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What WEIRD jobs did YOU do as a starting entrepreneur?

YOU are responsible Being an entrepreneur to me means that you are responsible for everything.  And the most important of those activities is providing the inspiration, guidance and leadership to establish, maintain and grow your business. …

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The Big Send Off

Family and Funeral Traditions

quotation about deathI recently watched Billy Connolly’s “Big Send Off”, looking at different death and funeral traditions around the world. It was a fascinating examination of how we humans have a universal need to grieve the loss of a loved one by demonstrating how much we cared about them and recognizing their life achievements. But although we all share a need to give our loved ones a “good send off” we do this in many different ways, each culture, religion and community having their own specific practices. Of course, one cultures’ deepest traditions often seem extremely odd to other cultures.

At the time I watched this program my elderly brother-in-law was dying. He was suffering with Parkinson’s disease and had mourned the passing of my sister since she left us 16 years before. To say he was ready to go was an understatement. He was keen, and determined neither to live in a nursing home nor to be kept alive through medical intervention.

His service was dignified and beautifully planned, honouring his Fijian upbringing, his army career, his family life and his eccentricities. The eulogies were full of wonderful memories, emotion and humour, in equal parts. A powerpoint presentation of photographs taken throughout his life illustrated many of his life stories, most of which were unknown to those who knew him in his later years. The burial service was poignant as my sister had asked to be cremated and to have her ashes buried with her husband. And so we shared the emotions of farewelling her again as well.

And then there was the gathering afterwards! We kept it simple; just drinks and nibbles for extended family and close friends. But many of the people hadn’t seen one another for a long time and so it turned into quite a party. My brother-in-law’s relatives had come from interstate and overseas, so some people were reacquainted while others met for the first time. Our extended family reunited, and many cousins had not seen one another since the last family funeral so had a lot to catch up on.

The wine and beer flowed freely, the nibbles were passed around, and the volume of the gathering grew steadily over many hours.

No disrespect is meant when I say a great time was had by all! My brother-in-law was farewelled in the manner that he would have enjoyed and of which he’d have thoroughly approved. I think Billy Connolly would agree we had an excellent “Big Send Off”.

How does your family farewell its loved ones?

Preparing For Possible Redundancy

It seems that the threat of redundancy is circulating in many major companies right now. With that threat comes worry and a massive sense of insecurity. No-one knows what is going to happen. No-one feels that they have any control over the decisions that are being made further up the food chain. Morale declines. Friends and colleagues know that it may come down to "you vs me". It's not a good place to be!

Whilst it is probably true that you have no control over what the outcome will be, you do have control over how you prepare yourself practically and emotionally. Here are five steps you can take to prepare yourself for whatever is coming.

1. Your Mindset 

older man at computerThis is perhaps the most important part of this process.  Whatever you think of the company you work for, or the process they are going through to cut staff, keep your opinions to yourself.  You don't want to jeopardise your future with the company by being perceived as a troublemaker at this time.  Remember, too, that it is your JOB that is being cut, not you as an individual, so don't lash out because you feel it is a personal insult.  It is usually not a reflection of the person or their work, just the hard fact that a certain number and type of jobs are going to go and you may be part of the collatoral damage.  

Work hard on not taking this personally because your belief in yourself is going to be very important in the next stage of rebuilding your career, whether that is at the same company when the redundancies are all over, or as you look for a new job. 

2. Your Achievements 

What have you achieved in your current job?  Start creating a list of everything you have been involved with.  List the projects you contributed to, and consider any major and minor achievements that you can claim.  Achievements don't have to be big major awards; smaller achievements can be just as important if they illustrate the sort of person you are at work. Consider anything you have done that has made your workplace a better place because of what you did – new systems, new processes, improved relationships, better practices etc.  Also consider the teams you have been part of and the contribution you made within those teams.  "Soft skills" such as effective communication and working harmoniously with a diverse range of people are achievements that are seriously important in the overall workings of a business. 

Value who you are and what you have contributed.  This also contributes to boosting your belief in yourself. If you recognise your value you will proudly share this with potential future employers and will project an air of confidence. 

3. Your Preferences

If it does happen that you lose your job what do you want to do next?  Will you immediately start looking for another similar job?  Or could this be a catalyst to propel you towards something that you have always wanted to do. Take time to think about this.  Just because you have always done one job doesn't mean you can't make the effort to change direction if the opportunity presents.  The easiest career direction changes happen when you get a simliar job in a different industry, or a different but related job in the same industry.  This may be your chance to do something that you wouldn't have done if your so-called "secure" job didn't disappear.

If your job is not made redundant, are you happy to keep working in the same capacity at your current job?  What impact will it have on your current job if many of your colleagues have gone and those who are left have to try to be productive with a skeleton staff? 

You may be nearing retirement age, and this also can have a big impact on your preferences.  Would you like to retire earlier than anticipated?   Redundancy may be welcomed if you feel you are ready to leave and start a new phase of your life.  

4. Your Resume 

Now that you have recognised your achievements and preferences you are ready to update your resume, or get it updated professionally. Whilst we all know that our resumes should be kept up to date not many people actually do this, so this is a good opportunity to look at it critically and make the changes that are necessary.  Trends change in resumes, so the document that suited your needs 5 years ago may not be completely appropriate now.  If you want to aim for a different role you need to change the resume to show the links between what you have been doing and what you want to do.  Your achievements should be carefully listed so that if shows you to be the person who would be outstanding in the position you want. And of course the resume and the cover letter should be adapted to meet the exact requirements of each job description you are responding to. 

5.  Your Network

If you know redundancies are inevitable you need to start reaching out to your network.  Let the people who know what you are capable of…those you have worked with in the past, family, friends, colleagues you have met through professional associations, in fact anyone who values you and your skills…the sort of work you are looking for and even companies that you'd love to work for.  What you are seeking is inside information about what jobs may be coming up and who you may be able to have a chat with to find out what is happening in your industry/profession/trade.  At this point you are not looking for a job, just seeking information and putting yourself out into the marketplace "just in case".  The funny thing is that by the time the company you work for makes a decision about who is staying and who is going you have may have already decided to that you no longer want to be employed by that company. 

Your feedback and questions

Are you, or have you been, in the situation where redundancies are hanging over everyone like a storm cloud? How did you cope? What advice would you give to people in that situation? 

Losing Your Job Can Be Emotional

Redundancy isn't the sort of news you expect to get by text message. 

The major construction company Thiess has sent out text messages to staff working on a specific project to tell them that their services are no longer required.  The message was factual, offering information updates, a contact email and phone number, and finish dates.

What were they thinking? Losing your job is a very emotional experience that demands far more sensitivity than a text message allows.

Man wearing construction helmet

Redundancy carries with it so many levels of emotions, unique for each person.  There is the obvious sense of “I’ve worked hard for them and they don’t want me any more”…and that hurts.  That emotion occurs for most people, irrespective of whether they love or hate their job.

For most there is the worry about what will happen next.  Will I find another suitable job?  Will I have to move to get work, and what will that mean for my family? What if I never get another job that is paying the same money or using my skills?

It’s not always bad. For a few people, redundancy is welcomed as they were already thinking about moving on or retiring and the redundancy becomes a clean fast-tracking of the process, with an unexpected windfall.  For others it becomes the catalyst to leave their comfort zone and try something new, even something exciting that they may not have tried if they had stayed in their job.   

Each person who receives news that their position has been made redundant is an individual who deserves to be treated with respect, to be (even if it seems insincere at the time) reassured that their work has been valued and valuable to the company, and to be given the opportunity to talk through their future plans with a qualified and experienced career professional. 

If you know that the company you work for is about to restructure, and talk of redundancies is swirling around your workplace, there are actions you can take to prepare yourself for the inevitable.  By being properly prepared you give yourself the best possible chance of embracing this change and making it be a turning point that you look back on with pleasure not pain.

Hopefully other companies will learn from this major Theiss PR mistake and handle their redundancies with more empathy and tact than has been evident in this situation. 

What Can You Do If You Are Over 50 And Looking For a Job?

Any job seeker needs to be able to articulate the value they bring to an organisation, but if you are over 50 and looking for a job this is even more critical.  This video explores the areas in which you can demonstrate your value to them. Can you save them time or money? Can you improve their efficiency? What is it that makes you unique which will provide an advantage to the organisation if they employ you? What have you done in previous employment that demonstrates your value?

Have a look at "New Jobs For Older Workers" available on Amazon for further ideas about how you can improve your chances of getting the job you want.

What Not To Do When Making A Career Change

I love my job signAre you one of the 13% of people who consider that they are in the right job?  Or, more likely, are you one of the 87% who know that their work isn’t ideal for them but put up with it?  Sometimes people unhappily endure a career that isn’t right for them for the whole of their working life, and tolerate the consequences of unhappiness and frustration.   Others decide to make a career change, but sadly they make mistakes in how they do this. 

I consider the Number 1 mistake is trying to make the career change on your own, without consulting a career professional to guide you.  However many people make career changes without support, and in this article 7 Surprisingly Common Career Change Mistakes to Avoid  Ilya Pozin (@ilyaneversleeps) gives you an insight into what not to do if you decide to make a career change.




Blogging is an Extension of Your Resume

Your resume is an essential tool in the business world. It allows you to impress potential employers and qualify for job interviews. When posted online, it can also help you find job leads. As the job market becomes more competitive, however, you need to find ways to make your application stand out in the crowd. Creating a relevant, well-connected blog that complements your resume is a practical way to set yourself apart from the competition.

Lady working on computerBenefits of Blogging

• Blogs show that you are committed. A well-executed blog is impressive to potential employers and colleagues alike. Maintaining a blog relevant to your career shows employers that you are serious about your chosen profession.
• Blogs demonstrate your expertise. When you tailor your blog to your career, you will often write about subjects that require specialized knowledge. If your posts are well executed and engaging, employers will be impressed.
• Blogs are collaborative. If you regularly interact with your blog's readership, potential employers will see that you are willing to collaborate with others. They can also use the interactions to evaluate your interpersonal skills.
• Employers research job candidates. Many employers search for potential employees on the Internet in order to learn more about them. Blogging allows you a measure of control over what your potential employer sees.
• Blogs are good for networking. Job seekers often post their job skills and contact information to career-related databases and social networks in order to connect with people in their field. Creating a focused blog is a similar strategy in that it allows you to attract a readership with interests similar to yours. When your readers are members of the same field as you, they may be able to provide you with job leads.

Tips for Constructing a Valuable Blog

• Keep it relevant. If you want to use your blog as a career tool, you need to keep your career in mind with every post you construct. Writing about your personal life on occasion is okay, but make sure that your posts always relate to your career in some way.
• Be accurate. Potential employers who read your blog are going to evaluate your knowledge of your chosen field. Keep this in mind whenever you create a post, and do your best to ensure that your posts never contain inaccuracies.
• Be interesting. An interesting blog will attract and retain a larger readership, thus increasing the likelihood of job leads or offers. Engaging blogs are also important for demonstrating your communication skills to potential employers. If your blog is boring, your potential employer may not even read it.
• Include contact information. If you are maintaining your blog in hopes of finding job leads, include your contact information so that potential employers will be able to reach you. You should also include a link to your resume.
In today's competitive job market, it is more important than ever to stand out when you apply for a position. Creating a blog that highlights your talents is an excellent way to increase your marketability as an employee. In addition, creating such a blog facilitates the development of connections that can help you in your job search.

About the author: Lindsey Harper Mac is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts covering social media and education on behalf of American InterContinental University. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.

Creating a Visual Resume

Think Creatively About Your Resume!

In this online world sometimes you just have to think differently.  And when you are an older worker trying to find a job or a contract you definitely have to stand out from the crowd.  So I’d like to share with you a fantastic way to get yourself noticed! 

I’ve long been a fan of Slideshare and the great information they share on their blog, and I particularly like the concepts behind these two blog posts.  They suggest that if you want to make people aware of what you have to offer then you should consider doing so in a creative entertaining informative  way using the power of a presentation on Slideshare, enabling you to put a link on your LinkedIn profile and even make the link available to prospective employers, clients and colleagues.  

Creating a Visual Resume

How To Present And Sell Yourself Online gives you 6 basic tips about self awareness and self-marketing.  They serve as a good reminder that no matter what medium you use to self-promote, you have to cover the basics first.

4 Steps To Creating A Visual Resume That Stands Out interestingly shares 6 steps!

  • Make the first slide count – Get their attention or they won’t be interested.
  • Brand yourself – Colours, photos and typography all tell a story
  • Transparency matters – Be true to who you really are
  • Be expected – The viewer will expect to learn about what you have done
  • Be unexpected – Include some creativity
  • Ask for it – Be clear about what you want the viewer to do.

It also links to a number of visual resumes which give you a clear idea of how to set up your own visual resume.

I don’t advocate creating a visual resume and sending it off to a prospective employer in place of a traditional application process.   You could try it, and I’d be very interested to hear about the response, but I suggest that it might only be successful in a fairly creative visual Gen Y kind of work environment. 

How could you use a Visual Resume?

What could you use this for?  I think it has great potential if you are an experienced older worker seeking work but not finding the sort of jobs you want.  This could be particularly good if you want freelance or contract work, or if you want to be noticed in a particular niche.  I’m going to try this strategy as a marketing tactic to expand my profile in the baby boomers marketplace online.  I will blog about the results and let you know if it served any purpose beyond being a fun creative activity. 

If you create a visual resume share a link to it here so we can help one another get the formula just right to gain the results we are seeking. 

Facing Redundancy: 8 Things To Do If You Think Your Job Might Be Made Redundant

You may have heard the rumours circulating at work that redundancies are about to be announced.  You have heard and wondered, but you really don’t expect that your job will be affected.  After all you know how hard you’ve worked and you believe that your work is valuable and valued.  How could they just suddenly announce that the job no longer exists! 

But the rumours persist and an unsettling feeling starts to creep in.  What if you are about to lose your job!  What will you do?  How will you react?  You imagine the worst…. when you are called into the office and the bad news is given to you. In your mind, especially at 3am in the morning, it is not a pretty sight!

How can you prepare so that you will be able to cope well if your job is made redundant?  Here are 8 things you can do immediately to Man facing redundancyensure  that you are ready “just in case”, so that you can make this into an unexpected speed bump in life, not an incident that will define who you are.

  1. It is natural that emotions will arise, that you will feel vulnerable and perhaps angry that your working life may be affected like this.  Accept that it is normal to feel emotional, but don’t lash out.   Try your best to be dignified and to continue to work as usual, maintaining your usual high standards as if the rumours did not exist.  You don’t want to tarnish your reputation with the people around you. Your boss or colleagues may need to be your referee for your next job.
  2. At the first hint that redundancies could be coming remove all personal files from your office computer and take home any of your own belongings or files that you have at work which you aren’t using regularly. 
  3. It is likely that there will be increased tensions in the workplace.  As people consider the possibility that they might lose their job they often become hyper-critical of the people around them.  Don’t become the difficult person yourself, and don’t fall into the trap of other people’s nastiness.  This is a time to support one another, not cause additional stresses.  If the atmosphere becomes toxic do your best to rise above it and escape whenever you can.
  4. Read any information you can access about your rights so you know what to expect.  That way you can discuss the situation knowledgeably, which will help you to feel more rational and composed.
  5. Remember that it is the JOB that is possibly being made redundant, not you as a person.  This is a road-bump in life but it is not a crisis if you manage it appropriately.  We all know that it can be more difficult for an older worker to regain employment than for a younger person.  However don't discount your invaluable experience that you can market to another company, or other alternatives involving self-employment.  Don't buy into the trap of thinking negative thoughts about your future.  This is the time to be positive and start to get yourself ready for your next challenge, so that if the redundancy occurs you are ready to act quickly and decisively to get yourself employed again as quickly as possible. 
  6. Consider being proactive and organize to see a professional career counsellor who will be able to help you to re-envision your working life and plan your strategies for the next stage of your career.   This way you will know that you are prepared for whatever happens at work, giving you a sense of empowerment.  It is possible that the redundancies won’t eventuate or won’t affect you, but the opportunity to reflect on your own future may inspire you to make a career change anyway. 
  7. Get your resume up to date. Be aware that if your resume is more than about 5 years old it is likely to need a complete refresh to give your resume a contemporary feel and to reflect the skills, experiences and achievements you want emphasised. 
  8. If you are finishing with the company you will have to hand over company belongings such as your phone and car, although usually you will have a period of time to do this.  However be prepared for this so that you know you have a backup plan for transport and telephone. 

By Jenni Proctor

Resume Tips and Job Application Tips

Exceptional Person Required

Resume and Interview Tips by Julie Street from Life Path Career Coaching and Clarity Career Management.  Guest blogger Julie Street provides assistance for you to prepare a job application.  This document offers concise and invaluable tips on writing a great resume, creating a powerful application, using the STAR method in preparation for writing these documents as well as for an interview, and finally a checklist to ensure that you have not forgotten anything important in your job application. 

Has Age Discrimination Affected You?

I’ve been asked a lot lately about whether age is the reason that a person isn’t getting the jobs they apply for. I know I should know the answer, but frankly I don’t think anyone does.

Jumping on the age discrimination bandwagon

Anecdotally it is easy to jump on the ageism bandwagon. If an older person applies for a job, but they don’t even get to interview it is easy for them to presume that they were discarded because of age. If they are interviewed but are unsuccessful in obtaining the position it is again very easy to make the same presumption. Is that definitely age discrimination? It feels good to blame that demon…The media often jumps to that conclusion so it must be right!  Age discrimination in the workforce is something that we all hear about often, and so most people will be sympathetic if you claim that is the reason you didn’t get a job you wanted. What if the real reason was nothing at all to do with your age? Would that tell you a different story? Might you stop blaming your age and start looking at your job search strategies?

If age isn’t the problem, what is?

mature business manThe reasons why people don’t get jobs that they have applied for are complex at any age.  These five reasons are often far more damaging of job search success than any age discrimination, real or imagined.

1. Being one of the crowd

Let’s start with numbers.  If you apply for an advertised position chances are that you will be up against over 200 other candidates. If there is only one job, only one person is going to be successful.

2. Your personal marketing

Your resume has to show, concisely and effectively, that you already have relevant achievements, outstanding skills and enough experience to be extremely successful in this role.  They are looking for someone for this exact job.  Does your personal marketing, resume and LinkedIn profile in particular, match what they are looking for?

3. Your personality

We all have our own distinct ways of doing things.  I know it is a challenging thought, but you may not be the sort of person they wanted in that job.  It wouldn’t matter what you had done, if you aren’t the sort of person they want then they won’t want you.

4. Too much, too little or just right?

Recruiters are human.  So are interviewers. So are employers. Each have their own distinctive ideas about what constitutes a great candidate for a job.  The resume that one person loves may not appeal to another recruiter. Your style in an interview may be exactly what one interviewer wants, but another favours a different candidate.  You can only do what is true to you.

5. Mindset

Attitude shows on your face and in your body language.  If you believe that you deserve a job simply because you have been around for a long time then that attitude will show itself in some way.  I think of that as reverse ageism…People who believe they should be prefered because of their years of experience rather than their achievements.  Life just doesn’t work that way, and neither does recruitment.

6.  Showing your age

We aren’t discussing face creams and botox here, nor borrowing clothes from your ‘twenty-something” kids.  Age shows by not being contemporary in your skills and attitudes.  “I’m not very good with technology” is a statement that almost guarantees that you will not be taken seriously in a contemporary workplace.  Submitting a dated style of resume or dressing in an old-fashioned way immediately suggests that you will not have contemporary practices at work. If you make the presumption that you will face age discrimination during your job search you are probably right.  If you put that aside and aim to be the best candidate for the job, regardless of age, you may be amazed at what you will achieve. By Jenni Proctor     SaveSave