TabletIn The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell defines “early-adopters” of technology as those with a dying need to have the latest tech before anyone else does, usually in its beta stage. Early adopters are typically individuals or small businesses with disposable income, a large appetite for risk and a willingness and ability to incorporate new technologies into their existing operations. Gladwell goes on to describe other groups of technology adopters, including the “early majority” (those who latch on once a product is fully tested and officially released), the late majority, etc.

The group that Gladwell fails to mention is the cohort I like to call the “rotaries”: those who still used a rotary telephone up until last year. This is the same bunch that held out on a microwave, cable, a computer, a cell phone and TiVo until a friend or relative finally pity-purchased it for them. (This holiday season, I’m going to give my father the gift of call waiting.)

In all fairness to the rotaries, it’s difficult to transport all that tech home from Best Buy in a horse and buggy. But this brings me to my point: If you’re interviewing, networking, or working and you want to be taken seriously, you’ve got to have a tablet (and a smart phone).

Picture this: You’re at a job interview and your future boss removes the cigar from his or her mouth and growls, “We’d like to have you back in here to meet with Bill Jenkins, our VP of Marketing. What’s your availability next Thursday?” Next, you reach into your bag and whip out your handy-dandy day planner. Or worse, a self-made booklet of stapled-together Outlook calendar print-outs. You’re not getting that job. Why, you ask? Because your paper planner screams the following about you: I’m a technological doofus…I’m behind the times…I’m counterculture…I’m uncomfortable with change…I find it difficult to learn new things…I can’t really afford a tablet (thought that may be true, it’s your business—not theirs). None of these statements are things you want to convey during an interview or upon meeting a professional contact.

Chances are, by the time you’re reading this blog post tablets will already be a thing of the past. But for now, to be relevant, you need one. And you should be recognized for having one: arrive at your job interview 10-15 minutes early and use your tablet while you wait for your interviewer to show, guaranteeing they’ll see you using it.

Sound cheesy? Pathetic? Whatever.

I have multiple clients who, upon getting hired, were told by their new boss how impressed they were that they’d used a tablet to take notes during the interview…that it had a positive impact on the company’s decision to hire them. If you’ve already owned an iPad for years, you’re probably thinking how unsophisticated it is to be impressed by the sheer presence of a tablet. But the fact is that not everyone is as savvy as you are, and non-technical managers know that they need employees who can communicate with IT vendors, deal with the help desk and otherwise fill in the gaps resulting from their own ineptitude.

And if you’re an older job seeker concerned about age discrimination, nothing says, “I’ve still got it!” like being up-to-date in the tech department.

Was life simpler before we decided that a walk in the park wasn’t a worthwhile endeavor without also filming, geo-mapping and broadcasting the experience to 500+ “friends”? Sure it was. Are tablets and smart phones responsible for your boss—who’s based in a different time zone—expecting you to be “on” 24×7? Yup. But if you want to get that job offer, you’ve got to get a tablet.