose to job interviews. I have no idea where she got it, although she actually *does* do hiring in her profession (social work), and periodically complains about the things “these young interns” are wearing to interviews, so somewhere there actually is a group of people who are getting discounted in the hiring process for not wearing pantyhose to the interview. (People who insist on pantyhose in this day and age are often crazy in other ways– as indeed she is– and so I generally don’t. The last job I had that I can picture anyone caring about it was a *massively* unpleasant place to work.)

    And she’s told me that I’m more likely to get hired if I get my hair professionally done before the interview and wear makeup.

    She also jumps rather annoyingly between “You MUST take anything and do anything because they give you money!” and “You shouldn’t have to put up with that (perfectly normal) nonsense; don’t take that job!”

    Reply
    1. SansaStark

      I’d think we had the same mom except the social work part. The last job she had was in the early 90s, but she knew for sure that my slightly-longer-than-shoulder-length hair was too long to get a professional job. She is somehow still surprised that I’ve held professional jobs now for 12 years with my “long” hair.

      Reply
    2. Serin

      “Won’t hire you if you don’t wear panty hose” tells you something about a workplace in the same way that “Complains about gold-diggers in introductory message” tells you something about an online dating candidate. It’s always nice when people/places announce themselves so clearly.

      Reply
    3. no one, who are you?

      Would like to point out that I’ve been hired as a professional social worker twice without wearing pantyhose (I did wear tights both times though). I hope I never interview with your mom.

      Reply
        1. Minerva McGonagall

          I define it by degree of opaqueness and thickness. Pantyhose are translucent and so prone to running they rarely get worn more than once or twice before becoming unwearable. Tights are opaque or nearly so, and much thicker such that they usually get thrown out after many wearings due to excessive pilling rather than runs. YMMV

          Reply
  49. Amber Rose

    Can I just point out that I love your “You May Also Like” link settings, and how they are recommending an article from The Onion?

    I think a good rule of thumb for deciding if something is bad advice is if The Onion is also advising it.

    Reply
  50. Sara

    My parents refused to let me take an unpaid internship in college. They kept telling me that any company that couldn’t pay their interns wasn’t worth working for. They just didn’t understand why I would bother and encouraged me to get any job that paid me over the summers.

    Fortunately, they learned their mistake for my brothers, but man, I had some good ins back then.

    Reply
    1. Keli

      Sounds like my mom. Why intern with a small publishing company or a technical writing firm when I could sell teapots at Macy’s for $6.25 an hour? When I graduated I couldn’t get a job and had to go back to school to get marketable skills. (And this time, I took every internship and opportunity that would have me.)

      My brothers did not suffer the same fate after I told them about my monumental mistake–they got internships as soon as they could, and ended up getting jobs from them, one of them in a field that is notoriously hard to find jobs in.

      Reply
      1. Inspector Spacetime

        The same thing happened to me and it bit me in the butt in the same way. I worked minimum wage retail-type stuff all through college and then, surprise surprise, had a hard time getting a career job after I graduated.

        I did need the money, though. It’s frustrating how class can be a real barrier to advancement.

        Reply
      2. GriefBacon

        Same here! My parents wouldn’t let me work during the school year (they were paying for college, so I couldn’t really argue), which meant they also wouldn’t let me do summer internships because I had to be earning enough money to last me all school year. I spent my summers working retail, food service, and hospitality…and then couldn’t get a full-time job after I graduated.

        I went back for a second B.A. to get some marketable skills, and my parents were shocked when I managed to work full-time while going to school full-time (magna cum laude!) AND completing two internships.

        Reply
  51. Xay

    My mom always reminds me to clean my car before an interview because the interviewers might send someone to look inside it.

    Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        This is like the “make a backpack with their logo!” advice upthread–for every lock, a key; for every wacky bit of job applying advice, a manager for whom that is the decisive test.

        Reply
    1. Peasandcarrots

      I know a woman who used to own a trucking business, and she says she would always walk drivers out to the parking lot and take a peek at their trucks after interviews. Her rationale was that if they treated their own trucks badly and junked them up, they wouldn’t treat hers any better. Sort of makes sense in that context, I think.

      Reply
      1. Lynca

        Don’t let any employers see the inside of my car then. It looks like a hurricane hit it.

        My work truck is immaculate by comparison.

        Reply
    2. cobweb collector

      How does that even work? At the average office building there will be dozens or hundreds of cars in the lot. Do they send someone out to figure out which is yours and report back on the condition?

      Reply
      1. Xay

        I’ve asked her the same question – she can’t explain but she is certain it is a possibility. Even when I explained that I have conducted interviews and I have never checked or heard of anyone checking a candidate’s car.

        She is a nurse that has worked at large hospitals most of her career, I can’t imagine anyone spying on a hospital visitor’s lot to check out someone’s car.

        Reply
    3. Sled dog mama

      I know a guy who decides if he will rent to people based on how well they take care of their car, not sure it’s legal but apparently he’s had no trouble with tenants damaging things since he started doing this.

      Reply
      1. Rusty Shackelford

        I assume “owner of an unkempt car” isn’t a protected class, so yeah, it’s probably legal. And it does have a certain logic to it.

        (On a related note, I wanted to buy a used car from a private owner once, and my dad told me not to because one of the radio buttons was missing. I said “But that’s so easy to fix!” And he said “Exactly. If they don’t take care of things that are cheap and easy to fix, what do you think they did about the bigger things?” Sometimes the parents are full of good advice.)

        Reply
    4. Cupcake

      I ended up cleaning up my car a bit before a job interview not too long ago. I had just taken my dog to the vet a few days before and had a pillow and a comforter in the back seat. I decided that if by some weird chance someone looked in my car, I didn’t want it to look like I was homeless and sleeping in the back of my car.

      Oddly enough, one of the interviewers did end up seeing my car. The office park where their suite was located required that everyone had to have a parking pass in the car. He ended up walking me to my car since the office door locks automatically and it was easier for him to let me back in the building if he knew when I was returning.

      Reply
    5. paul

      I almost want them to try that with me….depending on what we did over the weekend it screams “crazy serial killer” or “boring father” or a weird mix. Snake hooks, binoculars, field guides, catch buckets, sometimes ammo, bloodstains depending, fishing gear, diaper bag, trash bag full of wet wipes and kleenex and protein bar wrappers and beef jerky packs, minnow traps, gauze pads…

      Reply
  52. hiptobesquared

    The usual “drop off resumes” and “you need to get off the computer and look for jobs” but that has mostly dissipated since I edit their resumes now (My dad’s was like three pages long when we started…).

    My grandfather, who was adamant that I transfer from a great school that I loved to live at home for two year and go to community college (a fine suggestion if I had just graduated HS, but he continued this refrain through to my junior year…), doesn’t understand why you would EVER do anything for free. I freelance in the arts, and a lot of it is volunteer work. “Just tell them you won’t do it unless they pay you.” is something I hear often, despite this being a major passion of mine, I know what I’m getting into, they’d just find someone else, etc.

    Reply
  53. Lemon Zinger

    My mom forced me to dress in business casual, at age 17, for an interview to be a lifeguard. My interviewer (who would become my boss) was wearing sweats.

    Reply
    1. Goya de la Mancha