10 Traditional Sayings to Remember While Job Seeking

10 Traditional Sayings to Remember While Job Seeking

Difficulty during a job search can cause job seekers to question everything.

However, throughout the course of a career, some things never change.

They never change ... even though the way people talk and dress for work (and job interviews) seems to change every week!

Read these 10 traditional sayings that are true for job seekers heading into the 2020s, as much as they were 50 or 60 years ago.

10. Expect You Will Get “The Cold Shoulder”

How it applies to job seeking

There will be times when companies seem to disappear after an interview.

You hear nothing from them, even when the interview seemed to be a success, at least in your perspective. They gave you the cold shoulder!

History of the saying

Getting the cold shoulder today is considered rude.

Interestingly, it was regarded as a polite gesture in medieval England.

The host of a feast would let his guests know it was time to leave by giving them a cold piece of meat from the shoulder of beef, mutton, or pork.

9. Know How to “Break the Ice” in Your New Job

How it applies to job seeking

Breaking the ice is a gesture to begin a relationship on a positive note.

This is something job seekers may think about after accepting an offer and discussing moving forward.

History of the saying

Before trains or cars, port cities that relied on trade suffered during the winter because of frozen rivers preventing commercial ships from entering the city.

Small ships known as “icebreakers” would rescue the icebound ships by breaking the ice and creating a path for them to follow.

8. “People in Glass Houses Shouldn’t Throw Stones.”

How it applies to job seeking

Never speak negatively about your previous boss during job interviews.

You would only appear to be someone who tends to attack others unfairly, which is bad for team chemistry and many other reasons.

More so, someone looking for a job is in no position to accuse others.

History of the saying

The saying can be traced back to Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Troilus and Criseyde.” 

The original intent was, “Those who are vulnerable should not attack others.”

7. “Don’t Get Caught Red-Handed." 

How it applies to job seeking

Never lie on your resume.

The last thing you want during an interview is to be caught red-handed in a lie because of something misleading you put on your resume.

History of the saying

This saying comes from an old law that stated a butcher had to be caught with the animal’s blood on his hands in order to be convicted of butchering an animal he/she did not own.

6. “Go the Whole Nine Yards” in Your New Job

How it applies to job seeking

This simply means, “Always do your best!” Whether in a job or during interviews, always make the most of every opportunity.

History of the saying

World War II fighter pilots received a 9-yard chain of ammunition.

Therefore, when a pilot used all of his ammunition on one single target, he was said to have given it “the whole 9 yards.”

5. “Give a Man a Fish and Feed Him a Day, but Teach Him to Fish and Feed Him for a Lifetime.”

How it applies to job seeking

Never expect any company to simply give you a job.

If the job is earned through your efforts, you will last longer in the company.


Because you respect something more if you had to work for it.

Any job given to you without any effort can be taken away just as fast.

History of the saying

The origin of the quote is highly contested.

The belief is that it first appeared in the 12th century as a principle of alleviating poverty by facilitating self-sufficiency, by philosopher Maimonides in his "eight degrees in the duty of charity."

But it has been translated into so many cultures since then that every culture can stake a claim in its origin.

4. Don’t “Rub People the Wrong Way”

How it applies to job seeking

Walking into an interview acting overly confident and rude, or on the other end, not confident at all, can “rub people the wrong way.” 

Basically, it is the opposite of making a good impression on hiring managers.

History of the saying

In colonial America, servants were required to both wet- and dry-rub the oak-board floors each week. If they rubbed against the grain of the wood, streaks would form, making the wood look awful.

3. “Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse.”

How it applies to job seeking

Sometimes we want a job so badly we apply even though we are not qualified.

Going after a job before you are prepared is putting the cart before the horse.

History of the saying

The earliest known reference to "putting the cart before the horse" comes in John Heywood's “A dialogue containing the number in effect of all the proverbs in the English tongue, 1589.” (They had long titles back then.)

Ultimately, this saying means, “Avoid disrupting the logical order of things.”

2. “Show Your True Colors” During an Interview

How it applies to job seeking

Always show your best self in an interview.

Determine that you will bring that "best self" to work every day.

Let them see your true colors so they know exactly what makes you special and valuable to a company.

History of the saying

Warships used to fly multiple flags to confuse their enemies.

However, the rules of warfare stated that a ship had to hoist its true flag before firing. Therefore, they showed their true colors.

1. Don’t “Spill the Beans” About Previous Workplaces

How it applies to job seeking

When you are in an interview the last thing you want to do is start revealing secrets or speak negatively about the company.

You can get yourself in trouble with previous companies, or worse, make the new company think you cannot be trusted.

History of the saying

In Ancient Greece, beans were used in the voting process.

One container for each candidate was set before the group members to place a white bean inside if they approved of the candidate and a black bean if not.

Sometimes a clumsy voter would accidentally knock over the jar, revealing all of the beans and allowing everyone to see the otherwise confidential votes.

So, if you have a confidentiality agreement or you just do not approve of your last company, do not spill the beans and allow everyone to see what you know!

Closing Thoughts

Our hope is that these traditional sayings will help you in your job search.

Here at Find My Profession, we would also love to help!

We offer resume writing services aimed at helping you stand out.

Our legendary career coaching service offers the full gamut of job search help!

In short, we do the heavy lifting so you can focus on landing your dream job.

Get in touch today and let us know how we can assist in your job search.

  • 5 Reasons Job Hopping is Acceptable

    5 Reasons Job Hopping is Acceptable

    Find My Profession by Find My Profession
    Read On
  • How to Professionally Skip a Job Interview

    How to Professionally Skip a Job Interview

    Find My Profession by Find My Profession
    Read On
  • Describe A Time You Dealt With A Conflict At Work?

    Describe a Time You Dealt With a Conflict At Work

    Find My Profession by Find My Profession
    Read On
See All Articles