Baggage Check: How long is long enough at a job?

Q: I graduated college a year and a half ago and have been bouncing around between low-level receptionist-type jobs since then. My parents, who are big on me staying at one job, say this looks bad. I feel like if there’s ever a time to switch around and not settle for a bad fit, it’s now.

A: Switching jobs two or three times in a year and a half is one thing, but if you’re barely staying around long enough to figure out how to unjam the copier, then yes, that’s not great. And are these jobs related to the career direction you want to take?

An additional factor is how much your parents’ opinion should, and does, impact you. Are you living with them? Are they paying any of your expenses? If they are still helping to support you, then the quid pro quo might justifiably include some conditions on their part.

Eventually, you’ll want to have chunks of significant time in one place. But for now, trying various positions on for size seems reasonable. You’ll gain leverage with your parents if you have a structured direction with timelines, goals and purpose. Sit down with them and explain your plan.

Q: I’m trying to get my girlfriend to dress a little nicer, but it doesn’t seem to be working. I told her I would pay for some new clothes, etc. I find her attractive but know she would be a knockout if only she took a little better care of her appearance. How can I do this in a tactful way?

A: Is it not working because she’s actively resistant, or because life’s gotten in the way? Does “better care” also involve grooming and hygiene – which might make you worry about depression or other issues – or is it just about clothes?

And is your idea of her dressing nicer just adding a few smashing items to her wardrobe, or for her to change her style from head to toe? If it’s the latter, this columnist has to ask what you’re after. To be more attracted to her? To show her off to your friends? To keep from being embarrassed by her MC Hammer pants? If the resistance is coming from who she is, then accept that she has the right to be that way. You have the right to decide whether that works for you. It’s your real selves that need to connect, not the ones that have undergone Extreme Makeover: Dating Edition.