Keith and I wish you and yours the very best holiday season ever. Thank you for reading and supporting our Unretirement Project.
In an article from the Associated Press, older workers are facing higher unemployment numbers because of the pandemic. I wish that I could say that I’m surprised by this, but I’m not. What I am surprised at, is when I hear that older job seekers rely on outdated job search strategies.
I understand that an older job seeker maybe hasn’t looked for a new opportunity in a while. That’s okay. But recruiters are using new tools to find the best candidates, so you have to update your strategy accordingly. One of the first things you’ll want to revisit is your resume.
I asked my friend Meg McCormick SHRM-SCP if she would share some resume tips with us. Meg provides customized resume services at HR Meg. I’ve known Meg for years and she’s a super smart HR professional. She knows what’s happening inside organizations and what companies expect in a job seeker’s resume.
Meg, one of the advantages in being an older job seeker is you have lots of experience. But many career experts say that long resumes (over 2 pages) can be detrimental to your job search. How can someone decide what to include on their resume?
[McCormick] Two pages should be enough space to present your work experience. Anything beyond that, the hiring manager isn’t going to read. I recommend including more details about your current / most recent experience and accomplishments, and fewer (if any) details for any work you did more than 15 – 20 years ago.
Another approach is to summarize earlier jobs under a catch-all heading, such as ‘prior sales experience, 1987 – 1994’. That gives the hiring manager some context into your career history.
Another area of a resume that job seekers are regularly told to get rid of is the objective. What are your thoughts on including an objective in a resume?
[McCormick] The objective usually goes at the top of the first page – this is prime resume real estate. It’s the first place the hiring manager looks, and what you put in that space is critical to making them want to keep reading your resume.
That valuable space is better used for a ‘Professional Summary’, which is a brief statement that explains your unique value proposition for prospective employers. Some call it your ‘personal brand’. You can explain your career objective in your cover letter.
I can see older job seekers using their job search time to not only look for a job but relocate to where they want to be in “retirement”. What tips do you have for someone who is trying to get a job in a new city or state?
[McCormick] The internet is your friend – you can search job postings anywhere in the world!
- Research the job market in your destination of choice and discover location-specific job boards.
- See if there are regional placement agencies or recruiters that specialize in your field with contacts in your new locale.
- Use LinkedIn to see if you are connected with anyone who has contacts in companies located where you want to move and ask if they would make an introduction.
- Check out regional newspapers and local news channels online to get a feel for what’s happening in terms of business, the economy, and lifestyle in your potential destination.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a job that is well-suited for telework, you might be able to arrange with your current employer to continue remote working for them, but move to your new location. Be sure you agree on work hours, especially if you’ll be leaving your employer’s time zone, and other details of your arrangement. This could end up being a win for both you and your company. One caveat: Don’t make a move like this without checking with your employer first; especially if the move would take you out of state (or even out of the country), there may be tax and legal implications that impact both you and your employer.
An older job seeker might also be faced with taking a pay cut. How can they convincingly answer the pay question, so a potential employer understands they’re cool with less money?
[McCormick] I think it’s better to approach this one first in terms of what’s the salary range for the job. If you’re pivoting to a new career field, your most recent salary is irrelevant to the new job. So, you could say that you’re comfortable accepting a salary in the range of $X – $Y, which you feel is reasonable based on your research and the job description as you understand it. Do your research up front so you have an idea of what the job ought to pay, and adjust for locality and other factors to come up with a fair range.
The nature of the salary negotiation process has changed in recent years. In many states and some localities, it is now illegal for employers to ask for an applicant’s salary history or to use it as a screening factor, such as requesting it on a job application. If you are specifically asked what your last salary was, you can respond by explaining that you know it’s not relevant given the nature of the job you’re interviewing for, and instead asking what the pay range for the position is. Some jurisdictions require employers to provide this information.
Remember to consider other components of the total compensation package in addition to salary. For example, additional paid time off might be more valuable to you at this stage in your life than salary. Or you might be in a position to save a big chunk of your pay in the employer’s retirement plan to maximize their matching contribution. There’s more to compensation than just base salary.
Last question. If a job seeker hasn’t had someone review their resume in a long time, I think it would be a good investment to do so. What does a professional resume writer (like yourself) offer that a job seeker would find helpful?
[McCormick] I think it makes sense to have an HR professional review your resume, especially if it’s been a number of years, or if you want to change careers. I have the ideal background and experience to create resumes that get noticed. You’ve probably only ever worked on your own resume; I’ve read and written more than I can count. I have a good sense of what hiring managers want, and I can tell a good resume from one that’s trying too hard to impress. I keep up on hiring trends so I can bring current HR knowledge to each client.
It’s also worth considering that with resume services, you get what you pay for. Less expensive services base pricing on volume, and you probably won’t get an individual consultation with a pro. I provide individual attention and communication throughout the process. You’ll come away with a customized resume that’s appropriate for your industry, featuring a professional summary that conveys your unique personal brand to hiring managers. I do all the work – I don’t outsource. I can also offer assistance with customized cover letters targeted to specific job postings and can review and recommend updates to your LinkedIn profile.
A huge thanks to Meg for sharing her knowledge and expertise with us. If you want to learn more about her services, visit her website at https://hrmeg.com and be sure to subscribe to her blog.
Older job seekers can offer organizations a lot of skills and expertise, but you have to get the interview. Resumes are the first step. Make sure yours will stand out in the crowd.
According to AARP, 3 out of 4 adults age 50 or older want to stay in their homes as they age. Yet less than 50% anticipate that they will be able to remain in their current residence. We’ve written before about how smart home technology can help loved ones age in place. Now Amazon is introducing a new feature that help aging friends and family members live out their lives at home.
The Care Hub is a free Alexa feature that gives family members or caregivers the ability to “check in” on someone via a connected device. The Care Hub feature provides a high-level summary of a loved one’s recent interactions with Alexa or other connected smart home devices. Before you start thinking that this is a bit too “Big Brother”, please note that the feed is just a generalized view, lacking specific details to maintain privacy.
In addition to showing general activity around the house, caregivers can set up alerts to receive notifications, access other features like Alexa Calling or Drop in, and enable emergency contact calling when a loved one says “Alexa, call for help.”
To give you an example, Care Hub can show the time of a first interaction with an Alexa device each day. Types of actions will be displayed such as requesting music (not the specific songs) or asking for the weather. If a person has multiple devices, Care Hub will identify which Alexa was activated. An alert can include notification if a loved one hasn’t used their Alexa device for a certain number of hours. As you can see, the goal isn’t for a caregiver to see the full extent of activity – just that there is activity (or not).
Many caregivers and older persons can immediately see the usefulness of this kind of service. Individuals can age in place. Caregivers can have peace of mind. In addition, it can be particularly helpful now that the COVID-19 pandemic is reducing personal interactions.
There are a few limitations. Only one caregiver can access the Care Hub feed and you can only support one person. At this time, the Care Hub service is only available in the United States. Lastly, Alexa calling does not support calls to emergency services numbers like “911”.
There is no cost to use Care Hub and all that is required for set-up is an Echo or Alexa-enabled device and a WiFi connection. Security and privacy are top of mind. This new feature is double-opt in, meaning that both the caregiver and the loved one need to first establish a connection between their Alexa accounts through an invitation process. Again, this isn’t designed to be something sneaky. In addition, the Drop In feature can be disabled if a higher level of privacy is preferred. And family members can delete activity information in the Care Hub feed at any time.
Caregivers are facing considerable challenges during this unprecedented time. Aging loved ones are sympathetic to caregiver restrictions but they also want to age in place. The Alexa Care Hub may be the compromise needed to give everyone in the family a little extra peace of mind.
I wrote an article recently that featured a few tips for a successful phone interview. In it, I mentioned video and realized it might be a good idea to share some tips for a successful video interview. Like phone interviews, video is becoming increasingly popular given the pandemic. And I don’t see it going away anytime in the near future because employers are finding it to be very cost effective.
Like phone interviews, it’s absolutely essential to plan before a video interview. Here are a few things to consider:
- Confirm your technology. Generally, phone interviews are shorter and well, they’re on your phone. A video interview could be longer so you might not want to use technology that you’re going to have to hold the entire time. Make sure whatever tech you’re using is charged and ready to go. Test whatever software you’re using for the call in advance and make sure you know what to do if the technology doesn’t work during the interview. The recruiter should give you this information in advance. If they don’t, you should ask.
- Plan your background. I recently conducted a poll over on HR Bartender about video backgrounds. They do matter and people pay attention to them. As you’re testing out your technology (see number one above), look at the video background. Make sure that anything you see in the background you want a recruiter to see. As an HR pro, I’m going to tell you that candidates do not take enough time in this area and the number of NSFW items in video backgrounds…yowza!
- Think about your wardrobe. I’m not mentioning clothing because you need to dress hip or flashy. You be you. But video cameras can distort your clothing. For example, if I went to an in-person interview, I could wear a striped blouse, and no one would pause. It’s totally fine. A striped shirt on video can be distracting. You want the recruiter to be focused on your experience and strengths, not the pattern on your clothing. So, look at what you plan to wear on video to make sure it’s camera-friendly. And I shouldn’t have to say this, but just in case…wear pants.
- Have a pen and paper handy. You might want to take notes during the interview. A question might pop into your head during the conversation. Or you might think of something you want to share. Trying to remember this information will be reflected in your facial expression. Just jot a note – maybe a couple of words to prompt your memory – and stay focused on the conversation.
- Prepare your questions. Given what’s going on right now, it’s possible that you might have a phone interview and then a video interview. You will want to have some questions prepared for each. In fact, you might start with, “Last time we spoke, we talked about XYZ, I’d like to hear more.” It’s always good to ask what next steps will be in the interview process. Oh, and don’t be surprised if you’re asked multiple times about your salary requirements. Especially, if the position you’re applying for pays less than what you’ve been paid in the past.
- Check your security settings after the call. Many times, you will have to “allow or permit” your technology device to use the video and microphone to conduct the interview. It’s totally up to you, but you might want to turn those permissions off once the interview is over. The downside is that you have to remember to turn them on every time. The upside is you don’t have to worry about security risks.
While the format for interviews is evolving, the purpose of the interview hasn’t changed. It’s for the organization to learn about your skills and experience. It’s also for you to learn about the company. Don’t lose sight of that. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to be flexible and resilient, two qualities that employers everywhere are looking for.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby off the coast of Nassau, Bahamas
One of my Facebook friends recently asked what people were doing for the Thanksgiving holiday. Someone responded by saying since they’re not having a large holiday gathering, that they took a vote and are having pizza for Thanksgiving dinner. I love it! I know that things aren’t ideal right now and there are many things we would rather be doing. But we have to think about our health and safety. That doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun by completely breaking the traditions we’ve adhered to in the past. Here are a few of the things that we’re up to.
Feeling | Grateful
> Despite all of my grumbling about the pandemic, I’m very grateful to have my health, family, and work. I’m grateful for a nice home and plenty of food. I hope that during the Thanksgiving holiday, we don’t break the tradition of taking a moment to remember what we’re thankful for.
Remembering | The importance of face masks
> I’m confident that I’m not the only person who is tired of the pandemic and the masks, sheltering, etc. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing my part. While it does mean that we won’t be able to do some of the things that we’ve enjoyed in past holidays, staying safe and healthy is most important. Keep wearing those masks!
Planning | When to put up the Christmas tree
> We have friends who have already put up their Christmas tree. You might be one of those people too. And we totally get the reasons why. Typically, we wait until December, but we’ve been wondering if breaking the tradition in 2020 would be the right thing to do. I can’t help but think I’m cheating the Thanksgiving holiday. Maybe that’s okay this year.
Watching | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 & 2
> One tradition we will not be breaking is related to birthdays. My birthday is this month and we always watch the birthday person’s favorite movie. Mine is Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. I love the soundtrack and the superhero fun.
Working On | Our annual strategy meeting
> We typically try to get away once a year to set goals for our personal and professional lives. We call it our annual strategy session. Earlier this year, we were planning a trip to discuss goals and COVID-19 got in the way so we had the session at home. It worked well so we decided that we will be permanently breaking the tradition of offsite strategy sessions.
Reading | Further
> Brian Clark is the founder of Copyblogger, a community dedicated to all things related to content marketing. I’ve been a big fan for years. He recently launched a once-a-week electronic newsletter called Further, focused on aging and finding ourselves as we age. I love the writing style and suggestions. Speaking of goals, one of his recent newsletters was about breaking the tradition of starting new goals in January. Why not just start them now?!
Loving | David’s Teas
> When I’m regularly traveling, I love stopping in a coffee shop to try the seasonal teas. Pumpkin Spice Latte? I’m there! With the pandemic, I’ve been ordering some seasonal teas from David’s Tea. Some of my new favorites include maple oolong and sweet potato pie.
Geeking | Jeff Granito Designs
> We’ve taken a fancy to tiki art. Our new favorite designer is Jeff Granito. Jeff has worked with companies like Disney, DC Comics, Sesame Street, and more. If you’re looking to add some tiki to your winter holiday season (and who wouldn’t?), check out his site for mugs, shirts, face masks, and more.
What’s UP with you? Keith and I wish you the best of health and happiness. Thank you for reading Unretirement Project.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby long before the pandemic at the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, NV
I don’t want to spend a lot of time pointing out the obvious. The pandemic has been hard, and many people have lost their jobs. According to AARP, the percentage of long-term unemployed job seekers increased to 26.4% for those ages 55 and older. If you’re looking for a new opportunity, not only are you dealing with the challenges of searching for a new job but searching for a new job in the middle of a pandemic.
What I mean by that last sentence is that many employers are changing their recruiting process to make candidates feel safe. And that’s a good thing. For example, in the past, a candidate might have been asked to stop by the office for a short screening interview with human resources. Now that short screening interview is being conducted over the phone.
And if you’re a candidate that has always felt one of your strengths is your ability to connect with individuals face-to-face, a phone interview could feel a bit weird. So today, I want to share with you six tips for having a successful phone interview.
- Schedule the interview. Employers are not out to trick anyone. So, if someone calls you wanting to do an immediate screening interview, make the suggestion to schedule a time. If you receive an email to schedule a time, don’t feel compelled to do it right away. Find a time that works for you so you’re at your best. Obviously, you can’t wait indefinitely, but if you’re a morning person, opt for a date where you can speak in the morning. And vice versa.
- Have your technology charged and ready. I know this sounds basic, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t do it prior to their phone interview. If you’re planning to take the call on your cell phone, make sure your phone is charged. If you’re using headphones or earbuds, make sure those are charged too. Be careful about using a speakerphone, because it can pick up ambient noises and you won’t sound clear. You want the interviewer to be focused on you and your qualifications, not how badly the call sounds.
- Get into the interview spirit. Since the interviewer will not see you, it’s important to have your voice convey your enthusiasm. If it would get you into the interview spirit, get dressed like you’re going to an interview. Find somewhere quiet to take the call where you can sit in a chair (like an interview). You will sound better if you’re sitting with excellent posture during the call. It does make a difference in your voice. Test it out with a friend sometime.
- Be prepared to answer the salary question. As a human resources professional, one thing I’m hearing from companies is that they do not want to waste your time (or theirs) if the salary isn’t a good fit. It’s possible that will be one of the first questions you’re asked. Be honest. And if you’re applying for a job that pays a lot less than you’re accustomed, be prepared to explain why. And, again, be honest!
- Plan to take notes. It’s possible that the interviewer will ask you to send a follow-up. Or the interviewer might tell you some things about the job or company that you want to remember. Have a pen and paper ready to jot down a few prompts. You can fill in the details after the call, but this could be very helpful later during the actual phone interview process. Especially if you discuss salary and benefits.
- Have a couple of questions. Just because you’re looking for a job doesn’t mean you can’t ask some questions. At minimum, you should find out what the next steps are in the interview process. Before the interview, check out the company website and see if there’s a recent press release that you can ask about. For example, “I was on your website and saw the company’s announcement about XYZ product. Will this job have any interaction with that project?” You get the idea.
The phone interview is becoming very popular right now and honestly, they’re not going away any time soon. First, because the pandemic is still with us. And second, because companies are finding them very effective. So candidates will need to work on their phone interview skills to stand out in the process.
Fall is our favorite time of year. We’ve always enjoyed Halloween, even though we don’t dress up anymore. But it’s sad to say that this Halloween is going to be different, with the pandemic and all. That being said, we’re trying to still get into the “spirit” of the season. LOL!
Watching | Lucifer
> A couple of years ago, we started watching this show about the devil taking a vacation in Los Angeles and becoming the civilian consultant to the local police department. Then our relocation interrupted things. So, we’ve started watching it all over again. It’s a fun premise and not too heavy on theology. And it’s kinda neat watching it during the Halloween season.
Loving | Pumpkin Spice
> One of the things that I love about Halloween is pumpkin spice everything. I’ve always loved pumpkin and now that retailers offer limited edition pumpkin spice flavors, I’m in heaven. Besides grabbing a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks, I try to catch pumpkintopia at our local Trader Joe’s. Their pumpkin bisque is wonderful!
Remembering | Trick-or-Treating
> We’ve made the difficult decision not to participate in Halloween this year. Oh sure, we’re decorating the house for ourselves and indulging in all things pumpkin spice, but we’re not handing out candies. As much as we love seeing kids in costumes, we agree with the Centers for Disease Control that finding an alternative to Halloween might be the best thing to do this year.
Feeling | Cautious
> We’re starting to hear more people in the science community talk about learning to “live with” COVID-19 – not in terms of contracting the virus, but in being able to carve out some sense of a new normal. Keith and I are still being cautious, but we did venture out recently and went to the Apple Store. It was our first trip to a non-grocery store since February. They did a great job. Took our temperature, everyone wore masks, and practiced distancing. We were cautious and comfortable.
Reading | Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump
> There are lots of books out there right now about the current President. Almost too many. Being a politics and news junkie, I decided that I would read only one. So, I chose “Compromised” by former FBI Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok. The book is very interesting, but I do feel the title is a bit misleading. To me, the book spends more time talking about how the FBI works and the nuances of counterintelligence than really the current political environment. While the book isn’t what I expected, I am finding it insightful.
Planning | My Vote
> My parents always told me about the importance of voting, but it wasn’t until I met someone from South Africa that it really hit home. Every election cycle, she would get the word out about registering to vote and participating in the process. Why? Because she knew what it was like to have her vote taken away. It’s not too late to make your plan. The next election is November 3, 2020 – three days after Halloween.
Working On | Computer backups
> We all know that backing up our devices is important. What’s equally important is cleaning out those old backups every once in a while. LOL! We’re making sure that we delete those old files so we don’t max out storage…and end up spending more on storage plans than we need to.
Geeking | BYGGLEK storage
> IKEA and LEGO have teamed up to provide a storage solution for your LEGOs. The BYGGLEK collection offers different size boxes that you can store LEGOs inside and even create a little LEGO scene on top. A couple of months ago, I purchased the monster sized LEGO pirate ship, and this will be a perfect option to store some of the pieces.
Let us know what you love about the fall season. What’s UP with you?