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. Her functional experience includes a variety of sales roles in the health care industry achieving success for over 30 years. She is currently in Consulting & Analytics Business Development for a health care firm. 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 a strategy. 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.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Keep Your Dream Alive

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly....proverb

Monday Morning Pep Talk

Midlife can be overwhelming, there’s no other way to describe it. On Friday a good friend of mine started her day off being robbed at home---and all the hassles that entails along with the feeling of being violated. She arrived at work to find unexpected turmoil there and additional situations flared throughout the day. Some things you can try to plan for like Hurricane Sandy barreling its way to the East Coast this week. Other life events blindside us and knock us off balance for a minute. Sometimes in mid-life you begin to think, when will I finally get a break?

Here’s a tip someone gave me that I really consider a gift; so I’ll share it with you. Never stop dreaming. Keep at least three dreams: #1 The impossible dream, the one that is really out there. You can’t even share it out loud because people might think you are crazy. #2 The dream that with the right breaks, the right people coming into your life, the hard work on your part, you could see it really happening. #3 The dream future you see for yourself in whatever timeframe you are working on. It could be next week when you are on vacation. Maybe it is next month visiting friends and family for Thanksgiving. It could be next year; in five years when you retire—whatever.

In our hectic lives, it is easy to lose sight of our dreams. In the middle of the e-mails that must be read; the phone calls that must be returned; and reports that are due, find a minute and remember your dreams. If you don’t have a dream, create one. I asked the person who shared the 3-dream idea with me, “where am I supposed to find the time?” He told me about going to sit in his car in the parking lot at work just to take a few minutes to remember the big picture and his dream of a home on the coast overlooking an ocean. It energized him. For years, my friend and his family had experienced the worst of times—job losses, serious illness and unexpected family deaths. Years passed and later, I visited my friend and his family in their incredible home overlooking the ocean. They were changed, tested by what the years had put them through yet, stronger, wiser and more confident having survived it.

I reminded my friend of what he shared with me about holding on to my dreams and the impact that conversation has had on my life. I asked, “what’s the encore?” looking at their expansive home and incredible ocean view while almost feeling the positive vibe in the air.  He smiled and said, “You ain’t seen nothing, yet!” So, this week dig around and find your dream if you’ve lost it. Create a dream if you don’t have one. Remember your dream, if life has gotten in the way. You have 168 hours to take the first steps toward making your dreams reality. Have a great week!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bring Your Wounds to Work Week

Monday Morning Pep Talk

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I know this because when I had a prescription filled last week, the bottle had a pink cap. It is a good cause with fantastic marketing, so I put a dollar in the pink bucket at the card table volunteers had set up by the pharmacy window. At home, there was an e-mail. It was an appeal from the daughter of a dear friend to sponsor a child for National Bully Prevention Month. Of course, it is difficult to ignore the plight of kids, so I pledged my support and sent a donation.  Secretly I was hoping some kid wouldn’t get teased like I did about my light blue plastic-framed “cat” glasses in third grade. (I’m still somewhat sensitive about that).

There are a lot of birthdays for me to remember in October, so I was busy sending Facebook “shout outs” and making birthday calls when National Boss Day arrived October 16. That’s kind of a sticky one. If I sent a card would it look like pandering and sucking up? Probably. If I ignored it would it look even worse? Probably. I opted for a text message to the boss and donated a can of food in the barrel outside the grocery store for World Food Day also October 16.

As the weekend rolled around there was one more birthday to acknowledge which required a log into Facebook where I learned Saturday was World Statistics Day. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond, “Happy World Statistics Day!” “Congratulations on not being a Statistic?” My statistician FB friend posted this announcement in hopes of some reaction, so I “Liked” it.

Between now and Halloween there is: International Stuttering Awareness Day today and United Nations Day Wednesday. The entire week is Red Ribbon Week.

 I have added my own commemoration: Bring Your Wounds to Work Week. I figured people do it anyway. Every workplace is filled with "your tired, your poor, and your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...sorry that’s the inscription on the Statute of Liberty. Seriously, every workplace is filled with people that have a back story and drama that makes them who they are---micromanagers, insecure, a bit of a jerk, chronically late, the ethically challenged, not very trusting, lacking confidence, or overwhelmed. Just when you think...I’ve had enough; remember--we only have to work with them. Since most of us missed, "Do Something Nice Day" on October 5—Old Navy sent tweets about it, so obviously DSND is the real deal. This week, let's belatedly have a little compassion for our co-workers. Who knows what they are coping with when they are not on the job.
We all have 168 hours, make it a great week!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Winning Resumes for Experienced Workers

Resumes can be segmented into the good, the bad and the ugly, just like the movie. Recently I read a resume that upped the ante far past ugly. This frightful five-page, single-spaced summary inspired me to address the resume issue again for anyone born when the original movie was released in 1966 or earlier. As gently and respectfully as I can say this to readers everywhere; there is nothing you have done or will do in a corporate setting that requires a five page resume. Okay, there I’ve said it, let’s move on.

The resume exists for one reason, to gain you an interview. That interview may initially be on the telephone and even if it is; the resume has succeeded.

Keep the statement above in mind, and let it guide your resume writing. I disagree with the school of thought and resume practitioners who believe resumes need an objective. Your objective is to gain an interview. The company doesn’t care if you want to leverage your significant strengths in a way to......(zzzzz, I fell asleep). This is not about you, the resume writer—job seeker. This is about the company who is going to pay you, provide you benefits and open a world of opportunities.

Resumes are not read by people anymore mostly for compliance and efficiency reasons. When you apply for a job online on the company’s career page, your resume is entered into an applicant tracking system and retrieved out of that system by someone in the recruiting department (as a rule, the bigger the company, the more junior the person doing the retrieving). Here's an example of what can happen:

500 resumes are received for requisition #56812- Director, Communication and Community Relations for a large regional bank in the recruiting system. These tracking systems use filters. The first filter might be location. The company shouldn’t have to pay to relocate someone with that many applicants. Filtering by location still left the recruiting assistant with over 100 resumes, so he tries a different filter. The bank has had success hiring from competitors; so the junior recruiting assistant keys in the names of competitive banks and voila, twenty-six resumes appear with recent banking industry experience—twelve candidates are local. Two applicants worked for the bank before and are on the “do not rehire list” (yes, that list exists). The ten remaining  resumes are forwarded to the overwhelmed recruiter in charge of the requisition and 490 people will never hear from the company unless their applicant tracking system had an automated, “don’t call us, we’ll call you” screen when they applied. There are as many filters as a company can customize. The bank may have wanted someone with strong media experience, with a certain professional certification or an advanced degree. The applicant tracking system can scan for all of these variables and more.

What can you do?

Have a person who writes and spells well proofread the resume and do not rely on spellcheck.

Read the job posting and use the same keywords in the posting within your resume. (It increases the likelihood your resume will make the scan).

If you know someone at the company have them enter your resume through the employee referral program. Companies often review referrals first.You score an advantage and the employee receive a finders fee after you are hired.

Keep the resume to one page, two at the most. Highlight achievements, not job duties.

There are a lot of long-term unemployed people out there, be honest. Anything you have done to improve your skills while unemployed shows initiative-online classes, free webinars, earning job-related certifications will help if it applies to the job posting.

Keep formatting simple and jobs chronological. The applicant tracking system is a computer program and many of the systems do not process exotic fonts, text boxes and bolding well. Unless it allows a pdf file, you may lose your formatting. Also, a lot of the systems cannot process functional resumes properly.

Consider investing in a professional resume writer if your resume is not yielding interviews. Your local workforce development office or job club may offer these resources at no charge.

Before resumes turn into interviews, it is not uncommon for recruiters to search quickly for you online. Search yourself to insure your online persona and your resume are in alignment, any discrepancies may cost you an interview. Skip the cutesy personal email addresses. Create an email just for your job search if needed.



Monday, October 8, 2012

Exterminate ANTs this Week

Monday Morning Pep Talk

This post is about a different type of ant, far worse than the insect—it is the Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) that invade workers minds throughout the day. How many times have you heard someone say?
(1)   “I will never find a job; no one will ever hire me. I can’t even get an interview.”
(2)  “This situation is hopeless; I might as well give up. Why bother?”
(3)  “I’m being set up to fail. My department doesn’t have the resources to do what I’m expected to do.”
(4)  “My boss gave me a terrible review. I’m probably going to get put on a performance improve plan or get fired.”
Maybe you heard them say it once.  Can you imagine someone running that phrase through their mind multiple times a day like a continuous loop? I get exhausted just knowing there are people living like this day after day.
Unfortunately, there is a free-floating anxiety, permeating Corporate America. Employees don’t feel empowered, morale plummets and the workplace becomes toxic.  For individuals, ANTs result in missed career opportunities, lower confidence, low productivity and research by Mark George, MD, National Institutes of Health reports negative thoughts inflamed brain areas often involved with depression and anxiety.
None of this exactly sounds quite like a Pep Talk, so let’s figure out how to exterminate the ANTs. Here are four tips to help your friends, relatives or co-workers when you notice ANTs creeping into the conversation. If you know of any other anti-ANT strategies, please leave them as a comment to this post. 
(1)   Remember ANTs are automatic, so when someone has an infestation the first step is the let them know, these pests can be eradicated. ANTs have to be acknowledged. They can be written down in a notebook or if that’s not convenient, suggest they repeat ANTs into a voice recorder on their cell phone. Make note of what situation or who around them brought the ANTs. In the future, they can limit interactions with the person or people who inspire ANTs and avoid situations that result in ANTs.
(2)  When ANTs emerge, suggest your co-worker ask a series of questions beginning with—is that negative thought true? How can they be sure? Have they ever faced and overcome a situation like this before? Are they likely to be able to succeed again?
(3)   Toxic workplaces foster environments that minimize what their employees do right and anything workers do wrong is turned into a disaster. With this in mind, remind your relative that while the workplace may be filled with ANTs; they do not have to bring them home. Flood their work areas with positive affirmations (their screen saver, their mouse pad, the pictures on the wall, etc.).
(4)  ANTs instill fear. Working in fear is an enormous waste of time, lowers productivity and keeps employees from their personal best. Someone came up with a great acronym for fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. (Feel free to borrow and share).

The ANTs didn’t show up over night and workers can’t expect to rid themselves of this problem in a day or two. If ANTs are persistent they could be part of social anxiety disorder or other issue that requires professional help. A company’s Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) is a good (free) place to start and there are many health care professionals and career coaches equipped to help employees exterminate their ANTs once and for all.

 Help everyone you know exterminate their ANTs and have a great week!