Breaking News: 89.2% Are Now Employed!

From the glass is half full department: 89.2 % of the nation’s workforce is EMPLOYED!

This headline is a simple reminder to stay as optimistic as possible when the media is trumpeting the “worst unemployment rate in 26 years.” Nobody who is looking for work wants to hear that negative drumbeat!

So what to do if you seek better/new employment while things are in a downward spiral?

Some people have responded by “going solo.” This is where they assess their strengths, package their abilities to address their niche, and then peddle their wares/skills as independents.

Entire books have been written about this strategy and its inherent pluses and minuses. “Laid Off and Loving It For 2010” also addresses this topic in several chapters.

The reason this strategy may be practical now is that there is still work to be done “out there.” The stock market is up over the recent past because companies have cut labor costs to the bone but are still selling some stuff. Their lower costs have translated into good stock market results.

But, as mentioned, there is still work to be done out there. And employers like their thin/tight staffs, but realize that they still need some hands on the deck to keep their boats running.

Except for the Information Technology industry, this “going solo” approach may be a way for you to help firms get their work done. Using your talents as a solo practitioner may allow employers to bring you in and pay you while NOT having to add the new hires which they seem to be against adding.

More on this topic across the next few weeks. In the meantime, share YOUR stories of solo success or even failure here in this blog. Let’s learn from each other and celebrate that over 89% of the workforce is employed!

America’s Job Coach
www.americasjobcoach.com

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Two Girls For Every Boy!

In 1963, the song Surf City was recorded by a young, feel-good band named The Beach Boys.  It was the number one song on Billboard  Magazine‘s Top 100 (according to www.Wikipedia.com).  Some people who are ‘Over-50 Types’ might even remember when the song hit gold. 

What a fun concept for millions (of especially young men) to think about — a place where the girls may have worn an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, AND there were also two girls for every one boy!  Wow!  

First Wave Boomers were not alone in their indoctrination to this song however. It went on to be enjoyed by millions more who were born later and grew up hearing it at wedding dances and theme parties for decades to come. Throngs (not thongs!) of youth heard it for dozens of years and it became a part of culture.

Fast forward 45 years or so. Instead of ‘Two Girls for Every Boy,‘ now we have “Six Seekers For Every Job.”

A recent editorial by Paul Krugman of The New York Times included the statistic that we are now seeing six job seekers pursuing every one available job.  That doesn’t sound near as much fun as Two Girls for Every Boy. This level of competition for work looks like it is going to be with us awhile. It may become part of our culture…

If you are stuck in a job you don’t like, or you are out of work, that culture thought might be depressing.  Don’t let it bring you down!  Three out of five 50-something laid off people I know have recently found jobs! Collectively, they were competing against hundreds of other job seekers. But, they managed to land something despite the long odds.   

But the numbers are still the numbers. We are probably stuck in a “hot mess” with regard to optimal employment for at least the forseeable future. So what do you do?

A short answer is similar to what you may have heard already. If your line of work is clogged with too many competitors for too few jobs, you may need to reinvent yourself. This topic is addressed in many, many good books out there so I won’t go into detail. The short version is this:

  • Take what you know better than anyone else, repackage it, remold it, add a new, big dash of passion to it,  get someone smarter than you to review your efforts, and give it a whirl. 
  • Maybe you now can become a consultant to your former industry, or to a niche you have followed for a long time? Maybe you can boldly approach your former employer with a new “value-add” proposition or TwitterVator Speech? Maybe the time is finally getting close where you can turn your hobby into a small business?

I won’t expand much here, but instead invite readers to comment. Free job coaching by this blog’s participants may be helpful if you are struggling with how to reinvent yourself. But you have to be willing to ask for the help…

Let this group help to conquer your career crisis as you work to catch that perfect career wave and land your surfboard on an ideal beach of a job! 

Maybe comments by this blog’s readers will lead to Two Jobs for Every Boy (and Girl)!

Surf’s Up!

America’s Job Coach

 

Are You Sacrificing Enough?

OK.  This post might be the one you show your unemployed spouse…or maybe not.  Do you have a 50-something or 60-something spouse who is in a job / career transition and just not doing enough? 

What does that mean? It means that job hunting or career changing or job transitions may get even harder in the near future and extra effort or sacrifices may be required. It means people may have to make some sacrifices about what jobs they may or may not consider or accept. Some “experts” are predicting that 2010 won’t produce a hotter economy for job creation than 2009.

That could mean that some of the “chronic” unemployed may have to make some sacrifices. I am not referring to the sacrifices typical of a newly laid off person. Most laid off people immediately trim the family budget to the bone.  

No, I am referring to “the T word.”  T is for tradeoffs. We all have them. Maybe we sacrifice by working in a field or company we prefer to be in but do so at the cost of lower compensation. Maybe we chose a job we dislike but stay in it because of the pay. Maybe we commute a total of four hours a day in exchange for stability.

What tradeoffs are you making or ready to make? Is it time to consider doing some other kind of work while you wait for your dream job to come in? This question is practical for both working people and non-working people. In his book “Winning,” Jack Welsh the former General Electric CEO says most all workers make some kind of tradeoff. 

Using Jack’s famous philosophy of candor (with yourself) may help you to assess what internal tradeoffs you are willing to make in order to achieve progress in your career or work. 

But remember, you only need ONE job…and you CAN find it!

* * *

News:  Keep checking back with this blog as an announcement should be coming in a week or so about an exciting event which will benefit one lucky reader/contributor!

America’s Job Coach

Did He Get the Job? Also, Job Posting Scams

In my last post I discussed a young man who was interviewing for his first job out of college. The job was for a sales position and he was wondering if in fact the niche he was exploring was good for him. I mentioned  how some industries in the current economy are looking for people like him: young, techno savvy, moldable and cheap. 

None of that is new news to you who are “decades into” your careers and maybe months into your job search. Employers are flooded with applicants and some are taking advantage of that. There was an article in the Omaha World Herald on 10/26/09 which described how formerly hard to fill hands on care giver jobs were now doing just fine due to some factory closings in a Nebraska community. Before some jobs in that town vaporized, the health care facility had a hard time staffing these positions. Now it has a surplus of applicants. Ah, perspective.

Perspective is what the young job seeker had too. He was “wax” just ready to be molded by his potentially future employer. He didn’t have an entitlement attitude and his small dose of arrogance was more attributable to his youth than any entrenched “in your face” cockiness.

Yes, his potential employer wants him back for some “job shadowing.” That is where our young applicant will sit and listen to the current staff while they make their daily spate of phone calls. Not just anyone or everyone can sit in a cubicle and make 70+  phone call attempts a day. I don’t know if our young hero will want to but that employer has invited him to find out if he wants to. And there is a fairly handsome base-plus-commissions to go along with it. I’ll keep you posted on his progress. And keep remembering his child-like interview exuberance while you do your job hunting.

Speaking of commissions, I saw a listing of “The Top Twenty Most Helpful Job Hunting Websites” or some such similar title the other day. I immediately thought that would be a logical link for this blog. And of course, I clicked through on many of the web sites listed.

Well, you won’t see me linking to that list anytime soon. I found many sites I had never heard of. And the ones toward the top of the list had many “jobs” posted. The problem was, most of these “jobs” were work at home schemes. Nothing wrong with working at home…millions of people around the world work for thousands of legitimate companies in a remote fashion. Online technology allows and encourages that.

But so many of the “jobs” posted were all about multi-level marketing businesses. Many have an investment required or involved some marginally shady types of plans. The rise of this kind of “noise” out there has tracked and kept pace with the rise in the number of unemployed.

I have nothing against legitimate multi-level businesses. I have been involved in some in the past myself and have learned from them. I am just saying use caution when you “apply” for jobs within this world. Most are not jobs with a regular paycheck. Growing your own business is great but just know what you are getting into when you start. Will your new “job” require you to buy inventory?

Have any of this blog’s readers ventured into this area?  Again I have no problem with these legitimate marketing businesses but I do dislike it when these outfits dress themselves as “jobs” on what were formerly job boards. Who has a story to share on this?…

Next posting will be about a 50-something “coachee” who was recently laid off, DOES know a lot of people to network with, but is stuck in the 1990’s regarding using those contacts.

America’s Job Coach

Author: Laid Off & Loving It For 2010

The Dow is at 10,000…Who Cares?

The 50 Over 50 Project is a ”Community of Career Advice”     for 50 folks over age 50 who are in a career transition.  

Summarize YOUR career dilemma in a comment below to gain job hunt pointers from this blog community. 

So the Dow Jones Industrial Average got over the psychological barrier of 10,000 points last week. I wonder if it will go to 11,000 this week?  Probably not. But do people care?

Well, I do care actually. And the investments of millions of people as well as the well-being of millions of companies across this great land do care.  So why the headline above? 

Last weekend, Seth Rogan of the Weekend Update skit on the perennial  Saturday Night Live TV show perhaps summarized the feeling of millions: Rogan mentioned how the Dow broke 10,000 and how 15 million unemployed people at home, in their pajamas in the middle of the day, who were eating Twinkies, cheered with delight. 

That isn’t a perfect quote but you get the idea. The talk is that the recession will end and the recovery will occur sometime in the next month to the next two years (it depends upon who you listen to).  I don’t know who to believe but Seth was right: Recovery or not, too many people are still stuck unemployed or underemployed and know the NBC TV schedule way too well.

If the Dow goes to 20,000 and there are still 6 people for every 1 open job out there, the unemployed just won’t care what the stock market looks like. Granted jobs are always a lagging indicator during a recovery because firms want to be sure things are improving before they add to their payrolls again. 

And the most strategic unemployed people WILL care about the stock market and the recovery. Because we attract what we expect into our life. And if we stay negative, we’ll keep getting negative. 

How about you? Do you think the economy is picking up out there and that there are more jobs now that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has reached this level? Or do you feel stuck on main street despite Wall Street’s success?

Share your thoughts below and keep the faith!

Paul M.

America’s Job Coach  

Can You Sell Yourself In 30 Seconds?

 

The 50 Over 50 Project is a ”Community of Career Advice”     for people over the age of 50 who are in a career transition.  Just list your career-improvelment related question as a comment to get helpful pointers from fellow blog readers! 

 

The Atlanta Journal Constitution (my new favorite newspaper–I’ll tell you why below…) ran an article on October 9 about how Atlanta firms were hiring again. 

The article mentions that firms are hiring more consultants, more people with specific, not generalist skills, and the importance of candidates/job applicants needing to sell themselves in a short, 30 second story.

America’s Job Coach agrees with the above–especially the need for your own personalized TwitterVator Speech.  Here is the short version of what a TwitterVator Speech is: 

  • List your strengths in short phrases
  • Figure out what your tight niche is (what you know better than most anyone else)
  • Focus on what the problems, needs, goals, and opportunities are within your present industry or the one you want to enter
  • Shake all these up in big jar and write it down in 140 characters or less

Why 140 characters? The twitter world knows. And the linked in status update box knows too: You can send out tweets or updates OF THAT LENGTH as often as you like (but don’t wear our your public or spam them!!). 

There is much more to my concept of a TwitterVator Speech (the blend of the old fashioned Unique Selling Proposition, the Elevator Speech, and the restrictions/opportunities available via today’s social media tools like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc., etc., etc.

You have what you need to get started on your own TwitterVator Speech above. If you want to learn more, check out my web site or book but I’m not linking to them here because I am trying to be a helpful voice here, not a shill for services. 

I’d be thrilled to see you take a stab at writing YOUR TwitterVator Speech HERE in this blog where it is safe and free. The readers will help you and the exposure can’t hurt. We’ll craft it together so you have a sharp “pitch.”

Oh yeah…you must be able to back up your pitch. Sure we can together write a strategic summary for you but don’t be a clanging bell only. You must have the goods or the track record to back up what you are “hawking.”

Give it a try and I hope to see your TwitterVator Speech draft in the comments box below…

Paul David Madsen

PS: I like the Atlanta Journal Constitution because their logo is AJC. Can you guess why that acronym is interesting to me?

Can You Teach An Old Dog New Tricks?

The 50 Over 50 Project is a 50-week Career Advice

Community for people over the age of 50 who are

in some form of career transition.

 

Today’s 22-year-old who is just now entering the workforce has never known a world without computers. Born in the late 1980s, he came into this world after Microsoft and Apple had gone public.  His parents may have used a brick-sized cell phone to call their parents when little Junior emerged into this world. So wireless is the norm for him. He grew up ON video games, laptops, and probably never loaded a roll of film in a camera. Wouldn’t know what a flashcube was if it burned him on the finger. Heck, he has really only known two presidents B.O. (Before Obama).

This is all fine and normal.  Junior’s different educational experience enables him to feel very comfortable in a technology-driven workforce.  IM chat and social networking are no big deal because they were always there. He is not afraid of any new technology and conforms and embraces to new versions, tools, and trends like warm Silly Putty.  

The Over 50 Folks however remember the glee and awe that ran through the office when the fax machine was introduced. “No more putting stuff in envelopes and typing out an address on it and putting a stamp on it and running it to that blue mail box on the corner in time for the last pickup and, and, and…”

So where does that leave us ‘oldsters’ when we have to compete for too few jobs with some of these tech-savvy snot nose kids who are quicker to adapt and cheaper to hire?   I won’t rehash the two most recent posts to this blog because they do give you some good ideas on this theme.

What I will do is remind you about resources which can help you compete. The President has allocated, according to a recent US News & World Report article, 12 BILLION NEW dollars to support the mission of the nation’s community colleges.  This funding will support the schools which are projecting 5 million NEW (as in added) community college graduates by the year 2020, according to the magazine’s September article.

So, fellow Baby Boomers, it may be time to follow Rodney Dangerfield’s example and go Back To School. His wealthy character the 1986 movie of that name had a few advantages due to his money. One perk was the direct tutoring of Dangerfield BY Kurt Vonnegut HIMSELF for the former’s English paper!  We can’t expect that level of tutoring under President Obama’s plan but we “get it” that ongoing technical training is just plan mandatory for a high percentage of future and present jobs. 

Colleges are booming now due to the nearly 15 million unemployed people out there. Even if you are working full-time, it is vital to learn more to keep your skills sharp. The government is supporting the mission of those schools because it knows that practical training will get America working again. And many schools and training programs are catering their offerings to those who are old enough to remember where they were when President Kennedy was shot.

 Consider being part of those statistics–the people who are enrolling and graduating from public and private, PRACTICAL and TECHNICAL education.

Please share YOUR story of how you got some new practical education and how that has helped your career or that of another person.

If you are thinking about picking up some training, but not sure what to study, share your thoughts here in this Career Advice Community!

We are eager to hear your successes and your fears and possibly help. We won’t even discuss how to load actual film in a camera!

America’s Job Coach

www.americasjobcoach.com

Do As I Say, Not As I Do…

OK, OK… I am guilty! 

This community forum is about my facilitation of helpful career advice from cyberspace. The advice is from and for people who are in some form of transition as they enter and go through their fifties.   But here is the problem:

I have failed you!

I have found that the older people get, the more they like routine. We all have those older relatives who want to know two weeks ahead of time what time a dinner event is scheduled for. That way they can mentally prepare for it days in advance and be ready two hours ahead of actual event. 

While I obviously don’t think people in their 50’s and 60’s are OLD, I do realize that CONSISTENCY matters. I don’t know if the elasticity and suppleness of youth is gone by ones’ fifth decade or what it is, but people like routine as they progress in their lives.  Yes, I can show you some anal retentive 22 year  olds as well, but you know what I mean.

Routine matters. Routine matters when you are building a career, a family a fortune, or just about anything. Yes, we can “luck into” something good in those categories on occasion, but with regard to job hunting or career transitioning, the value of “routine” is high. 

I won’t repeat the often told tales of how Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods or many well-known, high profile sports, cultural or business performers have reached their achievement levels due to nearly obsessive levels of drill, repetition and routine. 

But I have failed you, dear blog readers, due to MY lack of routine. You haven’t known when to check back in on this blog because you don’t know when the new stuff is going to be posted.  And with all the noise on the internet, you are unlikely to come back if you don’t know when to do so. 

I have been inconsistent because I too often waited for a juicy, success story of some formerly laid off person.  They may be in dialog with me via this blog or directly with me through  www.americasjobcoach.com. Or, I also hesitated when  “Suzie” was asking me about resume guidance and I waited to tell her story until it was complete. 

No more. I will not make you keep wondering and waiting for these tidbits. Even if the stories are not complete, I’ll throw out relevant, confidential career dilemmas so you the reader can comment on them and hopefully add your helpful comments to this career advice community. 

I will do a better job of “communing” with and communicating to this advice community. No more long pauses between posts while waiting for the other shoe to drop. No more hesitation for “perfect” content before throwing out some relevant stuff. People who need your advice so I will give you the chance to give it. 

YOU can keep this community helpful, relevant, entertaining and inspirational by offering your stories or the stories of people you know who succeeded (or didn’t). I can talk about how Brett Favre was laid off and loving it but I’d rather hear about how your neighbor got cut after 24 years with a Fortune 500 company and then started her own successful consulting company (like the woman did in Laid Off & Loving It For 2010.

I will strive to be more consistent and routine with my content posts here. You’ll see SOMETHING new and relevant almost every day.

Thanks for your loyal following and thanks also for your input and comments which will only make this community more vibrant. 

And speaking of dinner plans, it is time me to execute mine!  

Career Transition hint for today:  Be CONSISTENT in your job hunt efforts. Don’t fluctuate despite discouragement.  More about that later next week…

Layoffs Denied in Omaha, Nebraska?

  

The 50 Over 50 Project is a “community of career coaching” for 50 people over the age of 50 over a 50-week period.

 

Yesterday in Omaha, Nebraska a hi-tech company did a round of layoffs. While people getting the axe is far from new news these days, this firm had a history of fast growth, steady employment, and long tenure.  So this event is a shock to our community and an even bigger shock to those who were cut. Some of those layoff victims fit the demographical focus of this blog–they were over 50. Many had been with their firm for a long, long time. 

Their pressing question then is:  

What does a long-term employee, who is on the older side, who may have a narrow skill set for their local market, who maybe hasn’t kept up with newer technology, and who has above average earnings, DO NOW

The answers are many so we’ll address things over the next several posts. 

The first thing which might help these laid off Omaha folks is to realize their situation has some similarities to cancer. I have been very close to cancer’s worst impact so I am not trivializing it. And, I admit few people DIE from being laid off. So what is the similarity? It is this: How victims react.     

Here are the “Stages of Grief,” from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ book, “On Death and Dying:”

  • Denial (this isn’t happening to me!)
  • Anger (why is this happening to me?)
  • Bargaining (I promise I’ll be a better person if…)
  • Depression (I don’t care anymore)
  • Acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes)

Do you see how these grief-related steps have heavy overlap for a person who has just been laid off and is nearly frightened to death? 

If you do, tell others who might benefit about these steps so they can start their process of “vocational healing.”

I’ve been laid off many times and have interviewed or led seminars with hundreds of others who have also been cut. So, our next few posts will explore this “teachable moment” we have right here in River City. Circle the wagons with your laid off neighbors or friends and we’ll work through these phases together…

As always, PLEASE offer your thoughts to keep this a “community of career advice.”

Paul David Madsen
Author: Laid Off & Loving It For 2010

 

 

The 50 Over 50 Project

As we reflect today about 9/11, we are all brought back to remembering just what we were doing at the moment of the attacks. And we also reflect on  the “Pre 9/11 USA” and the “Post 9/11 USA.” 

Before the attacks, the nation was winding down from a somewhat “happy place.” The economic climate was just starting to head downward. The  recent burst of the  “dot com bubble” was starting to be felt, but “The Roaring 90’s” were still a fresh, positive memory. There were cracks in the workplace wall, but the it was still standing.  

After 9/11 we were shocked, rattled, distrustful, and suspicious.  Employers  froze and began robust layoffs.  Innocence was also lost due to distrust of firms like Enron, WorldCom and others. The tragic events of the 9/11 directly affected millions of Americans who had no relationship to the dead (other than our shared citizenship).  The paradigm of job security and endless prosperity collapsed.    

But, America’s citizens are a resilient lot. And today isn’t only about looking back. As long as we never forget, I think it is OK to look ahead and learn from the past. 

Since this is an employment-related blog, I ask am asking you what  has changed for you or your vocation over the past 8 years?  How did this tradgey affect your career? What is different about your work, “Pre-verses-Post?”  Consider sharing your story…    

Never Forgetting,

AJC

PS: Check out Labor Day’s first post to this blog to learn about the mission of The 50 Over 50 Project.