Linkedin – a must for job seekers AND employees (video) Pt1.

Since its launch is 2003, Linkedin has grown steadily to become the default online professional networking platform. As of January 2013, Linkedin has over 200 million users in more than 200 countries.

Today, just about every professional has some sort of presence on Linkedin. If you are reading this, I am sure you do. I’ll admit right here that until three or four years ago, I used Linkedin simply as a self updating address book of my professional contacts. I had a basic profile and never updated it unless I changed my job.

But things have changed massively since then. Firstly, the growth of Linkedin users has been exponential. Secondly, in the last 12 months or so Linkedin has introduced several radical new enhancements to its platform and functionality. Thirdly, and most importantly, it is revolutionizing how organisations and recruiters now find the talent they are seeking.

If you have a job, then it’s critical that you maintain and develop your Linkedin profile, so that your next opportunity finds you. If you are looking for a job, then Linkedin is an incredibly powerful tool IF you know how to get the most out of it. I am certain that even established users do not harness more than about 10% of its power.

Right now I am preparing a bang up to date book on Linkedin for jobseekers which I’ll make available on 40pluscareerguru as soon as its ready. But so you don’t waste any time waiting for me, I thought I’d share this introduction to Linkedin which contains valuable do's and don’ts for every Linkedin user.

Many thanks to recruiter, coach and Linkedin expert Bob McIntosh who shares his insights here and to the New England Job Show for the production.

Spain: jobs crisis spawns entrepreneurs

Two years after being laid off from her job as a health and safety consultant, Ana Luis has found a new, quite different occupation. The blue-eyed, blonde-haired 46-year-old stands busy in the window of her very own dress shop in Valladolid, north-eastern Spain, deftly fixing clothes on a dummy.

For Ana, it was a childhood dream come true - one born of the nightmare of redundancy.

Left jobless like millions of others in Spain's recession, she did what many are also doing, for want of an alternative: launched her own business.

"I had a choice: stay sitting at home and do nothing, or throw myself into a project that I like," she says.

She opened the store less than four months ago using part of her redundancy pay and savings - a total investment of 30,000 euros ($40,000).

She is one of a wave of Spaniards trying to create jobs for themselves in the recession that has driven the unemployment rate above 26 percent.

The crisis sparked by the collapse of Spain's building boom had wiped out a lot of self-employed entrepreneurs: 625,000 between 2008 and 2011, says Lorenzo Amor, president of the small entrepreneurs' association ATA. But in 2012, as the unemployment rate climbed to record highs, their number grew for the first time in the five-year crisis, with 53,000 new registered self-employed, he says, citing government figures.

These entrepreneurs created 72,000 jobs, he added - just about the only sector to do generate any.

"For the next few months it is going to be easier to create your own job than to find one," Amor said.

"In Spain, every hour 67 people register as self-employed. Unfortunately, half of those don't manage to keep their business running for more than three years."

Despite everything, they are having a go.

In a trendy district of central Madrid, serving staff bustle at the coffee machine in "La Bicicleta", a novel bicycle-friendly cafe where cyclists can park their bikes. Its tables are crammed with customers even though the cafe only opened days ago, under the management of Tamara Marques, 29, and Quique Arias, 35.

"I had other job plans. I wanted to be an air traffic controller. But the labour market is nothing like it was," said Tamara.

"The way the economy is, I prefer to invest in something I really like and which will bear fruit, rather than wait for the government to do something for me."

She and Quique launched their plan in late 2011 and managed to open their cafe, with its rough industrial-style decor and deliberately shabby armchairs, more than a year later.

They raised the 100,000 euros they needed through a rare bank loan and help from their families -- no thanks, they say, to Spanish bureaucracy.

"We're not even talking about getting subsidies or making it easier to get a loan," says Quique. "We're talking about much simpler things, like just getting the paperwork done."

Among its various emergency reforms, the conservative government says it is working on a law to cut the red tape for people launching their own businesses.

Ana, Tamara and Quique say they are covering their costs but relying on their families to live.

Yet theirs are rare tales of hope in a crisis that aid groups has thrown millions into poverty.

"I think there is a growing dynamism. We are seeing just the tip of the iceberg," says Javier Sanz, director of an MBA programme at Madrid's Complutense University.

"In the next five years people are going to realise more and more that to find the perfect job they are going to have to make one up. For that you need to be an entrepreneur."

Why you must assess your energy level to optimise your job-hunt

By Mildred L. Culp

So you’re 24, 40 or 50-plus and you don’t – or no longer – set the world on fire. Job hunters with low energy need to factor that into their job searches by hunting for more stable industries and functions that don’t require them to take charge of a project or team. Scour job descriptions; assess whether you fit; and gain perspective on energy in company culture.
How can you determine what’s truly needed? Read job descriptions carefully to ascertain whether you can fulfill requirements naturally. Look for clues about energy. Attorney Michele Beilke, partner, labor and employment group, of Reed Smith LLP in Los Angeles, Calif., states that energy level can be essential to some kinds of jobs. “While it is generally better (for companies) to outline the conduct desired and avoid general statements,” she says, “having high energy and focus can be essential job functions of professional athletes, sales forces and many service professionals.”

Why you used to be a genius

By Neil Patrick

I have posted before about the struggles that governments are having dealing with the global economic jobs crisis.

This RSA Animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA's Benjamin Franklin award.

Here Ken explains how our education system has become disconnected from the needs of the modern global economy and hence how at an individual level, we are poorly equipped as individuals to deal with it when disaster strikes us. Whilst the topic of school education may not at first seem to be directly related to the jobs crisis, as mature professionals, we are a product of our education system. Intelligence and education are totally separate things and this film explains why regardless of our educational achievements, we all have a great deal more innate intelligence and ability than we may have been led to believe.

I am a firm advocate of the need for job hunters to think outside the box and much of what I post here is provided to help people do that. One positive message you can take from this film is that you have a very great deal more capacity to turn your situation around if you forget about what you were taught in school and university and instead engage your creative ability and harness all the learning that you have acquired through your life.

Oh and you’ll discover too why you used to be a genius!

The RSA is a 258 year-old charity devoted to driving social progress and spreading world-changing ideas. For more information about the RSA and its work, visit

US Economic outlook update - a mixed picture

Mixed signals from US economic reports are out this week. Here this week's report from Steve Peasley, president of KPP Financial. Steve believes that the economy is still very strong even without worrying about inflation. Well, at least for the moment.

Good economic numbers came out from the housing sector. New constructions were down but if you take out  the apartments part, it's definitely up... Single family homes construction was up. We just need to always keep in mind that these are backward looking economic trends.

What's more important is the growing numbers of new construction permits. Permits are always the leading economic indicator.

But what's concerning is that not all of the Federal Reserve governors agreed about the QE3. QE 3 is an 80-Billion per month pay off to banks (i.e. securities a month). Quantitative easing was supposed to be applied until the unemployment reaches a certain level and this move created a surprise for the marets and markets don't like surprises...

As always, thanks Steve for your expert analysis and reporting.

Seven ways boomers are rewriting the rules of retirement

By Marc Miller

(Reuters) - The baby boom generation has broken the mold at every stage of life, and it looks like old age won't be any different.

Boomers aren't heading quietly into retirement. They're launching businesses, embracing digital technology and living abroad in greater numbers than ever before. But in other ways they are struggling more than the previous generation.

Here is a look at trends shaping the next wave of retirement.


More older Americans are packing it in for foreign countries, where they can save on living costs and enjoy warmer climates.

The number of retired workers, spouses and survivors getting Social Security benefits in a foreign land is rising almost twice as fast as the number of Social Security beneficiaries generally, according to Social Security Administration data.

And 21 percent of baby boomers say they are "interested or very interested" in retiring abroad, according to a survey by the Center for Medical Tourism Research at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.

"If that were extended across all boomers, you'd have about 3 million people retiring abroad in the next couple decades," says David Vequist, the center's director.


Almost a quarter - 21 percent - of new U.S. businesses started in 2011 were launched by entrepreneurs age 55 to 64, according to the Kauffman Foundation, up from 14 percent in 2007. Entrepreneurs age 45 to 54 accounted for an additional 28 percent of the 2011 startups. Taken together, that's 49 percent of all startup activity - far larger than the 20- to 34-year-old bracket, which accounted for 29 percent of new ventures.

In part, the surge can be attributed to the 2008 recession, which sent older workers into consulting gigs. However, there are a surprising number of complex, sophisticated and large businesses being created as well, according to Dane Stangler, director of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation. He also thinks many of these older business owners are "serial entrepreneurs."

"We're seeing a lot of entrepreneurs in fields like technology and engineering who are launching substantial businesses," he said. "They started companies in their thirties or forties, and now they're doing it again."


Young people might be leading the digital revolution, but boomers - the generation born 1946 to 1964 - aren't far behind.

"Baby boomers got quite comfortable with the Internet and other digital technologies in the workplace," says Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project. "They won't give that up as they age."

For example, 23 percent of older boomers and 27 percent of their younger siblings use tablet devices, compared with 30 percent of Gen Xers (born 1965 to the early 1980s), according to the Pew Internet Project. The gaps also are small when it comes to smartphones and social networking services.

"They're not going to be downloading every new app that catches the crowd," he says. "They're very utilitarian - show me how it will work for me, how it will improve my life." Expect retiring boomers to publish creative works online, connect with friends and children via social media and continue to job-hunt on sites such as LinkedIn.


Older Americans are taking more debt into retirement than previous generations. Mortgage debt is the biggest factor: Forty percent of homeowners over age 65 had mortgage debt in 2010, compared with just 18 percent as recently as 1992, reports the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University (JCHS).

The culprit: the refinancing boom before the housing crash. In the years leading up to 2008, homeowners took advantage of low rates and deductibility of interest to refinance, says Lori Trawinski, senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute.

"(They) took out equity for things like education or a new car," says Trawinski. Boomers on the cusp of retirement are still refinancing, sometimes at the behest of their financial advisers, because of the appeal of today's near-record-low interest rates.

Higher debt levels will have a variety of effects. Some retirees will be stuck in homes with underwater mortgages or monthly mortgage payments that sap their spending power; others will use low-interest mortgage debt to keep more cash on hand or to keep other money invested longer.


Life expectancy for men has jumped an average of almost two years in each of the last five decades, to 75.7 years in 2010, according to the Society of Actuaries. For women, life expectancy has risen by 1.5 years, on average, to 80.8 years.

Yet more than half of older Americans haven't gotten the memo. A Society of Actuaries survey of 1,600 adults age 45 to 80 found 40 percent underestimated their likely average longevity by five years or more; 20 percent were too pessimistic by two to four years.

"That means there's a 50 percent chance you'll live longer," says Cindy Levering, an actuary and co-author of the report. "If you make it to 90 and only planned and saved enough for 85, you may not have enough to live on."

The odds that will happen are pretty good. For a couple with above-average health, there's a 60 percent chance one of them will live to age 90, the Social Security Administration has reported.


Some 58 percent of boomers are providing financial assistance to aging parents, such as helping them purchase groceries or pay medical and utility bills, according to an Ameriprise Financial survey of just over 1,000 Americans conducted in late 2011.

When it comes to their kids, boomers are even more ready to help out. Almost all boomers surveyed - 93 percent - say they have given their children a hand. A majority have "boomerang kids" who have moved back home to live rent free (55 percent) or afford a car (53 percent).

But only one-third believed that supporting adult children was making it more difficult for them to reach their retirement goals.

"They're not connecting the dots," says Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial. "They may not be taking money out of their retirement accounts to help their kids, but the assistance is coming out of funds that otherwise could be additional savings."


Boomers aren't embracing the Florida-Arizona axis of retirement to the extent their parents did. Counties known as retirement havens slowed their annual population growth to 1.7 percent from 2007 to 2009, compared with 3.1 percent between 2000 and 2007.

Instead, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) found that the metro areas with the fastest-growing population of 65-plus residents include locations in North Carolina, Texas and Nevada, as well as Colorado, Idaho and Georgia.

Boomers are attracted to communities with large universities and affordable housing, says John McIlwain, senior resident fellow for housing at ULI and author of the report.

The biggest draw affecting relocation? The kids.

"If you want to find out where a boomer couple will be moving to, find out where their oldest daughter lives. It's the pull of the grandkids."

European jobs are doomed (pt2) - How Davos talks about unemployment

DAVOS – In a conversation with a fellow journalist here in Switzerland, we settled on an unofficial motto for the attendees at Davos: there’s a lot we could be doing, but we aren’t.

That’s the overriding theme at Davos about the global unemployment crisis. It’s a slower-moving crisis than the European debt problems that consumed the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering last year. Still, you can hear unemployment being regularly mentioned as a “headwind” in the comments of policymakers and executives at Davos. Several attendees even cited the latest data: Today, Spain announced that its jobless rate hit 26 percent; 60 percent of Spanish citizens under 25 are jobless. Globally, some 200 million people are unemployed, according to the International Labour Organization, with 5 million people expected to be added to the ranks of the unemployed this year.

But this is decidedly not the kind of crisis that Davos is well-equipped to solve: WEF founder Klaus Schwab warned in a blog post Europe’s rising unemployment problem, but also wrote that young people will no longer have jobs “handed to them on a plate; they will have to create them for themselves.”

Jamie McAuliffe, the CEO of Education for Employment, a nonprofit that helps match unemployed Middle Eastern and North African youth with employers, said he’d love it if the Davos crowd would do more. “If we could move some of these conversations to more of an expectation that people are leaving here with commitments, that would be very powerful.” McAuliffe, for what it’s worth, is also the chair of the WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Youth Employment.

Instead of commitments, there were panels and panels (and more panels), which featured a few good ideas and a lot of familiar rhetoric.

In a panel titled “Preventing a Lost Generation,” Maurice Levy, the CEO of the ad giant Publicis Groupe, repeated a common Davos refrain. Unemployment, he said, was largely a function of economic growth; without growth, you can’t create jobs. (Another panelist argued the opposite: without jobs — and income — you can’t generate growth.)

Laszlo Andor, the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, called for the continent to institute a youth employment guarantee, similar to one employed by countries like Sweden and Finland. “It’s the perfect social investment because the costs of non-action are very high”, he said.

Another group of well-intentioned experts tried to answer the eternal question of “Employed or Unemployable?” at the Open Forum. Imagine a public, more progressive version of Davos, throw in concerned Swiss citizens and you’ve got the Davos Open Forum. In a swimming pool that had been converted into an auditorium, locals asked polite, rambling questions about why politicians had seemed unable to fix Europe’s unemployment. They got polite, rambling answers.

Both panels worried about globalization, and about an increasingly untrained workforce. Sweden’s prime minister, for his part, fretted about a lack of low income jobs  – for young people, that is. “There is something structurally that is happening with our economy, especially in Nordic Europe, that we have never seen before,” Frederik Reinfeldt told the Open Forum crowd.

The problem of workforce training, the panelists all agreed, was actually solvable. Kris Gopalakrishnan, the co-chairman of Infosys, a Bangalore, India-based IT corporation, told the Open Forum crowd that his firm used spending on training and education to survive the financial crisis. The Indian IT sector, he said, had created 2.5 million jobs in the last 20 years, largely by investing in training and education. Training at an entry-level, can last 6 months and the company can train 14,000 employees a day.

“The industry has created these employable people, and has created a kind of continuing education program,” he said. “It’s built into the business model. We cannot wait for the system to produce the workforce.”

It’s possibly a little naive to think the world’s elite should spend much time worrying about global unemployment in a Alpine conference at which attendance can cost six figures. But you can always count on the Davos crowd to express a polite, entirely non-binding concern for the world. Davos, after all, is a place where the elite can safely acknowledge a couple of hundred million people who can’t find work. And there’s even room for some limited self-flagellation.

“People want a job because they have real lives,” Publics’s Levy said. “We, as a society, are guilty of not giving them that job.”

4 Critical Foundations For A Successful Job Search

This is a guest post by Sharon Hamersley

So you’ve recently been laid off or, since the economy is improving, you are thinking of moving on.

So what do you do?

Polish up your resume and start applying to every job that is remotely similar to anything you’ve ever done…Call up everyone you know and ask them if they know of any jobs…OR

Step back and assess how well prepared you are to undertake a job search

This article focuses on getting you prepared in four key areas of job search:
  • Technology
  • Organization
  • Material
  • People

Let’s look at technology first. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your computer protected from viruses and malware? This seems so basic that you may wonder why I’m asking. But job search will surely be put on hold if your computer becomes infected. You risk sending out infected files and making yourself very unpopular.
  • How are your documents backed up, or are they? There are many options. Figure out what works best for you and fits your budget.
  • What e-mail address are you using? Is your user name professional? Now might be a great time to create an account that has a professional user name and is used only for job search.
  • What does your outgoing voice mail message sound like? Call and listen. If you don’t like it, change it.

Next is organization. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Where are you going to work on job search? (Hopefully not at work if you are employed!) Create a dedicated work space for your computer and any files you need to manage. If you live with others, make it clear that they are not to touch this.
  • What organizational system are you using to track activities? Outlook works fine, or for that matter an Excel spreadsheet or a physical planner. The focus is on recording everything you do – applications sent, interviews/networking events attended, follow-ups, everything!

What about your materials? Here are some items you need to consider:

  • A professional business card is an absolute must. The FlashCard™ template is a great place to start. Always carry your business cards, as you never know when opportunity will present itself.
  • When did you last update your resume? Now is the time. If possible, get professional help. It may seem expensive, but you will avoid the cost of being overlooked for positions because your resume does not draw the reviewer in.
  • Do you have an “elevator speech” written out, practiced, and ready to go? The Tim’s Strategy blog has many ideas and tools to develop this, or you can use the BigPitch™ tool.
  • Is your interviewing wardrobe up-to-date? Does everything still fit? If money is an issue, great outfits can be obtained at minimal cost at second-hand shops. You only get one chance to make a personal impression.

And now for the most important foundation of job search: people! Ask yourself the following:

  • Who are my references? Would they know what to say if a potential employer contacted them? How familiar are they with my work?
  • Which local professional organizations am I a member of? Although membership fees can be steep, this is an investment in your visibility and a chance to connect with others who share your passion for what you do. Some organizations offer reduced fees for membership and event attendance if you volunteer.
  • How complete is my LinkedIn profile? (Actually this is a subject that really requires a whole new blog article!) Suffice it to say that being visible and connected on LinkedIn is today’s best way to connect to those who can help you find that next opportunity.

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it is. However, it will be a lot more work to find a job if you do not lay a proper foundation in these four critical areas.

Get a job you love faster – here’s how I will help you

By Neil Patrick

I had a rude awakening last night. One of my Twitter followers said words to the effect – ‘Can you actually help me find a job?’

Career development development and job hunting have gone through a silent revolution in the last few years. Trying to explain this and help people deal with it is the whole purpose of my online presence. So I was stunned to say the least. It prompted me to think though that perhaps I should provide a more complete guide as to how I can help.

I think many people, especially mature professionals have no idea how the process of finding a new job has changed beyond all recognition in the last couple of years. Yes it really has been that dramatic and fast. If the last time you got a new job was more than two years ago, you just will not succeed today with the same approach and methods you used last time round.

That’s the reason I set up 40pluscareerguru, because in this terrible recession  too many people’s talents are going to waste and I wanted to do something about it.

So here’re all the things I provide right now every day for free.

  1. Daily jobs news and tips

Yes this is a blog. But it’s a blog with a purpose. I want to provide mature professionals with insight into the evolution of jobs and hiring processes in the digital age. Ironically, this is not so easy to find amongst the deluge of generalized and shallow information which is all over the web. Every day I scan my news feeds for what I consider to be the most valuable and helpful news articles and blog posts I can find. What I consider the best and most insightful, I share on Twitter. I also put up new posts every week, either by myself or the experts who I collaborate with.

If you wish you can subscribe to my posts by email. Now I know this is a danger sign for most of us these days. If you wish to do this, you'll just get my new posts delivered to your email box. Typically once or twice a week. That's it! No offers, sales messages, links or other junk. And of course I will never share your email address with anyone else. Ever.

  1. New job vacancies daily feed

Not only do I post new information regularly, I also retweet lots of vacancies I come across as soon as they are announced. You’ll see these in my Twitter timeline. Some of these appear in the Twitter feed on this blog, but to see them all, you’ll need to look at my Twitter timeline daily.

If you are a recruiter and you'd like me to include your vacancies, please let me know.

  1. Finding work – the best tips from the world’s greatest experts

Since I set up 40pluscareerguru, I have been privileged to connect with many of the world’s greatest recruiters, coaches, and HR leaders. Not only do I share what I consider to be their best insights and tips through Twitter,  you can also connect with them directly yourself, just by following them. This list is growing daily and fast. 

  1. Quickly find YOUR key recruiters anywhere in the world

Importantly, my Twitter account is set up so you can easily find and connect with any of my key recruiter contacts. To help you, I have organised these into public lists, grouped by region. You can access these by going to my lists on Twitter. So if for example, you want to get a job in Australia, you can go to my Australia and New Zealand recruiters list and follow all the recruiters there. Then, not only will get a steady stream of their job vacancies straight into your Twitter account, you’ll be able to contact them directly and make them aware of your job hunt and get them working to help you.

You'll find my lists here

I have also written a post here which provides you with a strategy to get recruiters on your side and working harder for you.

  1. Finding top recruiters is only part of the task

It’s really valuable to be able to find the right recruiters quickly, but of course recruiters work for their clients not for you. Generally, they are far too busy with this to help job candidates craft their resumes and LinkedIn profiles into super-slick selling machines which will have jobs finding them (yes, if you do it right, that is exactly what will happen).

At least 90% of the professionals I help have sub optimal LinkedIn profiles and/or resumes. Not only that, most do not know how to use LinkedIn effectively so the jobs find them. But if you follow this blog and my Twitter account, you'll get regular information and tips that will help you improve your job search, LinkedIn profile and what folks these days call your personal brand strategy (Yuk!).

  1. Connect with me on Linkedin

Twitter is great for providing a steady stream of new information and leads. But it’s not really possible for me to help anyone through public Tweets of 140 characters. However if you connect with me on Linkedin, we can exchange information in private.  So I'm always happy to accept invitations to connect on Linkedin. Here’s the link to do this

Finally, if you'd like to help me help more people, do please share my posts via any of the buttons at the top of each page and hit the G+ like button whenever you feel I deserve it! Thank you :-)

So I hope this post helps you get more out of this blog and helps you achieve your career aspirations faster. Please let me know what you think and how I can be more helpful in the coming months.

What a New Set of Skills Can Do

By Marci Alboher, vice president of, and the author of "The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life."

The plight of jobless Americans in their 50s and 60s is well documented, and it deserves attention.

But there’s a different, more optimistic story unfolding. A small army of baby boomers is hitting midlife eager to apply their talent and experience to solving some of our country’s - and the world’s - toughest problems, from homelessness to climate change.

Colleges and career coaches recognize that people in their 50s and 60s seeking to put their skills to good use are good customers.

Often the first step is getting new skills. Consider Gary Bates, an airline pilot forced into mandatory retirement, who, together with his wife Beth, started Care-To-Go, which provides in-home and travelling elder companions. The Bateses gained credentials as caregivers at Gateway Community College in Phoenix and honed their business chops through the help of mentors and coaches.

Colleges and career coaches recognize that people in their 50s and 60s seeking to put their skills to good use are good customers. Structured programs offer another option. At ReServe, operating in seven locations in the U.S., skilled workers 55 and older are placed at nonprofit and public agencies in part-time projects with modest stipends. For some, that work is the destination. For others, it’s a gateway to a new kind of work, much like internships are for young people.

The Encore Fellows program is another model. Encore Fellowships – currently available in 20 metropolitan areas around the country – matches seasoned professionals from the private sector with nonprofits. The fellows, who earn a stipend, make high-level contributions to these nonprofit groups while learning about a new culture. After the one-year program, most fellows remain in the nonprofit sector in paid positions.

Some argue that keeping older workers in the work force will make it harder for young people to launch or advance their careers. But consider this: many people in encore careers start businesses and nonprofits that generate jobs. And pathways like ReServe and Encore Fellowships create incentives for experienced workers to move on and for younger workers to take their places.

Let’s also remember that today’s 20-year-olds will eventually be 50-year-olds. No doubt millions among them, too, will want to be able to contribute to society while earning a living -- in an enriching, multigenerational workforce. 

Join Room for Debate on Facebook and follow updates on

Financial Planning for Newly-Single Boomers

This scenario is very familiar to boomers: a couple, married 30-plus years, with three great kids, maybe some grandkids, living in a beautiful home and nearing retirement call it quits and head to divorce court.

Baby boomers turned empty-nesters are increasingly filing for divorce as they find themselves no longer happy with the partner they have spent so many years with.

New research by sociologists Susan Brown and I-Fen Lin of Bowling Green State University find the divorce rate among people 50 and over continues to increase.  For new baby-boomer empty nesters, the divorce rate has doubled over the past two decades with 1 in 4 now getting divorced.

Getting divorced later in life can impact boomers’ financial situations in a very complex manner especially when it comes to dividing retirement accounts.

According to Howard Hook, a certified financial planner with EKS Associates in Princeton, N.J., when it comes to aging and finances, the cards are often stacked against singles -especially newly-solitaire boomers. 
Hook offered the following advice to suddenly-single boomers on how they can best protect their assets and navigate their finances when in or approaching retirement:

Boomer: What disadvantages would suddenly-single baby boomers encounter in terms of taxes and deductions? 

Hook: Suddenly-single baby boomer will be paying a higher percentage of tax on their income compared to married boomers.

Here’s an example:

Two households both earning $150,000. Household A consists of a single baby boomer and Household B consists of married baby boomers. Household A will pay 19% more federal income tax than Household B.  

The tax code is written such that more of the taxable income for a household consisting of married taxpayer’s is taxed at lower rates than the taxable income in a single household’s taxable income. 

Another disadvantage for singles is the potential loss of certain tax deductions that may have been taken while married. For example, someone who received the primary residence as part of a divorce settlement would continue to take a deduction for property taxes while the person not receiving the home as part of the settlement would not be able to take the deduction unless they bought another home. 

Boomer: What retirement strategies do newly-divorced boomers not have that are available to married people? 

Hook: The ability to stretch pension benefits over more than one life span. 
Companies that offer a pension plan for their employees many times do not allow an un-married person the option of paying the pension over “joint lives”, an option available to a married employee with their spouse. This can be harmful for a recently-divorced person who may be financially supporting a sibling or an older parent who wants reassurance the relative will be taken care of if they pass away.

Singles also lose the ability to maximize the amount of money saved in a qualified retirement account such as a 401(k) or 403(b).The maximum contribution for someone over age 50 to a 401(k) plan is $23,000 (in 2013). A married couple where both spouses are eligible for a 401(k)plan can contribute twice the amount or $46,000 in total.   

Boomer: Why do you find that newly single boomers are largely ignored by financial professionals and how can they get the financial assistance they need? 

Hook: There is a misconception that certain planning strategies do not apply to single people.

For example, one of the reasons for someone to buy life insurance is to provide for a surviving spouse’s needs. There may be an assumption that without a spouse, the single boomer may not need life insurance. This may have been true many years ago, but today, many people find themselves caring for older family members or domestic partners that would need the life insurance. 

One of the most common estate planning strategies to reduce estate taxes is for spouses to create trusts for each other’s benefits in order to maximize the amount of assets that can pass to their beneficiaries free of Federal and / or state estate tax. For a boomer with no spouse, there may be a presumption that there is no need for this trust. However, there are other, non-tax reasons to create trusts (creditor protection, control of timing of distribution of assets after death are two), that make the inclusion of a trust for a single person as important as for a married person.

Boomer: What happens with joint credit cards and installment loans, how can single boomers best deal with these financial burdens? 

Hook: Much depends on the divorce agreement as to who is responsible to pay these debts. Proper planning before the divorce is finalized is crucial to dealing effectively with these issues. 

If the single boomer is saddled with paying debt, care should be taken as to how to pay off the debt. If current income is not sufficient to do so, then the assets received in the divorce become important. Non-liquid assets (such as a home) or retirement assets are not particularly good assets to use to pay off debt. Paying off debt by refinancing a home may make sense, but may not be possible depending upon the ability to qualify for a mortgage. Taking distributions from retirement assets is tax inefficient as taxes need to be paid on those distributions, causing more money to come out of the account to pay the tax than needs to be taken to pay down the debt.

If assuming debt is part of the agreement, then a portion of the assets received in the divorce should be liquid assets not located in retirement accounts.    

Boomer: What should suddenly-single boomers take into financial consideration before selling the home they have jointly owned for 20-plus years?

Hook: When selling a home, boomers need to take into consideration the costs of a new home and the taxes that will be incurred upon selling the existing home.

Someone who has not purchased (or rented) a home for more than 20 years  may not realize the increased costs associated with the initial purchase of a new home (closing costs, repairs and maintenance) as well as the ongoing costs of a new home (property taxes, utilities, etc.)

Income taxes on the sale of the home are also important and tricky. The tax code allows the first $500,000 of gain on the sale of a home considered to have been the primary residence of a married couple in two of the previous five years. This exclusion is only $250,000 for a single taxpayer. Therefore, if the boomer who is about to become single intends to sell the home, it may make sense to do so in a tax year that they can still file as married with their spouse. If this is the case, the single boomer receives the proceeds from the sale. The amount of the exclusion is dependent upon the marital status of the single boomer at the end of the tax year in which the home is sold and not the marital status at the date of sale. Therefore, it may be necessary to delay the final divorce agreement until after Dec. 31 of the year of sale to take advantage of the $500,000 exclusion.

US Jobs outlook : Where are the jobs?

By John Gallagher and Susan Tompor 
Architect Lucas McGrail has been without regular employment for four years since losing his $75,000-a-year construction manager job when his industry imploded during the Great Recession.

Since then, the 38-year-old has cobbled together a patchwork of part-time gigs equaling about $10,000 a year. He has also submitted more than 3,000 résumés, generated a half-dozen interviews - and still feels like a job could be just around the corner.

"I don't want to lose who I am and what I spent all these years and all this money to become and just fade into oblivion," he said.

Despite an improving economy and an unemployment rate ticking downward, many people remain unemployed, some for years. It's a situation that could threaten a still-fragile recovery for Michigan and the nation.

Just last month, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned in a speech in Ann Arbor that long-term unemployment remains a serious problem, with 40% of unemployed people out of work six months or more.

"That's a situation where there are too many people whose skills and talents are being wasted," he said.

Add to that a potential skills gap in Michigan - where too few people have training needed for available jobs - and it's a recipe for jobs growth stagnation, experts told the Free Press. Though some question whether a skills gap really exists, some corporate leaders call it one of the toughest obstacles they face.

As well, gridlock over the federal budget in Washington has some employers nervous about hiring. The average job search nationwide is now about six months for a person looking for a $40,000-$75,000 annual salary, said Pamela Moore, president and CEO of Detroit Employment Solutions, a Michigan Works! agency.

Higher salary requirements usually equate to longer searches. And someone older than 55 could spend on average 30 weeks looking for a job, Moore said.

She said people with good communication and writing skills and those with computer, administrative, health care and automotive backgrounds are having an easier time. Engineers, marketing professionals, analysts and Web developers will have the most challenging time, she said.

Moore said the auto industry and manufacturing are the biggest areas for the growth. Professional and business sectors and private education also are hiring. Detroit has seen growth in health care and information technology sectors, too.

What recovery?


Janet O'Brien, 34, of Ferndale was among the long-term unemployed Michiganders profiled by the Free Press in 2011. She had lost her marketing and community outreach job at the Federal Reserve Bank's Detroit office in March 2008.

But early last year, she landed a job as an administrative assistant at Wayne State University's School of Medicine and is now rebuilding her financial life. She graduated in 2002 from Oakland University and has a master's degree in public policy from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

She said the four years without a good full-time job scarred her deeply.

"I don't think we're in this recovery that everyone keeps reporting," she said. "People are still going to be in recovery in 2015, especially around here."

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, forecasts the U.S. jobless rate near 7.5% by year-end, at about 7% by the end of 2014 and then closer to 6% by the end of 2015. With luck, it could go below 6% - back to full employment - by summer 2016, he said.

He said the biggest job gains in the next several years will be relating to housing - including construction, manufacturing, transportation, financial services and landscaping. Energy also will add significantly to payrolls, he said. But layoffs are expected to continue in the news media industry, some local governments and big financial institutions.

"It is still very tough to find a job, but it is getting easier day-by-day," said

Some alternatives


If millions of Americans remain unemployed or underemployed, many are doing more than sitting at home and brooding. Alternatives to full-time work - going back to school, becoming stay-at-home caregivers, joining the military - have become options for many.

During his time without a regular job, McGrail has lectured on Detroit's architectural history, given tours at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel and consulted on space efficiency for homeowners. He has gone back to school to study for his master's degree, run unsuccessfully for a seat on the Livonia City Council and helped care for his elderly mother-in-law.

McGrail, who earned his undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Detroit Mercy, recently enrolled in master's degree classes at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield. He also is prepping to take his state licensing exams in architecture, a long and expensive process.

Vicki Shy-McGrail, his wife, has been the main breadwinner the last several years. She works in industry as an executive assistant. "My wife has been a real sport through the whole thing, very understanding, encouraging me," he said.

Some of his part-time gigs have come through friends and family, including his work helping families use space more efficiently in their homes. He's been a finalist in a couple of recent job searches, which convinces him that things are turning around.

"When you're in this position for so long, you think that it'll never change," he said. "At least I know I'm getting close. It's just that nothing has popped yet."

Your resume is dead – this is what you must do now to get hired.

Resumes are dead. People don’t see it yet, but it’s clearly there. There is no sense of having a resume, because what’s a resume? It’s a piece of paper that has no interactivity, no history, no context,” said Jerome Ternynck, CEO of SmartRecruiter. 

Recruiters are not just relying on a simple paper cover letter and resume today. Resumes, limited to one page, simply doesn’t paint your professional picture. At SmartUp: Big Data Recruiting, Peter Kazanjy, Founder of TalentBin stressed the need to look deeper into candidates, farther than just a resume. 

With the Resume “you’re talking about thousand characters of content to make a judgment about somebody, its more like ten thousand or one hundred thousand characters of professionally relevant content that describe a human.” 

Technological developments in candidate management softwares and sourcing systems, as well as, online social media profiles have changed the game for both employers and job seekers. Recruiters are moving more and more towards the web to source candidates, but they aren’t just clicking through hundreds of LinkedIn profiles. They don’t just want to hear what you’re good at, they want to see it. And what shows them this?

Your social footprint.

Any programmer can say they’re good at something. They can list their certifications, experience, and degrees on their resume. But finding out how good they actually are is a challenge that recruiters face when sourcing programmers and developers. The recruiter’s need to look deeper into a candidate’s job history and experience has led to the development of databases that rank developers and programmers based on their social footprint.

So what is a social footprint? It’s a person’s presence and impact on the internet. When looking at someone’s social footprint, you are measuring what and how well they have done anything online. Kazanjy explained on Quora how you look at a developer’s social footprint, and why you should recruit using it:

“The belief is that using implicit professional information that is visible on the web, properly interpreted (e.g., “This person is a member of these professionally relelvant Meetups, does this on Quora, tweets about these things, and does this on Github, thus they’re into Java, Ruby, Objective-C, and mobile.”) is a better way of finding people who have the requisite skills for roles you’re recruiting for.”

The social footprint gives you an idea of what they’ve done, both professionally and independently.  It gives you an actual idea of their skills and interests, and some companies and recruiting softwares even developed a system to rank candidates. It’s about looking at more than just bullet points on a resume.

Because skills and qualifications of programmers and developers are harder to measure, the social footprint gives a recruiter a better overall profile of a candidate.  Not only does it paint a better picture, social footprints are also more efficient for recruiting both active job seekers and passive candidates. Referring to the current inefficiencies of recruiting, Entelo founder Jon Bischke said on Quora:

“They carpet bomb everyone who looks even remotely like a fit in the hopes of hitting the needle in the haystack and finding the candidate who is actually looking for something new. And that’s horribly inefficient.“ 
Instead of spraying and praying for candidates, recruiters can use a social footprint to get a better idea of not only who would make a good fit, but also source passive candidates who are actually looking to move. These databases use an algorithm to track candidates that might be looking for a change in career. For example, the algorithm will take into account a company’s large drop in stock, layoffs, or executives leaving the company.
The social footprint will have a major impact on recruiting in the future, especially for programmers and developers. Companies not only will be able to see concrete evidence of a programmers work. Recruiters will also be able to source passive candidates who are actually interested in a career move, as while as job seekers actively searching for work.

At SmartRecruiters’ SmartUp: Beyond the Resume, Bischke summed up the power of the social footprint, and its impact on future recruiting.

“We believe that when people hire in the future, they’ll hire on the basis of what people do, not what people say about themselves.”

SmartRecruiters is the free hiring platform.

This post originally appeared here:

Great Tips To Overcome Ageism for IT (and other) Professionals

By Dave  Fecak 
As a recruiter who is about to celebrate (as if recruiters celebrate such a thing) mark fifteen years in the technology industry, I am starting to see that many of the contacts I made back in the late 90′s are now having some concerns about ageism during a job search.  Any failed interview for older software professionals may cause a raised gray eyebrow and a thought that age and not their skill was a factor in the decision.

Companies that freely apply catchall terms such as overqualified or “not a cultural fit” in a rejection only serve to cloud the engineer’s mind and cause him/her to wonder if these are just the politically correct or legal code words to signify “You’re too old for us”.

Much has been written about older professionals being dogged by myths surrounding work effort, production, energy, and whether employees with families are more likely to work less.  Start-ups are often portrayed as testosterone-and/or-alcohol-fueled code marathons only welcome to young males, which hurts the many start-ups that are not. But even hiring managers who have read studies and evidence that debunks these myths may still be guilty of judging candidates based on perception, so another blog post about why all companies (start-up or mature) should consider hiring older workers may not be helpful. 

The goal of this post is to help these more experienced candidates maximize their chances of being considered for jobs, and to make sure they are evaluated based on their skills alone during interviews.

Just as you would find at a nightclub, ageism starts with the person at the door.  During a job search, the doorman is the person screening resumes.  Therefore, the resume is the first item of consideration when trying to combat the problem.  Let’s look at some common resume mistakes that expose candidates to ageism.

Resume Tips

Mistake #1 – Your resume does not need to include every position you have had in your life, and it doesn’t even need to list every position you have held in your field.  This is by far the most common way that candidates expose themselves to possible ageism.  If you have been in the industry for over twenty years, the work you did at the beginning of your career is hopefully quite different than what you are doing now.  Trim down your resume to a manageable size by eliminating jobs that are the most dated and least relevant.  Although there is nothing wrong with removing outdated experience, add the phrase ‘Additional experience provided upon request‘ if you feel it necessary.

Mistake #2 - The ‘Education’ section of a resume does not need to include graduation dates.  The graduation date is arguably the easiest and most accurate way to put an age number on a candidate, using the formula

Age = (current year - graduation year) + 22
By including the date of graduation you are simply making it easier for them to discriminate.  When hiring managers or recruiters see dates that seem like the distant past, they will do the math in their head subconsciously and label you with a number.  “This guy graduated in ’81?  That makes him, what…54?”  Don’t put the date on the resume if you feel that your age could be used against you.  This isn’t dishonesty (putting an incorrect year would be dishonest).  There are several details about you that are not listed on your resume, and graduation date should not be required.

Without a graduation date, the formula for quickly approximating age generally becomes

Age = (current year - year of hire at earliest job listed) + 22
If you consider the point listed in Mistake #1 and you decide not to list early and irrelevant job(s) right out of school, and you also do not list your graduation date, you can potentially take years off of your perceived age.

Mistake #3 – Your resume does not need to include every technology that you have ever used.  A resume of a very senior engineer could potentially contain an impressive and lengthy list of technologies in the skills section if he/she were to offer a comprehensive inventory of the various hardware, tools, languages, operating systems, databases, protocols, etc. that have been used during the span of their career.

Keep in mind that certain technologies or buzzwords are likely to trigger a visceral reaction based either on the age of the technology itself or how that technology is generally viewed by the industry.  Languages that are out of favor in today’s programming culture are probably the most common issue.  To have experience over a long period of time and with several tools is undoubtedly valuable, but unless a technology has significant relevance to the jobs being sought the risk of including these details may outweigh the benefits.


If you followed the advice above regarding your resume, the next step will be interviews.  In interviews, you want to make sure not to play into any of the myths or the fears that are commonly associated with the hiring of older workers.  Below is a list containing many of the most stereotypical generalizations or assumptions common to ageism and how to best avoid them.

Older hires will not be able to put in hours.  The availability issue is more closely associated with start-ups that may require more office time, and this perception is amplified when a start-up is staffed primarily with young, childless, and single employees.  Being honest about your desire for work/life balance is best for all parties involved, but don’t let the interviewers assume that because of your age or family situation that you are only able to work 40 hours if you are indeed open to more.  Clarify the amount of time you are willing to commit to working in or out of the office to prevent false assumptions.

Older hires will retire soon.  Answering the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” with “Retired in Florida” is probably not the best answer, but honesty about your expectations is always best.  Don’t let the employer assume that you are planning to retire soon if that is not the case.  If you can not afford to retire in the near future, it may be helpful to let a hiring manager know that fact in order to allay this potential fear.  The amount of time technology professionals of any age spend at any one company is lower than it used to be, so having an older employee on board for three to five years could have value to the company that is not much different than the average tenure of a young hire.

Older hires have low energy or are less productive.  Older candidates should be more aware of their perceived energy level and body language during interviews.  It’s good advice to job seekers of all ages to try to schedule interviews during the hours of the day that you feel you perform best and are most alert.  Be sure you are well rested, fed, and look alive.

Older hires have dated or irrelevant experience.  Eliminating some of the older experience on the resume helps showcase current skills while avoiding the appearance of stagnation.  When giving anecdotal answers, try to focus your material first on what is most relevant and most recent.  Referring to projects that ended thirty years ago is not advised unless the lesson learned was incredibly valuable.

Older engineers only want to manage.  If you have been in leadership roles but are looking for something more hands-on, you must make that very clear during interviews and in initial correspondence when applying for a job.  The assumption will always be that employees expect more responsibility as their career progresses, but many software engineers simply want to stay in the code and are not interested in managing.  Don’t let your interviewer assume that you want to manage if you do not.  A willingness to mentor employees while also being hands-on will add to your potential value.

Older engineers are less teachable and may have strongly reinforced bad habits.  This line of thinking is amplified if the candidate has been in the same professional environment for many years, and the suspicion is that engineers become overly accustomed to a single way of working and won’t easily adapt to new ways.  If you have had the same employer for a long time, try to emphasize any major changes that took place during your tenure and how you were forced to learn new things or leave your comfort zone.  If you were an agent for change, be sure to bring that fact up during conversation.

Older hires will not be a culture fit.  Culture fit is something older engineers probably didn’t hear much about in the beginning of their career, and ‘not a fit’ can be used as a blanket term for rejecting candidates without having to give a specific reason (which potentially exposes a company to discrimination lawsuits).  Try to learn about company culture before the interview so you can at least be aware of their values and the image they want to convey, even if that image is not really who they are.

Career advice

Stay relevant.  Keep up to speed on what technologies are popular with the cool kids, even if you do not use them on the job.  If you have time to spend a few hours and tinker, that experience may pay off in your next job search.  Knowing what others in the industry are doing is as simple as reading articles every few weeks.

Never stagnate.  Older engineers that overstay their welcome at a company will have an incredibly difficult time finding work if a job search becomes necessary.  When senior engineers are the victim of layoffs after being employed for 15 or more years, a long and difficult job search is often the result.  Being stuck in the same role with the same technologies at the same company for a long stretch could become comfortable, but it will not be an asset when changing employers.  Your first loyalty should be to yourself and your career, and not to your company.  In my experience, older professionals that have not stayed at any job for a long stretch (>10 years) have the most prospects.

Keep a positive attitude.  Many engineers are quick to actually dismiss themselves as candidates due to age, and they don’t even bother applying to companies they feel will reject them based on ageism.  Other candidates have self-defeating attitudes about their plight or their perceived inability to improve their situation.  Do not fear rejection, and learn from mistakes made during job searches.

Share your knowledge.  Engineers that have a reputation as teachers, advisers, and mentors will always have an easier time finding work.  Whether you write technical blog posts, present to user groups, or do informal talks during lunch, you will develop a reputation as someone who uses your experience to make your teammates better.  Think of your experience as a positive asset for a new employer, and be known as someone who is always willing to guide younger technologists.

Be open to non-traditional employment options.  Job trends and careers have changed drastically over the past 30 years, and the traditional ‘graduate college → get job → retire with pension‘ progression isn’t realistic today.  If you haven’t already, give consideration to contract/consulting work, contract-to-hire or alternative employment options.  Older professionals may find that ageism is less common in temporary hire situations.

Published at DZone with permission of Dave Fecak, author and DZone MVB. (source)