Monthly Archives: October 2015

4 Things You Should Know About Job Loss & Staying Obamacare Compliant

obamacare, health insurance, compliant
Photo by Brooke DiDonato

As you know, the Affordable Care Act requires everyone to have health insurance or a compliant health coverage option. Also known as Obamacare, the ACA was signed into law on March 23, 2010 and enforcement began in January of 2014. The amount of the fine (assessed when you file your annual Federal taxes) is determined by when a person’s work-provided insurance is lost, one’s household income, and one’s amount of time without coverage. But just to give you an idea, by 2016, the fine will be up to $695 per adult and $347 per child!

There are exemptions to the individual mandate, but for most folks, those who are eligible for affordable health insurance but don’t enroll or go without health insurance for more than 3 months (in a calendar year) may be subject to the fine. So staying compliant should be of interest to you if you don’t want your tax return eaten into or to be required to make a payment at tax time. So how does this work if you’ve lost your job after the open enrollment period for ACA health insurance?

First, let’s start with a few definitions/acronyms:
ACA – Affordable (health) Care Act
ESI – Employer sponsored insurance
MEC – Minimum essential coverage • (See what counts as MEC.)
SEP – Special enrollment period

1. Do I qualify? If you’ve lost your job involuntarily (eg. not quit) and that company was the source of your healthcare insurance, then yes. Know that your ESI must terminate before a subsidized ACA Marketplace plan’s coverage can begin. Anyone who is lawfully present in the US can enroll in a Marketplace plan, but not everyone can receive the tax credits. Even if you don’t receive tax credits, or if you have Medicare but you want a secondary plan, you can enroll in a Marketplace plan.
2. What happens if you lost your job before the ACA open enrollment period for this year begins–or after it has closed? Call the Marketplace at 800-318-2596. Explain that you’ve lost (or will lose because of your forthcoming layoff) your health insurance due to an involuntary loss of work, and ask for an SEP. That will give you 60 days to apply for a Marketplace plan. The 60 days begins the day of your qualifying life event (for example the date you lost your job.) Then go to to choose a plan, having coverage begin the day after your ESI ends.
3. What is the deadline/timeframe? You’ll want to get on top of this quickly after your job loss in order to avoid going the aforementioned 3 months without health insurance. This will help you avoid the fine and also having to wait all the way until the next year’s open enrollment period. Now let’s say that you know the date of your last day of work at your job in advance, it is recommended that you go ahead and apply for a Marketplace plan. Time is also of the essence since, as mentioned above, your SEP begins the day of your qualifying life event—not necessarily the day you call to request your SEP.
4. Are there other ACA compliant options besides Obamacare or a costly independent policy? Yes. If you’re not already covered by your spouse’s health insurance, you could try to be added to that plan. Medicaid and Medicare, if you qualify. Christian Healthcare Ministries has a cost sharing plan that can help offset the cost of your healthcare. Here’s more information on how it works. Medi-Share is another similar option.

More information on this topic can be found here and at NHeLP, Kaiser Family Health, Center for Budget and Public Policy, Community Catalyst, Families USA, and Enroll America.

My condolences on your job loss and best wishes on your choice of health coverage. For an Action Plan to help you get started on your job search, see this earlier article here at my blog. Thanks to Rachel Clifton at the Tennessee Justice Center for her help with the information in this article. Please comment if you have any additional helpful information to add. For a video presentation of this post, click the image below. And if this information has been helpful to you, please share it with your social network.

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Looking for a new job? Want to get the one you want faster? Check out my new book,  Here Today, Hired Tomorrow.

Why You Should “Backdoor” Your Résumé After Applying For A Job

Why and How You Should Backdoor Your Resume After a Job Application
Photo by Irwin Reynolds

Applying online for positions, be it at the employer’s Web site or via a site like Careerbuilder, should be a part of any job seeker’s strategy. True, most folks get their job by networking, but like my first job for a record label in Nashville, you never know when that online application you did last week will land you the job you want.

With just a little time and detective work, you can give yourself an advantage over nearly everyone else who applied. Here’s how.

Avoid calling. Use LinkedIn to find someone at the company who is probably the hiring manager for this position, and e-mail a brief note with your résumé and cover letter attached.

Sometimes this a great bypass of the HR screening process. Sometimes it’s a good double-hit, showing initiative, interest, and thoroughness if, for instance, it’s a small company or division with no in-house HR department.

As you peruse LinkedIn, if you see you have a close colleague who works at the company, you could backdoor through that person. If you don’t know anyone, look to see if the person you choose has worked anywhere you have before. That makes a great introduction in the beginning of your e-mail. If you can’t find anyone who might be at a hiring manager level, send it to someone in the same department as the job opening.

Naturally, most people want to help. But make it easy for them to do so…think about when you are working and someone who’s in transition asks for your help. Be polite but specific with your request. For example, I asked a former coworker, Matt, to 1) put in a good word for me at his current company (with the hiring manager if he knew who that was) and 2) forward my résumé and cover letter after I applied online. This is the standard backdoor message I work from:

Dear ____,
After having seen the posting for the ____ position you are seeking to fill, I just applied via ____ ((method.)) In addition, I wanted to make sure my résumé and cover letter are seen by someone in the ____ department. If you are not the hiring manager for this position, I would appreciate it if you would forward this e-mail to him or her. Thank you very much for your time and help.

((your name here))

Then, make the e-mail subject line something like, “Hi (recipient’s name); could you help?” Most people like to help – especially when it doesn’t take too much time or is not that difficult. Including the recipient’s first name will help avoid any suspicions your e-mail is simple spam.

When you completely can’t find anyone to e-mail, there’s no general e-mail address listed at the web site, and you don’t want to call, here’s another idea. If the company has a Contact Us page with fields to fill in to e-mail them, do this: With most browsers, right-click, and choose “View Page Source” to reveal the html code. Then, press Ctrl-F to search for “@”. This may show you the general e-mail address. is a good example where this technique works. Then you can e-mail your backdoor message with attachments.

Sometimes, like with Craigslist job postings, you won’t know the company at all. In this case, don’t fret about not being able to backdoor. Just use your spreadsheet to keep up with the TO e-mail address you used when you applied, and e-mail your follow up to the same address.

If you’re concerned about the legality of backdooring, know this: After checking with several HR professionals, I found that most companies do have a reporting stipulation that requires them to have accurate demographics of those who apply for positions, and HR usually expects applicants to come through them.

Although some companies have more stringent policies regarding what should happen when a manager or employee receives your résumé (as far as turning it over to HR), you should absolutely backdoor it after you apply the traditional way. Applying through the “front door” should assuage any concern about fairness or regulations.

If you are fortunate enough to get your résumé in front of the hiring manager for a position you want—and if you’re qualified, the job is actually open and you made a good impression—it could only be to your benefit to backdoor. If the hiring manager is impressed and wants to hire you, HR is unlikely to hinder the process. If you’re on the receiving end of a résumé regarding a position at your company, check to see what your HR department’s policy is in this situation.


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Looking for a new job? Want to get the one you want faster? Check out my new book, Here Today, Hired Tomorrow.

5 Folders You Should Create to De-Stress Your Job Search

5 Folders to organize your job search
Photo by Computers-R-US Florida

Now you may be looking at the title of this post and thinking, “How can something as piddly and insignificant as folders on my computer merit a blog post or do anything for my job search?” Allow me to explain: I’m a very organized guy. Ever since I was about 13 and starting high school, ways of organizing things started to come to me. It was just logic.

As an adult, I was able to enjoy the fruits of my already established organized habits. And after my first layoff from a record label (my dream job in moving to Nashville) in 2000, I’ve been applying my organization skills to perfecting the job hunt. Making and regularly using the following five folders can help you find what you need quickly and take the tendency toward procrastination out of your daily job search activities.

1. Job Search – This is your top-level master folder and should contain the folders below plus any other files, such as aptitude tests, letters of recommendation, articles, references page, business card print files, etc.
2. Company-Specific Information – This is where you’ll store information on any company for which you prepared for an interview or put in an application and can include documents you’ve created or information you’ve downloaded. You can make sub-folders by company name here and use those to file applications, directions, background check documentation, etc.
3. Core Items – This folder should contain the files you use most frequently such as your most current Action Plan, elevator speech/exit statement, versions of your résumé, and job application and networking tracking spreadsheets.
4. Letters (cover, follow up, future position, and thank-you) – Keep all these letters in this folder. You can save a lot of time using them as templates, modifying them when applying for similar jobs. I suggest this format for naming the files: Account Exec–Aug 15 ABC Enterprises.doc (i.e., job title, month/year you applied, company). Then you can add “–fu” for follow-up, etc. to indicate what type of letter it is. This will keep the files sorted by job title, which is best when using these letters as templates.
5. Résumés–Old – Store older versions of your résumé here. It’s good to keep these, since at some point you may need to reference one to refresh your memory about some of your experiences or use the information when applying for a position that’s a bit of a stretch.

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Looking for a new job? Want to get the one you want faster? Check out my new book, Here Today, Hired Tomorrow.