Why I Favor a Public Option

As an applications developer turned recruiter, I've held front row tickets to the changes in the US jobs circus.

My severance package included outplacement services from Right Management. Right's analysis indicates that going forward from now workers can anticipate having 5-8 different careers (that's CAREERS, people!), with different jobs per person numbering in double digits.

This concept sounds unbelievable when viewed through the groovy titanium glasses of a person brought up assured that the proven path to success is hard work and long term loyalty to your employer. (Let's not even open that can of dogpoop.) As recently as 15 years ago it would be inconceivable that a highly skilled developer or project manager with bleeding edge knowledge would view 18 months as a long and stable assignment.

Yet this is where we find ourselves. These days a three month gap between assignments raises the eyebrows of only the most isolated of hiring managers. It's the way it is, and is only expected to grow.

So we have a skilled workforce whose careers are made up of a series of temporary assignments. At various times a consultant may work as an independent consultant under his own LLC, as a contractor farmed out by a staff augmentation firm, or as a corporate FTE -- with gaps between many of these assignments.

And adults, especially those with families, need health insurance whether on assignment or between.

What a hassle it is to switch insurance carriers every 18 months! There is the difference in levels of coverage and deductibles to contend with. There are conditions such as pregnancies or chronic illnesses leading the patient to want to keep his existing doctor or hospital.

A decent public option -- not necessarily as cushy as the plan enjoyed by our Federal Representatives -- could be purchased by the worker when they enter the workforce, and ported from assignment to assignment throughout the worker's career. An employer's cafeteria-style benefits plan could include an option to direct any employer contributions to the employee's public option account. And gaps between assignments would be covered at the worker's expense, without having to go through lengthy approval processes or experiencing reductions in coverage or increases in deductibles or co-pays.

If we believe the predictions that careers of future generations will be made up of a series of independent assignments with gaps between, a public option for health coverage will be incredibly beneficial for American workers.


You Might Need a Makeover

In continuation of our discussion of how to combat ageism, we will also continue our homage to Jeff Foxworthy.

• If you recognize your favorite work outfit on a rerun of The Nanny, you might need a makeover.
• If your glasses make you look like Aristotle Onassis, you might need a makeover.

But seriously folks, whether you like it or not, today's young people (read that, hiring managers) are very image conscious. It is pervasive throughout our society, and doesn't indicate a weakness on the part of a specific hiring manager. It's just how society works today. The best way to combat this is to work within it -- you'll get a job more quickly if you play within today's rules, rather than fighting against them.

Therefore, to combat ageism in person, you must be image conscious.


• If you haven't changed your hairstyle in 5 years, you need a makeover.
• Hairstyle, part deux, if the third of your hair farthest from your head sports a different color or different texture than the third closest to your head, you need a makeover.
• Hairstyle, part trois, if you have a standing weekly appointment with your hairdresser for a wash and set, you need a makeover.
• If you haven't updated your eyewear in 5 years, you need a makeover.
• If you have not recently experienced a total and spiritual transformation in your makeup application, you need a makeover. (No need to mention the dark lip liner faux pas.)
• If relatives mention how much you're looking like your mother, you need a makeover.
• If you wore a slip during your last 30 days of employment, you need a makeover.
• If you pride yourself on how comfortable and sensible your shoes are, you need a makeover.

Tip: Your clothing should be modern, fashionable and age-appropriate.
Extra Tip: No thick red claws at the interview.


• If you have a comb-over, you need a makeover.
Seriously, if you have a comb-over, you need a makeover.
• If your belt has started riding north of your belly button, you need a makeover. (If your belt acts as an underwire for your moobs, you need a makeover.)
• If your idea of an interview outfit involves a suit vest or a wifebeater-T, you need a makeover.
• If you wear cologne to work, you need a makeover.
• If you wear a bracelet or a pinkie ring to an interview, you need a makeover.
• If you wear suede shoes to an interview, you need a makeover

Tip: A buzz cut looks much more youthful than a comb-over.
Extra Tip: Shoes and belt should match, pants and socks should match.

Good luck with your Re-Image!


Ageism begins at 40

While the concept of ageism is fairly well known (and believed)(and accepted???) in the corporate world, my experience is that most people believe it happens to everyone else, but won’t happen to them. I’m going to bare my soul and lay it out that, yes, ComputerRecruiter herself has fallen victim to these face-saving, self-preserving delusions.

Oh, not me, I work out, have groovy glasses, skillfully camouflaged hair, and spend gazillions on facial salves and poultices. I can win the hiring-infant over with my hip-ness and my nimble use of a smart phone.

Yeah OK, that may work in person. The hurdle lies in landing that in-person audience. You need to make sure that nothing raises the ageism hackles before you come to the interview.

Here are some tips to help you nip that in the bud. Nip it, nip it, nip it!

• Have your resume reviewed by a young person – you want to use the latest in fonts and format, while keeping in line with the tone acceptable in your industry. Make skillful use of Word – to make the resume visually attractive, and signal that you are MS-Office-literate.
Remove the dates from your education. Unless it is a new degree.
• Show at max 20 years of work experience. Drop the prior assignments – leave them off unless they are the only things on the resume that make you qualified for the job at hand.
• Scour your resume for old words – data processing, supervisor, COBOL, programmer, etc.
• Get yourself a personal email address that does not include your birthday information. (OK, I don’t want to be cruel here, but the hiring-infant has been computer savvy since birth. They are used to ‘code’ – and appending your birth date onto your name was allegedly started by Fred Flintstone and definitely doesn’t meet Navajo-level security. Don’t blow the chance of an interview because You Are Not Smarter Than a Second Grader – who can quickly subtract 1961 from 2009 and come up with 48.)

Remember, we know that with age comes maturity that is invaluable in business situations. But all they know is that you may not have a command of the technologies they need you to use. So why waste time on a candidate with red flags right on the resume. Make them work to find a reason to reject you!

Next CR-time, deflecting ageism in person!