Recruitment 411: If Your Cubicle Could Talk

My manager has always encouraged us to decorate our workspace. Without some sort of decoration, our cubicles would be as drab and depressing as hospital hallways. She believes your workspace gives people a peek into your personality. She’s right.

The other day as I was walking through the office, I noticed the different décor in each person’s area. I started making mental notes about what I learned from a quick glance around each workspace.

There are a couple sports enthusiasts in my office. One lady has a few photos of Ravens players pined on her wall. Another co-worker displays his devotion to the Yankees; his office is a mini-museum with a desk in the middle. From figurines of the players to a replica of a subway sign for the stadium – he’s got it all.

Talk about a museum, our manager loves art. In fact, every one of her walls has multiple framed prints hanging on it.

It’s not just hobbies you learn about, a person’s office can offer clues into their personal work style. Another colleague in my office openly admits she hates paper and prefers doing business by e-mail or phone. She’s on a one-woman mission to make this a paperless office. If I went past her desk I would find very little paper, if any at all.

Last, but perhaps most obviously, a person’s workspace can offer clues about their job. The AP Style Guide and creative writing books on my desk are a big clue that my job involves writing and communication.

What does your workspace say about you?

Recruitment 411 is the official blog of the IRS Recruitment Office.

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Andrew Krzmarzick

I work from a home office, so it’s a mix of personal and professional in here. Items within view:

– 2 laptops on the desk

– Baby stroller (grab it and my son when work is over to hang out)

– Workout equipment (for quick breaks)

– Stacks and stacks of business cards

– Lots of books – three main topics: business and personal growth, theology (former seminarian), marriage (me and my wife lead retreats)

Jeff Ribeira

My office walls here at work aren’t saying much at the moment, but hopefully they will soon. Like you said, it is pretty interesting what you can learn about a person simply from their workspace. I watched a show once on the Travel Channel called “Top 10 coolest places to work” or something like that. One of the businesses being highlighted was the t-shirt company, Threadless where they would hold office/cubicle decorating competitions every so often based on a particular theme. I always thought this would be a fun idea, and a great way to let people give their creative sides an outlet.

Sherri Wormstead

Some of the things in my office are: 3 ft tall deer my father made out of birch logs; a variety of posters and a large painting by my kids of the mountains, sun, and “handprint” clouds; a 5 ft tall fake tree (it would be real but there is no daylight in my office). Can you tell that I have a natural resources job?!! (Yes, I work for the USDA Forest Service).

Jana Opperman

I have pictures of giraffes, and homey lamps and pictures of family (I have to get new ones the eldest graduated from college thisyear…) I have sqeez stress release things shaped like garbage trucks and a brain. I work in Diesel Retrofit program (you never know what you’ll do with your biology degree! Yeah I know a fair amount about diesel engines now-I’m a Diesel Chick!) in NJ so I also have a toy bus and Tomater tow truck on top of my cabinets, a cool flashing school bus magnet too! It’s sort of clean and organized, my boss even said I keep it neat. At Christmas I put a decorated mini tree up on top with lights! (I was told when I got this job that you have to keep the decor on my side of the cube walls because I’m next to the hall that big wigs may take to go to the assistant commissioner’s office…) Oh yes and in front of my computer I have a large poster of flora and fauna of the US coasts-sort of a window since I am so far from one, the african violet won’t bloom.

Karen Crockett

My cubicle is large, and I share it with another woman. On both halves of the cube there is paper / folders / binders stacked three feet high. It is all in stacks, some color-coordinated. On my wall, however, is a collage of my family – my two kids (multiple shots), my ten siblings and their families and a photo taken in the 50s of my grandparents (they both passed away in the last year and a half). What I think my cubicle says about me: I have a lot of responsibility (don’t you know – I’ve been the Director’s secretary for a number of years now) and I care a lot about my family.

Sharon Erickson

I have a large office, I really need it to feel comfortable since I spend so much time in it, I hate to have binders out unless needed so I have them in closed cabinets. Everyone that comes in tells me they feel so at home in there. My desk does get very cluttered most of the time however. I have family and pet photos around and art on the walls.

Julie Chase

After we received our new gently used furniture, I told everyone, when I’m finished, it’s going to look like Laura Ashley threw up in here. Kind of like Corky Sherwood’s office in Murphy Brown. I work with mostly men in the WG world & I wanted to add some feminine touches. Most of the pens I write with are purple and pink as are my postit notes (don’t worry taxpayers, I bought them myself). I also have pens with black ink, but they are also purple and pink. The guys never take any of my pens…gee. I have high school grad pics of my kids & my parents on the wide window sill behind my desk with aqua and blue color beach glass, starfish & shells around them. I have little match box cars & wrecker trucks (that’s the biz I’m in) on the other window sill along with long stem black rose given to me by a co worker on my 50th birthday 3 yrs ago. My desktop background changes with the season. I have a “countdown to my husbands retirement” below the hutch of my L shaped desk. (He has 5 mths left CSRS). The binders I have with all the acronym’s in them are pink & white. My coworker in the outer office has green & blue sticky notes & plants everywhere, with pics of her grands intertwined. We also keep pics of our families under the glass on our desks. My work is my haven, my co workers are great, my managers are great, love my customers. What turns me sour are the “processes” one has to go through to get anything done.

Caryn Wesner-Early

@Julie, I love your way of making sure no one steals your pens!

I share an office with another woman. You can tell from her walls that she loves Ireland and has had the same group of friends for years. The overwhelming impression you get of me is that I love cats, but I also have a poster saying “Your Search Is Over!” and all my books have to do with searching, so once people get past the cats, they can tell without much trouble what I do. (The first thing anyone says on coming into my office for the first time is, “You really like cats, don’t you?” I keep wanting to say, “No, I hate them – this is aversion therapy!” but I’ve never quite gotten up the nerve!)


My office definitely says, “A geek works here. A geek who grew up in the 80’s, loves movies, is a bit sarcastic, and wishes she did more yoga.” It’s definitely the office of a creative person (I’m the video/multimedia person for a training division) who likes to collect things. This is my first “real” office and when I moved into it, I immediately began nesting. Now I most of my walls are full of movie and “demotivational” posters, plus a few paintings I salvaged from my parents’ basement (and one of my favorite photos taken by my photog mom in the 70’s) and I have my own lighting, so I don’t have to work under those horrible gov’t building flourescents!

Julie Chase

Oh Tara, if you were 10 yrs younger I would introduce you to my engineer tech drafter, avid gamer, anime, manga reading, Shonen Jump reading son. He just graduated college, a late bloomer at the age of 27….and waiting for Uncle Sam to un-do the hiring freeze. His cubicle would look similar to yours with a stack of Diet Mt. Dew cases, a case or two of WallyWorld 20 oz water, and a few boxes WallyWorld grape flavor singles. Movies, definatley comedy, such as Office (where’s my stapler), Night at the Roxbury and Batman Dark Knight. Avid writer on Not sure where I got the white collar son from two very blue collar parents. He loves to cook & can operate any power tools & change the oil in the car. I truly believe it is our differences that make us better people.


I guess you could call me a real family man. I am so proud of my children, 2 of them are married already and my youngest who is still in college. I have their pictures pinned on the board in front of me. We have family pictures, individual pictures for different occassions, wedding of son, picture of grandson (18 mos.old), picture of my mother (passed away at the age of 93), my daughter when she celebrated her 18th bday in debutante’s white gown, my wife and I while onboard NCL for vacation at the Carribean, my son and I, oldest daughter wedding picture, and my cubicle is so organized that you will not know that someone works there for a full day.

I also pinned all the ID’s issued everytime I attend a seminar, conferences, and when I give training and presentations. I put the dates and the place where the event/s happened. I also hang some important notices, to remind me of what I need to remember. I have my business cards and a picture of my wife and I in uniform while I was still in active military. My cubicle only shows that I am proud of my family and the achievement I received in my career.