Category Archives: Job Market Challenges

Too much to say…but you know I’ll say it

My head is burbling with pre-election jumble, thoughts about healthcare and so much more…so, to start, here is this week’s link to the Blogging Boomers’ Carnival #180, hosted by the always astute, John Agno.  Definitely worth a stop over.

Onto the muddled state I find myself in…all thoughts, comments, yeahs or nays welcome.

Thought #1: Health care.  I am one of the self-employed corralled into an individual health plan and therefore subject to limits based on what I’ve been able to afford to buy into.  You’ve heard me complain about the cost of my premium, but what I forgot to mention (some of you emailed that your own plans were more costly) is that I’m on what is called a 40/60 plan with no limit on the deductible and no preventive coverage, and a $40/visit co-pay.  So if I go to the doctor 10 times in the year (let’s say I had been injured, or got whooping cough), that is $400 for my co-pays, plus 40% of each visit.  If I were hospitalized and the bill is a mere $10k, I’m on the hook for $4k, etc.  So here is where I’m a bit confounded right now.  We are all aware that there is a pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic in California.  I’ve received emails and voicemails from LAUSD reminding me to innoculate my daughter with the tDAP vaccine.  Because the vaccine is considered preventive care, it is not covered by my plan.  It will cost me $85 – $90 each for my child and I to be innoculated. 

I’m on a search for the free vaccine, however most free or low cost clinics listed through LA city insist on a full medical exam for each of us prior to the exam, even though we both have regular doctors.  The cost for the exams will be the same, if not more, than the cost of shot.  So, it will cost me about $170 for the shots, which I plan on paying for.  Money is tight for everyone…so let’s say that I didn’t get the innoculations.  If I caught whooping cough, aside from potentially dying, wouldn’t the costs for my health care be a whole lot higher than $170?  I’m just saying….

Thought #2: Oh my gawd!  Watching the lead up to the Nov. 2nd elections is PAINFUL.  Painful.  Worse than listening to fingernails scratching against blackboard (those days are long gone…only whiteboards and dry erase markers now…) is watching the sound byte lies permeating the ads on both sides of the aisle.  However, since the GOP is spending a bit more on their ads, they seem to be even more out there in the “let me lie, but call it marketing” campaigns. 

One of my faves is the Christine O’Donnell “I am not a witch” ad.  Dressed in somber colors, lit up like a ghoul against a dark blue backdrop, with a bizarrely haunting piano track, I swear I can see ghosts floating around behind her. 

Your ads will be inserted here by

Easy Plugin for AdSense.

Please go to the plugin admin page to
Paste your ad code OR
Suppress this ad slot.


Another fave for sheer idiocy is the anti-Meg Pinnocchio nose-growing ad.  I can’t stand Whitman, but seriously…this ad is laughable. 

But my absolute favorite ad (this time for sheer brilliance) is again, a Jerry Brown sponsored anti-Meg Whitman ad, juxtaposing her sound bytes against Arnold’s bytes from his first campaign.  Yup…same words.  I’m sure she’s had a conversation or two with her campaign manager and speech writers about it.  Enjoy.

Thought #3:  Self-esteem.  Have you noticed everyone is suffering a bit at the self-esteem front?  Could it be because 41% (or just about) of the employable workforce is unemployed?  Do you keep hearing people say “well…with 10% of America unemployed 90% are working”.  False.  Untrue.  Bad math.   There are about 300 million Americans.  You have to take out the retired (forceably or otherwise) and children and other non-working family members as well as those in “institutional” roles…i.e. non general population workforce.  Then there are also those who have given up looking for work (about 2 million). Then look at the numbers in the perspective of the American non-institutional workforce.  You get a true employment to population ratio is 58.5%.  How many of those in America who CAN work are in fact, working.   Here is the report…if you head down to the bar graph at the bottom of the report it is easier to figure out.  (Look for 58.5% and you’ll see how the labor metrics work.)  So 14.8 million are unemployed out of a potential pool of 150M civilian laborers.  That’s how it shakes out.

Need your stories, asap

Hi all — I have a request from a major US newspaper.  A top columnist is looking to interview folks who are at or near retirement about the challenges of looking for a job in this economy, even a part time job.  He’s particularly interested in chatting with folks who had retired but are now again looking for work for either for financial reasons or to simply stay active and involved.

I know many of you are looking for work because you lost your jobs, but this article is not about that.  He would love to find people who have found creative solutions, such as arranging with their employer to work part time rather than completely retiring.

If you fit the bill, or know someone who would be open to being interviewed, please email me asap at wspiegel@genplususa.com   and I’ll connect you with the writer.  Article deadline is Sunday.

Cities where the odds of finding a job are a bit….better? Maybe?

CNN Money’s Fortune has a great columnist, Anne Fisher.  In answering questions, she finds ways to pass along some great tidbits of helpful advice.  Today’s column was a winner.    A reader asked about the pros and cons of moving to find work in a different city.  Her response was good and even-handed, but what caught MY eye were the stats she posted on how many other job seekers you are up against, on average, based upon the city you are in.  Juju, a job-search engine (job aggregrator), did a study based on its own database of jobs and applicants and here is what they found (the number of applicants per opening):

The ten most promising cities for job hunters:

1. Washington, D.C. – 2.0
2. Baltimore – 2.7
3. San Jose – 3.1
4. Salt Lake City – 3.2
5. New York City – 3.4
6. Hartford, Conn. – 3.6
7. Denver – 4.4
8. Boston – 4.5
In a three-way tie for ninth place:
9. San Antonio – 5.0
9. Austin – 5.0
9. Indianapolis – 5.0
10. Pittsburgh – 5.1

The cities with the most applicants per job opening:

40. Orlando – 9.0
41. Memphis – 9.4
42. Birmingham, Ala. – 9.5
Tied for 43rd place:
43. Providence, R.I. – 9.6
43. Portland, Ore. – 9.6
44. Sacramento – 11.2
45. Los Angeles – 11.9
46. Riverside, Calif. – 13.4
47. Las Vegas – 14.4
48. Miami – 15.8
49. St. Louis – 19.9
50. Detroit – 21.6

So, basically, if you live in Washington, DC, or Baltimore….good!  Los Angeles or Detroit (no surprise, with the disasters in the auto industry)? … bad!  I’m not saying to move, but this sure gives you the picture of what the economy is telling us, right?  More info in the article, but certainly an interesting look at where the 10% unemployment is giving jobseekers a real run for jobs.

Finding the courage to take THE risk

When you have lost your job (the unemployment figures coming out this Friday aren’t going to have anyone smiling), and your unemployment benefits are running out, or have already run out, when your safety net has just too many holes in it…face it.  Your back is against the wall and you are either going to sink or swim.    One of the bigger challenges in a prolonged recession (and we know that the damage is going to take a long time to undo) is that we, as a population, become risk-adverse.  There is really no credit to count on in terms of starting up a small business and family and friends are likely as hard-pressed for their nickels and dimes.

When really faced with a sink-or-swim situation, the beauty of the human spirit, is that we tend to swim and it doesn’t matter if we can do a gorgeous freestyle, or a travelling dead man’s float.  Whatever it takes not to drown.  A couple of years ago I put together a really great, very inexpensive, little e-book which is available for download through the Gen Plus shop.  It is all about really reaching inside yourself and figuring out a strategic plan for moving forward, using tools that businesses use to create their own strategic plans.  When I put it together, it was specifically for the Boomer and 50 Plusser seeing the writing on the wall.  The wall has been written on and the damage to the economy has really crossed all age barriers.

I’ve done contests in the past to award this e-book to someone who could use it.  So I’m doing it again.  Tell me what you might do if you thought you could risk it and if you could figure out a way to take the first steps toward getting there.  I’ll pick a few of you and send you the e-book at no charge.    Just my way of paying it forward.  Put your entries into the comments, or if you want to keep it between us, send me an email at wspiegel@genplususa.com

Talk around the town

Some days I feel like I’m a character in a 1945 black and white depression story, where there are food bank lineups, girls with holes in their socks and boys with holes in the toes of their shoes.  Characters meet on the streets and rather than greeting each other with the typical LA style, “Hey, how ya doin’?” instead ask, “So, is your job safe?” or  “So…have you found work yet?” and even, “How are you holding on?”.  Almost all talk is about finding enough scratch to make the monthly mortgage, rent, medical, food payments. 

In the past week, a lawyer friend is still blowing through savings as his clients don’t have money to pay him for work done.  Another friend was laid off from a high level corporate position.  Another friend is worried that his company may merge in a bid for survival…and if it does, he won’t survive the merge.  His wife’s boss was laid off and she has no idea who she reports to now.  There is no one FOR her to report to.  And, the office administrator at my daughter’s school was pink-slipped and her potential transfer revoked.

I know that some people are feeling a surge.  Some houses that are REO (Real-Estate Owned) are getting bidding wars on offers.  But at a networking meeting earlier this week, a bank executive in charge of loan mitigation reminded me that the moratorium on foreclosures is lifted and the second tier of foreclosures is on us — those people who lost their jobs and are in hardship…who will literally not have the money to pay their monthly mortgage.  It is going to be a tough summer for many, many folks.  And a tough fall, a tough winter, and likely a tough spring. 

When construction companies telemarket to find out if there is a chance in heaven or hell that I might be planning a renovation this year (no…by the way), we actually end up having conversations, only to find out that the person calling is also on a last-ditch attempt to stave off their dire situation.  And finally, today, there is a real estate agent, who like clockwork, canvasses the ‘hood every few months, handing out memo pads.  Great guy, but I’m not selling and I can’t buy.  He sees the inventory on the market and has no buyers.  The trickle-down is devastating. 

That’s a snapshot of my little neck of the woods and a few of the people I know in Encino, California.  What I want to know, is if you are in Michigan, or New York, British Columbia, Ontario or Colorado…are your conversations in black-and-white or are you seeing glimmers of technicolor on the horizon?

Micro-careers

I subscribe to the newsletter put out by Weddle’s (a career consulting, research, and publishing firm), and today, a very good article caught my eye.  This one is all about micro-careers.  I’ve referred to the shiftin the past as “career-chunking”, but I like the term “micro-career” very much.  The concept is simple — we will have many careers over our employment lifespan, expanding upon our best skills and translating them to different fields, while continuing to accumulate knowledge and expertise.  The job market will not be the same one we grew up with — likely for the rest of our lives.  Give a read.  This article, by Peter Weddle,  is quite thoughtfully laid out:

Micro Careers

The common view has been that we have one career. Typically, it was defined by both our occupational field-we are an attorney, a salesperson or a logistics professional-and our employer-we work at IBM or at Coca- Cola. Although we were often told otherwise, many of us believed that we would spend our entire career working for that one or, at most, two or three different organizations. In other words, we were convinced our careers would be relatively stable and long lasting.

While that was probably not true in the past, it is definitely not true today. This Great Recession has changed the nature of our careers forever. I know you don’t want to hear that. It’s hard enough to find a job in the current economic environment without some putz telling you that the rules of the game have now changed. But they have. And sticking our heads in the sand won’t undo what has been done.

On the other hand, if we can learn the new rules quickly-if we can get our arms around them and figure out how to play by and win with them-we can turn today’s difficult situation into a much better one. We can capture the upside in a down economy. We can put these new rules to work for us so we can find the work we want and hang onto it.

So, what are these new rules? They are a response to the traumatic and wrenching devastation of business now underway in this country and around the world. From GM to Citigroup, from Hertz to Microsoft, employers are shedding jobs and the workers who held them. These are not, however, your father’s or mother’s layoffs. They are not reductions in force that will eventually be replaced by rehiring in force. They are, instead, reductions in structure. The American employer is becoming leaner and determined to stay that way.

This shift in organizational philosophy holds several implications for those of us in the workforce.

  • First, there will be far fewer permanent jobs available to us. Companies will shrink down to a relatively small number of core roles and hire very selectively to fill them. Gone are the days of offering a position to a qualified applicant. Today and for many tomorrows to come, only the best qualified candidate for each opening will get the nod.
  • Second, employers will increase their hiring for “defined outcome positions.” Unlike traditional contract or project work, these situations will have the look and feel of permanent jobs, but have a fixed duration determined by the accomplishment of a specific objective established by the employer. Defined outcome positions will have the same organizational prestige and seniority as core jobs, but without the commitment to long term employment.
  • Third, employers will attempt to be much more nimble and quick acting. The competitive dynamics of a highly integrated, global marketplace have shortened the life cycle of products and services, sales and marketing strategies, and the organizational staffing requirements that flow from them. The kinds of talent required to execute an organization’s business plan last year or the year before may be-indeed, often will be-entirely different than those it needs today or tomorrow.If those are the new rules, how do we play them?

    The answer is as simple as it is challenging. We will have to shift our own employment philosophy. We must change the way we think about our careers. We have to accept that they are no longer relatively stable or long lasting. From now on, our careers will be episodic and short. They will be “micro careers.”

    Micro careers are defined by two kinds of impermanence:

  • Instead of working for one or two employers over the course of a thirty year career, we will now be employed by 10-15 organizations over the course of a fifty year career. We are living longer even as the staffing needs of employers grow shorter and less enduring.
  • Instead of working in a single occupational field, you will work in 3-5 different professions. They may all draw on a common foundation of expertise, but each will require a specific and additional set of knowledge, skills and abilities.This continuous changing means that we can no longer aspire to be complete and fully formed workers. The old industrial era paradigm of moving from novice to journeyman to master is over. In today’s knowledge-based economy, only masters survive. So, our new strategy must be to act as “masters-in-progress.” We must never stop moving toward a better, more capable, more effective version of our best selves.

    Now, I acknowledge that such incessant self renewal is a new and potentially uncomfortable way of working for some, maybe even many of us. We worked hard to get to a certain point in our careers, and now, we would like to coast. We would like to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor. And that’s no longer possible. In the 21st Century workplace, managing a successful career is like riding a bicycle. We can coast for a short period of time, but we’re going to have to peddle and sometimes peddle very hard if we want to keep from crashing.

    While that may be difficult to accept, there are some advantages to this situation. It enables us to escape from the imprisonment of dull jobs and dead end employers. No employment situation is forever and as long as we keep preparing ourselves for what’s ahead, each new job is a chance to move on and up. We get to start fresh on a regular basis, so mistakes are less harmful to our progress and risk is less dangerous. We have, in short, more freedom and opportunity than we have ever had. That’s the key point we should remember. Because that’s the power and the promise of micro careers.

  • California unemployment reaches 11.2% in March

    Not since 1941 has California hit such a high unemployment number.  If you had money, now would be a great time to buy up properties, stocks, artwork…if you had money.  But in addition to the 11.2% on the dole rolls, there are another few percentage points of the unemployed who don’t show up on these records — part-timers, those who have given up, struggling new entrepreneurs. 

    What does that mean for California?  Well, for one, some people are just going to leave — move back to families in Minnesota, and White Plains, and Tuscon, where they’ll be able to recoup slowly while moving back in with parents, siblings, aunts, old friends.

    When there is a severely stressful event or period of time, there are two types of stress that affect us.  There is unproductive stress — that is the type of stress that causes night sweats, anxiety attacks, heart palpitations and feelings of being completely overwhelmed.  We all know those.  In this crisis, this type of stress over a period of time (like we are experiencing now) can be destructive.  It erodes self confidence and zaps creativity.  People can be overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness.

    The other kind of stress is productive stress which causes a discomfort.  This productive discomfort has the opposite impact on us.  It provokes creativity and it can produce profound innovation.  

    The difference between the two is a very, very thin line.  If you are an optimist by nature, then you might stay more on the productive side.  If a pessimist, it may not take much to push you to an anxiety attack. 

    In this economy, which will continue to fallout for many, many months and years to come (likely to the end of 2010), the challenge is to push pride away.  If you are not embarrassed by your plight, then it becomes easier to seek innovative solutions.  It is a hard fall to be in your 50’s and be unable to find a job.  It is tough.  No doubt.  May take one or two years to find employment.  Possibly.  Probably.  However, if the jobseeker can push pride aside, it opens the door to conversations with everyone.  And if you can have a conversation with everyone you meet about your job search, then it is possible that someone will know someone who has a job opening for you to apply to. 

    I spoke with someone the other day who didn’t believe in resources like Twitter or Linked In or Facebook.  The reality is that these communication vehicles exist and denying their power just limits your own abilities to connect with others worldwide.  In the Great Depression, people no longer greeted each other with “Hello, how are you?”  Instead they asked, “Are you working?”  Over the past few months, every conversation with friends now usually starts with “How’s your business doing?” or “Is your job secure?” and more often than not the answer isn’t very good. 

    I suspect that within the next few months friends will start sharing innovative ideas that have arisen out of their productive discomfort and then we’ll see new businesses starting, that, as they grow, will start hiring the 11.2 or 12.6% unemployed.  The strength of the United States has always been with small business innovation.  It is just that the big guys got greedy.  But as that equalizes, I imagine great innovation surfacing.

    How high will unemployment go? 8.5% breaks 26 year record

    The fact that I’m old enough to remember watching my friends lose homes in the mid-eighties is scary enough.  But I wasn’t old enough then to understand global economic impact as I do now.  There are currently about 25 million Americans out of work and looking for work.  That is almost the population of Canada and equivalent to most of California pounding the pavement looking for crumbs.  If you’ve talked to your working friends lately, you’ll have discovered that being laid off no longer holds the stigma it once did.  The question is no longer, “How’s work?”  It is “Do you think you’ll be able to keep your job?”  or “How long have you been laid off?”

    I’m bursting with emotion and thoughts today, so better grab your home-brewed cup of coffee (sorry Starbucks, but you’ve been off my list of daily expenditure for about a year now!) or caffeine-free tea before reading on.  It’s a long one.

    The March unemployment rate was just released.  8.5%.  And April is predicted to be higher.  Because unemployment is the end result of an economic downturn (not the precursor), the fallout isn’t even close to settling.

    To put this all in a microcosmic perspective,  as many of you know, I’m a small business owner after a 20 year corporate executive career.  In addition to business consulting, I own a pet care company, Pooch Buddies.  And even with slower economic times, I have to add in one person to my team — because those who do have jobs are worker harder and longer to keep their jobs.  The job I’m looking to fill is part time, with entry level pay, and when I’ve looked for hires in the past, my free ad on Craig’s List brings me about 15 good candidates over a few days. 

    I placed an ad yesterday morning, and by the end of the day, had over 70 applications.  70 applications for one tiny, part time position.  If you were a small business owner,  imagine that your company has just placed an ad for onefull time (with benefits) opening.  How many resumes do you expect you’d receive?  I’ll tell you.  Likely up to one thousand.  For one position.

    As a jobseeker, how would you stand out? 

    Let me go back to my microcosm again.  Out of the 70 applications (so far), about 10 of them did not fill in all of the info I’d asked for on my feedback form.  They are disqualified right away.  About 3 gave far too much information.  They are out.  About 10 applicants live too far away.  They are out.  So out of 70, I’m now down to 47. 

    Those 47 are all pretty similar.  They all answered my questions with care and interest.  All live in the geography that I service.  About 20 of the 47 give a very similar answer.  Almost word for word.  Nothing to make them stand out. 

    So that takes me down to 27 interesting applicants (because I want the best I can get.)  Out of the 27 a few have a few time conflicts.  Some prefer only daytime work, some only evenings and weekends.  Means more work for me.  Out.  So now I’m down to 20.  Out of those 20, I’ll choose the 10 that appeal to me most.  Once I call them, I’ll interview the 7 best and choose 2 to background  and reference check.  If I don’t like either of those 2, then I’ll go back to my bigger pool and review the candidates I put aside from the “good” pool.

    But for a minute, let’s look at the 4 candidates that stood out.  They emailed or called me directly in addition to submitting an application.  One is a definite no.  She was so concerned with her own needs and was so rude that there is no way I’d ever want to have her on my team.  (Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what TO do.)

    Two were very genuine in their approach with backgrounds in animal care and a true love of animals (well, at least on the phone). 

    And one called and emailed me before I’d ever put in an ad.  She found my site, called me twice, has a background with animals and coincidentally got in touch just a few days before I was planning on sending out the job posting. 

    Now consider the job search efforts of 25 million.  Each job they apply to likely has close to 1000 applicants.  That is like throwing an online resume into an electronic puddle.  How the heck is a candidate going to stand out?  Especially when most jobs are filled through knowing someone who knows someone, who knows someone.  And most of  the someones you know are unemployed, about to be unemployed or work for companies that aren’t hiring.

    It is critical to remember that even though so many are unemployed, there are still a lot of people employed.  There are not an excess of companies hiring…but there are SOME companies hiring.  This means any jobseeker must become a job detective or employment investigator.  Which brings me to an interesting concept put out in a book I just read, called “The Hourglass Solution: A Boomer’s Guide to the Rest of Your Life,”  by, Jeff Johnson and Paula Forman, both PhD’s.   Imagine our lives pictured as an hourglass.  Our midlife is the “waist” of the hourglass.  The concept is that at this pass-through point, we can get stuck.  The sand cannot pass through from the top of the hourglass to the bottom of the hourglass.  This especially rings true in this current job crisis.  Everyone desires and needs to work.  We’re all lumped together and now, effectively clogged up to get through this mid-point.  And unfortunately, the solution is NOT going to come from outside.  Especially for the Boomer and 50 Plusser, the solution is going to have to come from incredible creativity and ingenuity generated from a lifetime of accumulated experience, in order to find a job opening, get a job, or start a small business.  One of my guest writers, Corinne Copnick, read and reviewed the book for Gen Plus.  You’ll enjoy her viewpoint.  I think the concept is correct and certainly familiar. 

    Bottom line is that we aren’t at the bottom line yet.  Unemployment will climb even higher.  New job generation will not be there for some time to come.  Even though there are some glimmerings of activity and hopefulness in the economy, the situation is still pretty bad.  My tax accountant did not ask me this year what I was putting away in my IRA.  He asked me if I was holding onto my house.  Same question he was asking all his clients this year.

     The reality is that we all have friends who are one week away from homelessness.  Some of you may be one week away from homelessness.  They…you…are all talented, incredible assets to a company that can hire them.   

    These times of GREAT stress, call for GREAT ingenuity.  GREAT community and GREAT communal thinking and energy.  Remember the old adage: “United we stand, divided we fall.”  Our families and friends have moved across countries and continents over the past decades.  That era is ending.  Families are living together, again.  Sharing homes, sharing income, sharing creativity and business models.  OK.  So we’re at 8.5%.  We’ll go to 10% or even higher.  But maybe…just maybe…we’ll rediscover our internal resources rather than counting on external influences to keep us strong.

    How’s a displaced 55 year old going to find a job now?

    Times are SO tough.  I get a lot of emails and questions from Boomers and 50 Plussers who, literally, are down to the pennies in the cookie jar in order to put food on the family table.  I got a question yesterday that got to me.  Not because it is any different than so many others, but precisely because it isn’t really different than so many others.  These unusually difficult times call for extraordinary measures, so I tried to share viable, realistic strategies to try to find a job.  Here is the question and my answer.  Please feel free to add your own thoughts and suggestions.

    Question: I am 55, with a progressive history in manufacturing management. Five years ago I moved to Arizona making a career change into real estate. As a result of the housing market I relocated to Los Angeles and began a job search targeting my past history in manufacturing.That was nine months ago and have had only two interviews during this time. I have been submitting through indeed, craigslist, monster,and others, with futility. I do not have any networking contacts since I failed to stay in touch. When I began the search I had one year of reserves to live off of. With only three months left I am in dire straits. Any suggestions will certainly be welcomed. Thanking you very much in advance.
     
    Answer: Hi Mario

    As you can see, through your challenging job search, the economy has created a disaster for most jobseekers and it is particularly tough for the 50 plus demographic.  Being in dire straits calls for some really direct strategic measures.

    1)  If you have three months left of reserves, you need, first and foremost, to figure out how you will survive, if, in fact you don’t land a job soon.  Do you have family or friends to move in with?  Are you supporting a family?  If so, is there family somewhere else in the US that they can live with while you continue to search for work?  Many, many people and families are moving into survival mode and for most, that means consolidating all resources into one family pool.  No honor lost in that…it is a move back to depression era family structure.

    2) Since you failed to stay in touch with past contacts, now is the time to crank up those connections.  As long as you had decent relationships in the past, there are some great vehicles for reuiniting with past colleagues, clients, suppliers, etc.  One resource is www.LinkedIn.com.  It is common practice to connect with as many people as you have had business or personal relationships in the past.  

    Another excellent tool is www.Facebook.com.  Once you are connected on Facebook, you’ll never have to worry about keeping track of someone’s email address again.  Many companies are using Facebook as an outreach tool, so don’t be shy about connecting.

    Finally, if you had very good connections in high school or university, and if you can’t find those people on Facebook or Linked In, head over to www.Classmates.com.  You might find some good contacts there.

    3) At 55, you are at an age disadvantage.  You don’t say what you did in manufacturing, but if you were sharp in a particular field, focus on that area and then see where there might be a match in the ONLY hot industries today:  Healthcare and Allied Healthcare (including medical devices — smaller companies are growing quickly and their manufacturing and distribution demands are beyond their capabilities); alternative and renewable energy, and any of the companies that feed into that field; and private education.

    4) Be prepared to move.  There are jobs, but you have to be willing to go to them.  Broaden your search to states that you might never have considered in the past.  

    5) See if there are ANY consulting groups that could use your particular niche of knowledge.

    6) Look at any hobby or task that you do well and see if you can generate some immediate income.  Are you proficient with tools?  Spring is here — perhaps you are genius with prepping bikes or motorcycle spring tune-ups.  Perhaps you can join demolish crews who have to empty out foreclosed homes?  What resources do YOU have that you can offer as a side business while you look for employment.

    7) Finally, walk your search.  Beat the streets.  Most jobs will NOT be advertised on the online boards.  MANY companies are not paying money to put ads with paid searches.  Identify as many individual, smaller to mid-size companies as you can, and either go directly to their website or directly to their human resources manager (if you are lucky, they are still to small to have an HR manager and you’ll be talking to the finance manager) and see where their needs might be able to match with your skills sets.  

    Hope that gives you a few ideas.

    Best of success.  It is really tough out there, but there is a little movement.  Keep strong and you’ll make it through.

    Janet Spiegel
    www.genplususa.com

    Seven year itch.

    It is tough to blog consistently.  Like any writer, you have days of inspiration, where you don’t have enough time to write all the things you want to say…and then…like any writer, you have days with total, unwavering, heart-rending writer’s block.  It’s never that I don’t have something to say.  I can always talk and anyone who knows me, also knows that there is nothing I love more than to “share” my opinions and “free” advice.  But the challenge is to want to write about something that your readership (you) actually want to hear about.

    When I first started this blog, back in 2004, blogs were new.  I quickly achieved a good readership and a Google Page Rank of 6 (pretty good for a blogger of my niche.)  If you look up genplususa.com on any of the big rankers, I show up in top 4-5% of websites for popularity, even though I don’t touch millions of readers.  But the quality of what I’ve always chosen to write about, and staying with the subjects I feel passionately about, are what make writing so deeply interesting to me.

    When I started this blog, in 2004, I had a mission — to change the way America (and the world???) viewed the Boomer and 50 plus population in the work force.  Over the years I shared strategies for job seeking for 50 plussers that would help someone get in the door.  I started a job bank just for Boomers and 50 Plussers which was doing well until the economic bust.  With so many layoffs, the impact crosses all age demographics and I felt that the 50 Plus niche was in for a really, really tough time finding work.  So running a job bank for companies dedicated to hiring 50 plussers became moot.  Companies aren’t really hiring.  They are firing, restructuring and downsizing.  Are there jobs?  Certainly.  But each job application really has to be individually targeted, with network resourcing, unlike the days of blanket resume blasting.

    It’s been 5 years and although I’ve been expecting that the 7 year itch would happen, it is starting now.  Which is why I’ve been taking a bit of a break the past couple of weeks.

    And in the silence of the break, I felt a vibration, a tingle of change coming. Subtly.  From the ground up.

    It’s called innovation.  It’s called invention.  It’s called resourcefulness.

    Not trends.

    As people have pared back their spending, they find themselves becoming creative with stretching their dollars.  After a while of this frugal creativity, other creativity starts to surface.  We may realistically already have 13-15% true unemployment, but we also have 85% of the workforce pushing the envelope to keep their jobs, keep their businesses afloat, find ways to make a few extra dollars — a level of really uncomfortable stress, which either makes or breaks us, as a person, as a family, as a people.  We have 13-15% of the population, enduring almost unbearable stress —  looking for work, for new business opportunities, for hope and finding those ways either makes us or breaks us — as a person, as a family, as a people.

    That’s what I’ve been feeling the past few weeks.  A tingling of creativity, and a small surge of people (other bloggers, colleagues, strangers) noticing the innovation.  And I felt pride, yesterday, voting in the LA primary, because I had the right to vote.  And unexpected esteem booster, just by being an American (AND Canadian!).

    I feel creativity looming around every corner and while the proof of success or failure is in implementation, the magic is in the marriage of innovation and execution.  So, I’m hijacking my 7-year-itch.  Cutting it off at the 5-year mark.    And I’m going to add to my portfolio of interests and seek out innovation.  I think writer’s block is gone.  I hope you’ll share your finds with me, too.