should being on reality TV disqualify a job candidate?

A reader writes:

I’m currently on a hiring committee for a newly established role in my division. It’s designed for someone with a marketing background, but involves a lot of direct interaction with clients on projects. This person will manage a team within our marketing department, and it’s a relatively senior position.

We’ve had our first set of interviews, and one candidate stood out particularly in terms of her experience, practical skills, and overall demeanor. Although I can’t say that she’s unequivocally qualified over the others, it seemed pretty clear that she should be brought back for a second round. After her first interview, she received very positive feedback and seemed like an obvious choice to return.

Yesterday, however, one member of the committee mentioned that a quick Google search of her name brought up that she had been a cast member on a reality show about a decade ago. Admittedly, the show is not one remembered for its tastefulness (think along the lines of The Real World or Jersey Shore). This news seems to have soured most of the committee on her, and it doesn’t look like she’ll be brought back. They’re arguing that someone who will serve in a public and managerial role should not have this type of history, and that her atypical first name means that a client or coworker will likely remember her from the show. I’m unconvinced. I think that her qualifications are such that she should be considered, and that a qualified applicant should not be blacklisted indefinitely because they were on MTV once in their twenties.

A few are also unhappy that she left this off of her resume and didn’t bring it up to us in the first interview, which I find a bit ridiculous. It isn’t related to her professional experience, and she shouldn’t be tasked with casually bringing it up each time she’s in the running for a job.

That being said, I’m easily the most junior member of the hiring committee, so I don’t know if this is something I should spend capital on, but I feel like rejecting this candidate outright for a years-old action would be unfair to her. At the very least, she deserves to be brought back in and be asked about this part of her past. How can I advocate for her, or should I bother? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

I’m with you.

If she’s a strong candidate, she’s a strong candidate — and being on MTV 10 years ago doesn’t change that.

I’m assuming, though, that she didn’t stand out on the show for especially outrageous or bad behavior. If she did, that changes my calculation a bit, because it’s reasonable for your company not to want clients to associate it with someone known for, say, constant public drunkenness, or serious anger issues, or racism or homophobia, or generally villainous behavior.

But if this candidate was more akin to, say, Pam from Real World season 3 (my Real World knowledge is very dated) — in other words, someone who wasn’t particularly outrageous or difficult — then I can’t see how simply being on a reality show is in itself disqualifying.

And it’s particularly odd that some of your colleagues take issue with the show not being on the candidate’s resume. It doesn’t really belong on her resume — it’s not part of her professional qualifications, and if she listed it there, she’d be implying she thought it was relevant when it’s not. Similarly, there was no need for her to bring it up in the interview. If it’s something that has occasionally come up for her at work in weird ways, it might make sense for her to mention it at the offer stage — as in, “Hey, I want to make you aware that occasionally clients might recognize my name from a show I did 10 years ago” — but it’s not some obligatory first-interview disclosure. (People aren’t even expected to disclose criminal convictions in their first interviews!)

As for what you can do, I think you could say something like, “I think she’s a strong candidate, and I don’t think that her reputation on the show was one that would cause any problems with clients or staff. I’d advocate for bringing her back for the next round and asking her if it’s posed problems for her professionally, because my hunch is that it hasn’t been an issue for her or her employers.”

And if the show is more Real World than Jersey Shore, you could add, “(Show) isn’t known for being particularly scandalous, as reality TV goes. It’s had plenty of respectable cast members who have gone on to have normal careers.” (That’s what I’d say for the Real World, but adapt accordingly.)

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 674 comments… read them below }

  1. JokeyJules*

    Alison I agree 100%. Obviously, there are plenty of outrageous actions on these reality shows, but even the people that do them might not be so terrible.
    A lot of people on these shows are younger, and trying to have fun, new experiences. Like most young people. They’re just on TV.

    1. Annabelle*

      Agreed. It’s also worth noting that a lot of outrageous behavior on reality shows is egged on by producers, so barring violence or bigotry, a lot of kooky reality TV personas are probably totally normal folks.

      1. TootsNYC*

        yeah, people were really upset about the Bachelor thing, but honestly a HUGE part of that is on the producers of the show. They were there to film the whole thing, after all.

        (and some of it is just, well, the ick factor that comes with treating marriage, romance, and courting as though it is some game)

        1. Anonymoose*

          + 1

          Plus…there are SO many reality shows now. Are we saying that all of those folks are now no longer employable? That’s ridiculous.

        2. NDC*

          Yes. There is a very illuminating short video by Charlie Brooker which demonstrates just how far from the truth you can get with selective editing of clips and voiceover.

          I’ll post a link, but if you go to YouTube and search for:
          charlie brooker’s screenwipe reality tv editing
          it should pop right up. It’s about 5 minutes long.

      2. Triple Anon*

        Exactly. But it’s also a tangible issue for the company if this person will be in a public-facing role and it could come up. They should look at it from a PR standpoint – how could it affect them and is there anything this person could easily do to mitigate that? For example, if they were portrayed negatively on the show, have they done anything to counteract that? Like writing about the experience, demonstrating how they’ve changed since, or something. It would be a good conversation to have during an interview.

    2. Specialk9*

      The two people I know who have been on reality tv shows are delightful, kind, smart, hardworking people. The kind of person you want to hire!

      One was on an astronaut discovery show (which is obviously very different from Real World but still reality tv), the other has been on 4 shows that range from gruelling survival in the wild to the silly and campy (not I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, but kinda along that line).

      I would hire either in a heartbeat.

      This line from the rest of the committee is weirdly moralistic about something that decidedly IS NOT Girls Gone Wild. And even if it *were* Girls Gone Wild or such, well, we all did dumb stuff when we were young, and permanently Monica Lewinskying people for legal dumb things they did when young is pretty outrageous and cruel.

      1. Specialk9*

        Also, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the concern comes up for a female candidate. I question highly whether it would even come up for a dude. My small college town had two male Real World alums, and they just kinda were mildly famous enough to get lots of dates, but not a lot else. I can GUARANTEE you that it’s never been an impediment to their white male employment (though they likely get teased occasionally).

        1. serenity*

          That’s speculation, and we have no idea from the letter if the hiring committee would have a different reaction to a male former reality participant. If they’re this moralistic, chances are it would be the same reaction.

          1. Temperance*

            We also don’t know how the nature of the show the person was on, and how she behaved. It could be a case of a very memorable first name and some wild behavior. For example, if anyone named “Treshelle” ever applied to work at my company, I would immediately think of “The Real World” cast member (as noted below). Someone named Sean, Ruthie, or Pam, not so much, since those are common names.

            1. Someone else*

              Yeah, if the applicant were Puck, it’s probably a very reasonable Hell No. But there are plenty of people who may have looked a little foolish 10 years ago on a reality show, but not anything that would make them insta-recognizable as “we cannot associate with you”.

              1. Jenny*

                I believe Puck is in jail! I do always remember what Heather B from the first Real World said “They use what you give them”. If you remain low key they don’t have anything terrible to air.

                1. Wintermute*

                  That was absolutely true for RW, it sounds silly to say but it really was a more innocent, naive era in reality TV.

                  These days they not only stock the situations to amplify potential drama (making sure meals are small and light on protein but alcohol is plentiful, changing hours to keep people from getting proper rest, etc) but actually misrepresent people entirely and take them out of context.

              2. Anonymoose*

                As long as his fingers stay out of my food (and his nose), I would employ him… a very isolated setting, of course.

          2. Specialk9*

            It’s speculation, but it’s also the only argument that might work – being concerned about the appearance of gender issues.

      2. Raider*

        It’s so weird they’re taking this to be a disqualification outright. I too know two people who have appeared on reality shows — one was a spokesperson for a congressional committee and then for a federal agency! Another is a national columnist. And then one of the reality home makeover shows went into the Tennessee city where some of my extended family live and rebuilt a family’s home after they experienced tragedy in a tornado. I mean reality shows have been around for a generation now, and lots of people have been on them. (Designer Christian Siriano was on Project Runway. A TON of fantastic chefs, including chefs who were James Beard award nominees or winners, have been on Top Chef. Etc.)

        1. Sylvan*

          Also, Kim Stolz from America’s Next Top Model works for Bank of America now. People can appear on reality shows and… do other things. It’s also weird to me that they’re taking this as a disqualifying issue.

          1. selina kyle*

            I always wonder where a lot of them end up. That’s so cool for her, she was a favorite of mine back in days of watching ANTM.

            1. Raider*

              They could make a reality show just on Where Are They Now?, there’s been so any super-popular reality shows for decades now.

        2. NotAnotherMananger!*

          Yeah – I agree. Sean Duffy from Real World Boston (Alison and I are likely of the same generation. :) is a congressman and was a District Attorney before that. His wife, whom he met on a Real World-related venture, was considered to host The View. And neither of their behaviors was terrible impressive on the show (though this was also when it was less about outrageous behavior – TRW kind of headed that way once they stopped having jobs and focused more on drinking and hooking up – and more of a social experiment).

          1. Jenny*

            Oh Rachel! That poor girl has to live down her crush on Puck for eternity. San Fran Real World was the best (and “Real”). I think the issue would be would I hire her? Probably because she was just young and not trouble. Would I want to hire Trishelle or Tanya? Probably not. They seem to have personality issues that have not abated with time. And bringing up Kim Stoltz- yes I would hire her. I hate to say it but some other contestants such as Camille, Lisa (Season 5) or Whitney I wouldn’t. Their personality traits seem unchangable to me.

            The sad thing is young people won’t think that people will remember them for a long time when they are on television. One could also argue a lot of reality shows casts people with personality issues for ratings and those issues will not translate to good employees. The Bachelor has just revealed that they now test for STDs, personality disorders and other mental health and health issues so these people won’t be on the show for liability issues.

        3. Erin*

          Certain reality shows where there is a contest are more like game shows, long drawn out boring game shows. Like project runway.
          I would treat someone who was on the show like I would look at a candidate who was on wheel of fortune or price is right.
          If someone was on a questionable reality show where people were exploited like 16 and pregnant, or big brother I would question their judgment in general.

      3. Lindsay J*

        I worked with someone who went to school with someone who was on one of the two shows mentioned in the OP, and who apparently has appeared on a few other reality shows as well.

        And by all reports she is a lovely person.

        I’ve never seen a full episode of that show, but from what I understand her behavior was not outrageous on there, either.

        I would totally hire her if she were qualified for an open position I had.

        I would hire her.

  2. Helpful*

    I do think since it was a decade ago, as long as she wasn’t a total tool, her resume/interview should stand on its own. If it were last season, I’d think differently (again depending on behavior). Also keep in mind that many reality shows intentionally deprive sleep and use other bad behavior to coax drama out of contestants. It’s like being in a cult with a margarita machine and cameras.

    1. J.*

      I was coming here to say something similar. Ten years is a long time, and as long as the behavior wasn’t particularly egregious, I don’t see how it would reflect on who they are as a professional today.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      Yeah, so long ago is important to me. If she was on it last year that might indicate some odd priorities to me, but a decade back?

    3. Mike C.*

      This is a really important point. If I were sleep deprived, half drunk and have stuff whispered in my ears, I wouldn’t be making the best decisions of my life either. Throw in selective editing and you could turn me into anything you wanted.

      I’m really surprised at the folks who are taking what they see on tv to be anywhere close to reality

      1. Oryx*

        I think it’s a matter of not fully realizing the extent the production crew goes to in order to get their story arcs and characters: isolation, sleep deprivation, 24 hour open bar, holding them hostage in the 1:1 interviews until they get the sound bite they want, manipulation tactics, etc.

        (I can tell from your comments you know all this already, it’s most for benefit of others reading.)

      2. Marillenbaum*

        The TV show UnReal does an excellent job of showing just how much manipulation goes on to create narratives around people on these unscripted shows (’cause we all know it sure isn’t reality). RuPaul’s Drag Race also leans into the heavily-edited, narrative-creating aspects of unscripted TV.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          UnReal is fabulous for that. If I recall correctly it was created by someone who used to work on The Bachelor, so she would know!

          OP, I’d say unless your applicant is Omarosa, you’re fine.

      3. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        I’m a pretty decent amateur chef, so every once in a while someone will suggest that I try out for Master Chef. I always tell them the same thing; “If you edited together all of my worst moments during a stressful competition, while being sequestered for months away from all my family and friends halfway across the country, I would come off as the most horrible person ever.” I’d totally be that one competitor that all the viewers hate.

        1. Lady Blerd*

          That is the very why I can’t be on Amazing Race. I think I could kill it because I can make décisions on the fly but I would expect you to keep up, get angry that you can’t read my mind and and I’d very much be the villain of the show.

          1. Jen RO*

            I love The Amazing Race but I’m afraid I’d be Flo. I turn into a horrible person when I am sleep deprived and hungry.

          2. Zillah*

            I’ve been trying to convince my brother to try to get on the Amazing Race with me for ages, but I think my brother is really the only person I could do it with. We know how to not push each other’s buttons and generally get along really well, but everyone else? Forget about it.

            (Also, slightly o/t, but I still remember TAR trying to give Dustin and Kandice a villain edit and failing at it. That’s very much an exception rather than the rule, though.)

          3. ThatAspie*

            Interestingly enough, we did a field trip in 7th grade based on that show. We walked and ran and rode buses all over the city and took notes and interacted with each other. It was exhausting having to do all that walking and running and bus-taking! My feet were actually swollen by the end of it. We finished early, but because we got back to the school before we were supposed to, we had to sit on the lawn and get bit by insects for 10 minutes before they’d let us in for bananas and string cheese. I guess it was mostly fun. I got to see parts of the city I’d normally have to miss. But I had trouble keeping up, and some of my group members didn’t like me and so they isolated me a bit.

        2. oranges & lemons*

          On the other hand, I think the Great British Bakeoff selectively edits to make the contestants seem as nice as possible, so the only fallout I can imagine from being on that is that your colleagues would expect some pretty impressive contributions to the staff potluck.

          1. Amber T*

            Someone told me that if the contestants are having a particularly difficult/stressful time, the hosts will go over towards them and curse and the like, because the editors *don’t want* don’t bleep things out (the exact opposite as American television), so they can’t capture or can’t use the contestants worst parts. I don’t know if that’s actually true, but I like to think that it is, so I’m staying in my ignorant bubble (specifically when it comes to British reality television).

          2. Triumphant Fox*

            Great British Bakeoff is everything American reality television is not. There is no manufactured drama – everyone has exactly the same equipment that doesn’t just mysteriously stop working or get misplaced. There isn’t one ice cream maker everyone has to fight for (a la Chopped). Also, the judges seem averse to drama. I remember one episode where Mary Berry was just like “You have to pull yourself up. There is no need for tears over a baking competition, especially on television.” They give thoughtful, precise criticism (“This is very close-textured.” “You can see where the jam has seeped into the roll here.”) and don’t attack contestants as people, belittle them or try to get them to pour their heart out on television. Also, the music is just so light and cheery and their cut aways are of sheep in the pasture or the English Manor where the tent is set up rather than close-ups knives chopping or dramatic pots boiling. It’s a whole different tone and I love it, especially when I’m sick.

            1. Tardigrade*

              It’s such a good show, and I’m not much for watching or learning about cooking, but I do love seeing people build each other up.

            2. SarahTheEntwife*

              Yes! And even when Paul gets a bit snarky and borderline-mean, the tone is always “look, dude, this isn’t your best work and I *know* you can do better, so you should have practiced this more and known you couldn’t complete it in the time given”.

            3. Jam Today*

              FYI, there’s a new series on Netflix called “Nailed It!” which is dedicated to the joy of the baking fail, where amateur bakers try to recreate professional cakes and confections with deeply funny results. Its like GBBO, but for the sort of person who mistakes cornstarch for confectioners sugar.

              1. Bunny McFoo*

                Wow, I had such an opposite reaction to Nailed It! I found the whole thing – it’s literally set up so the amateur (VERY amateur) bakers are going to fail – to be deeply depressing.

                Different strokes for different folks, but man, my favorite thing about Bake Off is that it’s set up in a way to give everyone the absolute best opportunity to shine (you set your recipes long before they film, loads of time to practice, no surprises that are meant to handicap, etc) and everyone is already very good at what they do. It’s the best, coziest kind of competence porn!

                I will say that if you have access to it, the Great British Sewing Bee (which I miss desperately) was the partner in coziness and delight to Bake Off and I highly highly recommend it.

            4. Code Monkey, the SQL*

              I call it televised Xanax – no matter how I’m feeling, an episode or two of GBBO will even my mood back out so well.

            5. Mike C.*

              It drive safe me up the wall in Top Chef when something “just doesn’t work”. If you can stop a competition in the Olympics because of technical issues, you can do it there too.

          3. Specialk9*

            The editors weren’t the ones who started that, apparently. The kooky hosts, Mel and Sue, would go over to where someone was crying or having a breakdown, and curse foully so the tape couldn’t be used. Then the “nice people being nice” reality tv thing turned out to be wildly successful, to everyone’s surprise, and they kept doing it.

            I love Mel and Sue.

            1. Nonnon*

              I also heard that, as GBBO was originally on the BBC and thus couldn’t do advertising, that the hosts would also chant brand names next to a contestant who was freaking out so they couldn’t use the footage.

              Which would also be a great way of breaking someone out of a meltdown. I can’t imagine being sad or stressed when a couple of nice ladies are by me going “Tate & Lyle, sellotape, kleenex, Heinz…”

      4. Penny Lane*

        “This is a really important point. If I were sleep deprived, half drunk and have stuff whispered in my ears, I wouldn’t be making the best decisions of my life either. Throw in selective editing and you could turn me into anything you wanted.”

        I agree that this isn’t really a big deal and I wouldn’t consider it a deal-breaker as long as her behavior hadn’t been egregious, but I can see the mindset of people that say – it speaks to having had poor decision-making capabilities if you’d agree to be on that kind of show in the first place.

        1. PugLife*

          But I genuinely don’t think that 10 years later, it should matter. The OP said she was in her 20s – lots of us make questionable choices in our 20s, and if she’s built up a respectable career in the years since, snough that they initially thought she was definitely worth a second interview, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker or even necessarily an indicator that she had bad judgement now.

          1. Nonnon*

            I’m still in my twenties and I look back on some of the stuff I did even a couple of years back and I’m like, “wow, I was stupid.”

            Also, a lot of my early-20s stupidity was encouraged by alcohol, and I am not planning to be drunk at work. I am certainly not planning to be “discount cocktail night” drunk at work.

        2. GreyjoyGardens*

          There is evidence that the prefrontal cortex – the rational, decision-making area of the brain – is not fully mature until age 25. So unless the candidate’s behavior was truly, truly awful, like racist or other bigoted rants, chalk it up to “young people don’t always make the best decisions. Live and learn.”

          In retrospect, I’m glad there was no reality TV or Facebook or anything public around when I was a young twentysomething blundering through life.

        3. Breda*

          The decade-old part matters not just for her age, but for the way we see reality TV! 10 or 15 years ago, I’m not sure we had the same understanding of how participating affects the way you’re perceived, so I can imagine how she would think it might be a fun experience that wouldn’t have long-lasting ramifications for her career.

      5. The Person from the Resume*

        I question the judgment of anyone who desires to be on these “reality” shows. (I question the judgment of the people who want to be famous simply to be famous rather than someone who wants to be an actor, singer, comedian because they love to perform.)

        I don’t watch reality shows so I am unlikely to recognize anyone from them, but I also didn’t necessarily know that the producers coax these bad behaviors out of these people. I figured anyone with the bad judgment to be appear on a reality show (one like real world or jersey shore as opposed to competition shows) would be the kind of person to get drunk and behave badly in public because they enjoy being the center of attention.

        That’s my perspective as someone who only briefly long ago watched any of those shows and no longer watches those awful shows on TV so all I know of them is what I see in a commercial. Ten years later, I don’t think its enough to keep someone with 10 good work years out of a job except if it’s a publicity role because you may not want that any kind of reality show behavior associated with your company. Unless as Alison said they espoused some misogynistic, sexist, homophobic, racist views and then they are pretty much unemployable.

        Genuine Question: Aren’t all the characters on the Jersey Shore awful people? That is the impression I got from the little commercials or unavoidable media coverage of the characters I accidentally run across.

        I am a person who after a year or two of hearing about the Kardashians in the media had to google them to try to figure out who the heck these people were. Apparently awful human being who used money to get a reality TV; they’re living the reality tv dream because their TV show has led to association with real celebrities and more than 15 minutes of fame.

        1. Lissa*

          Eh, on the scale of “awful people”, to me, wanting to be famous and behaving badly on camera ranks pretty low in my mind. Some of them are just…. people, and we’re only seeing a few moments of their lives but thinking we can know if they are actually good or bad people based on them.

          And tbh Kardashian-bashing is so common, casual and over the top that I think it must satisfy some deep human need to hate something. I’ve never heard anyone say they actually like them – they’re a punch-line at this point.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I semi-like them. I like that they took society’s expectations of women and said “fine, if that’s what you’re going to reward, then here you go,” and made a zillion dollars off of it. I think Khloe and Kourtney are genuinely funny, or at least used to be. That said, I strongly dislike that they don’t seem to use their fame to do any good in the world, and that’s a huge strike against them. But I can’t fault them for seeing a way to make money and taking it. (My semi-like of them peaked during the Lamar Odom clinging-to-life period, but I’ve tuned out since then, so maybe things have changed.)

            1. Annabelle*

              Kim’s actually somewhat politically vocal and most of them have donated pretty large sums to Planned Parenthood. That’s obviously not everyone’s chosen cause, but still. They’ve also been at least relatively outspoken about the Armenian genocide after getting a bunch of hate from folks denying its occurrence.

                1. Annabelle*

                  I think for a while that was probably true. I’m not sure what inspired the change, but there was definitely a distinct point where they went from just being extremely wealthy to actually using their wealth to help others.

                2. DoctorateStrange*

                  That family is actually well-known for being big on charities. I remember them also working hard in having the Armenian Genocide being acknowledged (and dear God, some of the awful people that tried to make a joke about that on Twitter, like, go to Hell, glass bowls).

            2. Temperance*

              Kim is actually a pretty outspoken advocate for some good causes. She’s actually funding her attorney to represent Cyntoia Brown, a sex trafficked teenage girl who is in prison for life for killing her rapist.

            3. Spero*

              I don’t think they do much in the way of appearances at events or serving on boards, but on the show they’ve highlighted several social issues by meeting with activists. I appreciate that they amplify people doing the work as opposed to some of the other reality shows which focus on ‘watch me get dressed for this event..oh it’s for charity…’

          2. Annabelle*

            Yeah tbh most of the Kardashian hate I see is pretty deeply misogynistic that I can’t really take it seriously. But I also genuinely like them and have been referred to as a “Kardashian apologist”, so maybe take my comment with a grain of salt.

            1. Sylvan*

              I don’t like them, but I agree with you. And I don’t blame Kendall or Kylie, at least, for much after how they grew up.

              1. Annabelle*

                I’m definitely with you about Kendall and Kylie. They were so young when the show started that I don’t think they really remember having a “normal” life.

                1. Mad Baggins*

                  Actually that’s a great way of looking at it that really changed my mind on this whole thing. Yes maybe the Kardashians (and by extension the reality star job applicant) come across as self-centered and shallow, but 1) look at the environment they grew up in 2) how much of that is TV editing (ok this doesn’t apply to Kitty) and 3) is that really so bad? Does that mean they are completely immoral, or is that just a flaw a human can have, like being kind of lazy or being a worrywart?

                  Thank you for inspiring compassion in me today!

            2. Lissa*

              Yes, I tend to agree and have noticed that most (not all, there’s still Bieber) of the easy punchlines that are cool to hate tend to be things that are very popular among women. Kardashians, Twilight, 50 shades etc. I have no particular Kardashian-related feelings but the way people go after them makes me want to defend them, because I’m contrarian like that and feel like nobody deserves that level of hate except like Nazis and similar.

              1. Annabelle*

                Yeah, I definitely think there’s a trend of mocking things that appeal more to women. Plus the Kardashians themselves are hyper feminine in a way that people love to hate.

                1. bonkerballs*

                  That trend has been around since forever. Hell, even the Beatles were originally dismissed because the majority of their early fans were teen girls. It was only when more and more men became fans that the Beatles became the rock gods they’re now thought of.

            3. TrainerGirl*

              I’m not sure I think that Kardashian hate is misogynistic necessarily. My disdain for that family mainly comes from the fact that most of their fame & notoriety comes from a sex tape. I mean, I guess I can admire Kris’ ability to translate that into careers for her daughters and their ability to have made a lot of money from Kim’s foray into amateur porn, but their vapid shallowness and their uncanny ability to ruin the careers of the men they date/marry isn’t to be admired IMO.

          3. Bebe*

            I have a theory that actors and other celebrities who were tabloid targets before the advent of the Kardahians got together and offered the mom an opportunity to make a bajillion dollars for herself & her kids if she was willing to let the tabloids focus every available resource on her family. This way, tabloids get someone to cover, more and more actual actors/musicians can stay under the radar and live their lives in relative peace, and the Kardashians accumulate enough wealth to find a small country. (Ok, not so much a theory as the plot to a novel I’d definitely read on a plane – someone write that please!)

          4. PugLife*

            Honestly I love the Kardashians. I don’t watch their show or anything. but they all seem to genuinely like each other and be generally happy, which is more than I can say about me and my family. Plus, at this point, they all have careers; they’re not just “famous for being famous.” I find people that make a big show of disliking them are more often than not just trying to prove something about themselves.

        2. Nita*

          It still should not be a scarlet letter that follows one around all one’s life. So they were on a reality show. Should they be banned from employment in normal jobs forever? If they’re trying to walk away from that, the right thing to do is extending a helping hand, not telling them to go back to selling their life story.

          Re your question – I gather a few of them got their act together later, and tried to distance themselves from their immature behavior on the show. Growing up is something everyone should get to do, even if they had the bad luck to not have someone talk them out of getting their young and stupid years on camera. Also, what you see on the screen is not necessarily what actually happened – I can’t recall which show it was, but I read an interview with one of the participants that said there was a lot of selective editing to make some of the characters look much worse for the sake of dramatic tension.

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            “Growing up is something everyone should get to do” – THIS. Unless it’s truly horrible behavior that makes one question someone’s basic decency. Ill-advised young-person behavior shouldn’t be hung around someone’s neck like an albatross all their lives.

              1. Nita*

                IMO, DUI/speeding followed by no legal consequences is a hard line. It happens. A few blocks from where a live, a rich kid drove his car onto the sidewalk, killed two kids and injured their mom. His family hired a really good lawyer, and he got a slap on the wrist. I looked up his name a while ago – found a news article saying he’s been seen speeding again, plus some quotes suggesting he doesn’t care one bit. I know, the media is not super trustworthy so who knows if the quote was pulled out of context, but the lack of a sentence is fact.

                Wouldn’t hire that guy in a million years. His family can hire him (and has done that, far as I can tell).

                1. Lissa*

                  Do you think this is also the case with people who speed/DUI/other reckless car behaviour but nobody is killed? I mean, this person in particular, wow that is horrific and I agree with you based largely on his behaviour after the fact. If I killed someone while driving, even if it wasn’t my fault, I would probably never be able to drive again, let alone recklessly in the same way.

                  I feel like overall so many people drive recklessly and it’s just plain luck they haven’t hurt/killed someone….

                2. Nita*

                  I honestly don’t know! I mean, on the one hand some people are horrible drivers but never get caught (or at the very least, don’t get caught until it’s too late), so this is not something that the hiring committee would even know. On the other hand, even if someone’s been in an accident and this somehow turns up on their background check, maybe it was just an accident – not really careless behavior. And also (in my opinion) a speeding ticket for going 15 miles over the speed limit on an empty highway is not nearly as horrible as a speeding ticket for going 15 miles over on a narrow residential street.

                  Now if someone had a string of DUI records and speeding tickets, and the hiring committee knew that, they might hesitate to hire them for a job that involves driving. Whether or not they think this reflects on their character, this person would be a liability waiting to happen.

              2. Lissa*

                IMO if it negatively impacts other people, then there should be apologies and restitution if possible but still should not be hung around someone’s neck like an Unfit To Be A Human sign. (I am a big believer in rehabilitation though and hate the way we treat people who’ve made even serious mistakes and realize many people do not agree.) As for behaviour that only affects onself, I think showing you’ve moved on is enough.

                I think sometimes especially when someone is a public figure in ANY way, we can start to feel like they owe “the public/us personally” an apology, but I don’t personally think it’s usually appropriate or helpful. Especially because typically any sort of apology is met with a ton of scrutiny and why it isn’t good enough. Like, I can’t think of *any* apology that was universally accepted and not derided in some form by people who think it made things wildly worse or at least did not help.

          2. kb*

            Yeah, I really take issue with holding a reality tv stint over someone’s head for the rest of their life, unless they did something truly awful. Generally, appearing on those types of shows as a young person turns out to be an unfortunate choice, but I don’t think anyone could get a job of you had to list your worst choices made between ages 16 and 25.

        3. pleaset*

          “I question the judgment of anyone who desires to be on these “reality” shows. (I question the judgment of the people who want to be famous simply to be famous rather than someone who wants to be an actor, singer, comedian because they love to perform”

          But what does this mean in practice? The person has 10 years of good experience, and one “questionable” decision – so would you eliminate them? I hope not. Perhaps probe deeper to see if this is part of a pattern of bad judgement, and not a one-off.

          ” I figured anyone with the bad judgment to be appear on a reality show (one like real world or jersey shore as opposed to competition shows) would be the kind of person to get drunk and behave badly in public because they enjoy being the center of attention.”

          I think you should check your biases, and not make assumptions so readily.

          More broadly (not about your comment), it seems to me that too much of the vetting of candidates seems to be about finding something to knock them out. Sure, if there is something truly terrible, remove them. But I think we’d find better candidates if it was about finding the best by looking at what they can do. Not going in with the approach of “what is here that disqualifies someone, so the pool is smaller.” It’s a different mindset.

        4. Specialk9*

          I just see such deeply gendered application of rules like this. It’s like the old sexual purity rules (dudes, go forth and sow wild oats till your ears bleed; ladies you *thought* about sex?! you Jezebel!) but brought into the new era.

          Also, as I said above, the woman and man I know who have been on reality tv have been really high quality people, both of them.

        5. Anion*

          I did an episode of a reality show once–it was done to promote a product I was selling. “My” show was more along the lines of “good people pop in but there’s drama behind the scenes,” so I wasn’t made to look foolish or like anything but a customer. If I hadn’t had something to hopefully get nationwide exposure for I wouldn’t have done it, but it wasn’t an attempt to become famous, it was an attempt just to get more eyes on my work.

          I think there can be a different motivation with some of these shows (and it’s different today), but in the early years a lot of the Real World cast were aspiring actresses or performers, who were, like me, just hoping to get some interest stirred up in themselves and their work, or just interested in trying something new or having a free place to live in an expensive city for six months.

          1. DogG*

            My dog rehabilitation group and I did a local-access reality show for this reason. It was a lot of fun and people got to see the huge turn around a stable environment makes in a pit bull’s life! There were no margaritas involved. It’s not something I have on my resume, but I could easily defend it to any hiring manager.

        6. kb*

          As far as the Kardashians go, I don’t think they’re bad people. The show is actually pretty boring– it’s mostly just run-of-the-mill interpersonal drama with money thrown on top. I think a lot of the criticism of the Kardashians (besides slut-shaming and the like) is actually an indictment of our current capitalistic society. It’s frustrating that being an attractive person in the public eye can yield an astronomical amount of wealth and acclaim while people in professions like teaching, social work, and nursing are rewarded with little financially.

        7. Chameleon*

          So, my cousin was on a reality show. At the time, she did not drink at all (she was a show’s “token religious person”). She did like attention a bit, but never acted badly in public. She did it because she thought it would be a fun, interesting experience (and it was!)

          She was made out to be slightly racist/homophobic…because honestly she was, a bit. But not in any way due to malice–she was from a very small town and had literally never met a gay person that she knew of. And you know what? After the show, she realized how sheltered she’d been, and sought out new people and new ways of thinking. One of the gay cast members ended up being one of her best friends for quite some time. If she hadn’t been on the show…who knows. She may have ended up married at 18 and living in the same small town, and *still* never have spent any real time with people different from her. Her life and her personality were vastly improved by being on the show, in my thinking.

          1. Chalupa Batman*

            This brings up a really good point. I’d taken the “unless they were racist/homophobic/sexist” caveat as a given, but I know plenty of people who fall into your cousin’s could-have-been scenario. They’ve never been exposed to different people, and it comes out when they make some foul comment without blinking an eye. Simply asking “we saw you were on Teapot Dome, what did you learn during that experience?” would tell a lot about a person, including if legitimate unpleasant character traits that were displayed had changed. I would guess that once a former reality star starts at an ordinary job, the mystery dies off pretty quickly.

        8. ThatAspie*

          There’s also another subcategory of reality TV in which someone who is famous for being an expert at something comes and helps fix the problems that regular people are having in the area that is the celeb’s expertise. It’s barely even “reality TV”, as most people know it. It also can help the audience learn things that can help them in their daily lives, because you can watch what the smart celebrity is doing and learn from them. It’s more real than the competition types or the “follow these people around while they do random stuff” types. Victoria Stilwell taught me all I need to know about how to train dogs. Jackson Galaxy is teaching me what I need to know to train cats. Chef Gordon Ramsey can teach about how to work in a restaurant or hotel. Jo Frost knows how to teach, help, and discipline kids. See, these shows are good, because they’re not just reality TV, they’re also educational and enriching. I wish “It’s Me or the Dog” was still on, but I do follow Victoria Stilwell on Facebook.

      6. Tuxedo Cat*

        I think it’s a first impressions thing. I watched The Real World way beyond the San Fransisco season Alison referred to. It really depends on the behavior of the person in question, the kind of company hiring…

        It’s not fair but I could see how it would be a concern.

      7. Typhon Worker Bee*

        Some friends of ours did Love It or List It a few years ago and they said the producers very obviously filmed clips that could be edited to make either one of them into the “villain”. They didn’t know which way it was going to go until it aired! Oh, and also they said on the show that they were going to sell the house, but they still live there.

    4. Annabelle*

      Yeah, I was going to make a similar comment. Ten years is a long time, and it’s not as if a normal job will take place under the same circumstances — an abundance of alcohol, pressure to get/stay intoxicated, sleep deprivation, no contact with the outside world — as a reality show.

    5. LizM*

      Add to that selective editing to enhance the drama and create story lines. The character you saw on TV may not be a reflection of her at all. I would give her a chance to explain herself given she’s an otherwise strong candidate.

    6. PersephoneUnderground*

      Even if the person showed really bad behavior on a show 10 years ago, I would give them a chance to address it- plenty of people were awful in their 20s and have since matured into different people who are ashamed of their former selves. Ask her about it and see what her answer tells you. I think dismissing her candidacy based on something stupid she did 10 years ago is both unfair and shortsighted from a hiring point of view- you’re not hiring her 20-something self, you’re hiring her current self who might be better for having seen her awful behavior on TV and fixing it (maybe even more balanced and mature than someone who’s never had particularly bad issues they had to fix). And if she still doesn’t see a problem with what she did on the show, then that tells you not to hire her- but her response is important either way.

  3. McWhadden*

    It’s hard to really get a handle on this because The Real World and Jersey Shore are two vastly different things. I wouldn’t say The Real World was known for being trashy the same way Jersey Shore is. Even in the trashier later seasons that was always limited to a select few.

    1. CityMouse*

      Agreed. If she was on, say “Rock of Love” I would side eye that a bit. It really depends on the show, how she behaved and so on.

      A high school classmate of mine was a contestant on The Bachelor, for instance, but she was one of the early eliminations and made pretty much no impact. I would hope that would not be held against her, as much as I questioned the wisdom of her choice to go on that show.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        I also don’t know if the contestants always know “what kind of show” it is if it’s new when they audition. They say it’s all in the editing. However,I also thought most of the contestants were actually wannabe actors who were kind of in on the joke.

        1. Kriss*

          a friend of mine auditioned for the role of “quirky cousin” on a reality show. she had no idea what the show was for, although she suspected it was a “real housewives” or “real holllywood exes” type show. she also has no idea if the show she auditioned for ever got off the ground. it’s one of those things she does as a lark, “hey, I live in Los Angeles, there’s a casting call for something odd & I have nothing better to do tonight”

        2. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

          I don’t remember which one it was exactly… but I remember reading that one of Real Housewives of “Wherever” shows didn’t start out as a Real Housewives show. It started as (and the cast understood it to be) a docu-series on a specific subject, then at some point after filming it got turned into part of the Real Housewives franchise and the specific subject it was supposed to be about was edited out and it just became about the cast member’s lives overall.

          For me – it would be all about the type of show the candidate was on (Flavor of Love vs Cupcake Wars), whether there was any infamous or extreme behavior while on the show and how long ago it was. I definitely wouldn’t hold it against them automatically.

          1. phil*

            Real Housewives Of Orange County. It started as a documentary about Coto De Caza, a very wealthy gated community in Orange County CA.

          2. Temperance*

            I watched the original “Real Housewives of Orange County”, and it was honestly just as trashy as the others, even when it was pitched as a documentary.

          3. Rebecca in Dallas*

            Real Housewives of New York was originally going to be called “Manhattan Moms” and focus more on the parent-child relationships. After they filmed the first season, they ended up deciding to make it part of the new Real Housewives franchise (previously it was only Orange County).

            1. Jenny*

              Yes on the last episode you can hear Jill even saying something like “so great to be a Manhattan Mom”. I think that is why we saw Francois’s interview for kindergarten, Noel’s breakdancing classes and Avery auditioning for a movie. They wanted to show the mix of work/motherhood/friendship. I still wonder how Bethenny was on it they wanted to show a woman desiring spouse/children.

          4. TrainerGirl*

            The Real Housewives of Potomac supposedly started off as an “etiquette” show. That’s why some of the characters were talking so much about it in Season 1. Somewhere along the line, the producers decided to make it part of the RH franchise.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        But honestly, someone at my dentist’s office was on Bad Girls’ Club, and she’s great! Absolutely the nicest person to deal with from the patient’s perspective, and she’s been there a while, so presumably doing a good job from their perspective, too.

        I half wonder if it could be the same person, since I only found it out because I couldn’t quite remember her unusual first name and googled it!

        1. Peggy*

          omg i always wonder about the women from bad girls’ club in real life. they are SO badly behaved, i just can’t imagine them holding down jobs and being real humans. watching that show is like, watching alien life forms to me. “hey i’m holly and if you look at me wrong i’m going to rip your hair out of your head.”

          1. Starbuck*

            I can imagine how easy it might be for a normally restrained (or not too wild) person to behave like that when they’re basically on vacation, surrounded by strangers, cameras, and copious quantities of free alcohol with producers or whoever egging them on at the slightest hint of conflict.

      3. Collarbone High*

        I know someone who was on one of the “Rock of Love” style shows, and their personality is nothing like the one they adopted for the show. For them, it was like any job — the boss (producer) told them what was expected and they did it.

    2. animaniactoo*

      Everybody EXCEPT for Los from Road Rules gets a free pass from me too. Him, I’d want to talk more about what he’s learned since.

  4. Oryx*

    This feels timely as yesterday I just finished reading Bachelor Nation about the franchise. One of the former Bachelors admits he is often worried about clients and customers figuring it all out.

    I will say that as much as contestants like to blame editing for how they come across, a lot of it really IS editing. Granted, in Alison’s example, if a person was recorded saying hateful things it’s harder to wave away but, at the same time, soundbites can and are edited to sometimes make it appear a person said the exact opposite.

    1. SweetTooth*

      Ah no way – so did I! It was a fascinating look at the franchise. (Amazon link in name.) Particularly apt for this is the comparison of how people act in ways outside of their normal personality when kept away from the outside world for so long, and how that is similar to the process and behaviors that happen when law enforcement officials are trying to extract a confession.

      OP, sure, if the person did something egregious, it would make sense to remove them from consideration. If what they did was cry or say something pointed about a housemate or drink too much and pass out, then they are basically just doing what many 20-somethings do on social media.

    2. PugLife*

      Yes! I saw a review of it and checked my library – turns out I read the review the day before it was released, and my library was about to buy it. So I out a hold on it and got it first! I’m saving it for the plane ride next week and I’ve never watched The bachelor… but I do want to learn about how it works!

      1. SweetTooth*

        It’s fascinating! I have really only watched one season of it with any regularity (Nick’s recent season), but it is definitely an interesting look into that whole world.

    3. nonprofit fun*

      I’m always so curious about what Bachelor contestants tell their employers and how they go back to regular life afterward! It feels like in recent years quite a few contestants end up supporting themselves through social media sponsorships or end up in other kinds of media.

      Also, I’m a lunatic and love looking up contestants on LinkedIn. Knowing that the person starting up drama is a car salesman somehow makes it more amusing.

    4. RemoteDreams*

      Didn’t the editors/”writers” of reality TV actually strike in order to get in the screen writer’s guild a while back? I’ll find a link…

    5. Jennifer*

      Unfortunately, “we can Google and figure out that Cersei was on a reality show” is a factor that is likely to hurt you in this world. And is a reason to uh, not be on one.
      I’m not saying I agree with throwing out this candidate, but for publicity reasons I can get why the rest of them want to say no. But it makes me feel sorry for her. Like poor Monica Lewinsky can’t get a job to this day…but yeah, that’s worse.

    6. Jennifer Thneed*

      > a lot of it really IS editing

      Yup. I used to watch Survivor. An hour-long episode each week (only less because commercial breaks). They had at least 1 camera on each cast member 24 hours a day. That’s a LOT of footage getting edited down to a single tv episode. They can totally shift the order of things, make unrelated statements look like part of a single speech or conversation, all kindsa stuff.

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP, I’m with you and Alison. Having worked with former reality-TV people, many of them are totally normal, thoughtful people whose experience on TV has nothing to do with their qualifications or ability to succeed in their jobs. (Absent villainous behavior, as Alison notes.) I’m irritated at your hiring committee for treating participation in a reality TV program as an automatic blacklisting experience. If she’s good at what she does and qualified, bring her back!

    I don’t know if this is worth staking political capital as the most junior person on the hiring committee, but I’d be tempted to push back, hard.

    1. Jesca*

      This is how I always thought it was. Also, I always thought most of it was scripted any way at least to some degree. And honestly what is to stop a person, say, on Big Brother taking on a persona and playing up an actor roll? Would playing an actor on TV a decade ago disqualify someone from a job?

    2. Sci Fi IT Girl*

      “I’m irritated at your hiring committee for treating participation in a reality TV program as an automatic blacklisting experience. If she’s good at what she does and qualified, bring her back!”
      + 1000

      And just like the Princess said, what you see on TV is often very different in real life. Reality TV = fiction. The goal is ratings and entertainment – basically faux reality for kicks. Heck, I’m kind of thinking, good for her! Maybe she made a decent amount of money, socked it away and used it to get the education that got her to where she is now.

    3. Forrest*

      You’ve had a very interesting career since you seem to have professional experience related to every question, even if they’re widely different fields.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m kind of an oddball? I don’t know that I’m super interesting, but I’m lucky to have interesting friends in really diverse fields whose activities sometimes spill over or cross with my professional life.

        I have had several slightly bizarre work experiences that cross with areas of life that I wouldn’t have predicted or expected (e.g., reality TV folks) in my otherwise staid existence. Some of it comes from going to a university where The Real World and Road Rules recruited on campus, thus increasing the odds of meeting or working with someone who’s an alum (or from the area) and who has been on reality TV.

    4. General Ginger*

      I’m irritated at your hiring committee for treating participation in a reality TV program as an automatic blacklisting experience

  6. Guy Incognito*

    It’s also important to remember (and let your hiring committee know) That the job of the people who edit these shows is to create a story, character arcs, etc. It’s easy to make someone look bad by editing out a few moments. (Think making people stand for two hours, filming them looking tired, but then splicing it as if they are reactions to someone talking that minute.)
    But I agree, unfair to the candidate.

    1. Will!*

      Yeah, this is really important. It’s not *just* that they keep the actors up all night and pour drinks down their throats, they also edit footage not only to heighten situations that exist but to create them whole-cloth. You just don’t know which footage is representative of this person’s character a decade ago, so it makes more sense to ask about it.

    2. WonderingHowIGotHere*

      Slightly devil’s advocate here, but I think the selective editing is precisely why the hiring committe would be a little nervous. Sweeping generalisation here, but I’d bet that a significant percentage of the viewing public don’t realise it *is* selective editing and will make the same snap judgement that the hiring committee has and assume the created persona is the real persona – and does your company want this as part of their image?

      That said – it was 10 years ago. If it took a Google search of the candiates unusual name to bring it up, it’s unlikely to be at the forefront of your company’s client bases’ memories, and OP should definitely push back.

      1. Observer*

        That may be true. But also, not that many people will remember every person that was on a reality. Even the people who found out about it had to Google her to find it. And it’s not all that common for people to specifically google the staff of the businesses they do business with unless it’s a very high profile position – not just “client facing”.

  7. k.k*

    No one on the hiring committee knew who she was until someone googled her. That doesn’t sound like she is particularly recognizable. And with the number of reality tv shows and how long it’s been around, I don’t think it’s that shocking to run into someone who was on a show at some point. I think taking her out of the running is a big overreaction.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Agreed. I also think that it’s not a big deal among people who might recognize her– provided, of course, that she wasn’t one of those insanely awful “housemates” that Alison describes. For most of us who have really good recognition, both by name and face, it’s usually a passing, “Oh, cool, nice to meet you.” I would bet that most professionals would react the same way.

      I once sat in on a presentation given by someone who was on a reality show. I Googled him while he was talking (I like to picture the speaker) and learned this piece of info, made a mental note of, “How wild!” and went on about my day.

      I feel bad for the woman; if she’s qualified and has relevant experience, it’s rough to turn her down because of something relatively innocuous she did over 10 years ago.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      Yeah I guess if you’re in some super client-focused conservative field you could ask her to go by a nickname or something, if you’re really afraid it would make your company look terrible if it came out.

    3. Temperance*

      I think it depends on who she is. If it’s someone like Treshelle or, well, anyone on Rock of Love, it shows a certain lack of judgment.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Heh, I was totally thinking of Trishelle. And Tonya. But even then, I’d like to think that I would work really hard to get past my impressions of them from their seasons. It would be rough, though, no question.

      2. Roscoe*

        But even Trishelle, what did she actually do that was that bad. She was a bit promiscuous, but she wasn’t like racist or sexist or anything. So then you are just judging someone based on their sex life.

        1. LBK*

          Yeah, I’m surprised to see Trishelle as an example here – she’s certainly memorable but I wouldn’t think of her as especially notorious as RW cast members go.

          1. Jess*

            She had the drunk threesome with Steven and Brinn and was all caught up in that triangle (didn’t she and Brinn fight over Steven and Brinn threw a fork at her? Why do I remember this?) but other than that Trishelle seemed okay?

            1. Temperance*

              IIRC, she was one of the first cast members who was such a dramatic hot mess. I stopped watching during her season.

              I think it’s a combination of her very memorable first name and her general attitude.

          2. What's with today, today?*

            Yeah, but Treshelle was a trainwreck that fought, used racial slurs and other shenanigans in the 19 seasons (that number is an exaggeration) of The MTV Challenge she subsequently was involved in. My husband and I are addicted to the RW and Challenge, and over the last decade, they have gotten progressively crazier.

        2. Penny Lane*

          A sex life that is conducted privately and a sex life that is conducted in front of TV cameras (well, not literally, of course) are two entirely different things.

          1. LBK*

            How so? If we accept that sex, even casual sex, is not shameful or amoral, it shouldn’t be any more shameful for someone who’s being followed by cameras 24/7 for several months to end up having sex during that time. Is it only acceptable if you’re able to pretend it’s not happening?

            1. Jesmlet*

              Yeah, I just don’t think society is there yet on the concept of “casual sex does not reflect poorly on someone” (especially a female), whether it be private or in front of millions of viewers.

            2. Penny Lane*

              For the same reason that I don’t care if you belong to Sex Orgy Club on your own time (or for that matter the Anti-Sex Club), but it doesn’t belong on your resume.

              LBK – have you ever heard of the idea of discretion? There are plenty of things that are fine to do in private but not in public. I don’t think casual sex is “amoral” – don’t really have an opinion on it either way — but I kind of think a person who engages in it in a way that is deliberately being captured on camera to be viewed by millions of viewers is kind of crass and trashy.

              1. LBK*

                If we’re back to the whole idea of allowing your life to be captured on a reality show as a question of discretion, then sure. But if the point of a reality show is to capture someone’s life over a given period, it shouldn’t be a shock if during that time, that person has sex. They shouldn’t have to pretend to be celibate.

                1. Temperance*

                  Sure, but I think she ended up doing some wild sexual stuff on the first night of taping, so this is clearly a question of her judgment vs. a person living their life.

                2. LBK*

                  I still don’t understand the difference. If you don’t have a problem with someone having an active sex life, you shouldn’t have a problem seeing some evidence that that sex life happens. It kinda feels like the old “I don’t have a problem with gay people as long as they keep it at home” argument – you can’t claim you don’t have a problem with it as a hypothetical but then balk when you’re faced with the reality of it actually happening.

                3. Temperance*

                  For me, the difference is clear. There’s nothing shameful or inherently private about participating in a gay relationship vs. a hetereosexual one, whereas sexual activity is generally supposed to be private. I hearken back to the recent letters about the guy who ran a purity accountability club and the dude who ran a sex dungeon, and how those activities weren’t workplace appropriate.

              2. Sylvan*

                People who participate in these shows can find themselves with less discretion and privacy than they expect.

                You ever notice them trying to get away from cameras? People on The Real World would go into fast food restaurants – places full of logos that editors would have to blur out – to try to have private conversations.

                And there are more extreme examples, like how KUWTK’s first season ended up covering Kim’s sex tape’s release. I suppose there was no way that a show about her and her family in 2007 could have left that out, but it’s not like she wanted it to happen.

                1. Just Employed Here*

                  I assume your last paragraph is sarcastic? There was nothing coincidental or unexpected about the release of that tape.

      3. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        A lack of judgment 10 years ago doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of judgement today, imho.

        1. Temperance*

          Sure, but there are plenty of people out there who never publicly displayed bad judgment.

          1. bb-great*

            There are plenty of people who have never [insert mistake here], that doesn’t mean everyone who has committed that mistake should be summarily dismissed. Especially if it was a decade ago.

            Sure, if you have so many qualified candidates you’re eager to cut some of them. But that’s not the case in OP’s letter and I’d venture not the case for a lot of situations.

            1. Anna*

              And even if you are eager to cut some of them, I’m not sure “was a reality show participant” is really a legit reason.

          2. Anna*

            Frankly, we don’t know what happened on the show. The OP doesn’t really say the person was outrageous. So the only “bad judgment” we could be dealing with is their initial decision to be on the show, which isn’t all that bad of judgment to begin with.

    4. Observer*

      Exactly this. Someone is making an “issue of a tissue” as one of my coworkers likes to say.

    5. Work Wardrobe*

      Agree. Would you blacklist someone who went to Cosplay conventions or got a speeding ticket once?

      Pretty ridiculous.

  8. AnonForThis*

    I agree with the search committee.
    I often see resumes from college students listing scholarships from major weapons suppliers (think: Raytheon), or experience working for the DoD, often in a military technology role. I have trouble moving these candidates forwards due to the ethical implications of developing weapons for drone warfare. We have to make judgments about candidates and there are many which are valid.

      1. AnonForThis*

        Someone screening candidates has to make inferences about their character, Mike. It’s reasonable to think that someone with reality tv experience makes choices not everyone agrees with.

          1. AnonForThis*

            I don’t have an issue with reality TV shows, but I understand why people have knee-jerk reactions. The shows expose behaviors that, while legal, are far beyond what you would want to know about an employee or client and are often against many people’s morals.
            In the letter about the young man who was active in his church, many people agreed that they would not feel comfortable hiring someone who was very religious due to the possibility they would be anti-LGBTQ (this wasn’t everyone’s stance, but many commentators argued it). That’s another assumption people make based on their personal ethics with limited information.

            1. Anna*

              The opposition to hiring the religious guy wasn’t that he was religious; it was that he put his extremely conservative club work on a resume and there was concern about the guy’s ability to understand how inappropriate that was. The person in this letter didn’t even put it on their resume. You’re trying to rationalize a position that isn’t very defensible.

              1. Kate*

                Wasn’t it like a purity club or something too? So the issue wasn’t even that he was religious or conservative, but that he didn’t realize providing information about his sex life on his resume was not appropriate.

                1. Annabelle*

                  Yeah, that was the thing. He could have totally rephrased it as a generic religious club, but it was the sexual aspect that made it weird.

            2. grey goose the only kind of goose I like*

              The problem isn’t drones, the problem is US foreign policy, but that is conversation for another time. Sadly though I have seen a lot of people (usually in higher ed or academia) who really turn their nose at anyone who has served in the military. Most folks in my field barely note that I was in the service on my resume/application. Maybe a “thanks for your service” in an interview… which is just fine by me since it was almost 16 years ago I was in.

            3. Antilles*

              The shows expose behaviors that, while legal, are far beyond what you would want to know about an employee or client and are often against many people’s morals.
              Of course, the flip side is that if OP’s committee members had *also* been followed around with a TV crew 24/7 during their college/early 20’s ages, they’d have similar behaviors…or even worse, given that the TV shows often filter out stuff that actually breaks laws (underage consumption, drug use, drinking-and-driving, etc).

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                I totally agree. Sometimes I feel like I am gainfully employed only because I got through college before social media was popular.

                1. Lora*

                  I am definitely gainfully employed because I do not participate in social media to the same extent as my colleagues and relatives.

                  A few jobs ago, my employer got taken over by another big employer, and when they converted us all over to the new company intranet (still before social media was anything other than teenagers on Myspace), we were all introduced to the new company BBS (yeah, a long time ago). The previous company BBS had been “couch for sale, $100 OBO” and “Red Sox tickets for July 12th, can’t go due to emergency, make an offer” type of things. The new BBS was chock full of political debates, religious quotes and heated commentary on the company’s internal management decisions. People were definitely making some career-limiting statements with their actual names…

                  Have had multiple colleagues post stuff on LinkedIn that is not…like, it isn’t *bad* to the point of disqualification for a job, but it’s definitely not work related and nobody cares, and posting it brings up the question of, “do you know the difference between LinkedIn and Facebook?” Which isn’t a question you want employers to be asking.

              2. Y*

                Of course, the flip side is that if OP’s committee members had *also* been followed around with a TV crew 24/7 during their college/early 20’s ages, they’d have similar behaviors

                That’s quite a presumption.

            4. pleaset*

              Here’s a suggestion about “knee-jerk reactions” in general: note them, and consider the reaction as important information. Interrogate the reaction – try to understand it and why you have it and what it’s implications are. Don’t accept it right away.

              1. DaniCalifornia*

                This! +1
                What I’ve always heard is we should respond, not react to things. Because like you state, there are implications to initial reactions.

            5. Temperance*

              I think you’re misremembering that post. Yes, one or two people made that statement, but what you’re describing is illegal religious discrimination. The reasons that other people cited are that he had bad judgment, which he did.

            6. Anon please today*

              I worked at a major top-two soda pop company for 17+ years, a company which probably drove a lot of people into diabetes and obesity. Should I be banned from all future employment due to my association with the industry?

        1. Mike C.*

          There’s a massive difference between being a pseudo-actor on a tv show and working for a military supplier.

          Why don’t you tell me the sort of inferences you see, given that many of these shows are heavily scripted.

        2. Lance*

          That seems rather a stretch. There are any number of types of reality shows, any number of reasons for being on said reality shows, and, as is being mentioned frequently, what you see on them isn’t exactly ‘real’ a lot of the time. Just because she happened to be on some reality show shouldn’t make it an instant write-off, and it’s certainly nowhere near the level of anything regarding drone warfare, as in your initial example.

        3. SarahTheEntwife*

          Someone going on a reality TV show is making tons of choices that I wouldn’t — I find the idea of being on that kind of show kind of horrifying — but I don’t disagree with those choices on a *moral* level. (As Alison said, provided they’re not on camera saying racist things or punching people or whatever.)

        4. Temperance*

          Uh, my husband worked for a defense contractor for years and didn’t touch weapons tech of any sort. So you’re making judgments based on incorrect assumptions.

          1. CityMouse*

            Same here. My spouse has worked on the defense field for a decade and hasn’t built actual weapons. He actually spends a lot of time thinking about how to prevent weapons from hurting people (like how to better design a truck so it can protect the people inside from an explosion).

            1. SoAnonForThis*

              Even if they did work on weapons, there’s still a lot of judgment going on that may not be called for.

              My BIL is an engineer who works for Raytheon, and has worked on weapons. In particular, he’s worked to make them more accurate, which is actually a good thing. A more accurate weapon hits what it’s supposed to, and doesn’t leave lots of collateral damage everywhere.

              One of his early assignments was on a team that was responsible for figuring out why a misfiring missile kept missing the mark *while it was being used in active combat* despite heavy hype about its effectiveness as a “remote weapon”.

              Either he or someone like him can go in and figure out how to make it work, or we can deal with continual misfires and unintended casualties because it’s not like the military will let not-quite-working-right stand in their way.

              Frankly, defense contractors can be a lot more ethical, realistic, and practical about their boundaries than the military is. There are tales that would curl your hair out there. If you’ve never seen the movie about the development of the Bradley, you should check it out. It’s done as farce, but it’s frighteningly close to how it actually works sometimes.

              (Not all my knowledge comes from my BIL – my grandfather was career military, I got the tales from both sides.)

              1. President Porpoise*

                Can confirm this standpoint, as a current Raytheon employee. Further – Raytheon has 4k+ product lines, and many of them are not weapons systems. Think weather satellites, training software, etc. Many of the weapons systems, such as Iron Dome, are basically defensive.

                I don’t think I’ve ever actually met a morally bankrupt person at this company, actually. Very few jerks, and most people who work weapons systems are focused on making sure that our warfighters are as safe as possible in a very dangerous environment. So, there’s that, for what it’s worth.

                1. Emily Spinach*

                  I know a jerk who worked for Raytheon, but those are totally unrelated details about him. ;)

          2. Yolo*

            There are definitely folks out there who are qualified but not interested in working for defense contractors, regardless of proximity to weapons-tech projects, based on the moral qualms implied by the original poster on this thread. It’s fine that your husband was not one of them, but they do exist.

            1. Jesmlet*

              That decision doesn’t make them a better person or a better employee than the person who does choose to work for a defense contractor though.

              1. Yolo*

                Nope. Just that people draw their acceptability lines differently. Seems irrelevant to hiring to me, as well, just like justification of judgements rooted in class and race (“professional” dress/suits/accessories or hair styles). Hiring is often a frustratingly biased/idiosyncratic process.

                1. Anna*

                  A former coworker worked for the tobacco industry before he worked with me. Sure, it made me raise an eyebrow when I found out, but it had absolutely nothing to do with how well he did the job he was doing and he continues to do well in another job. So…if you’re basing how well a person can do a job from who they worked for, you’re being incredibly unfair to the people who take jobs when and where they need them. Not everyone has the luxury of looking down their nose at employment and passing on a job offer.

                  Other than that, this person’s decision ten years ago to be on a reality television show has nothing to do with how well they’ll do the job their being considered for and to think one influences the other is pretty shortsighted and makes me wonder if you can be trusted to make any balanced hiring decision.

              2. LouiseM*

                Better employee, maybe or maybe not. In my view it definitely does make them a better person. We can argue about whether that should play into hiring or not.

                1. Jesmlet*

                  Personal morals are not universal morals which is why I’d argue they shouldn’t play into hiring. I’m an anti-interventionist in general which means I’m staunchly against this kind of stuff but I’d never use my personal right and wrong to make a judgment against someone else in terms of work. Obviously there are exceptions but I don’t think this goes so far as to be one.

            2. CityMouse*

              Scholarships, though? My spouse would not have been able to afford college without taking scholarship money or doing paid internships. The moral high ground on that is a lot easier when your mom isn’t calling you crying that she can’t afford to take put a loan for next semester.

              1. Yolo*

                My post says nothing about scholarships, and doesn’t defend the thread-starter’s position :)

                1. CityMouse*

                  Well or any job put of school. My bio engineer friend hates some of the stuff Monsanto does, but after 8 months of not finding a job, he took what was offered because he was facing career death otherwise. He took his valuable plant experience and now works for a friendlier org.

                  Again, moral high ground is a lot easier when you have money.

                2. Lora*

                  +1 CityMouse.

                  If we have learned nothing else from Les Miserables, it should be that Moral Rectitude Is Expensive.

            3. Temperance*

              Sure, and they are extremely privileged in that they can pick and choose jobs based on their morals. We all don’t have that luxury. I know that we sure don’t.

              1. Annabelle*

                This. My previous job was for a company that, ethically, I can’t stand. But I was looking at not being able to make ends meet if I didn’t take it.

              2. Nita*

                Yes. I know a couple of people whose job is rather unethical in my opinion. Not illegal, but unethical. Only they’re never going to get any judgment, or efforts to talk them out of working there, from me. I know they’re neither one of them doing the job because they like it. It’s sort of a last resort and both of them are supporting other family members who for various reasons cannot work (or cannot hold down a job for more than a few months). Their age and qualifications would make it very hard to switch into a different field, and still earn enough to support the family. They’re pretty much stuck.

          3. nonymous*

            Also isn’t a scholarship simply financial contribution towards tuition + other expenses? So really, all they’re being paid to do is go to classes! Maybe attend a fancy dinner of congrats. The most popular undergrad project on campus that DoD and contractors pitched money towards was the solar car team. Not sure how these activities are weapons-related.

            I really don’t understand how a such broad classification of industry can inform the hiring manager re: personal ethics. There are examples on AAM of horrific ethics in benign industries of retail or food service as well. If it’s so important to the job, ask relevant questions during interview and screening.

            1. Chameleon*

              My graduate degree was funded by a fellowship from the DoD. You know what my thesis was on? Finding a way to eradicate malaria. The army was interested in funding it because it’s hard to fight a war in a malarious region when half the troops are down with the disease, and when some of the prophylactic treatments are known to trigger psychosis in a subset of the population.

              But you know who mostly dies of malaria? Children under 5 years old. Go take a look at a hospital in Malawi, where a two-year-old lays dying of cerebral malaria and tell me that I’m a bad person for accepting DoD money.

          4. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            Yeah for sure. I worked for a subcontract under Northrop Grumman for a while — I was developing software for cultural sensitivity and humanitarian assistance training for the military. Not all “defense” is in service of weapons.

          5. The Other Dawn*

            Agreed, Temperance. My husband works for a defense contractor (15+ years and formerly part of Raytheon) and has DOD clearance, and his job does not involve making weapons in any way. I’d hate to think someone would toss his resume because his current job is at X company.

          6. Q*

            I work for a pharmaceutical company, which means my paycheck is being paid for be people dying of cancer and other diseases.

            And yet, I can’t imagine anyone not hiring me based on that fact.

            1. Lora*

              Big Pharma high five! Little blue pill factory alumna here. People make movies about how evil we are.

              Curious, though: Many times in my career I’ve had to tell a manager, “no I will not do this sketchy thing you’re asking me to do.” Usually not illegal in the sense of, you know, colluding with Paul Manafort type of illegal, but things of which the FDA heartily disapproves, e.g. falsifying purity assay results for an imported reagent or “fixing” an official filing that was rejected. The FDA maintains a debar list and it isn’t uncommon for companies to blame the lowest person on the totem pole in order to weasel out of a Warning Letter or 483 or what have you, and managers will pick whomever they feel is most disposable (could be a woman of childbearing age, could be a H1b visa holder, could be a contractor) and give them this Very Important Assignment! If you say no, I don’t think I am able to do this because of reasons, sorry, and then leave or get fired for refusing to do the sketchy thing, are you still forever tainted by association? Or are you cleansed of evil by having stood up to the bastards?

        5. Jesmlet*

          Curious – do you make these inferences and not even bother contacting them or do you at least give them the opportunity to explain what their roles were and what they’ve taken from them? For example, I’m very much anti-cigarette company but I would never simply discard the resume of someone who interned at Marlboro, etc. because the company you worked for is not necessarily a reflection on who you are or what your values are. So at what stage are you not moving them forward?

          1. CM*

            Someone who simply received a scholarship wouldn’t even have a role at the company. They just accepted the money.

            1. Jesmlet*

              Right, but AnonForThis also mentioned someone with “experience working for the DoD, often in a military technology role.”

              A scholarship from a particular company should never reflect poorly on someone. They have to pay for college somehow and good for them for getting a scholarship to help. Though I do see how in this climate, a scholarship from say the NRA (do those exist?) could reflect poorly on a student even though I don’t think it should.

              1. CityMouse*

                A professor of mine mentioned she worked for one of the gun manufacturers in their legal department. She now focuses on public health initiatives full time. People take what they can get out of school.

          2. Jesca*

            I once interviewed a guy who after being laid off for years after the recession took a job at a company building bombs. He was looking for other work BECAUSE it wasn’t sitting right with him. And btw sometimes people take jobs out of need and not out of a moral desire. But if you feel like your work culture can’t handle that, then yeah I would probably pass on candidates.

        6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          This seems unhelpfully judgmental and highly likely to result in incorrect assumptions regarding character.

          1. Specialk9*

            Yes. I make a number of ethical choices that have been hard, but I respect that others make other choices, or that they don’t may not have the luxury of choices.

            Anon, if other people who make hard ethical choices think you’re being pretty judgmental and lacking nuance in your hard line in the sand, maybe think a bit harder about that line. Is it really doing what you think it is?

        7. Observer*

          Come on. The potential ethical implications of being on a reality TV show and working for a munitions manufacturer are worlds apart. And, for context, I don’t actually agree with your take on the DoD, etc. But I get that this IS a major ethical issue, one way or another. But reality TV?

          Also, in terms of judgement and choices, what exactly is sooo terrible about the judgement of a person that was on reality TV. Especially since this happened a decade ago? Some things don’t change, so if this person were a wing puller I’d be very worried. If it were something like racism, sexism etc. I MIGHT bring them back, but I’d be looking VERY closely for signs that they have truly and completely changed their behavior. But what exactly is sooo terrible that they have to be branded as having truly bad judgement 10 years later?

          I really don’t get it.

          1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            I mean, a decade ago I was unaware of how unconsciously racist and classist I was. The main difference is, I didn’t go through that period of my life being recorded. Studying overseas, moving to a city where I actually interacted with people of other races and cultures, addressing my underlying mental illness and dealing with toxic home-life issues, and taking a job working with students who face financial instability and poverty, who are minorities, who have significant barriers to education has changed me a great deal and I am very much not who I used to be. Not every racist stays a racist, though of course it is hard to change when the culture inculcates your beliefs.

      2. Justme, The OG*

        Making snap judgments about a candidate, from something that is likely not germane to the role they are looking to work in.

      3. Triumphant Fox*


        This is like comparing apples and orangutans.

        1. the ethical equivalence between reality television and military technology is bizarre
        2. these involve categorically different levels of participation on the part of the candidates. Scholarship money can be hard to come by, and I’m not sure accepting money at 18 to go to school is the same as participating on a show where you are filmed. Working for the DoD might be more similar, but again it’s an actual job vs. a reality show
        3. what does the field of opportunity look like for technical jobs/internships at the level of the DoD that doesn’t involve military technology? I have no idea…but again, this may be the case of scarce opportunity for what seems like a necessary step to employment.
        4. This is ten years ago vs. recent grads or college students. Would you deny a well qualified 30 year old who got a scholarship at 18 from Raytheon?

    1. CityMouse*

      That really isn’t fair. My husband worked for a defense contractor, but his rule was that he worked on defensive capabilities, not weapons. He designed stuff to save soldiers. He grew up extremely poor and would not have been able to find college without those internships and scholarships.

      Similarly, my undergraduate lab took funding from oil companies (we helped develop better drilling fluids) but A) we focused on making greener drilling fluids and the money funded other projects. Our lab was not in a position to turn down funding.

      I urge you to rethink your policy.

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        Agreed, and MANY defense contractors do have products that are for purely commercial or industrial applications too – it’s smart to diversify their business, especially after the Military Spending Sequestration talks earlier this decade.

        I could understand if someone was the Chief Weapons Designer and you’re interviewing for the Peace Corps, but the fact that they worked for X company doesn’t tell you a lot about their character without an interview.

        1. Jesmlet*

          Exactly – unless there’s such a huge disparity between the mission of their previous job and the mission of your company and they’re not able to provide adequate explanation for the dual interest/pivot, this should not be used as a Hard No elimination tactic.

          1. CityMouse*

            I actually saw a friend get rejected from a public defender job because she had previously interned with me at a prosecutor’s office (they explicitly told her so). I thought that was totally nuts, a good PD negotiates with prosecutors constantly and having the inside experience on how the office works would be valuable. The idea of “purity” can be toxic.

            1. Naptime Enthusiast*

              I feel like this is a perfect example of what cover letters SHOULD be used for, ‘yes I know I worked in prosecution but I don’t find it fulfilling, I would rather work as a public defender because X’

            2. Observer*

              Toxic and totally self defeating. It’s like a non-profit refusing to hire any fiscal staff who have been auditors. Former auditors make some of the best top level fiscal staff, because they KNOW exactly what the auditors want to see, and why. And they understand the language.

              Same for PD vs DA. The stereotyping is especially egregious for people who are trying to help people who are often the victims of stereotyping.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        I used to work for a defense contractor. My job was securing classified networks and not letting things “leak out”, which I don’t think is particularly evil. It’s disappointing to learn there are people out there who would see my former employer’s name and throw my resume in the trash, but I guess it’s better to know.

    2. Office Drone*

      So, because my husband did an internship at Raytheon during college, you’d take him out of the running for a job? Even if his internship was facility management based and not weapons based?

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Okay, so you’re going to judge them for turning down scholarship money? A decision made probably in their teens? Come on.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Right? When I was applying for college, people were starting to become more aware of how insane student loan debt was becoming, and the overwhelming message I heard was “take the money” if you’re offered a scholarship. My sister got a books scholarship from our local Delta Sigma Theta chapter (historic Black sorority), and my aunties–all AKAs*–gave her such grief about it, until she pointed out that the AKAs were welcome to give her money any time they liked.
        *(AKAs and Deltas are…not quite Jets and Sharks, but there’s definitely an element of that vibe)

        1. Teapot librarian*

          I just heard a story last week about the stamp honoring Dorothy Height. In the original image that was selected for the stamp, she was wearing a pink dress. She was a Delta, though, and her sorors expressed concern about it. The image was edited so that all the pink became purple.

        2. princess paperwork*

          *(AKAs and Deltas are…not quite Jets and Sharks, but there’s definitely an element of that vibe)

          My apologies for veering off topic but…
          I think that only applies to your aunties and the Deltas they know. This is certainly not the attitude in my local community (joint heart health walk was last week) or at the national functions where I have seen the two national presidents act very friendly.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        *for not turning down scholarship money

        JFC Boochie, learn to proofread!

    4. Anon pacifist*

      My parents worked as intelligence analysts for the DOD. They are both extremely intelligent, easy to work with, strictly against any kind of violence, and are even liberal. They didn’t always agree with the administration at the time, but felt that knowledge could only help us.

      Do you really think they’re bad people?

      1. Mike C.*

        I had to think about it but yeah, my employer is a massive defense contractor as well. It’s just that their civilian side is much larger and I never see it so I don’t think about it much.

        1. Anna*

          Same with mine, although I work in an entirely different arm of the corporation. If you looked at strictly the company I worked for and not the actual work I do, you’d be wrong, wrong, wrong.

    5. CarrieT*

      If you have evidence that the candidate has been unethical in the context of the job (for example, lying, embezzling, harassing colleagues, etc) that’s one thing. But I would not penalize someone who did good work for a company that did not align with my ideals, if that candidate was a reasonable person and not a rigid black-and-white thinker. Some young people simply take any job they can get without understanding the scope of the company’s work. Other people actually value working for a company that addresses the other “side” of an issue they care about, for the experience and the bridge-building. For example, working for a pharmaceutical company when you disagree with their ethics is actually a good way to understand the “bad guys” and help effect positive change. No company is all good or all bad, either. I have issues with Coca-Cola but would definitely work in their sustainability or humanitarian outreach areas, for example.

    6. Anonymous for this*

      Minus the obvious privilege one must have to not take jobs and scholarships… aren’t you inherently ensuring that they *keep* working in weapons manufacturing if you won’t possibly hire them? (though as others said, we can’t be sure they actually did that anyway, since these companies do lots of things)

      1. Specialk9*

        Good points about the inherent privilege in being able to turn down scholarships based on a broad ethical call. (Especially given that drones weren’t even a thing when today’s workers were 18. Talk about an ex post facto requirement.)

        I’m trying not to take this whole thing personally, but the reason why as a nation we say “thank you for your service” instead of “baby killer!” is because of the experience of combat veterans like my dad, who was drafted and shipped across the world, then abused on returning. (And honestly a little fetishization of the military by the right.) But mostly that the prior was really sh1tty and punished the grunts for decisions of the generals.

    7. Jubilance*

      You’ve made a lot of assumptions about these students solely based on the company name.

      Lockheed Martin created GPS. They also do some of the sorting of the US mail – ever seen one of those little barcodes on the bottom of an envelope? I wouldn’t call those activities “developing weapons for drone warfare”.

    8. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      I’ve worked for the Defense in my country (consulted) and I’m pretty much as leftist as they come.

      Weapons manufacturer I can understand but all defense work?

      1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        Actually. My country exports a lot of weapons (definitely NOT something I support.)
        Does that fall into your category as well?

    9. Lord Gouldian Finch*

      Do you ask them about these things or just rule them out off the bat? Because you’ll also underestimating how working at a place can actually lead you to know more about the ethical issues (as it were). For example, I worked for the NYSE, and it rather shaped my views (in a negative way) about the stock market. I could very easily see someone who worked at Raytheon deciding “drone warfare is wrong and that’s why I want to work with amnesty international” or whatever.

      1. Specialk9*

        Yeah, a friend’s big pharma experience turned her off and into a new path in the industry.

        A friend who actually DID do weapons training for the military, ended up having a real ethical problem with it over time, and switched to educational training for historically underfunded schools and museums.

        I guess my point is that it blocks the power of transformation or ethical development, and shifts responsibility for understanding the big picture to a very young person who may not have many options.

    10. Meh*

      In addition to what others have said, you should be cautious with that mindset since a lot of veterans often work for the DoD after getting out and discriminating against veterans can land in you in all kinds of trouble. And a “those in glass houses shouldn’t cast stones” comes to mind. Have you NEVER associated with someone you shouldn’t have? Should you be judged for that for the rest of your life? It’s fine to not want anything to do with drone warfare in your personal life, but that doesn’t make it right to toss out perfectly qualified candidates just because you don’t like who they may have worked for.

    11. Delphine*

      I’m as anti-military as they come (and am from a country deeply affected by drone warfare), but even I don’t think working in those roles in the past is necessarily a reason to discriminate against a person.

    12. Risha*

      Honestly, as a person very solidly on the left, I find your actions here extremely morally dubious, shading towards being genuinely bad. You need to rethink this position.

    13. Mine Own Telemachus*

      This seems incredibly inappropriate—winning a scholarship does not endorse a company anymore than winning prize money from a game show endorses every sponsor of that show. When I was 18, I took whatever scholarship money I could get, and didn’t think all that much about the companies it came from.

      It’s also a completely irrelevant criterion on which to judge a candidate for a role, unless that role is for a non-profit advocating against drone warfare. Even then, you’re drawing the line at scholarships??? That’s like working in food and refusing to hire anyone who sold Nestle products at retail jobs in the past.

      It sounds like you’re letting your own purity politics get in the way of seeing people as real, multi-faceted humans with agency. And that’s really sad.

    14. Jessie the First (or second)*

      “Hey, first generation college student who grew up in poverty in a troubled school district with a high dropout rate and went on to be valedictorian of your high school class and who got accepted to Yale – I know your family had no money to send you to college, and taking out loans would risk the stability of your very future, but I will never ever hire you because clearly you have serious moral problems because one of your hard-earned scholarships to help you get through your undergraduate degree came from Raytheon.”

      Yeah, makes total sense. /s

      1. Jane Snow*

        The comment you’re replying to really does seem to come from a place of staggering privilege.

    15. Tuxedo Cat*

      I could maybe see the work experience issue but I can’t see how it would be an issue for scholarships… People often don’t choose the organization of their scholarship because it’s affiliated with a religion/weapons/etc. They applied because they need money for school. Especially with something like a weapons company, I don’t think you could argue that the student was necessarily affiliated with the company the way you might with like 4-H or a religion.

    16. Bryce*

      My first internships were with a DoD contractor. I worked on modeling software used for designing nuclear reactors, chemotherapy, and other radiation applications (basically anything that involves a steady dose and static object). Some of that application was nuclear weapons, nothing I was involved with directly but the line can be drawn. But mainly it was a matter of learning a few new (to me, that modeling system was first developed in the 60s) programming languages, some basic nuclear physics equations, and then using a bunch of math and computer-drafting skills. I still reference it in my life because it was the first time I was allowed to run with an alternate solution I came up with partway through the work.

      So my question is, if my resume landed on your desk would you look at what I worked with or would you see “Los Alamos” and “radiation” and bin it?

    17. Anion*

      This is gross. You consider not hiring someone because they accepted a scholarship from a company you don’t like? Or because someone worked for the Department that defends our country, which includes you?


      1. Annoyed*

        My guess is that it is just classism that they decided to dress up in a coat of moral superiority. For example, AnonForThis cannot come out and say “I don’t want to hire people who grew up poor” without sounding like an ass; but this way they make themselves feel better and eliminate the poor people from the hiring pool (based on the source of their scholarships). Add that the military serves as a form of social mobility, allowing many people to be the first in their family to go to college, and this policy conveniently eliminates them too.

        Overall I agree that it is really gross, and AnonForThis definitely should not be proud of their position.

        1. Anion*

          Excellent point. I knew a lot of poor African-Americans in school who joined the military for the training, education, and experience (in addition to feeling it was an honorable thing to do); a way out of their poor neighborhoods and into upward mobility. All of them turned that service into good college educations and careers.

          And the idea that people should turn down a good scholarship because the company offering it does work with which they disagree–that everyone is in a position to do that–is just snobbish and outrageous. I don’t care if someone accepted a scholarship from Pimps United to get their education, and I certainly wouldn’t think it meant it was okay to remove them from my hiring pool, as if it’s my place to pass judgment on that or I am somehow morally superior because I didn’t need a scholarship or got one from some “approved” source.

          I don’t like to analyze someone’s “secret reasons” (like classism), which doesn’t mean I think you’re wrong just that it’s something I try not to do myself, but this is at the very least astoundingly self-righteous and condescending, and ignores the reality of lives where beggars literally cannot be choosers.

        2. Observer*

          I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I think this is the case. But, I do think it is really possible.

          In any case, quite gross.

    18. Trout 'Waver*

      With all due respect, I live in a country founded by violent revolution against tyranny. It can be easy to forget that the absence of war isn’t necessarily peace. It can be tyranny as well. Military technology and weapons are crucial in keeping the peace.

    19. Stay at home scientist*

      I think it’s important to remember (particularly in terms of scholarships) that socio-economic factors mean not everyone has the same level of privilege when it comes to turning things down. Also, the department of defense and DARPA fund a very, very wide range of projects. And also this is a pretty high bar to hold undergrads to. I get it if it’s straight up they work on a drone project but…also I live in a major hub for engineering and it is hard to meet an engineer who wasn’t connect to Raytheon in their early career.

    20. Kay*

      Well luckily for you and all the other anti-military people here, the soldiers and contractors who sacrificed their mental health, life or limb did it for everyone and not just the people who support them.

      1. Leslie knope*

        Good lord, this thread is full of such shockingly naive (and off topic) pontification about the virtues of the military but this has to be the worst. Bombing people in the middle east does absolutely nothing to keep us safe and I suspect you know that.

        1. Anna*

          I think there’s a kind of infernal loop happening here since most of the people who are injured or died fighting overseas are also most often poor. So as troubling as it is, you can either take a scholarship from a company that sells or makes weapons and avoid having to go into the military and use the weapons. But according to the person who originally posted on this thread, you’re morally and ethically tainted either way. So what they’re really saying is you can’t win for being poor.

    21. Xay*

      Two of the largest defense contractors also have staffing contracts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that are completely separate from their DoD work.

    22. Jane Snow*

      I don’t mean to pile on, but I find this to a genuinely shocking and absurdly prejudiced MO–and not a particularly accurate one either. A friend of mine works for a military contractor, but his job entails building information systems to reduce HIV transmission in developing countries.

      Honestly, if you routinely discard job candidates based on such petty and reductive reasons, you’re probably missing out on some of the best applicants.

    23. DaniCalifornia*

      I also believe you should rethink your policy about potentially disregarding candidates based on their scholarships. Are we really to judge how the student paid for school and who they got help from? I could see not moving forward if they were applying to a job at the NAACP and proudly listed their scholarship from the KKK (although I can’t imagine anyone being that dense). This wasn’t even an internship with what you might deem an offensive company (which I would argue still shouldn’t disqualify someone) but just how they paid for school.

      1. Anion*

        Some smaller towns might have literally nothing except the big defense contractor/aerospace engineering firm/etc. around to offer scholarships and such. So here’s some poor kid from East Jesus, proud that she was able to win the Bomb-Builder Corporation’s coveted annual Harry S. Truman scholarship that gives the smartest, most charitable, most responsible kid in town a chance to go to a big school for free (even though she disagrees with what the Bomb-Builder Corp. does), and there’s AnonForThis smugly setting her resume aside because how dare that poor kid accept a free ride from a company of which AnonForThis disapproves, and if she was a proper candidate who truly deserved a job she would have paid for her education herself.

    24. Brett*

      I work in an industry where almost everything we do is applicable to drone warfare. Most people in the industry are not aware of this; and many people who have worked directly on drone projects had no idea at the time (and often still do not) that their work was being used for drone warfare.

      And… often when they reach the level where they understand the implications of their work, they start job hunting.
      Enormous amounts of DoD work is humanitarian in nature (like the very extensive disaster response work they do). Raytheon does many things that have nothing to do with warfare.
      In other words, I think the ethical judgements are far to judgmental on the ethics of working for a particular employer or in a particular industry.

    25. BananaPants*

      So you’d chuck my resume in a circular file because when I was 18 I accepted an engineering diversity scholarship from a major defense contractor? That’s pretty laughable.

      Can we safely assume that you won’t hire military veterans, either? You may not know that many of them are considered to be in a protected class; you’re not supposed to use their status as veterans to discriminate against them in employment.

    26. Cassie the First*

      Our department receives gift/scholarship funding from defense contractors (including Raytheon, I think) and the scholarships are awarded by the faculty committee, not the defense contractors. The students may not have a single instance of interacting with the company, aside from attending an annual scholarship luncheon and being told “this is So-and-So, from Company who gave you the scholarship.”

      So I don’t think looking at the scholarship sponsors necessarily gives an accurate picture of the student in particular.

  9. This Daydreamer*

    I assume we’re not talking about Omarosa.

    From your description, the candidate was just out of college at the time and less mature than she is now. If she has a good resume and good references, then looking past the show paid off for someone. Give her a chance.

  10. Viki*

    I think it really depends on the show and the reputation of the show. If she was filmed drunk and yelling like a lot of those shows have done, I can see it being one of those sort of risky hires. Not in skill, but how the company is now represented. Completely unfair, but that’s something that is being weighed.

    If her name is truly unique and easily linked to the show, and she’s there but not truly embarrassing herself, than I think it would be easier to say she needs a second chance.

    It’s also unclear if there’s the hiring manager’s opinion on the candidate, their team and how their team would react to this. That’s also something to be thought about.

    1. Mike C.*

      Does your workplace regularly ply employees with alcohol and then film the results?

      And you do realize that much of what goes on in a “reality tv show” is scripted, right? You might as well be punishing a full blown actor for playing a role.

      1. Viki*

        No. But this isn’t about what my company does, this is about what was filmed and the company’s values and images.

        It’s not fair, but it something that can/will be judged and weighed.

        I do realize reality tv show isn’t very real but that does not change perspective from a company.

        1. Mike C.*

          You can’t talk about things like “values” if your company isn’t willing to consider things in context.

          This is particularly like refusing to hire a former actor for playing a murderer on stage. “Oh, we have pictures and footage of you killing someone, that might look bad! That goes against our companies values and image!”

          1. LBK*

            Oh come on – I agree with you generally but this is a ridiculous comparison, because there’s nothing inherently questionable about being a stage actor. It does say something about you if you’re interested in participating in a reality show in the first place, especially if it’s one with a particularly trashy reputation.

              1. Helpful*

                I think your argument is not logical. An actor is in a different category. Acknowledging the fudging of reality shows does not equate it to being a professional actor.

                1. Annabelle*

                  Actually, a lot of reality tv stars are working actors. They hold open casting calls for reality shows and often end up casting people who have stage or film aspirations/backgrounds.

              2. LBK*

                They really aren’t. Being manipulated to reveal a less-than-great part of yourself is not in any way the same as intentionally signing up to play a different person and I can’t believe you’re even trying to make the comparison. You really think playing George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and actually getting drunk and verbal assaulting someone are totally the same?

                I’m not saying reality TV is real, but to say it’s acting is a wild stretch.

                1. Mike C.*

                  You just ignored half of what I said.

                  If you’re talking about reality tv shows like say “Real Housewives of Wherever”, scenes are staged, rehearsed and reshot multiple times. That makes those people “practically actors”. Which is why I said “depending on the “reality” show we’re talking about”.

                2. LBK*

                  They reshoot versions of what happens naturally. The final version of what ends up on TV is certainly finessed, but the situations are based on reality. Luann getting divorced after Bethenney showed her proof of her husband’s cheating was a real thing that actually happened – whether the producers set up scenes so they could tell that narrative on the show in a certain way or not doesn’t change that the basic situations are real. That’s where I disagree that it’s acting, because when an actor leaves the stage, the situation ends. It has nothing to do with the rest of their real life. Real Housewives does.

                3. Trout 'Waver*

                  Can we agree that professional wrestlers are actors?

                  Because honestly, I don’t see much difference between professional wrestlers and reality TV characters. They both consult with the producers to come up with a character that is loosely based around their own personality. They both perform “live”. And they mostly put away the animus in private, but play it up for the camera.

                4. LBK*

                  The main difference is that the basic events of reality TV are real parts of the cast’s life even when the cameras are off. Once a wrestler is out of the ring, no part of that persona or storyline is part of their life. I would put professional wrestlers pretty squarely in the actor category – I wouldn’t consider that reality TV.

              3. Rusty Shackelford*

                Yeah, a lot of them are playing characters who just happen to have their names. But the thing is, they’re pretending these people are real. Is someone who pretends to be (for example) a racist in real life because it makes good television, or because they were prodded by producers, any better than someone who really is a racist?

                1. Trout 'Waver*

                  I don’t know how to feel about that question, tbh. What if they are pretending to have negative traits, like racism, in order to be cast as the heel?

              4. KellyK*

                Actually, a lot of them *are* actors. There’s no “might as well” about it. They’re getting paid money to appear on the reality show (usually a per-week stipend, sometimes also a potential prize if it’s a contest reality show). Many of them do other acting as well. When being on a reality show is a paid gig (even if the pay isn’t great), with scripted lines and multiple takes, it’s acting.

                The real difference seems to be that the difference between character and actor is intentionally muddied in reality TV. If Jane had a role in a trashy soap opera ten years ago, everyone knows that Jane didn’t *actually* cheat on Raoul, steal her cousin’s inheritance, and end up in a coma. But in a reality show, the viewer is encouraged to take everything at face value, even when it’s every bit as contrived as an old school soap opera. So, if we’re shown Jane sniping at Sally, we assume that this is Jane actually being mean, rather than Jane being cranky because she’s sleep-deprived and then being dishonestly edited. Or, for that matter, Jane and Sally actually like each other, but the producers specifically asked them to fight over something stupid, so they *acted.*

                1. LBK*

                  The difference is that when Kristen and Stassi have a fight about Kristen sleeping with Jax on Vanderpump Rules, Kristen and Jax did actually sleep together – that part isn’t fake. There is still an element of truth at the core of what happens on reality shows, even if the way you see it play out on the show is closer to a dramatic reenactment than documentary footage.

            1. Jesmlet*

              It may say something, but that something is a tiny blip in the grand scheme of things 10 years after the fact.

            2. fposte*

              And social media is also performative, but we’re okay with consider people’s social media appearances.

              1. Mike C.*

                But you are in complete control of your posting. No one here is posting drunk and sleep deprived under specific time constraints.

                1. Mike C.*

                  They’re still in complete control of their social media. They aren’t in control when it’s a reality tv show.

                2. fposte*

                  I don’t think that’s enough of a difference for me to think that if you’re racist on VH1 I have to pretend you weren’t.

                3. Penny Lane*

                  The reality show people did not abduct her. She made a *choice* to join the cast of a reality show (which might have included alcohol, sleep deprivation, etc.), just like people make *choices* as to what they post on social media (whether it’s cute kitties or racist rants). Either way, these are ways of portraying oneself in the public domain that one is responsible for.

                4. Mike C.*

                  I don’t really have an issue with folks judging someone who was spewing racial slurs because you can’t really edit or manipulate or force someone to do that.

                  I’m irritated that the more run of the mill “oh gosh, they were filmed acting in a less than professional manner, that shows a lack of judgement” attitude.

          2. Viki*

            Mike this isn’t my company. I don’t know what type of company this is.

            I’m speaking in hypotheticals from what we have gotten from the OP, trying to see where/what this company with this hiring committee is already leaning to not giving a qualified candidate a second interview, thought process.

            The actor playing a murderer isn’t the perfect analogy, if we’re going this far blown, is because the actor is a character under a different name. This candidate was filmed under their own name, and thus whatever behaviour -which we do not know- is forever connected to their name in video content.

            Is this fair? No. Is this an issue? For this company apparently so.

            The context is important, and we don’t have the context to judge properly. Presumably the company does.

          3. Penny Lane*

            Mike C, you are jumping the shark big time if you really think an actor playing a murderer is a reasonable analogy here.

            1. Mike C.*

              Not really, given how a lot of folks here don’t understand how scripted these shows actually are.

              1. LBK*

                I think most people do understand that reality TV is heavily edited and manipulated and that you’re overcorrecting in your attempt to argue against a point that no one is making. Pretty much all the comments here agree that what you see on a reality show should be taken with a grain of salt.

              2. Tuxedo Cat*

                With that, it’s very possible whoever this company works with won’t understand that either so their concerns might be valid. There are plenty of people out there who don’t understand reality shows are scripted. They might not want to go through having to explain Jen from Wacky Reality Show is totally different from Jen our esteemed manager.

                It sucks for Jen.

      2. Reba*

        I agree, it’s basically a past job. A bizarre job, perhaps, but a job. The candidate worked in entertainment for a while.

        The letter doesn’t make it totally clear, but it sounds like the hiring committee objects to having been on a reality show in general, not any specific incident attributable to the candidate. That seems way overblown to me.

        1. Anna*

          A job the applicant didn’t even include on their resume, so one that I’m not sure should be considered anyway.

      3. Penny Lane*

        “Does your workplace regularly ply employees with alcohol and then film the results?”

        No, but I’m not stupid enough to willingly choose to put myself in a situation where I’d be “plied with alcohol and then filmed.” It takes a certain lack of judgment to choose to appear on *certain* reality TV shows.

        Anyway, appearing on a reality TV show is not a protected class.

        1. Mike C.*

          I think you’re being unnecessarily judgemental here.

          Can you actually list any concrete reasons why it’s so terrible to be on a show like this ten years ago and how it would make someone a bad employee today, despite any other work experience?

          1. Penny Lane*

            It’s hard to say when we don’t know a) what the specific show is (Say Yes to the Dress? What Not To Wear? Survivor? American Idol? Real Housewives? The MTV/VH1 shows? and b) what kinds of behaviors she exhibited on the show.

            1. Anna*

              I’m going to go way out on a limb and say whatever the show was, she probably didn’t behave that badly since the issue the committee has isn’t with how she acted on the show, but that she was on the show at all.

          2. anon4now*

            Don’t forget “Bad Girls Club”. I don’t even understand how these “stars” could get jobs in the future, given their atrocious behavior on that show (pick any season and any girl).
            Reality TV is just looked down upon and no employer should just ignore the past. Especially if the candidate was violent, loud, drunk, etc.

    2. K.*

      I agree. If she wasn’t on the trashier reality TV shows (basically anything on VH1) and she doesn’t stand out for fighting, excessive drunkenness, or spewing hate speech, I’d give her a second interview. If she falls into any of those categories, I don’t think I would. If Googling her name turns up offensive stuff, I’d give her a pass – but that’s true for folks who weren’t on reality TV as well. My friend worked with a Real World cast member in a retail job right after she was on the show, and aside from her being pretty dramatic, it was pretty benign. No one recognized her, or if they did they wouldn’t have said so. (They worked in an upscale store with an older clientele, so their customers weren’t in the MTV demographic.)

      FWIW, I definitely agree with the OP that there’s no reason for her to have put this on her resume. I wouldn’t put reality TV on my resume unless I were applying for a job in reality TV, and I wouldn’t mention it – this candidate has clearly left that world behind.

      1. Smithy*

        I think the fact that there are folks who are comfortable equating trashy reality shows with an entire network – be it VH1 or MTV or whatever, means that people will continue to fall into these traps where a lot of assumptions come into play. For some The Real World means the show from the 90’s, for others it is more of a party scene like when it was in Vegas, and for others it may but random MTV reality no different from Jersey Shore or Teen Mom.

        Provided there’s nothing easy to find out on their time on the show that is truly egregious behavior – it seems incredibly short sighted and unfair. I imagine this applicant can likely talk about the experience with a lot of thoughtfulness and insight. And I’d bet anyone truly curious enough to dig around for that would likely find it interesting or amusing as opposed to shameful.

        1. K.*

          When I think of VH1’s reality programming, I think of “[Celebrity] of Love” and the Love and Hip-Hop franchises. And … yeah, I think those are trashy, and they were marketed as such – every promotional item features a fight or somebody falling down the stairs and their skirt flying up, etc. With Flavor of Love, there was a really racist, classist undercurrent that I wasn’t comfortable with.

          I shouldn’t have said “basically anything on VH1” – I forgot that RuPaul’s Drag Race, which I adore, is on that network, as is Top Model (which I stopped watching long ago before it was on VH1, so I don’t know what it’s doing now). But if you say “reality TV on VH1,” the franchises I mentioned are the first things that come to mind, and I do think they’re trashy.

          1. Smithy*

            I think it’s fair – But I would just say that someone who was on episode 1 of Flavor of Love and got cut for being too boring compared to someone on an entire season of the Real World – where even without anything racist, homophobic, violent, bullying or having sex on camera would likely still be far more exposed in terms of what their early 20’s were like.

            At the end of the day, it just all seems very reactionary in a way that’s understandable. For you VH1 immediately registered as trashy whereas for others all reality tv registers that way.

    3. CM*

      If their concerns are more for going on the show at all rather than anything she actually did there, then it would make the most sense to bring her in for another interview and ask her to address their concerns.

  11. Mike C.*

    I will also point out that producers go to great lengths to tell “stories” though selective editing, alcohol and other underhanded activities. What you see on TV is not actually reality.

    1. K.*

      This is true, but to paraphrase a reality TV OG, Heather B. from the Real World’s first season in NYC, the producers use what you give them. If you take a swing at someone or call them a racist or homophobic slur or drive drunk, that’s on you.

      1. Mike C.*

        Yeah, explicit stuff like that is a big exception. But the run of the mill “you’re not allowed to sleep, have another margarita, also, did you hear Susan was plotting against you?” is what comes to mind as “forgivable and forgettable”.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          Exactly. It doesn’t sound like she went on some sort of slur-filled rampage or acted like Phi Phi O’Hara on Drag Race (my favorite tired old showgirl); it’s just the garden-variety tv malarky. Especially since it was 10 years ago, I think it’s a bit rich for a company to act like it isn’t in line with their values.

      2. Observer*

        Sure. But from what the OP says, that’s not the issue here. And, Allison does address that. The question is not if the company should worry about someone who says racist things, but whether they should blacklist someone who was in a trashy show in SOME sort of capacity. Two very different things.

      3. Dr. KMnO4*

        Or they manufacture stuff…there was an article on Cracked fairly recently by a woman who was on one of the dating reality shows and the producers manipulated things to make it seem like she had done things that she very much had not. You should check it out.

    2. CatCat*

      Yes, I recall during one season of Survivor many years ago, one contestant was fairly vocal about how hurtful it was to be portrayed as “the villain.” This was all editing because the makers of the show wanted someone to be the villain/have someone for the audience to root against. That actually soured me on the show and I stopped watching it.

      So even if someone was the villain on a reality show, that could likely be a wildly inaccurate caricature of the person.

    3. serenity*

      I see a lot of comments here about editing, but as someone who (a long time ago) used to work briefly in behind-the-scenes roles in reality television it still amazes me to see that people don’t understand that by and large most of these shows are scripted (and, in unscripted moments, staff will encourage bad behavior among castmates).

      1. Annabelle*

        I’m surprised by this as well. I always thought most people realized that these shows are mostly scripted, especially because a lot of former contestants/actors/whatever you want to call them explicitly talk about that sort of stuff.

  12. Triumphant Fox*

    I would definitely have her come back in and raise that concern. I wouldn’t say “I’m sure other employers haven’t had issues with it” because you don’t really know that, but I’d say that you want to know how she would handle those situations, what she’s had to do in the past when she’s been recognized, and what her take is on having been on the show. She may surprise you – maybe she thought the show was one thing and it ended up being another. Maybe she leveraged connections in interesting ways. Maybe she’s had great interactions with the fan base. Maybe she’s super eager to share her reality tv stories and you want to avoid that. You just don’t know right now and it seems like a shame to write off an otherwise strong candidate based on speculation.

  13. neverjaunty*

    If a candidate said hateful things, presumably there’s no reason to wave that away at all?

    But here the hiring committee really does come across as their issue being “oooh, so tacky” rather than “she made racist comments to Bob in Episode 4 and then got drunk and pooped in the hot tub”.

    1. This Daydreamer*

      Unless the committee members are willing to share yearbook photos and actions from middle and high school, I’d say past tackiness isn’t worth worrying about. Spoken as a child of the eighties.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        “I don’t see how we can hire anybody who thought these bangs were a good idea. Clearly she’s not a good decision maker.”

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          lol. I love this comment because I am SO judgy about bangs on TV. Especially when I’m rewatching stuff from the 90s.

      2. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

        There is a 7th grade yearbook photo that includes me wearing a skinny tie and carrying a unicorn purse. I’m fairly sure my judgement would be called into question if my interviewers had seen that.

        1. Bea*

          I would still wear my 6th grade cat vest if my mom wasn’t rude and donated it. Gumble grumble.

        2. Marillenbaum*

          Only if you don’t tell me where you got the unicorn purse, because that sounds like a thing I need!

  14. Dzhymm*

    So I guess my first-grade teacher was right then… anything I do can and will go on my Permanent Record and will haunt me for life, right?

    1. This Daydreamer*

      Yes. We all know about the noodle incident and you should be ashamed of your actions.

    2. The Expendable Redshirt*

      Knew that I shouldn’t have thrown up on Joe Mcjoeface’s shoes in third grade……

  15. AnotherAlison*

    I was just curious how dated my Real World knowledge was, and it looks like the last season I watched was in 2003. Which is good, because I was 25 then.

    For the candidate, I think it would depend on their age and time removed. It’s been 10 years and if they haven’t been trying to milk their 15 minutes, then hire them. They’ve been out of the spotlight long enough and are respectable. However, if they were one of the older (26ish) people on the show, I’d want to make sure they had matured, even if it had been a while since the show. My husband was kind of slow to outgrow his 20s. . .I could see him doing RW-style drinking antics at age 35.

  16. fposte*

    Ahem. Pam is from season *3* of The Real World.

    But yeah–if you were a jackass on a reality show that’s additional knowledge, or at least an additional presumption that you’d have to fight against; mere appearance on a reality show is just a thing somebody did.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ah! I have corrected it :)

      And weird, I thought the Pedro/Puck/Rachel/Judd/Pam season was season 1. It must have just been the first one I watched.

        1. fposte*

          It got a ton of PR because of having somebody HIV+ on it; it was the first one I heard about and watched.

          (And Puck is who I was thinking of as somebody whose reality-TV appearance would make me less likely to hire him.)

            1. Jerry Vandesic*

              If he wasn’t disqualified for his on-air antics, he probably would be disqualified for his felony stalking conviction.

      1. K.*

        The first season was set in NYC. I wasn’t allowed to watch it (I was a kid), but I did see a reunion some years later with folks from that season, including Heather B. – that’s when she offered the quote I paraphrased in another post. I think the first season I watched was Miami (which was great).

        The Real World has really devolved. They’d never cast someone like Pam now.

      2. plot device*

        Oooh, noooo! Season 1 was amazing. Kevin, Heather, Julie, etc. That was my favorite season. It always makes me sad to see what the show became because the first season was actually decent.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It was definitely the best season, but it was season 3 :) NYC was season 1, then LA, then SF.

        And unsurprisingly, Pedro, Judd and Pam are all tremendous people with Real Jobs doing cool things. Rachel is living her Republican dream with Sean from Season 6, who represents Wisconsin’s 7th congressional district.

        Folks who do reality TV are not inherently dramatic or unprofessional, nor does participation indicate a lack of professional aspirations or goals. Sometimes you’re just 19–21 and want to try out an experience that you may otherwise never experience, and it has nothing to do with your employability or judgment or qualifications 10+ years later.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I know—I wasn’t sure how to capture his death in a compound phrase (since Judd and Pam are still alive) :(

            But he certainly was tremendous, as is his legacy.

    2. TeacherNerd*

      I loved that season! That was, I think, the only one I watched. (Came along at the right time – I was a senior in high school and Pedro made me squishy in a platonic crush kind of way.)

    3. Audiophile*

      These shows are heavily edited to emphasize any drama that occurs naturally or is manufactured by the producers.

      While I was too young to watch the earlier seasons of the Real World, I’ve seen clips.

      I think Hawaii is probably the first time I watched the show.

      I would say the seasons I remember most vividly are Hawaii, New Orleans (2000), Back to New York, Chicago, Paris, and Brooklyn. I skipped Vegas and most of the seasons between Paris and Brooklyn.

  17. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Years ago, we had an employee go on a certain reality show that purports to highlight a specific mental illness. (You all can probably figure it out. I don’t want to confirm it.) He did so *while he was employed* at our agency. To make matters worse, it involved another employee.

    I don’t know why he did what he did, but everything was so TMI and such a distraction that HR had to issue a specific directive that this reality show and employee were no longer topics of conversation. If anyone violated this rule, there would be disciplinary action. It was definitely weird working side-by-side with him, knowing what I knew, but I never said anything. The employee started getting recognized in public so he changed his appearance slightly.

    But you know what?

    After a few months, everything blew over. That guy is still around; his coworker is not. There has been a lot of turnover. Most employees now don’t know about his appearance on that reality show. The story has become one that’s occasionally whispered behind his back at a work event, and that’s fine.

    AAM and that member of your search committee are right, in a weird way. If this candidate’s behavior was so awful and nefarious (think Omarosa), then definitely a hard pass. But there are so many reality shows out there with so many people who are ironically acting all the same that, the chances of your candidate being recognized aren’t that great. And if she is? My hunch is she’ll be treated like my coworker is now: a hilarious but ultimately forgettable story that’s never mentioned to her.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      My issue would be that I’m not watching an entire season of Rock of Love or whatever to find out if this character was crappy. I’d have to google “was Candidate Name a jerk on Reality Show name” or something. Also, as others have said, the editing can make things appear worse. Unless it’s actual hate speech or something I don’t know that I’d be fit to judge.

      1. Bertha*

        I would think if someone was REALLY egregious on the show, it would be highlighted on the internet and you certainly wouldn’t need to watch the whole season.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          Yeah, but apparently in their googling of this candidate, nothing super juicy was found other than that they participated it, or I assume OP would have mentioned that.

          1. Anna*

            This was my take. It didn’t seem their issue with the candidate was her terrible behavior on Reality TV Show X, it’s that she was on the show in the first place.

    2. Collarbone High*

      This is a good point. “Real World” is up to 33 seasons now, according to the googles. There are so many shows, and so many seasons of the popular ones, that a not-small number of Americans have been on a reality show at some point.

      1. Sylvan*

        There are also so many that go through huge numbers of people because of their format (What Not to Wear, Queer Eye, My Strange Addiction, Supersize vs Superskinny, etc.).

      2. All the Words*

        Leave it to AAM to inform me that the Real World is still being filmed. How did I not know this?

    3. ScoutFinch*

      If it’s the episode I was thinking about (having a basically open affair with the coworker), I was wondering how it would affect the person’s employment. It was sad all the way around.

      If OP’s candidate is a good candidate, she should not be punished for something legal that she did 10 years ago. Do the second interview and see what she learned from the experience.

  18. BlueWolf*

    I agree with the OP that I don’t think it should be held against her as long as she didn’t become infamous for something particularly egregious, especially since it was 10 years ago. As others have said, “reality TV” isn’t actual reality and I’m sure the producers go to great lengths to encourage or manufacture drama among participants.

  19. Jesmlet*

    I’m frustrated on behalf of this candidate. None of us younger Gen Xers or older millennials should have to be judged based on things we did 10 years ago (obviously excluding extremely offensive things said or done). Even if she was some drunk 20-something on a reality TV show, that’s not necessarily who she is now. I get that with client-facing roles, higher scrutiny is necessary because it could reflect poorly on the company, but just because her potentially bad judgement was documented and ours wasn’t doesn’t mean it’s a huge red flag or that clients won’t be able to interact with her present self rather than just see her as she was 10 years ago.

    1. TeacherNerd*

      Yes, this. I’m generally frustrated by the mindset that that which anyone did a decade previously would be a means of judging their ability to do the job for which they’d be hired. Even if something is egregious, I’d be curious in terms of whether they still acted that way, or believed those things, and the effects of those actions/beliefs on their ability to do the job for which they’d be hired. (I’m omitting the generational categorization altogether – I’ve always strongly disliked the “all kids these days are awful in ways that no one in previous generations EVER were. especially mine!” mentality.) I’m fairly certain that people with not-great beliefs (however you want to define that) are still being hired, but one would hope that they also know how to keep things to themselves, regardless of belief.

    2. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      Most of us did some pretty stupid and/or embarrassing thing in our teens/early adulthood.
      I don’t see why someone should be punished for that for all eternite.

    3. FieldBiologist*

      It honestly strikes me as really hypocritical… and a sign the hiring committee is a bit older, as OP said. Old enough to think, “We don’t get this new-fangled reality TV stuff, or this kids in general, we never did stuff like this back in the 50s/60s!” Which is of course unfair because literally everyone makes bad decisions not only when young, but also to a lesser but still existent degree throughout their entire lives.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        Of *course* they made bad decisions and said foolish things! That’s just what (most) young people do! It just wasn’t in public on TV and social media for all to see. The difference is in the visibility, not the Kids These Days.

    4. Guitar Hero*

      My biggest thing with it is… she has outstanding experience that qualifies her for the role!

      I can understand being skeptical if this was her first job out of college and she opted for reality tv gigs over summer internships, but clearly that is not the case.

    5. fposte*

      I have mixed reactions to this notion, though. I agree that merely being on reality TV means nothing. However, I don’t agree that people shouldn’t be judged on what they did ten years ago, or shouldn’t be judged on something because they were in their early twenties. Hell, we’ve had posts involving long-term repercussions of people’s actions when they were in high school.

      I think that the mere fact that goofy dumbass behavior was televised doesn’t automatically make it worse than anybody else’s goofy dumbass behavior, but if it would be problematic dumbass behavior at the same time distance from an untelevised candidate, it’s fair game.

  20. MuseumChick*

    We all do stupid things when we are young (and even no-so young). Those stupid choices shouldn’t be held against a person forever. Plus, reality TV is highly edited/scripted.

    But I do agree with Alison, if she displayed clearly terrible behavior (Lacey from Rock of Love comes to mind, that’s the last reality TV show I watched I think) it makes sens to be very cautious giving that this is a public facing role.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      At the same time (and I do agree that this candidate shouldn’t be discounted over this) I was definitely informed even as a teenager that filming things / putting things on the internet might come back to bite me later. I would think a reasonable person would take this into account when deciding to appear on TV. In a conservative field it’s not surprising that it might present an issue. Unfortunate but true.

      1. MuseumChick*

        That’s true, but also goes back to “people do stupid things then they are young” especially before the age of 25 a lot of people can’t see around corners very well. Like, if I was judged by the stupidest thing I did when I was 20….eek.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            I have repeatedly said that I am VERY GLAD social media wasn’t a thing when I was a teen/early 20s.

        1. paul*

          I’m really wondering how the proliferation of digital cameras and online presence is going to impact that for younger job seekers in general. My teenage years were pre-cell phone cameras, and the internet was kind of in its infancy, so thank god my teens/early 20s are not documented online anywhere, but we *all* did and said stuff in our teens and early 20s that makes us cringe later. It’s just that now it’s out there and may be more findable. Hope it doesn’t hurt people :/

          1. Oxford Coma*

            I’ve often wondered how people who DO need to stay under the radar get by in this day and age. When you can’t buy gas, groceries, or use an ATM without being filmed…how do spies/operatives function in modern society? It would make an amazing documentary, though every camera shot would probably be fuzzed out.

            1. Mike C.*

              The actual spies are often recruiting and managing sources, not doing much of the spy work themselves.

            2. Genny*

              Probably by being exceptionally normal. A good spy (or person working undercover) isn’t hidden, they just don’t stand out.

          2. Annabelle*

            I’m in my mid twenties, so my teen years coincided with the explosion of social media and smart phones. And honestly, I would say it’s 50/50 in terms of poor internet decisions affecting people’s ability to get hired. Most of the people I know did whatever they could to get rid of embarrassing teenage pictures or blog posts, but I also know at least two people who have gotten job offers revoked because of their online presence.

          3. Anna*

            I think we’re in a “between” time where there’s a mix of late baby boomers, Gen X-ers, and early Millenials all in position to hire. Eventually that will transition over and I really do think the dumb videos people put online will be less of an issue unless it’s egregious and speaks more to their character (racist, sexist, homophobic) than the videos merely existing. I can’t imagine in 20 years someone saying they wouldn’t hire someone because they found a YouTube video of them doing the cinnamon challenge. It would be absurd.

      2. Observer*

        True. But outside of a very few fields, I can’t see why any young person might not realize that being on a reality show might come back to haunt them. Sure, by the time someone is 20 or so, they should realize that drunken rants might come back o bite them. But people don’t go onto reality TV intending to go on drunken rants.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Ugh, yes and no. I’ve made my own poor choices, but since I made maybe 4 poor choices ever and they weren’t on camera, I feel like that should bump me up a little ahead of the person who chose to make them on a reality show. Is there no payback for being boring in your youth?!?

      1. MuseumChick*

        But what if the candidate is someone who also only made a few bad choices, lets say less than you, maybe 3 poor choices, and one of those just happened to be participating in a relativity TV show?

        Because she made less poor choices than you, should that be taken into consideration?

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I think being on an MTV reality show is an exponential bad choice in itself, so that would be a no for me.

          But seriously, while I’m saying that here, the probability of me ever being in the position to hire someone who 1.) has been on an MTV reality show, and 2.) has been on one more recently than 20 years ago, are probably near zero. If an interviewee did come across my path and had had a successful career in my industry to date, I wouldn’t weigh the reality show past for anything. If it hadn’t affected their career so far, why should it now?

      2. Washi*

        I guess I don’t think appearing on a reality show to be an inherently poor choice? If the show was offensive or if she was offensive, then sure, it should factor in to her candidacy, but just being on a normal-ish show, especially in your 20s, doesn’t seem like a black mark to me.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          But you know you’re running the risk that either something that happens on camera, or the editing done after the fact, will make you really bad. I feel like that’s a fairly well understood risk of appearing on an “unscripted” TV show, and that the participants have come to peace with the that their reputations could take a hit.

          1. Observer*

            That’s probably true now, although I don’t think it’s quite that universal. But, I also think that this was a LOT less clear in the early days of “Reality” TV. So, 10 years ago, there is a really good chance that even someone fairly savvy could have missed that risk.

          2. Mike C.*

            I’m not sure that fact is well understood in this comment section. I don’t blame them, I certainly had to do a lot of searching to find the bits and pieces I have come across. Even then if everyone knows it’s heavily edited, then why take that footage as anything other than a lie?

            1. LBK*

              I guess I don’t understand why you’re fine with accepting that, say, if someone says something racist on a reality show, that’s real, but that everyone else is completely fabricated. Again, I don’t think anyone is naive enough at this point to not realize reality TV is manipulated, but I don’t think it’s accurate to treat it like scripted TV either, where once the actor is out of character, nothing that happened while they were filming is in any way a real part of that person’s life or who they are. That seems to be how you’re saying it should be treated and I don’t think that’s correct.

              1. Observer*

                There are some things that a person is not going to say even in situations manipulated to make them look bad. Most *ist statements fall into that category. (There are exceptions, and you do need to make sure that something wasn’t so heavily edited that it actually is not what was being said.) On the other hand, even a person with a very calm temperament can me manipulated into having a temper tantrum or what looks like it.

                1. LBK*

                  That’s exactly my point, though – even reality shows can’t generally get people to say things they weren’t already thinking. It’s manipulative about getting people to run their mouths, but it’s not putting words in those mouths. They’ll set up a situation that they know will lead to a fight but they don’t tell the people what to fight about.

                2. Observer*

                  But the point is that just because someone was on one of these shows doesn’t mean that they have terrible judgement. And even if they did or said some questionable things, it’s not necessarily an indicator that they have bad judgement or have no emotional regulation. But, if they wind up saying something like “that f*** N***” or “that B**** C****”, that becomes a different issue.

              2. Mike C.*

                I’ve already said that I wouldn’t accept someone who said something racist. I’m not sure why you’re saying otherwise nor have asked me for clarification.

          3. Annabelle*

            Idk if that was a well known or understood risk a decade ago, though. I think it’s common knowledge now that reality tv is usually scripted or heavily edited to be more salacious, but I’m not sure it was in 2008.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          Agreed, for me, it would be an MTV series specifically. Although, let’s say you were on American Idol, and while you were the pillar of good taste, if I found you annoying, that would factor in. : )

          1. Lil Fidget*

            Yeah Top Chef or something involving a skill, no problem. Something about surviving in the outdoors might even be a boon in my field. A wedding or homebuying one, whatever, don’t care.

      3. Anna*

        But then you’d be being rewarded for something that has nothing to do with your capability as an employee? None of your poor choices speak directly to your character and really, neither does being on a reality show unless it’s in a very narrowly defined band of shows or the person’s behavior was so awful (and we don’t have any indication that’s the case here).

  21. MechanicalPencil*

    I think this is a no-win situation for the candidate. If she had put this on her resume, the hiring committee likely would have wondered the reasoning behind it, “why does she think being on Show X is even relevant to this position?”. Because she hasn’t, she’s now in this position of “but why didn’t she tell us?!”

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! If she put it on, people would be thinking, “Does this indicate she thinks this is a defining thing about her and we’re going to have to hear about it all the time?”

    2. AnotherAlison*

      We recently interviewed a person with “Jeopardy champion” on his resume. It was in a hobby-type section. I didn’t ask him about it, but one interviewer did and he only won one game. Generally, having that on his resume flanged up with the overall (not positive) impression he gave off in his interview. (It seemed like a bragging type of thing to include, and the guy never stopped talking about how good he was and underappreciated by his employers.) So, I’d worry about putting it on there even as an interesting fact type of thing because while it might be a fun fact for you, other people might roll their eyes and assume what type of person you are from that one sentence. Everything else you say and do would have to work twice as hard in your favor.

      1. Fake Eleanor*

        I don’t think Jeopardy champion should (usually) go on your resume, but winning one game is precisely what makes you a “Jeopardy champion.” “Only won one game” is a little cold.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          Yeah winning jeopardy at all seems like a reasonably impressive thing to me. Not necessarily belonging on a resume, but if it’s under “hobbies” (a section I’d recommend cutting, in my field. but I realize others might be different), I’d allow it.

          1. CM*

            Agreed; also, the default assumption about a Jeopardy winner is that they’re smart, while the default assumption about a MTV reality show person is that they have questionable judgment and probably did some terrible drunken things that were on display for the world to see.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          I think it came down to this candidate’s personality in this case. I didn’t want to put it this way, but he was your classic blowhard, know-it-all type. If he was more humble or easygoing in general, it might have been fun to talk about, but with that guy, the entire interview felt like he trying to prove how smart he was in a roomful of smart people.

      2. K.*

        I don’t think it’s on his resume, but I have an acquaintance whose LinkedIn profile picture is his picture with Alex Trebec from when he was on Jeopardy.

      3. McWhadden*

        Well, obviously, if he had won more than once he would write “three time Jeopardy champion” or “eight time Jeopardy champion” or whatever.

        Winning once makes you a champion. If you are the type to want that on your resume you are the type to point out how many times you were a champion.

      4. Turkletina*

        This is a *huge* debate in Jeopardy!-contestant circles. A lot of people do put it on their resumes, it seems.

        I don’t, personally (though I didn’t win), and would hate to think that I was being considered because of anything other than my qualifications. That said, interviewers do google me. They know, and they often bring it up.

      5. Jaybeetee*

        I wonder if any of that could be nerves too? I’m someone who doesn’t “sell myself” very well, and I’m not comfortable talking myself up a lot. It’s lead to problems in some job interviews. OTOH, just as with mis-applied “gumption” advice, I could see someone getting interview advice to talk up their strengths and try to sell themselves, and over-compensate into “arrogant blowhard” territory. I feel like interviewing skills should be taught in schools.

      6. SC*

        I hate the “hobbies” section because it seems like a lose-lose situation. If it’s innocuous, like “reading, hiking, and knitting,” it’s pretty boring, and you’ve wasted space. But even where it seems cool, it can backfire. “Jeopardy champion” becomes “arrogant and only won one game.” I work in an industry where a “hobbies” section is the norm, at least for candidates just out of school, and I think it often operates as a way to discriminate at least socio-economically, if not racially.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I don’t see these very often in my industry, but I agree. Another one that sticks out in my memory was a candidate who ran a foundation in honor of his deceased son. Definitely nothing negative about that, but do you want an employer focusing on your personal family tragedy or your qualifications?

          It’s not uncommon for us to ask a candidate what they do in their free time, but there’s a lot more context IN the interview. Unconscious bias may creep in more when reviewing a resume.

      7. Rivka*

        Interesting. In the world of Jeopardy alumni, there’s an ongoing debate about whether you should put it on your resume. On the pro side, people argue that it shows you’re smart, competitive, and able to work towards a challenging personal goal. On the con side, people argue that trivia skills are irrelevant to most jobs and that it can make you look like an insufferable know-it-all. Good to see some real-life hiring committee reactions.

        (I have to laugh at “he only won one game,” though, given that even qualifying is hugely difficult, and the majority of qualifiers lose. But I’m sure that you would have done better.)

          1. McWhadden*

            But you did make it sound like “only” winning one game was nothing to be proud of, which is a little rude.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              I guess I’ve offended all the single-day Jeopardy champions, runners-up, and qualifiers then. Sorry.

      8. Bad Bosses for $800, Alex*

        I was a Jeopardy champion and still have it on my resume. It’s a useful conversation opener and differentiates me from other candidates. It won’t get me an interview if I am not otherwise qualified, but interviewers almost always bring up the topic. I am ready for the question and use it to pivot to my qualifications.

        Which is why, OP, your committee members need to change their attitudes. If you candidate is otherwise well-qualified, bring her back for a second interview and ask her about the show. Maybe her answer will dispel their fears. Maybe not. My guess is that this will not be the first time she is asked about the show and she will be prepared to discuss it. Give her that chance.

    3. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      I mean, it shows pretty good judgement on the candidate’s part that she didn’t put it on there.

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        I completely agree. However, now it’s come out, and people are wondering why it was never mentioned at all in any fashion — hence my comment that she’s in a no-win situation.

  22. EvanMax*

    I agree with everything Alison said, but I also wanted to add a little more about the resume question.

    Depending on the particular reality show and the candidate’s level of involvement, there may have been no pay, so it may not even really be a “job”.

    My wedding, four years ago, was filmed for an episode of a reality show about a particular bridal boutique where my wife happened to buy her wedding dress. There was no compensation made to my wife or myself, no discount on the dress even (they asked her to be on the show after she had finished purchasing and getting it fit and everything, and then just staged a fake final fitting with a little drama inserted.) I did end up getting their raw footage that they shot at the wedding, but that wasn’t in any contract, it was just something I sweet-talked them in to.

    Granted, if she was a re-occurring regular for a whole season, then there was more likely to be something there, but you don’t know for sure. She might have just had nothing else going on and thought it would be a fun thing to do for a few months, rather than it actually being a job.

      1. EvanMax*

        Nothing significant in it for us, it was just a fun thing to do.

        I wasn’t planning to hire a videographer at all (why spend thousands of dollars producing a video that is only going to be watched 3~5 times?), so the footage I got from them is the only video we have of our wedding. That footage was never a guarantee until I had it in hand, though.

        My wife minored in film studies in college, and I used to do the 48 hour film project every year (as well as having a little bit of a background in photography, although my career path has greatly diverged from that.) We were comfortable enough having a film crew around us, and we also knew, since we weren’t being compensated, that if they became a problem we could just tell them to get out of the way (the production crew was absolutely lovely, though, and never got in the way of anything.)

        It was pretty low risk, all in all, and no additional cost to us, so we figured that it was worth it just for the story of having done it.

        But even on my “creative” resume of the short films I’ve written and produced, I leave off the reality TV episode. It’s not really relevant to anything, other than just being a “fun fact” about me for icebreakers.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      This is the only reality show I watch regularly, and I’m shocked and appalled to find out how staged it is.

      (Not really.)

      1. grace*

        Same! But TBH while there are definitely a few brides who have gone on there that I wouldn’t want to work with, it’s really the dads I’d be a hard nope on, lol.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Absolutely. Or the moms and sisters who sit there with sour looks on their faces and say “I don’t like it.” Because I’ve been in meetings with people like that, who will veto something like a wedding dress that they don’t even have to wear, just because it’s not their personal taste. And I don’t ever want to do it again.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        A friend of mine from college was on House Hunters with his wife, and it was so interesting to see just how heavily staged everything is, even though I knew it was made of lies.

        1. EvanMax*

          I’ll admit, I was surprised by the fact that the “final fitting” was completely staged.

          It’s funny to watch, though, when they make a big deal that her dress doesn’t fit and she left it until the last minute, the dress actually fit her perfectly at that moment (but a room full of her mother and friends freaking out about it is enough to convince the home viewer.)

  23. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

    Unless this candidate tried to further her reality show career with questionable (and well publicized) decisions (similar to what that teen mom girl did with offering to make an adult video, etc) then I see no issues with a reality show background – as long as the candidate has the qualifications.

  24. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Good lord. Who doesn’t have embarrassing stuff in their history? Hers just happens to be a TV show. Unless she did something egregious (I’m guessing she didn’t or you would have mentioned it), bring her back for a second interview. It’s not a job offer at this stage. I see no harm in talking to her again and perhaps broaching the subject. You’ll learn a lot more from that than you will from Google.

  25. Myrin*

    and that her atypical first name means that a client or coworker will likely remember her from the show

    Is that something that’s actually likely? I’m genuinely wondering.

    I weirdly watched quite a bit of these MTV shows ten years ago and while I actually have a very good memory for both names and faces, I literally don’t remember anyone from them other than Flavor Flav and that one woman who was on his show first but then later got her own.

    I was a teenager at the time, though, and also don’t keep up with that scene in general, so I honestly have no way of gauging this kind of thing.

    1. dr_silverware*

      I don’t think it’s super likely. There would probably be a couple–I have a dear friend who remembers everything she sees on a TV screen, for instance–but I don’t think that’s common or likely. And I’m not sure there are many cases where I’d google a client, coworker, or vendor’s unique first name.

    2. Annabelle*

      I don’t think it’s super likely, and I’m saying that as someone who follows a fair amount of obscure former reality tv stars. I wouldn’t remember the name of someone who was on one show and then decided to pursue a normal career, unless they did something particularly egregious on the show.

  26. LBK*

    If she wasn’t infamous enough for you to recognize her right off the bat, I think you’re fine. If she nothing she did on the show was bad enough to make her known outside of the realm of fans of the show, I think the people who do recognize her are more likely to react well to it rather than negatively – I know I’d probably be excited to work with someone from Big Brother as long as it wasn’t, like, Paulie.

    1. Washi*

      Yeah, if no one had heard of her, your clients don’t work in TV, and nothing horrific turns up when you google her, it doesn’t seem likely that this would ever be an issue.

    2. NW Mossy*

      Big Brother’s sort of an interesting one, because it (along with Survivor and a couple of others) regularly makes note of the contestants’ occupations during the episodes. Most of the time it doesn’t matter, but occasionally it becomes a significant plot point (Derek the cop) or an indicator of how the contestant can manage to take a few months off in the summer (Dan the schoolteacher).

      I seem to recall a few seasons back, though, that there was a contestant who was fired while still on the show on the basis of some remarks he made about people with cognitive impairments.

      1. LBK*

        I don’t know of the specific instance you’re referring to but two of the houseguests from season 15 got fired while still on the show for making racist remarks on camera.

      2. Mike C.*

        That show is so weird. I was in an apartment complex with free Shotime once so I checked out the “raw feeds”, and they so much different from the actual show. Just boring people incessantly talking about the rules or strategy of the game show they’re on or other wise acting chill and hanging out. Huge difference from the show itself.

      3. Jaybeetee*

        I remember reading that one of the contestants on The Biggest Loser wound up losing his job while he was on the show. Apparently the timing had just gotten screwed up – he’d juuust started this new job, then took this long-ass LOA to go on the show, and of course was unsure when he’d be able to come back (I think he wound up making it close to the end, which probably wound up being a couple months away at least). I guess the employers put up with it for awhile, but got sick of having some important projects indefinitely on hold waiting on the new guy and let him go.

  27. Sara*

    I think that it depends on the show. Jersey Shore is light years away from Real World type stuff. Especially ten years ago, the shows were much tamer (IMO) than they are now. I think the current realty TV where everyone seems to be binge drinking is different then when it started out initially, and people that go on now seem to go on for the notoriety. In the beginning years, I think it was just a weird thing people did that was a blip in their life, like studying abroad or a weird internship.

    If it was Road Rules, I’d bring her back just to ask her a million questions about it because I loved Road Rules.

  28. Lynca*

    My first thought would be have they even thought about talking to her references? They would have the best input about how she behaved in the workplace.

    I wouldn’t hold a reality show 10 years ago against someone if they were as well qualified as the OP says and had a good set of references.

  29. embertine*

    Wondering how many “If it doesn’t disqualify you for the presidency…” comments Alison is having to delete… :D

      1. SoCalHR*

        Actually it *is* pretty relevant and not political with an objective view of the situation. If the “interviewing company” (US gov/republican party/voters) didn’t hold President Trump’s reality show past against him, for a very “client facing” role, then should it really be held against some random girl most people won’t know, who may have cried on camera after her emotions were manipulated with alcohol and editing? I know there is political debate within that, but in general, I’d say that is an argument to show how ‘reality shows’ as a whole aren’t as stigmatized as this committee thinks they are.

        1. LBK*

          I think there are a whole lot more factors that go into the public’s reaction to a presidential candidate (or really any politician, for that matter) than a regular job, so I’m not sure it’s comparable.

        2. Tuxedo Cat*

          I imagine there are places, even in the US, where being on a reality show would harm your chances of being in office.

          1. Typhon Worker Bee*

            It was good Schadenfreude to watch reality stars try and fail (sometimes spectacularly) to cash in on the Trump effect though. I’m looking at you, Kevin O’Leary XD

        3. Specialk9*

          Non-consensual Trump is not cool. This site is a refuge from politics for many of us. Come on, guys.

          1. Lissa*

            I’m not sure how to phrase what I’m asking here, and I’m not American, so I guess my question is – it does seem pretty relevant and reasonable to mention that a world leader has the same thing on their “resume” as something we’re discussing if someone should be disqualified for. Is it only the fact that it’s Trump that makes it not cool to bring up, or would it be equally a problem to mention this if it was …I don’t know, if Angela Merkel had been on the Amazing Race?

            1. Penny Lane*

              Hi, I’m removing this because I don’t want overtly political posts here. Thanks for understanding!

        4. Penny Lane*

          Uh, the people who voted for our current president aren’t exactly the people whose reasoning and judgment I wish to emulate in any part of my life.

  30. MommyMD*

    I think if the committee has already made their mind up about her, nothing you say will matter. You have to decide if taking a hard stand is worth it.

  31. ShopLady*

    I’m with Alison and would just like to add that the lovely Karamo Brown of the rebooted Queer Eye is both a reality star (he was previously on the Real World before QE) and a qualified social worker. Sean Duffy from Real World Boston is a politician and lawyer now! I’m sure there are hundreds of other examples of former reality tv stars going on to lead perfectly normal jobs out of the spotlight. Television is so heavily edited to be shocking/dramatic/etc. as well.

    1. Flinty*

      I was just thinking about Karamo! He basically is a social worker on QE, which is so perfect.

      1. ShopLady*

        I love Karamo…I can’t believe I remembered him almost instantly when I saw the first episode. I probably couldn’t tell you what I ate for lunch yesterday, but I remember the cast of a reality show from 2004!!

      2. Specialk9*

        Karamo is so lovely. I didn’t know about his past shows, but I adore him and Antoni on the new Queer Eye. They just exude warmth and genuine good will.

    2. Penny Lane*

      Queer Eye was never a “controversial” show – the men on the show just showed various ways to decorate, dress, cook, etc. It is in no way comparable to some of the trash-reality-TV shows.

      1. LBK*

        I think ShopLady was referring to Real World as the reality show, not Queer Eye. Karamo was on that first before he was on QE.

        1. Washi*

          Yeah I think ShopLady’s point was that Real World neither prevented Karamo from having a more traditional career (as far as we know) and probably helped him in being cast in QE, which I agree is a different level of TV show.

          1. ShopLady*

            Yes, I meant that Real World was the potentially problematic show not Queer Eye! QE is the best! But he has had a good career in between those shows and his stint on RW hasn’t seemed to hold him back in a more traditional work environment (he was a social worker for ten years after RW)

  32. CW*

    I interviewed someone who had been on America’s Next Top Model. It was on her resume since she was rather young and it turned into a modeling career for a period of time. She wasn’t qualified in other ways, but no one held the show against her.

      1. K.*

        I think about that a lot, particularly when the “design for a not-model” challenge comes up. The ones who treat the non-models with contempt get booted from my “who would I hire” list even if I’ve previously liked their work. If you don’t have customer service skills, buh-bye.

      2. OlympiasEpiriot*

        There are SEVERAL people I would like to hire from Drag Race.

        Seriously, in my biz, not backing down and not apologising for one’s existence come in VERY handy!

  33. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep*

    OP – haven’t read the comments but had a thought. Is it possible to play up the fact that she’s a reality show celebrity could actually help you land more clients? There are some people, like me, who remember reality show personalities on shows like America’s Next Top Model and Top Chef and so on. So, if it was me meeting your company’s rep, I might really want to work with your company over others because you have that sort of celebrity working for you. I think more research is needed for what the show really is, how heavily edited, and what the fan responses were to her. Also, that second interview? You could ask why they were on a reality TV series, if they would do it again, and see how her judgment is about it too.

    1. Lulubell*

      That’s what I was thinking, particularly since it’s for a marketing role. Marketing people (of which I am one) are generally pop culture people and would look favorably at connecting with a former reality personality (or at least understand how reality TV works and that it’s quite manufactured). Plus, people who get cast on reality TV generally have big personalities (or the ability to fake one for a few weeks) which I would think would be key for marketing/networking with clients. Obviously your company knows the role and it’s clients best, but it seems shortsighted to me.

  34. Roscoe*

    I’m going to say your committee are kind of jerks.

    This was 10 years ago. I’m sure they wouldn’t want to be judged by something they did right out of college. Also, it really does depend on what the show was and their behavior on the show. There are a few notable exceptions I can think of. But hell, even if they were a horrible backstabber on Survivor, that doesn’t make them a bad person, just trying to win a game. In my opinion, even if they were filmed drunk and yelling, as long as they didn’t do anything awful, I’d say let it go.

    Now to the second part, whether you should do anything about it is a different story. How involved would you be in working with this person. I know you are the junior person on the team, but it also depends on how long you have been there. Using a lot of political capital on what comes down to you not agreeing with their value judgment is risky. Like I would vote to bring them back, but since you don’t know them and are saying they aren’t like head and shoulders above everyone else, it may be worth mentioning your opinion, but not pushing

    1. Typhon Worker Bee*

      Big Survivor fan here! Lying and backstabbing in Survivor are just part of the game, same as bluffing in poker, and I’m always a bit befuddled when people on the show take it soooooo personally. I’d take a backstabber any day over one of the people who stole/hid/destroyed food, or who bullied people or was offensive or condescending or creepy (remember that guy who didn’t want to be around non-married women because it was too much temptation, and also their fault?), or even noticeably lazy around camp. I think one of the people who had a hidden cache of stolen food was actually a teacher in real life – how do you go back and face a roomful of kids after pulling something like that?!

      Basically if I found out a candidate was on a reality show and I didn’t know who they were already, I’d have to watch the entire season immediately!

  35. eplawyer*

    Presumably she has a work history for the last 10 years. That should count much more than a reality tv show she did back then. Just like your GPA stops mattering after a few jobs, so should this. Unless of course, as noted, she was outrageous.

    I also make an exception for anyone who puts their kids on a reality show. Kids don’t deserve that kind of exposure just so mommy or daddy can be famous. But hey, if someone did Real World or the Amazing Race 10 years ago, hope they had fun. They can tell SFW stories at company parties.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think Amazing Race would be the only one I would put on a resume, unless I was a really terrible contestant (like that dude Jonathan many years back). The ability to solve problems on your feet! Dealing with adverse conditions! Communicating across barriers! Working as a team!

  36. Argh!*

    Clients’ opinions matter more than OP’s or the hiring officials’ opinions. If the hiring officials think it would be bad for business, that’s their prerogative. It’s a shame, but not surprising.

    1. Anna*

      I don’t think clients would actually care; I think the committee are trying to come up with excuses for not hiring her based on nebulous whataboutism. If it came up with clients, it would probably be nothing more than “Oh, that’s so interesting!” I don’t think anyone would refuse to do business with them because once upon a time their representative did a reality TV show.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I think it depends on what kind of work the company does.

        I can see how the donors of a fancy arts non-profit would look down on someone having that in their background.

        1. K.*

          Agreed. Or a very conservative profession. I watch a reality show called “Married at First Sight” (it’s fascinating, from a psychological perspective) and one of the cast members this season was fired for going on the show (which put him in the position of having to tell his brand-new stranger wife that he was unemployed). He worked in finance. Another participant from a season or two ago, a social worker, said she was written up by her job for appearing on the show, though she wasn’t fired.

          1. Observer*

            That’s very different though. These are people who are going on the show WHILE THEY ARE EMPLOYED. That’s completely different that having done this 10 YEARS prior to even interviewing.

          2. Mrs. Coach Taylor*

            I was hoping someone would bring that guy up!

            I think David from 2 seasons broke my love for the show, and yeah I watched the Second Chances show, so I stopped watching after the set up episode.

            Despite having seen all but the first season, I’m blanking on which woman was a social worker.

            1. nutella fitzgerald*

              Second Chances was the most amazing trash since VH1’s “…of Love” shows. If I ever met David, the only thing keeping me from punching him in the face would be all the hand sanitizer I’d need afterwards.

    2. Observer*

      Sorry, that’s baloney.

      Someone is looking for problems. Why else would they be complaining that she didn’t put it on her resume? That’s just so ridiculous that it makes everything else go from silly to not credible. The claim that they are worried about what clients will say is weak anyway. After all supposedly, they think that clients will figure this out because they will remember that she was on the show. Yet somehow no on the hiring committee had a clue tills someone Googled her. Are they really claiming to be that ignorant of an are from pop culture that their clients are really into? (They would have to be into it to remember a participant from 10 years ago). In a MARKETING firm?

  37. George*

    One of my colleagues was on Survivor forever ago. She didn’t make a complete idiot of herself, but nor did she come off especially well – she was much younger and immature. It has absolutely no bearing on her job—honestly, I’m not even sure 90% of people here know (although I did once hear one of her team members try to shut down an argument by screaming, “The tribe has spoken!” at her, so I assume that person knows, because what are the odds of someone just randomly throwing Survivor lingo around in 2018?). She deserves the opportunity to move on with her life, and so does the individual discussed in this post.

  38. super duper anon*

    There is someone who works in my building who was the winner on a very well-known reality show and won a million dollars. It actually makes me think better of her because whenever I see her in the elevator, I think that she must be down-to-earth and humble if she’s working a normal job after all that.

    1. K.*

      I’d keep working if I won a million dollars. I’d have to. I’d pay a few bills, take a nice vacation, and then invest it for retirement, but a million dollars (which would be, what, half that after Uncle Sam took his cut?) wouldn’t be “never work again” money for me.

      Now, if I DID win “never work again” money, my company can expect my resignation. (I once said this to my boss and she replied “I’d resign from the airport on my way to St. Bart’s.”

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah sadly in my expensive area of the country, a million dollars after taxes is not total-life-changing, never-have-to-work-again money.

        1. Jesmlet*

          2-3 million net might be good enough to never work again depending on your investments and the market. 1 million unfortunately isn’t unless you’re living really frugally in pretty much any area.

        2. LBK*

          It might not be totally life-changing in the sense that you’d suddenly be living like someone with a regular income in the millions, but if you kept your life the same I think plenty of people could sustain their existing lifestyle off that much for quite a while without having to work, assuming you invested a good amount of it.

        3. NW Mossy*

          That’s particularly true for those who win that money in their 20s – making a million last for 60, 70, or even 80 years would be very challenging, especially with no other source of income.

          1. K.*

            Exactly. I’m in my 30s (older end of the millennial generation). Invested well, a million dollars could be a nice nest egg in 30, 35 years when I’m ready to retire, but I could never stretch it out to live on for 50 years.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Yep, same. Hand me that million (and is that a million pre- or post-tax? Important questions), and into the investment account it goes.

    2. George*

      Yeah, a million dollars really isn’t as much money as it sounds like, especially after taxes. I’m active in reality-TV fan communities, and I’m not aware of any million-dollar winner who’s been able to retire on their winnings.

  39. ArtK*

    Even looking at the behavior on the show is a poor indicator. Those things are set up and edited specifically to emphasize outrageous behavior. It’s an extremely artificial environment and not at all relevant to the working world — unless, that is, your office is run like a reality show.

    1. Bea*

      This reminds me of my dad when I was a teen watching MTV. “You know this isn’t reality, right!!!”

      Whatever dad, I’ve seen the pics he brought home from his military days. Seems like drunken 20 somethings are as real as it gets LOL

      Seriously though, the edit on Real Housewives takes such a swerve every year, editing is such an amazing talent in all this.

  40. Bea*

    Unless your office peanut butter will be put at risk of him just dipping his fingers into it…

    No seriously, thankfully nobody has their college years on record, ouch. I find their thought process dated and actually a harm to the business if they’re so shocked that reality tv isn’t a big deal. Throwing out a good fit because a decade earlier she was on a dating show or was one of seven strangers picked to live together is dumb.

  41. Lauren K Milligan*

    Keeping in mind this is for a marketing position – her reality show stint might actually work in her favor! If she did any appearances to promote the show then she has a certain degree of media or event experience, interviewing/public speaking, and possibly even exposure to crisis management. All of those fall under the Marketing umbrella. Combine that against the persona that she portrayed on the show, and what type of company you work for. Is there an intersection? If so, that should check a few more boxes.
    I also like that fact that she DID leave it off the resume. She wants to get hired based solely on her professional laurels which means if there was any high-impact drama, she’s left that behind her.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Yeah, in marketing – heck, in MOST jobs – I don’t think this should be a knock. MAYBE fields that are known to be super conservative (law and finance) and probably in something like counter intelligence where keeping under the radar / being extremely straightlaced is known to be a Thing. But marketing? Sales? Admin? I don’t think it should be a factor.

    2. Nicki Name*

      Yes, this!! Unless the specific topic of the show carries some kind of serious reputational risk, her TV experience should be considered a plus!

  42. Ask a Manager* Post author

    This is prompting me to remember that in my 20s I knew someone who appeared on Blind Date while he was working for a member of Congress. He got a lot of ribbing, but that was it.

    I remember they’d flown him and his date to a beach somewhere, and there was footage of him running into the surf with his date while trying to be cool and carefree, and then falling flat on his face. It was kind of amazing because he was definitely a too-cool-for-school type.

    1. SC*

      My now-husband and I started dating in college, where people who were dating just hung out unless it was a special occasion. Our first date was sitting in the lounge watching Blind Date and Third Wheel at 1 a.m. We still joke that those are “our shows.” We found an episode of Third Wheel on the internet recently, and I’ll say I remembered it in a better light through nostalgia than it really was, and I knew it was trashy.

    2. Lauren K Milligan*

      A friend of my husband’s was on that show, too! He gets really embarrassed about it. I loved the captions that they would put over the couple’s heads. That show was so tame compared to what’s out there today.

  43. Ashley*

    Being a young person on the hiring committee, I agree this may not worth spending a lot of capital. If you have watched the season and know they weren’t known for horrible comments I would probably push back slightly but if she isn’t the Best candidate I doubt I would waste to much capital.
    It is also worth noting it could help get in her a few doors for reality obsessed clients. Personally I would be a little curious, google them if I found out, get bored and move onto actual work matters.

  44. Undine*

    Netflix showed me an ad for a horrible reality TV show where a person is manipulated into “committing” murder. Those people’s lives are destroyed on so many levels, probably including losing their jobs, but the really reprehensible people are the producers and people who planned how to set this up. But those people will get jobs, even tough their real credential may be “master manipulator”.

    1. Jesmlet*

      I watched that show – I don’t think they’d portrayed those 3 people all that badly. They explained the great lengths they went to push them to compliance and I think the lesson learned from it probably made them better people. The dude responsible is a famous “mentalist” from England and they probably had to sign releases after the event allowing them to use the footage since they didn’t actually know they were being filmed at the time. With that said, if all the hiring committee saw was their name and the promo, there might be a problem.

      1. LeRainDrop*

        I’m guessing they actually signed the releases when they went to the audition. For me, I feel so bad for those contestants. It’s the producers and people who designed the show/experiment who I judge.

        1. Jesmlet*

          Well the audition was for something completely different so the releases must have been written pretty broadly. I’m really not sure how the entertainment industry works though. It would not look great if it aired against their wishes right? Or no? …no clue. I just watch the stuff.

          I think it’s in these people’s favor that 75% of the “subjects” went through with the “murder” though.

    2. LeRainDrop*

      Oh, I was horrified by that show’s premise! Can you imagine the psychological impact on the unwitting subject? For the rest of his life, he will have to mentally wrestle with the things he did. Even though it was all a farce, he didn’t know that at the time. I would be tortured to think about what I was convinced to do. That show/experiment seems so unethical to me!

    3. Oxford Coma*

      That one is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. If your muse is Stanley Milgram, consider rethinking your screenplay.

      1. LeRainDrop*

        Oh my god, I’m dying of laughter! Yes, there are some workplaces where these attributes would fit right in!

  45. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Reading this letter and the comments reminds me of something my grandparents’ generation even thought was old fashioned: “A lady’s name should only appear in print three times in her life: When she is born, when she is married, and when she dies.”

    I frequently have warned people when I meet them in a professional context that if they type my name into any search engine out there, it is likely the first result will be a murderer (who is still in prison). I am not the murderer. I do have what I think is a common name, but lots of others don’t realize how common it is (they haven’t had to live with it) and I’ve had some funny interactions over the years with people asking me if I play a particular instrument or have some other experience that belongs to a very different OlympiasEpiriot.

    Good heavens! Please, OP, push back. Yes, you are junior; however, using Alison’s scripts would not, imo, be using much or, really, any capital except in the pettiest of companies. In this day and age, it is more and more likely that job applicants and people who have left some impression on pop culture belong to a coincident subset of a Venn diagram. Also, even if someone was a “villain” in one of those shows, let them have a chance to discuss this and not be dismissed out of hand!

    1. Marillenbaum*

      Bingo! I’ve Googled myself a few times, and most of what comes up is an actress from Australia and a housing development in Bermuda.

      1. many bells down*

        I’m a professional poker player in L.A. and a cop in the midwest, mostly. But there’s a ton of hits before I find one that’s actually me. I have a fairly common name.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          I think you have the basis for a new Netflix series.

          Maybe even better if you can team up with Jim Jarmusch to make it suitably odd.

        2. hermit crab*

          “They fight crime!” :)

          I’m apparently a marathoner, a Fraktur artist, and many people’s ancestors (lots and lots of hits from genealogy sites).

          1. Jesmlet*

            How?? My LinkedIn photo, one random old Facebook profile pic and my Instagram picture all come up. I’m a pretty boring person and none are remarkable in a no-way-am-I-going-to-hire-her kind of way so I haven’t bothered changing my name. My last name is fairly rare I guess, and it also happens to be the first name of royalty so that’s what the majority of pictures are anyway.

            1. OlympiasEpiriot*

              I have NO idea. I was surprised my LinkedIn wasn’t there. I vaguely recall that it was about 3-4 years ago.

      2. paul*

        There’s apparently some singer type guy with my full name, first middle last (WTF, it’s not that common a name) but at least we’re very clearly not the same person. I’m also a preacher? And maybe a psychologist. And an SQL consultant; that one sounds cool, actually.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          A singing SQL consultant! With the ability to officiate at weddings.

          It is definitely better than a murdering musician.

      3. Drama LLama's Mama*

        My alter egos are a (few? at least 2) university professors and a bunch of obituaries. I don’t actually show up in the first 10 pages of a google search, which I guess is largely good.

    2. MI Dawn*

      I was at a wedding where the Maid of Honor googled the groom’s name and her speech was hysterical because the groom apparently had several different jobs (i.e. he was a lawyer in CA, a sheep shearer in NZ, a dead famous bandit, an inventor from the 1500s) and how she felt about finally meeting him in person.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        That must have been great.

        Yeah, I’ve broken the ice at some industry meet-and-greets by doing something similar. But, i don’t have nearly the breadth of experience he apparently had!!


    3. Oxford Coma*

      This is a good point. I share a name with a very thirsty SAG member, and anyone Googling me will find pages and pages of nonsense.

    4. CM*

      I used to be the only one with my name, but recently there have been two others who got married, changed their names, and now have my same full name! Luckily they seem to be upstanding citizens, but very different than me in their activities and interests.

      1. JKP*

        On the flip side, I share a name with a googleable murder victim. In the same city I live in.

      2. JennyAnn*

        My parents had a friend who shared his full name and date of birth with a murder who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. Any time he traveled and would need to go through security (at the airport,etc), he had to arrange for US Marshals to meet him at security and basically vouch for him to get through.

    5. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep*

      Huh, that’s nice. I’ve done enough online that the first link in my Google search doesn’t come up with the fact that I was murdered some years ago. It’s a completely different first name but it still comes up because her middle and last name are the same as my first and last. Think Samantha Jane Yonza and I’m just Jane Yonza.

    6. SC*

      I am a Canadian actress and write romance novels feature people of a particular ethnic background.

    7. MsSolo*

      My name gives you three pages of a black & white movie star! It’s handy because a stranger googling me for legitimate purposes is likely to stop looking before they’re past imdb and wikipedia, so my youthful indiscretions are hard to find, but it also mens me triumphs are likely to go unnoticed too. Noticeably if I google myself in a browser i regularly use, it picks up the real me a lot quicker, because it knows I’m probably looking for the me the cookies remember from facebook – I’m aware if I apply for a job internally there’s probably enough overlap in fb friends and browser cookies they will find real me much quicker.

  46. Tet3*

    I’m a close relative of the first Bachelor star, and Alex has gone on to have a very successful career and has completely left the reality TV thing behind. I join those here who agree with the writer and Alison that this candidate should be brought back.

    However, I’m intrigued by the implication that there are/have been reality TV shows that *are* “remembered for their tastefulness.” What, exactly, would those be? If you include cooking competition shows in the reality genre, then the Great British Baking Show must top the list. Maybe those The 1900/Frontier/Colonial/Edwardian House ones are more tasteful due to their education, but is that really what they’re remembered for?

    (I take the implication of the writer to be that the show was towards the salacious end of what is generally a tasteless genre, but thought it’d be interesting as a sub thread.)

    1. Nobody Here by That Name*

      I think one factor would be the point of the show. Like is the draw of the show to watch people behaving like fools or is it to watch something else, and behaving like fools may or may not happen? Do the producers deliberately play up bad behavior for ratings?

      I think – and I’m limited by shows I’ve watched here – but I think shows like Jersey Shore would definitely be of the trashy type. The point was to watch people get drunk, fight, and act stupid. OTOH the House shows that you mentioned would be closer to tasteful but not 100% there. Because yes, there’s an educational component but at the same time the producers definitely count on the footage of people going “Waaah, I miss my shampoo! It’s so hard!!” (Conversely, all the way at the end of this spectrum would be the Farm Series – Victorian Farm et al. with Ruth Goodman, where they lived of the time and loved every minute of it, with the goal being to show what it was like.)

      I think there’s also an element of what the show intends to do and whether or not you being on it is good for you. Like Intervention is a show that tries to be educational about addiction – certainly more tastefully than Jersey Shore handles alcoholism ;) – but odds are good it wouldn’t speak well for you to have been the subject of an episode.

    2. K.*

      He lived in my building years ago! My roommates were like “The first Bachelor lives here” and I was like, who? because I didn’t and don’t watch the franchise.

    3. KitKat*

      I think generally shows where the contestants are there to compete using skills (Shark Tank, Masterchef) are considered less trashy and potentially even impressive, while shows where the point is to encourage contestants to become emotional train wrecks and make poor decisions tend to be on the trashier side (Real World, the Bachelor, etc)

      That said, maybe it’s my millenialness, but I wouldn’t judge someone for being in most trashy TV shows unless their actual behavior was trashy in a way that could not be explained by alcohol and sleep deprivation.

      1. The Supreme Troll*

        Despite what kind of feedback a contestant might have received from any of the Sharks (good or bad, or not gotten the deal they were seeking), it would be very difficult for me not to hold that person in high regard. They’ve already shown talent and creativity to make it there. And as well for a lot of competition TV shows that showcase skill, talent & determination. “Jersey Shore”, “TOWIES”, “Bad Girls’ Club”…well…maybe not so much.

  47. Nobody Here by That Name*

    Others have already brought up points I would have made, so I’m just gonna add that not for nothing but the hiring committee needed to google her to find out about that reality show past. Kinda puts a damper on their argument that her first name will make it instantly obvious to every customer who walks in the door.

  48. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    I’m going to go with the Golden Rule here. If you were on a reality tv show 10 years ago, would you want other people to view you negatively because of it? (assuming no other evidence/reason to view you negatively) Or would you want them to treat you as they would if you’d never gone on tv? This doesn’t seem hard.

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        Well, you’re supposed to, that’s why it’s the Golden Rule. ;p

        But seriously, unless your behavior was really terrible, does it matter? In 10 years (if not now!), how are you going to handle people who have baby pictures online because their parents posted them WHEN THEY WERE A BABY? Or put silly videos of themselves on YouTube? Technology has changed, and the business world has to adjust as a result. Unless you’re going to argue that anyone with a social media account shouldn’t be hired because “OMG social media”!

        1. Colette*

          Should you hire someone who uses social media to post hate speech?

          It’s not about the technology, it’s about the way the person uses it.

          I’m not sure whether this candidate should be disqualified – it depends on the business, as well as how she behaved on the reality show – but no one is suggesting that someone should be disqualified because they have a social media account.

    1. fposte*

      If it’s about what I want, I don’t want people thinking of me negatively for mistakes I’ve made this week, either. I’m not sure that the Golden Rule is really a good hiring principle.

  49. Nephron*

    Honestly this would make me question the professional judgement of your committee. Reality TV is so very fake that basing hiring decisions on being associated with it would really make me wonder how aware of the world they were. It is also so ubiquitous that I wonder if they make it a blanket rule how many qualified candidates they might lose out on because if you include everything like Say Yes to the Dress, you are talking about a lot of people that are blacklisted from hiring. If they need a caterer will they exclude all the Top Chef contestants? Do they avoid company lunches prepared by people that went on Chopped? Do they hide logos when they order something from the major sponsors of reality shows?

    1. Penny Lane*

      ??? It seemed that the OP wasn’t talking about something innocuous like Say Yes to the Dress or Chopped or What Not To Wear or somesuch. Those are normal reality shows where nothing outrageous happens. It seemed that the reference here was to a more trashy show.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      And even if you were on something like The Bachelor, what’s the big deal? Did you do something that’s actually embarrassing for the company, like hate speech? Or is it supposed to be that the fact of your participation inherently disqualifies you? Because if it’s the latter, that speaks more to how out of touch the hiring committee is.

    3. Temperance*

      You do know that there’s a huge difference between Top Chef competitors and people who show their butts on television, right?

      1. AnotherAlison*

        OMG. . .things I had forgotten about. I also liked Celebrity Rehab. I don’t even know what channel VH1 is now. Or MTV.

        1. Kms1025*

          How about Bridal Boot Camp ( or something like that ). And the celebrity version of the same? LOL!

    1. Bea*

      I also go to see Bret Michaels when he’s touring here. I have no secrets!

      If my employers were to get my ridiculous tv and music choices prior to my hiring…they wouldn’t get the joy if organically learning these things. “What is this music choice?? Are you listening to Women Who Kill while doing excise taxes?!”

    2. Cheesesticks and Pretzels*

      That was pure entertainment! Brett’s talking heads were the best part.

    3. Former Retail Manager*

      I watched all seasons of that, and I’m not even a Bret Michaels superfan. And spinoff, Charm School, with Sharon Osbourne. Also liked Celebrity Rehab. VH1 was on a roll there for a while with the reality TV.

  50. Will "scifantasy" Frank*

    So…I was on a reality TV show about a decade ago.

    It was roughly in the Real World mode, though I always think of it as “The Real World meets The Amazing Race meets My Fair Lady.” I even got portrayed as kind of an egotist, but I was given an opportunity to be contrite and “forgiven” in the “welcome back” finale.

    And I have that fact–that I was on the show, I mean, not the egotist part–on my resume. In the catchall of “additional information,” alongside having been the Hugo Awards administrator and my experience as a programmer (I’m not in that field anymore and I don’t list any jobs, but it’s surprisingly useful to mention that I can code).

    I have found it to be an absolutely fantastic job interview icebreaker. I can’t tell you how many interviews I had where, toward the end after the raw facts finished up, had the interviewer soften their stance a bit and say “so I have to ask you about reality TV…”

    I also developed a pretty good patter about it–my mother compared it once to my doing summer stock; I went away for a few weeks, did this thing, and came back to my real life thereafter. I was also a year out of college, working in coding, and the following year I started law school, so all the interviews I went on after that got it shunted into the mental “before becoming a lawyer” phase.

    Of course it’s hard to gauge these sorts of things, but certainly I was never told that my stint on TV was why I got rejected from a job, and I am at a job I love and that seems to love me, and definitely has public-facing elements, so…yeah, LW, I have to say that your committee members sound very…prudish, actually.

    I mean, maybe I can see the “why didn’t she mention it?” factor, maybe, but still. A decade is a century in reality TV terms; nobody is going to remember unless they go looking, and nobody is going to care if they do. I only keep mine on because it makes for great story, not because I think I’m obligated.

    1. Oxford Coma*

      TBH I’d much rather hear about the Hugo Awards, if you are able to share anything. *big geeky begging eyes*

        1. Oxford Coma*

          Neat, thank you!

          (Yeah, the Puppies was basically the first thing I thought of. Bless you for having to deal with that.)

    2. Temperance*

      I think I used to watch your show. It was non-trashy fun, if you’re on the show I’m thinking of. I don’t want to out you if not. ;)

      I can imagine that would be a great item to bring up at networking events/during law interviews.

    3. Ann O.*

      I didn’t Google you, so I’m scared about what it will mean about me if I am right about this. Were you the socially extroverted geek on Beauty and the Geek who the show portrayed as getting kicked off for reading people a short story? (but in reality, Holly the Cosplay beauty, asked you to read the story)

        1. Will "scifantasy" Frank*

          Though, I don’t know that I would blame Hollie. It was more complicated than that, both the story itself (and I should have realized how that would look) and the reason my partner and I got booted. Still, it was a fantastic experience. I may be the only person who went on reality TV specifically to make friends.

          (Apologies if this comes through a few times. Tried to post on the subway, so maybe they went through and maybe not…)

          1. Ann O.*

            Yay! I’m glad it was genuinely a fantastic experience. At it’s best, it seemed like an uplifting, positive show, but after Megan returned as Bikini Girl on Rock of Love and then Megan Wants a Millionaire, I wondered how many other people just got great edits.

            And your description of the show as “The Real World meets The Amazing Race meets My Fair Lady” was dead on.

  51. The Original Flavored K*

    I can see both sides on this one. At the fundamentalist Christian schools I attended, anyone who had been on any kind of reality show would have been a tough sell. Very likely they would be expected to address it with that classic fundie performative regret — to talk openly about how they had lost their way but had Found The Lord Again and were now determined to Make Things Right and possibly even Guide Others Away From Their Sinful Path. Probably would have been as bullshit as I’m making it sound, but it still would have been expected.

    At the hospitals I’ve worked for? I doubt anybody would have batted an eye, provided they’d been mostly innocuous on the show.

    1. Observer*

      Come on. That’s just not relevant here. This is not a religious institution of any sort (about the only place I could see this being relevant.) It’s a MARKETING COMPANY. Do they really only hire people who fit the profile of “good moral character” of a religious school?

      1. The Original Flavored K*

        There are some places where image matters. I don’t particularly like it, but it is true. If they’re marketing, say, kids’ products, then I can see being kind of hesitant about bringing in somebody who was on reality TV, especially if any kind of intoxication was involved.

        1. Observer*

          I really, really don’t buy it. It’s suuuuch a stretch, to be very kind.

          Even if you are marketing things like kids products, no one is looking at the individual staff at the marketing company! I mean if it turns out that the team leader of the marketing firm is a serial ax murderer, that might be one thing. But otherwise? Ut’s just silly.

  52. Observer*

    I want to add my voice to everyone who thinks that your hiring committee are being total idiots.

    But, I want to suggest that you dig a bit deeper here. As weird as it is that they are hung up on the reality show, it’s even more weird that they expected her to put it on her resume! Why on earth would they expect her to do that? It just makes no sense.It’s not even a matter of “hiding” information. Do they expect her to put every summer job she’s ever had on her resume? Why would this be any different? So, I’m wondering what is really going on here.

  53. Greg*

    I love the circular logic of, “The fact that she didn’t disclose being on the show is causing me to judge her negatively, and also the fact that she was on the show is causing me to judge her negatively.” Gee, maybe the fact that she didn’t disclose it was because close-minded hiring managers unfairly judge her because of it!

    (Obviously, there might be cases where this logic would make sense. If she were a convicted felon, it would be reasonable to judge her both for her actions and her failure to disclose. But in this case, a) what she did wasn’t that bad, b) it bore no relevance to the job she’s applying to, and c) she clearly has good reason to suspect that it might evoke strong negative reactions from people.)

    1. Will "scifantasy" Frank*

      I’ll just add that the impossible dilemma you described in your “convicted felon” example is the reason we’re seeing “Ban the Box” campaigns open up: if they admit their past, they’re untrustworthy, and if they don’t, they’re untrustworthy. Hence, there are groups pushing to make the question illegal to ask.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Sadly, that’s been a major backfire. Studies show that the main target of the “Ban the Box” initiative are becoming the unintended victim of it.

        A lot of the thinking around it is that due to institutionalized racism and cycles of poverty, etc. POC are more likely to have a conviction on their record, and be unable to break the cycle when they can’t get a better job due to the conviction. So if employers can’t ask the question on the application, they can at least make it to the interview stage where they can be asked about it, but have the opportunity to explain and answer questions; and have a better shot at someone being willing to take a chance on them.

        Instead, what has happened in places where the ban has gone into effect, employers who previously had the question on the application form have a higher tendency – something like 42% higher – to reject applications from male applicants who have “ethnic” sounding names. The only people who are seeing any positive effect are a small percentage of white males with felony convictions on their record.

            1. Observer*

              Interesting. I looked at both studies. The one with the distinct before and after is sobering and disturbing. The other one leaves a lot of questions, although it’s a lot better than most of the other studies I’ve seen.

              1. animaniactoo*

                Yeah, I Google-Fu’d for an article that had links to both of these since they’re the ones that show the strongest correlation factors.

        1. Observer*

          I’ve actually yet to see a good study that shows this effect.

          It’s hard to do a study like this, because the institutionalized racism is real. So far, what I’ve seen is far more easily explained by racism with nothing to do with Ban the Box.

      2. Greg*

        You’re right. I was trying to think of a counterexample, and that was the first thing that came to mind. But I agree that people with criminal records are unfairly targeted in hiring. I shouldn’t have fed into that stereotype.

        With that in mind, please re-read my last paragraph as “If someone has done time for selling opioids and is applying to work in a pharmacy …”

    2. NotAnotherMananger!*

      Seriously. And the expectation that she DOES disclose it? I find that weird. As someone who’s had to talk many a person out of including things about themselves are “fun” and “conversation-starters” in favor of their actual qualifications to do the job, I would not find this omission odd or deceitful(!?!?) at all. It’s just not relevant to the position for which she applied. At all.

  54. Delphine*

    It depends on what she did on the show. Is she known for screaming racial slurs at another cast member? Okay, I can see why that might turn into a PR issue down the line. But just being on a reality show isn’t enough to disqualify a candidate, in my opinion.

  55. Juli G.*

    She should be hired immediately because she’ll be a hard worker. After all, she didn’t come here to make friends.

    1. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep*

      This needs the Chris Pratt gif from when he was on Parks and Recs with him going “ohhhh” with big kind of happy eyes. Very well done. :)

  56. LCL*

    This is worth fighting the committee about. If you have a decent rapport with any of them, talk to those pe0ple one on one first. Ask them to explain why rejecting a candidate for her supposed wild past isn’t the modern day version of s&*7 shaming. Or ask them if their professional opportunities should be limited because of things they did in their wild youth.

    I don’t usually go to the ‘society is trying to police women’s behavior’ argument first in matters of hiring. It’s usually not that simple. In this case, given what the OP has posted, it is that simple.

  57. Polly*

    I agree this should not be a hiring factor. My boss was also on one of those reality shows way back and it was definitely not one of the classy ones. She, however IS classy, assertive, smart and magisterially great. She is a lawyer and an FI analyst amongst many other things! Please don’t discount this person or your company could be missing out!

  58. Lindsay G*

    I feel like this is a knee jerk reaction from a bunch of people who have never actually watched whatever show she was on. They seem to be reacting and upset with the fact she was on a reality show…without knowing any of the additional information Alison mentioned, how can you make any kind of informed opinion? I watch the bachelor and wouldn’t recognize anyone from a season 10 years ago unless they were top 4 or the villain. I think the hiring committee hears “reality tv contestant” and immediately picture jersey shore x kardashian sex tape x tila tequila finds love type debauchery

  59. Crusty*

    I would not hire a reality TV personality or someone with sketchy social media posts. Your opinions & lifestyle are yours, but if I’m reading about shenanigans online or some crazy reality show, I’m not interested in paying you to work for me. I don’t hire tatted people or facial piercings either. But that’s my right, I won’t tell you why, I didn’t hire you either. I just say, “Unfortunately we’ve chosen another candidate to fill the position, thank you, good luck”. I love America!! You can be whoever you want to be, just don’t expect me to hire you.

    1. Bea*

      LOL You’re the one who misses out on people who may be happy to bust their asses to make your business more profitable but then again most people don’t want to work for someone who automatically tosses their resume because of their tattoos.

      I’m so bland and didn’t even have pieced ears until I was 31. But I remember when my beloved cranky pants boss of many years told my predecessor to find him someone “punk rock” that could run his office without taking shht from anyone. She found me and I had just scrubbed the weird colors out of my hair thinking everyone was like you. Whomp whomp whomp. Still no tattoos though, not my thing.

      1. NotAnotherMananger!*

        In fairness, there are some conservative industries where visible piercings/tattoos or fun hair colors aren’t going to fly. I work in one of them. They’re not entirely disqualifying, but you’d have to be willing to cover tattoos and take non-ear/(very small) nose piercings out to come to work; technicolor hair is a complete no. And we’ve relaxed dress code a lot since I’ve been doing this – no more pantyhose, business casual, jeans Fridays (several attorneys who refuse to participate in jeans Fridays, just on principle)!

        That said, my HR department would not be down with disqualifying people based on their social media history or participation in reality television, absent some really glaring issues. I think I’ve been specifically told NOT to base hiring decisions on Google.

        1. Bea*

          I’m in a deep blue area. So the world is a magnificent place where you just never know who and where your fashion choices will make or break your chances working there.

          I often see these rules in place for low rung positions where you’re more apt to be made to conform or in huge corporate structures. Which is all good and well since I have the luxury of having a skill set that’s nowhere niche and required by every business.

    2. Observer*

      Ow wow! You seem to have a very expansive definition of “reality TV personality.” And why would you waste time SEARCHING for their “goings on” of 10 years ago?

    3. McWhadden*

      I think it’s fair to say “bullet dodged” for those lucky folks you don’t hire.

  60. (another) b*

    Kal Penn played a stoner in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and he got a job in the Obama administration. I don’t think the reality show should count against her unless she seems truly awful.

    1. Temperance*

      Okay, but a.) he wasn’t actually a stoner, b.) he wasn’t actually smoking real pot on television, and c.) that movie had a pretty powerful anti-racist message.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m not really sure how that’s relevant. Even if Kal Penn was a stoner (instead of playing one), Obama himself smoked pot, and George W. Bush used cocaine.

  61. Bored IT Guy*

    I used to work with someone who had appeared on American Idol. Her appearance was not very successful, and her singing was … not good. Working with her was kind of annoying, she had a tendency to make boastful and likely untrue claims – she had Simon Cowell’s personal cell phone #, they talked all the time, she had been asked to be a backup singer for Beyonce, etc.

    Granted, this was an entry level job in a theme park, so there probably wasn’t a terribly in-depth interview process.

    (In contrast, the 2 people I’ve worked with who have been on Jeopardy have been wonderful coworkers)

  62. The Supreme Troll*

    I certainly am hoping that she wasn’t on any of the seasons of “The Bad Girls’ Club” from the Oxygen network. There might have been some “non-drama inducing” women on that show, but very very difficult to find!

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      I had all but forgotten about that show. My husband freakin’ loved it. Like he set a DVR timer to record it. Said it was like a more modern version of Jerry Springer.

      1. The Supreme Troll*

        I had heard somewhere that the syndicated show “Starting Over” (roughly 2003-2004) was the predecessor of it. I can’t imagine how that could have been true, though. The women on “Starting Over” were there to achieve personal goals that they had set for themselves through the help of two life coaches. I would absolutely never look down on hiring anybody who had been on the former show. I know this is off-topic, but it’s really sad that it was cancelled and replaced by “The Bad Girls’ Club” (same production team).

  63. J*

    I’m in the I would want to know camp. Many reality show participants attempt to get on other shows. I would at least like the opportunity to ask if they’re still going through the casting process for other shows. And while it wasn’t as much the case 10 years ago, many reality show participants are paid for appearances, and to endorse products, especially on social media. I’d also like to ask about potential conflicts of interest if they’ve taken an compensation for endorsing products or posting on social media.

  64. Ann Furthermore*

    Full disclosure: I believe that centuries from now, historians will pinpoint Keeping up with the Kardashians as the event that signaled the start of the decline of Western Civilization. I also believe that if there’s a hell, and I end up there, then I will be spending eternity on a never-ending reality show.

    For me it would hinge on what type of show it was. If it was a show where you had to demonstrate some sort of actual skill or talent to advance to the next round, like Project Runway, I wouldn’t hold it against someone. If it was a show where the contestant’s only objective was to be on TV by any means necessary, then yes, I would think twice about hiring them, because I think someone who does that, no matter their age, has questionable judgement. Does that make me a judgmental old fuddy-duddy? Probably.

    A lot of comments here about how it was 10 years ago. True, but 10 years ago was 2008, and by then it was well known that nothing you saw on “reality TV” was even remotely based in reality, so at that point, if you were to sign up to be on one, you shouldn’t have been surprised to find out that everything is edited to tell the story the editors want to tell. Also a lot of comments about how people do dumb things in their 20’s. Very true — and I did more than my fair share of them — but even at my most reckless and irresponsible at that age, I would never have signed up for something like that. Ever.

    I wouldn’t judge someone by how they were portrayed on a reality show. I would judge them for ever agreeing to do it in the first place.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      but 10 years ago was 2008, and by then it was well known that nothing you saw on “reality TV” was even remotely based in reality

      A lot of people don’t even realize this NOW. It’s really unrealistic to expect that everyone would have known it in 2008. Especially young people.

    2. McWhadden*

      I think that centuries from now historians will note the inherent instability of a culture whose favorite sport was known to cause severe head trauma but only clutched their pearls over women on TV who dared to have sex.

  65. Lily in NYC*

    I want to hire that lady who pooped on the stairs on Flava of Love! Actually, I have no idea what show it was but the incident is burned in my brain forever. For those who are don’t remember this (it was ages ago) some woman crapped on the floor in front of everyone during a long taping. Very klassy.

  66. bookartist*

    But there are *so many* things that are distasteful mind-numbing pablum that drags down what little is good about US culture – why single out reality tv participants when there are still cold-call telemarketers, debt collectors, and used-car salespeople out in the world?

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Ah yes, let’s not look down on someone for *this* job, let’s look down on them for *those* jobs!

      Seriously? In case you don’t recall, we had a global recession about ten years ago. A lot of people did whatever they could to get by.

      1. bookartist*

        The point is that so very many jobs are worth looking down so, why bother looking down on any?

  67. Former Retail Manager*

    No time to read all the prior comments so apologies for any repeats….

    What stands out most to me is, reality TV or not, it was 10 years ago…10!!! A freakin’ decade. Move on. Even if her behavior was Girls Gone Wild type of stuff at 23, there is a vast difference between 23 & 33. I find this akin to folks that have been in trouble in the past and may have served time. So you’ve been out of prison and clean for 10 years and working that entire time? Great….move on. People make mistakes, and with today’s technology, that can unfortunately live on forever. If she has proven herself a competent professional, I think that should be considered first and foremost.

    If public perception of the individual in this position is truly an issue and she turns out to be the strongest candidate, I think it might be worth potentially expressing the concern over public perception and asking her if she might be willing to professionally go by a more common middle name. That would probably alleviate 90% of any future Google related issues, unless someone recognized her, which I can’t imagine happening often.

  68. Lora*

    I don’t really watch the teevee box, but I got an earful about a few Amish-related reality TV things that were on a few years ago because I am from PA. It sounded…not good, but also very not-real. Like not REMOTELY real. There were many many points where I had to stop whomever was explaining it to me and say, “yeah, that is not a thing at ALL.” Then I met a co-worker who rented a house to one of the film companies to film the TV show in. He confirmed that it was all very scripted and fake, but that he and the surrounding Amish community made decent money selling lunch and supper to the film crew and renting out their farm animals and buildings and whatnot so on the whole they didn’t mind. There’s already Dutch Wonderland, the point of tourist trap commodification of their beliefs and life choices was passed several decades ago.

    In contrast, I’ve had the misfortune to know personally the family in Southie Rules. I have not seen the show, and was horrified enough to know that they would be on the teevee at all. Even hearing about their daily shenanigans via my ex was more than enough in the “things I didn’t need in my life” department.

  69. Anon wheee*

    My mind is boggling. I work for a decently buttoned-up workplace, made a complete ass of myself at a televised concert for a pretty well known band with a notoriously nuts fan base, you can LITERALLY HEAR ME ON THE RECORDING losing my last shred of dignity… and the worst I got when I came back to work was some ribbing and jokes about what I’m doing on my PTO. This happened less than six months ago!

    Ten years and she didn’t do anything concerning? My god let it GO.

  70. Pudgy Patty*

    This will be unpopular, but I believe you should have enough judgment in your 20s not to go on a reality show, lest it put you in a position like this. Sure, lots of people do dumb things in their 20s — but plenty of others don’t. I am sure this person is accomplished and has done well, but this will make things unnecessarily harder for her now.

    I agree with what you guys are saying, but in my reality, this is the kind of thing that is held against you, so consequently I try to live as pragmatically as possible. People can be really harsh, and everything lives on the internet forever. Better be safe than sorry.

  71. Cristina in England*

    I briefly dated someone who later went on to get married on one of those feel-good fantasy wedding shows. He and his wife are the first two people both to have this specific medical condition to conceive a child together. He is a really lovely sweet guy. Not all reality shows are scandalous or salacious.

  72. Gabriela Mallo*

    I don’t necessarily think that being on a reality show 10 years ago should automatically disqualify one from a job he or she is qualified for provided that the person in question never did anything overly racist, bigoted, homophobic, no history of assaulting or attempting to assault anyone, etc. Just look at conservative darling Elisabeth Hasslebeck. A lot of people forget she got her start on a reality show 17 years ago, but she was known as the sweetheart and never did anything morally objectionable, plus it was pre social media, so it didn’t hurt her career prospects any.

  73. analytica*

    The committee needs to get a grip and let this go, but this doesn’t seem like a winnable argument for you, OP.

    I actually Googled a fitness instructor to set up a private lesson and stumbled across the fact that she used to be on The Real World. It was surprising, but that was like 15-20 years ago? She is mature, super intelligent, and amazing at teaching and working with bodies. I’d give anyone who denied her a job because of her reality show appearance major major side-eye.

  74. Nicole*

    This could easily be a former co-worker of mine who was really great to work with. She was on a sort of strange MTV contest reality show. I don’t know your hiring process but couldn’t calling references/past employers alleviate some of these concerns? It’s so strange to me that a company would consider the experience a negative when it could easily be seen as good experience dealing with some of the perils of publicity and social media.

  75. MsSolo*

    Little bit tickled by the fact that a lot of Americans (not just commenters here) hold up GBBO as an example of how UK reality shows are much nicer than US. It’s not entirely untrue – our Masterchef contestants get to live at home, not houseshare, and our business makeover shows are much less sweary (especially since we exported Gordon Ramsey) – but I have to wonder: if Naked Attraction had been syndicated to the US before GBBO, how would you be describing our reality TV offerings instead?

  76. leeloosaurusrex*

    My mom used to work with one of the RW San Diego cast members, and he was made out to be a total jerk, but he’s actually a really nice guy. He told her that one of the only reasons why he went on the show was so he could get money for law school. It’s kind of BS that someone is getting judged for something this dumb.

  77. Rick Tq*

    Calling anything that has been through an editing suite “Reality” is a stretch. Anything that happens on your screen has been coached, re-shot, and edited to amp up interest in the show.. Even the critter-cams that aren’t a pure raw stream have highlight reels available.

    Your hiring committed needs to get a grip.

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