Working Strategies: Thanksgiving leftovers — thoughts, that is.

Amy Lindgren

Every once in a while I like to present random thoughts and ideas that are too small to make up a column of their own. Thanksgiving week is a good time for something disjointed, given how our attention is split between shopping and family and food and football. Ready? Here are some things I’ve been pondering lately:

Tech snobbery

For years I’ve been hearing that people with a legacy email address — think aol, hotmail, earthlink — are practically shouting “I’m old and I don’t understand technology.” Huh? There was even a point where career columnists (not yours truly) were sincerely advising job seekers to demonstrate their hipness by using gmail. I always wondered if there was a kickback in there somewhere.

For sure someone’s going to write to tell me this is a real thing, and I welcome the input. But really?

Text snobbery

And while you’re writing, you can tell me what you think about the advice to omit periods and other punctuation from texts, for fear of looking too stern? Apparently, since texting is meant to be quick and familiar, punctuation harshes the vibe. Multiple authors, including Page Grossman in her 2021 blog for Zendesk, give particular caution about using periods to end sentences. Periods, it seems, can look heavy-handed. Grossman covered more than texting in her informative look at our changing language. It’s a good read.

btw (see how I did that?), a Canadian court has recently ruled that a text containing nothing more than a thumbs-up emoji can be considered legally binding. If a cartoon can now be contractual, I’m going to keep using punctuation. Just saying.

Dress codes at work

Good grief, are we still spinning this old platter? Times change, fashion changes, but I thought respect was always in style. When U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., showed up in the Senate chamber in shorts and a hoodie this past September, respect wasn’t the word that came to mind. He frankly looked ridiculous and I was embarrassed for him.

I’m probably wrong about this but I’m too stubborn to shift my view. I honestly believe that some jobs require more formal dress just out of respect for what the jobs represent. I likewise believe that workers in every job owe their employer, colleagues and clients the respect of dressing the part.

That said, I’m completely worn out on dress codes being used as weapons. Every time I hear about some poor kid forced into a haircut to please a school board, I want to scream. The same for dress codes that push women into uncomfortable and even unsafe outfits to meet some concept of how they “should” look in particular jobs.

Coming back to Fetterman, his casual dress created a stir and resulted in national conversations, as well as a clarification in the Senate on proper attire. Writer Jim Saska posted an interesting article in Roll Call if you want more insight on the whole deal.

Degree bias

I’ve written many, many times on the subject of degrees and their over- / mis-use as a job qualification for hiring. To my mind, this is one of the last legal discriminatory practices in employment. It’s taken a confluence of social and economic forces, but things are starting to shift.

One sign of the shift is the recent Executive Order by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz stating that 75% of jobs with the State of Minnesota will no longer require four-year degrees. It’s a move that has already been made by other government agencies at the state and federal level, and by some major employers as well.

Among the forces compelling the shift is the labor shortage, of course, along with workers’ rights movements of the past few years — each of which have pressured employers to broaden their view of viable candidates. I also count the Black Lives Matter movement, which has drawn attention to racial disparities in education and income that culminate in partially-finished degrees — which employers have traditionally not honored in their hiring criteria.

Degrees are still important and hold value for reasons beyond the economic. But with the exception of vocational programs (nursing, welding, law, etc.), they should never have become a dominant element in hiring decisions. We are coming through a long dark period of national insanity where colleges and employers were allowed to perpetuate the myth that degreed workers were always the best workers. If we can next tackle the overuse of licensing and regulation that limits access to career paths, we really will have turned the corner.


Those are my random thoughts for the moment. What are yours?

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Amy Lindgren owns a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at

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