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, October 27, 2014

Employability: Finding a Job When You Need One, Part 1

The ability to find a job that covers your current expenses and leaves a cushion for savings and fun is my definition of employability. As an experienced worker it is an evaluation we should make before the time comes that it has to be tested. Working past 62 enhances your retirement security more than you might think. The case for staying employed doing part-time or even short duration (temp) jobs past 55 or 59 ½ when I see some workers leaving the workforce angry, forced-out or burnt-out is critical to their financial survival for a lifetime that can easily last to age 90. The point of this blog post is not to convince why you should stay employable; it is how to find a job as an experienced worker. Here are two of my five best tips. The other 3 tips are in Part II. Add your ideas as a comment to this post:

#1: Networking correctly works. This is not becoming a LinkedIn LION or having 500+ connections or writing a blog that has 10,000 viewers per post. These accomplishments are impressive, but they will not help you find you a job when you need one in a hurry. To network correctly, you should know who will take action on your behalf and not just who knows you. Before you need it, try to develop a network of at least a dozen connections that will (a) make a phone call on your behalf to introduce you to someone; (b) send an e-mail or LinkedIn to a connection to “introduce” you to a hiring manager or recruiter; (c) act as a reference when you need one for a job; (d) forward your resume, so the hiring manager will “ask” the recruiter to pull it out of the applicant tracking system. These types of connections are built over time and require trust, contact and knowledge of your work.

#2: Take Care of Yourself. 20% of people in their 50s and 60s have a health issue or disability that makes it nearly impossible to work according to a business television show I watched recently. I’m not sure of their source, but I do know that in a competitive corporate environment absence does not make the heart grow fonder. Look like you can do the job. When you are constantly off sick for a variety of maladies, I know it is not your fault. From a corporate perspective, if management figures out the work gets done while you’re gone three months—it is not helpful the next time layoffs roll around. What can you do? Do your best to stay healthy, be lively and energetic at work so your vitality comes through. Do Not discuss your aches and pains with your co-workers; tell your doctor or your relatives, not your boss. Don’t be a martyr and come to work sick and risk everyone else’s health because you need the money. That’s kind of an oxymoron to what I’ve said above, but everyone will remember you for the wrong reason if your germs undermine your co-workers and their families.

Employability: Finding a Job When You Need One, Part 2

The ability to secure work as an experienced worker doesn’t begin in your 50s and 60s. The relationships you create with your managers, suppliers, co-workers and subordinates decades earlier in your career will help you later. Part I focused on networking with the “right” people and keeping yourself in the game physically. In Part II, my final three components of employability are listed and I’d be interested in yours as a comment on the blog:
#3: Play Well with Others: At a certain point in your career at 50+ many of your company’s senior leadership team and your direct manager may be younger than you. I had a manager twenty-one years younger than me!  It is not just a different generation; it is a different mindset and he had a perception of mature workers (it wasn’t good).  I’ll repeat what you already know—the dynamic of Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1981) and Millennials (1982-2004) in the workforce with a smattering of “The Greatest Generation” ( a term coined by Tom Brokaw) brings a clash of values to the workforce Corporate America is ignoring. While there are stereotypes for each generational cohort, from my Boomer perspective, “the boss is still the boss.” So, I treated “Boy Wonder” (a derogatory name coined by my friends) with the respect I treated previous managers and worked hard to dispel the myths that someone my age couldn’t master new software programs, perform my job duties or working with me was like working with his mother. I endured him and like they often do; he finally went away. (Hear me breathing a sigh of relief)
#4: Leverage Your Experience: In a US News & World Report 2010 blog post advised that if you make money or save money for a company, it protects your job. “It would be silly to let go of somebody who is making you money…” their post continues. Everyone 50+ knows it happens, a lot. A typical example is an employee who was the number one sales representative in a division of a Fortune 50 company whose combination of high base salary and long tenure found her surprisingly laid-off in the company’s first wave of reductions in force. Highly compensated non-management employees are an issue for companies when they have to provide lump sum raise annually instead of the average 3% merit increase in 2014 because their base salary has topped the range or band for their role. Try to protect yourself from sudden unemployment by finding and accepting a new role within the company that moves you into a different salary grade or broadband, if you currently receive lump sum annual increases. You might also try to expand your duties to move into a position so your salary is not in the upper deciles.
#5: Maintain a Professional Image: Humans are primarily visual beings with some researchers claiming 90% of the transmitted information in the human brain is visual. There are hundreds of studies of about physical attractiveness bias in business. While most 40+ and 50+ workers would look ridiculous dressed like a college student, men and women should keep the clothing they wear to work, their hair and anything about their visual appearance updated. Department stores often have free personal shoppers to help you create your perfect look for an important interview or meeting. Aim for styling yourself so you feel confident.
Use these five tips along with whatever skills and attitudes are unique to your workplace to be successful where you work today and able to get a new job if needed in the future.