Archive for the ‘Proactive Steps’ Category

  • Resumé Dates or No Dates? and Are There REALLY Jobs for Seniors on the Horizon or Is That Just a Mirage??

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    Today, a trusted friend and HR Guru, sat me down, drilled into my brain via my eyeballs and said: “Take those dates off your resumé!”

    I immediately started stuttering, “But, but isn’t that deceitful? Or, at the very least dissembling? And won’t that be a shock when I waltz my 60+ year-old self into the interview?”

    The Guru answered, “You know we HR folk are not as dumb as some people like to think we are. We can tell how long you’ve been working by simply reading your work history, experience and accomplishments. Clearly, you’re not just fresh out of college.”

    “That being said,” she continued, “in today’s job market we are inundated with resumés for each job we post. Hence, we are desperately seeking ways to winnow them down to a reasonable number. Sadly, your dates might prove an easy fix. Not that any self-respecting hiring manager would ever admit age bias but…”

    “On the other hand, if you have a brilliant, innovative working resumé – with no dates to shut us off at the first pass – by the time we finish reading and realize you are most probably a bit long in the tooth we really don’t see it as a barrier.”

    *************

    Now to those jobs on the horizon… US News and World Report actually published an article this week, titled Retired Workers Will Be Wooed to Return [to Work] by Philip Moeller.

    Wooed to Return??? Perhaps, it’s been so long since I’ve been wooed that I no longer grasp the meaning of the word, but I do question the veracity of this prediction. Then, too, I do not like to think myself a skeptic, so please read this bit of sunshine and let us know what you think.

  • Singing Your Heart Out at 80 and Kicking Your Heels Up at 106!

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    Janey Cutler is living proof that you’re never too old to dream a dream!

    “Britain’s Got Talent” had a rare treat this past Saturday night when 80 year-old Janey Cutler sang Edith Piaf’s ‘No Regrets’ (‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien‘) from La Vie en Rose. She, like last year’s unexpected BGT star Susan Boyle, hails from Glasgow, Scotland – something in the water perhaps?

    YouTube Preview Image

    Although the 80 year-old was physically tremulous and had to be helped onto the BGT stage, there was nothing shaky about this chantreuse’s voice. Her deep, mezzo-soprano was powerful and passionate, and the audience rose en masse to give her a standing ovation almost as soon as Janey Cutler began to sing.

    When asked where she’d been all these years, she replied, ‘oh you know, me wee pubs and clubs’. The judges including Simon gave Janey Cutler ‘3000 and three yeses’ so she’s on to the next round. No doubt she will be singing before the Queen, who is, of course, also an octogenarian!

    Janey and Queen Elizabeth, however, are wee whippersnappers compared to Doris Eaton Travis, the last surviving Ziegfeld Girl, who died this Tuesday.

    Archival Photo: Doris Eaton Travis as a Ziegfeld Girl.

    In her NY Times obituary, Douglas Martin writes, “From 1907 to 1931, beneath towering, glittering, feathered headdresses, the Ziegfeld Girls floated across grand Broadway stages in lavish pageants known as the Ziegfeld Follies, often to the wistful tune that Irving Berlin wrote just for them: ‘A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody.‘ They were former waitresses, farmers’ daughters and office workers who had dreampt of becoming part of Florenz Ziegfeld’s own grand dream of ‘glorifying the American girl.’”

    Just a few weeks ago, she was back on 42nd Street kicking up her 106 year-old heels for her annual appearance at the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS annual benefit.

    Doris Eaton Travis never stopped dancing; indeed, she had No Regrets!

    Mrs. Travis in 2009. Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times

  • Color Your Way to Success: Learn What Colors Reveal About You and The Organization Where You Think You’d Like to Work

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    I’ve just been studying David McCandless’ amazingly informative “Infographic of the Day: What Colors Mean Across 10 Cultures,” in an article by Cliff Kuang, published in Fast Company Magazine online, Apr 26, 2010.

    "Colours in Cultures," by David McCandless

    “The chart encompasses 10 different cultures, and 62 emotions (!!!). The cultures are represented by concentric rings, and the emotions are represented by slices of the circle. Thus, if you want to understand about Japanese color sensibilities, you read around the graph. And if you want to learn what colors mean “danger” across cultures, you just read vertically, down section 15.”

    Kuang says, “Colors are probably the most obvious way that design varies across cultures … But the funny thing is that for most designers and companies, those color sensibilities often don’t rise past ‘Red is lucky in China; blue is soothing in the West.’ That’s naive.”

    Consider, for example that # 66, Personal Power is represented by purple in Western /American cultures; yellow in Hindi; and green in Native American.

    # 77, Success = red in Native American, Chinese, Asian and South American; and green in African cultures.

    # 46, Intelligence = blue in Western/American; white in Hindi and black in Asian.

    This is not to say that you have to wear certain colors, but you need to be aware of what they represent to the organizations where you are trying to present yourself as the best candidate.  Do you wish to leave the impression that you are powerful, or maybe intelligence is key to who you are and what you can contribute?

    In the same light, be aware of the colors the organization has chosen to represent itself. Is it a cool calm blue, a peaceful green or a powerful, highly energetic red/orange environment?

    It’s not that your colors have to coordinate with the organization’s decor but they should not clash. Would your calm, introspective demeanor thrive in hot pink?

    Most important: be authentic. Do not dress in flamboyant, flashy colors if your brightest hue is traditionally moss green. Be true to yourself and your colors – that is always the best path to long-term success!

  • Thanks Be To Shakespeare: Those Telling Details in the Story Behind Your Resumé Really Do Matter

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    Renown scholar, Harold Bloom, in his book, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, declared, “before Shakespeare, there was characterization; after Shakespeare, there was character, men and women with highly individual personalities.”

    “Our highly individual personalities” are what set us apart in today’s highly competitive job market.  Those individual details transform the nitty gritty skills and experience data in our resumés into a living picture of who we are and what motivates us.  With so many highly qualified (skills and experience) candidates applying for so few positions, it is more important than ever to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the pack.

    We need to stop dreading the “interview” and look at it as a real opportunity to breathe some life into our experience. That being said, particularly if you have a lot of experience, the interview is not a moment to ramble through your work history. Remember: less is more! Your details need to focus on specific experience that is strategically related to the job for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying for a job that involves creating networks of people and organizations which can be leveraged to collectively address a need, you should be prepared to share stories about the ways in which you have brought parties together, engaged and motivated them to act, and what results were achieved. Be brief and succinct but provide details that “tell” how you made it happen. You could describe how you identified key players and any challenges you faced bringing traditionally non-team players to the table. Hopefully, this involves gentle persuasion and not knocking heads together. Anyone can knock heads together, gentle persuasion where everyone feels part of a win-win solution is an art. And don’t be afraid to include a little humor. The person with whom you are interviewing wants to be assured you are committed but also that you do not consider work a forced march.

    Listen to the ways in which you describe yourself. Are they relevant to the job at hand? Ask yourself if this sounds like a person with whom you would like to work? As you share your stories, your values, energy and enthusiasm will rise to the surface. These are not things you can manufacture. Greek characters were shaped and driven by their circumstances. Our personalities reflect choices we have made and provide a blueprint for choices we will make in the future. Those choices add meaning to our work and make our contributions meaningful – a compelling asset.

  • Actions Speak Louder than Words: “Kill Your To-Do List!”

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    Fellow blogger, Leo Babauta, suggests a actionable alternative to the traditional, mind-numbing, guilt inducing “To-Do” list by which many of us function.

    Art Courtesy of: www.smalldotsandbeautyspots.com

    Leo writes,

    “Most people reading this will have a to-do program, or a paper list or text file, listing not only projects and tasks but separate lists for home and work and possibly half a dozen different contexts.

    Those who don’t have a to-do list probably feel they should, because they’re swamped and feeling overwhelmed.

    I’m here to suggest: kill your to-do list.

    It sucks up your time, and drains your motivation. Those who have to-do lists usually manage them constantly, or if they don’t they fall into disuse and get dusty and become worthless, while the person who’s fallen behind in maintaining the list feels constantly guilty. For those who keep up with the lists, they spend a lot of time on the lists they could be spending … doing something important.

    And what of these lists? They’re long, you never get to the end of them, and half the time the tasks on the list never get done. While it feels good to check items off the list, it feels horrible having items that never get checked off. This is all useless spending of mental energy, because none of it gets you anywhere.

    The only thing that matters is the actual doing.

    So what’s a better system?

    The One Thing System

    Here’s what I do, and highly recommend to anyone willing to break free of the to-do list:

    1.  I wake up in the morning, and decide what One Thing I’m excited about.

    2.  Then I focus on doing that, pushing everything else aside, clearing distractions, and allowing myself to get caught up in the moment.

    But … but …

    Read Leo’s complete post at www.zenhabits.net

  • You Are What You Tweet! How to Mine and Mind Your “Twittersphere.”

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    Yes, those pithy 140 character manifestos are the heart of the matter, but those whom you choose to follow and those who choose to follow you are of equal import.  Each component constitutes your brand, so you need to think before you tweet.

    Twitter offers a unique opportunity to promote your brand and your expertise but it is not just a one way street. Well it could be, but to use such a vast social media network just to promote yourself is a huge underutilization of the tool. Twitter is also a listening device and information filter. You can find the latest research and the response to that research. You can identify trends and position yourself vis à vis that intelligence accordingly. By focusing your tweets you can become an area issue expert – a thought leader – and connect with a highly targeted group that is directly relevant to your interests. These connections can be invaluable sources for new ideas and alternative, out-of-the-box ways of thinking.

    Again, the beauty of Twitter is that you’re not just telling the world you are an expert. By tweeting in an authentic and transparent manner, people will take note and begin to follow you. They will find you, and Twitter is good about alerting you as to who is on your trail. I know because Twitter keeps emailing me about people who are following this blog. Even more, Twitter let’s you review your “follower’s” profile. Then you can decide if you want to be followed by that individual. If not, you can block them or, if you think you’re being spammed, alert Twitter and the powers behind the Tweets will investigate.

    Once you have okay’d a follower, it’s easy to follow them in turn. However, I would caution against this until you are sure that they add something positive, credible and equally authentic to your network.

    This is not a popularity contest where the Tweeter with the most followers wins. Remember, your Twitter network is very transparent and you will quickly lose credibility if it’s perceived you’re just racking up numbers and not monitoring content quality.

    In the same way, don’t you start following any dog’s body under the sun. Make sure there is value added there for both you and your followers.

    Last, but far from least Tweet. You need to contribute to the dialog. You have an opportunity to demonstrate your unique insights . If you provide valuable content, and share links to interesting,  on-topic articles and blog posts you will gain influential followers. If your Twitter “followers” find your content useful and insightful, they may re-tweet you, broadening your network and reinforcing your position as a thought leader.

    You, too, should re-tweet. What you choose to re-tweet indicates what you find interesting or provocative and becomes part of your brand. Plus, it signifies that you are aware that you do not know everything and are open to learning more. Other Tweeters like to be recognized for their expertise also – and the more you share the more people will be willing to share with you.

    The ‘twittersphere’ can be a rich medium if you cultivate it with care.

  • For Editing Out Loud!

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    Write, Edit, Print, Proofread, Squint, Read Aloud and Then Have Your Computer Read Your Magnum Opus Back To You!

    I’ve just discovered a new way to analyze the compositions (cover letters, business proposals, thank-you notes, stories and the odd bit of poetry) I create on my computer. I was familiar with all the time-tested functions: editing for content clarity; printing to assess narrative flow; proofreading to eradicate typos, misspelling, and punctuation errors; squinting at the printed document to check spacing and alignment; and reading aloud to determine if it sounds compelling.

    I’ve always been fortunate to have friends willing via email “attachment land” to back-up my editing, proofreading and squinting skills with their own ruthless critique of my writing. The “Read Aloud” component, however, has always been illusive. Reading my own writing aloud is tricky because my mind will assume words are there when I haven’t actually typed them or it races ahead since, after multiple revisions, I almost know the document by heart.

    My writing life changed when one of my editing gurus introduced me to “Alex.” Alex is just one of the many voices you can choose to read any text in your computer out loud to you. Once you know about Alex and his friends, it’s very easy to set up the “Read Aloud” feature on your computer. At least, it’s truly straightforward on my Mac. I’ll walk the uninitiated through the process here, and invite any PC users to please let us know how it can be done on your computers.

    First step: Click on the Apple in the Top Menu Bar and select “System Preferences.”

    In your System Preferences folder, select the microphone “Speech” Icon in the fourth column down :

    In the Speech dialog box, select “Text to Speech.” Then choose your “System Voice.” I chose “Andy” but there are a number of other male and female voices ready to read to you.

    I chose “Normal” “Speaking Rate but you can slow it down if you want to listen even more carefully. “Fast” may be okay if you want to speed read, but I cannot edit in speed read mode.

    The last and final set-up step for the purpose of this exercise is to Check the “Speak selected text…” box and “Set Key.” I kept the key stroke simple: Command S (for speak to me.)

    Give it a test run by retrieving a document from your files. Hit Command A to select all the text you’d like to hear. Then, type Command S and “Alex” (or whomsoever’s personality you have chosen) will immediately begin to read aloud to you.

    Apologies to those who already know about this nifty tool but I thought it simply amazing and wanted to share with others who, like me, had no idea Alex was poised and ready to speak!

  • Creating A Life: Never An Overnight Success

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    Rollo May, wrote in his book, The Courage to Create, that: “Creativity is the process of bringing something new into being… the creative act brings to our awareness what was previously hidden and points to new life.”

    I remembered his words this morning when I saw Lynn Saville’s remarkably creative photographs in her NY Times piece, Scenes From the Night Shift.

    Saville describes herself, “As a photographer, I work the night shift — when daylight gives way to moonlight, neon, and street light…”  and she discovers details barely discernible in the bright light of day.

    Many of us in this third stage of our lives have become entrepreneurs, composing our own lives. Freed from the restraints and requirements of our early and mid-years and not seeing a ready-made niche, we begin to create our own design for a purposeful life. Mary Catherine Bateson, author the classic Composing a Life, has written a new book to be published in September, 2010.

    In her new work, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom, Bateson notes that,”with its unprecedented levels of health, energy, time, and resources, aging today is an improvisational art form calling for imagination and willingness to learn.”

    No matter how powerful our imagination or willingness to learn, however, we cannot design a new life overnight. Success takes time, contemplation, testing, failing, reconsidering and trying again.  First, of course, we need to determine how we define success.

    Reflective inquiry is required to assess priorities. We need to allow time to uncover those rich details which were masked by bright light of day.  It is time, as any night photographer must, to open the aperture and extend the exposure to capture the hidden aspects and patterns integral to bring our new lives into being.

    Lynn Saville: "Fulton Landing Warehouse"

  • No fainting goats… and no sheep!

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    This fascinating “White” paper, Take Charge in Changing Times: Ten Career Tips from Australian, Joanna Maxwell is a must read. I rarely use “must,” preferring to let readers make their own choices, but there are so many valuable insights here, it is a must! The insights are grounded in reality – the kind of tips that first seem so obvious we cannot understand why we had not noticed them before. These “Ten Career Tips” are just as applicable for any aspect of our lives – not just our business genes. Even better – the words and the colourful art are incredibly good fun!

    workincolour.com.au

    Joanna’s highly creative website WorkInColour: Work.Think.Live.In Colour is a feast for your eyes, mind, body and soul. Enjoy!

  • Don’t Be a Linkedin Neo-Luddite!

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    First, let’s consider the word, Luddite. Today it is tossed about in the same way as one might refer to a cyber technology dolt, but it is based on a real, 19th-century social movement in England. From 1811-16, during the Industrial Revolution, a group of textile weavers in the English Midlands deliberately destroyed mechanized looms, which were depriving them of work. The name is reputed to have come from Ned Ludd, one of the first workers to smash a mechanized loom.

    Twenty-first century technology wizards have appropriated the term to classify anyone – not bent on destroying the technology but rather – purposefully refusing to adopt technology tools. Unfortunately, seniors often need extra encouragement to learn and trust today’s technology so they are pushed down the ladder of attractive job candidates.

    All of our skills have value and we need not fear having to throw our seasoned expertise aside for new tools. I think of it like this photograph I snapped in my garden yesterday. I was struck by the tenacity of last year’s blossom, now paper thin, still clinging to the red twig where new bright green leaves have just sprouted. The beauty lies in the fact that the narrow twig supports both the old and the new growth equally.

    Soooo, give the new technology a try. We know that 80% of job offers are derived from networking and, if a tool such as Linkedin can expedite that, I am all for it.

    Linkedin is a professional network – not a dating network, and it provides a way for you to “see” how people are connected to one another. It will help you find that valuable introduction to someone in the organization or field in which you would like to work. You will also learn a little about people’s professional history, so when you obtain that introduction you immediately have a relevant point or two to discuss.

    Linkedin also raises your professional visibility. It gives people an instant way to see who you are, what you have done and where you would like to go. Moreover, if you are 60+ and have a presence on Linkedin, it mitigates the stereotype that you haven’t a clue about how to use today’s technology tools.

    Creating a Linkedin Profile is not technically difficult because you are given templates for each component.  You do not have to know one stitch of computer programming. The challenge is to stay within the number of characters Linkedin allows for your general summary and each job description. But this is a good challenge; the exercise will keep you focused, force you to eliminate any fluff and keep your tone consistent – throughout Linkedin as well as any other media in which you promote your “brand.” As a sample, you can view my Linkedin Profile at: www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethisele

    My Profile is a little robust because I cross reference this blog and my Twitter account on it to optimize my online presence. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of my Profile. This is not to toot my own horn but, rather, because you will see the big blue “Contacting You” box. This is extremely important because it allows you to control access to your information.

    Ready to give it a test run…  There’s a lot of support online and one resource I’d recommend is the blog by Jason Alba, author of the book, I’m On Linkedin – Now What???

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