(Mike Shapiro/For Capital Business)

Joyce E. A. Russell took questions from readers last week in an online chat at www.capbiz.biz. Here are some excerpts:

Taking a pay stub to a job interview

Q. I have a job interview coming up, and they’ve asked me to bring a current pay stub with me to the interview. Does this strike you as unusual? I can only guess that it would be used to verify employment and see what my current salary is, but some of the other information on there (like banking information, employee ID) is a little too sensitive for my liking to share. What are your thoughts?

J.R.: This is not that unusual. You are right — they are typically trying to verify your employment and salary.

If you feel uncomfortable sharing this (and many people do feel uncomfortable), then you could nicely ask them “if you want that information to verify my employment, I am happy to share some other documentation with you about my having worked at the firm.”

Then, pause.

Often, if you say this, you will really find out if they are just verifying employment or if they are trying to see your salary. They can not require that you turn this in, but many applicants feel pressure and stressed and do turn it in. It is up to you how you want to nicely play it. If they keep pressing you, you might give them the information (up to you), and if you are worried that they will use this in determining a salary for you, then it would be very important for you to have done some research to then document what type of salary you should make (based on the external market, not your previous salary).

Re: Pay stub

Q. I would black out everything except my name, my current period gross pay, and my YTD gross pay before providing a copy.

J.R.: Good idea.

Applying for employment in another state

Q. What are the best strategies for trying to get a job in another state? I do not have specialized skills, such as engineering, so what can I do to get my applications noticed? I am preparing myself to move first, but ideally I would like to find a job before moving.

J.R.: Generally, it is best to have contacts there and set up interviews on site. It is often hard to get jobs in another state unless you actually go to the state and meet with people. It can be done, but it is harder. You might plan some trips there and set up some interviews in advance. This is also where you will need to use any contacts you have from that state to help you set up interviews.

Mentor’s unexpected resignation

Q. My mentor is resigning from my firm today because executive management was unwilling to accommodate his desired work schedule, among other things. He’s really known in our industry and already has opportunities lined up with a smaller firm. He was the only vice president/manager who really cared about my career growth and worked hard to get me promoted. Now that he’s leaving, how do I continue to stay at my firm when I know no one else will take interest in my career growth? I’m tempted to follow him to his new firm.

J.R.: It is very common for someone to wonder if they should follow a person to another firm. You might first want to see if there is anyone else who you could still have as a mentor. You should also talk with your mentor to get his perspective on this — what does he think you should do? Does he have ideas for who else could mentor you? Does he even think you would get a job at the new firm? I would definitely hold a candid conversation with him before just leaving. He will probably have some good ideas for you.

Reapplying at a familiar organization

Q. I applied, had a phone screening, and a 2-on-1 interview with an organization that I deeply respect and wish to be a part of in the first week in April. I sent thank you notes to both interviewers. In the next few weeks and months, phone calls to the recruiter went unanswered. Seventy seven days after my in-person interview, I received the generic thanks-but-no-thanks letter in the mail.

On the same day, I looked at their Web site and there is another position that I am interested in. It is much better suited to my skill set and my interests and it is with a different division. Do you think I should apply to this position with my updated resume? Is it worth my time?

J.R.: Yes, I think it still would be worth applying for the position since you really are interested in that firm. You may even let them know that you are very interested in their firm. Sometimes, recruiters really can’t get a sense for how strongly you feel about their particular firm. Persistence is definitely the key in today’s marketplace.

If possible, get a phone number or e-mail from those you interview with so you can follow up with them directly. Be persistent.