So, Do You Really Want that Job?

In a difficult job market, it can be surprising what makes certain candidates appealing:

...So here's the deal folks: While I can't ask you about your health status nor if you have dependents, nothing prohibits you from putting that information on your resume if it is to your advantage - and it is, if you are in excellent health and have no dependents...
Former CEO and business analyst Karl Denninger makes that interesting observation after summarizing US health insurance from the employer perspective, and then explaining that a company is charged at different insurance rates for employees--based on a worker's age, physical condition, etc.

He then continues with this:

...Now consider the 20 year old kid. He costs me, the employer, $100 for health benefits (he pays the other half.) But the obese woman costs me $900 - nine times as much!

The law says that I cannot ask you certain questions when you come in for an interview.

For instance, I cannot ask if you have dependents, I cannot ask about your intention to have children (if you're a woman) and a whole host of other topics. It is explicitly unlawful for me to make such inquiries, as they evidence potential for me to engage in illegal discrimination in hiring.

But if you think this sort of decision-making doesn't go on - when the impact is over $8,000 per year between two employees in cost to the employer - you're nuts. It most certainly does.

Will this matter?

In this economy you better believe it....So if you're unemployed and have these cost-impacting facts in your favor, make...sure you list them.

An employer cannot ask about this, nor can you realistically discuss this in an interview, but absolutely nothing prohibits you from listing this as a "personal attribute" on your resume.

If nothing else, in a tie-breaking circumstance it will get you the interview you need to have a shot at the job.
Ignoring the author's perceived tone and instead focusing on the argument: Listing health details in the personal attributes section of a resume to increase the chances that an applicant gets an interview--I'd call that an innovative concept.

How about taking the strategy one more step?

For applicants who are married and are already covered with health insurance under the spouse's plan (provided the spouse has good benefits), the employment seeker could state in his/her resume that he/she is willing to accept the job without health insurance from the hiring company.

If a hiring decision had been whittled down to two very similar candidates, showing a business owner that employing one particular applicant would save the firm $8,000 per year in insurance costs would be very tempting for the decision-maker.

These are difficult times and tough questions.

What do you think?


I first saw this article discussed here.


Holly said...

Interesting concept. My husbands company offers a yearly blood and BMI test for everyone covered, and then divides us by the numbers into pay tiers. You can opt to not take the test but then get bumped up to the next pay level (I may not have described it correctly and legally), but I am fine with it for many reasons..I could go on and on as to why.

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

You gotta do what you gotta do...sad that the world has to come to who costs more or less for health insurance over experience and education.

Martina said...

Thanks for the comment, I'm glad you liked the photos!

Elena said...

Well, we're seeing something different in this household as my teenaged son applies for jobs. He's been looking actively for part-time work all year and has been unsuccessful. He's pretty much been told he's up against college degree applicants who have many more years experience and are willing to work for the same lousy wage he is. Naturally they're going with them and not him. Maybe it's because it's part time so benefits aren't really an issue. I'll be curious to see what happens in the summer when he graduates HS and applies as fulltime.

Shannon said...

Under the healthcare reform law, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to charge different rates based on a person's gender or health status, so this will no longer be an issue.

J. J. in Phila said...

I think it is a great idea, if you are healthy.

Employing me on a full or even a part time basis, because of health, so for me it's not an option.

mappchik said...

It's good to point this out. There are many jobseekers who probably don't know that this can work to their advantage. While the economy was booming, there was no shortage of employers courting them, so it just never crossed their minds

Lower cost young adult may beat out experienced worker in some cases, but experience & similar costs are likely to tip the scales back.

beth said...

Wow. That's a perspective I've never really considered before. Definitely food for thought.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
We hired at my store with complete diversity of age, gender, and weight. But employers can tell a lot just from an application. Even from handwriting.

Nobody is getting hired with handwriting that imitates 'helvetica' over 'roman', but everything makes an impression.

But the main thing that strikes me is that we've made this entire category of information silent, e.g. race, health status, etc. Yet it still counts. It's a strong reminder that legislation will only get us so far. The rest of non-discrimination is a battle of the mind. And I guess for good habits, too!

Good luck to the applicants,
Ann T.

Candice said...

Last time I applied for a job, I did let them kow that I was already covered by my hubby's insurance. They gave me an opt-out benefit of $1500/year. Good for me, good for them!!

Tamika: said...

I'm stunned. I guess it's important to sell yourself in every area including the arena of health.

It seems like a sad state for the economy to be in.

Aphrodite's Mortal Friend (ME) said...

Well ... seeing as I am re-entering the work force next week, I guess I should thank my stars that I am "employable" ... realy, I am fortunate to get the job, eh.

James (SeattleDad) said...

So, if I am job hunting, I shouldn't list that I am over 40 with an active 2 year old?

They will look at me and do the math. Next please.


Good advice there though.

Gayle @ Mountain Mom said...

My husband is an awesome detail welder. He trained for the Air Force and has worked on their jets. When he was laid off from Boeing he interviewed with a bike company that DID ask him about his health. He was middle age and didn't get the job. They passed up one awesome welder who never gets sick and is dependable. Their loss...
He's back at Boeing and one of their best welders, he is always put on the most critical planes.

CMA said...

loving your blog
keep it up!
thanks for sharing darling!
and thanks for your comments, it was so sweet of you!


Eternally Distracted said...

Very interesting. Maybe on this side of the world people are not hired or fired in relation to health/insurance reasons... but certainly in relation to race. It beggars belief that two people with the same qualifications are offered a totally different salary due to where they where born.

JennyMac said...

Wow...this seems intense but perhaps is needed.

On a separate note, I just spent weeks interviewing and literally can not believe I have grad students applying for an internship. And 90% of them need a course in how to prepare a resume. Yikes.

Jeanette K. said...

To me it seems a little desperate. I mean, wouldn't you rather be hired for your skills/experience/education instead of having a clean bill of health? But yes, if that's what it takes... sheesh!!

Kristen @ Motherese said...

It's sobering to think that the state of the economy has come to this point. Ann T's point is an interesting one as well. Certainly there is information that is never really hidden in an interview that can play into an employment decision (e.g. gender, appearance).

Luisa Doraz said...

Health care issues are going to be around for a long time. Happy Easter! :)

Slamdunk said...

I appreciate the comments all. It has made me consider some of the issues that I had not thought about.

@ Holly: I have heard of strategies like the one you describe before. I think it makes sense with the current rules.

@ Shannon: Thanks for that insight.

@ JJ and James: With my age and number of dependents I would definitely be on the short end of the stick with this strategy. Thanks for your perspectives.

@ Ann T. : Good observation.

@ Candice: I think that is an underutilized strategy in gaining employment--nice work using it to your advantage.

@Aphrodite's MF: Best wishes with the new opportunities.

@Jeanette: One would think that this strategy would be one of many reasons to hire and applicant rather than the only good thing.

@JennyMac: It has been a few years since I hired for an intern (undergrad), and it was an surprising experience. Fortunately, almost all of the students worked well with my program.

Rowe said...

Hopefully what Shannon said is correct - "it will no longer be an issue under reform". I'm going through a different sort of battle and what Ann T says, "legislation will only get us so far" is very true. There is law and then there are the loopholes that can bring laws undone and render ineffective where not everyone gets a fair or equal deal.

Oz Girl said...

Very interesting... I already thought of the spouse provided benefits advantage before I was 1/3 through your post. And I've thought before that I have an advantage not having any kids around anymore. I usually voice these advantages in a subtle way in an interview...e.g., "I can work late at a moment's notice because there are no kids to rush home to." I never in a million years thought of listing any of these so-called attributes on my resume!!!

Oz Girl said...

Oh, one more thought. After reading some of the previous comments, I want to state that it won't always come down to "experience and education" vs who costs less. There will be people such as myself who have the experience, and great recommendations, but I have the ADDED advantage of no kids and spouse-provided healthcare. And I'm in great health too. :-)

So. You'd think I would land a job tomorrow, huh? It's been a long and tiring job search, and it ain't over yet. It's definitely one of the more frustrating times in my life.

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman said...

Hmm. This does not bode well for me. Sad ... but something to think about. Interesting points, thanks for sharing.

Pia said...

glad to be back to the blogging world. anyhow, your title to this post got my attention. i answered the question with a big YES! i'm going through something with my current job while waiting for the other one to send me an email saying "you're hired" God help me while i wait.

Rhiannon Nicole said...

This is very very interesting. So if I were to write on my resume or say in an interview I don't plan on having kids (I don't), I am a healthy woman with a healthy weight and I am covered under my fiances/husbands insurance I would get the job?!

eemusings said...

Wow, some real food for thought here. Health insurance isn't an issue in NZ, but I imagine as a woman, not having children or not planning to have any could be an advantage.

PPLIC said...

Nice article. very interesting, thanks for sharing.