Ageism in the Tech Sector

When Randy Adams, 60, was looking for a chief-executive officer job in Silicon Valley last year, he got turned down from position after position that he thought he was going to nail — only to see much younger, less-experienced men win out.

Finally, before heading into his next interview, he shaved off his grey hair and traded in his loafers for a pair of Converse sneakers. The board hired him.

"I don't think I would have been able to get this CEO job if I hadn't shaved my head," says Adams, who has founded eight venture-backed companies. He is now chairman of the company that hired him, mobile conference-call service Socialdial, and is fundraising for a new business. Adams has supplemented his makeover by trading in his button-down shirts for T-shirts, making sure he owns the latest gadgets, and getting an eyelid lift.

Forty is definitely not the new 30 in Tech, it would seem:

"I don't think in the outside world, outside tech, anyone in their 40s would think age discrimination was happening to them," says Cliff Palefsky, a San Francisco employment attorney who has fielded age-discrimination inquiries from people in their early 40s. But they feel it in the Bay Area, he said, and it's "100 percent due to the new, young, tech start-up mindset."

They go on to point out that there are some benefits of youth, but it is possibly being over-emphasized now:

In some cases, there are reasons other than bias for preferring younger workers in a startup setting. People with young children can be strapped for time and less able to work long, late hours. Younger workers are more likely to be expert in the newest software programming protocols. Young entrepreneurs, like many others, often move instinctively in hiring from the cohort of those they know.

Yet there are some indications that age bias is now part of the culture in Silicon Valley - especially visible in what Adams of Socialdial calls the "cachet of the young entrepreneur." When young executives like Zuckerberg are successful, their age often gets a lot of attention. Successful older entrepreneurs, on the other hand, take pride in every aspect of their accomplishments - except their age.

So when the software company Workday went public last month and raised $637 million, little attention was paid to the fact that co-founder and co-CEO David Duffield is 72.

My own experience and those of other "wrong-side-of-40's" in the industry I know (bearing in mind anecdote is not the plural of data of course) is that no, we are not as up on the intricacies of the latest cool language, but our experience also shows us that the big drivers of success are seldom to do with the tech itself, nor working long and hard instead of smart. It's about managing risk, enthusing people, controlling cash, ensuring delivery quality, attracting customers, managing expectations - and while experience doesn't guarantee success in this, it does increase it's probability, as it's a learning curve thing. Which is why, when the going gets tough, Boards start to want a "grown up in charge" (Google, Facebook...and now Groupon it would seem). Horses for courses, as they say....

And, if I was being exceedingly cynical, I would suspect that some of the preference for youthful startups is their naivete, allowing funders to strike deals that no-one who has been around the block would ever accept.

Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters

Everyone knows the internet is a key tool for today’s job seekers. But just having a Linkedin profile, circulating your CV and scanning job search boards simply isn’t enough.

What use is a shop window if it’s down a back street and no-one sees it? Your Linkedin profile is just that. Like any online activity, you need two key things – visibility and a great advertisement for your skills, but also having this presence seen by lots of the right people. In the case of job hunters, that’s recruiters, HR staff and networking contacts.

Just putting up a profile on Linkedin will NOT get you seen by the people that matter – or at least not much. Firmly tie your Linked in profile to your professional blog, Twitter and Facebook and you are suddenly into a different league. Recruiters just like everyone else are looking for fast, cheap and efficient ways to get their job done and the internet is their key tool to do that.

The way that social media is synergistically inter connected allows you to create a personal brand that works really hard for you. I think of it as passive vs. active marketing.. Passive marketing involves setting out your stall and waiting. Active marketing puts your stall in the best place, has referrals from neighbouring traders and tracks down potential customers by word of mouth.

Not only will you get more visibility this way and hence more opportunities, you’ll be demonstrating that you are tech savvy and up to date with the online world. And this kills possibly the biggest objection for many over 40’s who are often perceived by potential employers as technically out of touch.

You cannot tell which contact or conversation is going to ultimately lead you to that job, but remember you only need one job!

So if you are job hunting in 2013, here’s my five-point must do list:

Ensure your Linkedin profile is up to date

This is your shop window, your free advertisement. So it must show not only that you have the key skills, it must also show that you’re a great person to have on the team. Develop your connections and make sure you have plenty of endorsements and recommendations from people you’ve worked with. I am consistently amazed at how many great people I have in my network who have absolutely no recommendations on Linkedin. I know they are great at what they do, but who else does?

Have a professional blog

You have expert knowledge in your specialism. Share it and connect with others in your field. Most people may not be interested in your specialist field, but those who are in the same occupation will be. This engagement will position you as an expert in your field. The more you post, the more visible you become on the search engines. And when a prospective employer encounters your profile, do you think they will Google your name? You bet they will, so ensure that what they find reinforces your credibility.

Use Twitter to engage …

with recruiters, HR specialists and those in your field and market sector. Not only will this enhance your network, it will drive traffic to your blog and heighten your personal profile. Moreover, Twitter is a great way to keep up with the current thinking of the leaders in your field.

Participate vigorously on the specialist forums in your field

Not only will this demonstrate your knowledge, it will connect you with many more valuable contacts.

Think of yourself as a brand

You are marketing yourself. So you must understand who you are looking to sell yourself to and understand deeply what they need and match yourself to that need.

There are many more online tactics you can deploy to achieve your goal use and David Perry’s great book Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0 is the latest and most up to date guide to the most powerful online strategies. Here’s a short film which describes some of the basics from the book.

Follow these steps and I guarantee you will uncover more opportunities than you ever thought possible.

Top Resume Tips and Tricks

Resumes need to be kept continuously up to date, and can never be the best possible represetnation of ourselves if they are rushed together to meet a short deadline. So any downtime is a great time to invest a little effort into really sharpening your CV/resume.

Even if you are not actively job hunting right now, it’s still a good time to reflect on your most recent accomplishments and add them to your CV - remember it’s the things you’ve done most recently that  potential employers are going to be most interested in.

Your CV should be an advertisement, not an encyclopaedia. So you need to think like a recruiter or the hiring employer. If you were that person, what would make you think, “ I really MUST interview this candidate”?  

Don’t just think about job accomplishments either. For example, social media has become a hot topic now for many employers and if you have done great things with Facebook , blogs or Twitter, these achievements could be really valuable too.

Any way here are Patra Frame’s top tips and tricks to help ensure your CV really shines. Thanks Patra!

Overlooked steps to help your job search

By Katy Piotrowski
I’ve talked with hundreds of eager job seekers this year, and these are the top job-finding opportunities they seem to miss most consistently:

A clear focus

Even cats know it’s smart to have a plan: “One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree,” reads Lewis Carroll’s classic “Alice in Wonderland.”

“ ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.’ ”

 • A directed LinkedIn profile with a healthy group of contacts

With just a few keywords, such as “marketing analyst Fort Collins,” a hiring manager can locate prospective candidates. If your profile doesn’t align to your job search goal (or if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile), you’re sure to be missed.

Join related LinkedIn groups, such as Colorado Purchasing Managers, to quickly expand your network.

A target list

Refer to my cat comments above, and then create a list of at least 20 organizations likely to hire someone for the job focus you’ve chosen.

Research the hiring manager at those businesses — not human resources; the person you would report to — and send her your resume with a short note saying, “I could be a resource for you. Could we meet?”

Mine your LinkedIn contacts for possible opportunities to connect with people at those companies.

A resume that reflects where you’re going, rather than one that recounts where you’ve been

Most of us don’t enjoy reading history, so why would a resume screener, who has to look at hundreds of documents each day, want to know the nitty-gritty details of a job you held 20 years ago? Instead, inspire her to call you by presenting a carefully chosen set of facts and accomplishments that show her why you’re the right person to meet her needs.

A team of supporters briefed and actively helping you

Inform anyone who believes in you of your job hunting goal, show them your target list, and ask for next-step ideas. Then roll into 2013 with much better job-hunting momentum.

Katy Piotrowski, M.Ed., is the author of “The Career Coward’s Guides” and provides career and job search support with Career Solutions Group in Fort Collins. Reach her at (970) 224-4042 or

This post originally appeared here:

A Brave New World of Performance Enhancing Drugs at Work?

An alarming report has just been published, ‘Human Enhancement and the Future of Work.’

Worries about the report are compounded by an article in today’s Financial Times including comments from the Work Foundation’s Ian Brinkley.

Brinkley is quoted as saying, “The idea of using enhancements to help older people and the disabled back into work is uncontroversial…”

Really, Ian? I can’t believe your former colleagues at the TUC would go along with this way of thinking.

 Dangerous assumptions lurk in Brinkley’s singling out of ‘older people and the disabled’ being potentially in need of performance enhancing drugs.

Let us presume for one moment that the pace of work in the twentieth century were to justify such pharmaceutical interventions – is such relentless ratcheting up of pressure to pass without comment?

Is there no more in life than value for money appraisals with speed up drugs and greater focus demanded beyond the limits of natural human abilities? 

Let’s be clear about it – anyone with a medical condition should be prescribed whatever treatment his or her doctor considers necessary. But the idea that healthy older or disabled people should be assumed to be ‘correctible’, or ‘improvable’ to acceptable levels of performance by the administration of medication is offensive and deeply worrying.

Let’s be fair to Ian – he accepts that “…employers insisting on the use of drugs for disabled and older workers would be a bridge too far.” I should hope so!

But once we start down this road it will be very hard to draw the lines. Who is to say who is insisting and who is just making a quiet suggestion in a friendly chat?

Methinks this subject demands careful unpacking.

On one level, using drugs to enhance performance could be said to be part of the world we already know – who hasn’t written a student essay to meet a deadline under the influence of a few cups of black coffee, for example? So there are no absolutes in this discussion but there are big differences in the kinds of drugs.

We are not talking of a tea time pick me up.

Let’s not go into drugs in sport, but the world of cycling has seen a time when performance enhancement using EPO, blood doping, human growth hormone and various steroids and stimulants was pretty close to the surface of normality for a while.

It was an awful, duplicitous, cheating world destroying lives and creating a veneer of falsehood in what should be a simple, enjoyable human challenge – to work and compete as honestly and fairly as we can to win.

Quite rightly, the idea of drug cheats in sport outrages one’s common sense of decency and fairness. The same principle applies at work. If X is promoted above me because he or she takes drugs, what message does that create? Once this genie is out of the bottle there is no putting it back.

Moreover, the drug has not been invented yet that does not have some kind of adverse effect on the human body and life expectancy.  

For sure, famous artists and writers have worked under the influence of narcotics. (Byron was an opium eater. Shelley on laudanum; Hemingway stewed under an alcoholic haze; Gaugin, Van Gogh and Toulouse Lautrec got their jollies on absinth.)

On the other hand, whether any of these substances actually enhanced their performances is a moot point.

They were the lifestyle choices of the individuals concerned which with the benefit of hindsight most of us see as misguided and decadent.

We now know more of the devastating health consequences of most of these drugs. We don’t need to be persuaded that heroin (an opiate) is a dangerous and health threatening drug for example, even though Byron probably wrote Don Juan with its molecules buzzing round his brain.

We don’t really know what side effects long term use of drugs will lead to until it is be too late - perhaps some twenty years down the line. What else might we expect if this brave new world becomes the reality?

Willingness to use drugs might become essential if one is to enter certain professions or occupations.

Older workers might for example, be encouraged to carry on working night shifts under the influence of drugs, with unknown potential consequences for their health.

Instead of taking a stand for better work life balance, unions (who knows?) and employers could be tempted down the road of recommending performance enhancers to enable workers to cope with long hours and stressful jobs.

The expectation that an older person can take drugs to succeed at work is a short step away from the idea that he or she might need them to get a job in the first place.

People struggling in the labour market might feel obliged to dose up before interviews.

And once we are on this slippery slope, how far to slide before the point where the welfare to work industry recommends them to job seekers, and then perhaps expects them to use them?

If we believe that technology will in time conquer all, we might even accept that performance enhancing drugs will inevitably feature in the workplace of the future.

But is all this without controversy, as Brinkley suggests? I don’t think so. Maybe it is part of an awful nightmare around the corner but we should fight against it at all costs.

Career Coach: Be realistic and flexible when job hunting

Don't sit at home and wait for the phone to ring: improve your chances of finding a job with our handy tips.

In the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last week there seemed to be plenty of good news for job hunters. Yes, times are still tough but 1.2m new jobs have been created in the private sector since May 2010; 600,000 more than previously forecast.

It’s also interesting to note that “Britain now has a greater proportion of its people in work than either the Eurozone or the United States”. And in another piece of “good news” one UK index for hiring rose to a 19-month high in November.

 And yet despite all this good news, I routinely get calls from people who have been out of work for several months and still haven’t had an interview yet alone a job offer. There's a curious disconnect between the optimistic picture painted by some reports and the job search front line. And there’s another interesting factor; huge regional variations in the availability of jobs, with London showing a decline while some parts of the North of England including Yorkshire and Humberside showing an increase in the number of vacancies.

So what can you do to get your job search moving in such a difficult market?

Be realistic and be flexible. Check salaries for your particular line of business, be competitive and be prepared to consider other factors apart from the headline salary. I recently had a conversation with someone who had changed direction in their career and taken a significant dip in salary but was much happier in a less pressurised job with more flexible working conditions.

Of course you should also make sure that your CV is up to date and properly reflects the requirements of the job you are applying for. It’s quality not quantity that pays in the job search game, so rather than sending off dozens of job applications invest some time to identify just one or two jobs that perfectly match your skills and experience and then really take care with your application.

Make sure that there is solid evidence in your CV and application letter that confirms that you have all the skills and experience detailed in the job advertisement or job specification.

And look for unadvertised jobs. Did you know that at least two thirds of the jobs available are unadvertised? Use professional networking sites like LinkedIn to make new contacts, join the professional groups on LinkedIn and participate in conversations with fellow professionals to pick up news of unadvertised jobs in your field.

If you already have a LinkedIn account make sure that your professional headline is recruiter friendly. This is not “John Smith” but “John Smith – Experienced Chartered Accountant”. The social networking site is one of the key resources for recruiters and employers so it’s worth spending some time to make sure that your profile shows up in searches.

If you do find a possible job opportunity then you can apply to the company even if they are not currently advertising any jobs. Use the internet to research the company and then send a speculative application letter and your CV to an individual manager by name. Most companies say that even if they don’t have any current vacancies they still keep candidate details on file.

You can sit at home and wait for the phone to ring but improving your CV, networking and making speculative job applications are all activities that will pay off and help you to get a job offer even in a difficult market.

Job search – Common traps for professionals and how to avoid them

It’s Patra Frame time again. Here she provides some great insight into common pitfalls which I have seen trip up many professionals who should know better.  Actually perhaps I should say ‘proffesionals’, because I’ve lost count of how many  CVs and resumes I have seen where someone describes themselves as  ‘a senior management proffesional’ or similar.

Arrogant attitudes towards potential employer’s staff are another risk, especially for senior job hunters. If you greet the receptionist with a friendly and happy attitude, they will quite probably say something good about you to the people that will decide whether or not to hire you. If you are lofty and arrogant, then guess what happens?

Patra calls this ‘silly self sabotage’ and yet too often, it's these little things which get overlooked by job hunters that ultimately stop them getting hired.

In job hunt, older workers must step up their game

 By Bridgette A. Lacy  

Holly Springs resident James Chambers was laid off about two years ago. The 59-year-old Chambers networks, consults with small businesses and stays current on LinkedIn.

But Chambers, like many older workers, is having a hard time finding a new position.

 “I have 10 more years to work for somebody,” says Chambers, the former general manager for Carolina Mobility & Seating, an Apex company that provides pediatric medical equipment including wheelchairs, strollers and walking aids. 

Chambers has made it to a second interview several times, only to be told he was overqualified. “Nothing changed in my resume between the first and second interview,” he says. “It’s a polite way of saying you are too old. Sometimes I want to say, ‘And the risk to you is what?’ ”

Many older workers like Chambers bring years of problem-solving and management experience, but the statistics clearly show the tide is against them. AARP State Director Doug Dickerson said older workers tend to be out of work a little more than a year, which is longer than younger workers.

According to the AARP’s Public Policy Institute, job seekers 50 and older now make up a higher percentage of the long-term unemployed. In 2007, they were 23 percent; in 2009, they were 38 percent and now they are 54 percent.

Because those 50-plus workers make up such a large part of the long-term unemployed, they will be hit especially hard come the end of the year. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which extended initial unemployment benefits, ends the week of Dec. 29. That means about 75,000 to 87,000 North Carolina claimants will stop receiving an unemployment check, according to the N.C. Division of Employment Security. More than 6,000 of those claimants live in Wake County; 2,803 in Durham and about 500 in Orange County.

Adaptable, trainable

There are companies who don’t want to hire older workers. Managers think older, more experienced workers will have higher salary expectations, and that they could lead to higher health care costs. They also may think older workers are not up-to-date on technology or able to work longer hours. Younger workers are perceived as more energetic and cheaper.

It’s not surprising for mature workers to feel they are being discriminated against, Dickerson said. “They feel a high degree of job insecurity, especially women,” he said.

Such an extended time without a job is taking its toll.

“People are worried about insufficient 401(k)s and reduced health care benefits,” Dickerson said.

And because many may have put off families to focus on careers, they also are the generation that may have children in college and aging parents to care for.

Because of such stresses, many seasoned professionals tend to be looking for high job satisfaction more than a high paycheck. And Dickerson said, employers need to realize that older workers are adaptable and trainable, and usually have a shorter learning curve than inexperienced workers.

But with employers still having the upper hand, mature job seekers must up their game. One way to do that is to tap into organizations that provide resources specifically for older workers.

Resources available

Ivan Gobern, the state program coordinator for the National Caucus and Center On Black Aged(NCBA), a national subcontractor of the U.S. Department of Labor, said local and regional employers are seeking older workers who are comfortable with, or willing to learn, contemporary business norms (email, online applications, team-based performance, etc.), have strong interpersonal and customer service skills, are interested in both learning and sharing what they know, and are flexible while functioning in faster-paced environments.

Gobern manages one of the state’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) offices with the ability to support 240 mature job seekers in 18 central Carolina counties. The program is designed for unemployed men and women who are 55 or older. Applicants must be capable of performing part-time training duties and have an annual family income that does not exceed 125 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines.

Participants are paid a stipend to train and job search for a maximum of 20 hours per week. The positions range from working at a library to a custodian at a school. Training resembles on-the-job learning with business partnerships that are mainly nonprofits or government agencies. Participants are paid no less than the federal or state minimum wage.

In 2011, more than 60 older job seekers successfully left the NCBA program by securing full or part-time employment, Gobern said. Even in this economy, Gobern’s experience is that there are jobs for seniors who go after them and employers who are looking for their talent.

The state’s Division of Workforce Solutions has older worker coordinators at most of its Employment Security Commission offices. “We provide them with advice and resources on how to best advertise themselves for jobs,” said Jim Korth, one of the coordinators.

Korth said he and the other coordinators assist the 50-plus crowd with up-to-date job search practices including how to apply for jobs online and in some cases hide their maturity to potential employers.

Lloyd Diggs, an employment coordinator at one the ESC’s Raleigh offices, leads a monthly workshop for older workers. They can come and talk about the obstacles they face in securing employment.

His advice to job seekers?
• Emphasize “your value” not “your age.”
• Leverage what you have in term of experience.
• Understand that wages are suppressed so you might not be able to command your former salary.

Project positive attitude

John M. O’Connor, a Raleigh career coach with Career Pro, has his own advice for older job seekers, who he says sometimes say the right things but don’t project a positive attitude.

“You have to believe good things are going to happen,” O’Connor said. “Be mission-oriented. That’s infectious. Find a way to own that you have something to offer the marketplace. If you have an inner spirit that comes through, many potential employers will overlook some shortcomings that can be taught.”

Both employers and employees really need to think beyond their stereotypes of aging.

“Forget the antiquated notion of the older man or woman wandering around who may break a hip,” Korth says.

“They have the ability to learn new technology and are willing to try new things. They are less likely to call in sick than younger people with children at home.”

Some companies with older clients are recognizing their seasoned workers relate better to customers, he said.

Suzanne LaFollette-Black, AARP’s associate state director for community outreach which includes workforce issues, says some of the best North Carolina companies for older workers include Durham Regional Hospital, GlaxoSmithKline, SAS and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Earlier this year, AARP unveiled a new tool for job seekers called Work Reimagined. Companies sign a pledge acknowledging they understand the value of experienced workers. Job seekers can access companies who have signed the pledge by following Work Reimagined on LinkedIn.

Remember looking for a job is a process, Diggs said. So pace yourself but stay steady on the course. Also be creative. You might start off volunteering and then land a job.

“You’re just looking for a crack, not even a window,” he said. “You want an opportunity to display what you know.”

Citi Group to Slash 11,000 jobs

December 5 2012 

Citigroup, the third-biggest U.S. bank, said Wednesday it plans to cut more than 11,000 jobs - about 4% of its global workforce - in an effort to reduce costs and enhance profitability.

The move was applauded among investors, who pushed Citigroup shares up 6.3% to $36.46 in heavy trading.

In a statement, New York-based Citi (C) says it will take a pretax charge of about $1.1 billion this quarter and expects savings in 2013 to be $900 million.

The move was lifting other financial stocks, such as Bank of America, up 5.4% to $10.43.

"These actions are logical next steps in Citi's transformation," CEO Michael Corbat said in Citi's statement. "While we are committed to - and our strategy continues to leverage - our unparalleled global network and footprint, we have identified areas and products where our scale does not provide for meaningful returns."

The bank, which employs 262,000 worldwide, did not detail how many of the jobs cuts will be in the United States, although it plans to close 44 branches.

Corbat was elevated to CEO in October after the abrupt resignation of Victor Pandit. "Today's announcement shows that there's a new sheriff in town and nothing is sacred,'' says RBC Capital Market analyst Gerard Cassidy.

Most of the job cuts Citi cited, or about 6,200, will come from Citi's consumer banking unit, which handles everyday functions in bank branches and online.

Citi said that it will sell or scale back consumer operations in Pakistan, Paraguay, Romania, Turkey and Uruguay and focus on 150 cities around the world "that have the highest growth potential in consumer banking."

The bank says about 1,900 jobs will be cut in its institutional clients group, an effort to "improve overall productivity in our markets business, especially in areas experiencing continued low profitability, such as cash equities.'' And another 2,600 jobs will disappear in the bank's operations and technology group and global functions. Citi says it plans to cut 15 branches in Korea, 14 in Brazil, seven in Hong Kong and four in Hungary.

"This is just the beginning, '' says Raymond James Financial analyst Anthony Polini, who rates Citigroup a strong buy.

"In a slow growth environment, low interest rates are eating away at profit margins. One would think there are more opportunities to cut, especially overseas," Polini says.

The CEO promised the bank would reduce "excess capacity and expenses, whether they center on technology, real estate or simplifying our operations."

Pandit resigned in mid-October, just one day after the bank said its underlying third-quarter profits were strong and that the bank's outlook was improving.

In November, a regulatory filing disclosed that Citi paid Pandit a $6.7 million bonus and paid a $6.8 million bonus to John Havens, the former chief operating officer who resigned when Pandit did.

Pandit had reportedly clashed with the board over the company's strategy and its relationship with the government. He had been at the helm of the bank for five years, before and following the 2008 financial collapse.

Mike Mayo, a Credit Agricole Securities analyst and long-time Citigroup critic, said in an interview on cable TV's CNBC that the layoffs are needed, but more change is necessary. "The big issue isn't what's going to happen in the next one to two years, but what will they do in the next five to 10. They need a more radical restructuring. At some point, they need to exit some businesses."

Citi nearly collapsed during the financial crisis and had to take two taxpayer bailout loans. It has been shrinking since, shedding units and trying to find a business model that's more streamlined and efficient.

The streamlining hasn't gone as smoothly as Citi hoped. This fall, for example, when Citi negotiated the sale of its stake in the retail brokerage Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, it got far less than it wanted from buyer Morgan Stanley.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Age discrimination lawsuits - employers beware

December 04, 2012

A 59-year-old Massachusetts man was hired into a prestigious hotel job, but his employer’s headquarters were in Connecticut, and it really wanted him to be there rather than in his home state. The situation went from OK to bad to worse.

What happened. "Taylor" lived in Marshfield with his wife, who was not in good health. After a distinguished career in hotel management, HEI Hospitality hired him in 2006 as its senior vice president (SVP) for acquisitions and transitions. He also recruited and mentored general managers. Even HEI’s initial offer required Taylor to relocate to Norwalk, Connecticut, but he refused to move his wife and was persuaded to spend at least one day a week in Norwalk but travel to HEI properties from Marshfield the rest of the time.

Things went very well for 2 years, but a new SVP for operations wanted all top officers to relocate to Norwalk. Taylor was given a choice: Go to Norwalk or take a bump down to general manager of the Cambridge, MA, hotel. Taylor promptly hired a lawyer, who just as promptly told top management he and his client believed the team was discriminating against Taylor because of his age. He soon met with a top officer, who withdrew the Norwalk offer and left only the demotion to Cambridge on the table.

Taylor negotiated extensively but was able to wrestle only a small increase in the new salary and nothing else. On the day HEI had demanded he accept the new job or else, Taylor filed a charge of age discrimination against the company. He was fired by e-mail within hours.

Taylor sued HEI in federal district court, where his case was sent to a jury. The panel found the employer liable for retaliation, but not for age discrimination. However, it awarded Taylor steep damages of nearly $3 million, including his attorneys’ fees. HEI appealed to the 1st Circuit, which covers Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

What the court said. About one-third of the jury’s award had been for emotional distress, and the district court cut that in half before the appeals court considered the case. Appellate judges found even $500,000 "grossly excessive" for distress that had not required any treatment or caused any infirmity. So they reduced it further to $200,000. Trainor v. HEI Hospitality, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, No. 12-1152 (10/31/12).

Point to remember: Retaliation is easier to prove than bias, and even $200,000 isn’t cheap. Giving in to rage and promptly firing a top executive for (1) continually arguing for a better deal in a transition and (2) filing a charge of discrimination is a luxury most companies can ill afford.

Has Job Hunting Become Your Hobby?

By Claire Gordon

If you are job hunting during the workday, you are not alone. According to a new survey by Right Management, a whopping 86 percent of workers said that they plan to actively seek a new position in 2013, up slightly from 84 percent in 2011.

Yet statistics show turnover is actually slowing down, and people are more loyal -- or just plain stuck in their jobs than they have been for decades. American workers don't live in an age of constant job-hopping, it seems, but constant, casual job-hunting.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, just 1.5 percent of workers quit their jobs each month of 2011 -- less than 18 percent. Which means that all those job seekers in the Right Management poll spent a year lucklessly hunting for new work, or a year not trying that hard.

Many Job Hunters Are Just 'Window Shopping'

"With so many job boards and constant social networking, workers appear to have convinced themselves that they're truly job hunting when all they're doing is cruising the Internet," CEO of ManpowerGroup Specialty Brands, Owen J. Sullivan, said in a press release. "The Internet job boards are sort of like window shopping, something to do in a down moment."

Today workers can sign up for customized alerts on CareerBuilder. Instead of handing out your card with a hopeful smile, you can shoot out a dozen queries on LinkedIn. Resumes are no longer stamped and mailed by hand, but attached to an email with a click.

Americans can be "actively" looking for work without being very active at all. Just as the internet has turned many of us into photographers -- blasting artfully-unfocused photos out to the world in seconds -- it may also have transformed us into chronic job-hunters.

Workers Are More 'Loyal' Than They Have Been In Years

Whether this "loyalty" is inspired by a love of the job, fear of change or just a lousy job market isn't clear, but employee tenure is on the rise. According to January 2012 statistics, U.S. workers 25 or older have been in their current job for an average of 5.4 years, a few months longer than workers' tenure in 1983 -- when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping track. Average tenure has been rising continuously for women since the early 80s, as more women entered and stayed in the workforce. For men, it dropped during the 80s and 90s, but has been climbing since 2004.

Even younger workers -- often stereotyped as being perpetual job-hoppers -- are slightly more likely to stay with their current employers than past generations. The percentage of American workers over 25 who have been with their current employer for more than a decade was 34 percent in January, compared to 32 percent in January, 1983.

Job Hunting As A Hobby

When the career site Glassdoor asked over 2,000 people to choose up to three "work-related resolutions" for 2013, only 23 percent selected "look for a new job," beaten out by "salary raise" (32 percent) and "develop leadership skills (24 percent). Landing a new position just wasn't most people's top priority.

For many Americans, it seems, job-hunting has become more of a casual hobby than a dedicated mission. It's something to fill a fitful hour, like checking the price of flights to Rio for the trip you fantasize about taking, or cleaning up your email inbox.

This could be a distressing development, or not, depending on your outlook. Today's never-ending job-search could be brewing discontent in employees' hearts, diverting them from the job their paid to do to all the ones they could be doing.

Or perhaps it has a soothing effect, reassuring workers that they're not missing out on a glittering opportunity, because they'll know when one pops up. For many of us, the job hunt may be more for sport than food. If the catch is good enough, we'll feast. But otherwise, it's just good exercise.

What can Older Workers offer your company? A lot.

by Teresa Fausey

In last week’s post, I looked at some of the “reasons” employers may have for not hiring older workers. Turns out that most of them are based on mistaken assumptions.
This week, I’m going to talk about some of the pluses older workers bring to their jobs and their employers. There are several:
1.   Older workers are more loyal to their employers: According to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers between 55 and 64 years of age have been with their current employers a median of 9.3 years, while longevity for workers between 25 and 34 years of age is only 2.9 years. 

 When talented and experienced people choose to stick around for nearly ten years instead of three, employers benefit. There are, after all, costs that come with turnover -lost productivity and disruption in the workplace, as well as the cost of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, onboarding, and training replacements. That makes the basic fact of worker loyalty a big plus.

2. Older workers who have been with your company for some time know a lot: They’ve not only gained considerable professional experience and expertise; they also have a ton of “organizational wisdom.” They know your organization—your cultural idiosyncrasies, individual personality quirks, informal channels. In short, they know how things at your company really work and how to get things done.

3. Studies show that older workers tend to have better interpersonal skills than younger workers. Probably developed through a variety of life experiences that go beyond the workplace: building and maintaining long-time relationships with family, friends, spouses, and children; dealing with adversity; overcoming fear; and meeting unexpected challenges.

4. Older workers are more tech savvy than you may think. In fact, 28 million people over the age of 45 are on Facebook, nearly half of people over age 55 have a smartphone, and face it, computer usage must be nearly 100% for people who have been in the workplace during the past 20 years.

5. Studies also indicate that most older workers are not only willing, but anxious to learn new skills. People who want to stay active are eager to keep learning. They understand the benefits—both economic and personal.

6. Older workers are more likely to know themselves—what they want personally and professionally, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. They also know that not everything happens when, or even if, you want it to. They’re more patient with other people and with circumstances beyond their control. They’re more stable and dependable. As it turns out, older workers are more mature. Hmmmm.

7. Older workers make great mentors and advisors, and many are interested in filling those roles: In fact, many companies are already recruiting older -even retired - workers as consultants and mentors.

Your organization should look to add younger workers who will bring energy, excitement, fresh ideas, and an eagerness to try new things. That’s how innovation and change happen. But in every organization, a balance of the exuberance of youth and the experience of age is a good combination to shoot for.

The Elevator Pitch Part 2

To follow on from Patra Frame, here’s some more insight into perfecting your elevator pitch from Chris Westfall, the leading expert on this topic.

Chris Westfall is the national elevator pitch champion, and the author of "Five Great New Elevator Pitches".

The elevator pitch is a simple but powerful tool. However, just because it is short doesn’t mean you can compose the best possible pitch in a couple of minutes. You need to give it some serious thought and practice and Chris shows you how you can do it here. Thanks Chris!

Job search success – top tips #1

Here’s Patra Frame again with a great explanation of a key  tool I think many jobseekers are not aware of.  It’s called an elevator speech. In fact even if you are not looking for a job right now, you should have an elevator speech to hand because it’s a powerful tool for developing almost every networking opportunity which crosses your path.

If you don’t know what an elevator speech is, then you really need to watch this short film. More importantly, you need to craft  your own right now.

Your elevator speech is a vital foundation for your networking and interview success. In today’s economic climate, it is essential that you can grab attention with a really concise value proposition that creates interest.

I see dozens of Linkedin profiles which completely fail to do this. That’s because they are focussed on what people have done previously and their technical skills rather than how they are unique, how they add value and why they are a great asset to an employer.

This doesn’t replace or negate your technical skills, instead it provides a foundation and start point to open up a meaningful dialogue. And if you get it right, you’ll have a really powerful personal introduction which will open up many more opportunities for you.

Unleash your unique career power

By Neil Patrick

Here's an inspiring video from last week of my friend Scott Dinsmore's speech at TEDx.

In case you don't know, Scott is the man behind the LiveYour Legend programme.

Scott has single mindedly pursued the realisation of his vision over many years now and I think it's a philosophy and toolset whose time has now come.

I have always felt that the Live Your Legend programme is invaluable to baby boomers. Perhaps even more than younger groups, we are prone to accepting the idea that what we are now is what we must always be.

This is a very risky strategy in today's world. More than ever, we need to embrace new possibilities of what we can become.Today's problems really can be tomorrow's opportunities if we apply the right tools to release our own unique strengths, passions and capabilities.

Over-50s too optimistic on savings

Nov 30th 2012

The over-50s are "sleepwalking" towards their retirement by underestimating how long they will live and being overly optimistic about how well off they will be, research by pensions experts has warned.

A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies said savers with a defined contribution pension typically appear to be "somewhat optimistic", and some would have to grow their pension pot by almost 80% to meet their retirement expectations.

The research, backed by the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), found that one in four people aged 50 to 64 would need to save more than £60,000 before they retire to achieve the income they expect, and almost two thirds (59%) had never considered how many years of retirement they might need to finance.

Meanwhile, a third (32%) of private pension holders aged 52 to 64 could not even give a rough estimate of what their pension income in retirement might be.

The report said that women aged in their 50s are underestimating their life expectancy by around four years on average compared with national projections, by putting it at around 84 rather than 88. The study of older people in England also found that men tend to think they will live to be around 83, whereas according to national forecasts they are likely to live to be 85.

Joanne Segars, chief executive of the NAPF, said: "The average saver with a defined contribution pension is being over-optimistic. They need to see their pension pot grow by almost 80% to meet their expectations. That is a huge ask if they are only a few years away from their retirement party."

She added: "Fortunately, people are going to live longer than they think, but they are not planning for it, so they might find their savings and pension do not stretch far enough.

"Millions of people are within a decade of their state pension but have still not thought about how long their retirement might last. It's worrying that so many over-50s are sleepwalking into their old age and are expecting to be better off than they will be."

The NAPF emphasised the importance of shopping around to buy an annuity, which sets the size of someone's pension income for life. The research found that, in recent years, only 28% of people bought an annuity from a provider other than the firm they hold their pension with.

A landmark Government scheme which will eventually see up to 10 million people automatically placed in workplace pensions was launched last month, starting with larger companies.

© 2012 Press Association