April 05, 2010

MAKING A CAREER TRANSITION

Many experienced workers, whether currently working or in job search mode are examining options for making a serious career change. That might be a new industry or even a new profession. The fact that you are considering such a change means you don’t see a future for yourself doing what you have done in the past. Maybe the industry or job is moving overseas. Maybe you are not getting the job satisfaction you want from your current career.  Whether you’re considering a new industry or an entirely new profession, you need to do some serious homework.

Start by assessing your skills to see what may be transferable to the new position. What are you really good at? What comes to mind as the highlights of your career? Make a list. Now look at what you really enjoy doing, whether on the job or in your personal life. What makes your socks roll up and down?  Highlight the skills on your list that are involved in these activities. If you’re unsure of your skills and interests, there are many surveys and tests that you can take to help you identify them. You can find these tools by doing an internet search. A great resource for an overview of self-assessments is the Riley Guide (www.rileyguide.com). Still a little confused? This is where the services of a Career Coach are worth their weight in gold.

Once you’ve figured out what you’re good at and what you love to do, the next step is identifying the profession that’s right for you. You certainly don’t want to end up doing all this work only to find that in a year or two the profession you’ve chosen has moved offshore or contracted to the point where there’s no hiring going on.  Back to the internet for more research!  The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the Occupational Outlook Quarterly (http://www.bls.gov/ooq/) which projects employment for hundreds of positions through 2018.  Another good resource is O*Net (online.onetcenter.org/help/bright/), a program sponsored by the Department of Labor which has highlighted hundreds of jobs that have a “bright outlook” and are expected to grow rapidly in the next few years. Now, choose a few that appeal to your talents and your desires and check out similar job postings on the internet. Do the job requirements sound like what you'd like to do?

NEXT STEPS:  Investigating Potential Career Choices – stay tuned for the next installment.

 

November 21, 2009

Ten Strategies for Overcoming Age Bias in the Hiring Process

Definition of Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits an employer from firing, refusing to hire, or otherwise discriminating against an employee age 40 or older, solely on the basis of age.

Strategies for Overcoming Age Bias
  1. DON’T mention it.  Don’t bring up your age or your years of experience which may suggest your age.
  2. DO develop an air of confidence, vigor, and competence. Rid your mind of thoughts of age bias so you don’t give out any unconscious signals that age is an issue.
  3. DO make sure your skills and training are up to date for the job you seek.
  4. DO remove dates from your resume that may give away your age.  Those may be dates of education or certifications.
  5. DON’T go back any further than 15 to 20 years of work history on your resume.
  6. DON’T focus on your years of experience on your resume. Employers want to know what you can contribute now.
  7. DO emphasize your skills and accomplishments on your resume.  Create a T-chart and match your skills and accomplishments to the key requirements of the job. This exercise will prepare you for writing your resume and for the interview questions.
  8. DO seek out “age-friendly” employers. Identify 10 to 20 companies you want to work for and find out if they welcome mature workers. Network to find people who currently work there or have worked there in the past and get information from them. Check out the company website for photos, press releases, statements about corporate culture. Check out certified age-friendly employers at RetirementJobs.com and AARP.org. Visit the company parking lot and see who’s coming and going.
  9. DO make a good first impression at the interview.  Dress appropriately for your age and the company culture, display enthusiasm, and confidence. Leave any thoughts of age discrimination outside the building—they will poison your attitude and jeopardize your chances for a successful interview and never mention the subject of age, even in jest.
  10. DO prepare for the “tough” interview questions that relate to age.  Use active listening skills and look behind the questions.  What are the interviewer’s concerns?
    • How old are you?  Yes, this is a legal question. Maybe the interviewer is concerned that your skills are out of date, or you are applying for a position that’s a step back from what you did before. A potential response: “If you are concerned that my skills (education) may not be current, please let me assure you that I have recently attended professional development classes and am current in all of the latest technology required by this position.” 
    • Aren’t you overqualified for this job?  Prepare your response in advance and make sure you believe it and are comfortable delivering it.  A potential response: “Although I have been a manager in the past, at this time in my career I have decided to do what I like best, which is the ‘hands on’ aspect of the job.”
    • How long do you plan to work?  You should be honest, but if you don’t know you can say, “I don’t have a specific time in mind.  The challenges of this type of work are important to me and I plan to continue to grow professionally.”
    • How will you fit in with a younger workforce? Never say you plan to mentor them, unless that’s in the job description. Rather say, “I value the experience of working with a diverse, multigenerational workforce for all the learning opportunities and benefits it can provide and I see that as a great benefit of this job.”

October 06, 2009

Give me a break!

You’ve been looking for a job for over six months and discouragement is a mild description of your attitude.  It may seem like you’re sinking deeper and deeper into the well with no lifeline.  What can you do to restore your faith in yourself and your confidence in your ability to find a job?  You know your attitude affects the persona you present at an interview so it’s critical for your mental health as well as your ability to land that job.  It’s time to take a break! 

 

Give yourself a week of NOT job hunting. No searching the job boards, no sending resumes, no phone calls, or emails.  Instead focus your “vacation” time on restoring your mental and physical health. Create a vacation schedule includes rest, exercise, and mental health restoration. Start with an exercise program—whether it’s working out on a treadmill, taking a long walk, swimming, stretching, yoga, or whatever is available to you—do it every day for at least 45 minutes. Eat healthfully by planning well-balanced meals. 

 

Devote 30 minutes each day to restoring your mental well being by meditating. If that sounds too foreign to you, then spend the 30 minutes thinking and writing about yourself—your best qualities—the things about you that make you the unique and valuable person that you are. If you have negative thoughts, just push them aside and focus on a positive one. This isn’t always easy when you’re in a period of discouragement, but just note one or two positives to start.  If you practice every day you will discover more.

 

Restart your job search after your “vacation.”  Don’t just pick up where you left off, but start all over.  Carefully review your job search goals. If the jobs in your field have pretty much dried up, identify the skills you have that are transferable to another position. Conduct some informational interviews to verify your suitability and get more data.  Revise your resume.  Make sure your resume is focused on a particular job title. You need a different resume for each position title.  Do your listed skills support the position for which you are applying?  You may need to reorder or add skills, depending on the position description.  

 

Searching for a job is a job and you may need a break—a “vacation” to restore your energy and gather your strength. Take a little time off to refocus and come back to your job search renewed.

July 03, 2009

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June 19, 2009

Job Search is Your New Job

Just laid off?  Still unemployed?  Job Search is now your full time job.

After the shattering experience of being laid off (i.e. "outsourced", "removed", "excessed", "separated", and other such odious words), one common approach is to pull inward and disengage from the world, from friends and family, and especially from the job market.  It's normal.

But at some point, you have to re-engage with the job market, and find that next job.  And between now and that next paying job, your new full time job is finding the next job. 

Without going into the details (which we will get around to in future blogs), you will need to set a schedule and goals, and get moving with your new occupation as job seeker.  Of all the tasks associated with job search, the most important is to create a daily schedule, and stick to it.  Create daily and weekly goals and then accomplish them. 

Don't plan of working on your job search all day long, every day, but do set at least half a day every day for job search functions. Keep records of who've you talked to; where you've applied; and a calendar of upcoming events. Spend time every day researching and completing your master resume and your master job application form. Keep your records organized and available whether in a notebook, binder, or PDA.  Create some business cards (many free sources available on the web) and begin to hand them out.  Develop your elevator speech and practice it often.  Find out what services are available at your local one-stop employment centers and take advantage of them.  Most offer free computer services along with training classes and a large reference library.  Get out of the house and talk to people. Build your network.

You've got a lot to do, but don't devote all your time for job search.  You also have a life to live.  Exercise, work out, and meet with friends, and be with your family.

It will be a lot of work, but all you are looking for is just one job.

Camille

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Age 50 Plus Career Coach Blog

Welcome.  This is our blog for the age 50+ job seeker and is part of our web site at www.50pluscareercoach.com

My name is Camille Grabowski and I am a professional career coach with over 25 years of experience in matching the needs of employers to the needs of job seekers.  My web site describes the coaching services I provide. They cover the job search process from finding that job to keeping it. Examples of these services are creating job search strategies, developing resumes, preparing for interviews, and strategies for keeping that job in today's turbulent job market. 

Today's Job Market

The age 50+ workforce is being hammered by economic pressures from all directions.  Our goal with the blog is to provide tips and suggestions across the width and breadth of the job search process.  In working with our clients, I see the same challenges over and over; issues with resumes, interviews, and reactions to job loss.  Today's job market is different from the job market of even just a few years ago.  You have to understand how the job market works, how resumes are used, and what employers are looking for. We'll provide specific tips on how to work today's system; how to increase the odds that your application will be closely reviewed, and how to excel in that all-important first interview.

PLAN A and PLAN B.  Do You Have a Plan?

If you have just started to look for a job or you are newly unemployed, you should begin to create at least two job search plans:  PLAN A and PLAN B. 

PLAN A will be a job search to find a replacement equivalent job.  This might be your dream job. 

PLAN B is your job search for an immediate alternate job; this is also called a bridge  job, an interim job, a survival job, or your parachute job. Which plan you work on first is defined by your financial situation, described in the steps below.

The most important point for the newly unemployed 50+ job seeker is not to waste your most important resource, time.  If you've just been laid off, you can't afford to wait, you must get moving and prepare for your PLAN A and PLAN B job searches.  In the highly competitive market of today's economy, getting a new mid-level job may take a while.  The figures vary; I've heard from 3 to 5 months to even longer. Another metric is one month for every $10,000 of salary.  So, if you have just been laid off, immediately do the steps below:

Five Steps to PLAN A or PLAN B

1. BUDGET: First, prepare a budget for your annual expenses, and then figure out your average monthly expense. Include taxes, utilities, car payments, transportation costs, food, housing.   You should know where you are spending your hard earned money. What can you give up?

2. UNEMPLOYMENT:  If you are eligible, immediately apply for unemployment.  For example, in California, this is an on-line process.  Remember, there can be a delay of a couple of weeks from when you apply to when you start receiving a check. Scrupulously follow all the rules about searches, resumes, and interviews.

3. CASH IS KING: Look at your cash, unemployment payments, savings, and other liquid assets. Figure out how long they will last based on your average monthly expense rate. Don't know what your average monthly expense rate is?  Re-do Step #1.

4. LESS THAN 10 MONTHS CASH:  And here is the most critical point in this blog entry.  If you have less than 10 months of available liquid assets, you need to put PLAN B into effect, NOW! Not in five months, not in two months, not next week, but now. 

5. PLAN B: Your PLAN B job search should provide you with that interim job sooner rather than later. It will probably pay less, and from a career perspective, be less desirable than your PLAN A job.  But it will delay or even eliminate running out of cash.  

I'll revisit this topic in future blogs. 

Internet Resources

Finally, there is a tremendous amount of job search information available on the Internet.  I'll go through many of the on-line resources with you, making recommendations to maximize their value to you.

So again, welcome to the blog, and let me know what you think.  If you have a career search question, send it in.

Camille

Continue reading "Age 50 Plus Career Coach Blog" »