April 24, 2011


A growing number of those who desperately need to work fear they have already been shut out of the work force...

How to overcome these obstacles, when you over  50? 
Here are some good tips, given by the best career professionals from blogging discussions on this topic:
"For the over 50 demographic, it's important to do everything you can to show that you're still "young." For example, become computer proficient, including embracing social networking, online research, and more. Also, work on your physical appearance so you are fit, attractive, plus show up with a positive attitude. Learn how to interview with those who could be your children - treat all with respect. It is a tough job market where networking - online and in-person - rules the results of whether or not you get hired." Meg Montford, Executive Career Coach and President, Abilities Enhanced
"The solution for many of them is to become more entrepreneurial. If they can develop practice, become consultants, or move into an "of counsel" role with a law firm and build practice there, then they can often reboot their careers. If they are successful at marketing and practice development, that can create leverage for career development. The importance of marketing skills for this demographic is paramount. Coaching and counseling to bring out the inner entrepreneur can save a career."  Sheila Nielsen, President at Nielsen Career Consulting
"Many employees, regardless of age, are making more career/job changes on a frequent basis... long term commitment to an employer is decreasing. That all being said that is why it is ironic that employers are discriminating against older workers. The main items that employers think about when considering an older worker is: 1) can I afford this person and 2) do they exhibit the energy and passion to help the organization reach its goals. Individuals need to consider these items when engaging with potential employers (and relieve their concerns as soon as possible). In addition, individuals need to be mindful of the things they can control (such as resume presentation and personal brand/style as well as considering unique working models)".  Cristie Berger, Associate Director, Workplace Engagement at United Way of Metropolitan Nashville
  "I would like to add the importance of flexibility and positive mind-set as critical factors in career change, transition, search effectiveness. Many of us will need to expand our thinking beyond replacing a position lost to the many possibilities for gaining meaningful work outside of the traditional structures in which there are limitations, parameters and shrinking opportunities...
    In my view, work generation technique suffers when the focus is on job search. Many discouraged seekers limit themselves chasing opportunities or depending on leads. They lose their excitement and confidence about the work they do. They become isolated and humiliated about their length of unemployment. They often are applying for positions they don't even want.
    Alternatively, when people in transition begin to think about finding work that is meaningful and needed, regardless of whether it is a traditional job in a big (secure) organization, many alternatives become possible. When they get interested and excited about work that want to do rather than a job they can get alternative paths become evident. This translates into projects, consulting, entrepreneurship, advisement, part time, temporary or even volunteer assignments that re-introduce the out of work individual to the structure and stimulation of productivity, being needed, collaborating with colleagues, meeting challenges and opportunities to create something of interest. That beats waiting around for the phone to ring!" Sheryl Spanier, CMF, Executive Career Catalyst and Coach at Sheryl Spanier&Company
"I would just add that we all have our preconceived notions about people and it's important to get past the stereotypical assumptions about different generations: Ours as well as theirs! I spend time working on how to dispel those myths about older workers some of which have been mentioned here. I suggest that the seasoned professional needs to shift perceptions from "dated" to "contemporary"; from "biding time" to "commitment"; from "unproductive" to "productive"; from "cost" to "value" and from "peer mismatch" to "colleague". That said, I support Sheryl's comments on the importance of looking at the "work" we want to do versus the "job" we need to get. I often relate this to Covey's quadrants and when I ask workshop attendees to determine what is important, I encourage them to think bigger than a job and to vision the life they want to have going forward, what it contains, who is important, etc. because there is more than one way to get there".  Rita Carey, Career Consultant
And finally, the excerpts from an article of a personal finance journalist and commentator with an expertise in career transition and retirement issues Kerry Hannon (http://blogs.forbes.com/kerryhannon/2011/04/23/nonprofits-are-hiring-three-things-you-need-to-know/):
Nonprofit jobs have a certain cachet with boomers looking for a career shift.
I hear it all the time from job seekers, and I get it. It’s a time in life where you’ve made the bucks, climbed the ladder, and so on.
If you’re fortunate, an early retirement, or nice severance package has given you the flexibility to unsnap the velvet handcuffs and get to work doing something that really brings meaning to your life–and those whose lives you touch. You can put your lifetime of skills and tools to work making the world a better place...

The largest piece of that job growth is expected to be at mid-sized and large organizations and primarily in the area of direct services. In other words, jobs on the front lines that involve working directly with people who need assistance, such as counseling, tutoring and mentoring programs. Continued job growth in program management/support and fundraising/development is also expected.

Here are some steps to consider:
Find a nonprofit training program. There are a growing number of organizations in cities around the country designed to help experienced professionals do the nonprofit shuffle through a variety of training programs, fellowships and part-time assignments.
While there’s no guarantee that you’ll get hired by the nonprofit you lend a hand to, it will provide some training, boots on the ground experience and a networking opportunity that can make it well worth your time. 
Check for board openings. Another good place to start is BoardnetUSA.org, a website for anyone looking for a nonprofit board. Once you’ve posted your information, you get a weekly e-mail with a list of organizations looking for people who fit your profile.
Volunteer. If you’re on the outside looking it, perhaps the best and easiest way to get noticed is by volunteering your way in the door. ... you can never go wrong by stopping in at a local charity whose mission you believe in and offering your time a few hours or more a week. You never know where it will lead and who you might meet there who can help you in your job quest. Importantly, your pro bono work can make a difference. It’s good karma any way you look at it. 
           “For it is in giving that we receive.”
St Francis of Assisi

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