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People Who Achieved Their Dreams After Age 60

This article was published by New and has been reprinted with permission. 

Senior Wonders: People Who Achieved Their Dreams After Age 60
By Karen L. Pepkin, Wendell C. Taylor

The media abounds with negative views about the impact of aging on physical, cognitive, and financial well-being. In fact, there are entire industries that have emerged to counteract the effects of aging — nutritional supplements, hormone treatments, surgical improvements, lotions, potions, and the like. They all seem to underscore Bette Davis’ famous quote, “Old age is no place for sissies.”

What if there were another point of view? What if aging brought about, not decline but our greatest accomplishments? What if we looked at aging as Dr.Christiane Northrup does? She tells us that “getting older is inevitable, but aging isn’t.”

Senior Wonders Book EmbedOur book, Senior Wonders: People Who Achieved Their Dreams After Age 60 profiles 23 individuals and two groups who not only survived into old age, but achieved their greatest successes. As we wrote our book, we looked for emerging themes. Were there any commonalities among these people? Although their accomplishments were in a variety of fields (arts, sciences, social causes,entertainment, etc.), several themes became apparent. We think of them as the 3 P’s:Passion, Perspective on Life, and Persistence.

Passion, by definition, is any compelling emotion or feeling. These individuals either had a strong belief in what they were doing, or in the case of those with an artistic bent, they couldn’t help creating, whether it was writing, painting, or acting.

Many of the seniors in our book faced daunting obstacles and accomplished their goals by sheer will and determination; they did not give up.

Perspective on life emerged as a theme when we noticed that several of our seniors commented that they couldn’t have achieved their success at an earlier age.  Having lived a long life enabled them to learn from failures and successes, establish a clear focus, and develop a unique perspective.

Our last P is Persistence. This theme became apparent when we observed that many of our seniors faced daunting obstacles and accomplished their goals by sheer will and determination; they did not give up.

Author Harry Bernstein and humanitarian Clara McBride Hale are two who exemplify these themes.

Bernstein was born in Stockport, England in 1910 and began his education as an architect. But when his teacher discouraged his career choice, he decided to pursue a writing career and moved to New York to accomplish his goal. Although he made a living as a writer, his wife, Ruby, had to work as a school secretary to subsidize the family income. He did have one novel published, but it wasn’t successful. Undaunted, Bernstein continued to write, penning more than 20 novels that were never published.

In 2007, at age 97, he wrote an autobiographical novel, The Invisible Wall, which received critical acclaim. The book poignantly described the “invisible wall” that separated the Jewish and Christian sections of his home town. At age 98, he published, The Dream, which told the story of his family’s move to America. Because these two books were so successful, he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship at age 98 to pursue his writing.

At 99, he published the third book in the series, The Golden Willow: The Story of a Lifetime of Love, about his marriage to Ruby and later years. His novels have been translated into several languages. Bernstein stated: “If I had not lived until I was 90, I would not have been able to write this book…It could not have been done, even when I was 10 years younger. I wasn’t ready. God knows what other potentials lurk in other people, if we could only keep them alive well into their 90s.”

When her husband died, Clara McBride Hale had to support herself and her three small children. Not wanting to leave her children unsupervised for extended periods of time, she opened a day care in her Harlem neighborhood. Many of the children in her care stayed overnight because their parents worked as domestics. She then decided to become a foster parent and raised 40 foster children, all of whom pursued a college education. At 64, after 28 years, she retired from the foster care system. Soon after, her daughter referred a drug-addicted mother and baby to Hale for help. Before long, she was caring for all this mother’s drug-addicted children.

As the word spread throughout New York City, more and more drug-addicted babies were left in Hale’s care. During the first year and a half, her family provided financial and other support to keep her mission going. Then, the Borough of Manhattan president, Percy Sutton, arranged public funding. Also, John Lennon left provisions for support of Hale House in his will.

In 1975, Hale House moved to 122nd Street where it remains today. After successfully reuniting hundreds of families, only 12 children had to be placed for adoption. At age 85, Clara McBride Hale was honored by President Ronald Reagan for her humanitarian work. She stated: “I’m not an American hero, I’m just someone who loves children.”

“Triumphant aging,” as exemplified by Bernstein and Hale, is a counter perspective to the pervasive negative beliefs about aging. Do you, your relatives or friends have untapped potentials or abandoned dreams? If so, consider what George Elliot said: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

© Twin Cities Public Television – 2015. All rights reserved.






How To Get A Good Job After 50

How to Get a Good Job After 50: A step-by-step guide to job search successHow to Get a Good Job After 50: A step-by-step guide to job search success by Rupert French
My rating: 5 of 5 stars – This is my Good Reads review of this excellent book, available on 

How to Get a Good Job After 50 by Rupert French is a comprehensive guide for the over 50s job seeker. It is well constructed and written, enabling the job seeker to focus on the step by step actions required for a successful job search. The sections on creating a good resume, including dealing with the "challenging bits", and recognising then clearly expressing your achievements, are extremely valuable. This then flows onto how you can express your achievements in an interview, and how to prepare for an interview so you are confident and ready to show yourself in the best possible light. If a job seeker followed these steps they would find themselves standing out in their job applications. If they also followed the advice in the chapter on networking and research I believe they would be astounded at their success.

I particularly liked the author's recognition that getting the job you want over 50 can be a daunting task for many, and so a chapter is devoted to building and maintaining a strong self-image. Another outstanding feature is the appendix which has many pages of specimen resumes.

As an experienced career counsellor working with mature age job seekers I recognise this book as being a significant publication which I will be recommending to my clients.


Understanding Recruiters: They Stand Between You And Your Future Job

If you are looking for a new job, chances are high that you will need to meet with a recruiter or two during your job search.  It is important to understand what their role is so that you start off with the appropriate expectations.  

Don't be disheartened by something a recruiter says to you!  Their job is NOT to be your friend, your coach or your advocate.  Their job, the job they are paid to do, is to put a person into a position that the company is going to consider to be the exact right fit for that job.  It is a tough fact to realise that it doesn't matter how badly you need the work, or how great you think you'd be in the job, they aren't working for you. The recruiter is doing their job….and that is to do their best for the company is paying them.  

What Recruiters Do

Recruiters may work within an organization's human resources department typically or on an outsourced basis. Most recruiters tend to specialize in permanent, full-time, direct-hire positions or contract positions, but occasionally in both. The recruiters responsibility is to filter candidates as per the requirements of each client/company which they represent.

Types of Recruiters

An Internal recruiter, or corporate recruiter, is employed by the company or organization for which they are hiring, and they typically work in the human resources HR department. In the past this was known as the Personnel Office or just Personnel. Contract recruiters tend to move around between multiple companies, working at each one for a short stint as needed for specific hiring purposes. Retained recruiters work for the organizations who are their clients, not for job candidates seeking employment.  

Employment agencies

A third party recruiter or an employment agency acts as an independent contact between its client companies and the candidates it recruits for a position. These firms or individuals specialize in client relationships and finding candidates, with minimal or no focus on other HR tasks. Legitimate search firms are always paid by their clients, the company doing the hiring, and never by the candidate or job applicant. It is important to remember that their job is to fit the "right person" in the "right seat", and this often narrows their view of who could do the job well.  If you respond to a job advertisement and can show the recruiter that you have successfully performed a similar task in another company you are likely to be put forward for the position, depending on your competition.  However if you are perfectly capable of performing the job, but your work history doesn't demonstrate this adequately, it may be difficult to convince a recruiter that your skills and experience are as transferable as you believe them to be.  Many people find this a major obstacle when they try to make a significant career change.  

What You Bring to the Table

Many falsely believe it is the recruiter who is responsible for their success. Although recruiters are a valuable asset the responsibility of landing the job rests on the individual who is searching for the job. Among the things you can do as job seekers to maximize your time with a recruiter are: 

    • Have a professionally written resume: Make sure you have a professional email address and ensure your contact information and references are up to date
    • Brush up on your job interviewing skills
    • Solicit the help of a career coach (career coaches can assist in helping you define/redefine your career goals, most career coaches can also help you with resume preparation and job interviewing tips as well)
    • Follow up when required.  Recruiters usually have hundreds of candidates they are working with so their time is valuable.  Show them that you are committed to your job search success.
  • Make sure you have cleaned up all your social media.  Always be aware that recruiters are very likely to check you out on social media.  As a mature adult it is unlikely that you will have problems with a Facebook or Twitter account that is undesirable.  But is your LinkedIn profile reflecting who you are in the workplace?  Does it demonstrate what you are capable of?  Have others shown their support of you through recommendations and testimonials? 

Related articles

Would You Love To Reinvent Your Career?

Is it really possible to reinvent your working life?  Millions ask this question every day as they toil, feeling trapped, unhappy and wondering if life will ever get any better! 

The reality is that you can make these changes in your life. It will involve some work on your part, but the outcome is definitely worth it. 

Infographic about whether you can reinvent your career

Changes That Affect Your Career Change

Strategies for a successful career change have changed over the last twenty years. Anyone who is 40+ has seen business and employment practices revolutionized, with advantages and disadvantages innate in every major change. People in their 50s and 60s have also witnessed the entire evolution of the information age and the integration of digital technology into every aspect of our lives.

Close-up of a clock showing the words "Time For Change". Shallow depth of field.Some of the changes in the area of employment have been massive. Old jobs have disappeared, new ones have appeared and many have morphed into something quite different, but this has been going on throughout history. A century ago, as the first cars rolled off the production line, horses required for transport were far less in demand and so blacksmiths were out of work. Then new jobs appeared because mechanics and car salesmen were suddenly in demand.  Now independent mechanics are under threat because of the high level of technology in new cars.

When computers landed on office desks many clerical tasks could be performed by one person and a software package. However someone had to create that software package, someone had to sell the computers, and others had to install the systems and keep the computers working, so as one form of employment was reduced or disappeared new ones came along.

Good schools and teachers are preparing children for jobs which are still not part of our vocabulary or thoughts, but they will be by the time those children are working.  Who had heard of a social media manager or a data miner 10 years ago?  What jobs will be commonplace in 10 years time but don't exist yet? 

If you are going to make a career change you need to know about the changes and understand the strategies that are successful in the contemporary workplace.

Career Change Strategies Have Changed

Technology has also impacted on the way that people can find work.  If you are serious about changing your career, you need to understand the contemporary ways of finding work and being employed.  

Job applications have changed in many ways.  We live in a world where successful products are marketed very cleverly, and products that aren’t marketed well are not successful regardless of their excellence.  Similarly dated unprofessional applications are just not adequate in a pool of well-prepared self-marketing résumés, no matter how skilled or experienced you are. 

Privacy rules have affected the content of résumés as well.  It is hard to accept that in the 1950s…when Elvis Presley was scandalising parents and Mick Jagger was learning guitar….it was still expected that personal information such as height, weight, age and marital status would be included in your job applications. It was an era when a female employee who became pregnant could be dismissed. Imagine the potential discrimination cases which could arise if employers asked those sorts of questions or took that action today!

Of course some of the requirements of the past are still relevant today. Accurate spelling and grammar and good presentation are essential and carry the same weight today as ever before, especially given the ease of creating a résumé on computer rather than by hand. But in many other ways applying for a job has changed as dramatically as the type and nature of jobs themselves.

Written references are now rare. Once they were essential when applying for a job. Your good character, work ethic and perhaps employment history were detailed in a written reference and made available to your prospective employer. But that was before privacy laws and legal action loomed large in our lives. People are reluctant to write a reference in case the person they recommend lets the company down in some way. The days of those “I have known Joe Smith for several years and he’s a wonderful person” references are all but gone.

A new breed of employee has also emerged over the last ten years – the virtual workforce. Now anyone with the right skills and experience, coupled with a computer and internet skills, can find virtual employment online and work in the comfort of their home.

Self-employment has also changed

As a direct result of technology the entrepreneurial 'laptop lifestyle' trend is enticing as people recognize that they could genuinely be their own boss creating a business, online or offline, using technology to enable the business to exist and potentially make serious money.  More and more employees are joining these ranks and are finding freedom that their traditional job cannot offer. 

Although the basics of business remain the same, the way of marketing, finding clients and communicating with other business people is a world away from the common strategies of the past.  The skills involved in starting and running a business…online marketing, finding customers, communicating with customers, raising your profile, building your business brand, recognising changing trends….now demand that you are technologically savvy (or prepared to pay someone who is) and that you are prepared to learn, evolve and adapt as necessary. Technology has made home based businesses commonplace and given freedom to many to create a successful and fulfilling business, but you do need to go into it knowing that you will need to learn new skills and keep up to date. Don't let that put you off.  It is fascinating learning the new ways of doing things.  

Career change needs good strategies

Embrace career change

Career change can be daunting to anyone, but particularly to an older person.  The media constantly tells you that older workers face age discrimination, and we do live in an era which values appearance over substance.  However you have skills and experience that are valuable and if you are willing to adapt to the changing world of work you will find great opportunities in store for you.

Embrace the changes and don't spend the rest of your working life doing work that you don't enjoy or not doing work that would make your heart sing. 

Can You Really Reinvent Your Working Life?

Hoping to change your career?

You are not alone. Millions of people in their mid-life and older feel the need for a change – a powerful life-changing reinvention of themselves and aspects of their everyday life. Like most of them, you are probably bored, frustrated, or feel trapped in your current job.

You can make a successful major change in your life but to do so you have to be prepared to courageously work through three factors

  1. Who you really are and what you really want and need in your life –your “why”, the life you want, your passions and purpose
  2. What you are capable of – your skills and experience, your innate special traits and strengths, your personal ‘magic’
  3. Under what conditions you work best, how long you want to work and the optimal most productive working environment for you now.

The best career changes happen when all of these issues are addressed, then the outcomes blended to create the unique mix that will be best for you. 

Of course then reality rears its ugly head and it is essential to evaluate if what you want is possible, and if it is feasible then what strategies do you need to use to make it all happen.

Why do you want to change your career?

Unlocking the handcuffs that tied the hand to the work desk.There are many reasons why you may want or need to reinvent your life, many of which are related to your job. We spend more than two-third of our lives working. Therefore, it is not surprising to find people in their mid-life who are having a tough time at work and find themselves contemplating an escape. It could also be that you find yourself being bullied at work, feeling inadequate with new work practices and technologies, passed-over for a well-deserved promotion, or even doing the same job for more than a decade.

These all contribute to undue stress. Worse, these feelings can often spill over into arguments at home or may affect your attitude towards your entire personal life. This can impact negatively on those around you.

Seeds of doubt

If this situation remains unchecked for long it can sow seeds of self-doubt. No wonder you begin to ask yourself: Am I performing my job properly? Has new technology made me redundant? Am I being passed over and missing promotion because I am no longer agile or youthful in appearance? Why do I feel uncomfortable and unappreciated?

These are valid questions and if they are not addressed promptly they can cause great anguish and even depression.

For others the self-doubt becomes the catalyst for change that reinvigorates their life.

A career change can be achieved, but only you can make the decision that you are willing and ready. You can stay where you are and bear the brunt of the situation, suffering in silence, or you can free yourself by choosing to reinvent your life – by choosing another career path and totally creating a new ‘YOU’.

Dealing with changes at work

It’s important to look at your work situation as dispassionately as possible. Best decisions must be underpinned by facts. So be honest when you are analyzing your situation. Lying to yourself about the true nature of your predicament will not help at all.

People arguing at a work meetingFor many, the realization that their job no longer excites them is a feeling that creeps up on them over years. For others it is a sudden realization, often as a result of one small thing that happens. 

Some people find their discontent arises because their job changes. What you once did and did well is no longer your job. New responsibilities, new technologies, and more can aggravate this situation. It might be that your employer has changed. Companies merge or are taken over. Changes in corporate values, management systems, and policies can also contribute to your growing uneasiness.

You've changed

Possibly the issue that people find hardest to deal with is when the change is within themselves. What you enjoy doing and what you want out of life changes. Your job, which you previously found satisfying, no longer challenges you. The salary, lack of appreciation, or missed promotions begin to bother you more than usual and then you realize how much you have changed during the time you have been there.  Perhaps you are no longer the same person who took this job.

That’s when you really need to do something about it, to remain true to who you are.

Whilst it is good to understand why you are feeling the way you are feeling, it doesn’t really matter what the cause is. The fact is things around you have changed, they will continue to change, and you are unhappy.

Circumstances change

Your circumstances have changed too! As we grow older the things we want out of life evolve, as does our private life. We may divorce or re-marry, have grandchildren, take up a new hobby, suffer from a health condition that necessitates a move to a different climate, or face another situation that you could never have anticipated.

When things change, we change too. We have different needs and goals. To meet those needs we have to make choices. A change in your private life may well demand a change in your working life too.

Be empowered

If you are unhappy with your work life, and change is what you need, the most empowering action is to reinvent yourself using your skills and experience and make a smooth transition to another career. It is a difficult decision to make, but you need to take this step if you want to live the rest your working life with meaning, and with a sense of fulfillment.

Health warning

Life is too short and too precious to choose to endure stress and hardship in a job you don’t like.

Does your work-life balance impact on your health? A workaholic spends more time working because they think they have to, even it is already taking a toll on their health and family life. Many get so involved in their work that they neglect themselves. Making money is a good and essential thing to do, but beware if the cost of making money is your failing health.

The fear of changewoman with fear on her face

Change is intimidating at times and in many cases your fear is valid. However if you want to reinvent your life and change your career you need to face your fear head-on. Fear of change should not deter you from taking a liberating path. Make it your ally, to keep you ‘sober’ in making that life-changing decision. Fear happens to most of us. Your brain screams at you that it could be a mistake. Your partner and best friend tell you the same thing. Your colleague tells you the sad tale of a friend of a friend who failed dismally when they tried to make a career change. It gets you worried. Don’t let that deter you!

Through Boomers Next Step articles you will arm yourself with knowledge and strategies, and knowing that you are well prepared will boost your confidence.

Forget guarantees

Wouldn’t life be wonderful if everything came with a guarantee? Unfortunately it doesn’t. Life is full of risk. In fact, risk surrounds you every day whether you acknowledge it or not, but we don’t let it stop us going about our everyday lives. However, if you decide to change your career there are ways to limit the risks involved.

Your chances of success will be far greater if you ensure that you are confident that the change you are making is right for you, if you have good self-marketing tools such as a great résumé and interview skills and if you develop and maintain a strong professional network.

Celebrate your birthday but forget the year you were born

Age is one of the common obstacles that mature employees encounter, or expect to encounter, when planning a career change. “Oh I’m 52 and far too old to make a change”. Not true! Age does not matter if you want to achieve a realistic goal. Your year of birth is irrelevant. Your skills, experience, maturity, and attitude are what matter. Seize the day and forget the birthday.

Success requires clarity

Boomers Next Step will guide you on the right steps towards making a successful career change whether that be a new job, a change of career direction, or stepping out into the world of the self-employed. There are many ways in which you can prepare yourself, but all start with having clarity about the outcome that is going to be right for you.

Are you willing to step outside your comfort zone, to do what may be a bit difficult, in order to achieve your goals?

Recognise your stepping stones

To make an easier career transition you need to use what you have. Consider your skills, qualifications and experience to be your stepping stones. Step on those stones one at a time until you reach your destination. You might want to choose to do the same job in a different company, because your current skills and experience will be put into use in a different context. Or you may choose to stay in the same industry which you know well, but take a different job role, even in the same company. Your knowledge of the industry will make you an attractive candidate. The new job role may allow you to revitalize your interest in an industry that you used to find interesting. A more difficult career change is to seek a new role in a new industry. However you’ll have a greater chance of success if what you are currently doing is what is sought after within that industry. Your skills and experience may be exactly what that company is looking for. These are your stepping stones for a more exciting career.

Unleashing the Entrepreneur Within

Flowchart on a chalk board with world globeMany mature workers find that there is a lurking sense that they would love to be self-employed, but they don’t know how to go about this. 

Making a decision to create (or buy) your own business seems very different to most people, from making the decision to get a new job. However exactly the same self-reflection – awareness of your skills, experiences, strengths and special traits – is needed before you can get to the stage of deciding what you want to do.  For some people the idea that they would like to start their own business will be already a conscious thought.   In contrast, I’ve worked with many other people who start this process thinking they are looking for a career change then, to their great surprise, they realize that they want to express themselves within their own business.

New industries, new jobs, new business opportunities

If you’ve been stuck in a rut, if you’ve been doing the same job for years, there’s a chance you just don’t know what’s happening in the big wide world of contemporary work. There are new industries and new jobs. There are growth areas that you may not even be aware of, let alone familiar with. Society has changed over the years and continues to change. That means jobs and business opportunities change too so make sure you are aware of what’s available. Give yourself the widest possible range of opportunities and knowledge of what’s out there as you prepare to change your direction. 

LinkedIn Can Be An Older Workers Best Job Search Tool

Successful job searches now are very different from the past. Just applying for jobs that have been advertised greatly diminishes your chances of success because you are up against so many other people doing the same thing. Let's face it, as an older worker you can face a few disadvantages in your job search anyway so let's make things as easy as possible for you.

Forbes has published a great article "Three Smart Ways to Attract Recruiters To Your LinkedIn Profile". In this article they explain

  • ways in which you can improve your chances of showing up in searches
  • how to make yourself 'clickable' to give a recruiter ease of access
  • how to ensure your LinkedIn profile remains active and up to date. 

Many people use the 'set and forget' method with LinkedIn and then wonder why LinkedIn is not providing LinkedIn Ebook by Jenni Proctoranyopportunities for them.  If you followed someone's advice that you should set up a LinkedIn profile, put up basic information about yourself then have done nothing more with it you can't be too surprised that it hasn't brought recruiters, or anyone except old school, university and work friends, to your page.  If you want to start from scratch to build up your LinkedIn profile, step-by-step, you can access my free book "LinkedIn: How to Crack The Hidden Job Market".  Then, once your profile is interesting and shows who you really are, these ideas from Forbes will take you to the next level. 

10 Job Search Mistakes Often Made By Older Workers

There are 10 job search mistakes often made by older workers which cause them to miss out on opportunities for work that they want.

It’s easy to blame age discrimination, but consider if you could be causing your own employment problems? Many older workers make basic job search mistakes that lead to them being overlooked and then they have to live with the consequences of unemployment, underemployment, or being stuck in a job that they hate.

Today I had a phone call from a past client, a lovely capable woman who is currently unemployed.  She left her job because of serious bullying issues that management refused to address.  Rather than "make a fuss" she chose to leave a workplace that she found stressful and unhappy.

Her dream is modest – to have a job that enables her to prove her worth and to be given further opportunities for responsibility and some training so that she can grow in skills, confidence and value to the company. 

Female older worker being interviewed by male She knows what she would love to do but is unable to find work opportunities that lead towards that role.  She is not unrealistic and is prepared to work below her level of experience to get a foot in the door. However her work history does not show a steady commitment to a couple of companies.  On the contrary she has changed jobs quite a lot, a combination of personal circumstances and leaving work when she found she was unhappy.  Yet this woman isn't a quitter.  She is determined that she will find the work that suits her, that she suits, and where she can give great value. 

This is not an unusual situation.  There are many people, hidden from the jobless figures, who are unemployed or underemployed but don't want to be in this situation. Many ask, seeming not to expect a positive answer, "Are there any jobs for over 50 women/men?" They are unaware that their own job search mistakes are getting in the way of their success.

I have analysed her situation, her resume and cover letter, and observed the following 10 classic mistakes being made.  Many of them are issues of what to include in a resume to give yourself the best possible chance of getting the job you want.  I hope they are helpful to you too. 

Mistake 1: Resume Objective 

A resume should commence with a summary of what you have achieved, not your objective in applying for work.  Frankly the company doesn't care what you want.  They want to know if you can deliver what they need and want in the position you are applying for.  There are many sample resume sites online so read through some summaries and create one for your own resume which tells them, in 3 or 4 powerful sentences, about your experience and your achievements, blended in with some personal traits that they are looking for.  

Mistake 2:Not Adapting Resume For Each Application

Job Search Mistakes stop you from getting an interviewIn this client's case she has created a great list of her skills, which immediately gives strength to her resume. However she does not seem to be adapting this list to meet the requirements of each job for which she is applying. Your skills tell the story of your capabilities in the workplace to date. Make sure that they are adapted according to the priority given to specific skills in the job description. Using a generic resume for all applications does not showcase how well you are suited for a particular job, and is one of the most serious job search mistakes you can make. 

Mistake 3: Not Focusing On Achievements

When only duties are listed for each job a resume seems one dimensional.  It conveys no sense that the work has been carried out to the best of your ability (which I know is the case for this client). 

Even if you feel you were only a tiny cog in the wheel at your workplace, and that you didn't get the opportunity to achieve much, there would be things that you did there that no-one else did or that no-one else had thought of doing.  Whenever possible put a couple of achievements for each job.  

If you genuinely think you didn't achieve anything look at the list of duties and rephrase a couple of them to make them sound like achievements.  Separate Duties and Achievements to make it easier to read and understand, just using something simple like a small italic header for each. Achievements are generally written starting with a past tense verb – Adapted, Created, Organised etc.  When you write them in this way you just may realise that you actually did make a difference in that workplace. (That helps with Mistake Number 9 as well!)

Mistake 4:  An Unstable Work History

If you have changed work many times address that in your summary and in your cover letter.  "Adaptability and the skill to quickly develop rapport within teams has developed from 20+ years experience in health and environment related businesses throughout Australia……"  They know up-front that you have moved around but you have implied that this has some advantages that make you a better employee. 

Mistake 5: Going Back Too Far 

Business men on twisted pathIf you have been working for around 25 or 30 years or more you have a lot to share in your resume.  The sad truth is they don't want to know about it all. Most potential employers only want to know about the last 10 or so years in detail, with the briefest of outline of previous work. Including too much information and detail is a common job search mistake.

So what do you do if all the significant work you have done was prior to this? You must include roles which demonstrate that you are capable of doing the job you are applying for, so you have to find a way to do this without listing every job you have had back to when you left school.  There are no hard and fast rules about resumes, so be creative in how you share the information.  You can simply put a new section header PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT and list the jobs, elaborating on the one which is relevant to the job you are applying for.  

What if the job you are applying for is most closely related to one that you did twenty years ago? Try a few different ways of getting the message across.  So long as you have included some information about the job and outlined your achievements, you can draw their attention to it in the cover letter, stating that your most satisfying job was some years ago but it was because of your success in that role that you are now applying for this new position. 

Mistake 6: Unattractive Resume Layout

Make your resume look attractive, classy and professional.  Consider how you can divide the different sections using lines or different styled headers. Again get inspiration from professional resume examples online. The reader of your resume should perceive only what enhances your profile as an employable strong candidate, with no distractions that may encourage them to put your resume on the "don't bother" bundle. This is where I must mention spelling and punctuation which must be flawless in a job application. 

Don't ever be tempted to use one of the bright colourful Word templates to create your resume.  That screams "Year 9 double period resume class with a teacher who doesn't know much about resumes"!

Mistake 7: Not addressing the correct person in the cover letter

Whenever possible you should address your letter directly to the correct person.  Sometimes this is as simple as finding their name on the job description.  Often you will have to telephone the company and ask to be told to whom you should address your application.  If they just say some generic title "Just send it to the HR Manager" then ask if you may have their name.  If the person is not helpful in this area you may even look up the company online and see if you can find their name.   However if you cannot find out the name of the person then you can be pretty sure that others won't be able to either, so just use their title correctly and respectfully. 

Mistake 8: Not using your network

LinkedIn book coverIn the case of my client, she has a limited network in Brisbane and so is unable to reach out to her network to see if anyone knows someone who may be able to help her, with information about who is employing, with inside knowledge of the industry or with an opportunity to meet someone who may be able to help her. 

However it is a classic mistake that job searchers often do not speak to people within their network and so miss out on the help that they could offer.  I'll write more about that in a future blog post. 

LinkedIn is another wonderful way of using your network to find out about job opportunities and to make connections with people who may be able to help you.  Click on this link if you would like a free copy of LinkedIn: Cracking The Hidden Job Market, available from the top right of my Clarity Career Management website. 

Mistake 9: Not believing in yourself

It takes a lot to break the habit of not believing in yourself.  It's usually an ingrained habit, but one that you have allowed to grow and take over your view of the world.  Only you can change this.  No amount of other people who tell you that you are awesome and talented and deserve better will make any difference to you until you decide that you can accept that you do have some good things going for you.  

Instead of letting your head be filled with thoughts of your inadequacies, flip those thoughts around and remind yourself of the good things you have done. Instead of dwelling on your failures, look towards the future.  How do you want it to be?  What is your picture of your life over the next few years?  What can you do today to start working towards that future?  I'm not meaning to sound unsympathetic to your lack of confidence, but I do know that only you can change that negative thought pattern that is looping through your brain.  Here is a very funny, very old short Bob Newhart video which you may enjoy watching sometime. 

Mistake 10:  Not getting professional assistance

So often I see clients who battled on for a long time trying to get a job without success, never considering that they might be causing the problem themselves through their job search mistakes.  They believe that it is the current job market, age discrimination, the attitude of younger people, their work history….all perfectly valid obstacles in an unsuccessful job search.  So they keep on trying, hoping that next time will be the successful application…and getting very depressed about their prospects for the future, not realising that without these job search mistakes their results could be very different.   

Often it takes a meeting with a trained career professional to see what is really going on.  It may be a combination of the common job search mistakes that I have outlined here, or it may be another problem altogether, but usually it is something that you haven't recognised yourself.  You are too close to the situation, as are your partner, your best friend and your mother-in-law, to be able to see it objectively.  Value yourself enough to get some professional career management support

After reading through these 10 common job search mistakes I hope that you will review your own job search strategies.  

Preparing for a career shift

Career decision makingWhy would you make a career shift?

There is a reason for every career decision we make in our lives. It is very unlikely for someone to make decisions that will create major changes in their life without valid reasons. Usually a major career shift is motivated by one of four reasons:

▪   Dissatisfaction with current career

▪   The need for a larger income to finance present living expenses

▪   Financial freedom in preparation for retirement

▪   The excitement of trying out new things

For some people, adjusting to a new career can be daunting at any age, let alone their fifties or sixties. Although they want change it takes courage and determination to upturn your life to seek a new job.  With the need to undertake a job search, the issue of ageism in the workforce, real or imagined, emerges with concerns of being too old or overlooked in favour of younger candidates.  For many people this is overwhelming and stops them from making a career shift.

Could you start your own business? 

Most people are hesitant to risk their stable job for something they are uncertain about, yet many crave the challenge of leaving their past career behind and starting their own business.  This can be a satisfying option for some, but it is important to approach starting a new business with great caution.

▪   Be financially ready. Make sure that you have more than enough initial monetary investment for your business. Make sure also that you have enough money to support you over the first few months of your business.

▪   Be realistic. Set business goals and financial plans that are doable and are possible to achieve.

▪   Start your research. Consider the risk factors and benefits of the type of business that you want to start.

▪   Explore the possibilities and make some changes when necessary. Do not be afraid to do things that are new to you.

▪   Explore the opportunities available for you online. The internet is a very powerful tool. Doing business online is very cost-effective and requires low financial investment.

▪   Get the assistance of an established career coach. A career coach can help you make wise decisions in determining if the business is a good fit for you.  You also need to find someone who is capable of providing you extensive training in internet business and important tools to help you succeed in your business. Seeking the help of an online marketing coach will help lessen the risks that come with starting a new business.  It is an absolute bonus if you can find someone who can help you make the wise career change and also assist you to learn about internet business.

When you are well prepared for your new career venture, the changes associated with it will be easier to handle and will result in greater income. What some people consider to be a midlife crisis can be the best decision you will ever make in your professional life!


By Jenni Proctor


5 ways to fight against age discrimination against baby boomers

The job market is hard for just about anyone, but it can be even more challenging for those who are considered to be the “baby boomers”—the ones who are over the age of 50 who are trying to compete with individuals who are significantly younger than them.

On one hand, a lot of people who fall into this category have the years of experience required. On the other, because of their age, some employers may assume that they may not have some of the recent education, technological insight and/or level of energy and passion they is required for certain positions; therefore, many end up being looked over. And yes, sometimes that is simultaneous with being discriminated against.

So, if you’re over 50 and you’re looking for a new position and you would like some ideas on how to be able to avoid being “judged by your demographic”, we have five helpful tips that can take you from “We’ll let you know” to “You’re hired!”

Be aware of your appearance. Being over 50 is nothing to be ashamed of or something to feel like you need to hide. However, as you age, you definitely have to make a concerted effort to stay healthy and fit so that you don’t end up looking older than you actually are. Exercise, eat right and dress in a way that is appropriate but also fashionable. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to go to a salon for a new haircut or makeover if you can’t remember the last time that you did that either.

Don’t be “age sensitive”. While in an interview, there’s a pretty good chance that the topic of your age, (one way or another) is going to come up. If you seem uncomfortable about it, you may put the person interviewing you a bit on edge as well. Sometimes, there is age discrimination in the workplace because there’s an assumption that older people are harder to work with because they are not open to learning. By conveying that you look forward to being both a mentor as well as a “student”, that can definitely work in your favor.

Be advanced. Even if you have been doing a certain thing for years, technology plays a significant role in making career a bit more complex than it used to be. Sticking to the formula of “It’s worked this way for me for years” could prevent you from landing a second interview. In other words, do some online research, take some software classes (like learning things about cloud systems, QuickBooks and maybe even some time tracking software) and speak with people who already work in the field that you’re interested in to see what extra things you can do to get your foot into the door.

Don’t pigeonhole yourself. If you have continued to apply for one certain kind of position and you haven’t been hired, be open to working in fields that are related to it. One thing that all people have to be open to, regardless of age, is that sometimes we can’t get the exact job that we want, but we can come close…if we’re open to it.

Consider contract work or self-employment. Age discrimination tends to happen far more when you are seeking work that requires actually going into an office setting. When you’re looking to do some telecommute contract work, rarely does age even become a factor. So, you might want to seek employment via websites like Craigslist, oDesk and Freelancer. Or, maybe the Universe is trying to tell you that it’s time that you started your own business. Every time that you drive past a KFC, remind yourself that the founder was 65 when he started the franchise. Indeed, anything is possible and age is certainly not a factor.