the right time to bring in personal belongings to a new job, I was told to bring a pay stub to a job interview, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. When’s the right time to start bringing in personal belongings to a new job?

When’s an appropriate time to start bringing your personal belongings to a new job? First day? End of second week? I’m talking about belongings like a personal mouse pad, calendar, pencil cup, desk fan, or an umbrella I’m planning to keep at work.

I think any time from the second day onward is reasonable. I wouldn’t do it the first day because you want to get a look at your space and figure out what will be appropriate. You also don’t want to do it on your first day because you might not be taken straight to your desk in the morning; sometimes there are orientations and other meetings that happen first, and you don’t want to be lugging around a pencil cup and fan all morning. But by your second day, it’s fine to go for it.

That assumes that you’re really just talking about the types of items you listed here. If you were one of those people who goes all out with throw rugs, numerous framed pictures, and an entire fleet of Battlestar Galactica figurines, I’d give it a week or two. It can seem a little weird to have already moved in your whole life when you still don’t know where the bathroom is.

2. An employer asked me to bring a recent pay stub to a job interview

I am currently looking for a job doing marketing at a professional services firm. I’ve been interviewing at several firms, and one firm made a strange request. They asked me to bring in a recent paystub! In the same email giving me directions to the building and attaching their employment application, they asked me to bring a recent paystub, saying it was to provide verification of my income. This was for the initial interview with the hiring manager. I brought the pay stub, but it they didn’t ask for it at the interview. I didn’t end up handing it over. I chose not to get into a stand off with this employer, but it really didn’t seem right to me. Have you ever heard of this before? What do you suggest we do in this situation?

Yep. Some employers insist on verifying your past salary, so that they can (a) make you a salary offer that’s built on what you’ve been making, and (b) make sure that you’re not lying about. But usually it’s done much later in the process; it’s particularly weird to do it with a first interview.

I happen to think that your salary history is no one’s business but yours, so they’re already overstepping … but to just casually throw in a request for such personal, not-any-of-their-damn-business information along with the directions to their office — as if it’s just some barely consequential detail — is particularly obnoxious.

I’m a fan of explaining that your salary is covered under your confidentiality agreement with your last employer (which is often the case, if you read your employee handbook) or just bluntly saying that you don’t share personal financial information, but you’d be happy to talk about the range you’re seeking, which is $X.

3. After being laid off, can I ask my company to send an email to my contacts from my old work account?

I was unexpectedly laid off two days ago. I was pulled into an office at 10:10, told my job had been eliminated, and was out the building by 10:30. No histrionics on my part, which I’m proud of. It’s a fairly decent severance package (6 weeks salary, 2 months paid COBRA, paid career placement services).

I’d like to send out a farewell email from that email account to professional contacts, telling them I’d moved on from that place and how to contact me. I don’t want to just disappear or vanish under a cloud. Is this reasonable? (I don’t have access to the account, but I’d be fine with them sending the message through the account as me with text written by me and approved by them. I just don’t want it to seem like I disappeared.)

Also, I want to send out a short email update to my contacts about this change, encouraging them to send me their tips for unemployment and send me leads. Any suggested language to use?

You can absolutely email your professional contacts from that job, but it’s unlikely that your old employer will agree to do it from your old email account — sending message on the employee’s behalf is just not something that’s typically done in this situation, and I think it’s likely to strike them oddly. But you can still email; it’ll just be from your personal account rather than your old work one.

As for what to say to contacts about the chance, I’d just say something like, “I wanted to let you know that I’ve moved on from Company X. I’m actively looking for work doing XYZ, and I’d love any advice or leads you’re able to suggest.” That said, rather than sending a mass email, you might have better luck if you do individual, personal emails or call to people — people tend to pay more attention to / get more invested in contacts that are clearly personal and directed to them, as opposed to ones that they can tell went to a large group.

4. Is the job market any better than it was a few years ago?

I read this post from 2011 where you talked about how the math of the job market was working against candidates. I was wondering – now in the year 2014 – if the same situation of more candidates than positions is still apparent to you as a hiring manager or has the gap lessened? Is math still working against job applicants?

I think it’s a lot better than it was at the height of the bad job market. This is purely anecdotal and not based on actual data, but I’m seeing many more employers hiring, many more people getting interviews, many more people getting hired, and more candidates feeling like they have options. It’s certainly not a strong job market again, but from what I see, it’s much better than it was at its worst. What do others think?

And now here’s actual data for you: When I wrote that post in 2011, there were five times as many job-seekers as job openings. In July of this year, that number was down to 2.1. Having twice as many job seekers as job openings still isn’t great for those job seekers, but it’s a hell of a lot better than three years ago.

5. Should I mention in my cover letter that I can’t start working until a certain date?

Is it a good idea to include somewhere in my cover letter that I wouldn’t necessarily be available to start a job until a certain date? I’m currently working for an organization that will cease its operations at the end of this calendar year. I feel that I should probably start looking for a new job sooner rather than later, but I’d want to see the rest of this organization’s days through. Would including that I wouldn’t be available to start working until the beginning of next year in my cover letter be too presumptuous of me? Would it sound like I’m assuming that I’d get the job? If so, when would be a good time to start applying to jobs?

The issue isn’t that it’s presumptuous; that’s relevant information to prospective employers, and it’s not presumptuous to include it. The issue is that it’s going to knock you out of the running for some jobs — potentially a lot of jobs, depending on what your field is. (The more senior or specialized you are, the less of an issue a three-month wait time is likely to be.) Are you sure that you’re willing to pass up a potentially good job just to stay with your current organization until the end? Depending on your role there, that might be more of a sacrifice than it makes sense to make.

That said, a month from now, it’s going to be much less of an issue (since then the wait will only be two months). In fact, at that point I probably wouldn’t even mention in your applications at all because it’s a short enough time period that it doesn’t require you to give special warning, at least not at the application stage.

{ 149 comments… read them below }

  1. Sandy*

    #5 got me burned on a great job about a month ago.

    I told them prior to applying, HR said put in an application anyways.
    I told them when I submitted my written assessment. HR said yes, we know, based on what you said prior to the application.
    I brought it up at the end of the interview, which was with the HR person in question, the future boss for the position, and the director of a sister division. The future boss hit the roof.

    The interview ended with her accusing me of having wasted her time, using the interview as practice, and me sending a thank-you note after the interview with a polite line clarifying that this was not my intention.

    All in all, awful experience.

    1. Seal*

      Sounds like you lucked out, though. The future boss sounds like a piece of work. At least the HR person was there to witness that idiot’s meltdown – I hope they were suitably mortified.

    2. Allison*

      Sounds like the HR person made a mistake, not running that piece of information by the hiring manager and assuming it would be okay.

  2. Artemesia*

    #5. No business would hesitate to lay someone off if it suited their interests; no business deserves willingness for an employee to ride it down to the end at the expense of their own future. When you know your job is ending, it is prudent to take a new job. If you get offered a great job, you can ask for a longer turnaround time or broach starting later — but ultimately you should choose for your own future. Businesses that really need key people to stay during a merger, PAY those people a heck of a lot to do this if it will be temporary. Why would you donate your own life to a business or agency that is folding?

    1. EngineerGirl*

      I agree with this completely. I’m the kind of person that keeps my commitments and sees things through. I’ve been burned because of this. Not by my immediate bosses, but by HR people and central engineering. The two times I stuck it out until the end I ended up in a mad scramble. The people that left early were rewarded with the pick of jobs because there was less completion.
      A business that truly cares about these sort of things pays a retention bonus. That’s to compensate for the potential loss of job because of your loyalty. If a business isn’t willing to pay a retention bonus or provide you with assurances of continuance then you should feel free to go. And by the way, retention bonuses are reasonable size – at least 5k at the lowest levels, 20+ and more higher up. This is in addition to severance.

    2. LBK*

      Agreed completely. And if it’s widely known that your employment will be ending at X time, I don’t think anyone is going to be surprised or hurt when you say “I took another job and it starts in 2 weeks so that’s when I’m leaving”. It will probably be expected that people will start dropping before the closing date.

    3. cv*

      When the OP refers to it as an “organization” rather than a “company” that’s closing, I assumed nonprofit work where the agency was closing due to lack of funds or a grant running out. Depending on how you feel about the work the agency is doing, I can understand it being hard to leave early instead of seeing things through. That doesn’t mean you should necessarily stick it out, but there are situations that could make this a complicated decision, particularly if you had a large role in starting the organization to begin with.

      1. sally*

        I interpreted it as a non-profit as well, with grant funding running out. So a bonus might not be an option for the organization.

        1. Artemesia*

          I understand that but it I think it is nuts to throw away your own future on a dying organization. The organization can hire temps if necessary but you shouldn’t be the human sacrifice that keeps it going to the end. The one exception I suppose would be where you run the place.

      1. Steve*

        I agree. I was in a situation where my entire department was being eliminated. I stayed on through the entire close out of the process and I was given 3 months salary (regardless if I left the company or transferred into a different group). They just needed someone to fully close out what we were doing. It was worth it to me to TRY to stay on. I had been willing to give that up if I found another position, but it was certainly something worth making an effort. I ended up moving into another group – and it was a little nerve wracking to work up until 1 week before termination without having anything nailed down. But that extra money was sure nice.

    4. Anon for this*

      My current company is closing down in a few weeks.

      My now former general manager told me my retention bonus would be $500 for staying until the end date, approximately nine weeks from now. They are not paying out the full vacation balance either, only what is accrued by November 30. Which I get is accurate, but those last few hours accrued from December are not included, even though there will be no job from which we could take that time.

      We have some people getting $50 a week extra for clocking in and out (we have part-time hourly people) but naturally that is before taxes. General consensus is that we are all disgusted. We know they don’t have to pay a severance, and we should be grateful for anything extra.

      But some people have a decade or more with this company, and that amount is almost a slap in the face. The conversation was had this morning that we wish they would just not do anything than to do that little. There are only a few in the office who don’t qualify for the $50/week, and the things put in place for that $50/week make it so that there will be quite a few people who don’t get it.

      I gave up a significant severance package to join this company last year, and I don’t plan on letting their “generous retention bonus” hold me back when my phone rings.

      When retention and severance is done right, it can make a big difference in morale in the last weeks of a company’s operation. I’ve never experienced it done this way, and I can tell you it is killing what morale was left here. Management is so tone-deaf they are not realizing what’s truly happening here.

    5. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I agree. Unless a severance agreement is monstrously generous, you take care of yourself. “Take care of number one.”

      During a merger, not everyone loses their job. If there’s a situation where some people are retained after the transition – sometimes even using a job offer from somewhere else as leverage to be one of the ones they keep.

  3. en pointe*


    I think the problem might be that the OP doesn’t have access to her professional contacts anymore, as they were likely stored on the work email account? If she doesn’t have their email addresses, she can’t email them from her personal account, which is presumably why she wants to ask her employer to do it. (Please correct me if I’m wrong, OP.)

    Assuming these contacts might be clients, vendors, etc., I doubt her former employer would just hand over a list of email addresses or whatever. Is there any way OP can still ask them to help her update people?

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      For people who left my company (sometimes unexpectedly), IT would set up an automatic email response with “This person has left Chocolate Teapots R Us. Your email has been forwarded to a colleague”.

      Is it possible to locate the contacts on LinkedIn?

    2. Lizabeth*

      This is a good reason to keep a current copy of professional contacts on your personal email and/or a copy of the Rolodex card (yes, I still use mine!)

      1. Mirabella*

        The OP needs to check that you’re not breaching any data protection laws/company rules by keeping copies of professional contacts on your personal files – most likely this would be breaching a rule as they belong to the company, not to you – and could result in serious consequences if they find out.

        1. shellbell*

          Keeping people’s names and emails which are likely publicly available on linkedin, their own company’s website etc is not a breach. I think that is what folks are talking about. Keeping copies of their full files (details about contracts, private business info, billing info, etc) probably would be. Trying to get them to dump your company and hire you as a consultant to do same job os likely a breach. Sending them an email from your personal account to stay in touch is not.

        2. John B Public*

          Keeping contact lists is normal in most industries. And what serious consequences? They already fired her.

          1. Lizabeth*

            I was basically thinking about my list of print vendors that I use…it really depends on what’s in the Employee manual for other contacts. Definitely no to billing info etc…as well as poaching.

    3. Cautionary tail*

      It’s for reasons like this that all my business contacts are stored on my personal phone which is not company provided nor subsidized. They are free to hunt down contacts in my business emails but my company provided contact list is completely blank.

      Always look out for yourself because nobody else will.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        … and some of my contacts know my home phone number. On professional papers and exchanges I have begun using my LinkedIn e-mail address.

        1. Cautionary tail*

          Almost ditto. My contacts have my Google Voice number which I can point to my work phone, my mobile phone or wherever.

  4. Gene*

    Re: #1

    About 15 years ago we hired a new admin person for our little office. She made it all the way through the Civil Service hiring maze and started on Monday. After typical orientation (here’s your locker, here are your coworkers, here’s your workstation, here’s the coffee, here’s where to get rid of used coffee, etc) she went out to her car and brought in 3 paper boxes worth of tchochkes, mostly Beanie Babies and spent the next hour setting stuff up. OK, we are all characters there and we can deal with it. She was mostly competent, aside from the frequent phone calls with her mother (she was in her mid-30s). Tuesday started well and she told our manager that she was meeting her mother for lunch – no worries, she has a hour for lunch. Three hours later she comes back in. When asked, she said something like, “She’s my Mother, we always talk for a couple of hours.” like it was nothing. Wednesday morning she was packing up her boxes of stuff. We have a 6-month probationary period, she set a new record for Public Works, yet to be broken.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Ha, I think she came to work for me next.

      People who over decorate/deck out their offices the first week, it’s a bad sign. After the woman who managed to turn a small cube into a replication of her living room the first week, and then spent most of her work time on her vacation bible school plans and phone meetings, we literally always look to see how crap people haul in as a harbinger.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Lol. at my current job I never brought anything in that stayed overnight.

        At my last job however…it was winter. I had about 4 pairs of shoes there that I could change into from my heavy snow boots, includign a pair of flip flops, and slowly over time my desk was filled with stuff, snacks, papers, kept my charger there since I was practically living there….I had a vase full of flowers too :( my boss was amazed at how much crap I had there….but everyone had personal stuff set up in their cubes so my desk wasn’t anything extraordinary.

        1. Cautionary tail*

          the gold digger, I am thoroughly appalled at the volume of personal items you loaded into your office, an entire calendar. I have been in my current job/office for over two years and have absolutely nothing personal here.

          The same goes for many of my coworkers. If I get laid off today I can walk out with clean empty hands and a clear conscience.

          We attribute this to being burned in past positions.

          1. Aam Admi*

            Same here – no personal belongings.
            My lunch bag, purse and coat come in every day and leave with me at the end of the day. The Grand & Toy calendar belongs to my employer.

              1. TrainerGirl*

                I brought it mug…it’s bigger than the paper cups the office supplies. There are also three granola bars in my top drawer. I will never make the mistake I made of bringing in so much crap when I worked at one company for 14 years. Now, I travel light.

        2. Felicia*

          I have been at my new job since the beginning of August as well and I’ve got nothing personl. It’s just never occurred to me. We also don’t have too much room to put such things.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        I have too much junk here, but the main problem would be the plants. If you see me removing my plants before it gets too cold, that might mean I’m planning on removing myself during the winter. And I hope I don’t ever get laid off in the winter.

    2. Michele*

      I was one of those people that had a ton of personal stuff in my cube at my first job out of college. Part of the reason was becuase I did bring stuff in but the company I worked for also gave employee’s tons of stuff whenever they signed a new athlete. It was a bit crazy. When they signed Tiger Woods every employee came in with a copy of the WSJ on their desk. I believe it was even open to the 2 page ad they took out with the annoucement. That was almost 20 years ago and a lot of the stuff I still have in a box under my Dad’s house. I feel bad for throwing it away some it is really cool!

    3. cv*

      I think it’s worse if its ridiculous tchochkes than if it’s a fan, pencil cup, mouse pad, etc. I tend to take a bunch of stuff in over the course of my first week, but most of it is food-related. I have a travel mug and a bunch of tea, a plate and bowl, a set of silverware, usually some oatmeal and a mug to make it in, some snacks like trail mix or granola bars, etc. I bring my lunch most days and hate having to scrounge for a fork, so I keep a set stashed in my desk. But I always wait until I’ve seen the kitchen setup in the office, since I did work for one place that had a full set of dishware and a dishwasher. And I hope that I’m sending the message that I’m planning to spend a lot of time in the office, not that I’m a crazy flake. It may come across as a little odd depending on the office culture, but I’ve learned what works for me and I tend to stick with it.

    4. Artemesia*

      I have lunch about once a week with my daughter near her office; she only stays for an hour sometimes less; does this mean she doesn’t love me? Where is my 3 hours.

      1. Kelly O*

        My mom is going to be so disappointed. She and I could do a 30 minute lunch…

        I’ve done different levels of decorating, but for me it all depends on the office culture. Where I am now, we keep it VERY minimal, and since the announcement of closure, I have nothing at my desk that doesn’t come and go with me daily. The only thing I’d need to turn in are badge and keys.

        I even took my fan home several weeks ago when it became clear our A/C repair worked and now we were working in the frozen tundra of Houston. But my sweater comes and goes with me daily, just in case. (I am super-optimistic, y’all.)

      2. Cath in Canada*

        I had a two hour lunch with my mum once, but in my defense she was visiting from the UK and my husband and dad were off playing golf together, so it was very much a one-off!

  5. A Non*

    #1 – If you are someone who goes all out with throw rugs and Battlestar Galactica figurines, I want to come spend time in your office! I like offices that feel personal and comfortable.

    1. Al Lo*

      I have a couch, a fridge, an Ikea-hacked standing desk, and Doctor Who cupcake stickers in my office (and a piano, but that belongs to the business, not to me). When I leave this job, it’s going to be a process moving out (although I might donate the couch. It was $20 on kijiji).

      1. LBK*

        Oh my god, now I totally want a piano in my cube. Playing piano is usually my stress reliever so that would help my morale like crazy. I wonder if I can fit my keyboard in here…hmmm…

        1. Rat Racer*

          I also play the piano when I’m brain-locked or need a stress-relieving break… but I work from home. I can only imagine the next AAM letter: “My co-worker won’t stop playing “Heart and Soul” on her Keyboard and it’s driving me insaaaane!!!!” (Not to imply that’s what you would be playing LBK – just thinking of worst case scenario).

            1. fposte*

              That song is some weird Satanic algebra–it is as irresistible to play as it is incredibly annoying to hear.

  6. Jen RO*

    #1 – For my previous job, I did exactly what Alison said. I’m one of those people who has a desk covered in stuff, so I figured day 1 might not be a good time to bring my stash :) It was a good idea because I didn’t scare my coworkers, and because the company provided some things (a pen holder, some pens, etc) that I would’ve brought with me otherwise.

    Then, when I went back to my old job… I went all out. On my first day, I had a full backpack and a bag. It was a bit awkward when I dumped everything on my desk and the IT guy showed up before I had finish arranging everything in my drawers…

  7. AnonyMouse*

    #1: I think it’s okay to bring personal stuff in from day two onwards, but even so, I personally might wait until a week or so has passed…sometimes depending on the layout of the office, seating arrangements are still being shuffled around for a few days, etc. When I started my current job, our desk assignments weren’t really final until the beginning of the second week for various getting set up reasons – wouldn’t have been the end of the world to move our stuff from one desk to another, but I was happy I wasn’t lugging a houseplant around from desk to desk!

    #3: Like someone else said up above, at my company they have an autoreply saying “Lydia has moved on from Madrigal. All logistics inquiries can be addressed to ____” or something like that. After a week or two, they deactivate the account. I doubt they’d be willing to include a more personalised message, but it’s probably fine to reach out to your contacts from a personal email and say something like what Alison suggested.

    #5: I don’t think it’s really necessary to put this in a cover letter. Typically I’ve been asked about availability at the interview stage, unless the application included a firm “must be available by X.” At that point you can let them know you’re aiming to finish out the year at your current organisation if at all possible, and go from there. Depending on your field, they may even take long enough to get back to you after receiving your application that by the time you hear about an interview, it won’t seem like such a long time before you can start.

  8. Elkay*

    #5 I applied for a job with no indication of start date, when I spoke to the hiring manager they were looking at next year purely due to funding issues. Around this time of year I suspect that’s not uncommon so I’d say there’s no need to say anything until they ask for your availability (also, short of a big bonus for staying I don’t think you can be blamed for leaving early).

    1. Artemesia*

      This. The time to feel this out if when you are being invited to interview. So many places have a rush rush on hiring and then drag things out for weeks or months.

  9. Mallory*

    Forbes articles states: real unemployment rate is 12.6%. I believe it is worse and those who are employed seeing ridiculous insurance premiums, and wages that do not come near to keeping up with cost of living.

    1. LBK*

      My insurance premium has gone down the last two years and I’m perfectly comfortable with my salary. Yeah, there are definitely a lot of people in bad situations – way too many – but the whole job and workplace market isn’t that dire, and I disagree that it’s worse.

      1. sunny-dee*

        If you look at workforce participation, it’s lower than it was in 2011. Part of the reason there is a better ratio for job applicants is because millions of people have quit applying. The main thing is that all of the layoffs from 2009-2011 have pretty much stopped, and that is bringing some stability.

        And even stuff like premiums is anecdotal. My premiums have gone up about 40% in the last year; my brother’s almost doubled, plus his deductible went higher. I think my dad’s has stayed stable. But the bigger part is inflation; gas, electricity, and food have been inflating at a much higher rate than the inflation index (which, ironically, doesn’t include energy and food in its calculations), which means that a lot of people are either spending more money for the same amount of what they get or are cutting back on consumption.

        1. alfie*

          These are all really great points. You can’t just look at the ratio of people applying to the number of jobs.

    2. V&SFX Addict*

      My pay is below average for my degree but above average for the position I was hired for. It’s still twice as much as I’ve made anywhere else which is pretty sad when you stop to think about it. I find it ironic that a lot of companies doing the hiring tend to complain about their turnover…

      My insurance is now dirt cheap and affordable. Now I’ll be hoarding more money than ever. Forget “stimulating the economy”. How about stimulating my paycheck first?

  10. Brittany*

    For #3, I ran into the same situation where I was laid off and escorted out the same day. I was an account manager and working in healthcare, so the berth of people involved can be very, very small. I did not want the impression to get out that I was fired on the off-chance that I ever crossed paths with these people again, nor did I want to leave them hanging in the lurch. In this instance, I also had been granted permissions to be on site at their locations with my own badge access, which I didn’t want to leave active for security purposes. I used my personal email and sent the following to my clients (luckily I knew their email addresses!):

    “Good Afternoon Dick and Jane,

    Effective [date], I am no longer with OldJob. I wanted to ensure that you were aware of this so you had an opportunity to deactivate my badge and credentials from working as a liaison within the hospital.

    In addition, I wanted to reach out and say thank you for the opportunity to work with you and wish you continued success with the OldJob Program in the future. It was an honor and a pleasure to get to know your team and I wish you all the best.

    If you have any questions in the interim, Percival will still able to assist you for some time. If there is any way I can be of any help with any questions or concerns, I would be happy to try my best to do so. I can be reached at my home email address at [email] or via phone at 123.456.7890.

    Thank you,


    The response I got was extremely warm and boosted my networking. I felt much better during a crappy time and not like I had burned any bridges. Hope this helps!

    1. OP for #3*

      Thanks, that’s very helpful. I’m working to ensure I’m connected with a lot of my contacts via LinkedIn and other email, and this is very good language.

      Reading all these responses, I can see that i was too trusting. I had way too much accumulated personal stuff (shoes, blazers) there. In the future, it’ll be lunch, purse, and water bottle only.

      1. Judy*

        I usually have less than one banker’s box of personal stuff (photos, coffee mug, food, safety glasses, shoes to wear on the plant floor if I’m wearing unapproved shoes) and one banker’s box of books. I don’t think it’s a problem to have some things that are yours there, just not more than you can carry.

      2. A Teacher*

        I think it depends on industry–my classroom, holy cow that would take me a full day to empty because we have to provide a lot of our own stuff.

  11. Bend & Snap*

    #1 ever since I got fired from my first job and had to carry more than a dozen pairs of shoes, a candle, tons of picture frames and other assorted crap home on a particularly long and humiliating bus ride while I sobbed the whole time–I don’t keep personal items at work.

    1 picture of my kid. 1 box of Kleenex. 1 paperweight. That’s it.

    1. De Minimis*

      The one time I’ve been let go from an office job I saw it coming for a long time prior, so I’d moved what little stuff I had out long before. I don’t generally have a lot of stuff anyway. If I ever got to the point where things were stable enough to where I knew I was going to finish out my career somewhere I’d probably have more.

      My coworker is about to start moving her stuff out….going to be a loooong process.

      1. Michele*

        In NYC it is pretty common to keep mulitple pairs of shoes at your desk. Right after 9/11 I and most of my co-workers immediately started to keep a pair of sneakers under their desk.

        1. Cat*

          D.C. too. I was kind of flabbergasted on an open thread here once when someone said they thought it was weird that their co-worker kept 10 pairs of shoes at work. Almost every woman I work with does; the exceptions are the rare person who drives to work and people who only wear one or two pairs of shoes anyway.

          1. Carrington Barr*

            With all due respect, I also think that keeping 10 (!) or a dozen (!!) pairs of shoes at work is mind boggling.

            A pair of sneakers, to swap out of dress shoes? Sure. A pair of safety (steel-toed) shoes, in case you need to venture into a manufacturing environment? Sure. That pair of shoes you brought from home and just forgot to bring back, like so often happens with umbrellas? Sure.

            Any more? Sorry, no comprende. Then again, I’m just a scientist.

            1. Cat*

              I guess I don’t get why it’s mindboggling. I keep my work shoes at work and commute in my commute shoes, meaning I don’t have to carry an extra pair of shoes each day, which makes my life easier. I have an office, there’s room for my shoes, and nobody else is affected. I can’t imagine why I’d keep my work shoes at home except for the “hard to carry if I get fired” issue, and I’m not that risk adverse even though it would, indeed, be a pain in the ass.

              1. Cat*

                Thinking more, it occurs to me – do you live somewhere where everyone drives? If everyone drives, I can see not getting why people keep shoes at work.

                1. Us, Too*

                  I can see keeping shoes at work, but I also question the volume. I have a few pairs of shoes that I wear to work: black pair, brown pair, neutral pair. DONE. I don’t get needing 10 pairs at work at all. Maybe this is just a fashionista thing?

                2. Cat*

                  I don’t think I’m a “fashionista,” but yes, I do tend to rotate between more than three pairs. Not really clear to me why that’s something that should be “questioned” because, again, it affects literally nobody other than myself. I’m getting a weird whiff of “shoes are frivolous” from this conversation.

                3. Elsajeni*

                  I don’t really get keeping shoes at work, either (or rather, now that you’ve explained it I get it, but it would never have occurred to me as a normal thing to do). I do live somewhere where everyone drives, plus I don’t really own shoes that are exclusively “work shoes” — all of the shoes I wear to work, I also wear either for normal day-to-day activities or for occasional dressed-up outings. If I tried to keep a pair of “work shoes” at work, they’d probably end up the same way my umbrella does — if I’m at home and I want it, it’s in my office, and if I’m in the office and I want it, it’s at home.

                4. Cat*

                  Yeah, I think that part of it is really a big city thing. I actually do wear flats or wedges at work a lot, but they’re still not flats and wedges I want to walk a couple of miles in and I want to keep them looking nice. I could commute in them but it makes my life easier not to and keeps the shoes better preserved if I don’t, so I don’t. Similarly, my office is formal enough, and my job is such, that I do want heels at work for certain situations (meeting with clients, appearances before tribunals, etc.). I definitely don’t want to commute in those. And because I live in a big city and don’t have a car, I’m not going to be wearing those heels to tool around on the weekend either; I”m going to be wearing shoes that it’s practical to schlep around in public transit and via walking on. So my shoes really are bifurcated – work and non-work. I’ll take a pair of heels home if I’m going to a wedding or something but it doesn’t come up that much.

                  Anyway, as noted, this is common where I am; I know relatively few women who don’t have a pile of shoes in their office. I think it’s something that really does change if you’re in a non-drivey city with relatively high formality standards. You need different shoes for work and home in a way that you might not in other places.

                5. Anon Regular*

                  Yeah, Us Too – I think these must be women who are much more stylish than me! I think I own… let’s see… four? pairs of shows that I’d consider wearing to work. Heh.

                6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  Whoops, that was me (Anon Regular). And now I’m remembering when I used to wear heels that I kept a pair or two at the office. I rarely had to dress formally, but sometimes it was nice to improve a pair of jeans and a blazer with a cute heel instead of my standard flats.

                  (Now I have bad feet and wear clunky orthopedic shoes. Hallelujah for boot weather!)

                7. louise*

                  Everyone drives where I am. With the exception of an attorney I worked for (who kept one pair of heels and a suit in case she had to make an unexpected court appearance–otherwise we were a business casual firm), people would definitely look askance at anyone with shoes in their office. But I have rain boots in my car, so once you framed it in terms of driving, I totally get it! There’s no way I’d schlep those back and forth daily if I didn’t have the car to leave them in.

                  Cute random story, kind of related: I once worked in a small office with 16 women. At one point, 5 were pregnant simultaneously. There was a cute maternity LBD that hung in one of the closets during that time. I’m not sure who it actually belonged to, but any of the pregnant ladies were welcome to borrow it if they had a dressy event–just had to bring it back and put it back in the closet for others!

                8. Aunt Vixen*

                  I wear different shoes to work and at work, but I tote the work shoes back and forth in my bag every day along with my lunch and my umbrella. I do know people who have a drawer or more full of shoes, but I rock it one pair at a time.

                9. Felicia*

                  Where I work everyone takes the subway to work, and all of the woman at least keep shoes at work. However, generally just the one pair. I would think it’s weird to have 10, and where I work it is normal to have one (maybe 2) because you don’t want to stand on a subway or streetcar in heels.

                10. Cat*

                  I guess we’re just different types of people – I totally get why people don’t want to own a lot of shoes, but it’s not weird to me that I do or that I keep the ones I only wear at work in my office, and I find it mildly annoying that that’s characterized as “weird” for, as far as I can tell, no reason other than it’s different from what some other people do.

                11. Kelly O*

                  I normally work where we drive in, so there are not really “commuting” shoes. But I will admit that after 9/11 even in Birmingham, AL, I kept a spare pair of walk-friendly shoes in my desk. And I usually keep a spare pair in the trunk of my car.

                  In the snowstorm last year, I saw a ton of people who said they were starting to carry a spare pair of athletic shoes in the trunk, after walking miles in the snow in dress shoes. You just never know. (Says the woman who carries a mini-mag light in her purse all the time, and a spare charger for the phone… just in case.)

                12. Us, Too*

                  Cat – the definition of “weird” is something that is unusual for the person using the word. It’s nothing meant to be personal.

                  e.g. It’s weird to me to imagine an office with 12 pairs of shoes in it because I have literally NEVER seen this, even with my colleagues who work in NYC. I understand from you that it happens, but having never experienced it personally, I see that as weird. As in, strange, unusual to me. I don’t particularly care if someone has 12 pairs of shoes in their office provided in doesn’t become something I trip over. LOL.

                  That said, I’d think absolutely nothing of seeing someone have a bicycle in an office. And I’ve seen ping pong tables, and GodOnlyKnowsWhatElse in offices before and think nothing of that. I suppose many of those things would be “weird” to other people. :)

              2. AnonyMouse*

                I think it’s not so much the keeping shoes at work as it is the 10 pairs. I personally don’t even own 10 pairs of shoes, so I could see why people might be surprised to hear you have 10 pairs of work shoes in your office. That said, even though I don’t have that many shoes myself, I don’t think it’s mindboggling at all – I’ve definitely worked with women who had 10+ pairs of professional shoes, and if you live in a big city with bad weather like I do, commuting in your nice shoes won’t be an option year-round if you want them to stay nice.

                1. Camster*

                  I live and work in a “driving city”. We had a manager in our department who kept about 10 pairs of shoes (or more) in the trunk of her car. Then, one day, her car got stolen from the parking structure along with all of her shoes! I think she was more stressed out about all of her shoes being gone more than the car!

              3. teclatwig*

                Hm. I used to commute in comfy shoes, toting my dressy shoes with me, then home again. It would never have occurred to me to leave those shoes at work, though, because I did wear them for other dress-up occasions. Oh, and also because my fashion sense is poor and I would feel panicky putting together an outfit and not being able to see the complete (shod) picture.

              1. louise*

                It was just so far outside my frame of reference that it didn’t occur to me how that would simplify anything or how more than, say, 1 pair could happen. Once everyone explained commuting, I totally get it — and think it’s clever! I guess I assumed people would choose their shoes at home and stick them in a bag to take along and then bring home the same day if they weren’t going to wear them while commuting. Now if I ever move to a city, I’ll feel more prepared for how to make it work without hauling a ton of gear every time I go out in public.

                AAM commenters–continuing to enlighten me. :)

                1. Cat*

                  Heh, something I think a useful post here would be “things you wouldn’t expect if you’ve always lived in a big city/not a big city.” I remember a discussion here where people were equally baffled that anyone would get stuff shipped to work (in reality, everyone does that where I live – it is not easy to get stuff shipped to most apartment buildings in my city). I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff I’m missing about driving-centric places.

                2. fposte*

                  I was actually responding to Carrington Barr, who seemed concerned about the number. But, as Cat says, I think a lot of this is a commuting thing; additionally, I store stuff, though not shoes, like crazy in my office because I can, because it’s useful, and because I’ve been in there a while so some of it just accrues.

                3. Cath in Canada*

                  I commute by bike and I carry my shoes for that day in my panniers, every day. I just don’t have anywhere to store shoes – I leave my sneakers that I cycle in in the shower room, but I feel bad enough taking up enough space for one pair! The only other place I could put them is under my desk (I’m in an open plan office), but that just wouldn’t look great.

            2. Hillary*

              I have spare pumps and spare flats, plus a nice blazer. None of them are favorites, but they’ll all do if my regular shoes get wet or if I have an unexpected meeting where I need to look less casual. Once I start wearing my winter boots every day, I’ll probably end up with a couple extra pairs and periodically take a bag of shoes home.

              I’d have to make two trips to the car if I left this job, but the only things I actually care about are my card binder and two pictures, or can fit in my purse.

              1. Professional Merchandiser*

                In my line of work, my car is my “office”. At any given time, I will have various make-up items, a couple of non-perishable snacks, (not counting the lunch I usually pack) a change of clothing (sometimes my work gets dirty, plus I’m not the neatest eater sometimes) :-) something to read at said lunch break, PLUS extra shoes. Also a tool box, a couple of pairs of neutral colored earrings, a nail file, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Just threw that last in to see if you are paying attention!! ) When I am 50-100 miles away from home, I want to be prepared for ANYTHING!!!!

              1. Cat*

                Must be nice, but surely you must know that some of us would get fired if we wore, say, our athletic shoes to work but also want to have shoes that we can do things like walk and run comfortably in?

                1. Zed*

                  Sure, but I wasn’t criticizing–just contributing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having multiple pairs of shoes at work, or multiple pairs of shoes at all. I just don’t have a desire or need for them.

              2. Cynthia*

                Mindboggling to me as someone who has 4 pairs of workshoes … one pair at work, and three I rotate wearing on a regular basis. Thankfully I drive, but even the folks who do public transit don’t have any shoes (I think I’m the only one here who seems to have a pair that lives in the office).

        2. Artemesia*

          My kids were both in DC during 9/11 and I immediately nagged them with a list of stuff to keep in their desk and sent them little care packages with face masks, ponchos etc. My big nag though was ‘always be prepared to walk 20 miles if you have to do so — so have a good pair of walking shoes in your desk.’ Why yes, they do think I am nuts.

          1. JoAnna*

            I’ve been meaning to bring a pair of athletic shoes to keep at work so I can walk on my lunch breaks (my lame excuse every day is “I’m wearing sandals so I can’t go for a walk, it’s too uncomfortable.” But having a decent pair in case of emergency makes sense too. I’m going to have to make it a priority. Thanks for the nudge. :)

        3. Cindi*

          I’m remembering my one friend who kept all her work shoes at work. Her co-workers called her “Imelda”. (Okay, how many got the reference?)

            1. Cindi*

              Why are they dbags? Imelda Marcos was in the news back then, and one of her many excesses was that she had a large number of shoes. I’m not sure why joking about that makes anyone a dbag.

        4. HR Manager*

          Yep, Boston too. I commute in comfy shoes (or bad weather gear) and then change into shoes at the office. I don’t think I’ve got to a dozen, but I’ve topped out at a good 5 pairs (black, brown, heels,etc.). If you ever get fired though, they should offer you the chance to come back in after hours to clean out the desk so you don’t do the walk of shame with personal stuff spilling over. Or at the very least offer to ship the stuff to you.

          For every job, I’ve pretty much kept it to a few items – cat calendar, picture of my first cat, hand cream, and a nail clipper for when my nails break. There’s a guy next store to my current seat whose desk is loaded with figurine toys! It’s very cool, but I shudder at the thought of having to pack those and bring them home.

      2. Allison*

        I had a co-worker who had a lot of shoes too, my guess was she kept all her work shoes at the office, came to work in comfortable shoes and then changed into whatever pair of heels she felt like wearing when she got to work. Which honestly would make sense, especially if she had limited closet space and didn’t anticipate needing any of those shoes outside of work.

        Or maybe it was unintentional, and she kept bringing shoes to work and leaving them there, and a shoe collection just kind of accumulated after a while.

        1. Sutemi*

          I do this because I bike to work. I commute in clothing that is comfortable for biking then shower and change at work. It is much easier to keep my professional shoes (and shower supplies) at work in my locker than to carry a pair in with me every day.

        2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          This is totally me. I rarely need fancy shoes outside of work, but I do like to have a variety, and I like to select which ones after I get there (and it’s a pain to carry shoes back and forth). At my last job, I had an entire file cabinet drawer full of shoes. Once I have my own desk at my new job, I plan to dedicate a drawer to shoes. :)

      3. JC*

        Ha, I opened this thread before I saw your comment to say that it never occurred to me that all of the shoes I keep in my office would cause logistical trouble if I were suddenly fired! I have only 4 pairs of heels, but I would not want to schelp them along with my other stuff on the train and bus. I’m in DC and not NYC, but I have my commuting shoes, and then my work heels that rarely see the outdoors (and that last a long time because of it!).

        1. De Minimis*

          I’m a guy, but I’ve had at least one other pair of shoes sometimes…I like to walk during my breaks/lunches, and my office shoes just don’t work all that well.

      4. Bend & Snap*

        It’s what others have said. I worked in a large city and took public transportation to work, so wore one pair of shoes for commuting and changed when I go to the office. My shoe wardrobe just migrated to my office because I didn’t want to schlep them home.

        Never again!

      5. Chinook*

        Up here in the snowy north, both men and women have extra shoes stashed under their desk so we can change out of winter boots (not only does it stop your feet from overheating, but it aslo cuts down on the muck in office). And, since this is a high rise, most women also have a pair of runners or flats for fire drills and the 26 storey walk down.

    2. Allison*

      Yup, I’ve been there. Wasn’t carrying as much stuff, but I had a canvas Urban Outfitters bag full of desk stuff with me on the commuter rail in the middle of the afternoon, crying sporadically, it was obvious to everyone who saw me that I’d just gotten fired. Not fun.

    3. Gene*

      I drive to work every day and right now I probably have 7 pairs beyond what are on my feet right now. One pair of extra safety boots in case the ones I’m wearing get wet inside (would have to overtop, they are both waterproof), two pair of athletic shoes I rotate because I walk at lunch almost every day, one pair of waterproof hiking boots for when it’s really wet outside for my walk, One pair of steel toe rubber boots in my locker, one pair of steel toe rubber boots in one of the work trucks, and one pair of thigh-high rubber wader boots. There might be another pair or two in the bottom of one of my lockers, but if I don’t know they are there, they don’t count.

  12. Ali*

    I was the author of the 2011 post linked to in #4. I just stepped up my job search a few months ago, and while my response rate isn’t too bad, it’s mostly automated rejections. I’m in a competitive field (communications/media), and openings can be limited but still get a ton of applicants. Good people can easily get passed over. That said, I feel better about finding opportunities to apply for and don’t feel that it’s dire. But it’s definitely still a crowded market.

    1. AVP*

      I’m hiring for a media/entertainment job right now and have been getting about 30-40 applications per day for one position. Of them, about 10% are in the “yes” folder but ultimately, I will probably phone interview maybe half of those “yeses,” bring in 3-4 people for in-person interviews, and make one offer. These numbers are down a bit from what I saw at the height of the crash, but still very competitive – in order to get this job, which is for a very highly specific position that would probably be filled by two people with different skill sets in a bigger company, you have to have stumbled into a background that Jesus himself basically anointed for you to be perfect for me. So a lot of people are qualified, but it’s really hard to be that One Near-Perfect Person who happens to have the exact background that I’m looking for. So thats what happens, at least from the employer’s respective!

      1. Sitting duck*

        Oh goodness, this is what I was thinking might be happening in this type of industry and its close ‘cousins’. One thing I have been wondering…it’s seems very unlikely that a 30-something or under candidate would make it to that 10% folder because people 30 and under would have entered the job market just as the economy dipped. I understand that employers want the most experience possible, but what to do about an age group that is being denied the chance to get experience? For instance: my field is in advertising and I am 30. I am often asked why I have not created a television comercial. The answer is that the five art directors ahead of me have gotten that opportunity because of seniority, (understandably so) and with less work on the table, the ‘newbie’ is not getting the same opportunities as a better economy would offer. I foresee an exodus of people ages 20-30 from the media/advertising/marketing fields because these college grads are unable to get the nessecary experience needed to get that ‘Annointed’ offer or any other. If you have fallen behind on experience, should you choose a less competitive field?

        1. AVP*

          Ah – part of what I do is as an advertising PM so I totally feel you on that! I would honestly just keep looking if I were you, and possibly see if there’s a freelance or experiential opportunity out there for you that would give you some background in commercial production that you could mention.

          Right now the job I’m hiring for, I actually want someone newer to the world world because it’s easy to get bored and move on and I want someone who’s going to grow here for at least 2 years. So while I do have a pile of resumes from people with loooooong work histories, I’m generally not interviewing them unless they make a compelling case for why they’d want to step down a bit. So I wouldn’t say that more experience is better but the exact right mix is important, and it’s impossible for candidates to know what that magic combo is front he outside.

          On the other hand, I just applied to a different job that had a list of 15 qualifications and you had to choose “yes/no” based on it you had experience with them. 12 of them were fine but the other 3 were completely out of the realm of possible experiences for someone at my age and pay grade, unless your parent is a celebrity or you are Lena Dunham. Grrr. But I’m sure someone managed to choose yes and probably got the job.

        2. Felicia*

          I am having (have had a similar experience) as someone who has a degree and 2 internships in this field and is 24. Generally most people I have graduated with have no found a job in this field, and “entry level” jobs are being taken by people with like 5 years experience. I now have a decent job that has some marketing and communications components, but it’s also part something else. So i’m having more luck with those combo marketing/admin, or marketing/membership (that’s what mine is) jobs. I sort of forsee the same thing, but i’m just sticking at this and getting as much volunteering in what I want to do on the side, and hopefully that works out for me. I think it’s happening in a variety of industries, where people are willing to take a step back so the people at the bottom have nowhere to start. Anecdotal evidence , but 2 years after graduating, many of my friends have gotten entry level jobs that are half decent where they at least get to do some writing, but it’s taken 2 years, and I don’t think we’ll ever catch up.

          1. J*

            I’m in the same boat – work in PR and moved to a smaller city a few years ago. Got laid off this summer and have had several interviews. Some places are looking for people with very specific experience and it is very frustrating because I’ve seen the same jobs posted all summer long, but got rejected because I don’t have experience doing X. Or, I’m told the position is on hold for various reasons. I’m getting to the point where I need to consider expanding my search geographically, but I moved back to be closer to family and brought a house – hate to give all that up and deal with the expenses of moving after a summer of unemployment.

        3. Ali*

          Yep. I am contemplating changing fields as well. But a total change would mean back to school, which means interning (again) and probably loans (again). It’s not a great option. I’m looking at ideas related to media instead. So copywriting instead of journalism or social media marketing. That way I don’t necessarily have to get schooling but can instead take a pay cut for a new position (which I’d be OK with).

  13. #4*

    The ratio you mention is jobseekers to job *openings.* There are more job openings today. However, *hiring* remains down. Most of those openings are going unfilled.

    According to a Bloomberg article from about a year ago, “if, since June 2010, hiring had risen a third as much as advertised jobs have (rather than only a 10th), and nothing else were different, job creation would be roughly 500,000 higher each month, and the unemployment rate would already be back to normal levels.” See:

    But there’s more. These days, few employers offer relocation packages. Those that do offer them demand a two-year commitment. If you leave the company for any reason, including a layoff, you must repay the relocation benefit. (I know people who were laid off mere weeks into the new job they relocated for.) The same is becoming true for training (where it exists anymore), even though such training is often specific to the company and not transferable.

    In addition, private sector employers are increasingly eliminating 401(k) matches, reducing health insurance subsidies, and switching to “unlimited” vacation as a means to avoid payout of unused PTO to departing employees. Layoffs have become an annual ritual and are often independent of the company’s financial health. Meanwhile, many sub-CxO salaries have fallen as much as 25%.

    Many of those targeted for layoffs are 50+. Once unemployed, they become essentially unemployable, no matter the field or skill level.

    So hiring hasn’t improved, and the jobs are worse. If there’s a positive, it’s that the trend of demanding free labor from job applicants might be declining. At least, I’m hearing fewer stories about it. Of course, that might only be because the field of suckers is becoming played out (once bitten, twice shy).

    1. fposte*

      “Hiring hasn’t improved as much as claimed” isn’t the same thing as “hiring hasn’t improved.” We’re not in a pre-2008 crisis job market and may never be again, but the job losses of the recession have largely been erased, unemployment has dropped (some of that is from search abandonment, of course, but not all of it), and participant numbers in food stamps have gone down somewhat from their high. (I’m looking mostly at the Obama’s Numbers sections of for this.)

      I’m not arguing that there’s a recovery from the recession, but that wasn’t the question Alison was asked.

      1. #4*

        I wasn’t responding to the question Alison was asked. I was responding to the question Alison asked: “What do others think?”

    2. Sitting duck*

      I am the author of the #4 question this time around, the person seeking an update. That you, Alison! You give me hope! One of the reasons I wanted to ask Alison this rate was that I have been on quite a few interviews now where I was told that the position had been posted and had been continuously interviewed for a year or more ( some of these were posted to the employer website and others at job search sites). I was also told that the work wasn’t coming in as so much to actually hire out the posted position. As an applicant, this makes my heart sink as I have heard this at nearly all of my interviews. They are saying they will hire these positions when the work comes in, which leads me to believe the economy is not so strong yet. I am also wondering if some sectors have higher ratios of applicants to actual jobs, such as the areas of advertising/communications/media andaybe even sales. Wondering what yall think about this.

  14. Oryx*

    #5, I worked at an organization like that and luckily got a transfer to another location but many other co-workers were left hanging around. Do you get a Stay Bonus? I know many of my co-workers opted to hold off on a job search for that reason but like Alison said, passing up a potentially good position to stay at the company might not be a worthy sacrifice when all is said and done.

  15. Hillary*

    Re: #4 – I think we’re on the cusp of a shift towards employees being in a better position in the US. It’s harder to hire unskilled labor in the upper midwest than any time in the last five years, as well as some segments of skilled labor. Employers are still doing more with less, but I think that will shift if we have a strong holiday season.

  16. Allison*

    #1. I’d generally start slowly setting up my personal stuff after a few days, especially if I was thinking of displaying anything nerdy on the desk. I’d want to make sure such a thing wouldn’t make me stick out for the wrong reasons, especially if my desk was visible in a high traffic area.

    But I don’t keep a lot of stuff on my desk. at firstjob they made us put away ALL THE THINGS every time a client visited; we were all in our 20’s and management was always worried we’d look unprofessional if we had anything on our desks. At secondjob they had me move around so much I was basically a nomad. At thirdjob I’m thinking of getting some geeky novelties for my desk, but it’s in such a high traffic area I’m worried about some high level exec giving me a hard time about them.

  17. De Minimis*

    #1–forgot to mention, I had one job where they had a long orientation/training process. They had us just crammed into random conference rooms during the first week, then sent us for training off-site for two weeks–then back to random conference rooms for a while after that. I think we’d been there a month by the time we actually got to our cubes/offices.

    When we were in the conference rooms we were doing various online trainings on our laptops.

    #4 I was a job seeker when it was at its worst, and have been looking a little bit here and there and I think it’s better, but it really depends on the area and how robust a particular job market is. Where I live people like to talk about how long the unemployment rate is, but the pay is low for most of the jobs, and there are some fields that don’t seem to have many jobs at all or have a lot of barriers that don’t exist in other places. It seems like underemployment is the bigger issue in a lot of places now.

    1. Cautionary tail*

      A big H*ll Yeah to your underemployment comment. Since 2009 I’ve been laid off/unemployed for a year and underemployed for four years. I see the same with a lot of colleagues.

    2. OP #1*

      #1 Oh, I forgot that I might have training/orientation during the first week. I was probably going to slowly bring the few things in during my first two weeks if I’m near my desk. I don’t keep that much at work compared to some of my current co-workers.

      #4 I agree it depends on field and location. I’m a gov’t worker, at least for the entry-level jobs, it’s still a really competitive market (even in STEM). We just brought recent STEM grads in that have master’s degrees for positions that typically go to recent graduates with just a bachelor’s degree.

  18. De Minimis*

    That is, how “low” the unemployment rate is. But all that really seems to mean is that it’s easy to find minimum wage and/or part time work.

    1. Sitting duck*

      Yes! It’s seems as though part time work is much easier to find than full time. There are a few jobs I’ve applied to that want you for 30 hours only. It’s seems to me that some employers are wanting workers for as much time as possible without having to consider them full time. Why is this?

      1. Livin' in a Box*

        They don’t have to pay benefits to part time workers. My job is really careful about keeping people just below the full time threshold.

        1. LBK*

          Part-time employees also generally aren’t guaranteed a certain amount of hours per week, so if the budget dictates you can only have 500 hours total in your department this week instead of 600, you can chop those hours out of your PT employees’ scheduled but you can’t do it out of your FTers.

          (I mean, legally I’m sure you can do it, but it’s setting yourself up for more problems if you start shafting your FTers on hours.)

      2. sunny-dee*

        They don’t have to pay benefits for you, and keeping FT employees down can also protect them from having to offer other benefits at all. E.g., all employers with 50 FT employees are required to offer Obamacare-level insurance coverage. So, small employers have a decent incentive to keep the number of FT employees below 50.

  19. soitgoes*

    Does anyone know why QuickBooks isn’t commonly taught in high school or college? I had a basic IT course in college that focused on the MS Suite, but nothing on QuickBooks even though 90% of the good office job listings on Craigslist ask for QuickBooks experience. I suddenly had a much easier time finding work after I landed that first job that was willing to train me in QuickBooks. Being able to put QuickBooks on your resume opens a lot of doors.

    I guess that’s my suggestion for anyone who’s still struggling with unemployment: find a way to learn QuickBooks.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Many software packages go “out the window” when something better comes along. But something like QuickBooks – yes, as well as the complete Microsoft Office suite, looks very good.

  20. Ed*

    I think it depends on whether the figures are from the original or new Galactica. I think everyone should have a daggit on their desks.

  21. INTP*

    #5: I would recommend not putting it in your cover letter or mentioning it until asked. I agree that it’s relevant information and employers would appreciate seeing it and in an ideal world you’d list it to avoid wasted time on both sides. However, I have seen hiring managers reject candidates for not being available to start for 1-2 months because they “needed someone immediately” even if the job wound up sitting open for far more than 2 months after that because they couldn’t find a good candidate. It’s just one of those things that gets a lot of bizarre knee-jerk responses. The candidate isn’t available for 2 months: rejection. The candidate mentions nothing, the interviewing and selection process takes 4-5 weeks, and the candidate asks for 3-4 weeks before start date: no one thinks anything strange about the situation.

  22. AB Normal*

    Re: Job market, one thing I think changed for life, and people will gradually get more used to:

    In general, you no longer can expect to spend your whole life working in the same geographic location. Like my husband and I, all my friends have good jobs, BUT, when someone is laid off, it normally means packing up and taking a job in another state.

    We are all foreigners living as permanent residents in the U.S. Because we don’t have families and prefer to rent, it’s quite easy to pack and move. Based on my experience, with friends in the East and West coasts and in most U.S. states, I’d say that at least in fields like engineering and computer science, Americans who are willing to relocate at their expense are currently finding jobs quickly after a lay off. If you can’t move because of a house/family/kids in school, then it’s a different story, and it may take longer and require accepting a lower salary in order to find another job.

Comments are closed.