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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.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Career Lesson from the Media Industry

John H. White lost his job last week. A lot of experienced people lose their jobs every week. I don’t even know John H. White personally, yet, hearing his story made me think about why I began career blogging. White is a Pulitzer prize-winning photographer formerly with the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper for forty-four years. In about twenty seconds management announced the photography department and staff were being_____________ (fill in the blank from one of the words below) walked out and turned the stunned staff of twenty-eight over to human resources to answer questions.

laid-off            furloughed       fired   
reorganized     re-deployed     let go  
realigned     optimized        terminated 
right-sized   re-engineered canned                 

It is the end of an era, and something more of us should think about as we manage our careers. The newspaper's management plans to have their reporters shoot photographs with iPhones. The rapid deployment of technology, the rise of the Internet and the dominance of social media can make many professions obsolete. How many more bank tellers were employed before ATM machines popped up everywhere? When was the last time you visited a full-service travel agency in a brick-and-mortar building? The Bureau of Labor Statistics has bad news for other media workers including newspaper reporters, radio disc jockeys and photojournalists, your jobs are in decline. Consumers are accessing media on their smartphones, online and in other digital formats. After 80 years, Newsweek ended publication of the print magazine and moved to an online-only format.

The same advice guidance counselors give students bound for college is important for experienced workers who are thinking career reinvention. Focus on the STEM professions:

Science           Technology               Engineering                Math

Focusing on careers that have historically been “high touch” is not even a 100% safe bet. I remember when teachers taught children in person in a classroom, complete with desks and those uncomfortable little chairs attached.  Now, students may take classes online from elementary school through a doctoral program. Companies are looking for teachers with experience in Blackboard (and I’m not talking about the one with chalk and erasers). Maybe we will not go back to school to major in civil engineering, however, keeping up with basic technology is within everyone’s grasp. Mastering the components of social media is available in a Saturday non-credit university extension course. There are online tutorials, seminars, and certificate programs at community colleges, short courses through university extension programs or opportunities to expand their talents through volunteering. Every day experienced workers need to think about how keep their skills current and what would be helpful to learn.

Let’s face it with advances in technology, work is being commoditized. With digital tools, customers can utilize self-service from a mobile device or online and the person who answers the phone if there is a question or problem can be 10,000 miles away. Experienced workers, it is important to be open to reinvention and figuring out how you can take the skills you have and think about transferring them to other jobs or industries.

John H. White is probably going to be okay. I read the 68-year-old photojournalist has a philosophy of faith, focus and flight. His Wikipedia biography quotes him as saying, "I'm faithful to my purpose, my mission, my assignment, my work, my dreams. I stay focused on what I'm doing and what's important. And I keep in flight—I spread my wings and do it.” The Sun-Times Media Group should be so fortunate.

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