Job Description: Classified
August 23, 2006 6:37 PM   Subscribe

How to tell a family friend that I don't want his help finding me a job in his line of work?

A family friend of ours is a higher up at the pentagon in the army and is adament about getting me a job as a designer there. I've politely expressed disinterest when he asks, but I get a lecture about "keeping doors open". I emailed him saying thanks for looking out for me but I don't see myself in washington or following that path. He's very enthusiastic about his work and the pentagon, and I don't want to be rude and tell him that the whole thing freaks me out and I don't want my name floating around the DIA and other intelligence scary stuff (general lefty-paranoia). He's going to be showing my resume and portfolio to the folks there who do graphic design, which I'm not really cool with, but whatever I say just doesn't seem to get through to him that, "Please, I don't want anything to do with this." Any suggestions / is it unwise to shut this door when I am pursuing much different career options in the design field? I've been doing quite well so far on my own. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like he won't take a gentle no for an answer. Either give him a strong no or just ignore him, and any calls from the Pentagon.
posted by JamesMessick at 6:54 PM on August 23, 2006

A letter might be in order. Put it in writing, being firm but respectful. "I understand that you love what you do, where you work and the atmosphere there. I, on the other hand, feel quite sure that I would not feel the same. I do not want to work within the military complex, I don't want to move to the DC area with its high cost of living, and I'm finding that the options that are available to me here are exactly what I'm looking for. I recognize your kind intent in your encouragement not to "close doors" but this is a door I do not wish to open at all. Please respect me, my knowledge of myself and my desires for my future career path and understand that this is not something I will consider, and that it is a waste of time to give my resume or portfolio to anyone with whom you work. Thank you, A. Nony Mous."
posted by Dreama at 7:05 PM on August 23, 2006

"Listen, Uncle Bob, I have a lot of respect for the kind of work that you do, but it's not the type of field I would be comfortable in. If you know anyone (outside the Pentagon/in the private sector/etc) that might be interested in me, I'd really appreciate your input. But I don't want to work in the defense industry, and if that means I'm closing off some options, I can live with that."

Also, if you are just "starting out," it might help to say something like, "I don't think that would give me the kind of start in my career that I'm looking for" or "I don't think that I would get enough experience in the areas that I'd like to concentrate on in my long-term goals."
posted by MrZero at 7:08 PM on August 23, 2006

Some people don't do subtle well.

Just tell him if you are offered a job there you will not take it, period.

If you would rather not say anything to him, you can simply ignore any correspondence or interview offers. Passive resistance.

Or tell him you're a communist. ;-)
posted by konolia at 7:26 PM on August 23, 2006

My dad's friends used to be like this. Worse, they outright rejected my actual interests and made up interests for me that they thought would be more lucrative/appropriate.

I just kept repeating "not my, really. Thanks, but not my thing. I'm working on something else. Yep, I've got some leads in my area of interest. Nahh, don't want to jinx it."

Also, wear your hammer-and-sickle t-shirt with your pink triangle hat. Perhaps casually note the direction of Mecca.
posted by desuetude at 7:39 PM on August 23, 2006

b1tr0t: it's the government. They might say "Hey, what a bargain! Ok!" and offer the OP a job. :-)

Have you asked this family friend *why* he's so into trying to find you a job? Maybe he's just trying to be helpful and hasn't clued in. Are you unemployed right now? That could be part of it. If you find a job, maybe he'll go away. Just a few things to think about. :)
posted by drstein at 10:39 PM on August 23, 2006

And in that case he earns $47000 a day! Win Win!
posted by oxford blue at 10:54 PM on August 23, 2006

This is a family friend who is oblivious to your lack of interest? Have you considered that a family member might have asked him to "help" you, thus he feels he must?
posted by Cranberry at 11:37 PM on August 23, 2006

Just make yourself a security risk, then you won't be able to work there.
posted by Orange Goblin at 11:51 PM on August 23, 2006

"Hey, I love you for trying to help, and I really appreciate it, but I have this under control; I *promise* that I'll call you first if I change my mind or need help."
posted by enrevanche at 3:50 AM on August 24, 2006

I think I disagree with the approach in Dreama's draft letter. The people who see your portfolio are not necessarily going to be at the pentagon, or in the DC area, forever. Whilst you may have no interest in that line of work, MrZero's idea to say something along of the lines of "I don't think that would give me the kind of start in my career that I'm looking for" or "I don't think that I would get enough experience in the areas that I'd like to concentrate on in my long-term goals." is better. Talking about the "military complex" may well alienate your family friend on a personal level completely unneccessarily - said person is, after all, trying to help you. Stick with talking about what you want out of a career. If in doubt say you want to stay in the private sector. Getting drawn into a conversation about why you think the pentagon's not for you will help you articulate what you do want.

If he persists, and you get leads, why not follow them up informally - "I know what you do is not for me but can you tell me more about specialism X or do you know anyone who does Y".

Worst case, if you do meet someone there, is family friend will bother you once a year about it - but who knows, maybe his contact will leave and go somewhere you do want to work.

Unfortunately, he's right about keeping the 'door open' - but the door is to the people, not to the place.
posted by patricio at 4:10 AM on August 24, 2006

I'll meet b1tr0t's "left leaning republicans" and raise you some typical democrats. I know many people who work on the hill, in the Pentagon and in the Navy's financial operations and the majority of them are left of center. If you don't want to be involved with them under any circumstances, fine - I have a similar attitude about the NSA that my darling girlfriend finds incomprehensible. But you might challenge your assumptions about what kinds of people you'd be working with or talking to about a job.

I think your best approach is to flat-out tell him you really don't want to live in that area and wouldn't take any job you were offered, so you're not interested in diverting your focus by spending time interviewing there or harming his reputation by wasting the time of people he'd put you in contact with. Nobody wants to make themselves look like an ass by pimping someone who won't/can't take the job or would be crappy at it.
posted by phearlez at 11:58 AM on August 24, 2006

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