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

Friday, March 14, 2008

Where to Start at 50 Plus?

I get quite a few emails -- both from this blog and from my group on Eons -- from readers who are trying to find a direction and don't know where to start.

"I'm 59 years old, have just been down-sized out of my position. I've been in mortgage placement my whole life and with the market the way it is...I don't know where to start..."


"Help please! At 51, I don't know what to do. I've just gotten through a tough divorce and have to work. All I can find are sales positions in retail stores for $9/hour. I can't make ends meet. I can't get a foot in the door for higher paying positions because I don't have a consistent resume. Where do I start?"


"At 62 I still need to work. Even though I held a pretty high-powered executive position, there is no way anyone will hire me at 62. I can't even figure out how to translate my skills into something marketable. Any suggestions?"

These are just a few. But you can get the idea. Everyone feels that they have come to a dead end and are trying to figure out where to start from. And that is the real challenge. Finding a way to change the "dead end" to a "crossroads". Not "starting" again, but continuing, by capitalizing on strengths. A lot of us talk about the challenges about competing against the younger Gen Y'ers. But honestly, we're not competing with them. They are at entry points in their careers. They don't have the experience...the translatable experience behind them.

So, let me look at myself, for example. Background as a general management leader for many years. Experience in film and theatre on the production end. Non-profit experience. And...obviously, web experience. If I have to start again...where WOULD I start? Who would hire me? I've got too much on my plate to even be considered for most positions unless I were looking specifically at high "C", GM or VP positions. But if I was looking to retool myself into a more manageable career, I'd have to take a different approach. I'd have to chunk.

What would those chunks be?

Well, I know how to market via the internet -- both virally and using a field marketing approach to the web. I know how to build and promote websites and products. But I'm a party of one. Am I directly marketable to big business in this chunk? Probably not. But do I create websites and market them for small businesses? Yes. If they are just starting to set up content on a SharePoint system, could I manage that program for them? Yes. Because they need all my expertise, wrapped up in one, less expensive entity. Me.

What could another chunk be? Consulting on setting up and managing a business? Definitely. Motivating and mobilizing a team? Absolutely. But would I be interested in flying all over the world at this stage to consult with companies in China or Japan? Not right now. With an 8 year old to care for. But, can I share these skills with smaller businesses who are overwhelmed with setting up their books or managing a small work force? Yes. That would be great for me.

And on and on. Taking little bits of my vast experience and chunking them out. Does this mean I have to strike out on my own and create a business? No. Certainly not...but it means looking at each skill as a complete skill set and repositioning or retooling my personal brand to get the best representation in my job search. Could I create my own business in this way? Yes, if I had the determination and backup (financial) to build up the business over time. Or, I can rebrand myself for the type of job that fits one or several of my chunks.

So, think about your many skill sets. Break them out. Simplify them. And then, I'd love to hear what YOUR chunks are.


Dina Eisenberg said...

Unbundle, that's what I say. Let your skills not your last position drive your success.

Isn't it interesting how people begin to believe that their label expresses the sum total of their expertise and experience? I coach mediators to have profitable practices in my other life as a Mediation Mensch.

There are woefully few jobs for mediators, however, there are plenty of companies that want to learn to negotiate better or hire conflict coaches. It's all of matter of dissecting a large skill-set and making it useful to someone else.

Boomers are no different, and neither am I. We need to re-invent ourselves.

My blog is all about taking my skills for listening, questioning and problem-solving to a new arena- marriage and boomerhood- after 18 years in conflict work. (By the way, in all those years, I've been my OWN boss.)

Make your own job. Design the life you want, not the one you think you have to take.

Stepping gingerly down from this rather tall soapbox....

Marriage Maven
Marriage doesn't have to suck

Wendy, founder, Gen Plus said...

Hi Dina -- So sorry that I lost your other comment, which was so good! Anyone who wants to create their own business has my full support. I have found that many 50 plussers have a lot of fear surrounding taking that step -- due to financial or familial obligations. But,like you, I'd also encourage anyone who wanted to be their own boss to follow that route.