Archive for the ‘older workers’ Category

The colorful resume … literally!

January 21, 2015

What color is your resume?  If you are thinking I mean that metaphorically, sorry, that’s for another posting. Today it’s about color.  I could have named this post The Black and Blue Resume, but I think that’s a bit weird. Whether online or on a printed page, the all-black type on white background has a look of yesteryear about it.  You need a touch of blue. Blue as in hyperlinks. Blue that can lead the reader to a work sample, a photo, a positive review, press coverage, or any other aspect of your portfolio. Blue can guide one to your LinkedIn profile, your website, your blog, or your product. When I see a resume with no links at all, I worry that the writer isn’t connected to much.  Show us!  Lead us to your work and prove what you are saying about yourself. Reveal at least a touch of blue.

The Interview Outfit: what’s that new accessory?

September 26, 2014

This morning, while entering data into my fitbit app, I got to wondering about the impact of wearing a fitbit bracelet on a job interview.

The fitbit is that almost-ubiquitous plain bracelet that you see in all kinds of basic colors.  My doctor has one.  My hairdresser has one. My swimming buddy has one. I have one!  There’s a pedometer and a heartrate monitor tucked inside the bracelet, logging one’s fitness level as well as sleep effectiveness.

So I picture the interview.  If the interviewer is noting your grooming, your outfit, shoes, watch, and shoes, why wouldn’t he or she notice this bracelet?  And what conclusions might one draw?

  • She’s commited to fitness – good for her!
  • Perhaps she’s a goal-setter.
  • She has embraced technology.
  • Interesting – I’ll ask her about it.  I’ve been thinking of getting one.

These are points in the applicant’s favor.

And those assumptions are at least partly true.  Committed to fitness?  Well, when wearing the bracelet, I’m on the lookout for ways to attain that daily goal and to log a few minutes into the more active category.  And yes, I had to install an app and then use it.  Techie, right?

Anyway, I think fitness apparel is a great way to support the traits you have already submitted on your resume.  It is a fantastic conversation starter, and also a great way to combat age discrimination.

What has been your experience with wearing a fitbit or comparable activity monitor?

Shameless plug for art

January 27, 2014

Readers of this blog know that I don’t often plug a commercial product.  In fact, I can’t remember doing so, unless it is my own book or other career products.

Here’s an exception.  My very talented brother, Pete Simcox, has opened a shop on Etsy for his paintings, and I’m inviting you to visit the online gallery and take a look.

You can go to and search for SimcoxFineArt.  If large-scale landscapes or bold abstracts interest you, you will love his works.  Yes, I’m prejudiced, and yes, I’m hoping you will help spread the word of this talented guy and his paintings.

Pete, thanks for sharing with the world.  Here’s a salute to the family member who got ALL the artistic ability. You’re a role model for other retirees, who now have the opportunity to go back to previously-undeveloped passions and skills.

Best gifts for the over-50 jobhunter

December 11, 2012

Unlike their younger colleagues in Job Search Land, the over-50s probably have that classic look down pat.  Watches, pens, blazers, tasteful earrings… check

This is the age group which can benefit from an electronic gift.  What can you do to help your unemployed older friend be a viable candidate?  A few thoughts….

  • a gps for the car.  For the directionally challenged, there’s no more excuse.  You’ll stand a better chance of being  on time for your interview,
  • an e-reader and a companion gift card.  As prices come down, e-readers become more accessible.  And even a modest gift card can get one started.  A trade journal, a tech or finance magazine subscription, or a noted newspaper would be great to have at hand.  It’s a way to kill time in the waiting room before the interview (and impress the receptionist). Oh yes, if the question comes up about what you are currently reading, you’ll smile and have it at hand as you answer.
  • a tablet.  Pricier than the e-reader, it has all the above attributes and so much more.  I’ve discovered that people want to talk about various models, so if you are carrying one with you on an interview, be prepared to discuss it!
  • a smartphone.  This one is tricky unless it is for a family member, because of course there are implications for service contracts. You’ll need to do some detective work here.
  • coaching! Find someone willing to put in an hour or more bringing our jobhunter up to speed on these new toys.  It’s doing no favors to give such a gift and expect the meager manual to cover the basis.

Notice a theme here?  Remember, employers have said in surveys that they hesitate to hire seniors because they may not be tech-savvie.  Any of the above-mentioned gifts can go a long way in overcoming that bias.

People over 50 really need to present themselves as open to new ways of doing things, including communicating.  Think about it.

Another thing about ageing…

June 4, 2012

Hey, Grandmama, can you kick a soccer ball?  Want to see what a good goalie I am?

We were in the local park on a walk.  There was a goal.  There was an abandoned ball.  And there was a 14-year old, ready to polish up his reputation as a super goalie.  He patiently explained that all I would have to do is stand anywhere, near or far, and kick the ball.  And he would stop it.

Well, it has been a few decades for me.  But I was wearing sneakers, it was a beautiful, cool day, and why not?

I kicked a few balls.  True to form, he caught every single one, laughing exuberantly.Then I caught on.  Brainpower!

  • Hey, Josh,  do you hear that weird airplane noise?
  • There’s a fly circling near you.
  • What is that song about the Robot Chicken?
Three magic sentences – and three successful kicks for me.
It was my turn to laugh hysterically.  The kid couldn’t concentrate!  Of course, he did catch on, he realized what I was doing, and started focusing on ignoring me.  And he blocked every other kick.
We declared him the winner, but it was far from a total victory.
Moral:  The brain stays sharper than the kick for a long, long time.
Remember this, job hunters.  You still have cleverness within you.

Retirement – writing the next chapter

March 6, 2012
  • What’s the plan?
  • What’s the daydream?
  • What’s on the bucket list?

However you look at it, there will come a time when you have choices to make about how you spend your time.  Golf, the grandkids, camping… that may work for you.  But for many, work in some form will continue.
Let’s grant that money will still be a concern and a need (see previous post).  But what about the rest?
Do you have a foreign language skill to dust off and update?
Is there a book in you?
How about a yard to landscape?
Or an immigrant community who needs an English teacher?
I have neighbors who retired from federal jobs and are still very active in their agency’s theater group.  You see them carrying props across the yard, coming and going at unpredictable hours.  Almost too busy to talk, but I see enough of them to know that they are happy being creative and hanging around with like-minded people.
What’s your story?  Your daydream or reality?  Feel free to post a comment.  And then please listen to The Career Clinic on Sunday, March 18, 5:00 p.m. eastern time, at for a chat between host Maureen Anderson and me on retirement options and opportunities.  Maybe your story will be part of the show!

More on Mushrooming and how to avoid it

January 6, 2012

Here are a few more thoughts by Katherine Coram, a newly-retired federal worker, who is writing on time management issues.  She shares a few suggestions on how to avoid the time-waster of exaggerating the demands of what you are doing:

  • Think about how much time the activity really requires and allow it that in your daily schedule. 
  • Limit how much time you put into an activity based on its value and whether you are actually accomplishing what you are trying for. You can always quit a household task or a writing session in the middle.
  • Try to schedule several activities for one trip out of the house.
  • If you have something scheduled, plan something else for before and after.
  • Above all, keep your sense of proportion.  Remember, most mushrooming takes place in your own mind. Ask yourself regularly;  is this worth the time I am putting into it? How can I change?

Remember. Maybe for the first time in your life–this is YOUR Time.

Thank you, Katherine.  I hope you’ll share other insights on time management with us on this blog.

Warning for the new retiree – Beware of Mushrooming!

January 5, 2012

Today it is my pleasure to offer you some wisdom from a recently-retired colleague, Katherine Coram.  She is reflecting and writing on aspects of successful retirement, and herewith presents a suggestion for you:

Beware of “mushrooming”—the tendency of minor time commitments to take up a whole lot more time  and attention than they deserve.

A doctor’s appointment, shopping trip, social engagement or volunteer commitment that you would previously have squeezed in can become a full-day focus. I teach a one hour class, but I manage to put most of the day into preparing for it, getting dressed, and feeling virtuous afterward.

Activities around the house can mushroom too, especially since housecleaning and yard work DO take us more time.

If you decide to do a part time job or consult or freelance, it can easily take up as much of your time and energy as your full-time job did.

You can even fall into preparing a couple days ahead for an activity that doesn’t require it. A friend told me about  her mother focusing much of her week on the day she had to take out the trash.

If you would have ideas on mushrooming or would like to read more of my thoughts on time management in retirement, please email me at

Katherine Coram is a former Federal employee, who is still trying to work out this retirement thing.

Thank you, Katherine.  I had not heard the term mushrooming as an aspect of time management.   Does anyone out there identify with the temptation of filling a day with a small matter?

Next:  how to avoid the mushrooming phenomenon.

It’s August, 2021, how’s your life?

August 13, 2011

Do you wonder about life ten years from now?  I do.  The most important thing I gain from this exercise is an acceptance of age.  I’ll be …. years old.  It’s okay, I said it to myself.  Out loud.  You don’t have to know.

I find it scary to acknowlede that life goes on, the years pile up, and never mind what gravity can do in a decade.

I hope my life is somewhat like it is now – that is, I’ll be facing insurmountable jobs in the yard that never get done, there will be a pile of email to tackle, and I’ll be planning a fast-approaching trip.

I hope that jobs are easier to come by.  I hope that my wonderful clients and friends are as busy as they want to be, doing what they love to do.

I hope my grandson will have completed some aspect of his education and taking steps toward the career of his dreams (currently, living in Japan and designing games).

I hope my daughters are continuing to lead interesting lives, doing useful things that please them.

I hope my husband and I are still have good-natured arguments about where the next trip should be and how we will pay for it.

I hope the decade is gentle on our health and our finances.

I hope time with friends is as special as it always was.

So bring it on, 2021.  One day at a time, please.

Hints for Federal Job Seekers

March 31, 2011

Thank you, Derrick Dortch of the Washington Post.  Today’s column says what I have long explored with clients, only he says it more succinctly.  Don’t be hampered in your federal job search by the title of the agency.  Dortch mentions that teachers will think of the Department of Education.  And I think ex-military people will think of the Departments of Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force, etc.

Fine.  But it’s not enough.

For teachers:  every agency has a training department.

For security-minded people: every agency has a security policy, force, and role to play.

For writers: every agency handles grant applications, press releases, and information requests.

For young people: you don’t have to buy into the prejudice of your elders.  I’ve heard a young person say, “my parents say everyone who works there is crazy.”  Really?  Everyone?  Care to rethink that?

For older people:  you have experience that can take you in a wider range of options than you may have recognized.  You are the sum of many accomplishments, which can be rearranged to appeal to multiple hiring agents.

Times are tough.  Federal jobs are obtained after unbelievably hard work.

Dortsch and I agree: expand your options.  Reach beyond your current perceptions.  Read job vacancy announcements from all kinds of places.  You’ll surprise yourself.