Or maybe not so well.

I have spoken with several candidates in the past few weeks who are coming back into the job market after a period of either chosen/necessary unemployment or apparently being in a time capsule. Those who have been out there looking are very aware of what the market has been like. They are not who I am talking about. I speak here of the person who has been at home with children for the past four or five years, the person who has taken time off from their career to take care of aging or ill family members, the person who has been employed and not interested in looking for another job for the past 6 years and is still employed.

With personal situations changing and the rumor that the job market is picking up they have decided that it’s time to either go back to work or look for a new job. Without fail here is what I am hearing. If you are experiencing these situations tell me how you are handling them.


“Hey, I have decided to go back to work, my kids are both in school now so I’m ready.”
“I was making 125K when I decided to stay home so I would like to start at a minimum of that range because after all that was 2006 so I should actually be able to make more than that now.” “My preference would actually be to work until 3:00 so I could pick up my kids so I would consider that same salary I was making in 2006 if I could work those hours, but I do want full benefits.”.

Me: “Well, ok, are you aware that while you were doing the mommy/daddy thing we sort of had this thingy called a recession, the unemployment rate is still up there pretty high and there are lots of folks who will take half of what they were making to get a job?” “It’s pretty competitive.”

“I know things have been pretty ugly but I didn’t get laid off or anything I just quit to stay home.” “My CPA license has expired because I didn’t want to take those CPE hours but I think if I bring those up to date I can get it activated”

Me: “Have you checked with the state board on the number of hours you need , the cost and have you stayed up to speed on the changes in the tax rules and regs since 2006?”

“No I haven’t checked and I really am not up to speed on the changes in the regs, but I would think that an employer would be willing to pay for my CPE and the renewal of my license, isn’t that normally paid for by the employer?”

Me: “Here’s the scoop mom/dad , Rip Van Jobseeker.” This is not a reflection on what you can do or can’t do, how smart you are or your education and experience. In the real world salary ranges didn’t go up much, in fact many of them dropped due to the number of people who were laid off.” “You will be competing for jobs with people who have a current license, are up to date on the regs, have been working and are willing to take about 25 or 30K less than what you are talking about for full time employment.” “So what I can tell you is if you want to get off at 3:00, don’t have a current license and haven’t worked in five years we are probably looking at about 50 to 65K if I can even find somebody who wants someone part time.”

“That’s ridiculous, I can’t afford to go to work for that.” “Maybe I need to do something besides accounting.” “I am really up to speed on all the new social media, I am even on twitter and I have 300 followers, mostly stay at home parents with small children.”

Me: “Ok, send me your resume, I will keep you on the list and give you a call when I have something that will fit your salary expectations or if I have someone who is looking for somebody who used to an accountant and wants to do something else for more money than they can make doing what they know how to do.” “Maybe a social media consultant for some company who makes baby food or Kid stuff, but I am not getting a lot of listings for those, I think all the recruiters who were niched in the financial or mortgage industry are doing those jobs.”

(As I put my head on my desk, I wonder if this person has been asleep for the past five years or does not have access to the news or hasn’t talked to anyone who has been in the work force. Who knows maybe she will make it big as a social media consultant).


“Hi, I am ready to resume my career, the situation with my family has resolved so I can now go back to work.” “What does it look like out there right now, I can do a lot of things and am willing to move anywhere.”

Me: “Ok, that’s a pretty broad field, what have you done in the past before you had to take time off to take care of family?”

“I got my PhD from Dartmouth in Biological Sciences, did some research at another university for about a year then had to come home in 2004 when my dad got sick so that’s about all I have done but with my PhD I should be able to make around 90 to 100K”. “Oh, and I will go anywhere but I will need relocation paid by the employer and temp housing would be a requirement and good benefits and work life balance and really if I could work from home I would prefer that and oh yes educational reimbursement.”

Me: “You realize that we have just been through the worst recession since the great depression?” The going rate for research PhD’s with 10 years experience right now is around 100 to 125K and most companies are not paying relo if at all possible.”

“But I went to Dartmouth that should put me in the top percentile and I am up to speed on social media, I did a web site for my brother’s soccer team, he has 45 followers .”

Me: “What kind of research did you do?”

“Sleep deprivation in rats.”

Me: “ Ok Sylvester, let me bring you up to speed, nobody has slept much in the past few years, not even the rats. The focus in the past five or so years has been cancer research and molecular genetics.” “Get me a CV and I will put you on the list but I would suggest that you consider teaching perhaps on the college level if you can find a spot or you might go back to school and get a fellowship in something besides sleep deprivation in rats, and catch the news this evening if you have time.”

(Head on Desk , WTF are these people thinking, have they been asleep for the past five years or do they think the rest of the world is lying about war, recession and natural disasters. The animal people are even worrying about the rats. I guess you could go be a social media consultant for scientists)


“Hey , I hear things are getting better. I am sick of what I am doing and want to do something else and I need more money.”

Me: “What are you doing John and what are you making.?”

“I’m an engineer and have been for the past 25 years and I make about 150K plus bonus but I want to do something different and I want to make a base of about 175K plus bonus.

Me: “John, did you hear that the space program has been cut back, oil is at a hundred bucks a barrel, we just bombed Libya, Japan got hit with an earthquake, a tsunami and may be having a nuclear meltdown and we have been in a recession for the past three years that is not really over yet and the unemployment rate is still close to 10%?”

“I know but that really doesn’t effect me, I have been at the same company for over 18 years I am ready for a change of career, tired of engineering and I want more money.”

Me: “Great, send me your resume, my advice is to go back to work, don’t piss anybody off and I will call you when I can find you a career change with a challenge and more money in a different field that you don’t know anything about.”

(Head on Desk, dear God, John you are 59 years old, you have a stable career, you have survived without being laid off. Please keep your mouth shut, do your job and don’t decide to quit to make your fortune as a social media consultant )

Wake all the way up ,Rip Van Jobseeker – while you were checked out for whatever reason we had this little thingy called a recession. Let’s either get real or go back to sleep. It’s not quite over yet. If you have not been working, take what you can get where ever you can get it to get back in the game. If you dodged the bullet, stay in your field, look carefully for a new opportunity. This is not the time to decide you want to do something you have never done. There are already enough starving social media consultants.


Oh, and about your resume. Yes it has to have dates on it. No you can’t write two pages of generic gunk about all you think you have done without relating it to where you did it. Put your dates of education and don’t use that idiotic phrase “early career” with no dates. Do you think everybody is so stupid they think you only started to work in 95’ if you left off education dates and added that “early career” silliness. Obviously it was earlier if it took place prior to 95’. Would you start your resume with “Lately Career”? Show the dates that you have been checked out of the work place on your resume and give a brief explanation so HR will not think you have been asleep for the last four to six years or in the pen or in one of those nice places where they give you lots of little blue pills. Nobody is going to read any further if the last date of employment is 2006 with no explanation.

If you were penned, pilled or just pensive for the past 4-5 yrs and don’t care for reality, consider this new field of social media consulting. Nobody really knows what they are talking about so it’s hard to get fired as a social media guru cause there is no way to measure it, no requirements and there is so much junk out there nobody will notice if you screw up.

By the way, did you know Harry Truman died? Check Twitter. I am sure somebody else just found out about Harry and is tweeting away.

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Made my week!  Thanks for sharing!


Let's not forget the candidate that insisted on being "paid a Director level salary" for a line manager's job, because that's what his experience should get him.  Oh, and also needs the full relocation package and for them to buy his house.  All this despite not meeting the base JD criteria.  Somebody call a doctor.


Yes, I agree.............wake up people.

Interesting article. So many times I get resumes from candidates whose resumes stop, maybe in 2010, 2009 or 2008, maybe earlier. No explanation.

@Robert Thanks i was begining to think i was the only one hearing this stuff.  It has always been the case that people have had some high expectations but in my experience never to this extent.  I don't know why it is so over the top at this point in time.  I worry about them and when i spend an hour explaining the current state of affairs many times i am met with a blank stare a few nods like they understand what i am telling them then they go right back to telling me that if they made 90K in 2005 they really should make more now because that was 2005.  I had one who said he would relo anywhere, had not worked due to family requirements for four years.  I got him an interview, when i told him he would have to pay his own relo he informed me that his household goods were in S. America so he would need the company to pay for shipping to the U. S. I thought i had done the impossible by even getting the interview.


@Marcus I am getting those by the dozens.  I can understand if someone was caught in the recession in 2009 and don't want to put unemployed on the resume so i am asking them to put a one line explanation  that says 2009 to curent - Laid off in September 2009.  Part time, temp and at home responsibilities while looking for full time position.  Employers understand that but there has to be some kind of  explanation.  A lot of professional people have been able to do things on a consulting basis but i have to beat them to put it on the resume.  I finally had to tell one that unless he had been watching cartoons and eating Fritos for the last three years he had to put something on the resume.  He said he had been working but it was not in his career field so he didn't want to put it on the resume.  My friends, work is good of any kind and much better than nothing.

lol, sounds like a day in my recruiting life! Thanks Sandra. We recently had a job seeker who was laid off from one agency after having been there many years and working up to 5 weeks vacation. Now he's interviewing with another agency, but wants his 5 weeks. Give me reality!

@Judi, thanks for sharing that one.  I realize that we are the touch point for hearing what many hiring managers say but i wonder about the common sense logic of expecting all the earned benefits of a previous job in a new one.  I can see a lateral or increase in salary range based on experience gained but having one's butt in a chair long enough to qualify for more vacation time hardly ever moves with the butt.  I am beginning to think that there is some clandestine group somewhere giving these people advice who just want to see how much they can screw with recruiters.


I had a candidate who told me his friend was in the medical profession and suggested that since he had been taking care of a family member who was ill that he should put on his resume that due to HIPPA rules and regs he could not disclose what he had been doing for the past three years.  I suggested that was about the fastest way to convince a prospective employer that he had been ill himself so to be ready to discuss any disability needs he might have if he had been so ill for three years that he was not able to work. 


My fav of all time was the candidate who was in his mid 60's.  Great sales background.  I got him an interview.  It went reasonably well and he was under consideration until he wrote the thank you note that started out, "Dear EEOC employer."  He was not offered the job.  Not because of his age but because he appeared to be threatening the employer that if they did not hire him he would take it as grounds to file a claim.  They went with a candidate about his same age who simply thanked them for the opportunity to bring his years of experience to their organization.

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