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.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Job Interview Tips for Experienced Workers

Interviewing for a job in your 40s, 50s, and 60+ is not the same as the interviews of our youth. Part One of this guide is for the elements that are the same, like not bashing your former employer or boss. Part Two focuses on the high tech changes because video interviews are here to stay!  Please read Part One even though it is a refresher, Part Two is video interviewing and will be posted soon. Part two is especially important if you haven’t interviewed in the past five years.
First, congratulate yourself because your resume won you a chance to move to the short list of candidates.
The Basics Are Still Worth Repeating:
1)     Even if someone on the interview team talks badly of your current or former company because they have worked there and know how bad it is, DO NOT speak badly of your boss, the company or senior management. Focus on the job you are interviewing for and how excited you are about this opportunity.
2)    Be on time. Leave early, allow for traffic and plan ahead.  However, if you are at the interview “stalker-like early” just sit in the car nearby until 15 minutes before your appointment. Arriving two hours early and wanting to sit in the lobby or being in the parking lot before the company opens smacks of desperation (and it scares people).
3)    Dress appropriately. Even interviews at health clubs deserve attire you wouldn’t work out in while you are trying to win the job. A man can never go wrong in a suit that fits great. A visit to the tailor for alterations can update an older suit. I always err on the side of conservative dress for women, but NOT the interview suit of the 1980s—remember the navy or black skirted suit with the white shirt with a bow tie? A visit to the free personal shopper at a high-end department can help you put together an ensemble worthy of an interview with C-suite executives.
4)    Avoid being patronizing to younger people on the interview team or women. Recently, I heard from a female business owner that a 40ish man she was interviewing referred to her as “dear” and “my dear” several times during the interview. He didn’t get the job. I have also seen 40+ interviewees act dismissive toward 20-somethings that are either human resource professionals or members of the interview team. Balance being professional and respectful to administrative staff with being obnoxious. (Note: To the guy who was doing magic tricks for the secretaries; they thought you were a weirdo. If you want to work again, stop the magic tricks.)
5)    Practice Practice Practice! Find someone to role-play with and practice how you will answer the basic behavioral interview questions—the ones that begin with “tell me about a time when you…”  The interviewer is expecting a succinct response to how you solved a work problem in the past. These types of interview questions are asked under the premise that what you’ve done in the past predicts how you handle situations in the future.
6)    Above all else, don’t talk too much—it seems the older we get, the more we enjoy talking. Stay focused. Answer the questions add appropriate SHORT examples, insure you’ve addressed the issue by asking and be quiet. At the end of the interview, “CLOSE” for the job! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Avoiding a Mid-Life Career Skyfall

Monday Morning Pep Talk

Over the weekend I saw Skyfall, the new James Bond movie (which I highly recommend) and from a mid-life career management standpoint, this is a case of art imitating life.

New (younger) management comes into the company and tells the older person in charge to retire voluntarily “with dignity” or get dragged through the mud and be forced out. Stop me if you’ve heard this one. But in the movie (and I am not giving the plot away) the older person says, “To hell with dignity! I’ll retire when the job is done!” and storms off. That’s the part when you remember it is a movie.   It never quite plays out like that in real life.

In Skyfall, our hero James is older and somewhat worse for the wear. Obviously, the very negligent HR professionals at his employer have never suggested the Employee Assistance Plan for his hard-drinking or counseled him about habitual sexual harassment and gratuitous violence he’s shown in getting the job done.

Here are a couple of Skyfall moments to pack your mid-life career parachute with:

1. When a mistake is made, organizations make someone pay. The bigger the error, the more heads roll. Skyfall had an embarrassing security breach and people died. Hopefully your job it is not quite that intense.
007 TIP: Don’t sign up for any high-visibility projects tipping toward the probability of failure, lead a project that is not fully-resourced or align yourself with someone in career freefall. I know it is not always your choice. If someone signs you up for a project with the Codename: TITANIC, update your resume.

2. If you are not constantly adding to your skill set, reinventing yourself and expanding your network; you might as well get measured for a blue vest at the nearest big box store. In Skyfall, the war was fought technologically. The weapons were laptops, computer hacking and viruses. The days of exploding pens are long gone.
007 TIP: Is your latest education over ten years old? It is time to supplement your experience. Bond’s nemesis asked, what was the super-spy’s hobby—his answer “resurrection”. Get comfy with technology. There’s always going to be a new boss to prove yourself to if you want to stick around.

3. What comes around goes around. In business as in life, time heals wounds and time wounds heels. It is better to err on the side of being kind (even in the hard cold world of business) than being a heartless robotic jerk, because over the span of a career lifetime, it comes back at you in spades.
007 TIP: Skyfall was the most dramatic Bond movie with the least amount of special effects. There were plenty of explosions and the Aston Martin DB-5 was back, but the drama was in the emotion. M was stoic as her past actions were called into question. Over the years, we become more introspective. A philosophical Bond had to go home literally and metaphorically to face his past.

From my vantage point, it was great to see 007 hold on to his job and be given a chance to work with the new management team.  Although the HR part of me still thinks his employee relations rep should have that heart-to-heart talk with Bond and begin documenting (just in case)- lol. You’ve got 168 hours to make it a great week!