I would just like to ask if questions like "How does a X Profession enter Y Company/Industry" on topic or off topic?

I have read this Question, but I don't believe we have reached a consensus yet. What if the question was not Localized? (Ex. How does a Programmer Enter UN or NASA? (Programmer can be from any country) (no such actual question exists.. yet.))


Executive Summary

I think that they are going to be decidedly off-topic.

  1. There is no real problem being solved
  2. The talent of the individual trumps anything we could write
  3. Answers would generally not be helpful to future readers

No Real Problem

Our help center clearly states:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

What problem is being faced here? "How can a window washer become a nuclear scientist?" is not a specific problem. Does the person want to leave their job? Then that's the problem, and that's what should be asked about. Does the person want to become a nuclear scientist but keeps getting turned down due to lack of education? Then that's the problem, and that's what should be asked about. Hypothetical, "How would I go about..." questions aren't a good match as they are polling for opinion rather than defining a problem that can be solved.

Talent > Answers

For our Good Will Hunting-esque window washer, any advice we could give if it weren't already off topic due to not being about a problem would amount to something like:

  1. Get the proper education/skills for the target position
  2. Apply to jobs in that industry
  3. Be willing to start off at a lower position to gain experience

But everything is contingent on #1. If the person hasn't taken the first step themselves to make sure that they have the skills/ability to actually do that job, then there is no amount of advice that we can provide that will trump that oversight. And it's the obvious first step.

If someone does take that first step, then the second is easy too. And if they take the second but still can't get the job, then they have a very specific problem that would make a great question here: "When switching fields, does it make more sense to apply for positions equivalent to my experience rather than age?"

Not a Good Resource

If we do start giving answers anyway, then people will start using that as an opportunity to ask what skills they need. And we clearly state in the help center:

"How do I learn to be a..." / "How do I perform the job of a ..."

Questions should be about problems you are encountering or have encountered in the workplace, and not the learning/applying of specific job functions.

We aren't career counselors because it won't help future visitors who have a different set of skills, and a different set of needs, or a slightly different career choice. And as explained earlier, any advice we do give won't guarantee that someone can get that job, that depends on them being able to pick of the skills to make them an asset to the company.

We are more than happy to help with:

  • How to interview
  • How to appeal your skills
  • How to address specific concerns brought up by employers

Those are going to be applicable to a far wider range of people. But questions asking "How does an A become B?" are not going to help out future visitors who find the question through a google search since the answers are always dependent on the person.

  • Very well then, thanks! :) Jan 22 '14 at 3:47
  • 2
    @Malky, this is not gospel, just one community member's opinion. Take it with a grain of salt and all that. Regardless of what I wrote above, if a question is good for our goal to be a reference to future visitors it should be embraced, even if it fits the 'How does an A become a B' pattern. I am a huge fan of the Wikipedia Ignore All Rules rule: "If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it."
    – jmac
    Jan 22 '14 at 3:59

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