why do so many parents give terrible work advice to their kids?

It’s undoubtedly true that some parents, somewhere, give their adult children excellent guidance on jobs and work life. But based on the letters I get at Ask a Manager, I can say with confidence that many, many parents are steering their kids oddly astray when it comes to navigating work life. Sometimes this takes the form of truly terrible or dreadfully outdated advice. Other times, parents are actually interfering with their grown children’s work lives—even calling up their offspring’s employer, as a decade earlier they might have phoned a teacher to discuss their kid.

I wrote a column for Slate about the strange intrusions of parents into their grown children’s work lives. You can read it here.

{ 504 comments… read them below }

  1. Laura P*

    I’m 41; my mum hasn’t worked FT since 1972 and worked briefly as a secretary in a recruitment office in the early 70s. I’m a software engineer, a job that barely existed last time my mum worked. Does this mean she’s an expert on the World of Work in 2018? YOU BET!

    Mostly she’s aghast that people these days move jobs so often. She’s firmly wedded to the idea of a job for life. if you know anything about the software industry, then you’ll know that we tend to move around quite a lot, especially those of us working in startups. I really dread telling her I’m thinking about moving jobs or actually moving jobs, because she’s convinced it’s a sign of failure. When the reality is I’ve been continuously employed for 18 years and I make good money. I barely tell her anything about my work life now because I can’t handle her palpable disappointment at what a “failure” I am.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      Ah the job for life people.

      I had a boss like this. She made it clear she didn’t care for employees that were her daughter’s age (30s). She had also stayed in the same job she’d had for over 30 years. She never gave raises either.

      Every. Single. Time. Someone would leave for greener pastures, that woman would be shocked. Like she thinks she’s mom and if Mom says no raise, then there’s no raise. You’d think she’d get used to it, but no. Same reaction every time.

      1. KMB213*

        My boss is like this! The division he worked for was bought by new companies twice, so he technically worked for different companies, but it was more that he transferred when his division was bought. Eventually, he started his own small business, but, when it began, he basically had one client, the company he previously worked for. He did the exact same thing for them, he was just a contractor instead of an employee.

        He goes on and on and on about how it’s “disloyal” for people to leave a place of employment and about how much he values loyalty. Mind you, he pays less than market rate and doesn’t offer health insurance.

        To be fair, there are some perks, like flexible hours, and he’s very understanding when it comes to people making mistakes, he really listens to employee feedback. etc. Working for him is not all bad. But, I don’t see how he expects people to work for him forever when he pays below market rate, offers very few raises, and very rarely pays bonuses. (I process payroll, so I know it’s not just me who’s not getting raises or bonuses). It’s frustrating!

        1. Snark*

          I always wonder if this is just barely concealed self-interest, or if people like this actually believe this is how loyalty works in a fundamentally transactional economic relationship. Employees sell their time and experience, and the employer buys it, for a rate that is mutually acceptable. The basis for loyalty in such a relationship would, then, be perks and additional benefits to sweeten the deal and incentivize staying in it….like, say, regular raises or a good faith effort at competitive pay, say, or good benefits, or extraordinary security. It’s not personal loyalty and doesn’t work like that.

          1. Specialk9*

            The inherent deal in loyalty/job-for-life is that one doesn’t have job insecurity and can afford to buy all the 1950s standards (house, car, etc) on one salary.

            When people don’t provide that but still expect to rule feudally… Bizarre.

            1. Snark*

              Yup. If you want my loyalty such that I’ll never leave, I’ll be waiting for my lifetime contract specifying my starting salary and guaranteed raise schedule, along with COLA and inflation adjustments, benefits, and pension. No? hahakaybye

              1. Mike C.*

                This, pretty much. I have a price and will be more than happy to deal with petty bullsh!t if I know I’m taken care of.

                And yet there are people out there who think that’s “too mercenary”. F*ck that, it’s life.

              2. Triple Anon*

                Right! Another example of people confusing business and personal. Personal loyalty = being a lifelong friend, being there to listen or whatever you can do when times get tough, not being judgmental about personal differences and the changes people go through in life, giving your friend a heads up when someone tries to wrong them in some way, etc. Business loyalty = supporting businesses that earn your support by being good to do business with, either as an employee or a customer. In other words, if you hire me, give me money. If you want a loyal friend, that’s fine, but you’re not entitled to business loyalty as part of that deal.

                1. TootsNYC*

                  even with friendship–you need to get out of the friendship something that is worth the energy that you put into it. Those one-sided friendships don’t last either!

          2. Antilles*

            I always wonder if this is just barely concealed self-interest, or if people like this actually believe this is how loyalty works in a fundamentally transactional economic relationship.
            I have no data on this, but I would guess it’s far more commonly the latter. A lot of people (not just bosses, but employees too) develop a skewed view on work and think of it more as a personal relationship rather than the reality of a economic/service relationship. So when someone makes a straightforward business decision to leave for more money, it feels like a personal betrayal rather than just a business choice.

            1. Snarkus Aurelius*

              This right here. It also explains why some of the long-timers in my government job are complete butt holes. If they exhibited their normal behavior in any other work environment, they’d be fired. But since they’ve been here since the early 70s, they’ve “paid their dues.”. They do what they want. And they do say that.

              Which is ironic. I’d rather stick around for pay and bonuses, but if you want to crap on people instead, you do you, I guess.

              1. Snark*

                There’s always the slacker lifer who gives precisely no f*cks and is completely up-front about that.

                1. Mike C.*

                  @ssholes aside, I can understand the slacker lifer in a large bureaucracy. You can’t move quickly, you can’t be effective and it’s much too easy to be thwarted for political reasons than for anything based on merit or business/mission sense. At some point folks are just going to settle in, not make waves, and continue to cash those paychecks until they can retire.

                2. Snark*

                  All that is true, but at the same time, not returning an email for a month or taking a two-hour coffee break on top of lunch is pretty bullshitty.

                3. Jesca*

                  In my company, that is rewarded. Actually after I slammed down all of the sexist reasons my boss gave me as to why he thinks I can’t succeed at a job I have literally done successfully at two other business in much more high stakes situations, his last was, “Well I know people like you, but I am afraid they won’t respect you because you haven’t been in this particular industry for 30 + years.” To which I pointed out that a. my job has nothing to do with their actual products; b. that is why this side of the business is failing so hard; and c. that sounds an awful lot like a way to prevent people typically pushed out of this industry (women) to stay out of it. Yeah, the fear right now is real for them.

                  But anyway, my point is, there are plenty of industries who value experience over new knowledge (like how to set up a business to function in times of extreme change and market fluctuation). Healthy turn-over is a real thing, and I hard side-eye anyone who values “lifers”.

          3. the gold digger*

            I was horrified to see that Emily Post recommended writing a thank-you note to the boss for a bonus. It’s not the boss’ personal money! It’s a business transaction. We are loyal for money.

            1. Snark*

              WAHT NO

              Seriously, was this recent advice? Dan and Lizzie tend to be pretty well-informed about modern professional norms.

              1. the gold digger*

                Yes! I wanted to provide the link, but I couldn’t find it. I saw it on facebook in the past month or so and was so horrified that I clicked through to comment that NO! THAT IS NOT WHAT ALISON SAYS!

                1. Jesca*

                  Hahaha I have found myself of late doing this a lot on facebook posts! Like hell yeah you should ask about salary and benefits and culture and what happened to the last person and … etc at exactly the moment you feel like it. Because I don’t work for free, and I am interviewing you as you are interviewing and who do you think you are telling people they can’t ask those things!?!?

            2. JanetM*

              I certainly wouldn’t write a thank-you note for a COLA, or even a “standard” merit raise. On the other hand, I could probably see thanking — maybe even in writing — a boss for pushing a raise through bureaucracy (getting a position re-evaluated, for example).

          4. KMB213*

            I think there’s maybe a bit of both, but I really think a lot of it is the latter in this case. (Obviously it will vary for other workplaces.)

            My boss is very into us all being “a family” and often refers to his employees as friends, as well, so he does view so many things at work as personal. I know I’m making it sounds like a horrible workplace – it’s really not, but the lines between personal and professional get blurred by my boss and a couple of coworkers (incidentally, the ones who’ve been here the longest) far too often. (And, this is coming from someone who actually enjoys some workplace bonding events – I like doing happy hours with coworkers a couple of times a month, or even an occasional trivia night or something.)

          5. anon for this*

            In my industry (book publishing) I think most employers absolutely expect unconditional loyalty from employees. This extends beyond staying at the job forever and giving months and months of notice if you ever dare leave to working unlimited amounts of overtime for crappy pay and no benefits (and usually publishers are based in big, high cost of living cities). They get away with it because there will always be an army of English majors waiting to do the work for less.

            1. buttercup*

              This is all secondhand, but a common stereotype about people who work in publishing is that many of them are trust fund babies who are accepting of the low salaries because they don’t solely rely on them. Otherwise, you would imagine an industry that pays so low would experience high turnover at least, if not a low number of available applicants.

          6. Wintermute*

            Also, this idea comes from the era of the defined benefit pension, where a company wouldn’t just take care of all of your 1950s essentials, make sure you could buy that house with the white picket fence, two cars, raise 2.5 kids in a nice suburb– but also take care of you basically forever as long as you put in your 35 years.

            and you know what? for that I’d be loyal too!

        2. buttercup*

          Arrgh it grates me every time I hear about employers (usually the old ones) go on and on about “employee loyalty”. It’s not a personal relationship, people! Also, these same people don’t realize their hypocrisy – they’re usually the ones who don’t consider anything in the way of “employee loyalty” in the form of job security, raises, promotions, good benefits, opportunities for growth…

    2. LSP*

      My husband is in your field, and he stayed at his last job for over six years, and was worried if he stayed there too long, it would look like he couldn’t get hired elsewhere and make moving to another job harder with each passing year.

      1. many bells down*

        My husband had the same worry. 10+ years at a startup is FOREVER in the gaming industry. He liked his company then and he loves his company now; he doesn’t want to change jobs every few years. But it’s really not typical in that industry.

        1. Dan*

          Not to quibble, but after 10 years, I don’t think a company can be considered a “start up” anymore, no matter how big or small.

          1. many bells down*

            I know, it’s funny. They had a couple of good games, but they never really made it big, and they folded shortly after he left them. Too old to be a startup, not quite successful enough to really be labeled “indie game company.”

    3. chocoholic*

      My in-laws are like this. My FIL was a police officer and my MIL was a teacher, and I think due to these jobs as well, they are very wedded to the idea of one job/employer for life. My FIL worked for the county government for 30 years to receive his retirement. He *hated* it, and just stuck it out for the majority of his career (probably close to 20 of the 30 years) because of the stability and the retirement. Life is too short for that kind of nonsense, IMO.

      My husband is an architect and was laid off during the economic downturn in 2010. We didn’t tell my IL’s for a long time that he was off work because we knew it would just stress them out. And we were right. When he did get a job, my MIL’s first question was about how likely he was to be able to be laid off, can companies do that, etc. Sigh.

      1. Legal Beagle*

        My parents are wonderful and unintrusive, but out of touch in some areas. My dad was a government employee for 30 years before he retired with a pension, and he was SHOCKED that most employers don’t cover 100% of the insurance premium for you and your family. I had to convince him that my husband’s small employer isn’t terrible and malicious for only covering 50% of the employee’s insurance premiums and nothing for spouse/dependents; it’s just how things are these days. He’s been shocked by lay-offs, too. I think he still operates on the idea that loyalty goes both ways and the only way you lose your job is gross incompetence. If only!

        1. Future Homesteader*

          My in-laws, bless them, recently gave my husband and me the advice that we should both find jobs with good pensions that will allow us to have health insurance for life (this in response to our telling them how geeked we were because we both had jobs with generous 401k matching programs).

          1. De Minimis*

            To be fair, that advice isn’t necessarily bad for someone in a certain age group/sector. It’s just not good for everyone, and not good for people who aren’t really in the government/higher ed realm. I do work in that area and am in theory somewhat closer to retirement, so the way different jobs structure their health benefits/retirement is pretty important to me [and it varies a lot between entities even in the same region.]

            1. dear liza dear liza*

              I think it’s bad advice because such offers are very, very rare. I have a relative who retired from New York with full pension + health insurance, but I don’t know anyone else with such a plan. I’m a state employee in higher ed and was not offered a pension or health insurance for life.

              1. De Minimis*

                Guess it’s one of those “except in California” things. Pretty much all of the higher ed and government jobs here in CA have a pension of some sort, though the big variation appears to be in what employees are expected to pay for healthcare premiums [sometimes close to nothing, sometimes about the same as they’d probably be paying at larger private sector employers.]

              2. doreen*

                That’s going to depend very much on exactly where you are- I live in NYC and work for NYS. Everyone I know who works for a government agency will retire with a pension, most will retire with health insurance for life and in my case, my husband will still be eligible for health insurance even if he survives me. But just because that’s the case here doesn’t mean it’s true in other states or even every part of this state.

            1. Wintermute*

              A huge part of those attacks, though, is this very issue– the idea that government jobs have more security, more stability and a better pension than the people that are being taxed to provide their benefits. There is definitely a certain sense of “don’t live better than me on my dime” along with the usual labor problem in America that people hate to see anyone having it better than them and rather than try to raise everyone up they try to tear other people down.

              1. TardyTardis*

                It’s sad how people are being talked into attacking people with sweet deals rather than wondering why they aren’t getting the sweet deals (you know, like unions BAD!). You have to wonder exactly who might be behind that sometimes.

        2. Enough*

          Husband and I are in our sixties. Husband’s first two employers paid for employees but we had to pay any difference between that and the family cost. Seemed reasonable.

      2. Chinook*

        “my MIL was a teacher, and I think due to these jobs as well, they are very wedded to the idea of one job/employer for life”

        Around here, whether or not you had a single employer as a teacher is generational. There are a lot of teachers who graduated 10 years before me who only worked at one school their entire career. those who graduated with me, we went from one year contract to one year contract, bouncing around the province, dealing with colleagues who can’t understand why we don’t choose to settle down in one spot (which was a literal conversation I was a part of in one staff room).

        1. De Minimis*

          My mom is the outlier, I think she ended up working at three different employers before her teaching career ended, and one of those involved two separate stints.

          I’m from one of those states that has an abundance of school districts, though [they always talk about consolidation but it never happens] so I’m wondering if it might be more common for teachers to switch jobs there. I know in the rural areas in particular teachers seem to move around a lot–they’ll commute a ways for work and then leave when a job opens up closer to home.

          1. doreen*

            I suspect that the frequency with which teachers switch employers has a lot to do with the size of the school district – if your school district has hundreds of schools, you can can change locations without changing employers.

      3. Oxford Coma*

        Talking to teachers about work: GET OUT IT’S A TRAP!

        One of my teacher relatives scolded me for making a counteroffer because I was being “tacky and ungrateful” and I “should have just checked the salary online”. Because apparently I just never knew that all privately-owned tech companies have salaries (broken out by step and credit hours earned) on a public-facing website.

    4. Liz*

      My boss at my first office job straight up told me “they’ll never promote you here, if you want a raise and promotion you’ll probably have to move somewhere else.” I’ll always be grateful for that advice, and he and I are still friendly and get lunch occasionally!

      1. Violet*

        I was told this by my supervisor at my current position, except I’m a contractor and she is my on-site supervisor who instead phrased it more like “we’ll never be able to give you non-contract employment, although we wish we could afford to, don’t be afraid to look for other jobs” kinda thing.

      2. TardyTardis*

        There are some school districts where if you work for them for more than year, you are doomed to work for them for life, because by the time they write your evaluations, no other district will ever hire you. My husband was warned about them when he taught in Arkansas.

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      Same thing with my mom. When I mentioned that I might look for a new job soon, she was befuddled. In her mind, you get a job when you’re in your twenties, and then you work there until you’re dead or retired. She also likes to pull out the “I’ve gotten every job I’ve ever applied for” line. Well, yes, she has, but (and I am not saying this to be snotty/elitist/mean), she’s applied mostly for low-paying CNA jobs, which are notoriously hard to keep filled. She’s never applied for a white-collar job that attracted 500+ applicants.

      1. Snark*

        I read stuff like this, and it’s like….were you not born before 2008? Have you been on a news fast since then?

    6. Snark*

      My parents put their own lovely spin on this: they’re small business owners and have employed themselves since, oh, 1984 or so. They are completely confused about why I’d ever want to work for someone else and are up my ass on a regular basis about “hanging out my own shingle” and starting my own consulting firm. Because I like having someone else do my business development, payroll and employment taxes, and program management, mom, that’s the short answer. Every time I get a new job, they’re like, well, this will be good experience for when you go into business for yourself.

      1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

        My Dad is the same way. He walked out of a job, started his own company, and has been happily doing as he pleases since about 1986.

        I don’t want to dicker with clients about contracts and deliverables and resource allocation. I don’t want to manage payroll/taxes/own health insurance/etc. I want to show up, do good work, and go home. Yet I think he still nurses the hope that I might move home someday and take over the business, despite my fair certainty at 34 that I would not be a good fit as The Boss.

    7. Aphrodite*

      Yup, my late father worked at Ma Bell his whole life. There was no other phone company and the benefits were outstanding. He retired the day AT&T was broken up, 1986, I think. By then he had 35 years with them.

    8. H.C.*

      My folks are the same way too – the first time I changed jobs and let them know, their initial assumption was that I got fired from ExJob.

    9. Michaela Westen*

      I caught the tail end of the job-for-life mentality, late 70’s-early 80’s. I thought I would have that when I grew up along with marrying in my 20’s and having kids.
      It turned out these factory jobs were low pay and very boring, I had always had plenty to read/occupy my mind and wasn’t used to the boredom! The culture was often toxic and I just couldn’t see myself staying there. I also couldn’t handle getting married at that time!
      I left for greener pastures. I doubt any of those factories are open any more.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My mom is convinced:
      -that you can’t take time off work to take care of a serious boyfriend after major surgery (my sister)
      -that you should stay at a job even if you hate it because at least you have a job
      -that 80’s power suits are appropriate work attire for EVERY situation
      -that sexism in the workplace doesn’t exist
      -that even if sexism in the workplace existed, it couldn’t possibly be the man’s fault

      She hasn’t worked full time in 30 years. I don’t discuss work with her much. Neither does my sister.

      1. Snark*

        “-that 80’s power suits are appropriate work attire for EVERY situation”

        Yesssss all with the shoulder pads

        1. Ellex*

          Last time I saw those shoulder pads was on General Hale’s non-uniform outfit on last season of Agents of SHIELD. I felt like I’d been transported back to my childhood.

          1. Kelsi*

            I have about a goddamn million of them. I have to cut them out of every thrift store jacket I buy.

      2. the gold digger*

        In 1988, when I told my boss I no longer wanted to work with a certain broker because he had kissed me, my boss wanted to know what I had done to provoke the situation. I told my boss I didn’t usually try to seduce (old) married men my dad’s age.

    11. RJ the Newbie*

      I work in a field where you find a lot of ‘job for life’ believers (accounting) and I have to say that one of the benefits of working with multiple generations is seeing the generation after mine (Millenials) not taking the same crap that I had to when I was learning my field. They work hard and ask for what they should get and if they don’t get it, they move on.

          1. Allison*


            1. Snark*

              Have we made enough avocado toast jokes yet? I think so, but just in case, insert one here.

            2. Gazebo Slayer*

              OMG yes.

              Affluent older folks: Millennials are sooo entitled, they should be *grateful* to have their $13-an-hour temp jobs with no benefits!

              Also affluent older folks: WHYYYYY aren’t millennials buying houses or having children??? What’s WRONG with them??!

              1. TardyTardis*

                Millies: why are those old Boomers still working the $13 an hour jobs? Don’t they have Social Security?
                Ans: you go live on $800 a month. Or if you don’t have Medicare yet, paying for your insurance premium out of pocket.

      1. Mike C.*

        I hope they enjoy not being able to fill open positions and whining about “THE SKILLZ GAP”.

        1. Snark*

          Jackwagon CEO: All these damn millennials, getting bullshit degrees in English poetry or whatever, and I tell you – I’ve had 10 good positions open for a year because nobody even applies! The skills gap is getting worse! I just need good llama fur quantifiers!

          NARRATOR: Those positions are 20% below market value, he doesn’t offer vacation time for the first two years, his business currently scores 2.1 on Glassdoor, and he requires at least 10-15 hours of overtime every week.

        2. Wintermute*

          That’s what H1b visas are for. Just add “10 years experience with a technology that came out in 2002” as a requirement and magically you can now claim there are no Americans that meet the requirements, go oversees and import all the talent you want without ever having to pay market wage!

      2. Annon for this*

        The bookkeeper who did my books at my accountants firm left at 60. She gave 3 – 4 months notice and retired. She had a couple of personally difficult years and just could not continue to spend 1/3 of the year working 7 day weeks (for tax season).

        They let her work out her extended notice, but not one of the partners congratulated her on her retirement. They kept hinting around that she was going to work somewhere else. She is taking care of her grandkids. They all avoided talking to her after she gave her notice. It was like they personally were affronted that she would leave. I felt so bad for her. She had been there 10-15 years.

    12. Bad Candidate*

      Yup. I’m 41 too and my dad only had one full time job, which he got at 19 and stuck with because they had a “30 year and out” retirement plan. So he retired at 49 and is 68 now. So he hasn’t had to job search since 1969. He’s also an expert on how to find a job, how much they should pay you, and how they should treat you. I’ve told him time and again that having union protection is nice, but I don’t have that luxury.

    13. Allison*

      I would love a chance to stick with the same company for the rest of my career! I’d love to never have to job hunt ever again, and just get yearly raises and increases in vacation days, and a fully vested 401(k). Right now, I’m fortunate to have a job where that looks like a possibility, but you never know these days. Unfortunately, due to the changing nature of the tech industry, priorities change, budgets get slashed, people get laid off, contracts don’t get renewed and it’s not always a reflection on the worker, just the needs of the team.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        “I would love a chance to stick with the same company for the rest of my career! I’d love to never have to job hunt ever again, and just get yearly raises and increases in vacation days, and a fully vested 401(k). ”
        Me too!

      2. Luna*

        Even when you have that is doesn’t always work out as well as you think. The COL in my (now former) city increased so quickly and dramatically that the annual raises could not keep up (those COL numbers are not always based on the local area, management would play all sorts of shady number games to keep the raises lower).

    14. Penelope*

      Oh my gosh, yes. I am 42 and quite successful and my mom hasn’t worked full time since I was a kid in the 80s. She still implies I’ll get fired if I take an extra day off or work from home, and that I should head down/do my job in order to get ahead. It was a different time for her, for sure, but she also worked in a church and had no idea how to work in the real world with any success. It’s amazing how just a few generations can put us out of touch with each other!

    15. Sketchee*

      As per Allison’s advice, why tell her that you’re thinking of moving? My family and I have plenty of good things to talk about that I’m pretty comfortable not engaging in topics that aren’t helpful.

      Your mileage may vary, for me a script like “This isn’t something I’m up for discussing right now. I have it figured out. And then ask a pleasant question.” If they insist, I continue to not engage and talk about something else.

      Within myself, I’ve also learned to just accept it’s okay if my idea of success is someone else’s idea of failure. That took time though!

      1. Laura P*

        Yep I don’t tell her any more. We have a strictly “talking about the weather” relationship these days because I can’t handle the reminders I’m a failure (I’m also never-married which she’s horrified by ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

    16. TootsNYC*

      actually, in software, I think you NEED to move around. Because that’s the best way to build your skills, to learn new languages or formats, etc.

    17. Nanani*

      At least it’s “just” advice. The worst manifestation of this is when the people at the top of your office still believe in job for life, because they were hired when it was still a thing and moved up largely on seniority, but judge you and your peers as failures for having moved among different jobs.
      Changing norms? Economic climate? NO it’s clearly all these dang kids and their smartphones draining all the gumption out of them.

      I am not exaggerating, this dynamic was in place at the last office job I had before going self-employed.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yeah, I used to be in a field where the hiring managers were genuinely shocked that people were actually applying to jobs they were “overqualified” for and weren’t going straight out of school into midlevel positions.

        I actually rather enjoyed disabusing one interviewer of her naivete. She’d worked in the same job for something like twenty years and just had no clue.

    18. Nacho*

      I plan on staying in my current job as long as I can, but that’s more because I’m too lazy to find someplace else than because I’m loyal.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        I’ve job searched so many times in the last fifteen years or so that I never want to do so again. If you’re willing to hire me perm and the job isn’t awful, I might well stay till retirement!

    19. Gadget Hackwrench*

      First place I worked right out of college was a start up, and the CEO, who I saw every day because there were <20 people in the whole company, came from this line of thinking. They paid well below market value for Devs, salary, and required immense amounts of overtime and then scheduled ridiculous amounts of after work semi-optional social events, like bowling or whatever. They were always on about how we should be "giving back to the company." Not the community. The company. We were constantly told how lucky we were to work for this rising star of a little company and how important our loyalty to the company was. Every time someone moved on for a better position, management would talk smack about them for at least a month as if they had been personally slighted by someone taking a job elsewhere. "What a snake. They were just using us, for a paycheck. They never intended to be a real part of this company." WHAT?!?!?

  2. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I cannot even begin to count the number of parents (& SOs/spouses) that I had call me to ask questions when I worked at a staffing agency. I always did my best to redirect by saying “have them call me and we can set up an interview”. But come on. Do you really think that’s helping make someone look reliable and responsible enough to be hired?

    1. Cacwgrl*

      Ugh!!!! I so feel you! We have a firm prohibited personnel practices rule that means parents cannot advocate for employment for their kids and yet every week, I get at least one call of “who do I need to talk to to get my kid hired? My friend Random HiringManager said they’d take them”. You know who you call? Legal Counsel because I’m done being nice about it. Even when I tell them to have the kids call me with questions and that oh by the way this is prohibited practice, they still call. I’m literally the only person in the organization that handles this and I tell everyone to call the lawyer when they ask that question. You’d think word would spread that Cacwgrl is kind of a B and only talks to candidates for specific questions.

      1. ANon.*

        “I’m sorry, there must be some miscommunication. We don’t recruit/hire children. We only employ adults.”
        “[Son/Daughter] is an adult!”
        “Then s/he should be speaking with me directly, not through you.”

      2. Triple Anon*

        I wouldn’t even say, “Have Kid call me,” because you don’t know who the caller actually is and what their relationship to the candidate is. I would just say, “We don’t discuss applications with outside parties,” or something along those lines. I would shut it down quickly and let them know that they are welcome to submit their own application or do business with the company as a customer, and that’s it.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      One of many reasons I love GDPR (and its predecessor) in the EU… “I’m sorry, data protection legislation means I’m not permitted to discuss this with you.”

    3. KMB213*

      I am the hiring manager for administrative staff at my office and the first point of contact for nearly everyone who applies – this is a small part of my job (it’s a very small business), so I’m sure I don’t encounter this as much as you, but I still encounter it all of the time! And it’s so hard not to hold it against applicants – I know that, in many cases, the applicants would be mortified to know that a parent or SO is calling on their behalf, but it’s just so difficult to know which applicants that applies to.

    4. the elephant in the room*

      I used to work as an HR assistant and once a parent actually accompanied her child to his interview. He was clearly unhappy, but she drove him there and came right into the office with him, chattering about how she could drive him to work and so on. (It was clear he was just out of high school and it’s not unusual for people in my hometown to skip college and go straight to labor jobs.) My boss told her she needed to stay in the lobby and then gave me his “no” look as he and the kid went into his office. I really wanted to tell her, “Your behavior today just cost your son this job,” but then we probably would have had An Issue on our hands.

  3. Miss Elaine e.*

    Yeah, these examples are all egregious, but I have to point out it goes both ways. My firstborn graduated from an expensive technical college with all the skills — but not a clue as to how to go out and get a job. He thought blasting the world with a resume would be enough. After 18 months, not one student in his class got a job involving their major. And no wonder.
    IMHO, a college or university should require ALL students to have at least one course in how to get a job, using current methods.

    1. Tableau Wizard*

      I see this as less “go[ing] both ways” and more “college career centers do a terrible job as well”. Most of my peers didn’t expect that we knew how to find a job, whereas these parents think that their advice is gold, when it’s actually trash. As a 2013 grad, I found that having professional mentors was the best way to get real advice on how to find a job – that was before I discovered AAM.

      1. Miss Elaine e.*

        True: I should not have used the “it goes both ways” phrasing. It seems to me that academia has failed its students in the practical aspects of getting a job.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Some career centers are made up of the same people who are also giving bad advice as parents. Or at the very least it’s the same advice. It’s an overall problem of people with outdated advice pushing it as gospel.

          1. Triplestep*

            This. My daughter got advice from someone in her career center who had never hired, and had never job-searched. She had gone to that university for undergrad, then grad, then worked there.

            1. the elephant in the room*

              That’s what a lot of the “career center” people were like, as well. That or they hadn’t needed to hunt for a job in 40 years and were passing down outdated advice.

        2. Jenn*

          I am a little sensitive about this because I work at a university (although not in the career center or in an academic role) but all of that information is there for the taking. Some programs require internships, others do not. There are career counselors assigned to each school. I took advantage of all of this in college just because that’s the kind of person I am. I did two internships and met with the counselor to create my resume and I signed up for mock interviews. No one told me to do this, I just stopped by the career center when I was a junior and they gave me a plan. My brother went to the same university and did none of that and my mom would always be like “No one told him to do an internship!” – well, yeah. No one will. No one will remind you to pay your gas bill or tell you when you should or should not go see a doctor. Part of growing as an adult is taking initiative and seeking out experts in your own personal low-skill areas.

          In my own department I’ve had 6 student workers since I’ve started. They’ve all come from the same academic program. Three were amazing. Self-starters, really smart and creative. Pleasant to be around and helpful. Three were terrible. They constantly called in sick or just didn’t show up. They missed deadlines. They didn’t ask questions or asked way too many questions all the time without ever taking the time to do their own searching. There was no difference in their education – they took the same classes and had the same professors. Some just tried harder and took initiative and others do not. I don’t know that it’s a university’s responsibility to teach someone to try and take initiative.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I don’t think it’s an issue of initiative, though. My college career center was terrible, to the point where the school’s HR director (who taught my intro to HR class) flat-out told us not to bother going there. The director of the career center insisted on printing out everyone’s resume on blue marbled card stock instead of regular paper. So you could have the initiative to go to the career center, but if the people there are giving bad advice and you don’t know enough or have enough experience to realize it’s bad advice, you’re going to follow it–and probably look stupid to potential employers.

            1. Alcott*

              I took my resume to the career center when I was a senior and I’m fairly certain the person who reviewed it was a student worker who had been given a checklist to make sure the resume contained things like my name and job titles. She acted like I was the first person she’d ever seen use bullet points under a job title.

          2. Snark*

            all of that information is there for the taking

            But you don’t know what you don’t know, and when you don’t know what you don’t know, you don’t necessarily know how to go find it or what’s reliable and actionable information.

            1. SignalLost*

              And if you don’t know that and no one tells you that, it doesn’t matter how much initiative you have. I didn’t know the value an internship would have given me, straight out of college in the 90s, but boy do I wish I’d known to do one now. I wish I’d known how to do anything about getting a job and keeping it and being successful and actually employable (which I apparently am not, though that can’t all be laid at the feet if not doing an internship, that’s a big responsibility for it.)

              1. Media Monkey*

                i also graduated in the 90s, and at that time (in the UK at least) internships were unpaid. there were no laws against that at the time. so while i would have loved to have done one, i couldn’t have afforded to live in London without an income. so there’s that!

          3. notanon*

            This is not necessarily the case. For instance, my school’s career services department was a joke. Because I was a woman earning a STEM degree, they automatically assumed “nursing!” and scheduled me appointments with nothing but medical staffing agencies. Which was a waste of my time and theirs, since my degree is definitely not medical. At all. And by the time I realized what they had done, it was too late to get on the calendar of anyone visiting our school who was pertinent to my degree.

            1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

              My major was English with Writing Concentration (Technical and Creative) and I kept getting shoved towards teaching. My advisor was the Department Chair, and she had literally no time for me after I mentioned I wasn’t interested in going into education. At the time, I didn’t even know career services was a thing and as such, never visited them.

            2. Lora*

              Yup. Mine gave me the following options:
              1. Nursing school
              2. Medical school
              3. Teaching
              4. Pharmacy school
              5. Grad school in life sciences

              At least they knew medical school and grad school were options. They had zero clue about industry though.

          4. Another Jenn*

            Oh boy, I could have written this response: worked for a university, developed a career development program for business students, managed the job board, promoted internships, reviewed countless resumes, etc. One of the problems was that parents often told their kids to turn to faculty for advice. Tenure-track faculty haven’t had to job search for (in some cases) decades. If they could be reached, their advice was equally terrible and outdated to the parents’.

            My advice to college students: seek out staff instead of faculty. Staff have sat on interview panels. They’ve reviewed resumes. They’ve hired & fired. They’ve applied for jobs themselves. They’ve mentored interns and student workers. They’ve advanced their own careers through hard work, promotions, and strategic career moves. Yes, some faculty have done some of those things, but the way a typical faculty member advances his/her career is very likely to be so different from a modern career path now.

            My parents gave me (mostly) bad advice for my job search and subsequent career management. My dad is one of those “everyone is out to get you, so get them first” people. My first review was so scary until my boss said, “I don’t believe in surprises during reviews.” I had been certain I was going to get laid off!

          5. Oxford Coma*

            I was given completely wrong advice by my academic advisor. It cost me an entire extra semester. Now the school wonders while I’m hostile to requests for donations.

        3. smoke tree*

          I think it really varies depending on the institution (and region possibly? I’m in Canada). My university actually had a great career centre and (paid) internship program and taught me a lot about job seeking–most of their advice was similar to Alison’s, and they also had a lot of specialized knowledge about the specifics of different industries. They’re the reason I was able to get into the highly competitive field I’m in now. Not all students took advantage of this, but they did a lot of outreach, and I got the impression that most people were aware of them.

          Of course, there is a broader question about how well suited academia is as a training ground for professional work (in my opinion–not very).

          1. AcademiaNut*

            I also came through a Co-op program in Canada in it was fantastic! Resume practice, real job interviews with real companies, work experience, presentation experience! I never interacted with the general career advice centre, though.

            I do think that industry and business should be getting involved in the process, if they’re expecting just out of school, entry level applicants to be functioning as mature employees. Having a variety of actual employers from different fields involved in workshops about resumes, applying for jobs and interview techniques will be a lot more useful than passing it off to career academics, or passing it off to career centres run by university employees.

    2. Admin2*

      I assure you every institution has a career center, co op programs and career counselors just waiting for people to come in. They can’t compel them to make use of the facilities.

          1. Newton Geizler*

            I think this is a little unfair. My university had us take a required ‘Intro to Life’ course for both semesters of our freshman year. (I forget what it was actually called, but it was something along the lines of ‘Intro to Chemistry Major’)
            Every week, we met up for one hour and learned things like how to set up resumes, how to apply for internships, how to dress for interviews, what to expect from interviews, etc etc etc. I took it in addition to a challenging course load. It was awesome!
            It worked because it was really low stakes (we just had to show up to get credit, basically) and pretty casual. We could ask whatever questions we needed to, and since it was just an hour once a week, it didn’t really add anything to our course load. All of us got internships. Required courses can be done well.

            1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              IMO, they need to start teaching this stuff in HIGH SCHOOL, and not wait til college. These are important life skills that not everyone can easily figure out on their own, and many parents aren’t equipped to give proper guidance on.

              1. Rhoda*

                I agree.
                I think an Introduction to Life module at university would have seemed a trifle patronising at that stage.

              2. Marion Ravenwood*

                Agreed. And early/middle high school at that. Granted it’s slightly different in the UK, but we didn’t get any kind of careers advice until we were doing GCSEs (aged 14/15), which I personally think is too late.

        1. Student*

          This is a life skill that doesn’t require a college course. It’s just not that complicated. Nearly all non-collegiate people manage it. It’d be like teaching a college course on how to do laundry. Yes, it’s a thing that everyone should learn to do; no, the solution is not to teach a formal college course on it.

          Plus, have you met college professors? They know about hiring other college professors, and academic hiring is off in bizarro world compared to any other hiring on the planet. They don’t know anything special about hiring outside their very narrow and eccentric field.

          1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            You’re right…they should be teaching this stuff in high school, not waiting til college.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        They do, but the quality varies. I graduated in 1999, and my career center only had job postings for engineering and business degrees. This was a large state university.

        I ended up doing it all on my own.

      2. Beth*

        Quality varies on this. When I graduated from my undergrad institution, the career center was widely known to be helpful if you were going into consulting or banking, somewhat useful if you were applying to grad school, and useless (or actively detrimental, giving bad advice) for everything else. Not ideal for a liberal arts college! I went in a couple times anyways because I was pretty overwhelmed by the job-hunting process, and my experience just confirmed those rumors.

        They’ve since revamped it and it’s supposedly much improved. But it took many years of being in bad shape before they got around to it. Just because facilities exist, doesn’t mean they’re going to be helpful for the majority of students.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        The quality really varies. My career services in law school were great. In undergrad? They were just as bad as the advice Alison has listed, and I told ALL my friends. I agree that some students don’t realize they need to be proactive about learning how to get a job (or apply to a job), but given the variable quality of college career services, I don’t think we can blame people for opting out of using those services.

      4. SusanIvanova*

        They could advertise their existence better, though. Granted this was pre-internet, but I didn’t even know such things existed until years after I left college.

        1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          Same! Though my college years weren’t pre-internet.
          I didn’t know there were those types of services available, and my adviser basically ignored me.

      5. notanon*

        They can’t compel students to visit, but conversely neither does their existence guarantee they have accurate and useful advice to offer.

    3. MattKnifeNinja*

      Honestly, the job advice in university is no better than Dad telling you to cold call with paper resumes.

      My nieces and nephews took a “how to get a job class” at the university, and it was terrible the advice they gave out. Especially how to write up a CV or resume.

      My one nephew has the gift of gab, and hustled like it was on sale and the rent was due tomorrow. He networked like crazy, and found a job in his major.

      Not many people are like that.

      1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

        There’s so much quality variation too. My college’s Career Counseling advice sent me to my Honors advisor, who sat down with me, got me on a four year plan complete with wiggle room in case I had low grades at some point, found some double-count classes so I could be sure to get out without loans – amazing.

        When I went back a year later for some career advice, she was gone. My new advisor fished the list of requirements for graduation out of a stack of books and coffee cups more than three feet tall (not kidding), glanced them over and said “Well, if you don’t want to go into academia or teaching, I guess you could talk to uhhh… [Honors Advisor, who had just left].”

        1. runner girl*

          Ugh…. I’m so sorry. I am a graduate and employee of one university (big R1 State school) and it 100000% comes down to finding that one person who both has a brain and has time for you. In my experience on both sides of it, GAWD that’s a needle in a haystack. Anything that even slightly deviates from the norm is a non-starter. About all I can say is best of luck, and if our paths cross, I’ll give you my best.

    4. alice*

      Recentish college grad here, and I was forced to take a required “how to get a job” class. It was TERRIBLE. How to write a bio on a resume, have a two+ page resume, call hiring managers directly, be creative with a resume and include fancy font and maybe some graphics (maybe that would be relevant in a creative field, but I’m in STEM). It was particularly awful because I know most of those students went off and took that advice to heart not knowing they were shooting themselves in the foot.

    5. You don't know me*

      I agree. There was no preparation for the real word at my university. No internship or practicums required. No job search help beyond the occasional resume workshop.

    6. Snark*

      No, it doesn’t go both ways. Universities fail to support graduating students with sufficient resources and information to know what next steps to take. That’s not really the graduate’s error.

      Universities love all the tuition money from students seeking work credentials and professional training, but persist in the delusion that the purity of academic pursuits is divorced from the plebian business of workforce training.

      1. Birch*

        That and even the universities that have decent career services (ironically!) cannot tell you how to get a job in academia. Thank goodness we have Google now.

      2. SignalLost*

        And if they rectified this and sought quality career center people who do keep up with trends in hiring and do provide accurate information and do have resources for students, the whole situation would be improved. I taught in vocational education for years and our careers center was *still* a joke. I think there’s a fear that if you create a school to work pipeline, you won’t create relatively rounded individuals, and you’ll be teaching to the standards of the largest employers in your area, which could easily professionally harm students and stifle smaller companies’ ability to get away from those standards. It’s seen as very literally Soviet to say that all those graduates will need jobs and we can help with that, in my opinion.

        1. Snark*

          When I was in academia, I also perceived a kind of snotty, we’re academia and we’re here to imbue students with a love for our beautiful field and create passionate scholars, not train workers or any such insufficiently pure motive like that!

          And yeah, nobody wants a school to work pipeline – even if one functionally exists anyway – but giving students reliable and actionable advice just seems like good business.

          1. Safetykats*

            But a lot of schools do have an effective school-to-work pipeline. Both our kids went to schools that arrange internships, and do terrific alumni mentor programs. My current employer (and many other local employers) work directly with the University branch campus in our city on student research projects and internships that are conceived in large part as school-to-work. I think a large part of the problem is that students don’t research whether those programs exist and are effective, and factor that into their choice of schools. I did that research for both our kids, and directed them towards schools and programs that had great statistics for percentage of students employed in their chosen field soon after graduation, but until schools buy into and use this as a sales technique, and high schools emphasize it as an important part of choosing a college, it won’t be relevant information except to the few students (and parents) savvy enough to know that themselves.

          2. Mad Baggins*

            I agree with you, Safetykats, and SignalLost that more and better career-related resources would be helpful to students. But the question of higher education/hire education is so complicated… I want my Brazilian llama post-modern lit professors to be passionate about teaching Brazilian llama post-modern lit, not how to study that in order to get a job in HR. If we play the game of “parents, schools, or the individual–who is responsible for raising young adults ready for the workforce?” I think the answer is “everyone.”

      3. Fiennes*


        Universities now play it both ways: totally a business when it comes to charging money, not a business at all when it comes to “customers” having any expectations of practical experience/a useful degree. Ask any adjunct.

        1. Kate 2*

          This reminds me of my highly ranked small, private university. A lot of the teachers they hired were awful, no idea how to teach. Fine arts was one of my majors, and the teachers there couldn’t make it more obvious that they were highly biased and only working to fund their art.

    7. Nanani*

      Problem is, academia doesn’t really know how to get a job, especially not “using current methods”, doubly so in rapidly changing tech fields.

      Pretty much all the “how to get a job” advice that academia is equipped to give only works inside academia.

      1. CR*

        It was a fun surprise when I left school with an English degree and didn’t find a job.

      2. Birch*

        Except it doesn’t. Career centers do not know how to give advice on how to get jobs within academia.

      3. Gadget Hackwrench*

        They should adjunct some people with real-world jobs to teach the course. lol

    8. Totally Minnie*

      I have a communication degree. The best course I took was Professional Communication. Our assignment were things like resume writing and mock job interviews and how to give a presentation to board members. I really do wish every program had a course like it.

      1. Kj*

        My art school had a class about how to find a job in the arts, how to get grant money, etc. It was pretty sweet, except I was the only one who took it seriously, and I was admitted to grad school mid-way through the semester. A program in art therapy, the only person admitted to an art-related grad program in the class……

  4. Snarkus Aurelius*

    My parents are constantly horrified that I’d leave a job for more money. Never mind the fact my brother is constantly looking for ways to make more money. (“He’s a doctor! That’s different!”) They think I can be “bought” so easily. They would be right.

    My mom is also horrified that I don’t volunteer to order office supplies or make coffee. “It needs to be done! It doesn’t matter who does it!” If it doesn’t matter, then how come men never volunteer?

    1. School Mom*

      This! My mother is horrified that I don’t regularly bring homemade treats and flowers from my garden for my boss and co-workers.

      1. Dame Judi Brunch*

        Yes! This! Also, my mom was horrified I didn’t buy a baby gift for a co-worker who was going on paternity leave, and another time when I wouldn’t buy a gift for a guy senior to me who is not my boss, for Boss’ Day. It’s just not a thing that we do in our office. She badgered me about both for weeks. Even told me about cute gift ideas she saw at the store, and dropped the line, “Well I believe in giving gifts.”
        So do I, when it’s appropriate to do so.

    2. BBBizAnalyst*

      I purposely don’t do anything that would be deemed administrative at work. Some of the older women at my firm gasp that I don’t stay and help clean up after meetings. That is not my role and it’s outdated that they don’t expect that from my male colleagues.

      1. the gold digger*

        Whereas the older women at mine (including me) instruct the young women not to help set up, not to help clean up, and not to bring baked goods. Be known for being awesome at your job, not because you can wash dishes or bake cookies.

        1. Not that Kat*

          My mother is in her late 50’s and that’s exactly what she told me. I’m 30 and passing that advice on to the female trainees we get in my department.

    3. Antilles*

      They think I can be “bought” so easily. They would be right.
      I can absolutely be bought. You know how you know that?
      My company is *already* buying my time – it’s called a “paycheck” and it’s the whole reason I’m here working.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Me: let’s say your boss paid you $5/hour.
        Mom: okay
        Me: then let’s say another person wanted to pay you $20/hour for the same work AND let you work from home so you could be there when we got home.
        Mom: oh that sounds nice.
        Me: that’s what loyalty is; being loyal to employers who can suit your personal needs while doing a good job for them
        Mom: but you’ll be seen as a job hopper and you can’t risk that! Is everything in life about money???

        Until I can pay my mortgage in compliments from the boss, yes.

        1. Ellex*

          Is everything in life about money?

          Having grown up knowing that money was always tight, pinching pennies, shopping at thrift stores, and knowing not to ask for extras? Hell yes!

  5. Liz*

    I used to listed to Car Talk on NPR, and even got on the show once. It was often about poor advice from dads about how to drive or maintain a car.

    Teachers like to say they are preparing students for a future no one can envision using tools of the past (poor paraphrase).

    I try to keep that in mind with my 26 year old son in career and all advice. As we age, we have lots of experience and wisdom but the smartest thing we can do is realize we are of the past and put our wisdom and the current moment together.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          When the first Cars movie came out, my mother was at a friend’s house on the other side of the country and called us at one in the morning after they got home from the movie to tell us the Car Talk Guys were in it. Couldn’t wait until the next day.

          I have a Rust-Eze sticker on my bumper (even though it’s plastic).

        2. Just Employed Here*

          Over here in Europe, I miss them too.

          For years, I used to listen to any episode I happened to have access to every night when trying to fall asleep — it was like being a kid and falling asleep while your uncles are chatting in the next room. I am a bad sleeper, but it was win–win: either I was entertained or I slept well!

    1. OtterB*

      I also have a daughter who will be 26 this year. She’s in law school, which is not my field, and even before she decided to do that, my comments in any career and job-hunting conversations were liberally sprinkled with “this is what I think, but it may not be up to date.” I think I would have done that anyway, but AAM helped cement it. She keeps talking to me about these things, so I think I am probably doing it right.

      1. Legal Beagle*

        You are definitely doing it right! I went to law school at the same age. It can be stressful, overwhelming, and exhausting, so having the moral support and encouragement of your parents is a huge blessing! Law is definitely its own world (in terms of job-searching and professional norms), and hopefully there are good career services at her law school that can guide her through that part of the process.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Agreed! Law is it’s own weird world, but it sounds like you’re handling it well, OtterB. :)

        2. OtterB*


          Fortunately career services seems to be good. They have been helpful about finding internships and setting up opportunities to students to network with and job shadow alumni.

          I’m happy to proofread a cover letter or give her an opinion on her draft of an email to her internship supervisor, but clearly she’s in the driver’s seat, which is as it should be.

          Reminds me, I need to send her a copy of Alison’s book. :)

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

        My mom’s work history involves a bunch of badly burnt bridges so networking is something that she just doesn’t understand. I have been careful to leave on good terms, keep my contacts current, and have been able to, on more than one occasion, reach out to the right people for assistance on a personal or professional level. Her advice of “screw them, you’re outta there in two weeks!” never sat well with me.
        She’s given me a lot of job advice I’ve never listened to over the years. I love my mom but if I ever had to work with her I’d probably quit or get her fired.

        1. Specialk9*

          ” I love my mom but if I ever had to work with her I’d probably quit or get her fired.”

          This cracked me up. Sounds like you have a very healthy view of the situation.

        2. Chinook*

          “Her advice of “screw them, you’re outta there in two weeks!” never sat well with me.
          She’s given me a lot of job advice I’ve never listened to over the years”

          Sounds like my in-laws who come from the military life style and/or rural Newfoundland. They can’t get over the fact that I can get a job within a month or two of DH being transferred and then keep it for a long period of time because both in-laws have trouble finding “decent people” to work for and quit in the middle of a shift. They keep giving DH and I advice for job hunting and career advice despite the fact that both of us having worked long term for more employers than them and having a higher education than them.

          Unfortunately, I only learned to tune them out and nod sympathetically after hearing FIL (who had lived hear 3 years) explain how he knew better than I ever could about the city I grew up around and have family members in for over 100 years). DH and I have both learned to tag team our “spinach dip” when the conversations start getting lecturey about all sorts of topics.

    2. Emilia Bedelia*

      One other factor that I noted when I was searching for my first job is that the legitimate strategies my parents used when they were job hunting (for senior level, 20 years of experience jobs) were not helpful for me as a much younger candidate. They gracefully bowed out of giving me job advice once we realized that they weren’t that helpful, but it was very frustrating to get so much advice that I knew worked for them, but that I couldn’t put into practice.
      Networking: My parents, with decades of work experience, had huge networks that they were able to draw on for job leads. As a new college grad, all my “connections” were people in the exact same situation I was – my network was basically useless to me.
      Resumes: My parents had no idea how to best position my work experience and college accomplishments on my resume. Not that my parents were bad resume writers, but a 22 year old with 6 years of part time job experience and a lot of academic achievements needs to take a different approach to resume writing than a senior level professional who graduated in the 80s.

      My parents staunchly believed that I was a very special, highly qualified candidate that any job would be lucky to have. That was completely true, of course ( ;) ) but as a new grad with little relevant job experience and only okay grades, I had no idea how to actually prove that. The reality is that for a lot of new grads, it really is difficult to set yourself apart from everyone else, and companies are not as likely to negotiate or flex anything for you as a candidate. It was more helpful for me to work with that dreaded “career counselor” (actually very helpful at my school!) and older alumni that I knew in my field than with my successful, knowledgeable, and reasonable parents. Even though their advice was spot-on for what they were looking for, it really wasn’t applicable to my situation.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        didn’t mean to nest here, but my parents sounded like you – when I told them “Hey, all this stuff you’re telling me? I don’t think it will work for me”, they readily admitted that their advice probably wasn’t applicable for me. They were happy to serve as moral support only after that :)

      2. Beth*

        My dad struggled (struggles) with this too. He’s retired, and had worked at the same company for around 15 years pre-retiring; the strategies that worked for him when he was last interviewing are really different than the strategies that made sense when my brother and I graduated and started job hunting. He had (and continues to have) a lot of trouble accepting that we’re not going to spend a lot of time and effort on Showing Gumption or Checking In With The Hiring Manager So They Know We’re Very Interested. I’m pretty sure he thinks we’re just avoiding an uncomfortable phone call, when the reality is that we’re aware that nowadays, constantly pestering a hiring manager is more likely to get our application binned than get us a job.

        1. Emilia Bedelia*

          My dad was actually job hunting at the same time I was, and he had done a lot of hiring over the years, so he was very good about telling me “don’t call, don’t email, they will get in touch” and “no one wants to read a resume on paper these days, just email it”.
          The difficult thing for him to understand was that I couldn’t use the same channels he did to find jobs because I just didn’t have the same resources available to me – he’d see a job opening and email his friend at the company to ask about it, or his old colleagues would call him up to mention that they were hiring, and was he interested in an interview, don’t worry about applying online, I’ll give the manager your resume. Meanwhile, I was stuck working through online applications with no idea whether they made it to a human being or not. His way was certainly more effective, but just not something I could do.

          1. Beth*

            Man, that sounds like a nice way to job hunt! (Your dad’s way, with the already having an established network of experienced, well-placed colleagues who know him well and trust him professionally.) I wonder if that’s part of why my dad has trouble giving advice too–he’d been in the same industry for years even before starting his last job, and I can see reaching out being much more effective when you’re at a senior level and may already know the hiring manager, or know someone who knows them. It’s such a different paradigm when you’re just starting out.

      3. rldk*

        This has been similar with my parents! Except they both had a single element where they could help:
        My mum also is in the nonprofit field, and has had some contacts in my city who’ve been helpful to know. We can also commiserate about boards of directors and stagnant leadership, but that’s more on the hired side.
        My dad is in biotech, but has always been in sales/marketing and so is really good at giving advice related to talking, especially interviews.
        Bless them, they both know there are limits of what might be helpful to me, and their suggestions are always just that.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I remember a dad who burped the car. When you pump gas and the nozzle first clicks off, take it out and gently rock the car with your hip. Then you can put in a little more gas so it’s a number divisible by 25 cents.

    4. Ellex*

      Their advice about keeping your mechanic happy with baked goods is still some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.

  6. McWhadden*

    Always so excited to see you on Slate. The first time I saw an article about power dynamics in interviewing and I though “they are just straight up stealing AAM’s topics” but it turned out it was you!

  7. Lynca*

    The only exception for me to the “parents calling the office” rule is if I’m hospitalized and can’t do it myself. Which has happened.

    I called them back the next day to speak in person, but in the heat of the moment I couldn’t even think straight let alone convey what had happened.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      I’ve called in for my husband once. Because he couldn’t speak. (He ended up being fine, was just having some issues at that point.)

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yeah, I had my then-boyfriend call in for me once, because what I had was laryngitis.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      That’s completely reasonable. If you’re seriously ill/injured, having a parent /spouse/friend call in for you is okay.

    3. LSP*

      Almost 2 years ago, I was involved in a fairly serious car accident on my way to work. After I called my husband from the ambulance to tell him to call my parents and meet me at the hospital, I called my office personally to tell them I wouldn’t be in and why.

    4. Temperance*

      Booth had to call in for me once, but I had already spoken to my boss. I had a very unexpected medical crisis, and couldn’t get to work because I was actually in the hospital.

    5. Rookie Manager*

      Yeah, hospitalised is a pretty good baseline. My parents did that for me. Similarly when my dad was waiting for emergency surgery I called my mums boss to say she wouldn’t be in the next morning but would call herself with an update.

    6. Legal Beagle*

      I emailed my boss myself when I was in (early) labor, but I’d add that to the list of acceptable reasons for your spouse/parent/friend to contact the office on your behalf!

    7. Antilles*

      My general guideline is that it’s acceptable to have someone else call the office if and only if you are physically unable to contact them yourself. Short of that, pick up the phone and call yourself or at least shoot off a quick email/text/whatever.
      There are certainly a few exceptions, but it’s a pretty reasonable baseline I think.

    8. Safetykats*

      If your parents are your emergency contact, which is going to be the case if you’re unmarried/not in a domestic partnership there’s nothing at all wrong about having them notify your work if you’re completely indisposed, such as when you’re hospitalized. Obviously you should be calling in yourself if you just have the flu.

    9. LKW*

      Once I called work from the hospital before I called my mom. I knew I didn’t have to explain anything to my client or boss – they would just say “ooooh, feel better soon”. My mom on the other hand needed answers so I had to wait to get information from the docs.

  8. Video Gamer Lurker*

    Thankfully, my (Gen X) parents gave up on many of the gumption advice tips that had worked for them once I got hired as a part-time hourly position. And especially once my mother finished her education on a master’s degree and is now looking for a job to use said degree with.
    My parents, at least, do not subscribe to the old Job A for Life idea, but they too entered the work force during a recession or when coming out of a recession.
    I just had the bad luck of not being able to drive at all or network very well while living in an area where there just *wasn’t* much work for a High School Graduate who had been volunteering at the local library for four years.

  9. Grouchy 2 cents*

    My parents still believe in the idea that all companies are good. Of course they’ll pay you what you’re worth! They have your best interests at heart!
    Laugh crying forever.

    They also think using connections to try to get a job is somehow immoral. Never mind that only, what 20% of people get jobs through actual job postings.

    1. MattKnifeNinja*

      Why is that immoral? Every job I got after my first one, was someone I knew gave me a heads up, and put in a good word for me.

      1. Grouchy 2 cents*

        Because reasons? I have no idea, especially since both of their jobs were obtained through connections. Maybe kids are just supposed to have more gumption?

        1. MattKnifeNinja*

          I think it takes a lot of gumption networking and keep you eyes and ears open for what may be around.

          My mom (born in 1925) was horrified that I would network for jobs. Nice women don’t do THAT. I guess you wait for the job fairy to dump an offer in your inbox.

          1. Anon Accountant*

            I’m using that line. “Wait for the job fairy to dump an offer in your inbox”.

          2. Lora*

            Does…does she think “network” is a special kind of slang the young people are using these days?

            Like, “oooohhh that Chris Hemsworth, I’d like to network with him all night long!” or “yeah, we networked a couple of times but there was no chemistry” or what?

        2. Chinook*

          I was one of those people who thought for the longest time that getting a job via connections was immoral because it seemed like you were gaming the system and getting it not on merit but because of who you know. And, when you are from a small town, those connections did seem to help people get an unfair leg up when compared to those who didn’t know the right people.

          Hindsight led me to ask a few bosses who hired me who also knew my parents. Turned out that the connections gave me an opportunity because I was a known quantity – they knew my abilities and work ethic. My first job came around because they were looking for someone to be the weekend receptionist and he wanted someone like me (hard working, competent, reliable) and offered me the opportunity. My newspaper layout job came about because she was complaining to my mom about looking for someone with computer skills and my mom knew I was looking for something in town and gave her my number so she could set up the interview.

          From the outside, it looks/feels like I got it because of who my parents knew but the reality is that those connections just gave me access to opportunities that just hadn’t been posted publicly yet (and that I could have wasted if I was incompetent or acted self-entitled.)

          1. Student*

            You did get those jobs because of who your parents knew. It doesn’t simply “look” that way – that is exactly what you are describing.

            Many of us do think it is immoral – of the company, not the person who gets a job that way. Different entities have different moral responsibilities, and the moral responsibility here is squarely on the organization that is offering the job, not on job-seekers. It’s immoral of the company to do this because it isn’t meritocratic; instead, it perpetuates privilege within already-privileged groups. You say you were a “known quantity” but that’s not actually true. Your parents were the known quantities – parents are terrible (not impartial at all) judges of their own child’s job skills, and a parent’s skills and work ethic are not necessarily going to transfer to their children.

            I’m glad you’ve got nice parents who helped hook you up with a job. However, contrast that with me. My parents are bums and reprobates. I’ve worked hard to not be like them, to develop a good work ethic and good morals. I don’t want to be judged by their behavior. I can’t get a job of the same quality as you through parental connections – my parents are connected mainly to other shady and conniving people, and anyone honest who judges job applicants by their parents would never give me the time of day. So, when a company gives you a job without ever bothering to put up a posting for someone like me to apply to, it perpetuates a world where my merit and efforts never even get in the door to compare against your parents vouching for you to their friends.

            1. Lora*

              Yeah…my family who aren’t scattered to the winds are all farmers. No help there. I hope to dog my employers never meet some of my cousins and judge me by their behavior. I was on my own for building a network, and really only lucked into one job that was good for building a network by timing: they’d had a mass exodus to a competitor and needed someone with a STEM degree and a pulse, and I happened to be in grad school nearby.

              In my industry they do mainly pull from networks, but it’s usually from specific universities or colleagues of colleagues, not parents. Like, everyone from a particular program at a particular school is considered “probably pretty okay”. These aren’t Ivy leagues, they include both private and big state schools. I have had good luck with Penn State grads, so I favor them, as well as Northeastern, Worcester Polytech and Michigan State. Many of my colleagues like University of Delaware too; they send lots of people to DuPont and Dow, where they get pretty good initial training in the field.

              I moved several states away so that there are no longer three pages of people with my last name in the phone book, to an area that has a ton of jobs in my field, and joined all the local professional societies. This was really the only solution to the problems of being network-poor and having stupid cousins who make asses of themselves on national television.

            2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

              So you can’t get a job on your parent’s reputation, but what’s stopping you from getting recommended by people who you’ve worked with or people who you know socially.

              Getting a job from networking has nothing to do with morals. It’s neither right nor wrong, good or bad.

            3. Yes Indeedy*

              Spot on. The above poster got their job through connections not on merit. That they don’t recognise that is… well…hmmm

              1. Chinook*

                No – I got the interviews due to connections, not the jobs.

                I am also curious about how this is different from networking? After all, if I meet someone at work and 5 years down the road they work somewhere that I apply to, then odds are good that they will at least interview me because I am known quantity. The difference between that and my first high school job (the weekend receptionist) is the circle of people I knew.

                And, as someone who has worked and lived in provinces (and countries) where I knew no one, I know intimately how hard it is to find a job when you are an unknown quantity. In those cases, I often relied on temp agencies to get my foot in the door and often would get the job without an interview (which at least the newspaper editor put me through after getting my number from my mother). How is that different? Is it because money changed hands between the agency and employer? I truly want to know.

      2. Positive Reframer*

        I think for some people it brings up feelings of nepotism and “good ‘ol boy” style networking. Like it unfairly disadvantages people who don’t have those connections which to be fair in many industries would still disadvantage minority applicants. (Although I would think it has also been a tool for many minority applicants but the “optics”)

        Overall the logic being: if everyone doesn’t get an equal opportunity to know about a job and their resumes aren’t coming from equal sources how can you truly be an equal opportunity employer? In that way I could see people seeing it as immoral.

        1. MattKnifeNinja*


          I have teacher friends who work in the same school district that I live in.

          What the district does is post the 2 jobs they have on the district web site. Get 400 applications. Interview 10 people three times. Hire the person that is the niece/nephew from someone in district or has an in with the school, who didn’t go through the 3 interview, body cavity search grind.

          I’ve heard the two local hospital’s nursing departments are equally as bad. Posts jobs that already have someone prehired.

          Neither of these are in job transfers. People are hired from the outside.

          I’m pretty cynical about jobs being posted. I’ve worked for three companies that this type of job postings nonsense went on all the time.

          1. Safetykats*

            The simple fact is that, all other things being equal, you would rather hire someone for whom you have a professional recommendation from someone you trust than someone nobody knows. If I don’t know someone, I immediately get on the phone and contact people I know and trust who worked at the same places in the same timeframes and ask their opinion. It’s less about nepotism than about getting someone who is somewhat of a known quantity. In fact, I’ve purposely not hired kids of friends/coworkers specifically because of the references I’ve gotten – and let me tell you, it’s really hard to explain that to said friends/coworkers without violating confidentiality.

            I have taken chances on people nobody knows, but mostly for college-hire or internship positions. It’s ridiculously hard to get a decent sense of someone in the limitations of the interview process, so if you’re relying only on that it’s better it be for a low-risk position.

      3. Kate 2*

        I think because it is an unfair advantage over someone who doesn’t know people at the company. This comes up a lot in relation to race and class. Who is more likely to know the boss at a fancy law firm, John Deere or John BigBucks? And who is able to put in a “good word” for their kid?

        Also there was a study recently that found people with higher class signifiers got hired way more often than those who had lower class signifiers. Being able to put president of the yachting club on your resume, or to talk about it in the interview, is miles ahead to some people than president of the basketball club, which doesn’t require a lot of money to participate in, or knowing people who own yachts. And sadly “culture fit” is one thing people use as an excuse for racial and class bias.

    2. Susan Calvin*

      I’m dubious about that 20% stat, but honestly, I’d be THRILLED if someone used me as a connection to get a job – not even for the referal bonus, but the simple joy of mitigating the gaping hole of 20+ open slots in our department. I don’t know where HR is publishing our postings, but I’m frankly not impressed.

  10. AnonEMoose*

    My parents have rarely given me advice related to the workplace. And when they have, most of it has been of the “show up on time,” “the Boss is still the Boss – even if you think they’re making a terrible decision, you might be able to ask about it. Once. Then do it with a smile.” The kind of stuff that is pretty broadly applicable.

    Because they know that my work environment is very different from theirs, and they trust that I know what I’m doing. And that I have friends with more similar experiences to my own that I can turn to if I need advice.

  11. Temperance*

    My parents are entirely unfamiliar with the white collar world, and what’s reasonable vs. not reasonable. They don’t understand that WFH is a thing. Then again, they thought it reasonable that I would finish college and work as an assistant manager at the movie theater where I worked in high school and college … a job that I could have had without college, and that paid only $9/hour.

    1. You don't know me*

      When I first stared WFH my mom (whom I live with) was so excited. She thought me being home meant I could do a bunch of stuff for her around the house or run to the store. No, mom. The main part of work from home is that I will be WORKING.

      1. Turkletina*

        My uncle still believes I don’t have a “real job” because I work from home.

        1. Salamander*

          The struggle is real. I WFH and my dad’s family honestly believes I’m a housewife.

          1. Lizzy*

            Heck, my husband thinks on days I WFH that I’m a housewife and “why didn’t all the dishes and laundry and everything get done?” uh… because I was working?
            Granted, when he’s home he does do all the housework – it’s not a gender thing – he just honestly doesn’t understand that I’m still spending 6+ hours working and so while I can toss a load of laundry in the washer, no, I actually don’t have all this time to spend deep-cleaning the house and making a gourmet dinner…

            1. Salamander*

              And I gotta say that there’s some guilt going on in the back of my head about the fact that my house is a disaster right now. Like I somehow *should* be able to do that.

              1. tangerineRose*

                I work from home, and my house is embarrassingly in need of cleaning. Oh well.

            2. Hillary T*

              We were just talking at work the other day about a former coworker that now works from home a couple days a week. I said that would never work for me. Neither my husband nor his family would consider me at work and expect all kinds of chores or would be calling me all the time. So I get it.

            3. Lynn Whitehat*

              Oh God. When our first son was a baby, I had a long commute. I wanted to WFH maybe one day a week, to save the commute time and thus have more time for family stuff. But my husband *could not* grasp the concept that I was ~working~. He even said outright, “well, *yeah*, if I need something, and you’re right there, I’m going to ask you for help.” So I was stuck wasting all this time on a commute, just because I couldn’t count on him not to wander off and leave me in sole charge of a sick baby or something. (This was before libraries and coffee shops all had wi-fi, which is why I didn’t do that.)

              Eventually, I got him to accept a rule of “if you wouldn’t call me at the office and ask me to come home to deal with something, don’t bother me with it when I’m WFH.” But it took years. Now he can’t remember why he was ever so stubborn as to make me waste all that time commuting just to get away from him.

              I swear, I have no idea why this is such an impossible concept for so many people. We all had homework growing up, right? Which was not the same thing as having fun and relaxing around the house, was it? So everyone should be familiar with the concept of doing *work* at *home*. But somehow they cannot conceive of it.

      2. Nanani*

        SAME. It took a lot of explaining and boundary setting.

        Yes, I am flexible so I can do lunch with you sometimes, but I can’t do lunch and then randomly add on the entire afternoon. I gotta get my work done!

    2. Eloise*

      I had a regular, scheduled WFH day once a week for several years. My mother NEVER stopped referring to it as “your day off.”

      1. Windchime*

        Haha, my Mom used to do this, too.
        Mom (on the phone): “I knew I could call because you are off today.”
        Me: “Actually, it’s my work from home day so I’m working, but I can talk for a sec.”
        Mom: “Oh–yeah. Work from home.” (in kind of an “Ooookay, if that’s what you wanna call it, I’ll go along with it” voice).

  12. HR Lady*

    Just last week I had a parent phone me about their ‘concerns’ over their 17 year old who was on a short, unpaid batch of work experience with us. Now, we had pushed the boat out on this placement because it had come via our CEO, so naturally I was concerned.

    “She’s bored!” I was told. “I don’t know if she’s enjoying it!”

    Checked in with the young lady in question and she said everything was fine, gave me lists of the work she’d been involved in and the lunches she’s been on with the team. Frankly it’s one of the best placements I’ve ever seen. I then had to phone her Dad back and assure him that I wasn’t concerned, here was the stuff she was working on, we were grateful, etc. “Oh, well,” he said, “she might not TELL you, but still, I hope she enjoys it!”

    Look. She’s 17. Of course she’s bored. It’s work. I would also rather be somewhere else, particularly in the sunny weather during school holidays. I had to bite down quite hard to stop myself pointing out that this was probably the reason she was ‘texting her mother to complain’ rather than because we had locked her in a cupboard.

    I will bet you that this is the kind of parent who will complain to uni tutors if she gets a low mark. And I fear for her future employers. She was a very nice girl it must be said but oh, I swore a lot about this last week.

    1. rldk*

      If you want to expend the effort, it might be a kindness to tell Young Lady In Question about the optics of her parents’ interference and independent professionalism. But I’m sure she’ll learn through practice at her future employers.

      1. Safetykats*

        Definitely she should be thinking more about who she complains to about her job, and it would absolutely be a kindness to tell her that – before she ends up one of those people let go for bad-mouthing her employer on social media. Also, she should understand that her parental units are interfering busybodies, if she doesn’t know that already – and that adults (and people who want to be treated as adults) have conversations directly with their supervisors rather than complaining to other people about the shortcomings of their work situation.

        1. Beth*

          I mean, lots of people vent to a family member or friend about things like “It’s so nice out, I wish I wasn’t stuck here doing work”. I don’t think there’s any indication here that she’s complaining on an unprofessional level, or even that there’s actually a shortcoming in the work situation. It sounds like she just happens to have a severe case of overbearing helicopter parents. It would be kind to tell her that, because it’s likely to impact her negatively at some point if they keep it up and she might be able to curtail it if she knows about it, but I don’t think it warrants an assumption that she’s somehow encouraging or triggering their behavior. They’re the ones behaving inappropriately.

          1. aNon*

            Yeah, agreed. Best part of my day used to be going home and venting with my mom about work. She loved the gossip and I loved to get all my frustration out. We called her my vault since some of it was stuff that I really wouldn’t want repeated. Had I ever heard she was going behind my back to talk to my employer about it, I would have been so mad and betrayed. Everyone should have a safe outlet for venting about their frustrations (however small they may be) and it’d be a kindness to tell this girl she needs to find a better vault.

          2. Specialk9*

            It’s not that her complaining is inappropriate, but that she needs to know that she shouldn’t vent to that person because they’ll go nuclear on her career.

            1. Gadget Hackwrench*

              ^^^ Yeah. It’s a warning of: “Your dad is not keeping what you say to himself. Be careful what you share with him.”

      2. Triple Anon*

        Yes! Please tell her they called. She deserves a chance to give her side of the story and to prevent it from happening again.

    2. SusanIvanova*

      If you’re in the US, let her know now about FERPA. It would’ve saved me so much hassle if my RA or I had known that no, she’s not allowed to give out any info about me just because the paternal DNA contributor asks for it.

    3. Specialk9*

      You said “uni” but sound like a native English speaker, so are you British? If so, are you allowed to share that kind of private info about a (for now) EU resident?

      1. NeverNicky*

        No, not without their explicit consent (and you’d better have a record of that consent!) (assuming EU – and if it’s UK, even after Brexit this legislation will apply as it’s UK law too)

      2. HR Lady*

        I am indeed a Brit, based in Britain, native English speaker! Uni is quite a common phrase here. We can’t hand out any personal information about any individuals (it’s not just an EU thing, we had the same thing in principal under the old Data Protection Act) and nor would I. In this case I had actually met with her father when he turned up at her ‘interview’ (i.e. a tour of the office) which frankly should have raised alarm bells.

  13. DCGirl*

    I had a boss who liked to leave the unmarked back door of our company’s suite unlocked because it was closer to the men’s room and he didn’t like to have to carry his badge when he went. That ended when a recent graduate door-knocker with resumes in hand wandered in that door and I found her wandering down the back hall calling out, “Hello? Hello?”

    I almost had to call the police to get her out, and she refused to understand that she’d already been to our company via the front just a few minutes earlier.

    1. DCGirl*

      With that said, I had to move back with my parents in a recession where it took me a year to find a permanent position. I was working nights and weekends in retail to pay the bills in the meantime.

      My parents, especially my father, were big on door-knocking type strategies. But, then, they do things like agree to let my brother-in-law borrow my memory typewriter to write his dissertation (this was pre-computer) with asking me and then be shocked! shocked! when I said that I needed to do cover letters and resumes (was I supposed to hand write the letters?). My father had never had a resume — he’d always applied via job applications.

      And I vividly remember how we went off on me when I did get a permanent job and chose to time my departure from the retail world so that I had a week off before starting. Evidently I was supposed to work retail up till 8:00 p.m. on Sunday before starting the new job at 8:00 a.m. Monday. A one-week gap in employment was unacceptable.

      1. Biff*

        I always try to give myself a week between jobs so I can catch up on all the things I didn’t do while job-searching. Because a lot ends up back-burnered so I have time to keep up with what are notoriously awful application processes (it’s not unusual in my field to need to spend several HOURS applying for a job, and it’s not entirely uncommon for the whole application procedure to take me 5+ hours.)

        1. Positive Reframer*

          Also a great plan because you don’t want to have to take time off during a business day early at a new job if you can avoid it.

        2. Fiennes*

          The one time I got to do this, I promptly sprained my ankle, badly, on day one. Spent my whole break sitting uncomfortably on my own sofa. I mean, it was “rest,” but ugh.

    2. strawberries and raspberries*

      Oh my God- I thought you meant she went into the men’s bathroom with a stack of resumes calling, “Hello? Hello?” which is beautiful.

  14. A Human Resource*

    I think it’s a reminder that all the outrage about how young adults are lazy, ignorant and entitled (they aren’t) comes from the way their parents raised them. I have seen people complain about the ‘new generation’ and watch them do the exact same thing with their kids. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. While I have no doubt that many parents are doing these things, I think most young people aren’t condoning that behaviour. My mother is a nosy person who has no experience getting the kind of jobs I was looking for, and she had a lot of bad advice that I did not follow.

    I’ve never personally taken a call from an employee’s parents/spouse about anything (unless that person was significantly ill). But I work in higher ed and we constantly have calls from parents who believe they are automatically entitled to their student’s business because they are their mothers or they are the one paying for tuition. It’s hard to break to them that if they haven’t been allowed by the student, we can’t discuss it with them. Woo FERPA. I think some of this bad parent behaviour stems from that same thought. “This is my baby, I am responsible for them so you have to listen to me.” I get to be on the frontlines with parents of 18 year old freshmen and give them insight that their baby is a grown up now and you have to treat them like that.

    [Side note: as a millennial, I did let my mother call my former insurance company last year to settle something but it was because she had the day off and I did not. Also she lives for this stuff and was still covered under that insurance so I didn’t feel bad for not spending 3 hours on the phone.]

    1. SoSo*

      Hoooo buddy, the parents of college kids are a whole different breed! My last job was in academic affairs at a CC, and I was always gobsmacked by the parents coming in to argue their kid’s failing grades, trying to sign them up for classes, wanting to know more about their class loads, etc etc. Like, sorry folks- unless your kid signed the FERPA release when they applied I can’t even tell you if they’re in the building or not, let alone what they got on their midterm test.

    2. KathyW*

      Ugh! Parents in higher ed! I have had definitely had to take a few “I’m paying for it so you better tell me” calls. Generally I am annoyed at the bad parent behavior but I have worked on one or two situations where the student clearly spun a lie to the parents about their grades and the parents were trying to get it resolved. Those I did feel a little bad about.

      1. MattKnifeNinja*

        Where I live, if the kid doesn’t the FERPA/HIPAA release, the parents aren’t signing the loans or whatever.

        Doesn’t matter if the kid goes to CC or MIT, you don’t sign, we aren’t opening our wallets.

        The high school counselors give information about FERPA/HIPAA releases, and really push the parents to get them signed.

        1. Lizzy*

          ugh. I wish they wouldn’t! I can’t remember what my HS said, although I’m sure they gave out info on FERPA/HIPAA. I get that some parents need to be able to talk to their kids’ school for whatever reason (bills, mainly), but there are probably lots of situations where the parents do NOT need to talk to the school, and students need to learn that their parents don’t actually have to be involved in everything they do…

          1. VelociraptorAttack*

            I work in a university and I make it very clear to parents and students at our orientation sessions that FERPA exists and there is a form that can be signed but also that college can be a really great opportunity for the students to take on an ownership role in their education.

            I run into just as many parents who push that they need the information as I do students who say they want their parents to deal with everything for them.

      2. Gadget Hackwrench*

        I had a job at the school where I worked, 11 hours a week answering the main line and transferring people to the right department. Sooooo many parents were cheesed off that there was no department they could talk to that would tell them if little Johnny had been to all his classes this week, or where he was at this moment, or could find him and make him call home. Sorry. Unless you are the parent of a 17 year old Freshman we can do NONE of these things. If they’re 17 we can have Res-Life get them to call you when they get back to the dorm. Bye!

    3. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      I love me some FERPA sometimes. I remember lots of calls from parents when I was doing tech support, including one dad who was calling to get a computer issue resolved for her daughter, and he would shout out to her what I said, and she’d shout out her answer. I asked if I could just speak to the daughter directly since that would be easier, but for some reason they wouldn’t let me. It was an exhausting call.

    4. Anon for this*

      There was a parent who used to do that at my old job. He was legendary–every office on campus knew who he was and lived in dread of his frequent calls, which happened every time daughter didn’t get something dad thought she was entitled to. Daughter actually matured a ton over the course of her four years. Not sure Dad ever did.

    5. Oryx*

      When I was applying to grad school, I was waiting to hear back from School X and it was one of those “You’ll hear back by This Date kind of thing.” When I hadn’t, I followed up and was told they had gotten behind and didn’t have the acceptance list yet. My mom didn’t believe me so she just called them up herself and was told the exact same thing.

      I already held things pretty close to the vest with my mom, but that’s about the time I put her on a very strict info diet on pretty much everything related to my life.

    6. Hey-eh*

      Used to work in university undergrad admissions. 3 years of “Are you the applicant? No? I’m sorry I can only discuss details of an applicant’s application with that applicant themselves, even if they are a minor.” Then they’d call back, pretending to be the applicant.

    7. selina kyle*

      Working in higher ed really does invite a whole lot of weird, entitled questions from parents of folks attending the institution.

    8. springflower*

      My parents weren’t helicopter parents at all, but my mom did say she couldn’t understand why they don’t give access to the student info to the person who PAYS. I always shared my grades with my parents though. I mean, they WERE the ones paying.

      1. Grapey*

        I understand it completely. It would be like saying “tell me if my daughter is on birth control because I’m the one paying for her health insurance”.

      2. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

        Because your parents weren’t paying for your grades. They were paying for you to have access to the courses at that university. That grades you earned in those courses are between you and your professors, and nobody else. Of course, if you wanted to share your grades with your parents, you were free to do so. I always did, too. But it’s not the university’s place to interfere in the parent/child relationship. You get to decide what you want to share with Mom and Dad. It’s not the university’s business.

        I always wonder if parents who use this argument (well, I’m paying the tuition, so I should get to see my kid’s grades!) also expected to be able to dictate what the grade should be (I’m paying you thousands of dollars, so my kid deserves an A!).

        (I’m not saying that’s what your parents meant, springflower. Just that, in the Venn diagram of college parents, there is definitely a little overlap between those two sets of parents.)

        1. springflower*

          My grades were always good so I didn’t care. I could imagine my parents (and rightly so I believe) to say they wouldn’t pay unless they knew I was getting good grades. But yeah, that’s between the three of us and our arrangement. They would definitely never want to argue for better grades. They are old school.

        2. doreen*

          Since I was paying the tuition, I did expect to see the grades- but that’s no reason to get the university involved. I don’t understand why the parents who call the university for access to their kid’s grades don’t simply ask the kid for the grades- and if you think the kid might fib, have him login while you’re standing there.

        3. Gazebo Slayer*

          I’ve definitely encountered adult students who expect that paying their *own* tuition entitles them to good grades, regardless of their work. Sometimes they are really scary about it. I knew a professor who once had an older student (25+) show up with a gun when he got an F. Fortunately, the professor was able to talk him down before he shot up the place.

      3. Annony*

        I just had this conversation with my HS senior. I certainly received the first bill…and I want to know when he is ill.

        Side note: child told me I was an Apache Helicopter, that I hide away from what is going on, but when there is a battle I fly in. Doh! I am trying to back off as they mature. I thought I was doing a better job, guess I need to try harder.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      My anecdotal observation (I’m 49) is that if you remove technology cues it is impossible to tell when “Why these young people these days, I tell you in my day…” rants were written. Not only are they unchanged from the 1960s, they are unchanged from the 60 BCs.

      I was helping my mother-in-law go through some family papers and there was one written about 1930 about the terribly permissive parenting of the couple next door with the very undisciplined 6 year old who thought she could dance on the furniture in her shoes, on through several paragraphs that could have shown up in a letter to a parenting magazine anytime in the last 10 decades.

      1. Becky*

        LOL this reminds me of a quote one of my linguistics professors showed us–someone complaining about “kids these days” ruining the language. It was from the 1600s.

      2. Is It Spring Yet?*

        In a diary from the mid 1800s a woman was horrified that her neighbors spit chew on her dirt floors while visiting.

        I found it uncommon for people to be negative, let alone about others, in personal diaries that it really stood out to me.

        Undesirable behavior is timeless.

        I wonder what that meant in prehistory.

    10. Kate 2*

      Oh My Gosh! This! I personally know two people who claim to have raised their kids to be independent, who complain vigorously about “helicopter parents” who are TOTAL helicopter parents.

      One of them also has the gall to complain about bootstrapping it and how they never had any help and what a hard worker they are, etc, when I know for a fact this person got a lot of help and is extremely lazy.

      1. Specialk9*

        The transformation of “bootstrapping” from really obvious mockery of the casual cruelty of the silver spoon set, to being adopted proudly by the casually cruel working class seems like the perfect distillation of where we are today. Depressingly.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yup. That wonderful satirical character from Dickens’ “Hard Times” who goes on endlessly about how he’s a self-made man who never ever ever had any help from anyone, then gets exposed as a complete fraud, is eternally relevant.

  15. LSP*

    I always think back to a situation that happened when I was writing for a local paper, and after I had given my notice and my editor had found a replacement. The replacement, let’s call her Jane, was in her 30’s with a background in journalism (most new hires were right out of school with little to no experience, because the pay was so abysmal) , so my editor was psyched to have found her.

    Flash forward to Jane’s first deadline day (this was a weekly), and she didn’t show up to the office, nor did she call out. She apparently had tickets to The Colbert Report, and just went, without telling the editor. The next deadline day, she skipped again, this time to driver her grandmother to the doctor, and again, she never told the editor. By the third week, my editor was going nuts, because every time she handed Jane back her edits to a story, Jane was undoing all the edits, without telling the editor, and trying to get her original copy back to the copy desk and published without the editor’s ok.

    Since there was a 90 day probationary period, and because I had quit to take a few months off before moving overseas, and was therefore still around, my editor fired Jane and hired me back as a freelancer while she looked for someone new. Jane was completely taken aback by being fired, argued with the editor over her reasoning, and eventually, both Jane’s mother and former manager at a restaurant, called my editor to tell her what a mistake she had made letting Jane go and how she should hire her back, etc, etc. In that case, I am 100% convinced Jane asked people to call on her behalf.

    1. Kathleen_A*

      Wow. Just W.O.W. The cardinal rule of journalism is “Thou shalt not blow off a deadline.” I mean, that’s actually well ahead of truth and ethics and that sort of thing. What kind of journalism background did she have, for cryin’ out loud?

    2. E*

      Trying to wrap my head around how anyone could think that they wouldn’t get fired from a job for…not doing the job.

  16. irene adler*

    I actually have observed many of my co-workers spend company time “helping” to find jobs for their kids (high school and college grads). This includes writing/editing resumes and cover letters and performing job searches. They even do apartment searches and make travel arrangements.
    Can’t say who actually submits the job application, but there’s a lot of bragging about son or daughter’s new job- complete with salary figures, too (and it’s more than I make).

    1. Iris Eyes*

      Clearly you need to hire them to be your job searching agent, sounds like they are pretty good at it.

      1. irene adler*

        Yep! But somehow I don’t think they’d do this with the same gusto that they did with their kids. **wink!**

    2. Not a Mere Device*

      Travel arrangements are a lot less personal, though, especially if you don’t care what airline you’re on or there aren’t a lot of choices to make. The airline doesn’t care who uses the website, as long as the credit card goes through and the name on the ticket matches the name on the ID.

    3. AliceBD*

      My mom helps me when I’m job searching, by sending me links to positions I may be interested in. She has more patience for job boards than I do. I decide if I’m going to apply and write my cover letter and tweak my resume and do all of that myself.

      She also has found me my current rental and my previous rental. She apparently has the magic touch — we go together and don’t find anything, and then she looks later by herself and finds a fabulous place for below market rate.

      But she is a freelancer and therefore is her own boss and can easily take time during the work week to look at housing options, while I work in an office so can only visit after work or on weekends. For housing especially it is super helpful because then I can look at only the better places.

  17. GoggleEyes*

    Wow, I’m glad my mom doesn’t hamstring my professional life. She can even be trusted to answer my cell if I get a work call and am washing my hair or something. She DID encourage me to find employment by physically going to places without an appointment for an interview. But only because I’m in funeral service, one of the few fields where that’s really how it’s done–most hiring managers are baby boomers, too, and don’t advertise positions. It was nerve-wracking to do, but I had an offer within three weeks of graduation.

    1. Safetykats*

      Always good to remember that there are fields where that’s how it’s done. My FIL was a funeral director (and my MIL did heads at the funeral home), and the industry is unique. Although my daughter is a dental assistant, and you still go around and personally drop a resume and cover letter with the front desk at the dental office as well.

  18. LDN Layabout*

    My dad, who is now moving onto his third professional job (at 58), gave up trying to give my job advice after the time I sobbed down the phone at him after a week where I’d had 6 interviews.

    (2010/11 was a bad time)

    It’s just such a different world and luckily he realises how things have changed.

    1. Snark*

      2010 scarred me for life. My mom is always like, but you should be job hunting all the time, just to understand your industry and keep up on trends! And I’m like, lol FTS, it fills me with existential dread.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Graduating then was not the best, although I was lucky I basically got a job just before I gave up and did a masters.

        It’s taken a lot to make myself search for a new job now, partly because I remember how horrific it was then.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        It was all entry level stuff, so it wasn’t the preparation I’d do now, but mentally it was horrific (especially the two in one day).

        I went out on Friday afterwards to meet friends and gave up about an hour in since I was just /numb/ emotionally.

  19. Today I'm Susan*

    I just had to explain to my just-graduated-from-high-school son last week that while dropping resumes off at businesses would probably work in our very small town, it will not work in the nearby big city where pay would be actually reasonable.

    1. Yvette*

      It is very much a case of know your audience. Physically going from place to place is perfectly acceptable for teenagers seeking part time employment from small local businesses or retail establishments, even larger chains in shopping mall, will often have “Help Wanted” in the window.

      1. Birch*

        I stopped taking work advice from my parents 10 years ago when I went to the outlet mall in person looking for “Help Wanted” signs and every single one told me to look at their website. No one even wanted to talk to me because the retail workers don’t have anything to do with hiring. Then you’ve got to sift through the national chain websites and try to make it clear you’re applying for the nearest location, and many of them aren’t even hiring. I’m convinced they don’t even look at those applications. What a nightmare.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          Yeah, it depends on if this is a local shop or a subset of a larger corporation. When I got a job at a regional supermarket chain, I literally walked in, filled out a paper application, and talked to the manager that day. She told me to come in later in the week for training. No interview needed. But a few months after that, when they were bought out by a larger chain, you had to apply by computer, and then wait for your application to be sent up to corporate and back down to our store. The manager didn’t see the application for at least a day or two.

          And the same is true of a lot of those stores in the mall. I think the only places you can just walk in and get a job are local restaurants and diners – that is, not chain restaurants.

          1. Turquoisecow*

            Oh, and the increasingly rare local business, but not many of those are hiring.

        2. Inspector Spacetime*

          Ugh, I just went through this process myself. A lot of them use this one website that encourages you to record a video introducing yourself to the potential employers. Um, no. I never got called back by any of them, and maybe that’s why, haha.

          1. Birch*

            This sounds like my personal nightmare! Did you do the video?

            I did manage to get a temp job by applying to basically all the jobs on the temp agency website. They had to remind me which one they wanted me for (to be fair, there were hundreds of postings for very similar jobs).

        3. Michaela Westen*

          Back around – well, I don’t remember exactly, I was thinking of getting a 2nd part-time job. Before 2011?
          I asked at corporate stores and was told to apply on their website. They had the system up on a kiosk if I needed it.
          After I’d looked at a couple of these, I saw the only people who would ever do this were those with lots of time and nothing else. I spent 1 -1/2 hours on one and still didn’t finish. After each click it was at least 5 seconds while it updated. It asked many pages of personality-screening questions. Who in the world has time for that? Someone with no job and no other prospects, that’s who!

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Yup. Insulting, disrespectful, time-wasting BS just to have a tiny chance at getting a crappy part-time minimum wage job.

      2. Kj*

        Yep. I got a job in 2004 by walking in and asking for a job- but it was a small shop and I knew the usual Saturday person had just quit. It was likely the ONLY time that would have worked. But it worked once. I’m not going to advise anyone else to try it.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      This is an important distinction–if the local coffee shop or stationer needs someone, it’s more likely to be a sign in the window than a job board posting.

      1. Specialk9*

        Yeah, waiting table jobs I got from pounding the pavement. Every other job has required a more formal process, or network.

    3. Chinook*

      Last week our welding shop actually advertised for people to drop off resumes in person. I was the one receiving them and I was shocked at the number of trades people who thought this was a) completely normal and b) didn’t think to have their trade tickets on them for verification.

      I now understand why this advice still persists.

  20. Be a Tree*

    So what is the best thing a parent can do when their child is struggling with job searching? I’ve established good boundaries with my kids but still want to be able to help. One child is just out of university and still bewildered about how to find a job. Mostly I’v pointed her towards Alison’s book on job searching and just keep telling her that she can do this. Any advice is welcome.

    1. Rincat*

      Pointing her to AAM is a great thing to do. Also if she brings up the job searching, ask questions to help guide her to figure out what is working vs what’s not working.

      I have parents typical of what is described in this article – so I would have appreciated it if my parents just kind of let me struggle. Or taken a more problem-solving approach to it, with the question asking. I would have also liked if they would have asked me if I wanted to problem solve, or just vent – sometimes I just want to vent about something frustrating about my job, and my mom automatically leaps to “She must hate her job and want to leave asap!”

      My parents tended to just badger me all the time and try to leap in and rescue me. I think if you can take her lead on how much support she wants, that is a good thing.

      1. Be a Tree*

        She does actually. Mostly I just throw out questions to get her thinking about whatever it is in a different way.

        1. Chinook*

          Asking her questions to get her thinking is a good start (it is called the Socratic method) as is pointing out AAM to her. Sitting with her as she does a web-based job search to help her sift through and decipher ads is also good as well as role playing interview questions. Have her imagine what questions she would ask if she was going to hire someone. Ensure she knows local labour laws and her rights to a safe workplace. And let her understand that a wage is not her value as a person but the value of the work she is doing for a company and that a job can pay you in more than $’s (like experience, a good environment, benefits) and that, while she needs to figure out how much money she needs to make to survive, she needs to also weigh that out with the other ways a job can impact her.

          Basically, be there as a resource, give her room to fail, be a cheerleader and be a sympathetic ear and not try to fix it for her unless it is going to impact her long term health and safety.

      2. Grapey*

        I have middle school aged relatives whose parents just…do their work for them without the kids even acting like they gave it a shot.

        I can see them as adults looking bewildered without explicitly asking for what they need help with since the capacity for critical thinking was never introduced to them in the first place. I do simple crafts with them and the whining about how ‘it doesn’t look like Aunt Grapey’s, can’t you just do that step for me?’ is maddening.

    2. HMM*

      Honestly what would have been most helpful for me when I was the bewildered kid was just having parents who listened – parents that didn’t try to fix anything or offer suggestions or send me jobs that they think I would could do. Just trust that your kid can handle it on their own, and that if they have any questions they can come to you if they want the advice (or do what I did and GOOGLE).

      The worst part about my parents “helping” was that it really just felt like they thought I couldn’t get a job because I was stupid. It was such a hit to my self-esteem at the time, despite the fact that I had worked plenty of non-office and office jobs since I was 16 and had gotten every single one of those jobs by myself.

      All that said, I was extremely motivated to find a job post-grad because I refused to move back home and I had previous work experience to rely. Thankfully, my parents weren’t those people who said I shouldn’t work during college to “focus on my education”. If you have a kid who is not just bewildered by the process, but is also unmotivated, then I recommend making them contribute to the household in ways commensurate with their income or as if they had a job and/or kicking them out of the house. Hand-holding doesn’t help anyone – you, the kid, or the people who hire your kids (me, now!).

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      When your child is “bewildered about how to find a job,” is that just wanting to vent about how frustrating it is (in which case, listen and don’t give advice) or actually asking you for help (in which case, pointing your kid to Ask a Manager is a great thing)?

      It isn’t horrible to share what things you learned in your own job searches. But take cues. If your kid is saying “Wow. That’s really helpful!” then you offered some insight based on your experiences. But if your kid says “I’m not relaly show that’s how it works any more,” then don’t insist that that’s how it does work.

      1. Lawyer Anon*

        Agree with this! A lot of my mom’s advice was SO helpful while I was job searching – but some were completely different from what I had researched specifically about the legal field (she’s in education and has no legal background), and it really annoyed me when she would push back about things that were very clearly legal field-specific, even though I appreciated her other general advice.

    4. Lawyer Anon*

      Granted, I’m not a parent, but this is what worked for me and my relationship with my parents:

      Your son/daughter can still call the career office at his or her former university for advice/career counseling. Also, depending on the field, they should be getting an internship – not applying to jobs cold and then shrugging their shoulders and not working. In my field nearly all hires were from former interns.

      Also – psst – a lesson I learned is that you can’t always get your dream job at first! Sometimes you need to just get a job to earn money, and then job search on the side. Think about whether you want your child to be self sufficient or not and nudge them towards being productive – whether that’s trying to find an internship, trying to find a position they can make money temporarily while search, joining a group or volunteering in order to make connections.

      The bottom line – Don’t advise them on how to get a job – make sure they are actively doing something to better themselves.

      1. Be a Tree*

        That’s good advice. While her career office is fairly useless for all things that don’t have a defined path, continuing to stay busy will help keep her in a better frame of mind. Thanks for your thoughts

      2. Safetykats*

        Awesome advice. Also, for kids who are later than their peers to find a job, encourage them to network with their employed peers. Our son was reluctant to call his already-employed peers for advice, but that is in large part how he landed the job he now has (in which he’s advancing nicely).

        We also required regular (weekly) reports on the job search – where he had applied, what kind of calls he had made, what he had lined up for interviews or planned applications. It’s easy to get discouraged and let your efforts fall off, and we agreed that being held accountable was helpful. (We also agreed that being held accountable was part of the agreement under which he lived at home and we supported him so that he wasn’t trying to support himself on a part-time retail job while he looked for a full-time job in his field. Which, for anyone who is tempted to jump in and object, I still think is a perfectly reasonable expectation in return for room and board.)

        1. aNon*

          Fully agree with you about the checking in in exchange for room and board. When I graduated, I moved back home while I job searched and it was well understood, I needed to be applying and keeping them in the loop on how the process was going. Once I started working, that changed to paying rent since moving out was taken off the table for health reasons. Job searching is hard and it’s too easy to get discouraged. And from the outside, it can look like you aren’t doing much so it’s better to have those check-ins.

    5. Akcipitrokulo*

      Listening is a good thing!

      If they seem to want help… advice usually isn’t ideal; information is often much better.

      It may seem a bit pedantic, but there is a huge difference between “Read AAM book and do your cv like that!” and “AAM book has a lot of good info about how to write a cv.”

    6. drpuma*

      Consider connecting your daughter to a few kids of family friends or extended family members who are 5-10 years out of university with good jobs/careers themselves. Not as “find my daughter a job” but as “help her understand how you made these same decisions.” Maybe offer to foot the bill for lunch (but don’t attend). They will likely be able to give more pertinent advice than you could, and it might mean more coming from a peer.

      1. Birch*

        This is such great advice! I would have LOVED to have lunch with someone 5-10 years into my future career path at that age. Lots of kids know what they want to do, but the hardest part is figuring out how to do it. Plus, sharing stories of setbacks would be so helpful!

        1. SoSo*

          Yes! A connection with a someone like that would be a huge help. Even if it’s not specific to a niche field, but someone in a related or overall field would still be helpful.

          1. Blondie*

            Super late to the party- I think this is a great idea with one HUGE caveat- Reach out to the person you want to connect them to first. Yes, I realize this goes against a lot of the have the kids do it themselves- but treat it like you would any other network introduction. I am one of those 10 yrs out of school who gets hit up for this all the time since I work for what is viewed as a fun company. Most of the e-mails come from friends of my parents who want to connect me to their kid or their niece or their neighbor- and include both of us on the email. Some of these kids are super persistent, even after being asked to stop, or being told that in MyIndustry there are bad times of year, and I am not able to drop everything to accommodate their questions and meeting requests. I really appreciate the chance to vet the request ahead of time against my work load and my mentoring capacity in that moment, and move forward accordingly.

            Also- make sure to prep your daughter on what an informational interview is. Too many of these meetings have ended awkwardly for me, when the kid expects a job at MyCompany and I have no capacity to hire anyone.

    7. Beth*

      I think there’s actually a lot parents can do to help–but most of it doesn’t involve telling their kids their own strategies. Job-hunting norms are field-dependent, they’re different for entry vs senior level, and (assuming it’s likely been a while since you were looking for entry level positions) they’ve changed a lot over the years. There’s a good chance your experience job-hunting won’t apply at all to what she needs to do.

      But you might know someone in the field she wants to get into, and you might be able to get her time to talk to them about what the norms of that field are. You might be able to help her access career counseling, if she’s not sure what she wants to do yet. You can help her think critically about advice she’s been given and work through whether it’s reliable and applicable for her. You can check if there’s a professional organization for her field and whether they offer any advice for new workers.

      Maybe most importantly, you can just plain lend an ear when she’s frustrated and needs to vent for a while. I think this tends to get undervalued and seen as ‘not really helping’; in reality, just having a supportive person who can offer a little comfort can go a long way in helping someone feel more confident and optimistic about their situation. Keep on with the telling her she can do this; I bet that has a bigger impact than you realize.

  21. SunshineOH*

    My daughter was just recently fired from her first job (retail, she’s in high school). It was a totally bogus reason, and she didn’t like the job, but it was really hard for me to not intervene. Only because I knew it was B.S. and she had no idea how to handle it. So, I understand the inclination, but I knew it wouldn’t actually help her in any way.

    1. Thursday Next*

      This is a tough situation! I think you’d be well justified in helping to coach your daughter in advocating for herself, or directing her to resources that could help her learn. Jobs with high school kids have such a power imbalance, especially as they’re usually not even legally adults, that I can imagine it took a lot of self-restraint for you not to become involved. My kids aren’t old enough Pugh to work, but I can imagine wanting to step in if they were minors and it seemed like there were illegal practices at their workplace.

    2. Positive Reframer*

      What a great learning experience when things are relatively low stakes! Even if it is totally BS hopefully you are encouraging her to learn and grow (and not grow bitter).

    3. BadWolf*

      Sometimes retail just sucks — honestly, if they’re firing for bogus reasons (and she’s a good worker), she’s probably better off at a new place than fighting it out there.

    4. SleepyTimeTay*

      To be fair, retail is a whole different thing. I’ve worked in many different fields and currently work full-time in a large office and part-time retail (I like the discount). Retail is just strange sometimes. When I was in college working as a shift supervisor, I had a co-worker call because she needed to call in sick and I transfer the call to a manager per policy. While standing on the floor, the manager berated her for trying to call in sick, saying everyone gets sick and wouldn’t let her call off. Fast forward to when she comes it, the same manager (while on the floor) yelled at her for coming in sick and now she’ll get all the customers sick and sent her home.

      As other commenters said, it’s a good learning experience and hopefully grow from this. I am sorry it happened, though! Best wishes in her future job searches!

      1. fashanista*

        So true. When I worked in retail, the same manager who said, “Ugh, don’t ask for your break! I’ll tell you when it’s time for your break!” would also say, “You didn’t get a break today? Why didn’t you say something?!”

    5. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      This is going to sound a little weird, but it’s probably a good thing this happened to her.

      Seriously, I worked for some sketchy places when I was a kid and in school. It’s a great way to learn! Don’t intervene, it won’t help and in the end it doesn’t matter. She’s not going to get rehired based on your intervention, it won’t hold her back in anyway in her future, and she’s likely learned some valuable lessons from the experience.

      >I was fired from one place because I called in and successfully got my job back when I pushed back and said that 3 of the people currently working there still had their jobs after no call/no shows when they landed in jail.
      >One job, I learned all about immigration law and what happens if you don’t verify eligibility requirements. Spoiler alert, if you are raided half your staff is arrested and you have to shut down.
      >I learned how to keep track of my hours and self document when it came to paychecks.
      >I learned to recognize when I was being set up to take a fall by a stealing boss
      >I learned how to look up state employment law and to effectively use it.

      I couldn’t even tell you how many part time jobs I had through HS and college. Advise your daughter to use them for what they are, stepping stones and places to learn and gain experience.

      1. Chinook*

        Yup – I am a firm believer that everybody should experience failure when they are younger because it usually happens in a “safer” environment yet the lessons learned about what not to do will stick with you.

  22. Drama LLama's Mama*

    I have gotten reliably solid advice from my mom, who is lovely and hands-off and would never think of interfering in my professional life. My dad, however, is a completely different story. When I finished my MBA and MA in nonprofit administration, he kept sending me university jobs in different states for band directors and other ridiculous things. “Well, they want a masters’ degree, and you have one.” “Yes, but I don’t have the degree that they are asking for, and if I wanted to be a band director, I would have finished my undergrad as Music Ed, not Music Business, and done that.” I actually stopped talking to him for a year until we came to an agreement not to talk about my work.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      My Clueless Dad story: I got my MA in Organizational Psychology. My dad did not get what that was about at all and kept sending me listings for things like nursing home activities director (“well, it’s organizing people!”).

      To top it off, my dad was of the generation where college degrees were much rarer, so he thought that any college degree, from anywhere, was a magic key into just about any well-paying job. He never did understand that things just didn’t work that way anymore! (And he actually had a degree!)

      1. Birch*

        Psychology is especially bad for this because so many people don’t seem to understand how the different degrees and qualifications affect career options. I’m a psychology researcher in the area of music/language and I’ve gotten suggestions to apply for: psychiatrist, neurologist, music therapist, speech therapist, band director (“you have a degree in music!”), high school psychology teacher, HR (???!!!), etc.

        1. aNon*

          To be fair, I have my degree in Psychology and I work in HR. I definitely feel my degree gets used sometimes (mostly when I see all the social loafing happening around me because at least I can put a name on it). But yeah, if I had focused on research instead of the I/O parts of psych, I’d be confused about why HR would fit for me too.

        2. Specialk9*

          I have a degree in psychology, and have done a wild assortment of jobs, and now do something not even in the same universe as psychology.

      2. Salamander*

        Oh, I’ve got a Clueless Dad, too. He thinks that because I have two advanced degrees, I should be rolling around in cash like Scrooge McDuck. Nope. It does not work like that. Not even a little bit.

      3. Marion Ravenwood*

        My dad was like this. He was the first in his family to go to university, and at that time (the mid-1970s) a degree was basically a ticket into a high-paying white-collar job for life. Cut to 35 years later and him being utterly horrified that I wasn’t walking into £25k a year jobs the second I graduated.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Heh. A friend is in x-ray crystallography, and his father-in-law REALLY wanted him to run a pizza place. “People buy pizza when times are good, and when times are bad. It’s a great job!”

      1. Lora*

        Knowing how thin the jobs are on the ground for crystallographers…I dunno about a pizza shop, but when Brookhaven was losing funding I had a lot of colleagues looking into writing / teaching / anything else.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      My dad did this for a while–he kept telling me to join the military. Bahaha! If I’d wanted to, I would have a long time before that. And I actually looked into it when I was in music school. I wanted to join the US Army Chorus. But when I went to the recruiting office, the guy was a sexist prick and that turned me off it and I never went back.

      I won’t even start with how he kept begging me for a grandchild.

      1. Specialk9*

        Did he tell you to join the military while we were in the middle of all the recent wars?! Holy heck.

    4. fashanista*

      Mine’s the opposite – great advice from Dad, horrible advice and no understanding of my work from my Mom. One time, she sent me a job listing from a popular real estate company by publicly posting it on my Facebook timeline. (!!!) I was mortified. She said, “Well it’s from a real estate company, that’s what you do, right?” and “I didn’t know it was public, I was trying to text you!” I did work in real estate, but the position was for a groundskeeper, and I have a marketing degree and work in the marketing department…specifically as a social media manager, which made it so much worse that she posted on Facebook. I’ve never deleted something so fast in my life!

  23. No Name Today*

    My mother pushed me, an introvert, into directions I didn’t want to go. She liked glamour careers. I was so confused. I followed a career channel that got me sexually assaulted at work. I realize now that I would have been happier in a different direction, maybe a research job in an academic atmosphere.

    1. Positive Reframer*

      Wow I’m so sorry that happened. I hope that you find/have found a career path that you are more comfortable in and that justice is served. No matter what industry you are in sexual assault can happen but it is disgusting that in some it is “normal.”

      1. No Name Today*

        Thank you. I did, eventually. My mother doesn’t get that certain fields attract certain types of people.

  24. PhyllisB*

    The only way I’ve offered help to my adult children is to proof-read their resumes (after they requested it.) I did type up one daughter’s resume for her because she didn’t have access to a computer and printer at the time and I did; but she had to write it up first. I know that sounds like “Well, duh!!” but several of my friends did their children’s resumes completely.

  25. Lily Rowan*

    As we saw in the recent letter from a parent, I think the real division here is people who read AAM and those who don’t!

  26. Hallowflame*

    I think some of the more extreme advice (stalk the CEO on social media, etc) comes from widely publicized stories of the one time a tactic succeeded. A parent, unfamiliar with current job searching and hiring norms for people early in their careers, think this is standard for successful job candidates looking to pull ahead of the pack, and proceed to drive their kids crazy with bonkers advice.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      I agree with you. It’s Gumption 2.0 – instead of going door to door, just gumptioneer on social media! Honestly, the reason it gets publicized is that success with this method is so rare. Most people get jobs the boring “apply to openings” way.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      “Stand on the front lawn of the CEO’s house, holding up a boombox playing the company’s first advertising jingle. Preferably in the rain.”

      (I stole that from someone here on another thread a few weeks back; credit and copyright to (your name here).)

  27. Helen*

    I work in a museum. We had a mother call on behalf of her daughter, who was a former volunteer, to let us know that her daughter was graduating in a month and wanted to set-up her interview. I told her we currently did not have any positions open, we do not accept applications or resumes when there are no positions available, but she was welcome to come back on board as a volunteer until something opened up and then she could apply for it. She assured me that after the interview we would make “make something available for her”. I told her that very, verly unlikely to happen and if her daughter wished to work for our company her daughter should be contacting us. She began to argue, I stopped her, told her I was not going to argue with her about her daughter working here. She cursed at me and slammed the phone down. Unfortunately, the daughter was placed on a “do not hire/cannot volunteer” list. The daughter never called to explain why her mother was trying to set up interviews for her.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      She may not even have known mother was doing this, and hasn’t been in contact because there hasn’t been an opening.

      1. Helen*

        Yes, I’m thinking she was either mortified or didn’t know what her Mom was doing, but I was told to put her on “the list” so I did. It was kind of sad, though, because she had been a great volunteer, but her Mom just killed it for her. If she had called to say she was not cool with what her Mom was doing, I was prepared to plead her case and get her off the list.

        1. Gotham Bus Company*

          Part of me wonders if some parents deliberately sabotage their kids’ job opportunities as a form of control.

          1. Specialk9*

            Yeah I was thinking the same. I know someone here has shared that their mom stalks them and tries to get them fired, as a control tactic.

    2. Commander Shepard*

      That’s very unfair that she was put on a blacklist- poor girl might not have known about it at all and that’s why she didn’t call! Especially having a working relationship with her, it might have been kind to tell her.

      1. Helen*

        I didn’t want to put her on the blackball list. I was instructed to do so by my supervisor (Executive Director), so I had to. If she had called to say “ignore my Mom” I would have pleaded her case to get her off the list. I think her cursing at me was the reason.

        1. Specialk9*

          You’ll likely never be in this exact position again, but if anyone else reading this is, am alternative would have been to give Awesome Volunteer With a Cussing Mom a very discreet heads up (asking that if she says anything at the org, to say her mom told her). That gives her a chance to clear her name.

          The “we would have considered relenting if she had only contacted us and done X” relies on an unfair 1-sided balance of information. If she doesn’t know, she can’t do the magical X to clear her name, and she was a good worker (for free!) so she deserved that chance.

  28. Book Badger*

    Oh, boy. My parents know that they know nothing about law or the legal field, and generally their advice is helpful, but my mom will send me ten or more emails a day of job applications, maybe three of which I can actually apply to.

    “But it’s in law!”
    “Mom, they want you to have passed the bar. I haven’t passed the bar yet.”
    “But it’s entry level!”
    “I know. But I’m not even entry-level yet. I am sub-entry level. I’m not even an actual lawyer yet.”

    1. Snark*

      “They want a butterfly, and I am currently a semiliquid sack of goo undergoing chrysalis.”

  29. sunshyne84*

    I’m pretty sure my mom called the nursing department pretending to be me when I was in college. We were both confused when they called me back. I have absolutely no interest in healthcare!

    As far as actual job advice, my mom would just ask “So when are you going to become a supervisor?” like it’s just supposed to happen. Like mom, there has to be an opening, there’s plenty other employees that would apply, and most importantly do I even want that? (probably not)

    1. Laura H*

      On your second point, i feel this so much! THIS

      Yes I really do want to transfer to store B, but there has to be a position open at that store- I can’t- and won’t- just go in and talk to the manager more than I already have (once and it was more an aside rather than the main reason I visited the location.)

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

        My mother is still in the same position she was hired for 15 years ago. She laments that she hasn’t been promoted. I ask if she’s applied for a better position in her company and she tells me no, that she’s waiting for her boss to see the good work she’s doing and just give her the job she wants. I think she actually heard my eyes rolling over the phone!!

  30. Violaine*

    My daughter is in her early 20s. I have sent her several AAM posts and she has found them to be very helpful. I’m so glad that I found this blog before dispensing terrible advice to her!

  31. Aphrodite*

    My late father never interfered in our lives, work or personal, but he did insist on giving advice based on his own experience when my sister was looking for work. “Go in person and fill out an application,” he’d say. This was in the early days of the internet so many job ads listed only their fax number. She and I tried to explain to him how it worked but he found it really, really hard to believe. It went against everything he had grown up with.

  32. Higher Ed Database Dork*

    My parents were very helicopter-y while I was growing up, though we have both matured and have a much better relationship now. Part of what drove their questionable advice was that they tended to fear struggles and challenges, and didn’t really teach us how to persevere. I changed majors in college about seven times because each one was just “too hard”, so my mom told me I wasn’t “meant to do that.” I wish they had let us struggle more and learn how to be resourceful and figure things out. They also subscribed to the mindset that there is One Thing You Are Meant To Do/One True Destiny – so for my mom, that meant giving up whenever anything got hard, and for my dad, meant you had to stick it out NO MATTER WHAT and never complain.

    Now that I have a 3 year old daughter of my own I totally get the impulse to swoop in and rescue, but thankfully I am balanced out by my husband, who is great at letting our daughter figure things out and guiding her to be resourceful and independent (within reason of course, she is still just 3!).

    1. Fiennes*

      It took me so, so long to understand how much of my parents’ work/life advice needed to be filtered through the fact that they’re much more risk-adverse than I am. Than almost anyone is, really. It can be very hard to get any objectivity about your parents, especially regarding parts of their lives you may have little to do with, like work.

      1. MidwestAdmin*

        I regret the fact that my parents, who were very risk-adverse, were able to deter me from even looking into certain career paths. I would have thought that my mom, being a nurse, would be thrilled at my interest in becoming “a doctor that delivers babies”. She proceeded to tell me about how expensive malpractice insurance was, how people can and will sue you if anything is wrong with their kid, and added a story about a doctor she knew who got sued even though she didn’t do anything wrong, just for good measure. Thanks Mom.

        1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

          Same here. While I value the experience I had getting my English degree, sometimes I wish I had done something in computer science, but was told I was “bad at math” and should stay away from it…because it’s hard. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try it! And now I have a career in IT. And my parents are like, why didn’t you get a degree in CSE? arrrggghhhh

        2. Specialk9*

          Every doctor I know says the same thing, though. I think medicine in general has gotten to be fairly soul crushing, and people don’t realize until they’re so far in school and debt they can’t back out.

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

      I have a friend who has kids around the same age as mine and she’s a fan of “playing fair”. Cookies come out of her oven so that everyone gets the same amount, each child has their own electronic device so there’s never arguing, and I’ve witnessed her get into an argument with a mother and child at a water park because the child (2 years old!) got over eager and jumped the line to play with a water cannon and her 8 year old was waiting. The one piece of advice I have readily embraced from my mom is “Life’s not fair. It’s up to you to make do.” There are going to be times when there aren’t enough for everyone to get the same amount, when people argue over shared resources, and when someone gets ahead of you when you thought it was your time. I try really hard to hammer this home with my kids…and honestly I think they’re better prepared for things because of it. They look for alternatives, the communicate with others about their needs and create timelines for sharing things if necessary, and they speak up for themselves (and others) when they feel overlooked. I can honestly say my friend’s kids are at a disadvantage there.

      1. DiscoTechie*

        Adapting to life as it comes is a big theme in our house for the four and one year old miniTechies. Also, my personal parenting philosophy regarding other peoples’ kids is that I will only intervene when your child is in emanate danger of a disfiguring or fatal injury or about to inflict one on another child. This was confusing to the 6 year old at the children’s museum who came to me as the adult closest in proximity to say “so and so won’t share!” She didn’t quite get from my non response that is something I wouldn’t intervene in. Even my own kids don’t get that level of referring. I can encourage my kids to be generous polite little beings but I’m not going to enforce a false sense of absolute fairness that doesn’t exist in the world. Plus, I’m just not that interested in directing more children than I already have.

  33. Elmyra Duff*

    I graduated in the middle of the recession with an English degree. When I couldn’t find a job, my grandma’s advice was, “You type so fast! You should be a secretary somewhere with a pension.” Bless her heart.

    1. DCGirl*

      My grandfather was a career civil servant (40+ years), and my grandmother’s advice was always to get a job with the federal government, which didn’t really have any jobs for the career I wanted to pursue.

  34. Hiring Mgr*

    You probably just see more of this because you’re a workplace advice columnist… But is it really happening with any great frequency overall, or are these just some odd examples?

    1. Lizzy*

      My mom frequently tells my husband and I where / how to find jobs (the classifieds of the newspaper. Newsflash, mom, no one has advertised there since I was 10.) For reference, she’s retiring next year. Hubby and I are both early-30’s and have gone through the job search thing multiple times. I assume she does the same with my younger sister.
      I do know she gives my younger sister advice on resume and interview tactics. She likes to say that when people ask what her weakness is in interviews, she’s a perfectionist. (Not a good tactic, for anyone wondering.) Mom’s had essentially the same job at the same company for 20+ years. Like, sorry, but you really have no clue. Worst part is, my sister actually listens to her verses me. I mean, I’m a know-it-all when it comes to my sister, but on this topic, I actually DO know more than good ol’ mom.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Nothing in the post suggests it’s new, or becoming more common. Just still happening.

  35. Laura H*

    My parents give me advice but only when I ask for it (recently it was how much time off should I request for family trip x that’s 2 months out, because asking that far ahead of time is MY preference- as I don’t travel much and although we as a family don’t travel much, they have more experience than I do on that.)

    Asking the right questions is important.

    But yeah, unsolicited advice- yuck.

  36. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

    Sometimes I think this is the continuation of the helicopter parent trope. Don’t get me wrong, new adults of all ages going back through history have gotten bad or outdated advice from parents I think it’s probably more prolific now that the kids of helicopter parents are coming into the work world.

    I’m Gen X my parents are baby boomers, I’m really at a loss where this pound the pavement thing has come from from recently… the last time I heard that advice was from my parents in regard to a part-time after school job when I was 15.

    I wonder if it’s a product of new grads having unrealistic views of finding jobs (expecting the first passion filled dream job straight out of school) or parents having unrealistic expectations of their kids first jobs (on both sides of the equation… Jr. was a straight A student and the center of my universe so therefore should land that “entry level CEO” job or Jr. spent so much money getting their super specialized fluffy degree and now they need to get a job any job to get out of my basement).

    FTR, my mom gives great advice, she writes a killer resume, and she was one of the original working moms that took hold in the ’80s, and taught me how to negotiate. My dad on the other hand wouldn’t know what advice to give so his advice was ‘ask your mom’.

    Mom’s given advice when asked, but ultimately took the stance that if you’re old enough to work, you are on your own. I don’t think I’ve asked career advice from her since my mid 20’s. After that point any discussions about work or job hunting were peer level war story type discussions

    1. Thursday Next*

      Your mom sounds pretty awesome! I especially love that you’re on a peer footing with her, swapping workplace stories.

      Come to think of it, your dad’s pretty awesome too, for recognizing that he didn’t have all the answers and directing you to the real expert.

    2. Keyboard Cowboy*

      +1 for power moms! My mom was too. She and I like to share war stories about being women in male-dominated offices and sometimes she gets good and mad that I still have to put up with the same BS she did in the 80s.

      Fun story, when I was in grade school, for spirit week one time we had “Eighties Day” where we were all supposed to dress up as hippies – my mom dug out one of her old suits for me and lent me her pearls and briefcase.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        See good Mom advice is out there!

        I’m head tilting at hippies for 80’s day though… Weren’t most of the hippies power moms in the 80s?

        1. Keyboard Cowboy*

          Maybe I’m misremembering it and we were supposed to be wearing neon tracksuits? Sorry, I wrote in pre-coffee ;) But I do have a clear memory of one or two other moms at school dropoff going “oh my god, that is so cool” when they saw the suit!

  37. Knitting Cat Lady*

    My mum helped me a lot when I was job searching. By proof reading my CV and cover letters.

    She’s a copy writer and really good at that.

    Other than that she kept to sending me links to ads and companies that might interest me.

    That said, my parents have my power of attorney and have handled some things for me in the past.

    I have chronic depression. And sometimes I’m unable to do stuff that needs doing.

    I think my mum stopped going to parent teacher conferences when I was 14…

  38. Imaginary Number*

    This is not a tale of bad parents interfering in work, but a funny story anyway.

    When I was in the Army we had a kid who never showed up to our unit after he finished basic training and AIT. Somehow he still ended up on our books so we were responsible for an AWOL Soldier we’d never met. A week after his missed report date his mother calls the company First Sergeant and tells us to come get her son because “he’s supposed to be your problem now.” So we did. Mom probably prevented her kid from getting in even more trouble because he returned within 30 days. After a year he ended up turning into a decent Soldier.

      1. Specialk9*

        Her and the First Sergeant. There are few things a young soldier can do that a First Shirt hasn’t seen a thousand times.

  39. MarketingGirl*

    I was very lucky in the sense that my father was unemployed at the same time as me. Despite the age differences, we were essentially in the same exact boat of endless resumes, job hunting, interviews, and rejections. It was so helpful for the both of us to be able to commiserate together. My mother on the other hand wanted me to apply to senior level positions in areas I had no experience in whatsoever and would get upset when I wouldn’t follow through. The differences between the two were amazing…

    1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      My late mother used to tell me that I could easily get a job as an editor anywhere, all I needed to do was walk in and tell them about how much reading I do.

      In addition to having ZERO interest in being an editor (or working in any kind of publishing or writing job at all), I have :
      • A high school education
      • Grades that were all over the place, due to my-
      • MAJOR executive function disorders- though undiagnosed at the time, I still knew I didn’t have the memory for grammar rules or attention to detail that being an editor would require.
      • Zero experience in writing, and no desire to ever do so.
      • Fine motor skills that are so impaired I have never been able to learn how to TYPE properly, despite having spent nearly every day of the last 20 years bashing at a keyboard. (Which has in fact excluded me from any job where speedy and/or accurate typing is a requirement. And is a disability which I can do nothing about.)
      She *really* thought she was correct in her assessment, and that I was throwing opportunity away by not pursuing it.
      Both of my parents thought that I was not serious about having any type of career, and assumed I just took what they called “fun-fun jobs” (which included being a veterinary technician, retail management, and owning my own small business!) over “real” jobs for…some unknown reasons they never seemed to be able to articulate. As though I was really into being poor and not having health insurance with a serious lifelong chronic health condition I couldn’t afford to treat, and not that most jobs had qualifications that I couldn’t have met in a million years. And while I’m sure it was frustrating for them to see their gifted, intelligent, creative, and talented daughter get one dead end job after another, they refused to listen when I tried to tell them that I just didn’t have the skills required. (Example: I couldn’t type because I “wasn’t trying hard enough” or “not applying myself”, not because I was incapable…*everyone* can type if they want to learn!)
      My parents were super awesome in so many ways, but this was such a HUGE blind spot for them that it was insurmountable.

  40. Midge*

    This is giving me flashbacks to conversations with my parents during college. Their main advice about work was that college was the time to focus 100% on schoolwork and that I shouldn’t split my focus by having an on-campus job. Boy do I regret listening to them! I graduated at the beginning of the recession with a super liberal artsy major that didn’t leave me with any practical skills. When I would talk with them about struggling to find entry level work, my dad would tell me I could come work in the warehouse of the retail company where he worked. At the very least, with all his experience hiring, he could have given me better advice than “come work in the warehouse.”

    1. Thursday Next*

      My parents said the same, but I pretty much ignored them, not out of any astute sense of needing to build work experience, but out of a need for money. I worked a series of retail and service jobs from the time I was 14, until I was old enough/lucky enough to land more field-related work in college. However, it did mean that my life from 14-21was studying and working and not really trying new activities or developing social skills.

      As someone who teaches undergrads now, I do hear this advice (related to me by students reporting on their parents’ advice). It’s a competitive institution with heavy workloads, so I kind of understand it. I was wondering whether it’s okay for parents to advise students to focus on school during the academic year, but use summers to build work experience? Is that enough to build a work record by graduation, or do students have to work during the school year as well?

      1. You don't know me*

        If the student is not taking summer classes then they should use summers to build work experience. I know two families who each have a daughter finishing up their sophomore years and both are in the same field of study. One girl is getting ready to do her second summer of working at a camp for special needs kids. The second girl is getting ready to spend her second summer doing absolutely nothing.

      2. Midge*

        Yeah, I was super lucky that I didn’t need to work. And I think a lot of parents who give that advice are worried about their kids missing out on what little time they have to just be a kid. But part of raising kids is preparing them to be independent adults. So if you shield them from work in the name of fun, then you’re neglecting that aspect of parenting. Summer jobs seem like a good compromise there. (I did work over the summers, btw, but it was stuff related to the liberal artsy major and not particularly marketable elsewhere.)

      3. Inspector Spacetime*

        Summer internships are definitely a thing, and IMO more valuable than during-the-school-year employment. It’s hard to do any kind of meaningful employment during the year, because you can only work part-time, but during the summer you can do a full-time internship. As long as it’s paid, of course, which was the kicker for me. Sure, I’d love to do that fascinating co-op at the UN, but your girl’s gotta eat.

    2. KX*

      My oldest kid is in seventh/almost eighth grade. He is interested in money, and having it, and we talk about him getting a job a lot. I encourage it!

      GenX Teenager Me had a once a week McDonald’s job in my junior and senior year of high school, and then campus jobs every year I went to school. It kept me in more than spending money, but I was able to graduate with real experience. A terrible resume perhaps (I had my name in a different color! A pine green. So pretty!), but real work experience. 12 to 15 hours a week was all I had to work, but it HELPED SO MUCH.

      I think I have a kid that can’t wait to get a job, but that is probably the number one best thing I did to help me upon graduation. Even though it was a simpler time with way more opportunity, I still had an edge.

      1. KX*

        So the point I was making is that even if I didn’t have a kid that was excited about working, I would force said kid to work anyway, and they would thank me later.

    3. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      I wanted to get a job when I was still in high school, but my parents wouldn’t let me OR my brother have jobs in school because they wanted us to focus on our schoolwork.
      I think that was a poor decision on their parts, to say the least.

  41. Jam Today*

    I have done literally the opposite of everything my dad has advised me to do, and am doing extremely well for myself. He has given me consistently bad advice for 23 years running now.

    1. Shawn*

      Hey, at least he has inadvertently given you good advice. You just take what he says and successfully do the opposite. A win-win I’d say. LOL!

  42. springflower*

    I was abroad (in Russia) the year after I graduated college. My parents could not understand why I did not secure a job while I was still abroad. I tried to explain to them that it would be very difficult due to not being able to interview/different time zone/unreliable internet and phone. I always remember my mom saying “If they really want you, they will work with you”. I mean, this was to be my first job out of college, it’s not like I was some well known entity in an industry. I will just always remember that and think about how clueless she was….

  43. ClearlyRox*

    I spent a lot of time and energy job hunting during my last semester of business school. I devoted dozens and dozens of hours to developing a professional resume, writing eloquent cover letters, polishing my interview skills, finding the perfect interview suit, and scouring my university’s career center for resources, sound advice and job leads. When I scored an interview with a well known, conservative bank, my mother could not stop issuing Dreadful Advice. She offered gems such as, “Don’t wear your navy blue business suit to that interview. It sends the wrong message! They’ll think you’re conventional, then they’ll try to stifle and control you!” She called me multiple times to express her opinion that I should wear a hot pink linen dress I’d bought to wear to a wedding. It was a competitive field of candidates (and we all wore conservative interview suits). Although I got to the third round of interviews, I didn’t get an offer. I did get more Dreadful Advice though: “Call them back and persuade them that they made a mistake!” Another gem: ‘Write to the hiring manager’s boss and tell that person what a mistake they’ve made!” This column comes off sounding a bit judgmental, which is disheartening. I think it’s important to remember that parents are human beings, with flaws, faults, and sometimes even significant personality issues. I would hope that an employer wouldn’t judge a candidate for having a parent with problems – that would be unfair and unkind.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      I don’t judge the children of helicopter parents, most of whom are NOT encouraging that behavior, but I sure do judge the hell out of the parents. Some kids don’t know enough to recognize the Dreadful Advice as dreadful, and the parents who do things like call or tweet employers to demand they “hire my precious little Muffy” are actively making things worse for their kids and refusing to stop sabotaging their careers when told.

    2. Gadget Hackwrench*

      Mine told me not to wear a tie because hiring managers would think I was a lesbian. Okay mom.

  44. SleepyTimeTay*

    I’ve been pretty lucky with job searching advice from my parents. My mom is a manager in a fairly entry level department so is pretty up to date on current job searching norms. She also tended to give me advice on what not to do from some of her horror stories. Like handing my interviewer a current resume that had updates made with crayon, or show up in beach wear for an office job.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Can she comment on one of Alison’s delightful “ask the readers” threads about bizarre job candidates and such? Pretty please?

  45. Gabriela*

    My very accomplished, very academic (tenured) mother once “helped” me with my resume. I was less than a year out of college and my resume was 4 pages long.

    1. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

      Wow, same here! That brought back memories. My dad was also a tenured college professor/academic, and his advice about resume writing was…less than helpful, shall we say. I finally started getting interviews after I re-wrote it based on advice from my mom and a book on resume writing I checked out from the local library. I had forgotten all about that until just now.

  46. Shawn*

    My parents still can’t figure out what must be “wrong” with me to have had several jobs. Let’s put aside the fact that I am a professional and have comfortably put a roof over my own head now for many years (I’m 45 years old!). My father worked for one company his entire career so that he could enjoy the retirement pension, something that few, if any, companies in the private sector still offer today. Due to having worked for more than one company, I am deemed a “job hopper”. I recently viewed my sister’s resume as she is about to re-enter the workforce after several years as a stay at home mother. The advice my parents gave her was terrible and it reflected on her resume. I have found that although well-intentioned, it’s sometimes best to bless them and move on!

    1. Positive Reframer*

      Railroads and unions are the last holdouts with pensions I think. At least all the people I know with pensions fall into either or both categories.

      1. Specialk9*

        Police and govt, though many states are on the verge of jettisoning the pensions.

  47. Anon Today*

    My dad’s big piece of work “advice” was to always act happy, always say yes, never share any frustrations, etc. I think he was trying to communicate that you shouldn’t spend your whole day complaining, not that you shouldn’t ever share when you needed help, etc., but early on in my career I thought he was basically encouraging me to shut up and put up.

    My mother has always been far worse. She seems to think that a job is an optional activity that you attend when you are bored.

  48. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    Now I feel even weirder about having my mom review my resume and cover letter! But she asked, and she actually switched jobs not too long ago herself. (We’re in totally different fields, but I’m switching out of mine and hers doesn’t have any unusual quirks.) And her suggestions were reasonable (make my cover letter a little pshorter, adjust some things on my resume to be more reflective of my skills, etc.).

    1. SarahKay*

      No, I don’t think that’s weird. That’s just getting a second pair of eyes on something you’ve already done which is never a bad idea, even if only to avoid any egregious typos.

    2. OtterB*

      I agree that a second pair of eyes on something is not at all weird, especially when she’s make suggestions for you to take or leave and not issuing commands.

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        True, but it’s like…I’m just wondering whether my mother is a space alien because we actually had a mature interaction about my career.

        On the other hand, given the site we’re on, of course most of the people writing in about their parents are going to have inappropriate as hell parents.

  49. Anon Accountant*

    Mine was furious that you couldn’t wear shorts to my first professional job. “Because no one would see you”.

    And at a job that wanted a suit when seeing clients I “should just put on a necklace and earrings” with that T-shirt. Because that makes it professional enough.

  50. Mrs. Fenris*

    This is such a timely topic for me today. This is my son’s first day at his first full time job (in a skilled trade). I keep catching myself thinking that shortly there will be some sort of parent conference/open house, and then remembering that no, actually, I will most likely NEVER meet these people or visit his workplace. I’ve also had to remember many an AAM discussion during his job search and not give him all the advice that was standard when I was looking for my first adult job in the early 90s.

  51. Dust Bunny*

    I think my parents have finally stopped trying to advise my brother. Brother is in a sorta-academia position (he teaches sometimes but it’s not his primary function) and was hoping to find a job in a different part of the country. But it wasn’t happening. Dad insisted he must be doing something wrong, not publishing enough, etc. I think that’s finally been shut down and my parents have realized that their graduate school experience from the 1970s no longer applies, and that maybe they don’t have any idea how hard it actually is to get these positions.

  52. Madeleine Matilda*

    At my old job, my boss had to fire a young woman during her probationary period. Her father called and yelled at my boss because it was “unfair.” She wasn’t able to function without a lot of support from her spouse and her parents and when she moved for this job she didn’t have the support system she was used to having. She couldn’t get herself to work on time (even though we could arrive anytime between 6:30-9:30), constantly was losing things like her keys and her wedding rings, would cry for no reason, was openly jealous of and hostile towards two co-workers who were her age but had been there far longer and had more responsibility, and more. Because she was so reliant on her parents and spouse for support she was unable to function on her own in the workplace.

    1. irene adler*

      Unbelievable-especially the part about not being able to get to work on time.

  53. Anomanom*

    My parents told me recently that the phrase they said most to each other while raising the 4 of us was probably “sit on your hands.” They were big on letting us do it, even if it went badly, even if they could have done it better/faster/cleaner. I am so super thankful every day that they raised us like that and apply that regularly to my direct reports. I could definitely do it for them better/faster/cleaner, but most of the time it is so much more important that they have the experience of trying and working through it on their own.

  54. Lizzy*

    My mom frequently tells my husband and I where / how to find jobs (the classifieds of the newspaper. Newsflash, mom, no one has advertised there since I was 10.) For reference, she’s retiring next year. Hubby and I are both early-30’s and have gone through the job search thing multiple times. I assume she does the same with my younger sister, but I don’t know for sure. She also routinely sends us clippings of the newspaper with some job she found. More often than not, it’s the same post for the same job that we have said we’re not interested in or applied to 262 years ago…
    Mom seems to think that it’s SUPER important how fast you can type. Like, that’s one of the big things you should “sell” in an interview, and probably put on your resume. Oh, mom…
    I do know she gives my younger sister advice on resume and interview tactics. She likes to say that when people ask what her weakness is in interviews, she’s a perfectionist. (Not a good tactic, for anyone wondering.) Mom’s had essentially the same job at the same company for 20+ years. Like, sorry, but you really have no clue. Worst part is, my sister actually listens to her verses me. I mean, I’m a know-it-all when it comes to my sister, but on this topic, I actually DO know more than good ol’ mom.

    1. Collection of Particles*

      Oh man. That brings up memories! When i was in college, my parents told my grandparents that I was getting a degree in physics. My grandmother replied with something like, “I have never seen a classified ad for a physicist in the local paper. She won’t be able to get a job with that degree. How will she ever support herself? Tell her to go into something with jobs!” Oh, Grandma.

  55. A. Ham*

    It’s funny, because sometimes I really value my parent’s work advice- especially since I ended up in a similar field as them, and they are both very successful, and smart. But there is a disconnect in a lot of ways, so sometimes their advice is off-base. Some of it is generational, and some is because we aren’t in EXACTLY the same business. (They have since left the game and started their own retail business in a tourist town, but they were previously high powered marketing people at a big ad firm, whereas I am also in marketing – but at a small non-profit) BUT I will admit that I will seek out their input on certain things (they’re pretty good at not giving unsolicited advice) I just have also figured out when to take it and when not to. ;-)
    Similarly, my mom also doesn’t seem to understand that I can’t just drop everything and have an hour and a half lunch with her on any given day, and also can’t just leave work early on a whim to hang out with her (not as much of a problem anymore since I don’t live as close to her anymore, but it used to be a common issue). Since she always used to be able to do that when she “worked in the city”.

  56. Madeleine Matilda*

    My nephew is starting his first internship. I gave him one piece of advice, which was given to me by my first supervisor many years ago, always keep your own personnel file, don’t rely on a company to keep records you may need about your employment. I think this is even more relevant today when people are more likely to have many jobs over a career.

  57. Environmental Compliance*

    I am incredibly thankful that my parents are/were sane as far as employment goes. They never batted an eye at changing jobs, were actually helpful with resumes & cover letters, and my dad helped me practice salary negotiation.

    My MIL, however, cannot understand….
    – that employers have changed since the early 90’s, and you don’t just walk up to people and demand a job
    – that not every woman wants to be a stay at home mom
    – that wives can make more than their husbands, and Hubs cannot just ask Boss to raise his salary because I make more than he does, that is not an appropriate request
    – that it’s not appropriate to skip out on work for a week for vacation with no notice given to the employer, just because FIL does it and hasn’t gotten fired doesn’t mean it’s normal, also no it will not change anything if Hubs calls them and asks for me (??!)
    – that you do not just meander on into work whenever you please, Boss does not care that much that ya’ll are suddenly visiting, I’m not going into work late just to get brunch with you on a Tuesday
    – that I also have retirement accounts set up, and do not rely on Hubs to be a walking ATM

    1. Mrs. Fenris*

      My brother works for a tiny company with a tiny workload in a tiny resort town. From what I can tell, he spends the morning doing research and the afternoon in a varying number of meetings, and ambles 4 blocks home at 4:30. He is baffled when he calls me or Fenris at 7 PM and we are stuck at work putting fires out. Um, yes, this is what a work day looks like for many of us.

    2. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

      My mom has a difficult time understanding that I can’t just take a week off work whenever I want, with 1-2 weeks notice. I work directly with customers, so if I am going to be off for more than a day or two, we have to arrange for someone else to fill in for me. It is difficult to find someone who can fill in for me on short notice. She planned a family vacation last summer 2 weeks prior to said vacation, and then was very upset that I couldn’t get the week off to go.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        MIL does that! My job is compliance report based, so while with a decent amount of notice I’d be fine for a week, I need the notice to set up the reports that’ll need submission when I’m gone. The EPA does not care if your compliance person goes on vacay for a week, the EPA wants the required reports submitted on time. I’m the only person in the facility that does this work.

        MIL threw a fit that I wasn’t buying plane tickets for the *next day* because they’d already gotten a hotel room for her and FIL and I could just share with them and go with them! Yeah, no. But you have the rest of your life to work, EC!!! Technically true, but I’d like to keep my career in good standing, thanks.

    3. CristinaMariaCalabrese (do the mambo like-a crazy)*

      I just spent 3 minutes staring at my screen, mouth agape, horrified at what your MIL thinks is appropriate. You have my sympathies.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        She’s something else. Quite often she’ll ask me something in the vein of what I’ve dubbed [MIL Name’s] Brain Breakers, where she asks something and it breaks my brain trying to figure out 1) what she meant, 2) why she’d even ask that and/or 3) how to answer without being a snot. My family has always been “ask a dumb question, get a dumb answer” (i.e. – dad’s standing by smoky grill with tongs in hand, Middle Sister asks what he’s doing, his response would probably be teaching elephants to fly), so #3 is a struggle for me when she asks something like “why do you keep your spoons in that drawer?”
        “it’s the silverware drawer…?”
        “but why keep your spoons in *that* drawer?”
        “it’s the only drawer that fits the silverware organizer tray?”
        “but why keep your *spoons* in *that* drawer?”
        …repeat ad nauseum…

    4. Specialk9*

      “wives can make more than their husbands, and Hubs cannot just ask Boss to raise his salary because I make more than he does, that is not an appropriate request”

      Wow. The patience of Job. (Except he was kind of a putz, as was God, in that story.)

      I’m just imagining that conversation, and the look on his manager’s face (esp if she is female).

  58. Nonnon*

    I’m still convinced that father who told their kid to tell interviewers that they had “no partner, no friends, no social life” was actually trying to get rid of their offspring by getting them sucked into an organ harvesting operation.

    1. SarahKay*

      Dammit, that was a new keyboard! Why do I drink coffee when reading AAM comments; I really should know better.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      Well, there WAS that letter from the boss who demanded his employees be liver donors….

  59. Oxford Coma*

    I live near my parents and visit them about twice per week. I started changing into business clothes on visiting days that I worked remotely, because my dad would go absolutely batcrap insane seeing me in yoga pants and a tee shirt. Everyone who works from home is a lazy slacker, butts in seats, show up early and leave late, give your soul to the company store.

    I’m not new to the workforce–I vividly recall the Carter administration. I’ve given up convincing a septuagenarian that the world has changed. It’s faster to throw on a suit and call it a day.

    1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      Whenever I visit my parents (which is often, since they want to see their grandkids), I mostly wear yoga pants and tees, even if I was at work earlier and wearing nicer things. My mom is convinced I wear nothing but my ratty yoga pants uniform to work, and that I do not own any other clothes. I’ve had to tell her several times that yes, I do own many types of clothing, and I know how to dress appropriately for different situations. She’s even seen me in other clothes! I’m kind of stumped by this one.

  60. Sigrid*

    My parents are both (now retired) university professors — so add to the usual parental misunderstanding of the modern job market the fact that neither of them has ever worked outside of academia, and haven’t needed to job search within academia for almost forty years. I take pretty much none of their advice.

  61. SpaceNovice*

    I’m so glad my brother and father both work in the same field; they can give me useful career advice. My mom gives decently useful advice, but she doesn’t understand the breakdown of technologies and the software development life cycles to really give me good advice there. She’s pretty good with general advice, though.

    1. SpaceNovice*

      Although she’s stayed with the same employer for most of the time, my mom does understand the trends of tech and how long people typically stay in one position. So at least there’s that!

  62. ThePandaQueen*

    The only advice my father gave me when it came to job searching actually is the reason I landed all the jobs I’ve ever had. “Treat the people who are interviewing you as people and just breathe.” I’m a nervous wreck in interviews so that always helped me. He always followed up with “there’s only two things that can happen, you get it or you don’t. So take it easy on yourself.”

  63. dear liza dear liza*

    I think the helicoptering can be a byproduct of fear and frustration. Entry level jobs are a lot harder to come by. I graduated from college in the mid 90s; all of my friends with liberal arts degrees easily found starter jobs- editorial assistants, teacher’s aid, receptionist, mail room work- that mostly led to on-the-job training and promotions. When I spoke to recent graduates from the same college, same majors, they longed for such opportunities. Many were heading back to part-time jobs they had in high school!

    In that same time frame, my sister graduated from high school, and started and quit numerous food service/retail jobs over the next 5 years while she figured out what to do with her life. We never worried when she quit, because there was always another job around the corner. Low-paying and not great, but available. Now my neighbor’s son is in a similar boat and is working 20 hours at a supermarket. He keeps applying to other places but never hears anything.

    So I think job hunters are getting desperate to find a position, and their parents are desperate to get them out of the nest. (I also wonder about the relationship to record-high levels of anxiety and depression in millennials- that can’t be making job searching any easier.)

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      I think that’s a good point – not that it makes bad parental advice any less maddening! I think that normal worrying about whether Junior will land a good job turns into terror that Junior will *never* find a good job, *never* launch, and Mom and Dad will be supporting Junior and possibly grandkids unto death, and this translates into high-energy nagging and helicoptering. The trouble is, you can’t nag and helicopter a job into magically appearing!

    2. ClearlyRox*

      Exactly! Most parents offer whatever knowledge or life experience they have in the hope that it will somehow help a son or daughter make some kind of progress, and frankly, survive. That’s the bottom line – people are trying to help a loved one find a way to put food on their own table and make rent. That parent’s fund of knowledge or life experience may be dated or flawed, but it comes from a sense of desperation in many cases. Times have changed: opportunities (even entry-level ones) are few and far between, training programs no longer exist, college education has been priced out of reach and often doesn’t help a job seeker anyway, or people have to work multiple jobs just to get by. It is super tough out there. It’s very easy for those of us who have an income, and have already built resumes filled with valuable experience, to sit back and judge families who feel they are in a desperate, vulnerable position. I think it’s important for HR people to be kind, not smug, and remember that often, people are driven by pure fear. There but for the grace of God….

  64. Office Manager*

    I’m 40. There is one time my mom called in sick for me- I was 17 and had been in a car accident on my way to work. I didn’t have a cell phone (it was the 90’s). She called my job to tell them I wasn’t going to make my shift since I was on the way to the hospital in an ambulance.

    I worked in the same building as my Dad, and drove to work and home with him for four years (he had a parking space, I did not, and I didn’t want to take public transportation). Not once did he go and meet with my employer to talk about me.

  65. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Slightly veering OT Boundary story …

    Both my parents are now dead. When they were alive, both were actually good resources for work-application advice within their realms of expertise. In fact, they both said make sure you meet people — never know where a connection is going to come from, “know your audience” and to adjust the job search accordingly, which all STILL seems to be very good advice. I was very independently-minded, though, and tended to just go off and make my own mistakes even when they were huge (like one that resulted in me sleeping on someone’s floor for a month because I didn’t have a place to live).

    I am trying to stay that way for my kid. They’re smart and will be Just Fine. And I’m happy to point at AAM (which I did over a year ago when they entered High School) and help with proofreading.

    However, I just have to throw this in even though it is slightly off-topic: My mother interfered in anything personal. Not only did she have Opinions on who I really ought to be dating, when I was in a boarding school in high school and she found out I had gotten a diaphragm for birth control, she became convinced I shouldn’t keep it in my chest in the dorm room and she picked up the phone in front of me and called a friend of hers in that town and proceeded to tell her that I would like to store my diaphragm at her place until I needed it!

    I screamed so loudly I think they heard me in the capital. And, looking back, I am so grateful she had boundaries around work.

    1. Specialk9*

      Oh hey Mom’s-Friend, nice to see you again, yes it’s still a nice Tuesday, I need my diaphragm again please! Great thanks, see you again later. And again.

    2. Gadget Hackwrench*

      How much you want to bet friend was supposed to hold it hostage to keep you from having sex…

  66. Steph*

    I’m the parent here, so I need some advice. Rest assured, if my kids were 25 I would stay out of it, unless they asked my advice, but my kids are both 17 and have asked my advice, and I don’t know the right answers. Nothing is like it was when I was 17. Both of them started the search for first jobs – you know, the low-end service jobs that teenagers get.
    They go to different high schools (long story). Sansa’s school hosted a job fair with local employers who came in with hiring managers right at the table, and the teachers who could give references wandering around the room. Most of the kids got job offers on the spot, and Sansa starts her new job this week.
    Arya got the other experience – no job fair, just “enjoy your summer” and she’s been looking for a few weeks with no luck. Is online the best way to do that these days? Stop in for an application? I just don’t know what to tell her about how to find that start-up part time teenage job anymore.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      My younger sisters are in high school right now. I believe one got a job because her friend’s older sister was the manager at the coffee shop and passed it on that she had an open position; the other one applied in person at a variety of fast food places. But they are in a smaller, relatively rural town. I do know that all of those places, she did not get to speak to a hiring manager, just filled out the same form she would have online. I believe the retail places she applied to all directed her to an online application portal.

    2. OlympiasEpiriot*

      IMO, multi-pronged attack. Search on-line, call the municipality (town, county, etc.) about beach/pool jobs if there is such a thing in the area, keep one’s eyes peeled for Help Wanted signs, check the websites of any chains with local outlets, talk with any already employed people who are doing something she is interested in and see what the system is where they work to apply (and this includes parents, friends, neighbors, etc.), and even though the school basically seems to be ignoring the kids, she could contact her favorite teachers or admin at the high school (with much apologising for bothering them) for advice. Despite them not organising anything, they may know something if asked directly. Have a resume file already in place on her computer, ready to tailor and then e-mail or post the pdf whereever needed.

    3. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      My son just got his first summer job. It was completely online. He applied online, they invited him to interview through email and then made the offer through email. Most of the chain fast food places are going to be apply online (mcdonald’s, taco bell, etc). If she has friends that are working, I’d have her apply where they are working so she has someone to write down that referred her (assuming her friends are ok with that). It sounds like Sansa is going to know a lot of kids that are working so she might be able to hear about something too that could help Arya out.

    4. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I would say online and have her talk to her friends who are working, oddly HS jobs are very network heavy (and a great introduction for how to network). So if any of her friends are working she should ask them if they are hiring.

  67. Anony McAnonface*

    My mother wants me to write a (one) romance novel which will apparently make me a ton of money and lift me out of poverty. My father thinks getting a patreon will make me $80,000 a year because Jordan Peterson gets bank for being The Worst. These are vying for the worst advice I’ve got this year and it’s only May.

    1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      My dad is still convinced I can make a comfortable living from being a comic strip writer, because I wrote a comic strip a couple times for the school newspaper in junior high (that was just “so funny and so good!” -uh no it wasn’t). Not web comics, even – good ol’ paper comics.

    2. DoctorateStrange*

      Yeah, I’m guessing she found out that some romance writers that are popular were able to leave their previous jobs to write full-time. I know one author that used to be a surgeon, another was a former law professor, and so on. Unfortunately, romance writing like all writing is not going to guarantee that you will be able to live off it.

      1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        One of my friends is a former air force pilot, and she has made a full time career out of writing romance novels. But she busts her butt every day and churns them out, and knows how to market herself and run her business, which is another part of it. She works super hard, and it’s paid off. I don’t think a lot of people understand that in order to succeed in the arts and literature arena like that, you need to also put in a lot of effort into the business side. It’s not just sitting around dreamily in your seaside villa penning novels in between musings about life.

    3. Kiwi*

      I tried writing a romance novel years ago. I had a really good first chapter and a decent idea how it ended. Turns out you have to write all the pages in between too. Oops. Bugger.

  68. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego*

    Surprisingly, the nmom knows boundaries and refuses to contact any employer on my behalf–but this is likely because she’s been inundated with parents calling her about their kids’ internships when they’ve literally fallen asleep on the job which bugs her insanely. However, since she can’t scream at them to behave themselves, she used to scream/get on my case to not do that stuff–which I’ve never done, e.g., I’ve never played video games at work, never gone narcoleptic, etc.

    She used to text me 15 indeed.com and linkedin and usajobs texts, plus 3 personal contacts in unrelated and irrelevant-to-my-calling fields (i.e. wheatgrass & cornhusking jobs when I do teapot management)….*per day***. Luckily, with me having gone no contact the past year, and very limited contact, I’ve set extraordinarily sturdy *knock on wood* boundaries. She knows I won’t check my phone unless its weekends, and she knows she’s not allowed to email me on personal email, texts only, because I blocked her (after her screaming at me one too much).

  69. Dame Judi Brunch*

    My mother gave me a few good pieces of advice. Do not gossip or get involved in drama at work. Do not burn bridges. Work hard.

    That said, she wasn’t great in helping me decide What To Do With The Rest Of My Life. She suggested a career in customer service. She was thinking receptionist or call center rep because “you’re a girl!” Meanwhile my brother was pushed into Computers because that was the future. We are both working in fields completely different than what she suggested. We graduated from college in the late 90s, early 00s for reference.

  70. Melissa Davies*

    “All sides would be well served by parents agreeing to hold their fire when it comes to their children’s jobs.” I don’t think this is true. Nepotism is alive and well and works just fine for a lot of families.

  71. Nicole*

    Too many people are vying for jobs nowadays. If a job candidate or their parent did any of the things outlined in those examples, their resume would go in the trash. I don’t have time for that!

  72. char*

    I love the picture for Slate article, with the parents peering in the window all “Hi dear, we sent the hiring manager a personalized greeting card to let them know what a good boy you are. No need to thank us, we just love you that much!”

  73. Matt*

    I think the whole “gumption” thing, be it parental advice or otherwise, stems mainly from our culture’s popular works of fiction, novels and movies. In every plot, the protagonist is “gumptious” and eventually succeeds. This is mainly the case with romantic relationships – the movie hero who pursues his great love by actions that would lead to his arrest on grounds of stalking or harassment in real life. And the same is the case with job-related pursuits. Just remember Dustin Hoffman in “Kramer vs. Kramer” desperately job-searching and finally succeeding by walking into the office christmas party.

  74. Niki*

    My mum hasn’t worked in 15 years, and for the 30 years prior to that she worked in the same admin job which was at the bank her dad worked at and he got her in. I’ve worked in internal recruitment / HR for the last ten years and have worked my way into more senior positions steadily over that time.

    She STILL tries to tell me I’m a naive idiot in all job hunt & work related matters. Mainly it’s her conviction that she’s a realist and everyone else is far too trusting, but it literally doesn’t matter what I tell her, she will find a downside. I tell her I’m getting a promotion and she says ‘Well, I bet it’s not nearly enough extra money to justify the work you’ll be expected to take on’.

    (If I told her I wasn’t interested in a promotion because it wasn’t paid enough to justify the workload she would inevitably say ‘Well, you’re hardly fulfilling your potential. You’re stuck in a dead end’)

    I’ve just given up telling her anything unless it’s something I am absolutely 100% confident and pleased about that I know she can’t pick apart for me. Unfortunately my sister hasn’t gotten the hang of this.

  75. Kelsi*

    Man, this thread is making me so grateful for my parents. They did give job advice when I was a teenager, but it was mostly “go to any entry-level place you could stand to work and ask to fill out an application.”

    When I started college, they helped me move in, and my mom walked me over to the bursar’s office to pay a bill. She strode up to the counter, opened her mouth to say something, and then…stopped. She looked back at me, went “wait you’re a grownup, go ahead!” and then left the office to wait outside. And since then has never really spoken for me in an official capacity, or given much advice unless asked for it.

    At the time it was very stressful for meek, timid me who just wanted things to be handled for me, but I can see now how it’s helped me. Especially when I took my first job after dropping out of school–I know (because I accidentally overheard a conversation she didn’t know I was present for) that she thought it was a mistake and that it was underpaying me/had no room for advancement, but she didn’t express that and let me make my own mistakes. She was right about the underpayment, but not about the advancement–now, several raises and position changes later, I’m still at the same place and doing a job I love most days.

  76. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Yeah my family – sister, father, brother-in-law – all teachers. Wondering why I work hard – why I just can’t put things off until tomorrow. I explained –

    – I have no pension. The private sector got rid of pensions in the 1990s. Unless you were able to stay in one spot (I wasn’t, not in IS/IT) you don’t have a pension. Therefore, a GREAT deal of money / income goes to the 401K and Roth IRAs. So we aren’t much better off than a teacher with a lot of experience.

    – We have no union protection or grievance procedures. If you have to work an evening or over a weekend, that’s the way it is. You can’t just call in sick if you don’t feel like working.

    – The concept of tenure, “bumping rights”, seniority – is largely irrelevant. If they want you out, they will force you out.

    – There is no such thing as “takin’ out your retirement” or having your sick time bought out.

    Their only reply = “Oh that’s too bad. Why didn’t you become a teacher? ha ha ha” — well, if I could have guessed that the traditional benefits that my parents’ generation had were to be taken away, I might have. But I guess I guessed wrong.

  77. Onyx*

    Slightly off-topic, but my dad was a helicopter-style spouse for my mom back in the late 90s. He actually applied for a job on her behalf (as if he was her) and scheduled her phone interview without letting her know until the recruiter called our home phone. She took the call with zero prep and somehow got an offer, which she turned down because she wasn’t interested in a new job. It still makes me cringe.

    I was bracing myself when it was time to find my first real job but surprisingly he was great. No clandestine job searches on my behalf, but he insisted on boot camp-style interview prep. Dressing up, repeated and recorded responses, the works. It really helped me sound more polished by the time I had to talk to real prospective employers.

  78. Ruth*

    I’m a week late, but I’ve had a lot going on.

    “You’ve got Gumption! I HATE gumption!”

    Lou Grant

  79. Goya de la Mancha*

    Parents: if you feel your child needs to learn responsibility – teach them at home, someone’s place of business (aka – their livelihood) is not the place for your child to learn that they need to follow rules, speak up, show up, and be respectful. If you feel your child is responsible enough to have a job, then they are responsible enough to be doing all things associated with that job.

    The best parents I deal with are the ones who walk in with their child and require their child to transact their own business (ie: asking for an application, turning in paperwork, asking questions, etc.). These parents are involved in making sure their children will learn how to handle adult situations like this, yet know that their child is the one who needs to be doing this.

    Just had a parent come in this A.M. (alone) and ask to speak with the my boss regarding her child’s upcoming job this summer….it’s going to be a long summer :(

  80. Nonny*

    When I’m job hunting my mom always says I have to call the place after I’ve applied to… make sure they got my application? And show them I’m very interested in eager?
    One time she asked me if I did that for one job I applied for and I told her I’ve heard that that’s not a good idea because some places will even reject your application if you do that.
    She told me “Well if you think that’s how you’re going to get anywhere in life…”
    A little while later I got a call from the place for an interview, offered a job and with more pay than I’ve ever made.
    One line I saw here that really stuck with me went something like “They’re not going to not contact you just because you didn’t follow up.”

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