6 job-hunting tips for older workers

By Art Koff

Whether it’s for personal satisfaction or financial need, many retirees and future retirees want to work in retirement. 

In a poll of over 3,000 business professionals conducted by RetiredBrains.com, more than 86% said they plan to continue working once they are retired. 

But employment for older workers isn’t easy to come by. Americans aged 55 and over, experience an average unemployment duration of 52.7 weeks, according to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up over 160% since December 2007 when the average duration of unemployment for these workers was only 20.2 weeks.    


The job-hunting tips below were developed as a result of feedback from hundreds of older job seekers who helped RetiredBrains develop them. Try them. They work!   

1)      Look for temporary or project assignments as they are much more available than fulltime jobs.

Executives, managers and professionals can often use their current skill sets and experience to work on projects where their background works for them and also for the employers that hire them on this basis. There are many employers interested in hiring on a project basis as in most cases employers do not have to pay benefits for these kinds of jobs and even more importantly an employer can terminate a project based worker with little or no warning and little expense.

Register with temp firms in your local area as they are less concerned with age and are more interested in your skills and experience. Their interview process will give you interviewing experience. Also if you get work through a temp firm, even if it is not the kind of job you are seeking, it helps build your resume for future work assignments.

2) When applying for a job, tell the employer you are willing to work on a project or temporary basis. 

This often gives you a leg up on younger workers who are often unwilling to accept employment that does not include benefits. Temporary employment can lead to full-time work.


Although in most cases there is little or no monetary compensation it is good experience and can possibly lead to employment with a firm that is seeking that particular experience or appreciates your work ethic. It is also easier to find employment while you are working/volunteering as you have a better mind set during interviews. Looking for a job on a full-time basis is not a very rewarding experience and frame of mind is more important that you realize. 

4) Consider having your resume re-written or updated by an expert as the resume you used years ago is no longer appropriate. 

You should have your resume on your computer so you can modify it highlighting the experience most appropriate for the employer and job to which you are applying. A single general resume for all interviews is not the best way to get hired. Just as important is to ensure that you have a powerful presence on Linkedin, as today this is the default resource used by hiring firms, recruiters and headhunters.

5) Get information on the prospective employer prior to your interview. 

For example contact someone who works for this employer who attended the same school you went to saying, "Hi. You and I went to the same school but graduated at different times. I'm interviewing for a position with your firm later this week and, before I meet with the hiring manager, I would like to test out a couple questions I have about the firm on you and see what you think the answers might be.” Research the employer on Linkedin, Google or Yahoo

6) Search for a job on job boards that specifically connect older workers with employers seeking to hire them and post your resume on these sites. 

The search and resume posts are free. Set a job alert to notify you if a position is posted that matches your skills, experience and geographic preferences.

Some job boards specializing in older workers: 

·         RetiredBrains.com

·         RetirementJobs.com

·         Workforce50.com

·         SeniorJobBank.com

·         Seniors4Hire.com 

After "retiring" from a 40-year career in advertising, Art spent several years as a consultant working with employers involving the aging work force and with seniors addressing the challenges facing them as they prepared for retirement. In early 2003, he founded RetiredBrains.com, a site that has developed into a major destination for boomers, retirees and people planning retirement. RetiredBrains provides information on a wide variety of subjects and includes a free job board connecting employers looking to hire older workers.  Art can be reached via LinkedIn, Twitter: @artkoff and Facebook..

Want to know where the jobs are? Here’s the answer.

By Neil Patrick

Here's a CNBC clip that reveals some interesting details about where jobs growth is happening. Asia Pacific is reported to be where executive jobs are growing fastest, especially for those with experience of doing business in that region. Whilst the financial sector is still lagging even there, other sectors are very buoyant.

CLICK TO VIEW: Asia Jobs Outlook for Executives in 2013

None of this is particularly surprising given the economic growth in the region. However, looking below the surface of this report, there are some important implications for the rest of us.

Firstly, in the short term, this is bad news for Europe and the US as it is essentially a brain drain from West to East. Depending on your personal political standpoint, you may or may not believe that senior executives and their remuneration packages are part of the West’s economic problem. In fact I think this argument is largely irrelevant. As we see here, if Asian economies are attracting a significant number of senior Western leaders, this will have a debilitating short term impact on recovery prospects in the West. Intellectual capital is a key driver for businesses and people carry much of this capital value with them, largely unencumbered by legal controls.

But I think in the medium term, this trend will impact the West in a positive way. We know that wage inflation in China for example has been around 500% in the last 5-6 years. This has driven a massive rise in the costs of Chinese manufactured goods. This labour cost rise is coupled with increased fuel and transportation costs and neither of these costs is likely to lessen in the near future. This now means that for many Western businesses, domestic manufacture is now no more expensive than Chinese manufacture. Plus it allows greater control and shorter lead times, due to shorter transportation distances. These economic forces mean that there’s a distinct likelihood that there will be slow but steady rise in Western domestic manufacturing, eventually helping jobs recovery.

So the short-term effect is negative, but the medium term outlook is slowly improving. Not good news if you need to find work in the west over the next 5 years or so. Western economic recovery will be slower I think than with any previous recession.

3 Bite-Sized Tips to Power-Up Twitter for Your Job Search

Advice abounds on how to use social media to advance your career and job search. Beyond reading the volumes of great books, breaking down advice into manageable bites is a smart way to venture into the often-rough social networking waters. Also, choosing one site and really getting your feet wet is helpful to prevent social media overwhelm and scattershot behaviour. The following are three snack-size tips to help you get started using the niche-networking site, Twitter.

Tip No. 1: Create a Twitter handle that articulates your value. This may simply mean using your name, particularly if your personal brand and unique value are highly connected to your name. So, @JaneDDoe may just be the perfect draw to brand you. However, if your brand is better exuded through a descriptive representation of what you do, whom you serve, how you serve, and so forth, then consider drawing a visual word picture.

The challenge: Creating this handle to represent your brand in just a 15-character limit. But you can meet that challenge. It just takes thought and brainstorming.

Check out these eight examples of personally branded, value-focused and/or descriptive Twitter handles to get your juices flowing:

1.      Showing your unique value: @WorkIntegrity (A career transition consultant with integrity)

2.      Showing what you do: @bizshrink (A leadership psychologist who grows psychologically savvy leaders) 

3.      Describing how you help others: @AuntieStress (She undresses your stress by getting to the heart of the cause) 

4.      Using your name brand: @lizadonnelly (A New York-based cartoonist and writer) 

5.      Creating a hybrid handle: @RedBaronUSA (A turnaround management and growth strategy expert who uses a company name, RedBaron, and first name, Baron, in the handle) 

6.      Describing what you do while concurrently using your company name: @Brainzooming (Strategy, innovation, creativity, and social media ideas) 

7.      Incorporating your name brand plus credential (niche area of focus): @tracystewartcpa (A CPA PFS CFF CFP CDFA, collaborative neutral financial advisor) 

8.      Emphasizing your personal brand tagline: @ValueIntoWords (A certified master resume writer translating value into words. @Glassdoor career and workplace expert) 

Tip No. 2: Follow a couple dozen people and begin sharing their content.

This can start as simply as researching four or five of your favorite colleagues on Twitter and then following them. Tag along a few of the people they follow. Read through their tweets. Select a resonating tweet and share it using the "retweet" button. Or, better yet, create a personal introduction to the tweet and customize your share.

You can do this by copying/pasting the original tweet into a new tweet window and then typing in additional, value-add language to introduce the tweet. This will test your writing precision and editing skills because you likely will need to trim the original tweet (without changing the meaning), and have to create a brief, three- or four-word value-add remark, all while fitting into the 140-character limitations.

The following is an example of a tailored retweet of a blog post where the poster pulled out the takeaway message that she found most compelling.

Example of original tweet: "4 tips for better negotiations http://www.stumbleupon.com/to/s/73xwDS"

Example of tailored retweet: "'Watch where you set your anchor' + 3 more tips for better negotiations: http://bit.ly/VtqfOr by @twilli2861"

Tip No. 3. Tweet your own content.

Once you get the hang of tweeting, consider developing your own original tweets. If you author a blog or guest post on other blogs, then it would be natural to share that content. If this isn't the case, then create 140-character tips that apply to your area of expertise. So, for example, if you are a sales professional, you may want to prepare a sales tip to help your followers sell better, or you could share one thing not to do when trying to close a deal. In other words, consider what's in it for the follower before composing a tweet, then offer practical advice they can immediately implement.

While Twitter can be a noisy playground with lots of equipment with which to experiment; e.g., TweetDeck, HootSuite, hashtags, Twitter chats, and such, don't let that bog you down. Instead, target in on one area of that playground and start swinging. Let your legs fly, throw your head back. At the same time, play safely and courteously. You will find yourself exhilarated and playful, at the same time, growing your career muscle in communication and collaboration.

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. Jacqui and her husband, "Sailor Rob," host a lively careers-focused blog at http://careertrend.net/blog. Jacqui is a power Twitter user (@ValueIntoWords), listed on several "Best People to Follow" lists for job seekers.

This post originally appeared here:

Your Confidence Is a Critical Job-search Tool

By Trina Fleming

Searching for a job these days is hard work. You must make sure that your resume stands out, that you are prepared to dazzle potential employers with your interview answers, that your handshake is firm, your body language positive and that you are dressed in a way that exemplifies your professionalism. But all that is still not enough to get you a job. More than not the critical element to getting a job today is confidence. And for many job seekers whose job search has lasted about 40 weeks, longer than any time since 1948, confidence is the one thing that they lack.

In the past, most job seekers believed they could get a job because of their education, because of their experience. But in this job market, education and experience is not enough to get them a job offer. Confidence is one of the critical factors employers are looking for when they make a hiring decision. When a potential employer picks up on a lack of confidence, they put less stock in the candidate's abilities. And because confidence generally comes from one's dealings with the world, long-term unemployment or long-term rejection will often have a negative impact on confidence. In order to be successful at their job search, job seekers must find and display the self-confidence that comes from within.

One way to boost self-confidence during a job search is to write down your accomplishments and achievements. It is not enough to know where you've been successful; you need to know exactly what you've achieved and see it written down so that you can keep referring to it. You will most likely not include every accomplishment on your resume, so keep a list. Use the list to formulate answers to interview questions and casual conversation with your network. This is your time to shine and be willing to share your successes with pride.

It is also important to stay active. During your job search some of your days will be filled with appointments and places to be and some days will be filled with phone calls and Internet searching. But every day should include things that fuel your brain. Read books, exercise, journal, volunteer, take a class, learn a new language; do things for yourself that energize you and keep you positive.

And after you get the call to schedule an interview, prepare. Practice your introduction; practice the answer to the question that will always be asked, "Tell me about yourself." Research the company, Google the person who will be interviewing you, know the company's mission and the projects they are working on. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be.

Remember, an interview is not just a time to expound on the experience and skills that your resume has summarized, but it is a time to persuade the interviewer that you can do the job, that you are a good fit for the organization and that their organization will be better off having you as part of the team. The candidate that can successfully make that argument will generally get the job... and that takes confidence.

Hiring managers want to be assured that they are making the right hiring decision. They don't want to make a mistake and hire the wrong person. Your confidence will help the interviewer be more confident about making the decision to hire you.

If you would like to be part of transforming the lives of families struggling with unemployment, join WHW in the Job Raising Challenge! No contribution is too small and every dollar has an impact.

Go to http://www.crowdrise.com/WomenHelpingWomen-jr and let's put America Back to Work!

Trina is the VP of Marketing and Communications at WHW and is responsible for the development and implementation of WHW's strategic marketing and public relations activities. She oversees the shaping of WHW's brand message and communication objectives of the organization.

6 Pro Tips For Job Searching on Online Websites & Job Boards

Even in 2013, Job boards remain a leading candidate source for recruiters and even with the popularity of social media. Major job boards like CareerBuilder and Monster and job board aggregators like Simply Hired and Indeed  are some of the most popular ways for companies to develop a candidate pool when looking to fill an open position.

How does an employee candidate stand out from the virtual pack of job hunters when posting a resume on a major job search board?


  • Your Resume Title. First impressions are important. The title of your online resume will determine whether your resume gets a first look on the employment search engine. Include action words in the title that best describe your experience and are different from the norm. An example would be a Certified AMX Audio Visual Professional.

  • Include an Objective in Your Online & Resume Profile. An objective describes what career opportunity as well as industry you are interested in learning more about. Recruiters spend roughly 10 seconds or less per resume on the job boards. Keep your employment objective simple, direct and to the point. For example, Seasoned and Certified Human Resource Director interested in opportunity within the non-profit industry. Limit your objective to 1-2 sentences.

  • Resume Format. Include bullets, open space, dates, and quantitative numbers on your resume to help the job search engines index your resume in the right category. Avoid spelling errors, unprofessional email addresses, and a format that is not easily skimmed and no more than 2 pages.

  • Update Your Profile Weekly. Job boards list resumes by most recently updated and allow recruiters to use search by resumes updated daily, weekly, and monthly. Keep your resume at the top of the pack by updating it weekly. You can also take advantage of CareerBuilder’s advantage option which automatically provides you this service but at a fee.

  • Use Searchable Buzzwords & Keyword Terms. Recruiters mine resumes for qualified employment candidates also by keyword search. Include terms relevant to the industry or job you are interested in. Include any specialized certifications and their abbreviations as well as other specific qualifications to increase your exposure.

  • Include Your Contact Information. Job recruiters do not have the time or patience to contact a candidate that uses an anonymous resume on a job search board. Increase your exposure odds by including your contact information, including email and phone numbers.
Successful Job Search

Your job search isn’t an easy task.  It takes hard to work to manage, develop, and execute a successful job search campaign. Job board candidate profiles as well as your LinkedIn professional profile need to be updated and managed on a regular basis – make sure you do it at least weekly.  


How A Bad Job Search Results In A Bad Employer

I used to work in restaurants, I was a troubleshooter. People would hire me to “fix” what was broken. Often the fact no one was coming through the doors which in turn meant they were bleeding money.

So I would go in and assess food, service, if the offering matched the target audience things like that. At one point, usually a week or two in someone would suggest that we needed “marketing, we need to attract more people.” My answer to this was always, “marketing your restaurant now would just be advertising to a whole bunch of people how bad you are.”

 What I meant was that the reason these restaurants were struggling was because, well to put it bluntly, their food and service sucked! So bringing in the masses to get crappy food and crappy service wouldn’t help, it would actually crush the business.

I see people doing the same thing in their job search, especially the over 40 crowd. They market them-self before they take care of finding out what they are really selling. And no, it’s not your “over 20 years” of experience.

But what I want you to do is take stock of what you really want before you get out there and start “marketing!” Why? Marketing yourself before you’re ready can hurt your job search, really, really bad, in the following ways.

Here is the dangerous cycle of how you could be hurting your job search by “marketing” yourself too soon.

One: Many people, when they start their job search start applying to jobs, any jobs;every job they see. Jobs they are qualified for, under-qualified for, over-qualified for and jobs they have zero qualifications for. This is risky for 2 reasons:

1.             You get a reputation as a stalker. That’s right. We headhunters call you “stalkers” and because you apply for every job, you get eliminated from every job.

2.             It might work and a company as desperate for employees as you are for a job might actually call you for an interview! They’re desperate for a reason – they are horrible to work for! How would you like to work for those guys?

Two: Now once you have applied to all of these companies and have or haven’t gotten an interview there are 2 more landmines you could encounter.

1.             You go to the interview and they make you an offer. Awesome, right? Getting a job with a company you have no interest in is a recipe for “short-term employment” disaster. Whether it’s your decision to leave or theirs (you get fired), short-term employment is not helping you. Especially for the over 40, unemployed, very experienced and looking for a home.

2.             Or after they call you do some research and decide, “Ah, they’re not the company for me” and you no-show for the interview.

Three: That hiring manager that you “no showed” on, quit on or who fired you ends up at a company you are excited about. That’s bad! Hiring managers have long memories and this is now a huge roadblock for you to get into this company. You have a black mark next to your name for life.

Four: The cycle of applying to every job you see does not generate interviews. In fact it will dramatically lesson your chances of getting calls.

Or, if you do get calls it will be for jobs you are not excited about.

Or if you do go to the interviews and get hired, the odds are against you loving that job.

All of this contributes to stealing your pride and confidence. You stop thinking about the value you bring and start thinking “why can’t I get hired, what am I doing wrong?”

Being over 40, you are used to providing for yourself, your family and your future. Being over 40 and unemployed you start to question your value and the truth if your over 40 and looking for a job, you’re probably in a shame spiral.

If you want to break this cycle you have to stop (right now) focusing on jobs and hiring managers. I know it sound strange, but stop. And start focusing on yourself. The first thing you can do is find a quiet, private place for at least an hour. Put on your favorite music, grab a pen and paper, pour yourself a coffee, tea, beer, wine, tequila in a dirty glass, whatever you really enjoy and start writing down all the thing you “love and want to do” at your new job – your true strengths. Not things like “being organized or hard working.” I want you to go deep, really deep and get specific about it – it’s your life. Take a moment to see the view looks like from the top of the mountain instead of looking up and thinking “how do I get there.”

Next, I want you to write down all of the things you require in return from an employer to deliver all the things you “love and want to do” on a high level. How do you need to be managed and recognized? What is your perfect environment?

Once you are crystal clear on these you’ll be amazed how the jobs that meet your criteria start appearing where they never used to be.

I know you’ll have comments, so let me have em!

Be fearless and stay inspired.

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/human-resources/when-a-bad-job-search-results-in-a-bad-employer-0377562#Egsc0HELVfvbgzC7.99

Top 10 best job search websites

Looking for work? Check out this guide to the best job search websites to help get you back on your feet and earning again. Even if you think you have the internet covered, check this - it includes some lesser known avenues for you to exploit.

Finding a job is work in and of itself, and needless to say, pounding the pavement can often leave you pounding your fist in frustration. And with unemployment hovering around eight percent according to the United States Department of Labor, it’s no surprise that you may be looking for work given our current economic state.  Although the job market may look a little bleak and barren at times, there are jobs out there for the taking — you just need to know where to look.

Numerous social networking and job search websites are available at your disposal online, whether you’re a part-time student looking to supplement your income or a former CEO on the hunt for the next big startup. The competition may be nonexistent or even over-the-top at times, but just knowing people are hiring offers some piece of mind.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. Here is our guide to some of the best job search websites available at your fingertips. Touch up those resumes and start clicking.

Indeed: Indeed is arguably (and probably) the largest job search engine on the planet. With more than a billion job searches a month and hundreds of thousands of new postings each week, it’s no surprise the company makes that claim. You can create a free, tailored profile, upload a resume, and search job postings aggregated from company pages, associations, and various listings from across the Web. The search results are vast as well as thorough, whether you search by category, location, or even starting salary. The mobile app, email alerts, and search plugins are just a few of the added perks. The website is relatively simple, but sometimes that’s all you need.

SimplyHired: SimplyHired offers one of the most robust, online job databases out there. The search engine company taps into job listings from across the Web, utilizing information from local newspapers to government websites and everything in between. You can search and browse for specific jobs by title, company, or even skillset and refine the results by your desired location. A free account also allows you to upload your resume for personalized results, manage recent searches, setup email alerts and more. And with more than five million jobs, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the premiere social networking site for professionals, but it’s also a great free tool for crowdsourcing and landing jobs. You can create a personalized, resume-like profile touting your work experience and various skills, and send invitations to other LinkedIn users to join their network. It works in a similar fashion to the six degrees of separation idea; once you’re connected with another user, you can peruse their network and create valuable contacts to further your connections with other users. The website also serves as an online job board where employers can post available openings and LinkedIn users can apply.

Craigslist: Craigslist isn’t just used for landing a free sofa or renting out a spare bedroom in your house. Although the website is more stripped down and harder to navigate than some of the other options, it’s still is a fantastic resource and an appropriate avenue for checking out the current job landscape. Just pick your desired location and one of the numerous job categories (i.e. education, government, hospitality) to begin. Be forewarned though, some of the categories can be overly broad, scammers are abundant, and employers are typically bombarded with applicants.

Monster: Monster.com was once the king of online job boards. Although that may no longer be the case, the website still serves as yet another great option for job hunting with more than a million available listings. You can browse and search listings by wage, time or category among other things, and upload your resume for greater specificity and customization. The website also offers career advice including resume and salary negotiation tips, potential job interview questions and more. It’s not the most extensive of the job search websites, but Monster does a phenomenal job when the search engine is coupled with the career tips and a noteworthy support forum.

Dice: Dice.com has been the go-to option for technology and engineering jobs since its inception in the early ‘90s. The site offers approximately 80,000 jobs listings on any given day, whether you’re looking for an entry-level position at a small Silicon Valley startup or a coveted position at Google or Microsoft. Users can create a profile, upload a resume and search postings from around the globe. Dice also offers tech news, career advice and a lively support forum that covers topics from computer forensics to tips for understanding seemingly cryptic job descriptions. For more specialty job sites, try your luck with eFinancialCareers for finance jobs or MediaBistro for all things media.

CareerBuilder: CareerBuilder.com isn’t the best job search website available, but it remains one of the most widely used and popular. It offers all the basic features and allows you to browse and search job postings by skillset, company, and location, among other attributes. A free account gives you options for uploading your resume, managing your job history, and accessing the comprehensive salary calculator. The site even offers a free job competition report so you can get a glimpse of whom you’re up against for any job you apply for. It’s not the most fancy of sites, but it’s simple, straightforward, and to the point.

TweetMyJobs: TweetMyJobs.com is an entirely different breed of social networking — one that beautifully combines social media with the painstaking task of finding a job. All you have to do is select which types of jobs you’re interested in (or “job channels” as the site refers to them) and connect with your Facebook and Twitter profile. TweetMyJobs will then send you tailored job recommendations directly to your email, mobile or Twitter account depending on your preferences. You also can create a custom profile and upload a resume to speed up the application process. It’s a great method for Twitter addicts to stay up to snuff on the current job market.

USAJobs: USAJobs.gov is the U.S. government’s official site for federal jobs and their accompanying information (i.e. eligibility, benefits, salary). Although the site is a bit limited, there are still thousands of jobs to comb through, whether you’re on the hunt for that ideal job researching soil for the government or looking to join the team as a Hazmat specialist. USAJobs is current, frequently updated, and often features government positions other job search websites may have missed. You can even apply through the website to streamline the application process.

Internships: Internships.com is a great option if you’re a student looking to gain some valuable work experience or if you’re just not looking for a full-fledged job. The free-to-use website is one of the largest internship hubs to date and typically features more than 60,000 positions at more than 25,000 companies scattered across the country. You can search by paid or unpaid internships, full- or part-time, and a slew of other options including category, company, and location. Plus, the site offers a mobile app and resume templates if you’re just beginning your hunt.

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/best-job-search-websites/#ixzz2Ic1qRkOh

Think differently - six inspiring stories of boomer career reinvention

IT’S a baby boomer’s nightmare. One moment you’re 40-ish and moving up, the next you’re 50-plus and suddenly, shockingly, moving out — jobless in a tough economy.

Too young to retire, too old to start over. Or at least that’s the line.

Comfortable jobs with comfortable salaries are scarce, after all. Almost overnight, skills honed over a lifetime seem tired, passé. Twenty- and thirty-somethings will gladly do the work you used to do, and probably for less money. Yes, businesses are hiring again, but not nearly fast enough. Many people are so disheartened that they’ve simply stopped looking for work. 

 For millions of Americans over 50, this isn’t a bad dream — it’s grim reality. The recession and its aftermath have hit older workers especially hard. People 55 to 64 — an age range when many start to dream of kicking back — are having a particularly hard time finding new jobs. For a vast majority of this cohort, being thrown out of work means months of fruitless searching and soul-crushing rejection.

To which many experts say, “What did you expect?”

Everyone, whatever age, needs a Plan B. And maybe a Plan C and a Plan D. Who doesn’t know that loyalty and hard work go only so far these days?

“Shame on you if you’re not thinking every single year, ‘What’s my next step?’” says Pamela Mitchell, a career coach and author. “It’s magical thinking  to do this.”

Ms. Mitchell, who has reinvented her own career a few times, says everyone should think about options, alternative job paths and career goals, just in case. She recommends talking over job possibilities with family members and, if possible, building a financial cushion.

Constant networking is crucial, too. The idea, she says, is to prepare in case a big change comes.

“If you’re thinking about it, you’ll be doing all this piecemeal along the way,” she says.

All of which, of course, is easier said than done. But some people who have gone through the emotional and financial strains of late-career unemployment say that with skill, determination and a bit of luck, the end of a job doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Changing jobs or careers can be a good thing later in life, despite the many risks. Many agree that a willingness to push beyond the comforts of location, lifestyle and line of work is vital.

Though there is no single path, there are success stories that offer hope.

After Bonjet Sandigan left a job in computers, he chose to operate a franchise for ShelfGenie, which makes custom shelves.

Like the story of Bonjet Sandigan, now of Delray Beach, Fla. An information technology specialist, Mr. Sandigan was laid off from Dun & Bradstreet in August 2011. But Mr. Sandigan, now 51, has since carved out a new career with ShelfGenie, a seller of custom home shelving.

It was a big switch. Mr. Sandigan grew up in the Philippines and has a computer science degree from Texas A&M. For years, he worked in I.T. support, helping customers over the phone. But he never managed to move up. When Dun & Bradstreet offered him a severance package, he figured that he could finally afford to take a little time to figure out his next move.

“I did some soul-searching about what’s important to me,” he says. “As you grow, your priorities change.”

His father had been an entrepreneur in the Philippines, and Mr. Sandigan was attracted to the idea of working for himself. With the help of a consultant, he looked into buying a franchise in the I.T. or health care industries. Then he considered a ShelfGenie franchise, which appealed to him partly because it was a turnkey operation.

“The infrastructure is there, the market is there, the policies and procedures are there,” he says. “You just have to follow the procedures.”

Mr. Sandigan had worked in I.T. in various industries, including health care, gambling and financial services, so he was willing to try something new again. Still, the change wasn’t easy.

“I had a whole lot of fears,” he says. “But my background told me to do the numbers, do the math and research the market.”

He eventually spent a low six-figure sum to buy four ShelfGenie sales territories and, after living for decades near Dallas, moved to Delray Beach for his new career and new life. He says his experience in I.T., working with cross-cultural teams in India and China, has been surprisingly useful in his new job, which requires a focus on customer service.

“It was a very diverse culture, so my experience there, trying to understand where people are coming from” proves helpful in his current work, he says. He says his old career taught him to listen closely — a valuable skill in his new work.

“Now that I have to be in front of the client,” he says, “I can spend two hours with them before we even discuss the product, and I can do a demonstration.” 

Mr. Sandigan says he figured that the switch would mean a drop in income, at least initially. The first six to eight months would be hard. But, by his reckoning, his new career is on track financially.

“I’m right where I’m supposed to be,” he says.

The Adventurer

Clare Novak is more than on track with her new career. At 58, she is making twice as much as she did in 2008, when her previous work dried up. 

But Ms. Novak didn’t just change jobs. She changed countries and cultures. After 18 years working in Chester Springs, Pa., doing management training for a range of businesses, she moved to Islamabad, Pakistan, in November, to work as a human resources adviser to nine power companies. Her first contract will last through this year, and possibly through 2015, a prospect she is happy to contemplate.

How did she end up making such a leap? She had formerly done work for someone in Egypt, who e-mailed her a job description and asked if she knew anyone who might fit the bill.

“The only person I know who would go there is me,” Ms. Novak says. When asked if she was interested, she said, “I was thrilled and said yes.”

Today, her life is vastly different. Once an avid hiker, she now spends more time at home, given that she is a foreign woman in a patriarchal society. She lives in what amounts to a rooming house and no longer enjoys the privacy she did in Chester Springs.

“Fortunately, I’m with a very collegial group,” she says.

She is accustomed to adapting, and to using her networking skills. In the economic downturn, “networking and word of mouth were how I developed my business,” Ms. Novak said in an e-mail interview. “Volunteering and networking kept me in business quite nicely, including overseas work in Egypt and Ukraine, and later Canada and Kuwait.”

When American businesses began automating the training that was her specialty, a shrinking profession shrank further. Several of her large clients ended projects.

“My business was down to a few small projects and one week’s work a month in Kuwait,” she says. “The year after, I had only Kuwait, which was not enough to make ends meet.

“In those down years, it was a struggle to remain positive and keep at it,” she says. “A long-time friend and colleague suggested that we form a business forum of like-minded women to help each other. We kept each other on track with our businesses and emotionally.”

To this day, she says, all of those women “are still in business, and we are all experiencing upturns.”

Moving to Pakistan has meant big changes. “There is considerably less autonomy for any foreigner of any age here,” she says. “Due to security, both men and women can only walk in the daylight, and never alone. Our driver can take us to specific sectors, and outside of that we require a protection officer to accompany us. Society is relatively segregated socially, so women cluster together and men likewise. The businesswomen I meet are comfortable in mixed groups, and some are very cosmopolitan.”

All the trade-offs are worth it, she says. Ms. Novak says she loves the adventure of living abroad, and the satisfaction of “being able to make a difference in people’s lives.”

The Inventor

Jeffrey Nash, invented the Juppy, a sling that helps children learn to walk.

After 15 years selling men’s clothing for a national retailer, Jeffrey Nash, 58, was earning $90,000 a year and was often the top salesman in his company. But as the recession deepened, he began referring his customers to struggling co-workers. His sales commissions took a hit.

“I kind of softened up,” he says. “My sales went down because I was sharing them.”

His income fell to $65,000. And as shoppers became more cautious during the recession, he knew that it would soon fall even further.

“I was doomed,” he says. “I knew I had to come up with an idea.”

Mr. Nash, who lives in Las Vegas, had invented a device he called the Juppy, a sling that helps toddlers learn to walk more safely and confidently.

“I had already touched base with a patent attorney and had started the ball rolling,” he says. He took three weeks of vacation to see if he could make a go of his invention, telling only a few people about his plans. Their opinions were “really negative,” he recalls.

Undaunted, he drove to Los Angeles and San Diego, selling the Juppy from his trunk and on a televised sales show, and earning $12,000 in three weeks.
“I never went back to work,” he says.

Investing $35,000 of his savings and an additional $9,000 from his father and a friend, Mr. Nash had the device manufactured in China.

“The transition was simple,” he says. “If I’d stayed in my old job, I was going to lose in the end. I was done. I needed a massive change. I needed income of several hundred thousand dollars. I knew I had to take a risk, a massive risk.”
That included selling his home — for $200,000 less than he had paid for it, because of the downturn — and renting a house instead.

“I used to drive a Lexus,” he says. “I let that go. I don’t need it anymore.” 

Mr. Nash has since sold $500,000 worth of his product, netting $200,000 in two and a half years, an annual average of $80,000.

He is relieved, and proud of having successfully leapt from the familiar into the unknown.

“It’s unbelievable to me that at my age I recognized a need and filled it,” he says. “We’re having a hard time filling orders right now, we have so much demand.”

The Renovator

Duke Marquiss had a lot of experience in real estate, but the recession meant a lack of new developments for him to work with. Today, he buys houses and renovates them for sale.

When the economy heads south, it helps to have been through the situation a few times before, says Duke Marquiss, 67, a real estate investor and broker in Fort Collins, Colo. In 1974, he bought a motel in Gillette, Wyo., during an oil and coal boom. “I made the most money of my life,” he recalls.

But the boom went bust, and in 1987, he moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., where he worked as a mortgage broker. By the time he and his wife moved to Colorado in 1989, Mr. Marquiss understood how to buy, sell, manage and rehabilitate real estate.

Today he earns his living in the real estate market niche known as A.R.V., for “after repair value.” He buys properties, restores them and sells them for a profit. Tipped off by a local friend, he bought 65 town houses in Rock Springs, Wyo., in 2005 for $75,000 apiece, on average, and sold them each for about $100,000.

Mr. Marquiss had saved carefully and lived for three years with no income during the worst years of the recession. Because of a lack of new construction, he says he couldn’t “do the development side I liked and was good at.”

“That left me back selling houses,” he adds, “so I decided I would fix and flip.” 

Growing up on a large sheep farm taught him “ranch-hand logic,” but Mr. Marquiss acknowledges that he has had to learn his new business quickly, including how to use social media to gather advice from generous industry veterans. “LinkedIn helped a lot,” he says.

Mr. Marquiss uses only private investors to do his deals, borrowing between $15,000 and $450,000. “They’re tired of low interest rates or losing their money in the stock market,” he says.

His new line of work is not for everyone, he warns.

“You’ve got to be flexible and think very quickly,” he says. “You can’t bank on any of these deals ever closing.”

Before he found his new field, his wife suggested at one point that he find a full-time job working for someone else. He sent out 200 résumés, but received only one call. Sharply reducing their costs of living helped Mr. Marquiss and his wife, Ginger, weather the transition to their new life. They sold their 3,000-square-foot mountain home and now live in a condominium a third of the size in Fort Collins. He also saves $600 to $700 a month on gasoline by not commuting 45 minutes each way into town.

“It takes a conscious decision to reduce your overhead,” he says. “I see so many people in denial about where they really are financially.”

The Networker

Kenneth Jay Cohen, with his son, Jonathan, has been laid off several times, which has taught him the power of networking.

Since graduating from college, Kenneth Jay Cohen, 52, of Stamford, Conn., has faced six layoffs, the first in his early 30s, and the most recent at 50 with two young children to support. A prolonged period of unemployment wasn’t an option, so he did what he has done diligently for decades: he called upon his multiple networks for guidance and leads.

The first time he lost his job, “it was a shock, because I’d never experienced this before,” he says. “But now I know exactly what to do. I try to feed the network as much as I can while I’m still working so I know it’s there when I need it.”

He has more than 1,000 contacts on LinkedIn and works at finding and keeping business contacts elsewhere, too. “Every three or four months I go to a meeting,” he says. “I know who in my network is out of work, so every time I pick up a lead I pass it along to the group.”

Staying actively connected has also helped.

“I’m associated with a few finance groups within my own industry because people in finance need I.T.,” he says. “I also network with bankers, investment bankers and management types and a few accounting groups.”

In all, Mr. Cohen belongs to 24 groups, of which he is most active in seven to nine at any given time.

When he has lost a job, he has made a point of expanding his networks even further. “I always pick a new group to which I devote my time and my leadership skills,” he says. “It keeps me sane. It keeps me focused.”

It took him five months to find his latest job, a full-time position handling I.T. security for a Manhattan-based financial services company. He found his previous job within 30 days, picking up a year’s guaranteed contract work in Hartford.

“I seem to be able to find work,” he says modestly. “I know project managers who’ve been out of work for two years, and they’re really frustrated.” Some, he says, are too busy nursing their wounds to get out and meet the dozens, perhaps hundreds, of others in their field and affiliated areas who might be able to help them.

Living in an affluent area can complicate the issue when it’s time to tighten your belt.

“I’m back to where I was three and a half years ago financially,” he says. “The consumer I used to be when I was younger has considerably changed. It boils down to what your priorities are, and mine is my family. Sure, I’d like a shiny new Lexus and a million-dollar home. But is that practical for me? I’d rather have my kids.”


Effort to re-educate US Baby Boomers continues


The nationwide effort to help train Baby Boomers in new careers through a consortium of community colleges is growing.

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) announced recently that 17 additional community colleges have joined the roster of colleges whose mission is to train 10,000 baby boomers over the next three years for new jobs in healthcare, education and social service.

 The 17 newly-selected colleges are: Blue Ridge Community and Technical College (Martinsburg, W. Va.), Elgin Community College (Elgin, Ill.), Guam Community College (Mangilao, Guam), Halifax Community College (Weldon, N.C.), Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, Northwest (Valparaiso), Lake Region State College (Devils Lake, N.D.), Lenoir Community College (Kingston, N.C.), Montgomery County Community College (Blue Bell, Pa.), Northern Wyoming Community College District (Sheridan, Wyo.), Norwalk Community College (Norwalk, Conn.), Salt Lake Community College (Salt Lake City, Utah), Seminole State College of Florida (Sanford, Fla.), Tallahassee Community College (Tallahassee, Fla.), Tarrant County College District (Fort Worth, Texas), Tri-County Technical College (Pendleton, S.C.), Wayne County Community College District (Detroit, Mich.), and Zane State College (Zanesville, Ohio).

They join the 11 community colleges that were named in August 2012 to participate in the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program.

Those 11 include: Arapahoe Community College (Littleton, Colo.), Black River Technical College (Pocahontas, Ark.), Broome Community College (Binghamton, N.Y.), John Wood Community College (Quincy, Ill.), Lansing Community College (Lansing, Mich.), Owens State Community College (Perrysburg, Ohio), Pitt Community College (Winterville, N.C.), San Jacinto Community College District (Pasadena, Texas), Southside Virginia Community College (Alberta, Va.), Waubonsee Community College (Aurora, Ill.) and West Virginia University at Parkersburg (W.Va.).

“Many adults age 50 and over want to train for new jobs that help others and are hiring, but they need to update their skills. Community colleges offer a supportive environment where baby boomers can train for new jobs quickly and affordably,” Mary Sue Vickers, director for the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC, said in a statement.

For many Baby Boomers, these are encore careers, often jobs that appeal to a person's passion. These second careers come after job loss or even retirement from a long-standing career in another field.

Vickers added that the program hopes to add additional colleges in 2013 that will help it reach 10,000 Baby Boomer students. The next round of grant funding applications for AACC member colleges will be accepted until Feb. 15 and are available now at www.aacc.nche.edu/plus50rfp.

In addition to grant funds to augment training programs, participating colleges gain access to toolkits and extensive marketing resources tailored to reach Baby Boomers. AACC said they’ll also benefit from the advice and support of staff at other community colleges that have successfully implemented programs for older learners and understand the needs of the plus 50 student population.

The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program is funded with a $3.2 million grant to AACC provided by Deerbrook Charitable Trust.


Telephone tricks for success in your job search

By Bonnie Mackenzie 

Improving your communication skills may be a piece of the job search you haven’t thought much about. I get phone calls often from people looking for jobs who are inquiring about opportunities, resume writing, etc. One thing I’m noticing more often than not are those who are “still” looking for a job have not paid attention to how they come across over the phone.

When you are speaking to someone over the phone inquiring about jobs and opportunities, practice first. Sound confident, prepared and organized. Don’t talk in run-on sentences or give the listener time to say something. Ask them questions.

 When you call that potential employer, or even someone to pick their brain about your job search, being able to speak effectively will give you a leg up.

Here’s how you start:

Jot down what you want to say, making clear notes. I wouldn’t exactly write a full script; you don’t want to read it word for word. If you have notes and you’ve practiced, you’ll come across more naturally.

A good rule of thumb is to not say more than three to four sentences without stopping. Start by introducing yourself and ask them if this would be a good time to talk to them. Then start your presentation if they say it’s OK to do so. As you are speaking, give the listener time to respond. Don’t cut them off. Don’t just run on and on about why you are calling, not giving them a chance to respond. Ask them a question or two.

Have three or four questions prepared to ask of the person you are calling. Ask them what openings they may have.

Tell them about your background. If they don’t ask you questions, they may not be interested. Ask them if they are if they don’t respond.

I have been told I’m a good listener. I’ve developed these skills over the years as part of my career. I pay attention to what is being said (usually). As the person is speaking, I take notes so I can respond positively. I try to catch their name and write it down so I can use it several times.

Just food for thought for your job search. Good luck!

Bonnie Mackenzie is co-owner of Shore Staffing, a temporary and permanent placement firm located for Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. You can reach her at 410-957-2800 or bonnie@shorestaffing.com.