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

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Satisfaction Magazine

Today I was pondering career possibilities in the new flavor of the day sector: healthcare. And as my "spidey-sense" was a-tingling searching for connections, I discovered (or was discovered by) Satisfaction Magazine.

Focused on the Boomer and 50 plus demographic, Editorial Director Mark Miller does bring it home. They have just added a blog to their site too. Pop in for a visit, and while you are there, read this very insightful article on second career options in healthcare, written by Mary Ellen Podmolik and published in their magazine just at the end of 2005. You'll understand why I emphasize looking for positions in that field, and why so many of the employers listed on Gen Plus are, in fact, healthcare or healthcare related companies.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Where to find that job? This just in!

There is nothing more daunting than trying to find a new job. And at 50 plus, it can be downright disheartening. The effort needed is many times greater than when you were looking in your twenties, thirties and, yes, even forties. So you need to think of yourself as a "job sleuth"...a sort of private investigator in the job market.

And how does that work? Well, first of all, you have to look at the big, big picture. What is going on in the North American and world economies? I always take a look at the picture the US Bureau of Labor reports on every month. So, for example, as reported on MSNBC , in February, a lot of new jobs were created. 243,000 in the US. Which is a heck of a lot higher than the 170,000 new jobs added in January. As I noted, back in November and December, it was time to get those resumes brushed up, because as companies start the year with new budgets, the first and 2nd quarters are going to be where they'll extend themselves to staff up and then watch for the rest of their year's earnings. So this is a good start. I'd expect to see this trend continue at least through April.

Now that we see jobs being added, the next thing I look for is what sectors are hiring and firing. Climbs were in construction companies, retailers, and financial services. Manufacturing jobs, however, are down, reflecting the automotive sector downsizing. The tried-and-trues, education, health are still going strong as well.

Just because your area of expertise is NOT in one of these sectors, take a look at any job site for any of these types of companies and you'll find jobs. A construction company needs managers, administrators, accountants, lawyers, graphic designers, etc. etc. Ditto for retailers and financial services. So take the time to sleuth around. When you take a look at employers on Gen Plus, you'll note that most of the company sites carry hundreds of positions (enter "national" as your keyword to see what I'm referring to) in many disciplines, so don't limit yourself to searching in what you believe is your niche. At 50-plus, you need to be creative in your job search. Read the news. Why not companies researching alternative fuel sources and anything that could be vaguely related to homeland security?

Let me know how you do.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Fifty and Furthermore

Thank goodness subscription distribution seems to be working again!

I've been waiting all week just to send out an article from the great site, www.fiftyandfurthermore.com. Dr. Dorree Lynn has amassed a group of "sages", those who are boomer plus with, frankly, some great stories to tell. Here is one I particularly like...by Mary Liston Liepold, Ph.D., -- wife, mother, activist, lifelong reader, editor, and writer.

She expresses (with resonance for all the 50 plussers out there...) the fears and joys of a 50 plusser (actually just turned 60, so she is one of the group of first Boomers turning 60 this year) attacking a new job! Enjoy. Click here for the full article.

"I work for love, not for money. No, we’re not fabulously wealthy; it’s just that by the time I went to work for wages, after 15 years as a family day care provider, I knew people would pay me to do something I loved, and I wasn’t about to settle for less. I spent 20 years at four different nonprofits – almost 15 at the last one – and they were all good years.

Then came the day, about six months after my 60 th birthday, when I realized that I wasn’t loving my job anymore. The conventional wisdom is that it’s tough to find a new job when you’re 60, so I put out the first feelers a bit tentatively – and scored a call for an interview on every one. The ego boost was exhilarating..."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Not getting your subscription?

Apologies to our subscribers. It seems that Blogger (the host of our Gen Plus blog) bust a server. Bloget (the subscription vehicle) is unable to connect through to the Blogger server at this time and posts have not been transmitting all week.

Hopefully I'll have a resolution in the next few days. There is a wonderful article that I am going to post from Fifty and Furthermore, but I am holding off so all our subscribers can access it too. Please let me know if any other Bloggers are experiencing this challenge this week.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

"It's kind of like a forced attitude change."

Because Gen Plus focuses on services for 50 plussers, I'm always drawn to media reports on the workplace. And a few days ago, The Globe and Mail, considered Canada's leading source for news, published an excellent article by Virginia Galt, on the shifting views that are emerging on the work landscape.

For the full article, click on the link

What were the main points?

Well, first, the article highlighted a few significant Canadians who have started new careers after 65:

"65 means freedom to start a whole new career"

For a growing number of well-established Canadians, ''the retirement dream'' involves work -- and not just hobby jobs but substantial second careers. At 68, Canada's new ambassador to the United States, Michael Wilson has been far too busy to even contemplate the prospect of traditional retirement -- although he did schedule a ski vacation before taking up his new duties in Washington, D.C., this week.

The latter part of the article is what really interested me. The statistics and the temperature -- which mirrors what is happening in the US, the UK, Australia and many other "aging population" countries around the world.

The temperature

Employers will eventually have no choice but to consider hiring retirees for some positions, says Prof. Armstrong-Stassen.

And employers will have to change their attitude because there will not be enough younger people to fill the void when the baby boomers start to retire, she says.

"It's kind of like a forced attitude change."

But Ms. Patten, as an HR executive, says attitudes towards older workers have already changed for the better. "There is a returning respect for the richness of experience."

She ponders the question of whether Mr. Wilson, Mr. Purdy and Mr. Iacobucci are trend-setters in taking on substantial new challenges later in life.

"I think you'll see much more of it," Ms. Patten says.

At 60, Ms. Patten herself says she also has no intention of retiring.

"For some of us," Ms. Patten adds, "traditional retirement is just not part of our DNA."

The stats



Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Education --powerful factor in life expectancy and health, and we're not quite sure why?

In an article, dated March 10th in the Washinton Post, entitled, " Census Foresees an Older, and Wiser, America", Bloomberg News explores a new Census Bureau report on aging, commissioned by the National Institute on Aging. For the full article, click on the link above. But there is one quote that just has me shaking my head and blinking my eyes. Not because of the quote itself, but because of the lack of knowledge that exists on healthy aging and the needs of the Boomer and young senior demographics.

The report notes that our aging demographic is the most educated in history and that education seems to correlate with healthy aging:

'"Education is a particularly powerful factor in both life expectancy and health, and we're not quite sure why," Richard Suzman, associate director for behavioral and social research at the National Institute on Aging, said in the teleconference. Better-educated people may have more money to pay for health care, and they may know more about a healthy lifestyle, he said.
By 2030, more than one-fourth of the older generation is likely to have an undergraduate degree, the report said."

I spent the first 36 years of my life in Canada -- in a system that provided both free healthcare and free education to all. As a result, there is a large, healthy, educated middle class in Canada with less extremes of riches and poverty than in the US, for example.

So when I moved to Los Angeles and adopted America as my new home, it always struck me as odd that people could, in fact, be uninsured and uncovered financially in case of a medical catastophe. It struck against my innate sense of social responsibility that parents sent their children to private school and didn't support a public school system and that they and their children would amass tens of thousands of dollars of debt in order to head to college or university.

There have also been studies on aging and memory (UCLA comes to mind) that have seen a correlation between lifelong learning, acquiring knowledge of new processes and disciplines throughout the aging process and the impact on healthy aging. My grandmother instinctively knew that it was important to do a challenge crossword every day to keep her mind active and she constantly explored new methods of painting or learned a new musical instrument (she was a terrible musician...but that didn't stop her from practicing on an ocharina).

The whole point of formal education is not just to learn...but to learn to learn. To develop an inquiring mind and a sense of exploration. Our generation understood that truth and opened the doors to a cultural revolution. Because of this inquiring mind, 50 plussers will not want to retire. Nor will they want to stop exploring and learning.

To my eyes (even with reading glasses) the connection between education and healthy aging is obvious. The open mind thrives and grows with attention and information. And as long as opportunities exist for that growth, we can enjoy a healthy life after 50, 60 and 70.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Gen Y Impact on Boomers 50 +

If you were a child of the sixties, your parents could not relate to the "revolution" -- the music, the free love, the drug counterculture, the clothes, the hair, the hair, the hair.

That gap is happening again. With Gen Y (aka ,Echo Boomers and Millennium Generation) the generation born between 1981 and 1995, and more than 57 million strong in the US.

This new generation, the first to be born within the computer age, is information savvy, has high expectations (due to a Boomer generation that indulged their desire for "have"), and will generally not tolerate jobs that don't take their needs, personal lives and fringe benefits into consideration.

They tend to form their opinions based on web-based information (often times unsubstantiated) and are mistrustful of information that isn't substantiated on the internet. Employment retention is a challenge for employers as Gen Y'ers tend to job hop quickly in order to increase salary and benefits. Loyalty to an employer, while an issue for a Boomer or Senior, is not an issue for Gen Y. Highest bidder wins.

They are sharp, smart, demanding, adventurous. The sixties reinvented via technology.

  • Seniors waited to get married before having sex.
  • Boomers grew up with free love.
  • Gen Y grew up never knowing a world without AIDS.
The leading edge of Gen Y, those now just turning 25, are taking positions that are often times gatekeeper posts such as brand managers, bank managers, I/T supervisors, recruiters. And with the lack of connection between Boomers and Gen Y, that means we have gatekeepers who will not value a 20 year employment history as much as someone who is bilingual (Spanish/English, Mandarin/English, French/English), internet, blog and podcast savvy and with expertise in Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Publisher.

It has never been more important than now to find your right language when writing a resume, cover letter and even conversing on a preliminary phone interview. Connecting with Gen Y now is as important as it was for your parents to bring your attention to the Beatles or Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show. And by language, I don't mean your grammar or punctuation. I mean your tone. Your passion must come through in your resume and cover letter. A twenty year history may be very important to you...but what are the action words that will convey your dynamism to the gatekeeper? Speak Gen Y and get your foot in that potential employers door.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fifty and Furthermore

I always love great site content, so here is a wonderful site to share with you. Fifty and Furthermore is the heart-child of Dr. Dorree Lynn, a psychologist who specializes in group counselling. On her site, among other topics, Dr. Lynn explores the concept of sages. She publishes wonderful articles by her chosen 50 plus sages on topics ranging from job sharing (we'll be re-publishing that article here this week) to finance to travel and on and on. Some excellent content from a true 50 plusser in her own right.

So, check out the site and her accompanying blog.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Public Relations in Job Search at Over 50!

We have both Employers and Jobseekers who visit Gen Plus and our blog. Today, after an interesting conversation with a charismatic jobseeker, I pondered (for those of you familiar with me, you know I like to ponder!) the relationship between these two entities:

  • those of you who come to us because you are hoping to find employers interested in and willing to hire you if you are older than fifty...;
  • and employers who are feeling the crunch of open positions and not enough qualified candidates to fill important shoes.
So what exactly is the relationship?

I always tend to think of things in advertising and/or sales terms. In this case, I'll use the concept of "paid advertising" versus "public relations".

Paid advertising is a medium where a business pays money to have an ad in some form (print, radio, TV, internet, direct mail, etc.) that promotes the company (pushes out the product) from its point of view and throws it at consumers. "My great company provides this incredible service or product that you, the consumer will just die without."

Public relations (PR) is a format that provides information to media outlets, again, from the company, but to be used for content by the media outlets as their own material. They will either publish a press release in its entirety, or will contact the company to flesh out the information to fit in with the editorial content of the medium. PR is intended to pull the consumer to the product through the credibility that is attached to a published article, feature or newsclip.

For e.g., this release:

"Green Place, a "cutting-edge" landscaping company announces a revolutionary new way to mow a lawn. Our goat-trimmers provide the latest in gardening technology...."

may fit in perfectly with "Home and Gardens" upcoming issue focusing on gardening technology. Anyone reading the article will be prompted (pulled) to find out more about Green Place and their goat-trimmers!

So what does this have to do with finding a job when you are over 50?

Think of the open position as the consumer or client. A company has a need to fill the position and they broadcast their opening to the world in any way they can, given their budget constraints.

Well, your resume and cover letter are like advertising. You are highlighting (pushing) your qualifications, defining your personal brand through your resume and carrying it through to a phone call and ultimately to a job interview. That is why it is so important to have a focused, top-notch resume and cover letter.

The recruiter's message, on behalf of the employer, is like PR. They can broadcast, or they can target their message to a market segment. If an employer is strapped for higher level positions, experienced workers, or let's even say a worker with good ethics who will show up every day for work...then they perceive a need for you, the 50 plus jobseeker and search for access to that market. So when they use the services of a company like Gen Plus, they are reaching out their need to you, the jobseeker. And their search will hopefully entice (pull) you to apply to their position. (Think of how Home Depot has repositioned themselves as 50 Plus employers, for e.g.)

The challenge that 50 plus is facing right now is that you are doing a great job advertising yourselves. You are boldly posting your resumes on Gen Plus and on every job board you can find that fits in with your target jobs. You may send out 50, 100 or 400 (not uncommon, by the way, for anyone over 50) resumes to employers before you get a call. But by continuing to actively advertise yourself, you will get a call, eventually.

Recruiters and employers are sensing that they have a crisis with finding qualified employees (more on this in the next article), but other than a few hundred savvy employers, most have not yet actively identified that 50 plus is the way to go so they tend to rely more on broadcasting than niche focusing. However, the near-future is very rosy. More and more, we are seeing businesses tap into this market. It is coming, but it will still take a lot of elbow grease on our part (we are VERY commited to your successes!) and on yours to bring the right awareness to the value of 50 plus.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Clotheslines and Gas Prices

I am an older mom. My six year old brings a whole world of fascination to light every day and reminds me constantly of the differences between growing up in the 2000s and growing up in the 1940s to 1960s.

Like the clothes dryer. As a kid, we didn’t have a dryer…nor did any of my friends’ families. They hung their freshly washed clothes out on the lines in their yards or in their basements…and even in winter (I hail from Montreal, so it was mighty cold) clothes would hang out and then get pulled in just before they froze.

Yesterday, my mother (a smashing, brilliant young senior) was laying some washed sweaters flat to dry and my child piped up, “You know, Grandma, you need something like…ummm…2 poles and then you could have a line between them (she meant string)…and then you could hang your sweaters up with paper clips to hold them on the line!”

My daughter has lived her short six years with a dryer. She’s never seen a clothesline. Except perhaps as an illustration.

She can already navigate through Explorer to Cartoon Network Online by herself and play computer games. I learned how to use a computer at 30 years of age (and couldn’t figure out how to turn the darned thing on either at MY first temp job, but I did know Shift F4 in WordPerfect 4.0). Our generation learned to type (IF we learned to type) on a manual typewriter and progressed to electric with white out and then later correct tapes and graduated to IBM Selectric with Correct-a-tape.

My child can type her name faster than she can write it.

We knew clickers before they were called remotes and had black and white before color TV. We played LPs before they were collectors items.

My six year old wants an iPod.

And so, I commented to my mother, “You know…what with the price of gas…if we couldn’t use the car…we could get…a big animal…you know…like….ummm…a horse…and we could put something on it so that we could ride on it…to get around.”