please stop calling it a “big girl job”

In the last year, there’s been a marked increase in the number of letters I receive from women in their 20s — generally recent grads — who just got their first post-college job and refer to it in their letter as a “big girl job.”

You must stop this!

You are not a child. You are not a “big girl.” You are an adult.

And whether you intend it or not, you are undermining yourself and your peers by using this type of language. You’re saying, “I’m still a kid.” But since you’re not a kid, and the rest of us know that even if you haven’t come to terms with it yourself yet, you’re hurting your own credibility and basically saying, “Take me less seriously.” Moreover, you’re saying, “I’m okay with other people taking me less seriously” — and that’s not a message you want to be sending.

I know this is semantics for some people, but there’s a very real switch in mindset that comes with thinking of yourself as a woman, rather than a girl. (Or as a man rather than a boy — but I can’t say I’ve seen very many men referring to themselves in a similar way.)

If you want to be taken seriously in the workforce, you’ve got to think of yourself as an adult — because you are. I know it’s weird to get used to the switch in language — it was for me too when I was in my early 20s. But believe me, prospective employers and your future coworkers are thinking of you as an adult, and that means “woman,” not “girl.”

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