Former Working Mother

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My daughter’s about to graduate college with a not-very- employable
English major. She’s looking for her first job. She’s been lucky about
getting interviews, because of our networking and her older sibs’
friends in tech ventures. But when she walks out the door for an
interview she looks like she&'s dressing for a party more than a job
interview. I managed to keep my mouth shut for the first two, but
when I couldn&'t keep it zipped I told her to “Go put on business
clothes.” Not surprisingly, we had a fight. She did poorly at the
interview and accused me of undermining her confidence. How can I
explain to her what employers are looking for in a way that she&'ll
understand? My concern, btw, is without self-interest. I’d rather she
not move back home. We’re quite happy being empty nesters and I
want her to complete her transition to adulthood.

Former Working Mother

Dear Former:

If you&'re old enough to have a daughter, you&'re old enough to have
worked in an environment very different from the current world of
work. I’m not saying you experienced the hierarchical world portrayed
on Mad Men, where women had to claw their way out of serving coffee
at every meeting. But your 21 st -century daughter is looking for a 21 st –
century entry-level job, not a position as a senior professional.
The general rule of attire for white collar jobs should be comfortable
young professional. She should definitely look like she appreciates the
interview and dressed up enough to honor the opportunity. But when
you&'re looking for job as a file clerk, you don’t show up in a three-
piece suit. Above all nothing with stains, odor, or store tags still
hanging on. How she wears her clothes and conducts herself will make
people feel at ease with her. The more comfortable she looks and
feels, the easier it will be for interviewers to imagine her around them
day-to- day. She should avoid any scent that might bother a sensitive
interviewer. Tell her to think chameleon, not flamingo.



Don’t, btw, discount her English major. Employers are hungry for
intelligent folks who can put a sentence together well, proofread
carefully, and explain complex ideas simply and sensibly, whether it’s
in a memo or on the phone. That goes for tech firms and any other
business that needs to communicate with its customers. Experience
will be her best teacher, so no need yet to make room in the nest.