About Me

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Fishers, Indiana, United States
Brenda gained career expertise as a human resources leader at a global company before becoming an HR consultant. She gained functional experience in a variety of sales roles in the health care industry achieving success for over 20 years. Her passion is participating in, writing about and observing the evolving workforce. For the first time in history four generations work together. It keeps things interesting. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are redefining retirement and what it means to age in the workforce. It is not just about money. Okay it plays a role! At 76.4 million members strong, Boomers are leveraging technology to continue their careers and the personal fulfillment working brings. Managing a late-stage career requires more thought than 20 years ago. Unexpected changes in life force us to consider the future. There is no roadmap or one size fits all answer. This blog is about sharing, networking & finding your own right answer to working later, managing your career, redefining retirement, looking for work in your 50s & 60s and reinventing yourself.

Monday, June 27, 2011

How Old is Too Old to Work?

Recently I watched the PBS Special Documentary, "Over 90 & Loving It" and one thing became clear. The people in their 9th decade of life were active and many of them were continuing to work. My Mom is 73  and consults in the health information management field. She is even going back to school to take a course to become a certified trainer for electronic health record implementation!! One of the family practitioners I call on is celebrating his 81st birthday this year. Would you see a physician in his or her 80s?


I became fascinated with the prospect of how old is too old? Certainly, we don’t find many 90-year-olds working in Corporate America. However, there are family-owned and smaller firms that will allow people to work as long as they are productive.
  • What are your thoughts on the subject?
  • Are there benefits or downsides for the co-workers? The company?
  • How old is the oldest worker in your organization and what is their role?

Here’s the link to the PBS special. http://www.over90film.com/

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer is the Perfect Time to Set Career Goals

Today is the first day of summer. Soggy spring days give way to burst of colors as flowers bloom, outdoor holidays are celebrated and vacation time begins. It is also an excellent time to set career goals. Why? New Year’s resolutions have faded and generally the hot summer sun will provide energy to see your goals turn into action.

Try these steps to begin formulating career goals and action steps to achieve them. Use the S.M.A.R.T. system to set your goals.

S- specific. As you create your goal insure it answers questions like How much? What kind? Who am I partnering with?

M-measurable. Phrase your goal in a quantifiable way. By next month? In September 2011. Before the end of June.

A- actionable. Your goal has to be something within “your” sphere of control. There should be an action you can take.

R- realistic. You want to aim high and at the same time insure the goal is reasonable within the time, talent and opportunity you have. Avoid setting yourself up for failure by insuring your goal is realistic.

T-timely. Create a deadline and stick to it.

Two examples:

“I will contact 3 university admission programs before the end of June to learn more about their MBA programs.”

“ I will contact 3 people this week to set up networking meetings in the next 30 days to discuss my business idea.”

So while the weather's hot take advantage of the time to relax, cool off & think about where you are headed career-wise in the next 3-5-10 years. What do you want to achieve in the job you have today and in the future. Write it down in a positive statement and use the S.M.A.R.T. guidelines to make it happen. Happy Summer!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mentors vs. Sponsors

These two concepts are often confusing and both are important at all stages of our careers. Most people are familiar with mentors and larger corporation even offer formal mentoring programs. By the time you are 40+ often, you become the mentor. Mentors provide advice and guidance to navigate the corporate culture.

Sponsors are senior executives that have the power to advance their proteges. Sponsors are advocates in a way that mentors often cannot provide for their mentees. Sponsors have the high profile task forces & teams and include their proteges. They can also network with other senior executives on your behalf and remove obstacles and barriers to assignments and opportunities.

When the sponsor/mentor are a male and female employee, sometimes people begin to talk about whether there is more than a business relationship. In a small number of cases it may be true---more often, the protege has been identified as a "high potential employee" and the senior manager has formally or informally become their internal champion.

You are never too old to have a mentor or a sponsor. Even if your human resources department dictates these types of programs for new managers or people new to the organization; you can always approach senior managers you have contact with and ask for their mentorship or advice. It helps if there is personal chemistry and if they know you or your work. (read the post on volunteering from last week--maybe your organization senior leaders volunteer somewhere that is of interest to you).

All this sponsorship and mentoring comes with a few ground rules. You want to insure your direct supervisor is on board (or at least not undermining) the mentor or sponsor relationship. It helps if the company has a program supported by the highest levels of senior management and you are not out with a renegade executive acting alone--that may backfire. These senior executives and middle management mentors are busy people, so ask them how they prefer to interact with you--lunch, tests, phone calls, 7 a.m. coffee? How often is convenient--- once a month? every 6 weeks?

Education. Work experience. Leadership programs. It is not enough. Sometimes it takes being noticed by someone that can help you step through the minefield on the road to upper management. Strive to stay relevant, visible and connected at your company---build alliances with potential mentors and sponsors.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Biggest Mistake 40+ Workers Make

When a person is out of work and they finally restart their career after months or even years on the job-hunt, what is their first order of business? Some people have a celebration. Others coordinate with their financial team to determine how long will it take to recoup their finances. Most people put away the interview suits, save the resume in a folder on their computer and fall out of contact with everyone they networked with while unemployed.   MISTAKE (and yes, I am screaming at you).

There are several new realities to the world of work. #1 unemployment is never going back to the 5% level of 1990s. #2 Age-discrimination complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission increased 35% since the recession started. #3 The older you are, the longer your job search. A recent AARP study says it takes a 55-year-old over a year to find a new position! 53.6 weeks to be exact.

With all of these factors in mind, while you are learning that great new job--three things are critical:
  • Continue to network
  • Update Your Profile on LinkedIN (you don't have to say you are open to career opportunities)
  • Add new skills/training/certifications to your knowledge base

In other words--as great as that new job might be today and no matter how grateful you are to have your new position--it can change in an instant. I'm not turning into "Brenda Bummer" or anything; it happens more than you realize. I've experienced it first-hand. The boss that hires you, gets promoted or leaves the company & you are stuck with a new manager that definitely would not have hired you. The company merges/realigns or worse yet--goes bankrupt. I am a strong advocate of always being open to opportunities, always networking and keeping an eye open to which other companies are growing and who you know there. It is the new reality. You have to do your job with your eyes wide open--all the time. So if you are working--notice your surroundings. Which departments are expanding? What areas are most important to your company? How solid is your internal & external network? If you are not working, don't forget this post  when you get hired.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Do Men Working 40+ and Women Over 40 Face the Same or Different Challenges?

What do you think?

Volunteering Leads to New Career Opportunities!

Looking for a new job? With a little time on your hands during your job search, why not volunteer? Choose an organization that has a mission you are passionate about and give a few hours of your time each week. There are benefits to be gained by all. You-make contacts, keep your skills sharp, hopefully improve your mood, meet some new people, increase your network, learn new skills..The organization-gains a skilled worker, gains new ideas, a fresh perspective, expands its network (and may earn a new donor) and gets the help needed to complete a project. Think about volunteering in the field you want to work in--if you are thinking about making a carer change. Volunteer! Someone is waiting for your call.