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Embracing the inner flirt for work, but probably not evil.
June 1, 2010 1:32 PM   Subscribe

In which professions/careers is being flirty a plus?

From your experience, what kinds of jobs would are easier or better suited for flirty people? And in which jobs would a tendency to flirt be a big negative?

For example, I can imagine some amount of flirtatiousness is advantageous in business situations (getting people to like you) but may not be useful in a medical research profession.

I'm particularly interested in ones that require at least a bachelor's degree or similar amount of education. People talk about "networking skills" or "friendliness" as professional skills, but flirting seems to be a slightly more specific "skill".

If you need a gender to work from, feel free to use mine (female), but I'm interested in more general answers too.
posted by mokudekiru to Work & Money (46 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sales, bartending, waiting tables.
posted by infinityjinx at 1:33 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


No degree required, but: waitressing. And sales.
posted by kate blank at 1:33 PM on June 1, 2010


Pharmaceutical Rep. Stripper/escort. Luxury resort host/ess.
posted by Four Flavors at 1:34 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


PR
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:34 PM on June 1, 2010


Supposedly pharmaceutical sales. I went there in a regular suit, usual makeup, and my portfolio of training ads I wrote (the ones the reps actually use, etc). The rest of the women were in shorter skirts, lot more makeup, and had smiles and pizazz going on.

I'm guessing they got the job.
posted by stormpooper at 1:34 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Public Relations, as long as the thing (person, company or item) you're representing isn't super conservative.
posted by wwartorff at 1:35 PM on June 1, 2010


Stripper, Bar Tender, Waitress.
posted by chunking express at 1:47 PM on June 1, 2010


Flirting would be a negative in management consulting, corporate litigation, investment banking (for the most part), wealth management (again for the most part), human resources, corporate finance and accounting, all other kinds of legal practice, etc.
posted by dfriedman at 1:49 PM on June 1, 2010


Spy.
posted by granted at 1:50 PM on June 1, 2010 [8 favorites]


Recruiting, either within a corporate HR department or for a headhunting firm.
posted by mullacc at 1:51 PM on June 1, 2010


Ad sales.
posted by jayder at 1:52 PM on June 1, 2010


Seems to work in accountancy as long as you don't come across as unprofessional. Was in client meeting with my female boss (who doesn't wear any noticeable make-up and who wore a nice trouser suit) a couple of weeks back and she was feeling absolutely lousy, but not looking unwell. When we got there she managed to put a smile on her face, was playful and laughing and said 'gosh' more times than I could count but always at the right time and the two chaps we were meeting with, both nearing retirement age, were loving every second of it.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:54 PM on June 1, 2010


Prostitute?
posted by Sebmojo at 1:56 PM on June 1, 2010


Flirting would be a negative in management consulting, corporate litigation, investment banking (for the most part), wealth management (again for the most part), human resources, corporate finance and accounting, all other kinds of legal practice, etc.

Officially, yes, this is the case.

Unofficially, I have to disagree. Friends of mine in the legal & banking communities who meet the criteria of "Aesthetically pleasing, in other words fly" have admitted to me in the past that their presence in certain meetings was due entirely to their appearance and demeanor.

To be clear - they were never encouraged or told to do anything improper or unethical, but their presence as the junior associate in the room was not just due to the fact they were smart as hell and good at their jobs.

And yes, there's a very big difference between being flirty in a bar setting and in a corporate setting. In the latter case, if done right, it would never be accused of being outright flirting.
posted by swngnmonk at 1:57 PM on June 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Development/fundraising (essentially sales of a different sort - you're selling the wonders of your non-profit).

Specifically, the ability to connect instantly with people, to make them feel like you're interested in them, to make them feel good, is an advantage in any situation where you're meeting people cold and need to engage them quickly.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:01 PM on June 1, 2010


Hairdresser.
posted by pintapicasso at 2:02 PM on June 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Computer tech.

I once worked with a woman who was useless as a tech but a total flirt. She could show up at a customer's site with a mac logic board to fix an IBM PC (Yeah, I'm all old school like dat) and with a twirl of her hair and a "tee hee, I brought the wrong part!" she'd have the customers not only willing to wait another day, but buying her lunch too.

She could also talk any other tech into doing, well, pretty much anything for her. "Would you be a sweetie and put that laser printer in my truck?" Granted, we were all nerds and a Real Live Girl was flirting with us, but yeah, we'd pretty much do anything for her.

It was a total advantage to her because one of the most important skills for that job was getting the customers to be flexible, especially when the company you work for is running on fumes and the only parts you do have with you came out of another customer's computer the day before.

We later found out that she was kind of a scam artist, but most of the techs let it go because she was such a flirt.
posted by bondcliff at 2:03 PM on June 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Recruiting
posted by grobstein at 2:06 PM on June 1, 2010


housewife, politician, wench at the Ren. Festival
posted by HuronBob at 2:08 PM on June 1, 2010


Unofficially, I have to disagree. Friends of mine in the legal & banking communities who meet the criteria of "Aesthetically pleasing, in other words fly" have admitted to me in the past that their presence in certain meetings was due entirely to their appearance and demeanor.

I've consulted to many different industries, and I'd say it depends on the industry. And the main factor I've observed is whether or not the industry is new and growing, or mature and receding.

Growth industries tend to be more meritocratic -- competent and talented employees are in short supply and you grab any smart person you can find.

In receding industries, there are too many qualified people competing for the same job, and it turns into a high school popularity contest again: the coolest, prettiest people get ahead. The decision makers rationalize this as rewarding people for being "well rounded". Sometimes that's true, sometimes it's not.
posted by randomstriker at 2:12 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


My first thought was Flight Attendant, but then I remembered when my now deceased grandfather was in hospice, and how (unsurprisingly) he always favored the mildly flirty nurses.
posted by Ufez Jones at 2:17 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]



Flirting would be a negative in management consulting, corporate litigation, investment banking (for the most part), wealth management (again for the most part), human resources, corporate finance and accounting, all other kinds of legal practice, etc.


I actually disagree with this as well. I think any profession where you have direct customer interaction being flirty or charming is a benefit.

Now I am drawing a fairly clear line for myself. I'm assuming this is someone equally qualified and professional as someone else just more "flirty" ... I'm not equating flirty with ditzy.
posted by bitdamaged at 2:27 PM on June 1, 2010


Besides prostitution, there are other kinds of sex work where it can pay to be flirtatious--dancer, porn actor, phone sex operator, etc. And there are other kinds of sex work where it does not pay to be flirtatious whatsoever--e.g., I used to be a clerk at an adult movie theater.
posted by box at 2:27 PM on June 1, 2010


Definitely not social work. :)
posted by ShadePlant at 2:31 PM on June 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sales.
posted by glaucon at 2:32 PM on June 1, 2010


Flirting doesn't work great when you're working in a public school setting or anywhere where the line between being super friendly and being harassing or overstepping built-in boundaries can turn into a real problem. Teachers who are flirty with students often seem to wind up having problems even if there's nothing actually untoward going on [this is a high school setting I'm thinking of YMMV in a college setting]. As a public librarian, being flirty is a mixed bag. It's a public-facing position, so you can be social and sociable and be good at working with people, but it also can mean you wind up attracting unwanted attention from particularly receptive patrons that can then be problematic for someone out at an information desk for a chunk of the day.
posted by jessamyn at 2:32 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Acting, but you need to be able to turn it off. And on.
posted by amtho at 2:43 PM on June 1, 2010


I've seen it work extremely well for busty female reporters on the cops beat. In journalism, I think a lot depends on who/what you're covering.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:51 PM on June 1, 2010


It's generally a bad thing for people working in health care. People typically don't want to intersect the ideas of [people who would seem them naked in a fun context] and [people who would see them naked in a decidedly non-fun context].
posted by vytae at 3:04 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


My first thought was Flight Attendant, but then I remembered when my now deceased grandfather was in hospice, and how (unsurprisingly) he always favored the mildly flirty nurses.
My Dad has had a few hospital stays in the last 10 years (he's 85 now) and the only complaint he ever has after each visit is the times he gets "stuck" with a male nurse. The female nurses, you see, smile so pretty when they give him sponge baths and call him "Sweetie" and even "Georgie-Peorgie" (his name is George) and they make sure he gets the exact meal he ordered and on and on. And while nurses don't get tips like food service folks, the flirty ones are rewarded with content patients who are loathe to complain about anything ("I don't want to bother her, she's so cute and nice....")

I must admit, though, that I wasn't immune to the charms of the twenty-something George Clooney-esque technician that took my info and blood pressure and such during my last doctor's appointment. I'd been fuming when I first entered the exam room because I'd already been kept waiting 50 minutes past my appointment time. But when this guy flashed his thousand-watt smile at me and, while taking my information, accused me of lying about my advanced age because I didn't look a day over 30, and was sooooo interested in just everything I said....well, I didn't care how long I had to wait after that. I just basked in the afterglow until the doctor finally deigned to show up.
posted by Oriole Adams at 3:19 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Marcom, Phone software support (to a limit - the head of our tech support department runs a good line between extremely friendly and slightly flirty).
posted by plinth at 3:23 PM on June 1, 2010


Student.
posted by gumtree at 3:23 PM on June 1, 2010


Military service.
posted by yoyoceramic at 4:15 PM on June 1, 2010


politician
In my experience it's quite the opposite, if you're after votes or trying to push an agenda, flirtatiousness is almost the easiest way to make sure nobody takes you seriously.

Charm and charisma, yes, explicit flirtation, never. Bill Clinton was the best example of how to do it right---and very very wrong.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:28 PM on June 1, 2010


I'm going out on a limb to say ANY job if done by a female. Flirtatious females can manipulate said skill into professional success because so many managers, decision makers, important clients, etc., are MEN. It's nauseating, but if a woman goes "tee-hee" while she fixes a computer she increases her chance of being hired again. If a sales rep wears a teeny skirt and winks at the old boys team in charge of choosing a product line she increases the chance of having her company selected. Women are absolutely still seen as sexual beings in the workplace. They are sexually attractive to the decision makers of companies.
posted by missmary6 at 5:04 PM on June 1, 2010


Photographer. My friend is a professional (and a huge flirt) and gets a lot of gigs just by his ability to mingle at social functions while he works. Many women (and men) have paid him to do photo sessions/headshots of them because he makes people look beautiful.
posted by a.steele at 5:05 PM on June 1, 2010


Talent Management. Combined with skill and knowledge of course.
posted by phaedon at 5:56 PM on June 1, 2010


Fundraising and membership-type positions at non-profits, etc.; getting people to give up their money, even for a good cause, can be made hugely easier by some flirty goodwill. As a decently attractive, flirty (and yet decidedly and publicly "attached" in order to dissuade the creep-factor -- as Jessamyn notes, this can be a real problem in public-facing positions), and (I emphasize along with other posters) very competent and passionate professional, I had a lot of traction in this type of work straight out of undergrad. Honestly, it helps that most philanthropists are older -- I have found that flirtiness works equally well on men and women over a certain age, if you are truly good at it.

And on that note ("truly good at it"), I'd like to emphasize that "flirty" does not mean that I have ever behaved in the ways that some other posters are describing, like short skirts and gushing performances of idiocy* -- which I would actually characterize as demeaning and unprofessional. I do mean that I was friendly, made myself available at their whim (at least apparently), acted interested in them and their stories even when they bored me to tears, and always behaved as though they were the only/most compelling person in the room.

*I will admit to doing this when getting a replacement MacBook was on the line after I dropped my brand new one from a certain, destructive height, however...
posted by obliquicity at 6:17 PM on June 1, 2010


Some ballroom dance studios take the approach that they're going to teach you how to dance to the best of your ability, so you'll find your time there worthwhile and you'll keep coming back, while some take the approach that they're going to make sure you have an enjoyable time, so you'll find your time there worthwhile and you'll keep coming back.
Flirtiness helps in the later type, and naturally there is an Offical Studio Policy that forbids instructors dating students, which allows the flirt to be flirty but "sadly" nothing more.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:47 PM on June 1, 2010


It's nauseating, but if a woman goes "tee-hee" while she fixes a computer she increases her chance of being hired again. If a sales rep wears a teeny skirt and winks at the old boys team in charge of choosing a product line she increases the chance of having her company selected. Women are absolutely still seen as sexual beings in the workplace. They are sexually attractive to the decision makers of companies.

It depends. If you consider "success" as not having anyone ever take you seriously, then sure.


Public relations.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:55 PM on June 1, 2010


I am having a hard time thinking of a profession in which a young, attractive white man with a full head of hair who flirts gently with everyone he meets doesn't get an unfair advantage. By flirting I mean the most general, sexuality-independent definition - making people feel smarter and cuter than they are through judiciously placed laughing, joking, immediate familiarity, and flattery.
posted by little light-giver at 7:16 PM on June 1, 2010


(It's nauseating, but if a woman goes "tee-hee" while she fixes a computer she increases her chance of being hired again. If a sales rep wears a teeny skirt and winks at the old boys team in charge of choosing a product line she increases the chance of having her company selected. Women are absolutely still seen as sexual beings in the workplace. They are sexually attractive to the decision makers of companies.)

It depends. If you consider "success" as not having anyone ever take you seriously, then sure.


I know, right?

I should like to think that college professors should keep it in their pants as well. I've watched enough Lifetime to know never to let anyone think you are the favorite! They could come and attack you in your own house!
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 7:30 PM on June 1, 2010


Artist!

Extremely social career!

Wonder how all those horrible pieces of art get sold at ridiculous prices? Silver tongues, baby.

Cult of the Personality is off the hook! for artists. Can't draw/paint/doodle/whatever? I got another one for you - it's called, Being a Curator. Esteemed by everyone except those who are artists. Either one will not think twice about sleeping with a client, to make a sale.



Tell me I'm wrong. :)
posted by alex_skazat at 7:45 PM on June 1, 2010


Publicist
Actress
Hooters waitress
Account chick at an ad agency
Reality show contestant

Now that I think about it, I guess those are all pretty much the same thing.
posted by spilon at 8:29 PM on June 1, 2010


Media sales. Especially radio. Ugh.
posted by radioamy at 9:32 PM on June 1, 2010


Military service.

Wait, what?
posted by I am the Walrus at 8:03 AM on June 2, 2010


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