Welcome to the Gen Plus Blog

It's a backstage pass to info on jobs and life at 50+. Gen Plus, headed by Janet Wendy Spiegel, is dedicated to baby boomers and the plus generation of age 50 and older. Read up and speak out on issues affecting your future: jobs, income, life and respect.

About Me

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Northridge, California, United States
Successful businesswoman, consultant, entrepreneur. I operate two businesses -- social media consulting, AND premium pet care services in the West San Fernando Valley. Love what I do, love life.

Gen Plus has relocated to www.GenPlusUSA.com

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

50 Plus, Schmifty Plus. 100 is the new 70. 70 is the new 50.

Here is a question to Ask Wendy?

"I'm 57 and have been "laid off" from my sales job. It will be hard for me to get a new job in sales in my field, so I'm looking at other areas. But I'm wondering if retraining is even worthwhile? I already have skills and a track record in sales. So, isn't it a waste?"

Frank, NJ

Dear Frank,

There is nothing more bruising to the ego than being let go, regardless of how it is positioned. I can empathize with the challenge of finding a sales job at 57, especially if you are competing against much younger talent. Ray Kurzweil, author of "The Singularity is Near", a fascinating look at our aging society and thoughts and perceptions on where we are going in relation to age and technology.

Here are some "age" facts that Kruzweil shares on life expectancy:

In the Cromagnum era, average life expectancy was 18
In Ancient Egypt: 25
In Medieval Europe (1400): 30
In Europe and US in the 1800's: 37
In 1900 in the US: 48
And in 2002 in the US: 78

So, in my opinion, for many reasons (job search only being one of the reasons) it can certainly pays to take training. And if Kurzwiel's projections are right, we'll be living into our hundreds in this generation. So, what else are you going to do for the next young 20 - 30 years and presumably more?

And just to add more to the perspective, Monster.com founder, Jeff Taylor, is starting up Eons Inc. of Charlestown. And he is targeting the 50- to 100-year-old market.

So, as I see it, 50 is the new 30. 100 is the new 70. Go ahead. Retrain. You'll have the time to use your newly acquired skills.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Ask Wendy!

At Gen Plus we have a new feature, "Ask Wendy" where 50 plussers and HR professionals can ask us questions and we'll give you targeted answers based on our experience.

Here is a question from LS, in Los Angeles, CA.

"I don't want to retire, but would like to find part-time work. I am very well qualified in my field but am finding that most employers in my field want full-time people. What would you suggest? Thanks."

Dear LS,

You are experiencing the challenge facing many 50 plussers in this decade. While I don't know your specifics, I assume you are either being forced into retirement, or are no longer able to work full time. In either case, 50 plussers are experiencing ageism before any other consideration. While you may be highly qualified in your field, it is possible that your field is not ready to accomodate the reality of our aging population. You have a few options:

  1. If you have an interested employer, you need to provide them with a proposal showing them the cost-effectiveness of bringing you on part time. As with any business it is always about the WIFM (What's In It For Me?)
  2. You may try to sell your services as an independant contractor (consultant, self-employed.) You will not be eligible for any employee benefits, but you may be able to command an hourly wage.
  3. You may have to look at entering a different field. Fields that are hurting for want of skilled workers are: medical assistance and allied health professions, teaching (serious shortages and 50 plussers are considered highly reliable in this field), pharmacy, retail sales (think WalMart, Home Depot, but realize that managers are in hot demand as well), and banking. Even though you may not have the specific skill, you can translate your resume to address the skills these fields are looking for. You may need to follow a short certification, and you will likely be looking at a cut in pay, but this is a great area to get a renewed foot in the door.
  4. Get yourself visible. You MUST use all venues at your disposal to be seen. Use all online niched (www.genplususa.com) and non-niched (e.g. www.monster.com, www.careerbuilder.com) job search programs, make as many contacts as you can, send resumes to companies you are targeting and make your job search a full time job. If you have the opportunity to post your resume, do so. Often, HR professionals, facing a tough posting, will mine online resumes to try to identify suitable candidates. Don't lose that opportunity.
Best of success,


Friday, November 25, 2005


Blogger extraordinaire and Gen Plus guest writer, Cass Brown, of Cancergiggles repute pens some new thoughts on life. For those of you who have not yet met Cass, visit him at his compelling blog, Cancergiggles. Living with a challenging cancer, Cass' methodology is to laugh his way through life. And so far he is beating the odds and has surpassed his due date by quite a bit...which has the medical community somewhat delighted and flummoxed at the same time. And best of all...he's 50 plus. To purchase his book (limited edition and he's working on the next one, so get it while still available) visit our Shop page at Gen Plus. We're thrilled to offer what we believe will soon be a bestseller internationally.

You don't have an excuse for having that "it's all over" attitude just because you are 50. I could have had an excuse, because for me it looked like it really was all over (being dead is the only good excuse, and I was almost there) but for some reason it just seemed to be a waste.

Having taken a 3 year sabbatical from the world, due to some niggles with tumours, surgery and a legal dispute with the Grim Reaper, 9 days before I hit the magic five-oh I started to do something different. It had become increasingly clear that my talents as statesman, diplomat, media tycoon and brain surgeon were being ignored, so I decided that I needed to do something for the hell of it. I started to write.

As a career move, deciding to become a writer is just about as dumb as putting your name down for the next moon landing because I am told that statistically, you have a greater chance of being murdered than getting a book published. It would therefore, be very stupid indeed to waste your time following this sort of dream and you should buckle down and accept that you are of little or no value to society so should spend your time doing jigsaw puzzles until they put you in a retirement home. Unfortunately, this sort of incisive wisdom was not available to me so like an idiot, I went on TV last week to discuss the fact that my first book will be available in the shops here in the UK in a couple of weeks.

I would hate anyone to think that I am advocating that they should take up writing for a living; because the odds really are pretty poor and quite frankly I can really do without the competition. The point however, is that despite what you may tell yourself, the main barrier to achieving what you want, stares out at you from the mirror every morning.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Gobble, Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving, American Gen Plussers!

Lots hitting the news about the state of affairs for 50 plus -- this will be an interesting blog week. We'll start it off tomorrow with another great article from Cass Brown (Cancergiggles).

Eat lots of turkey. Get lots of sleep. Dream good dreams.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Gen Plus Product Search -- Wanted: 50 Plus Creativity!

The Gen Plus Product Search is on in force for our Shop feature. We are searching for products (books, jewellery, solar-powered cars, ceiling fans, reading glasses, art, dvds...you get the idea) that are produced by 50 plussers so that we can give them some power through e-commerce.

We've been picked up by Voodoo, in the UK. Voodoo is an e-commerce development company and have highlighted Gen Plus in their "e-business articles" section.

Pay it forward. Let the 50 plussers you know in on this distribution program dedicated to turning 50 plus consumers into producers!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Wall Street Journal highlights 50 Plus job challenges

An excellent article in Wall Street Journal online magazine, www.CareerJournal.com. Follow the link to read Perri Capell's insights on the 50 plus marketplace. Take a look at her seven strategies for securing employment and you'll note that her observations are right on track for the 50 plus worker.

For additional support in your job search, make sure your resume is posted on our site, check job postings at least once a week, and refresh your brand (make sure to read past postings on personal brand, resume building and job search on the blog!)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Hold the Presses

I was delighted to see The Mature Market pick up our recent press release. The more 50 plussers we can reach the better! The piece is in the sidebar or you can click the link to read more.

On another note, those of you who frequent www.Thirdage.com will notice a pretty extreme shift in their target audience. They have tried to broaden their market demographic by going to the 45 plus market. The pictures are generally leaning to the 40-somethings as well as their affiliate partners. Third Age was bought out awhile ago and I wonder where they are going with this. Our company, Gen Plus focuses on 50 plus and even from 50 - 65 and from 65 and beyond there are 2 very distinct and different sets of needs. We focus on 50 - 65, because that is where my passion lies and that is the area where I recognize the heaviest need for advocacy for the health and wellbeing of the Boomer generation.

Going to 45 is a big leap and brings another set of distinct needs and fears. I'm going to keep watching to see how they roll this out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

BBC meets Cancergiggles

Cass Brown (www.Cancergiggles.blog-city.com), writer and comic, laughing his way through cancer, has caught the attention of the press. Cass' book, Cancergiggles (Mountains are Easy) has hit the airwaves! For a quick view of the BBC's take on Cass' philosophy, you've got 24 hours to review the link before it expires! You need Real Player to view. Fast forward to 18:52 to see the piece. Cancergiggles has had almost 300,000 visitors. So congrats to the media on appreciating what so many of us already know and adore...the humor of Cass Brown.

To purchase this inspiring, deeply honest, and very funny book, visit Gen Plus or Cancergiggles.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Hang in there, baby boomers!

Gen Plus guest writer, the award-winning Corinne Copnick, brings a fascinating book to the attention of 50 plussers. Forget about 50 being the new 40. This book turns 50 into the new 20-something! Read on.

Talk about mergers! Ray Kurzweil is an internationally famous inventor who believes that three great revolutions in science –Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics – are in the process of converging. In his latest book, The Singularity is Near (a must-read for those over 50!), he explains how we humans, in the next stage of our evolution, have already begun to transcend our biological selves. During the course of the next few decades -- in which advances will accelerate exponentially at a staggering rate -- the intelligent machines we are now accustomed to use outside us will become the superintelligent machines enhancing us from the inside (we already accept brain imaging, pacemakers, artificial hips, and even artificial hearts as present reality). In other words, human intelligence and machine intelligence will merge to become the Singularity (a word scientists use to express the infinite).

At 59, Ray is so sure that the 21st century will witness at least 200 centuries worth of change, that he is engaged in a heavy personal program of nutrition, exercise, and aggressive supplementation (he takes 250 supplements of vitamins and minerals a day plus weekly nutritional injections into his blood stream, thus bypassing the gastrointestinal tract) so that he will be around to see it happen. He figures that it will be about 20 years (2049) until the new technology begins to kick in. The child is already born, Ray tells us, who can live to be 1000 years if he or she wants to.
The Genetic Revolution
Most people over 50 recall the human potential movement of the 1960s and 1970s with some fondness. Well, we haven’t seen anything yet! According to inventor Ray Kurzweil, because of our current investigation of the human genome – the Genetic Revolution -- we are already in the early stages of a 21st century happening in expanding human potential. As we begin to understand more and more about “the information processes underlying life,” we also gain the capacity to “reprogram our biology.” We’ll come close to completely eliminating disease, and we will radically extend life. We can already have the capability to clone our own skin cells to replace different organs in our bodies.

The Nanotechnology Revolution
At the same time, Ray says, we’re in the midst of a revolution in Nanotechnology. What the heck is nanotechnology? Well, for one thing, nanotechnology is molecular. It can take us beyond our biological limits on an atom by atom basis. We’ll be able not only to redesign and rebuild our bodies but also the world around us. So, as I understand it, we biological specimens will become human beings with far superior molecular capabilties. Forget your Mercedes or Lexus or even owning a house in Southern California as a status symbol. The next question to ask your prospective son-in-law or daughter-in-law will be: “Do you have molecular intelligence yet?”
The Robotic Revolution
And next time you play a computer game, please pay attention to the robots. In Ray’s Singular world, the Robotic Revolution will be the most powerful of all. These new age robots will derive their intelligence from humans but will far surpass us. And somehow, all of this – biology, nanotechnology and robotics -- will blend together at around the same time, most computers (power can be used for good or evil) will be kind to people even though we won’t be as smart, and the human race will be better than ever. You gotta have heart!

As a footnote, you don’t have to be a physicist or a mathematician to read The Singularity is Near. If it seems dense at the beginning, please be patient, because Ray Kurzweil is a terrific writer and teacher. He provides lots of examples that help you see the light (by the way, he thinks scientists will change the speed of light in the future), and inserts chatty conversations that further illuminate his thinking. The Singularity is Near is not science fiction; rather, it presents the scientifically-based predictions of a distinguished visionary who has been proven right before. I’ve already instructed my kids that, if, like Ray, I manage to live long enough, I want to be artificially enhanced.

Corinne Copnick, C.M., M.A. is the President of Timesolvers Writing & Editing Services (www.timesolvers.com).

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Award-winning writer, Corinne Copnick* is a regular guest writer for Gen Plus. Enjoy this abridged version of her story from "How to Live Alone Until You Like It...and then you're ready for somebody else."

I’m sorry I didn’t save all the rejection letters. They would have made interesting wall paper with a repetitive motif. Most of them went something like this:

Thank you very much for your recent application. Although we were impressed with your résumé, we have received a large number of applications from highly qualified candidates like yourself. We were able to short list only some of them. The position has been filled by a candidate whose experience most closely matched our needs. We will keep your résumé on file should another suitable position become available.

After you receive five hundred or more letters that tell you how outstanding your qualities are, but that there is someone whose qualifications are more closely suited to the position advertised, you begin to think you may not get a post commensurate with your abilities. You contact all kinds of people and organizations who tell you your qualities are so outstanding you should be a “big-C” consultant. You apply for jobs that do not demand the abilities you possess.

When you apply for a job as a saleslady at a fine jewelry store and hand them your professional résumé, they think you’re crazy. When you apply for a job as a secretary or receptionist, they raise their eyebrows at your graduate degrees and tell you you’re overqualified. You find yourself being interviewed by people half your age or by someone who knows you could do his/her job and naturally won’t hire you as his/her junior.
I went to the first of the several reputable community vocational services that I had contacted.

“We don’t have managerial posts,” the rather drab lady in charge said. “If you need money desperately, I can place you as a waitress or in a warehouse.”

“I’m not that desperate yet,” I replied.

Then I thought of actress Bette Davis who once placed an ad announcing that she, a former Academy Award Winner, needed a job. She got one! In a horror film, true, but she swallowed her pride to survive. My accomplishments were no match for Bette Davis, but they were considerable in their own way. I, too, would have to swallow my pride to succeed. I would not let my accomplishments be a stumbling block.

But when I applied for a job that was just that, a job (okay, not a warehouse yet), the prospective employer shook his head, “You’ll never stay.”

“I need the money,” I replied. “My financial planner says I’m not ready to retire yet.”

Not his problem.

When I visited my octogenarian Aunt Sarah, she also shook her head sagely when I complained that I couldn’t even get a job as a dishwasher.

“They’re all machines now dear, anyway,” she said consolingly.

I finally got a job answering 33 old-style telephone lines for a Luddite company whose customers were fed up with voice mail. They liked having a mature human being answer the phone. So when I next visited my Aunt Sarah, she asked, “How’s the new job going?”

“It only pays ten dollars an hour,” I said. “But I’m also working for myself on evenings and weekends.”

“For yourself?”

“I’m self-employed,” I said proudly. “My own business. I’m an employment consultant.”

“An employment consultant?” she gasped.

“Yes, Aunt Sarah. I’m teaching people how to apply for five hundred jobs and still smile.”

“Oh,” said Aunt Sarah, relieved. “You must be very good at it. You have lots of experience.”

(*Excerpted from HOW TO LIVE ALONE UNTIL YOU LIKE IT…AND THEN YOU ARE READY FOR SOMEBODY ELSE by Corinne Copnick, © Toronto, 1994. All rights reserved.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Media Attention in all the Right Places!

Guest writer, Cass Brown (http://www.cancergiggles.blog-city.com) has once again commanded the attention of the UK media. The Comet recognizes what we all do. Cass has a great talent. The ability to make you laugh. Follow the link to read the full story.

Oh...and Cass WAS smiling for the photo shoot. He really does laugh. A lot. Really. They just chose the one shot where he wasn't. With over 275,000 visitors to his blog, you can bet that his book is a must-read. It is an even more compelling read than the blog. A great "heart" writer, that Cancergiggles guy! To purchase his book, head over to our Shop! and get an original print run before they are gone.

Something is Rotten in the State of California

Well, the writing is on the wall. Today I had one of those moments...where you can't quite believe what you just witnessed. Still shaking my head over it.

I had to pick up a few items at Target, that bastion of mass-market retail therapy. It was over the lunch hour, so I was a bit hungry and decided to pick up a hot dog. The Vienna Dog Combo was advertised at $2. I didn't really need the Combo...whatever that was, so I asked for just the Dog. The very lovely 20-ish year old cashier rang up $1.99. So, just double-checking, I asked her what the difference was...for 1 cent. She proceeded to show me a small cup and told me with the hot dog, I'd get the small cup for water. And for the Combo at $2, I'd get a medium cup for a soft drink.

So I said, "Oh! So they're the same price."

And she said, "Ummm. No. I'd have to check."

And I said, "Well, the hotdog is $1.99 and the Combo is $2, so there is a 1 cent difference."

And she said, "Ummm. No, I'd have to check the tax."

OK. So she had to void the hotdog for $1.99 and ring up the Combo for $2. The bill was $2.17. I gave her a $5 bill and she gave me back $2.58. I was short a quarter.

So I said, "Excuse me, but I'm short a quarter."
She looked at me, very puzzled, and asked to see the bill. Well I couldn't stand it and I had to pull a Sweetheart.

"Sweetheart," I said, "It's just arithmetic. See? The bill was $2.17. Here are 3 pennies. 2.18, 2.19, 2.20, and a nickel, that's 2.25 and a quarter, that's 2.50 and another quarter, that's 2.75. See? I need one more quarter."

And she said, "I'm sorry, but I need to see the bill."

So she looked at the bill that told her to give me $2.83 back and still, not quite sure if 25 cents was the difference between $2.58 and $2.83. But she gave me the quarter.

I sat, shaking my head while eating my dog. Then headed off to look for a desklamp for my daughter. I asked a handsome young man working the floor, also about 20 years old, if he knew where desk lamps might be. He said, "Umm. Well, umm, let me see if I know how to say this...there are lights...ummm...for reading a book (he meant a booklight) on this floor, but lights are on the wall downstairs...through furniture...you know...against the wall."

I headed downstairs to find my "light against the wall" thinking all the while that rocket scientists and wall street financiers, and executives, lawyers, professionals, and writers are all virtually unemployable by 55 ("Dead" in industry parlance) and we have children who are supposed to be adults who can't even "Read, Rite or do their Rithmetic."

Maybe someone will do something. Like fix education and use our unemployed 50 plussers to Learn 'Em something.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

These Boots are made for Walking

We've talked about working around the internet, resume-building and developing a personal brand. Now what do you do with that information? Unlike the late 1990's when it was a jobseeker's market, as a 50 plusser in 2005, you are at a distinct disadvantage. So your unpaid job is to create an advantage for yourself. Why am I calling jobseeking an unpaid job? Because like any job where you are paid, you will only find work by investing all your resources into the job search.

You have your resume, your sample cover letter, your targeted industries and now, your understanding of what your personal brand is...i.e., what all your attributes say to your potential employer. Now you have to find the way to get your message across.

1. Post, post and post. Find every resume posting site you can find and get your resume online. Of course, post on Gen Plus as we are niched to 50 plus. But there are at least a dozen more online job search firms that allow you to post your resume as well as apply to jobs. Do NOT pay a headhunter to find you a job.

We do NOT charge a fee to find you a job. However, there are many shady operators who will ask you for a percentage of the salary they secure for you, or a high, straight fee. That is not the way headhunters are supposed to work. A legitimate headhunter will have a contract to source for a position and they are paid by the employer. Before you give the go ahead to ANY headhunter to forward your resume, you must find out if they have the contract for the position. Otherwise, it means that they have just found the position on a job site (just like you would) and they are planning to "present" you to the company for a finder's fee. If the company declines their offer, you will not be able to contact that company personally, as the headhunter will now have dibs on you. The employer will have to avoid you in order to walk away from the finder's fee.

A legitimate headhunter who is interested in you, on the other hand, is gold to you. As long as they are contracted to represent the position, you are in good hands. If you "pass" their phone interview, you might make it to an in person interview. Keep in mind, you are only useful to a headhunter if they think you will fill a specific position. A headhunter will generally not keep you in mind for future postings. However, if you are in a niched industry, you may be contacted again by the headhunter who is similarly niched, such as engineering, actuary, education, healthcare, etc.

2. Be polite and respectful to anyone you speak to who represents a potential job. The junior HR assistant will report to the HR Director on your phone conversation, so you must wow everyone you speak with at every stage of the process. You do NOT know in conversation who the hiring manager is. Assume they all are.

3. Maintain consistent (not irritating) contact with any company you are interested in. As a 50 plusser, you'll find a better chance of getting in with a smaller company (under $50 million) for several reasons.

  • They can't always afford to spend money on recruiting, so if you come to them, you have a foot in the door.
  • Any company prefers to hire someone who is very interested in their business over someone who is not familiar with the company.
  • They will not be able to afford top dogs. If you are looking for a lateral or down-sized job this is a great way to go. If you are looking for an executive position you are more likely to be considered at a smaller company than at a bigger one that will attract the big earners.
  • You can actually speak to a human being. Rather than trying to reach one of many and more often than not getting voice mail, at a smaller company, HR Directors are usually closer to the ground and therefore more receptive to conversations and with introductory meetings.
  • Most people get jobs through contacts over job postings. That doesn't mean not to post for jobs and that doesn't mean to stop applying to postings. You MUST do that to get your profile out there. But you also need to network. The more you network, the more you'll find your 6 degrees of separation.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


There is an incredible hotel in Miami's South Beach...the Delano Hotel. After paying $22 to valet the car, you enter a curtain-framed entrance and after that, jaw-drop after jaw-drop all the way through the hotel to the pool bar. Think Alice in Wonderland meets Andy Warhol meets Italian/English countryside in South Beach.

Huge 40-foot curtained panels of white sheer curtains floating over cherrywood floors, strategically placed one-of-a-kind chairs (metal, rickshaw, throne, italian wrought iron) and columns from 3 feet to 8 feet diameters plus creating optical illusions on your stroll through the lobby.

The entrance to the pool, with grass separated brick steps, chairs clustered on the grass with mirrors, candelabras, giant chess set, hammock and then onto the pool where 20 and 30-somethings lounge on poolside beds, sipping margueritas and martinis under the stars. White clad staff at the ready to deliver top-notch service and gentle ocean breezes tossing everyone's hair gently.

So, why am I writing about Delano hotel? Well, this little visit is experienced in two ways. As a twenty-something, thirty-something...easily lounging on the beds (many, many beds....many) or as a 40, 50 or 60-something sitting on the lawn chairs and at the tables and chairs strategically placed for those with limited flexibility.

I sat on a lawn chair, listening to disco music and thinking back, perhaps a little too fondly, on my younger party days, well...

At any age at all, the experience of a great hotel can be as invigorating to creativity as visiting a museum. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Cancergiggles takes to the airwaves!

Blogger extraordinaire and Gen Plus guest writer, Cass Brown, of Cancergiggles repute passed along some very exciting news.

In addition to being featured in local UK news media, Cass has caught the attention of the BBC. He is being interviewed on a tri-channel BBC feed as well as looking at a TV feature.

For those of you who have not yet met Cass, visit him at his compelling blog, Cancergiggles. Living with a challenging cancer, Cass' methodology is to laugh his way through life. And so far he is beating the odds and has surpassed his due date by quite a bit...which has the medical community somewhat delighted and flummoxed at the same time. And best of all...he's 50 plus.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Defining a personal brand

In the last post, we discussed getting noticed. Part of getting noticed means having qualities that will appeal to Recruiters. What do Recruiters look for in your resume/profile/cover letter? Consistency, Career Path (growth), Progression of Responsibilities. As well, they look for the big P -- personality. While it is very difficult to get a sense of an applicants true personality until you meet them over the phone and subsequently in person, any Recruiter worth his or her salt, will quickly get a sense of who you are marketing yourself as and will also sense right away what rings true or false. If you've completed your online interview at Gen Plus, then you'll note how the questions help to define your personality very quickly.

Before we move on, in case you are wondering about my personal experience with recruiting, I'll give you a bit of background about my qualifications. I've worked in senior management positions for about fifteen years. Over the past decade, I've managed large teams of about fifty staff, including a dozen middle managers and a dozen or more junior level staff. Within those teams I've had to fill, over the years, over a hundred open positions across the US. As hiring manager for those positions, I've worked closely with HR staff, studied thousands of resumes and cover letters, and interviewed hundreds upon hundreds of candidates --both over the phone and in person. I've learned how to design job descriptions to give me the best possible candidates, what I avoid, and when I choose to interview a candidate. I know what rings true, what is false and how to pick up on red flags. And I rarely make a bad hire.

With that in mind, let's take a look at P -- Personality. Which we will define as Personal Brand.

So, what is brand? When you think of a brand, you generally think of an icon (the logo), or the name of the company and the feeling you associate with that icon or name. See what comes to mind when you look at the following:

You will automatically have a thought come to your mind when you see an icon that you associate with a strong brand.

My associations?

  • Coke: it's the real thing. I want to teach the world to sing.
  • Nike: Just do it. I want to do it.
  • Mercedes: Luxury. I desire luxury.

You will have similar associations. Those associations mean that the icon, the brand, evokes an emotional response in you.

There are two definitions of brand:

1) The essence of the brand, including its emotional and cultural associations as well as its physical features.

2) The graphic system of identification as applied to a single product or service or a family of products/services.

Your resume functions as #2. In jobsearch, your "logo" is your crafted resume, which we spoke about yesterday. But #1 is how you choose to define yourself, market yourself, associate yourself with your career path and employment history.

To create your brand, you must investigate yourself, as you would if you were a marketer trying to design a creative brief for a new product or service. A brief is a short written document that establishes the direction of a program or campaign. In this case, the product is you and the campaign is your job search. Your homework is to answer the following questions:

  1. Background: What’s your big picture? Who are you, where do you come from, what makes you unique?
  2. Audience: Who are you talking to (recruiter, hiring manager, contact, referral), and what is the one main thing you want to get across?
  3. What is your objective? Who is your target market. Who do you appeal to? What kind of job do you want? Who do you want to work for/what kind of company? If you look at what you bring to the table, you'll know who you will appeal to .
  4. What is your personality? Hip? Savvy? Established? Professional through and through? Conservative? Flashy?
  5. What is your style? Modern? Traditional? Quick on your feet? Slow to make considered decisions?
  6. What is a known quantity about you? What is measurable?
  7. What is your emotional quality? How will an interviewer "feel" about you? What is your "culture"?
  8. What do you want to say? What is the one important thing you want to get across as your overall objective?

Answer these questions and then we'll talk about getting your unique message across.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Working Around the Internet

In our post on Resume Building, entitled "Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself", we talked about the power available to you in the words and form you use for your resume and cover letter. We identified 2 major challenges in job search:

  • Reason 1: You are competing against everyone looking for work in your skill and experience set. The 20, 30, 40, 50, (and yes) 60-somethings.
  • Reason 2: You are one of possibly several hundred applying for each position. Plus you are being vetted generally by an HR recruiter. Job descriptions have parameters laid out to help a recruiter decide who to take a deeper look at and who to pass on.
We've already talked about how to pump up your resume, but how do you get yourself to really stand out to recruiters? Put yourself in their shoes for a few seconds.

Meet Danielle. An HR recruiter. Her job is to look for people to fill positions. That is what she does all day, every day. She may have to also manage the background checks. So, first, she'll meet with the hiring manager...let's say in this case, the VP of Sales, Frank. Frank and Danielle discuss what particular qualifications Frank is looking for in the position. They agree on the job description, which will include a particular skill set tied to employment history and level of accountability plus a possible education and/or credit requirement.

Now Danielle does 2 Things.
  1. Posts the position internally.
  2. Posts the position on various recruitment websites or media outlets, such as newspapers.

Why did I put Thing 1 as Thing 1?

Because when it comes to filling a position...ANY position...a referral from an existing employee leads more often to being able to fill the position than from doing an extensive job search. Now, you may not know ANYONE at any company that you might want to work for, but here is the task ahead of you.

You need to manage your own 3 Things:

  1. Target specific companies. Are there several companies that you'd give your eye-teeth to work for? (Well, maybe at 50 plus you aren't as willing to give up a tooth...but let's just say you'd really, really want to work there.) You need to find those companies and do some research. Who is the HR Director? Who runs the department you want to work for? Are you able to get a site tour? There is nothing wrong with trying to set up an informal meeting with a Recruiter. There is nothing wrong with hand delivering a resume. There is nothing wrong with sending in a resume in the hopes of a position opening up. So put on your walking shoes and driving gloves and physically, actually, start looking.
  2. Find your 6 degrees of separation. If we know that Thing 1 for a Recruiter is tops on their list, and we KNOW that many jobs fill based on personal referral, then it is incumbent upon YOU to find that connection. Now that you know which companies you want to work for, find people who know people who know people at those companies. Call them up, speak with them and ask them who to deliver your resume to. More often than not, they'll tell you to email your resume to them and they will forward it along. There are many cases, countless cases, where someone gets hired through personal referral and the Recruiter discovers that their resume was completely overlooked when it was submitted in response to an ad.
  3. Know your product...YOU. Who the heck are you? When you get that interview, how will you clinch the deal? Why WOULD someone want to hire you? What is so special about you that a company would be crazy not to bring you on board? What do YOU bring to the table that this company needs? What are you strengths and what are your weaknesses? What is your personal brand?

We'll talk more about personal brand in the next post.