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Mailbag: Potluck

Mar 20, 20032 mins
Data Center

* Reader thoughts on past newsletters

I appreciate receiving feedback from readers to let me know if they agree with a newsletter or think the advice, information or comments are off the mark. Today, I’m organizing my e-mail inbox and thought I would share some comments from those of you who wanted to weigh in.

A few weeks ago, I reported that Challenger, Gray & Christmas found that the typical severance period was 10.5 weeks in 2002 ( That runs counter to Michael Brooks’ experience. “I must be working in the wrong industry,” the LAN administrator says. “I have never seen one of the rank and file get more than 2 weeks severance, unless they are being asked to retire early. I would have gladly taken 10 weeks severance pay for any of the different times I was laid off.”

In an article about obstacles IT pros encounter in job interviews (, one reader said that interviews seem to be cut short after his National Guardsmen work is discussed. I failed to point out that discriminating against a candidate because of a reserves commitment isn’t legal, though unfortunately employers don’t always follow the rules.

Mike Settles wrote, “It is not well known, but federal law prohibits a prospective employer to ask, either in an employment application or job interview, whether a candidate has a reserve commitment. Understandably, prospective employers might be antsy about hiring someone then having them leave for the Persian Gulf, but is still illegal to discriminate.” 

Settles continues, “I personally am a VB/Access/SQL programmer, and a long-time part-time soldier in the Oregon Army National Guard. For some employers, leadership and technical training or experience gleaned through the service is valuable. For some, continued service denotes a sense of responsibility. For others, a selfish point of view (with regard to the possibility of losing an employee to a deployment) prevents them from acquiring those who might, because of their service, be a cut above the run-of-the-mill.”