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

Monday, February 27, 2006

Cozy up to BoomersTV

Just a quick reminder...if you haven't tuned in yet to the wonderful PBS series BoomersTV, then take a trip to your past AND your future! Mark and Nancy Mills capture all things boomer-related in an easy to watch, creative, one-of-a-kind program...and one that is capturing a strong audience. Just click on the link above to access TV listings for your area.

Monday, February 20, 2006

All about feeds...the lost art of writing

If you are reading this post as an "email", then congratulations. You are officially subscribed to the Gen Plus feed. If you are visiting the site for the first time, then you'll see a box, to the right, with a space for you to enter your email address. That is the simple way to subscribe to a blog.

Puzzled? Fear not. As bizarre as blogs (short for web log -- a personal or business web diary) may seem, they are pretty easy to navigate...once you understand what they are and how different people use them.

Very few 50 plussers have caught on to the blog-wave. And yet, what a blog represents is a Boomer and Beyond match made in heaven.

So, what exactly is a blog? A blog is a very user-friendly format that allows anyone -- from a high-tech nerd to a one-finger keyboard tapper -- to share their version of the written word with the world. There are many different companies that now host blogs (such as www.blogger.com, which I use), but the magic of the blog, is that by opening up the internet to anyone with a mind and a way to type, the art of writing has resurfaced.

If you are 50 plus, then you will recall the many, many years before email, where you would write longing letters to your summer loves, now living many miles away, notes to your friends, tucked into their school lockers, letters from your parents on Parent/Teacher night, quick notes dashed off to friends before heading home for holidays, and thoughtfully worded business letters and memos. Cover letters painstakingly recrafted for every job application -- decisions on whether to use grey or buff linen. Letters to friends while on trips, romances chronicled month after month in love letters that would then be boxed or tied with ribbon. Great journalistic essays and op-eds that could take your breath away. Letters to the editor -- written with determination and deliberation.

That was the art of writing as we knew it.

The advent of email threatened to take away the thrill of the adjective or the power of the adverb. Upper case was lost. Grammar was irrelevent. And so, with the creation of the blog, people young and old, literate or barely so, are, often with great honesty, spilling their hearts and souls into cyberspace with ease...and with style. Still young, still evolving, every second blog is someone's ramblings, musings, and rants. But within this world are some true creative geniuses, some just plain great thinkers, and windows into the behind-the-scenes of businesses your are interested in.

So back to the feed. When you subscribe to a newspaper, you get door-to-door delivery of your daily fave -- LA Times, NY Times, Wall Street Journal...whatever your fancy. A feed is the internet equivalent of door-to-door service. So when your email address is entered into my subscription box, a service provider sends you an email whenever I make a new blog entry. Delighted to have found me? Thrilled to find someone who understands the everyday and ongoing concerns of the 50 plus demographic? Then do nothing and your service will continue. Every time I publish an entry. And as you visit more blogs, when you find ones that speak to you, subscribe. And you'll get more deliveries. If you lose interest in your subscription, then you simply...unsubscribe!

Plain and simple. But be prepared to be delighted...because there are millions of bloggers using beautiful, gorgeous words...with attention to grammar, description, narrative...and yes...even spelling. And if you decide to join the blog world because you have something to say...welcome.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ask Wendy!

I frequently receive questions through "Ask Wendy" on the Gen Plus blog. This one addresses the heart of the issues surrounding 50 plus jobseekers.

I am 52 and have been unemployed, after 30 years in Banking, for the last 4 years. How can I convince others that I don't care if I'm over qualified for a clerk or receptionist job and get them to choose me over the 20 something's out there?


Dear TB

Thank you for your question.
You are facing exactly the sort of issues that most 50 plussers are dealing with right now. You’ve got lots of experience and are willing to take a position with less responsibility even if you are overqualified because you need or want to keep earning.

The most important thing is to realize that, in fact, it is very tough to change the minds of employers and it may take a really concerted effort to find a job. There are, however, many things that you can do and I’m confident that if you keep up the search you will find a job.

  • The first thing to do is to try to get interviews. That means you need to make use of every job board (Gen Plus included) that you can find. You do not EVER need to pay to search for or apply to jobs, nor should you. There are broadcast boards that appeal to all jobposters and all jobseekers and are widely used. They include the well known Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com. At Gen Plus we offer a niched job board…which means we only have employers listed that are verifiably 50 plus friendly. We also have an online interview that employers seem to like, so if you haven’t filled yours out yet, I’d suggest you do so. As well, there are newer job boards such as SimplyHired.com and postings on Craig’s List (craigslist.org) that cater to less mainstream employers. There are other niched boards, (very few in the 50 plus demographic) so it may be worthwhile to include a search for niche boards in your desired field too.

  • Post your resume on every site you can, but take a careful look at your resume first. For a first easy step, take off employment that is older than twenty years. Even if you were with one employer for those twenty years, you can add a line: additional employment history available upon request. Second, do not put in education graduation dates. Check out these links for past blog articles that can help you in creating your personal brand and making your resume active:

  • Once you feel your resume is vibrant and tells the story that you want it to, make sure that the experience you highlight is relevant to each job you are seeking. If you were a manager, but are applying for an administrative support position, focus on your administrative skills and downplay the management. Highlight your computer proficiency, or accounting experience, and projects that had a specific objective that would illustrate the type of support you want to offer.

  • Next, you need to target the right kind of employers. There are certain industries that are youth-oriented, so there is no point in going up against impossible competition. Marketing? Forget it. Advertising? Nope. Publishing? I don’t think so. Startup or web-based companies? Not likely. Fortune 500’s? Rarely. Teen-based brands? NEVER! But there is hope.

Extra Tip: When you go to Gen Plus and search for jobs, plug in “national” as your keyword for locations and/or in the keyword field. You’ll get most of the bigger companies that are known to recruit from the 50 plus and boomer market. As well, on any site or in any community, look for smaller ads from small businesses. Look in your community papers, both the physical papers and their online ads. Many of them will still use traditional print ads or advertise on Craig’s List. Smaller businesses (less than 750 employees…but more likely around the 1-200 employee mark) are looking to get the most bang for their buck and would rather hire a 50 plusser with great experience than a Gen Y-er who will leave at the next job opportunity.

There are some industries that are very 50 plus friendly:

  • Healthcare (and this is ANY job in healthcare…not just RNs) – so check out listings at your local hospitals, as well as health insurance companies, hospices, long-term care, senior living, etc.;
  • Retail – becoming a bigger player. Consider Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Nordstrom’s, and the like;
  • Finance/Banking – I realize that you came from banking and are at your wit’s end with banking, but in reality banks cannot find experienced players, so don’t give up there. Extend interest in evening and weekend shifts and possibly management (although it looks from your question that you want to steer away from management) and you might get a bite;
  • Airlines – more and more airlines are turning to older workers as gate and customer service agents – check out US Airways (formerly America West) and Southwest Airlines if any of those hubs are near you;
  • Education – school districts are desperate for help and you might find that once you get into the city system (a bit challenging, but do-able), you can move up and around. A lot of 50 plussers are heading back to school and getting credentialed so that they can teach. And private schools and childcare are always looking for staff (their credentialing is pretty easy to get) although the pay is lower than at public schools.

When you get an interview, make sure that you are current – in your style and look, your hairstyle, your accessories – and up to speed on the company you are interested in. Do your homework. If you are rusty with your computer skills, brush up. You must have Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and be familiar with Outlook for a start. Find out what the company’s challenges are so that you can address them in your interview. Remember, no one can ask you your age and you are not required to give out information on your family status or anything that addresses your age (other than education graduation dates on a job application).

But most important of all: do not set out thinking that you are competing with a 20-something. Set out thinking about your assets and how you can help a company overcome their challenges. Just don’t give up. We’ve had many jobseekers use our job boards and get information from our blog. It doesn’t matter where they got their lead – from us or from any of the many job sites out there – but by not giving up, they were able to get work.

Stay positive and best of luck with your job search.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

Whether you are with someone you love, or going solo, I just want to wish all our 50 plussers and friends a happy Valentine's day. I appreciate every email, every comment, and the interest that you have shown in making our world a better place for everyone over 50.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

FREE has value for 50 Plus!

At Gen Plus, we recently made a bold decision. We are now providing resume posting services for free to our Gen Plus JobSeekers. Even though the fee we were charging was very nominal and helps us offset the heavy programming that goes behind this type of web-focused service, I realized several months ago that there is a major re-education that has to happen for both employers and 50 plus, Boomer, and young senior Jobseekers. Why? Because we have been literally inundated with Jobseekers opening accounts and searching our very targeted job postings, but you have been reluctant to post your resumes. And if you do not post your resumes, you are letting down the employers who are coming to the site specifically to search...for you!

So, in order to ensure that you post your resumes more willingly, and so that you can be more visible (i.e. STAND OUT) to the employers who are actively seeking 50 plussers, we are now offering this resume posting for free. When you go to the Gen Plus login screen and sign up, you will find that once you reach the payment screen, we've given you a code that will give you a 6-month membership. That is the period of time within which we hope to help you find a job. After 6 months, we'll revisit your account, look at activity and determine if you need a free extension.

So, why am I doing this? Because you, the 50 plus Jobseekers really, really need our help and, together, we can change the perception of the job market, one employer at a time. So if you have not yet posted your resume, do so now. Plus, there is a fantastic online interview that was created to help you break through the cyber-door. Our employers are counting on you to use it so that it saves them time on their recruiting efforts.

You've all heard the expression...You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Resume posting is now free. I've led you to the water. And I KNOW that you are thirsty. So, please...drink!

And if you are an employer, continue to check back over the next few weeks for an onslaught of online resume postings!

Keep a watch for our next Ask Wendy response to the burning question many of you have been asking in many forms -- how to combat ageism. Coming this week.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Google in China, where 50 Plus is REALLY 50 Plus!

Everyone is all abuzz over Google China. For good or for bad, the market is there and people, regardless of country, desire information and will seek it out. Saying that one doesn't agree with Google China is like saying that you don't agree with the internet. You can agree or not agree, but the internet will not go away, nor will Google China. Nor should they. The desire for information in this computer age is unstoppable.

And when we look at the issues facing 50 plus, aging Boomers and young seniors in the US, we are talking about a total of 78 million Americans. In Canada, about 7-8 million. And in China? Over 400 million who will turn 50 within the next several years. Now that is a mind-boggling number all on its own. I, for one, am all aflutter to discover, learn and embrace whatever I can about the 50 plus world in China simply by the communication that will come from the information exchange. A rural, agrarian culture, side-by-side with forward-thinking fast moving cyber-culture and a love of all things branded American. What a fascinating picture!

So, if we have 40 million of our Boomers looking to continue working after the age of 60, that will translate to about 200 million Chinese 60 plussers who will want and need to continue working. Two thirds of the US population. That alone is mind-boggling. So whatever challenges we are looking to surmount surrounding 50 plus or aging population issues in the US, this is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what impact there will be on the Chinese economy. And I know that I'll be on of the 78 million and 400 million relying on Google to find me the information I want.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Boomers and 50 Plus Taking to the Skies?

I travel a fair bit, so I'm used to hanging around in airports, waiting to change planes, flight delays, overpriced Starbucks...you get the picture.

Well, there is...literally...a change in the air. This morning as I was boarding my US Airways flight, I took a look around and realized that all...yes, ALL the airline gate attendants were....well...over 50. Proudly wearing their hair grey, smiling, providing excellent, polite and efficient customer service...there we were! 50 plussers as the main demographic.

So move over Walmart and Home Depot and say hello to your new supporters of all things 50 Plus...US Airways (America West.)

It's coming...can you feel it? Ageism will topple. I can guarantee it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

50 plus creators, Baby Boomer inventors!

Who let 50 plussers out? Who...who...who...

I spend so much energy focused on employment issues that I forget to bring up the Shop section of Gen Plus. There is an incredible pool of talent in the 50 plus world that tends to be overlooked. There are 50 plus writers, Boomer inventors, senior producers, who have created product and are left with no means for distribution. So at Gen Plus, we added a Shop section, dedicated to products invented or created by 50 plussers or products specifically relevant to the 50 plus/Boomer market.

So if you have a minute, meander over to Gen Plus Shop and see what your fellow 50 plussers are up to. Some great books, including:

  • First Edition printing of Cass Brown's Blog-moir, "Cancergiggles" (his book has been taken over by a larger publisher, but the first edition is always the keeper!)
  • the unusual and creative An Ethical Will filled with parables for living written by a grandfather.
  • cool items include a Ziploc bag rack that is a must-have item for anyone with motor mobility challenges...invented by a 50 plus engineer!

    Valentine's day is coming up. So buy a gift and support a 50 plusser, OR if you have something you'd like us to market, just get in touch!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Baby Boomers Italy!

The Boom generation is not only raging in the US and Canada, but Europe is all afire with all things 50 plus. Jacopo Gonzales, head of Babyboomers Italy has asked Gen Plus for any information on Italian American Boomers...

So if you are an Italian American, or know an Italian American and were born between 1946 and 1964, then send me your story and I'll make sure Jacopo hears all about you! And at least you'll be able to say you visited Italy...even if only vicariously.

And if you haven't subscribed yet, simply enter your email address into the bloglet bar on the right. The easiest feed I've seen yet.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Boomer and Boomer...what IS Boomer?

If you are a Boomer or senior, you'll relate in some way to Star Trek. Do you remember a Star Trek episode entitled "Spock's Brain"? It was a cringingly terrible episode -- but so darn bad that it is fantastic! There is a planet filled with beautiful women (per usual), but these women are controlled by a central computer that has "kidnapped" and is using Spock's brain. His brain has been taken OUT of his body and so his body is starting to fail. If the leaders of the planet don't put Spock's brain back into Spock's head, Spock will die. So at one point, Bill Shatner, in his understated style, shakes one particularly gorgeous woman, Kara, by the shoulders (I believe it was after kissing her...) and tries to explain how the Brain must be reconnected with the Body. To which Kara, with a frustrated deer in the headlights look, replies, "Brain, brain?....What is brain?"

And that is EXACTLY how the business world is currently trying to understand this next wave of what will be happening with Boomers. And we, the Boomers and young Seniors, shake our heads in awe at the complete lack of understanding of our generation...and sometimes by those in our generation. I spend a great deal of time searching out chat rooms and bulletin boards to hear what 50 Plus is saying. And the number one frustration always surrounds job search. The message is echoed all across the generation -- those from 41 to 60 and then crosses over to about 64 years old. After 64, most of the jobseekers start to give up. It doesn't mean they don't need the work. They DO. But they start to give up.

The challenge for our demographic is finding the employers who will willingly want us and appreciate the wisdom within the experience. I'll be discussing some of these challenges more in the coming weeks, but here is some food for thought. My business, Gen Plus, while offering a range of services niched to 50 Plus, primarily focuses on the area of greatest need...job search. And jobseekers are happily joining us every day. But employers are reluctantly entering into a specific search for the 50 Plusser. Our task is very challenging as I do not subscribe to other boards through affiliate programs. Generally, employers on streamed job boards are NOT targeted to our demographic, so it provides a false search and lots of work for jobseekers who will not, in fact, be considered for a position. Finding employers sincerely open to hiring 50 plus is very challenging. So what we do at Gen Plus, is identify 50 plus friendly employers -- one by one. As a result all the employers on our site are at the very least...qualified and interested in 50 plus. And more than that, when the buzz about all things Boomer dies down next year (after the first Boomer turning 60 turns...61), we'll still be here, working to find work for our membership.

So, to head back to Kara and Star Trek, I can't help but relate. Our 50 plussers, our Boomers, our young Seniors, were and are the brains of the body of the US and Canadian economy (and not to mention what is happening in the other aging countries of the world) and we are being ripped out of the body. The next five years is our window of opportunity to get Spock's brain back into Spock's body...otherwise the body will deteriorate.

That's my two cents for an early Sunday morning.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Putting it Off Until Tomorrow: Ernst & Young LLP Aging Workforce Survey

Well, we've been raising the flag for quite a while. And now, corroboration from one of the big 4. Read on...

Putting it Off Until Tomorrow: Ernst & Young LLP Aging Workforce Survey Shows Corporate America Forsees a Looming Wisdom Withdrawal but Delays Addressing the Issue

The survey, The Aging of the U.S. Workforce: Employer Challenges and Responses, indicates that a little more than half of the respondents agreed that the aging workforce is an issue that must be addressed. While almost two-thirds said that retirements will lead to a “brain drain" in their organization, less than one-quarter said that it is an issue that is strategically very important.

“Approximately every seven seconds in America this year, a boomer turns 60,” said William Arnone, an Employee Financial Services practice leader in the Human Capital Practice of Ernst & Young LLP. “Seventy percent of the survey respondents have not yet attempted to identify where business wisdom resides in their organization. This means one thing: corporate America is facing a significant wisdom withdrawal.”

While the survey illustrated that employers are putting off tackling the issue of an aging workforce, an overwhelming 90 percent said they are committed to putting formal retention programs in place in the future. Of the 30 percent who have identified where business wisdom resides, only 67 percent have formal processes in place to transmit that business wisdom to the next generation.

“Right now, HR professionals are focusing on other things they consider to be more pressing, such as governance and compliance issues,” said Arnone. “As the looming ‘wisdom withdrawal’ becomes a more immediate concern, they will focus their resources on the issue at that time.”

Aging Workforce by the Numbers:

Of survey respondents who believe that the aging workforce is an issue that must be dealt with, 53 percent said it will lead to a workforce shortage.

Sixty-three percent said that retirements will lead to a “brain drain."

While almost 15 percent of respondents’ employees are eligible to retire in the next 5 years, they estimate that just over 10 percent of their current workers are likely to do so.

Approximately 40 percent noted that their top human capital concern is the availability of talent over the next five years. Other highly ranked areas of concern include retention of key employees and talent management (i.e., ensuring that the right employees are in the right positions).

Over 85 percent had no formal retention programs in place. Of those who did, hiring retirees as consultants or contractors, retention bonuses, promoting a culture of generational diversity and pre-retirement planning programs proved to be the most popular. Survey findings are based on responses from a sampling of senior human resources executives from a cross section of some of the largest employers in the U.S. in a variety of industry sectors. The survey was conducted electronically from November 11, 2005, to December 21, 2005.

The survey was conducted by
Ernst & Young LLP, ExecuNet Inc., and the Human Capital Institute.