The Comics Kingdom Blog

Tuesday's Top Ten Comics: Job Hunting and Career Comics

This week, Comics Kingdom welcomes guest bloggers, J.T. O'Donnell and Dale Dauten who write the King Features' nationally syndicated column, “J.T. and Dale Talk Jobs,” to pick their favorite 10 career and workplace-themed comics. In their typical conversational style, J.T. and Dale offer their unique version of Tuesday's Top Ten Comics coupled with their invaluable career advice and observations as an extra bonus.

DALE: In our weekly column, “J.T. And Dale Talk Jobs,” we take questions from readers — mostly from frustrated, worried or furious readers. It is rare someone sends us something ansd says, “I thought this was hilarious and wanted you to see it!” So you can imagine our delight to be asked to choose the funniest comics on workplace issues. Woohoo! It’s the best judging assignment I have had since being asked to be on a panel for a swimsuit competition back in...     

J.T.: Let me jump in right there! Those who read our column know it often falls to me to keep the conversation on track. So let’s get to our favorite choices...

Shoe, January 12, 2013
Shoe, January 12, 2013

DALE: Even though spending the day on the Web searching for a job is a good way to avoid doing the real work of job searching, you have to love the image of someone doing it at the office, in underwear!
JT: And searching at work is a relevant topic. A recent survey shows 86% of Americans want to find a new job in 2015. Disengagement on the job is at an all-time high. Those who are very unhappy at work should be careful not to let it show — getting fired for performance will make trying to get a new, better job even harder.

DALE: One reason you might get fired for looking around is that most managers make the mistake of thinking of the staff as “family” and it’s an insult when Aunt Edie decides she no longer wants to be part of the family. Even if you don’t get fired, knowing you are looking elsewhere often starts a slow disintegration of camaraderie as people withdraw from the relationship.
JT: So, do your best to show up and stay engaged at work. Just remind yourself that every day is one of your last days on your crummy job as a way to stay positive.

DALE: One of the features of the New Economy that we often get to discuss is the changing workplace, with temp and contract work becoming the norm. Thus, we loved these two strips:

Dustin, March 29, 2013
Dustin, March 29, 2013

 Pajama Diaries, June 16, 2014

Pajama Diaries, June 16, 2014

JT: The phrase, “EVERY job is temporary” is truer now than ever. It’s predicted that as early as 2020 we could see half of our workforce being independent contractors — a/k/a temporary workers.

DALE: Yes, part of the Revised American Dream is to be your own boss. However, for many people, being self-employed means having a boss but no benefits (temp) or having many bosses and no benefits (consultant).

JT: One of the reasons some professionals do not make it as independent contractors is because they don’t make the mental leap from “employee” to “business-of-one.” Charging by the hour when you work for yourself doesn’t just incorporate the actual time you spent on the project. You must also factor in all the costs associated with being in business for yourself. Learning to price yourself properly AND feeling good about it is part of developing your independence as a contractor! 

JT: We get a lot of questions about work-life balance. As a working mom, I think work has made me more mindful of how I spend my time with my children. Because the time is limited, I do my best to make the most of it. It’s hard to say if work-life balance was really any better years ago, but these two cartoons remind me of how it is changing:

Pajama Diaries, June 3, 2013

Pajama Diaries, August 31, 2012
Pajama Diaries, August 31, 2012 

DALE: Nothing gets taken away. We keep getting more options, more suggestions, more activities. It’s not just kids and work; it’s jogging and yoga and meditation and healthy cooking and group counseling and oh-you-gotta-see-that-movie and did-you-watch-that-TED-talk-yet? Impossible. We are set up to fail. That’s one reason I love comic strips like these — all you can do with the impossible is laugh at it. 

DALE: And speaking of needing to laugh, let’s talk about all the generations in the workplace, starting with the great divide between those who grew up with books versus computers versus cell phones.

Dustin, June  9, 2014
Dustin, June 9, 2014

JT: While many seasoned workers are perplexed and even a little annoyed by the younger generation, here are the undeniable facts.

  • Given the majority of Baby Boomers are retiring in the next 10 years and there aren’t enough of the Gen X (only 50M) to replace them, we have no choice but to listen and adapt to the workplace requests of the Millennials! Businesses that don’t will suffer.
  • Younger workers are tech-savvy, optimistic team players who expect everyone to be treated as equals in the workplace. They care about culture and connectivity more than they care about money. They want positivity and fun in the workplace.

DALE: As a boomer myself, I can tell you that it won’t be easy to get rid of us. I think nearly all of us appreciate the words of Bobby Bowden, who kept coaching football till he was 80: “There’s only one big event for you after you retire and that’s your funeral.” Nope, we are never leaving.

JT: Speaking of hanging around, check out this strip about parents: 

Dustin, July 21, 2014
Dustin, July 21, 2014

DALE: This one hurts. People like me grew up in a position to give our kids everything — except a job.

JT: And you gave them an education, but then college taught kids everything except how to get the job. Recent graduates today aren’t learning the skills necessary to land a job. This is frustrating to their “helicopter parents” who have hovered over them their entire lives. Parents wrongly assume that upon graduation their children will be independent. But, without the proper training, the will find they have “boomerang kids” (back on the couch after they sent them off to school), also known in England as K.I.P.P.E.R.S. (Kids In Parents Pockets Eating Retirement Savings.

DALE: Instead of careers, we gave our kids dreams. I have two sons living in Los Angeles, trying to make it in The Business. I suffer with them and bite my tongue, recalling the aphorism “unsolicited advice is abuse.” (That’s one reason I’m grateful for our column – it’s rare that one’s advice is solicited.)

JT: As for advice, this cartoon contains a gem:

Lockhorns, August 22, 2009
Lockhorns, August 22, 2009

DALE: One of our most frequent questions is not really a question, but a plea for permission from disgruntled people who want us to tell them it’s okay to quit their jobs.

JT: And we always say, yes, quit your job – just as soon as you land a better one. Quitting a job before you have a new job is VERY risky business today. Even in a job seeker’s market where talent is in demand, employers still care if you quit a job. Like it or not, “hiring IS discrimination” (as my good friend Dale Dauten says!). When you quit a job, an employer will question your ability to work in tough situations. No job is perfect – and no company wants to hire a quitter. If you quit, be prepared to have a really good answer that doesn’t make the employer question your professionalism and patience. 

DALE: We devote a lot of space to job interviews, including questions from hiring managers. I tell them hard truths like, “the person you interview is never the person you hire,” meaning that you’re seeing the interview persona, not the actual worker. Of course that goes both ways, as we see in this strip:

Tina's Groove, December  7, 2014

Tina's Groove, December 7, 2014

JT: Interviews are stressful because people are too obsessed with trying to be impressive. But here’s the truth: Employers hire based on personality, aptitude and experience – and in that order. So, the focus should be on making a friend. Think of the hiring manager as a person with a problem that needs solving. How would you help him/her? What questions can you ask to learn more about their problem and how they want it fixed? What can you offer in terms of skills and advice to help them solve the problem and alleviate their pain? When you approach the interview as an opportunity to connect with the hiring manager so you can start a professional friendship, you’ll be more relaxed AND more interesting to the employer!

DALE: And that brings us, alas, to our last comic. This is my favorite, the best of the best. And while it’s just plain funny and that’s reason enough to love it, Dan Piraro also says something true and deep about finding the right “fit.”

Bizarro, May  8, 2014
Bizarro, May 8, 2014

JT: The path to true career satisfaction starts by letting go of the need to impress others. When we focus on what motivates us, we move towards a career that will be more fulfilling. It starts by assessing our skills and strengths, and pairing them with problems we are passionate about solving. Finding a satisfying career isn’t as hard as people think. Unfortunately, it takes honest introspection and bravery to ignore the reactions of our peers. Confidence and drive are the secret to success. Everyone is born with the capacity to build a satisfying career, yet most never tap into their potential. 

DALE: Big thanks to our friends at King Features for letting us talk about comics and about careers. Please let us know your thoughts.

JT: Also, you might check out our first book together, MANDATORY GREATNESS: The 12 Laws of Driving Exceptional Performance or Dale’s funny first novel, The Weary Optimist, or visit me at

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