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.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Early Retirement Myth



                           The Early Retirement Myth: Why I am Not Retiring Early
                                                    and Neither Are You

I have a friend named Fred who constantly asks me when I’m going to retire. This is simultaneously a compliment and it is annoying. It is a compliment because obviously Fred imagines as a single mom/head of household for nearly twenty years; I am financially savvy enough to make the numbers lineup to retire at age 55. It is equally annoying because:

(a) The numbers are FAR from lining up despite my best efforts
(b) I enjoy working and the social engagement that comes from interacting with others
(c) With my genes I could easily outlive the Institute of Medicine’s forecast for U.S. women’s life expectancy of 80-85. My grandma died at home in her sleep at 104 of no particular disease and other family members are living well past IOM’s predicted expiration date
(d) All of the Above.

At forty-three years old, Fred has a rockin’ career, 2.0 young children, a wife, suburban home and seems to be on the trajectory to “Dream Street.” He assures me when he’s my age—he’s closing his office door for a life of 24/7/365 leisure. With a 401(k) approaching seven figures, Fred thinks his future is going to be an endless vacation. This is the point when I bring out the stick pin to burst the bubble of Fred’s Early Retirement Fantasy. If you are reading this in your 40s (and I know some 20s & 30-somethings read this blog even though I tell them there are secrets spilled here you have to be at least 40 to comprehend), let me guarantee you this: Barring some extraordinary life event, 99% of employees and business owners will not retire by choice at 55. There is a good reason for this. Fred, take notes.

Most of the people who talk about early retirement only focus on the financial aspects. From researching and interviewing people who have retired well and marginally before starting this blog; the happiest retirees approach leaving work from a holistic perspective. If you aspire to the traditional 3G retirement lifestyle of Golf, Grandkids and General Practitioner with no extra revenue being earned; it is very expensive. In 2012, according to Fidelity Investments, a 65-year-old couple is estimated to need $240,000 to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by the Medicare plan in place today. Imagine carrying the weight of all your family's health care needs on your broad shoulders at 55—you might even still have kids in college!

When I was consulting a financial planner in the roaring 1990s—she said I would only need 70-80% of my income when I retired. What did she expect me to give up? Driving? As I was shredding her proposal a few nights ago, I realized her projections were before Starbucks, iPhones and DirectTV were even in my budget. Anyway, the retired people I interviewed said in the early years of their retirement, they spent much more than when they were working. Many retirees wanted to travel and never had time when they were employed full-time. Other retirees found time to indulge in hobbies and it cost money to pursue these activities—even gardening can become pricey. You have your first grandchild and lose your mind buying “stuff” even the most boring grandparent will donate money to their namesake’s College 529 plan. Uber-cool grandparents splurge on the $$ (not available in stores) 6V Hello Kitty Quad ATV scoring it on eBay.

It doesn’t matter how much is in your 401(k) in 2013 or if your company is the rare one with a defined benefit pension plan. At fifty-five you’re walking away without the full company benefit that kicks in at 62 or 65 anyway. If Fred thinks he can retire at 55 and then cruise into Social Security with a reduced benefit at 62—oh please! When he turns fifty and joins AARP their website will warn him of the folly associated with that strategy. Claiming social security benefits early is the right choice for only certain situations. Still not convinced? In Part II we’ll cover that other non-financial reasons, you may want to nix the early retirement idea and think again. Forward this to someone!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Get Ready for Your Close-Up: Interviewing in the Video Age

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world.......
                                                        Lyrics from "Revolution" by John Lennon


When it comes to interviewing, the future has arrived. Technologically advanced organizations and some others that would surprise you are already using video interviewing, Skype and video conferencing technology to source candidates. What began as a recruitment tool used by Silicon Valley
companies is now being used in organizations as diverse as the VA Hospitals and non-profit organizations. As the technology becomes more accessible and recruiters become more comfortable with the camera, you can expect to interview via video at some point in your career.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to be part of the selection panel for a non-profit agency seeking a high-level member of their leadership team. Three candidates were in the final round after telephone interviews and the online application process. Of these three potential candidates the final two would come to Indiana for a face-to-face interview that would cost the organization airfare, hotel, meals and ground transportation. In the past few years, I’ve had an opportunity to advise blog readers preparing for their first video interview and participate in additional selection panels.

Here are a few tips from what I experienced:

1.      If you are not going to the company’s local office for the video interview with a remote office—manage your environment. If you are using Skype from home, make sure your surroundings are quiet, lighting is adequate and the background is professional. Don’t set up your laptop in your bedroom! I’m not joking, I heard of someone that did. No crying babies, no barking dogs and no ringing telephones. Hopefully you will be at your recruiter’s office using their professional video conference equipment and they will prepare you, but I’ve known others who have interviewed from home.

2.      Reduce the shine—I’m being a little picky here (and you may say superficial), but image matters. Shiny faces, dirty smeared glasses lens and men with light reflecting off a bald head comes across poorly in an HD video environment. I asked a friend in the television business how to combat this and they suggested you do what the stars do and apply a little powder if your image is gleaming. If you wear glasses, like I do, clean them before the camera starts rolling. Since I’m being superficial—avoid highly patterned dresses or ties. Go with solid colors that make you feel great.

3.      Appear relaxed—the best way to look natural knowing that you’re on camera with people interviewing you from various locations for a great job, you really want is PRACTICE. Ensure your technology works by using your webcam with a relative or friend first. Have your silenced cell phone nearby in case their equipment fails and it becomes a conference call interview. Become comfortable with the microphone, know its range, so you don’t appear to lean forward and speak into it. Also, insure the camera is at eye level so you don’t appear to be looking up at the interviewers or with the desk mounted camera, you don’t want to look down. Looking down gives all of us a double chin (I am being superficial again, sorry).  Remember to smile when appropriate especially during the initial introductions and the sign-off, the interviewers will remember your smile.

4.      Know your Interviewers Names—this is important because video interviews have their limitations. When one interviewer is at the corporate office in Boston and two others are at a field office in San Antonio, you cannot make eye contact with one person specifically. I was particularly impressed with a candidate who occasionally called us by name when answering a question. If it were done too much, it would be annoying, but it is a great way to acknowledge a specific interviewers question and serves as giving them eye contact.

For experienced job candidates, don’t let this technology throw you off your “A” game. This is one area where younger workers and more mature workers are on close to equal footing because video interviewing is new for everyone even the hiring managers. Yes, they are going to see how old you are (even before they ask your birth date to book your flight to come for the face-to-face interview) and the interviewers will also see your maturity, your self-confidence and adaptability to technology.
Get ready for your close-up and your new job!