Archive for August, 2010

Over 55s – unite and conquer!

August 23, 2010

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of U.S workers 55 and over will grow from its 1998 level of 12% to a whopping 24% in 2018.  In twenty years, our representation in the labor force will double!  Why does this matter?

As a career counselor, one of the questions I’m asked most often is “can you help overcome age discrimination?”

Well, I do have a few strategies to suggest, but no, I can’t really make others’ opinions change.  Wish I could.

But think of it.  If our numbers double within a twenty-year period, don’t you think assumptions will change?  We’ll be on our way to a new definition of normal.  It used to be that greying hair was reason not to aim for or expect that promotion.  It meant becoming more certain that our new supervisors would be younger.  Now I think we’re within reach of being valued for our expertise, our institutional memory, our sense of perspective.

Illustration:  I recently mentioned that a young person I know is looking for a job and would be perfect for a certain position opening.  The screener said, “No, we’re looking for an older person for that job.  The work ethic will be better.”

Have the glory days arrived?  Or is that just a taste of what is to come?  I know that stereotypes are generally proven to be inaccurate, but I was surprised to hear that in at least one workplace, there is a belief in the value of the older worker. We live in exciting times!

Now about those ways of minimizing age discrimination in interviews…contact me! (

A key to economic recovery

August 18, 2010

Reluctant to retire?  Staying longer than you expected on the job?

You may hold one of the keys to our economic recovery.  According to a discussion at the Maryland Career Development Association, we all know people who are working longer than they ever planned to.  This creates a bottleneck, blocking lower-level employees from moving up, and ultimately blocking the company from hiring new folks.  The much-touted phrase “job creation” might be restated as “job clearing”.

And Dave Terkanian of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, says that a large percentage of job openings comes from replacement hiring.  When people don’t leave, that kind of hiring doesn’t happen, thus bringing our growth to a halt.

Still, it’s important to look at why people are working longer:

  • Money: They may be supporting other family members who are unemployed.  They may not have a pension waiting for them and have recently realized that their savings are inadequate.
  • Insecurity: These are worrisome times.  There is unease in the air, everyone is talking about the economy, some predict further collapse.

I don’t know the solution.  Maybe if we focused more on the momentum that already exists in some areas, those with financial security (by that I mean the folks with pensions and savings) could follow through on their retirement plans.  And momentum could continue to build. New jobs would follow.

One thing I learned from this discussion is that economic recovery is so multi-faceted that we can’t be expected to see the whole picture.  My piece of it is to assist people with their planning, whether how to get into the workplace, how to move around within the workplace, or when and how to get out of the workplace.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this complex issue.

Job Information for the coming decade

August 17, 2010

Are you aware of the products and information generated by the folks at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, DC?  If not, and if you are concerned about your career future or that of a young person in your life, you might consider bookmarking and referring to it often.

You might find feature articles from the Occupational Outlook Quarterly or you might find the latest statistics about employment.  This site is refreshingly free of politics, there’s no slant here, just numbers and stories.  Currently, you’ll find:

  • information on the rising cost of health care spending by families from 1998 through 2008,
  • the location of your nearest regional office of the BLS,
  • questions submitted by readers.

Today, I heard a presentation about the nation’s employment outlook from Dave Terkanian, an economist with the BLS, put on by the Maryland Career Development Association.  I was dazzled (okay, overwhelmed) with all the information, and I will be sharing some of the highlights of his presentation with you for the next few postings.

This last part, the questions submitted by visitors to the site, was particularly impressive.  The topics are in plain English, and are the topics that we, the taxpayers, are asking.  I read the one about what people did with the stimulus payments of 2008.  Happily, the answers were given in both narrative and tables, recognizing that we read and process information in different ways.

Guest blogger: the career thoughts of a 12-year-old

August 12, 2010

Johnny Bunko (Daniel Pink and Rob Ten Pas, Riverheadbooks) is a very good book for a twelve-year-old.  I ought to know – I am one.  My name is Josh and I love comics.  This book is for any manga or anime lover out there – you know this is fun to read.

What did I learn?  There is no plan for your career.  You should play it by ear.  Think about your strengths, not your weaknesses.  Keep building up what you’re good at.  I’m writing this book review for two reasons: I’m a good writer and I want to get better, and my grandmother needed an idea for her blog

As the genie from the chopsticks (read the book!) would say, See you later – ja mata.

The telephone: a career tool of the past?

August 8, 2010

I was shocked to read in the Washington Post that millenials, those folks in their early thirties and younger, are not using the telephone the way the rest of us do.  They might not answer it.  They might not pick up messages. They are not necessarily hooked to a fixed address through the phone.  They might consider it an interruption.

Well!  If this is the case, we career advisors had better rethink our strategies.  Think about it: we use the telephone in the job search in so many ways:

  • we call an organization for information,
  • we call to follow up on our application,
  • we call to get directions to the interview,
  • we call members of our network to set up lunch or just to catch up,
  • we call our unemployed friends to commiserate or pass on a lead,
  • we call a friend to share the good news about a job offer.

Or maybe some of us don’t.  The author, Ian Shapira, is offering proof that as a society, the young people are not doing these things.   Texting, twittering, and posting on Facebook seem to be preferred methods of communication.  I knew that there were emerging forms of communication, but I did not realize how the use of technology has changed by generation so totally.

This explains why, when I get a phone message from a youthful-sounding person inquiring about my services and then I call back, I almost never reach the person.  It may sound like too much of a chore to call me back.  I don’t understand it, but this article does shed light.  Call me!  Or email (!  Don’t try the other methods – I’m not quite ready for you.