@Work Advice: Karla Miller answers the question: Does a ringless finger scream ‘loser’?


Karla Miller (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)
March 29, 2012

Reader: I was thinking about wearing a wedding ring to my next job interview in order to appear less as a loser and more as a connected adult who can maintain long-term relationships. I am 51 and have never been married or in a relationship of any kind. What are your thoughts on this? Is it an expected or reasonable part of a job interview to respond to statements like, “Oh, I see you are married. ...” Then, I would be caught in an awkward situation.

Karla: Let’s not soft-pedal it: You would be caught in a blatant deception.* Fortunately, prudent employers steer clear of questions about marital status, so it’s unlikely you would be busted during the interview.

And unless you’re auditioning for “The Bachelor,” I sincerely doubt the hiring decision would hinge on whether you’re hitched. Even if it did, the door could swing either way. While one manager might see married people as more stable and mature — cue collective snort from anyone familiar with the institution — another might assume their personal entanglements would make them less dedicated to the job.

I’d be more concerned about what would happen once you landed the job. If a ring would make enough of a difference to get you hired, its absence later would surely be questioned. Would you keep wearing it? What if you met a legitimate romantic prospect through the new job? Your connubial contrivance could raise more questions about your character than your actual history does.

Believe me, I know what it’s like to feel treated as less than half of an entity. But have you truly “never been ... in a relationship of any kind”? What about friends? Family? Colleagues? Fellow hobbyists? Is there no one whose company you’ve enjoyed for years, even if you haven’t seen each other naked? Those relationships count, the same way volunteer work counts as experience — you’re just not bound to them by vows or a paycheck.

Instead of jewelry shopping, spend your time and money with friends or a professional who can help you see yourself not as a lonesome loser but as a singular sensation who would be an asset to any workplace.

***

*I can already feel the flames: “How dare you slam someone for pretending to be married when you condoned hiding pregnancy in your Feb. 12 column?” There’s a difference between not volunteering private facts that could expose you to illegal bias and implicitly lying about your marital status to gain questionable advantage in a job hunt. The latter is akin to listing on your résumé a club you don’t belong to — or donning a fake pregnancy belly in the hope that it makes you look like the nurturing type.

@Work Query: Are your youthful looks holding you back? Maybe I can help in an upcoming column. Send a photo and 150 words to: wpmagazine@washpost.com, subject line “Babyface.”

Karla Miller lives with her family in South Riding, Va. For 16 years, she has written for and edited tax publications. Send your questions to wpmagazine@washpost.com.

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