The Perpetual PCS Stockpile

By Stacy Swearengen, CCMC; Owner of

Get more of Stacy’s great advice about career planning in the Ultimate PCS Guide.

Junk in the Trunk, Boxes in the Basement, and The Accumulation of Careers


  • I own fireplace tool set, but I don‚Äôt have a fireplace.TMK_1515
  • I am the proud owner of not one, not two, but three microwaves.
  • I have a set of bar stools,but no bar at which to place them.
  • I had a snow shovel in the trunk of my car, but lived in a snow-free climate for years.

I am fully aware that most people outside of the military community would not understand such random possessions, labeling it as a personal eccentricity, an undeveloped sense of interior decorating, or perhaps even a political statement on the wastefulness of American society. Yet, I cannot claim any of these reasons as the explanation for my unnecessary items. It’s simply what I like to call the PPS,  Perpetual PCS Stockpile, or the amassing of a range of household items and goods from duty station to duty station. The result is a collection of unneeded and often forgotten “stuff.”

Having just PCS’d across the country, I am reminded of this fact every time I unpack a box of things I no longer need. As a career planner  for military spouses, I also find it ironic that the same thing can happen to our careers. As we move from duty station to duty station,
we often also move from job to job, accumulating a variety of different skills and experiences. Sometimes, it can begin to seem as though our career history is like our houses when the movers drop off our household goods—a mish-mash of randomness and a new assortment
of unusable things.

The thing is, we need to evaluate our accumulated job experiences and skills, just like we have to do with our household goods every time we relocate. There are so many great resources out there that deal with how to manage the stress of packing and unpacking, and those same techniques can actually be applied to your career!

Ideas for Your Accumulated Career or Jobs:

  • Store Them ‚Äì This method of dealing with your stockpile of career experiences is one I don‚Äôt recommend. It results in you forgetting your strengths (or perhaps in somehow stockpiling three microwaves)! If you don‚Äôt use the skills that you acquired over the years, they will become obsolete or atrophy altogether. If nothing else, make sure that you keep a list of the skills you have used in previous jobs. You never know when those experiences will be valuable. I am a firm believer that no job is ever wasted, and there is always something to be gleaned from every position.
  • Sell them or Give them away for Free ‚Äì I admit that I have been storing my household goods for way too long. Now, it‚Äôs time to start giving the things I no longer need away. You can do the same thing with your job skills! The best way to keep those skills current and stay competitive in the job market is to use them, and a great way to do this is by donating your skills and time in some capacity. This strategy is especially useful if you cannot find a position opening in the field you truly want. Every duty station and surrounding city has opportunities to volunteer, and with budget cuts at companies, volunteers are more needed than ever.
  • Repurpose Them ‚Äì I enjoy saving money, and sometimes this means repurposing or refurbishing some of our household goods. I‚Äôve become pretty good at repainting shelves to match a new house‚Äôs color scheme and learned to appreciate the way a good tablecloth can convert any old table into a rather decorative accent piece. I find it fun using a little creativity and sometimes a quick Google search to find new ways to use my old things! The same strategies work for those job skills you have but can‚Äôt directly apply to a new job. For example, I coached a military spouse recently who decided to transfer her previous writing experience into a personal blog. She found an outlet for her passion, even if it wasn‚Äôt directly involved in her job.
  • No house or apartment is ever the same, whether you move across the street or around the world. The windows are different shapes and sizes and the amount of space you have varies. It also seems like the climate we move to is almost always a stark contrast to the previous one, resulting in an entire wardrobe of clothes that will never get unpacked. Any time you PCS and come across these little quirks of the military life, remember the intangible career-building skills you‚Äôve also been collecting. Make up your mind to purge or preserve just as you would those everyday household goods.

Do you have a perpetual PCS stockpile? Need to purge before your PCS? Post free listings on SargesList.
Looking for a new job at your new duty station? Check out the thousands of jobs listed for your community.

Need help with your PCS? Download the free, Ultimate PCS Guide.
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