Daughter Needs Additional Opinions Regarding Her Job Search . . .

Updated on May 07, 2019
C.W. asks from Alexandria, VA
19 answers

My daughter has been looking for her first job, without success so far, and I'm hoping there will be some input from our HR mamas.

She did not graduate from high school. She says she is working on her GED (but from what I've seen, not regularly). With all of the applications she's filled out, we're thinking that she's not getting calls for interviews due to that. Her friends are telling her to "just tell them you did graduate!" but her dad and I have told her that lying on an app is something that will get you fired when the truth does come out. Maybe if she had a college degree and some job experience to list, it would be less likely that a company would go back that far - but at this point, it's pretty much the only thing she has.

She agreed to allow me to post this question when I offered to get some second opinions. Neutral opinions may carry more weight than those of her parents.

Also, in this age of company databases being hacked for personal information, I think if an app is asking for her SS number that she should leave that blank, with a note that it will be provided when she fills out a W-4 form. I have a feeling this may also be hurting her, but would also appreciate advice for an alternative. A lot of the places she has applied have been small businesses, and I suspect their security would be even less secure.

TIA for your opinions and advice! She really needs to find **something** to get a start in the working world.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Lots of good advice below. One question - who is she listing as references on her application? I hope that she has done some kind of work for someone - babysitting, mowing lawns, something... She needs to be able to list as references some people who are not friends and not relatives. People who can objectively testify that she is responsible, reliable, and has a good work ethic. Employers who don't require a lot of skills still need people who they can be confident will show up and work hard every time they are scheduled. Friends or relatives as references would be a red flag.

If she doesn't have any kind of experience at all, then while she searches for a "real" job, she should absolutely do something to make money. It's spring and she could put out fliers in the neighborhood for weeding gardens and mowing lawns. If she gets a few people to do odd jobs for, and she does a good job then those people become her references for her applications. If she is good with kids, this is the time of year when people are hiring summer nannies through care.com and similar websites. She could put up a profile. I know she wants more than a summer job, but once she has something to put on her resume, it may get a little easier.

Aside from that, I agree with you that in the long run, she needs to get her GED and lying isn't the way to move forward.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have hired people, and so has my husband. I also have teens who have gotten their first jobs. You don't mention how old she is.

Don't lie on a resume. Such a bad idea.

Best way to get a job is through connections. Far faster, easier. Even meeting people who are advertising they are hiring. My husband would far father hire someone he has met or heard about then go through the bother of riffling through the hundreds of resumes HR sends his way.

I don't know about the SS number. Seems wise to leave it off if you can.

Once you have experience, it's far easier to get recommendations, meet other employees, hear about the next good place to work, etc. She just needs foot in door. Maybe not be picky about first place, while working there finish GED. That's what I would tell my kids.

6 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

C. mama!! Welcome back!! Haven't seen you in a while!

Tell your daughter to get off her duff and get that GED. NOW. Since you said she hasn't graduated? I will assume she's 17 or 18. At this point - she MUST have it. VERY FEW companies will hire without it. Heck the US Marines won't even take someone who hasn't got at least their GED. When I worked at a day care? if they did NOT have their GED and NOT in school? They were NOT hired.

IF she lies on her application? She will be fired/terminated when they find out. And they will. MOST companies are now asking for proof of graduation - i.e. diploma, transcripts, etc.

She does NOT need to give her SSN until she has accepted the position or been given a contingent offer. SHe can put the last four of her SSN on the application. If they ask for the whole thing, she can state she needs a contingent or offer letter. She can tell them just what you said - hacking concerns.

Small businesses are NOT so much a threat as the big ones, believe it or not. Small businesses are typically really good at securing their information. Big companies typically have deeper pockets so they are more at risk.

She should be going to night school to find out what she wants to do. AND get that GED.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You're right -- a big NO to lying on a job application. Lots of good advice below. One other thing I would add for the future is to really manage her social media and make sure there's nothing she wouldn't want employers to see.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

As an HR professional, do NOT have her lie on the application. She will be terminated ASAP and trust me it will come to light.

No HS diploma or GED is going to be a BIG negative and limit her job search. She really needs to get her GED. SS number might be requested prior to hiring to perform a background check. We are required to do background checks on everyone. If you are applying for a position in finance, we run a credit check as well. Be sure to have her keep that in the back of her mind. and in some of our positions, we do verify education.

Honestly, if she doesn't own her own business, she really needs to get the GED.

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answers from Washington DC on

i'm so glad you and your husband are there to counter the spectacularly bad advice from her 'friends' to lie on her application! that's a terrible way to begin her career as a productive contributory citizen.

my kids never get asked to produce proof of their GEDs because they have college degrees. conversely, the community college would not have allowed them to graduate without the GED. she needs to stop faffing about and just do it. there's no good reason not to.

at this point she's limited to fast food and similar jobs. not the end of the world. we need entry level workers. it's possible that once she gets her foot in the door at a restaurant or shop she could move up internally without the GED, but everything in her life will go more smoothly when she's got it in her pocket.

(digression/rant: it makes me nuts that one's SS number is *required* on the application. you're absolutely correct that it should only be provided upon being hired. i suggest that she just enter the last 4 numbers so there's not a blank on the application which is always a red flag. MD sensibly passed legislation a number of years ago making it illegal to require that citizens provide their SS numbers for anything not involving the IRS- then promptly gutted their own law by adding a subtext allowing an out for 'internal identification purposes.' we have a tense conversation about it every time i go to the local medical lab for a blood draw. their effing 'internal verification purposes' should NOT need anything more than my name, address and the last 4 numbers of my SS. when you're the only game in town you can yank people around. grrrrr.)

i'm glad your daughter is diligently looking for work and hope she applies herself to getting her GED too.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think it’s so disheartening that her friends would encourage her to lie on the application. I don’t know why they think this won’t come back to bite her in the behind. It’s one thing to not list that you worked at the ice cream stand for 2 days, and quite another to lie about education and job experience that you don’t have. Even the smallest company can easily get a list of the graduates from the school or the local paper – so why a bunch of kids familiar with the internet would think this is a big secret.

She should leave her SS number off applications. She can provide the last 4 digits (just write XXX-XX-1234. If she uses her SS number of her driver’s license, she should go to the DMV and change that to a random number. She should do that anyway, but a lot of employers make a copy of the license. Yes, she can and must provide the full SS number once she’s employed and filling out forms for benefits and taxes.

There are plenty of jobs available, at least part time, for people who don’t have a high school education. My local supermarkets and drug stores employ all kinds of people, including those with developmental disabilities. A lot of people work part time jobs to start. Why isn’t your daughter doing this, even if it’s not her ideal job? Two of my friends have kids who got in a lot of trouble as teens – one had issues with setting fires, one had serious drug treatment. But they worked to turn their lives around and get their GEDs, and they found employers who appreciated that. They have good jobs and are advancing well.

These employers are looking for industrious people with a good work ethic and a willingness to learn the ropes. So, what is your daughter doing to show that she has these attributes? She needs to show she understands the importance of being able to focus on tasks and to work at something for the greater goal (the company’s profitability and customer service). If she were working on her GED, that would be one thing. But it sounds like she really isn’t. The fact that she’s not trying is a red flag, and it will be a deal breaker for employers.

If she needs someone to help her focus, she could consider a life coach. Maybe this is something you could help pay for. A life coach helps adults focus and identify strengths, and helps them set goals. The client is accountable to the coach. Another thing your daughter could do is to join a local job seekers group. They network early in the morning (usually 7:30 because some of them are working in jobs where they aren’t happy) and learn to lay out their goals and experiences. The group helps them work on their presentation skills (helps with interviews), and help get the word out and make connections. Someone might be looking for a job, but they might also know of someone who would hire your daughter. They also often have guest speakers on a variety of topics. Your daughter might get help with a resume. A lot of people without much education make spelling and grammar errors. (In fact, people with a good education do too – not everyone is a good speller, and almost nobody can accurately proofread their own work.) If she’s making errors or writes illegibly on her applications, that can show a lack of ability or responsibility an employer may well be looking for. So a coach, and sometimes these job seeker groups, can help applicants polish their skills.

If your daughter doesn’t have enough energy or motivation to seek out opportunities and possible help with what she needs to do, then I fear her job search will continue to be unfruitful. You haven’t said this, but if she’s expecting you to foot her bills (car, phone, computer?) while she’s not doing anything, you may need to cut back on enabling her unless she steps up to do her part for her own life.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My first job was fast food. No diploma or GED required. I worked there for 2 years while attending high school. With that experience under my belt I found it easier to apply and interview for other jobs. I suggest she start in a similar place while working on the GED.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

What kind of job is she looking for? I think without a GED or hs diploma she will be limited to jobs that hire high school students, like fast food, waitressing, summer camps. Make sure that she and you are telling everyone you know that she is looking, because connections can be a great way to get a foot in a door, especially in small businesses, where, in my experience, it is harder for them to take a chance on someone with no experience. She also should consider doing some volunteer work as a way to give herself some experience.

I know some places do not want you to call after filling out an application, but I’m old fashioned and know that sometimes showing some interest can help once she fills out an application. I know a young person who recently got hired after calling the manager each week and asking if they were interviewing yet for the position. How is she presenting herself when she fills out the applications? Is she dressing somewhat professionally?

I would definitely not recommend lying about her education on her applications. If she feels like not having graduated high school is holding her back, then she needs to use that as motivation to get her GED, and maybe pursue higher education depending on what her goals become. She is young, and has time to figure all that out. She should try to think of this first job as an opportunity to learn about herself, and strengthen her work ethic.

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answers from Atlanta on

First and foremost, you are absolutely right that she must not lie on her application or resume because she will be found out and fired (as others said), and because her name will then be mud. She should consider what a prospective employer will think when they ask around about why she left her first job, and also she won't be able to use that first job or people from it as references for subsequent ones. Has she applied to fast food jobs or janitorial/cleaning jobs? If she has and hasn't had luck there, I suspect the issue is that it doesn't look good that she hasn't been able to finish either high school or her GED. Wild Woman's advice seems right on the money--your daughter needs to buckle down on getting the GED and start exploring what she wants to do for the next part of her life.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I am wondering the types of places she is applying to? This is her first job and she is not a high-school graduate so her best bets for getting that first job are going to be very entry level like Mcdonalds.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

She needs to get her GED and she needs to make getting it her priority.
It will take going to the classes, doing the homework, passing the tests, etc.
It's not easy but people do it even if they go to evening classes if they have a day job.
She should not lie about getting it when she hasn't.

With identity theft being such a problem I would not submit a social security number through any app or even an application.
That only comes up once she gets hired and fills out forms for taxes and direct deposit.

For a first job she should be looking at fast food, stocking shelves/checkout, waitress, nanny, janitor jobs and maid jobs.

For anything with food she needs to get a food handler card - she can take the class online and it will cost about $10 and be good for 3 years.


The school system where I am is always looking for food service workers (cafeteria ladies), bus drivers (they will train), and janitors.
She has to pass a security check (her fingerprints will be checked) but once she passes that they pretty much will take anyone that resembles a warm body.
Some of the ladies I worked with never got a diploma or GED.

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answers from San Francisco on

No she shouldn't lie.
If she doesn't have her GED yet she can apply for jobs that don't require one, like working in fast food or retail (I did that from age 16 to 18 while still in high school, I also did some babysitting.) ANY job is better than no job and having a solid employment record will help her going forward.
Leaving off her ss# on job apps is silly. First of all it makes her look sloppy, like she can't even complete the form, and secondly if it's electronic her app may be rejected automatically for being incomplete.
I suspect after working a few months in fast food she will be more motivated to get her GED, which (assuming she is of average intelligence) is not hard to do.

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answers from Denver on

Do you know anyone who is in the position of hiring people, whether it's for fast food or Walmart, or someone who has a long history of employment? Could they review her application, or even do a mock interview with her? Perhaps her application skills are not up to par (illegible writing, unsatisfactory answers to questions, not being able to point out her skills or strengths, poor grammar and spelling, for example), and a friend from your neighborhood or church or social group could look over her applications. Make sure they know you're not hoping they hire her, just do an hour of coaching.

There are some training programs for certain jobs that don't require a GED. Does your daughter have any particular interests, hobbies, skills, or aspirations? Or does she just want a paycheck? Is she willing to start at the bottom and work her way up by demonstrating a good work ethic and by being dependable and honest? I have a friend who has a great career at a major store - she manages a large department - but she started out unpacking boxes at night.

Are her job applications reasonable? I once found out that my nephew wasn't finding any job, after months of looking, because he was only looking for jobs in management. He had no experience. After his mom questioned him thoroughly one day, he told her he wasn't going to wear a uniform, he wanted a job where he could wear a suit and tie. He was 18 with no prior job experience of any kind. His dad had somehow persuaded him that he was "management material" and it took some tough love and hard truths before he saw the light. He readjusted his thinking with his mother's help and got a solid job.

I couldn't agree more with everyone who says to tell your daughter not to lie about any credentials she may or may not have. That will work against her, and she'll know she was dishonest.

The other thought I have is that perhaps she could look at getting her GED as her current job. Devote a certain amount of hours to it each day as though it were work hours. Set a goal (take the test by X date), and do it. It's a lot of work, and it can't be pursued haphazardly.

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answers from Santa Fe on

Well, what kind of jobs is she applying for? Even with a college degree I worked a few years scooping ice cream, serving coffee, serving food, making copies at Kinkos, etc. At the same time I volunteered at the kind of jobs I wanted (I wanted to be a biologist so I volunteered at fish and wildlife and for a graduate student doing mammal research, at a museum, and a local birding center). After a few years I got a temporary summer job basically as a laborer for a biologist...a technician job doing manual labor. After doing this in the summers I also worked various minimum wage jobs in the winters and started graduate school. You gradually build connections and people and job experience. It took me till my mid 30s to start getting the kinds of jobs I wanted but EVERY single year I was working nonstop (shows you are a hard worker even if it is just serving coffee), working on classes even if just call in phone classes, and volunteered (Also hard work). She sounds a bit immature. She needs to focus on getting her GED. She can't put that off. She needs to just work any job right now...even if it's fast food. Honestly, without a college degree or connections you are likely to be passed over for the other applicants ...that is why I recommend she work anything right now yet volunteer at a place she wishes to work for. Most of my volunteer gigs lead to NOTHING. But I could put down on my resume that experience and I could use the person I volunteered for as a reference. Over time you get a network of people in the type of career you want. But she needs to not be lazy...lazy people who can't even finish their GED are not going to be someone's first choice for a job!! I wish her luck. It took me over 15 years of working my butt off before I started getting jobs in the career I loved.

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answers from Chicago on

I guess it all depends on what job she is aiming for.....

If it is a job that requires a skill-set of a teenager or one that is a stepping stone to a career and plans to stay there, then she is probably good.

If she is aiming for a career-orientated job, then I guess she is really showing employers her level of commitment: when things get tough or when there is no immediate gratification, she gives up (quits). This will not inspire any company to want to ‘invest’ in her or hire her.

So it might not be education, but her work ethic, as she is letting employers know how easily she gives up.

I do not work in HR. But I work in a HS transition program (18-21) for special needs students and they do find jobs, independently. This week we practiced interview skills, myself and the staff did not hold back on our criticisms. Which would be my next recommendation: have her do a mock interview with someone who will be honest and real. It might help. Otherwise, I think it is her commitment to staying the course when things get tough.......

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answers from Indianapolis on

It's hard to get a job with a GED or high school diploma so not having either is even harder. When you don't have either you are looked at as lazy. If you can't do something simple as graduate high school how are you going to work hard at a company? She needs to finish what she started to prove that she is mature enough to handle the responsibility of a job. We hate to see people struggle but sometimes that struggle is what makes them do what is needed to get them where they need or want to go. Good luck!

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answers from San Diego on

Lazy. She doesn’t meet the bare minimum criteria for most jobs without HS or GED. No one will call her back with other applicants that do meet the criteria. She needs to stop wasting her time playing the victim and get her GED. She needs to also get out from computer/phone screen with applications and do face to face. It’s really the only way she can stand out and get a chance of being hired.
In high school I worked at a hotel, restaurant, tour company, and nonprofit agency. So it’s more about your daughter’s motivation.

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answers from Erie on

Restaurants and retail stores will hire people without a diploma or GED, but I can't think of any other profession that will. She can make really good money if she's willing to train as a server at the right establishment. It's hard work, but my servers make upwards of $12/hr. Restaurants are always looking for dishwashers, it's the position with the highest turnover rate in the industry.

2 moms found this helpful
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