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Boomers, Seniors, Retirees: Need to Replace Income Lost In Recession? Have You Discovered How to Get “Linked In” to the Social Networking Sites to Assist In Your Job Search?

March 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Employment, Work, Money & Retirement

 Job Search Ahead? LinkedIn Is a New Must Do

Does the Recession Find You with a Decimated 401(K), Your Savings Tanked and – Worse – Forced to Look for Work?

If so, you’re not alone. That’s what happened to one of my daughter’s co-workers, a guy we’ll call “Ron.”  Perhaps you’ve known someone like Ron, or had a “Ron” at your office, too. If so, he’d be the guy who’s famous for taking penny-pinching to the “nth degree.”

According to my daughter, Ron scrimped and saved his whole life, building up a huge stock portfolio – with the intent of leaving his former college and several charities major endowments on his death.

She tells me Ron was the epitome of financial prudence. While she’s no slouch when it comes to being economical, she says this guy could one-up anyone when it came to scrimping and saving.

For example, he:

  • Rode a bicycle to work
  • Always ate lunch at his desk – PB&J’s and an apple – every day
  • Never went out for after work drinks with co-workers or ate dinner at nice restaurants

Beyond that, Ron:

  • Lived in a tiny house he inherited from his grandmother
  • Spent his vacations doing home improvement projects
  • Mowed his own lawn, and used a push mower to boot. (“Good exercise and saves the environment,” Ron said.)
  • Never bought clothes unless he had to — and only then on sale
  • Didn’t have a TV, so no pricey cable bill, either
  • Read a lot of books, but never bought them. He was a great patron of his local library
  • Excelled at coupon-clipping…

Yes, Ron was well-paid, and he was a saver. He had big plans for his nest egg, too.  But there’s a sad ending to his story:

  • In order to get the most return for his money, it seems Ron invested all of his personal savings into the stock market
  • And lost it all this past year
  • The mental distress these losses caused him was so great Ron began verbally abusing his co-workers
  • And eventually became so disruptive his supervisors dismissed him
  • To add insult to injury, the firm’s 401(K) hasn’t performed well recently. So Ron doesn’t have much to show there either, due to the timing of his separation from the company. He’s pretty much left to rely on his Social Security and whatever severance pay he might have received.
  • The only ray of hope I see is that knowing how scrappy Ron is, I am hopeful he can get back on his feet again soon…

Wow! What a tale of woe. Hopefully, your personal losses aren’t as huge as Ron’s.

But regardless, you know that because of this economic downturn, many Boomers, seniors and retirees suddenly find themselves  faced with an unanticipated need for funds. Unless you feel up to starting your own business, this means you need to figure out how to return to the workforce…

It’s time for a job search. And though that may be daunting, especially given your concerns over ageism, the good news is that we’ll end this post by discussing some new social networking tools that are guaranteed to help you succeed. Which is a really good thing. After all, you’re concerned that:

  • You’re searching for work during a time when global unemployment is on the rise
  • You’re up against gigantic odds – especially if you’re factoring in any potential for age discrimination and technological shortcomings
  • Not to mention your concerns over generational conflict in the workplace. (You know, hostility you may face because younger workers believe that older workers who refuse to retire are grabbing jobs that should have gone to them – or even to new college grads…)

Don’t Despair. There Is Some Good News. First Off, Boomers and Seniors Actually Have Some Support in the Human Resources Department

Based on experience, HR people – whose job is to make the best hiring decisions possible – know that workers in the plus-50 age range are:

  • Generally more conscientious and harder working than younger workers
  • Less likely to take sick leave; even more unlikely to require maternity leave
  • Usually more perceptive, emotionally stable and motivated
  • Just as capable of learning (which means that a bit of training will negate any concerns related to technological challenges)
  • More capable of evaluating decisions, due to experience
  • Much less prone to making rash/”off-the-cuff” decisions which have to be overturned later
  • Often willing to sacrifice earnings in favor of a pleasant work environment and/or the gratification that comes from making the world a better/safer/kinder place
  • Steady workers, not overly interested in climbing the career ladder at this point in their lives

Secondly, There Are Some Bright Spots On the Job Search Horizon

Steve Pogorzelsko, former president of Monster North America, the company which runs the employment site Monster.com, says the country is already experiencing a shortage of workers in some areas. Particularly:

  • Health-care workers
  • Car mechanics
  • Accountants
  • Auditors

So if your talents fall into those areas, you’re much more likely to find organizations anxiously looking to hire you.

Beyond that, if you’re reading this in the United States, President Obama’s Stimulus Plan is also about to start generating jobs. Monster.com has just published a useful job search list for those positions. Apparently, in addition to jobs in construction and the trades, there will be jobs created in dozens of other fields, including:

  • Finance
  • Energy
  • Engineering
  • And even in “softer” areas, like travel, tourism and hospitality…

Third, You Can’t Ignore the Generational Tension Created By the Tug-of-War Over Who Gets Today’s Jobs – But You Might Be Able to Use It to Your Advantage

Ellen Goodman, columnist for The Boston Globe just wrote a very interesting piece on generational conflict and how the recession is sending mixed messages to older Americans seeking employment. Her piece begins:

“Let me see if I have this right:

Older Americans ought to keep working in order to lighten the burden of Social Security and assorted benefits on younger generations.

Older Americans ought to retire in order to make room for younger generations with their noses pressed to the closed window of the job market...”

A few paragraphs later she says:

“… But if the downturn comes with the seeds of generational conflict over jobs, it also carries packets of social change. There is a chance for the boomer generation to make a virtue – or a revolution – out of the necessity of working longer.

We already know that a growing corps of people in their 50s and 60s are more interested in renewal than retirement. Marc Freedman of Civic Ventures talks about “encore careers” for those who want to leave their midlife jobs and move into work with social value.

Now, he says hopefully, “The one benefit of this economic crisis is to drive home the reality that longer working lives are going to be necessary and desirable. If we can give people a sense that contributing longer is not another set of years at the grindstone but an opportunity to do something they can feel proud of, we’ll have accomplished something significant…”

Speaking of Social Change, Renewal – And Working Toward Significant Accomplishment: Why Not Start Using Some of the New Social Networking Tools to Enhance Your Reach, Increase the Opportunity for Job Search Success?

Of course you already know to use traditional social networking.

It’s as natural to you as breathing, right? As soon as you decided it was time to pull out your resume and start updating it, you no doubt started your networking campaign, letting your contacts know that you’re looking for work, so that they can assist you with your search.  That network includes your:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Former employers
  • Former co-workers
  • Former classmates

But Did You Know That You Can Reach a Lot More of Your Resources – Faster – Using the Outreach Techniques Offered By Some of the New Social Network Websites?

Currently, the three best job search-related resources are Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn. Additionally, you can create a blog, and blog about your expertise and things you feel passionate about. This will also lead you to previously unanticipated income opportunities.

So let’s talk a bit about those three sites:  If you haven’t previously used them, don’t hesitate to jump online and take a look. As you get to know and understand  them, you’ll see that while they’re similar in some ways, each has each has a unique role to play in your job search efforts.

Though they are all focused on social networking, it might help you to think of them in terms of your more traditional social networking experiences. You know, sort of like this:

  • Twitter = A connection you make at a cocktail party.
  • FaceBook = A conversation you have in the hallway at work. Potentially a casual connection, but still potent…
  • LinkedIn = A traditional business meeting. When you’re using LinkedIn, you’ll want to (figuratively) wear your best suit, carry your business cards – and shine your shoes.

Got it? Then let’s talk some more about how you can use LinkedIn:

You Need to Use LinkedIn As Your Professional Networking Site, Where You’ll Post Your Work Experience, and Start Connecting with People Professionally.

Currently LinkedIn.com boasts over 35 million professional users and focuses on a business demographic. It operates with three levels of separation. You can connect to people you know directly, as well as people you might be able to connect with on a secondary and tertiary level.

You can also connect your blog to it, once you’ve got one set up, and send your tweets there, too. (Tweets are the comments you make from your Twitter account.)

Once You set up your LinkedIn connections you’ll suddenly find yourself connected to millions of people. As for current users of LinkedIn, here’s the demographics:

  • Average Age – 41
  • Average Years of Experience – 15
  • Average Household Income – $109,000
  • 46% of its users are Decision Makers
  • Includes profiles of executives from all of the Fortune 500 firms

After you’ve  joined and set up your profile, dig into the LinkedIn platform to find and join “groups” of people with common interests or backgrounds.

It’s easy to find existing groups. Here’s how:

  • First, log in to your LinkedIn account
  • Next look for and click on “Groups” in the left hand navigation bar
  • When you do that, you’ll see a new screen, where  “Groups Directory” and “Create a Group” options show up in a box in the upper right hand corner.

If you click on “Groups Directory, ” you can do a comprehensive search for existing LinkedIn groups related your current affiliations, including:

  • Your Alma Mater –  For example, mine – the University of Wisconsin-Madison – has an alumni group which I joined. So do Cornell, U of Michigan, Northwestern, CalTech, UCLA, UC-Berkeley, etc. Likely your school does too, as there are thousands of college alumni groups listed. If you school is not there, you can start one by clicking on the “Create a Group” tab.
  • National or Local Civic Groups –  I joined a group of Chi Omega Alumni, my national collegiate social fraternity.
  • Non-profits or Charity groups There are literally hundreds of groups here, including Christian Professionals, World Wildlife Fund, Ubuntu Users, American Heart Association, YMCA. No doubt one you’re affiliated with already exists and is happy to network with you…
  • Professional Organizations – There are over 62,000 professional organizations represented in LinkedIn. Everything from Automotive Aftermarket to Republican Professionals, to the World Tourism Network. As a marketing and PR professional , I joined the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) Counselor’s Academy group.
  • “Employer Alumni” Groups – These are active groups of former employees interested in networking, and there are thousnds of them listed. I found HP Alumni, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel IT Dept alums, and something like 64 different flavors of AT&T/Bell Labs alums. Not to mention GE, IBM, Oracle. It’s a long list…
  • Special Interest Groups – I joined Baby Boomer Marketing Group, Marketing & PR Innovators, ProMarketers, and Relationship Marketing 101. What are your special interests?
  • Groups for Your Ideal Target Market – I found Encore Entrepreneurs, Boomer Nation…
  • Conference Groups – If you ever attended a major conference, like TED, Black Hat Briefings, Dallas TechFest or Defcon, you’ll be delighted to know there are over 4,000 LinkedIn groups related to conference attendees.

Being a group member allows you to see other group members and to reach out and build relationships. It’s sort of like your local Rotary Club on steroids…

No doubt you’ll want to search for groups for your areas of professional expertise, as well as within the areas where your best referral sources participate. Not to mention groups related to the sources of your best clients.

There’s More to Successfully Marketing Your Skills Via LinkedIn, Of Course:

For example, you can do some advanced searching in the “People” tab at the top of every LinkedIn. It allows you to find like-minded people and see where they are affiliated – both online and offline.  This means that you can discover what groups your connections belong to and “Join” them as well.  Which is a great way to position yourself as an expert in the appropriate communities. Something you want to do when your in job hunting mode. It allows you to showcase your expertise, becoming the  “Go To” professional in those groups.

If your curiosity is piqued and you want to know even more about how to leverage LinkedIn here are a handful of recommended books, all handily available at Amazon.com, which will help you better use LinkedIn to succeed in your job search:

In closing, if you’d like to take a look at my LinkedIn account as an example of how to set yours up, go to Anne’s LinkedIn page.

And if you’d like to connect there, just send me an invitation, noting that “BoomerLifestyle” is how we know each other.

Finally, if you’re still feeling mystified by social networking, but would like some coaching on how to use it, drop me an email, giving your name, email address, phone number, particular challenge, and best time to call. I promise to get right back to you so we can discuss how I can best help you.

Got the Latest Lingo Down? Raise Your Hand If You Know What This Question Means: “Are You a Cougar Who’s Craigslisting Because You’re About to Become A Co-Ho?”

October 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Living, Relationships & Family

Want Bigger House and Companionship? Consider Co-Ho: Buying With a Friend

“Whatchutalkinabout!” Where Did You Come Up With Those Strange Words?

Don’t worry, there’s no need to run for a bar of soap to wash out your friend’s mouth when you hear words like:

Likewise, when you see or hear these odd-looking words, there’s no need to furrow your forehead in confusion, as did the young Gary Coleman in that classic 70s sitcom, “Diff’rent Strokes.” (Remember, he became famous for his “straight man” line repeatedly delivered to his older brother, Whatchutalkinbout Willis?

Instead, we have one simple (known) word for you, “relax.” Help for understanding these odd words – most generated as a result of new technology – is here…

No Need to Send Out For a Fresh Supply of Botox to Smooth Your Wrinkled Brow!

Of course, you know your challenges with strangely-used words happen because English is a living language, and that means that new words – or new usages for terms you know – evolve regularly.  Sometimes the liveliness of the language also means Boomers end up feeling out of touch. 

For example, perhaps you know that a “cougar” is an attractive older woman who dates younger men, and you can guess that the reference to “Craigslisting” means attempting to sell your personal possessions on the popular, geographically-oriented classified advertising website.

But the usage of “co-ho” may have you stumped. Nothing “fishy” about it, by the way, but that’ll be explained in a second…

Meanwhile, Perhaps You’ve Also Run Into Other New Terms Under Situations Like These:

  • A friend commented that since you’ve been spending so much time hanging out in theblogosphere,” you might know why he’d received an email request from a peer suggesting that he “friend” him
  • Or,  you’ve been puzzled hearing people blithely discuss the relative merits of “Digging” a web site versus “Stumbling” it
  • Maybe you decided to nod knowingly and act like you understood what was being discussed when a your niece told you that her “bff” had just “twitted” her with a link to a fantastic new “mash up”
  • Then again, perhaps your “Huh? What’s That? Meter” blinked when you heard a recent Tonight show guest tell Leno how much her husband likes her “tramp stamp while another guest spoke knowingly about being all “tatted out

If all of these terms have your head spinning, the good news is that you can check out the definition of “co-ho” and all the other new terms mentioned right here, in our helpful glossary.

OK, Now That You Know That the “Co-Ho” in The Headline Refers to the Relatively New Concept of “Communal Home-ownership,” and Has Nothing to Do With Migrating Salmon… Let’s Talk About It In More Detail 

Perhaps you’ve already started to consider the merits of a decision  to “go the co-ho route,” and “craigslist” your extra furniture…

Let’s take a look at longer look at the concept than we’d done with the other new words, as this is a significant phenomenon which may grow to trend-like proportions. And, though similar, it is distinctly different than the concept of co-housing, which you may have heard of, as it’s often associated with the creation of neighborhoods where people can safely “age-in-place.”

A Co-Ho Arrangement Is Different Than A Co-housing Agreement

Co-housing is a concept that originated in Denmark in the 1960s.

It’s sort of like getting all your friends together to live in separate units of one apartment building, similar to the arrangement on TV show, “Friends” except that you’d more likely all be living in your own homes on the same block. 

The goal of co-housing’s members is to intentionally create a community where residents are consciously committed to living together as a (planned) community. In other words, in a co-housing arrangement:

  • The members actively participate in the design and operation of their neighborhood, which is designed primarily to encourage social interaction and often the overall goal, as mentioned above, is to facilitate “aging-in-place”
  • Social interaction is key. Think of it as a return to the days of your childhood, when people knew and were close to their neighbors
  • In co-housing communities, the physical design is meant to encourage both social contact and individual space
  • Private homes contain all the features of conventional homes, but residents share extensive common facilities such as open space, courtyards, a playground and a common building or social hall 
  • The common building usually features a large kitchen and dining area as well as a living area and game area
  • Often, residents attend a number of group meals per week, and community events are regularly planned
  • The housing itself is usually clustered with parking on the perimeter and walking paths designed to encourage interaction in the middle
  • It is designed to create many opportunities for casual meetings between neighbors, as well as for deliberate gatherings such as celebrations, clubs and business meetings

On the Other Hand, the “Co-Ho” Arrangement is Much More Unique, Individual and Small Scale. Much Less of a Planned Community Than it is a Personal Conract Between Two – Or Rarely as Many as Three or Four – People.

  • For a quick dose of clarity,  you can check out the recent TIME magazine story entitled “Should You Become a Co-Ho?” (You probably overlooked that story when it first came out… that’s when you still associated the term “co-ho” with the spectacular west coast sport fish…right?)
  • “Co-hos” are people who have made the decision to live together in a relationship which is more permanent than if they were merely roommates, but does not incorporate any romantic involvement.
  • Think in terms of the movie “The Odd Couple,” or maybe the TV show “Will and Grace,” – though neither of those scenarios dealt with the residential ownership issue.  

The co-ho arrangement – friends co-owning houses – though first adopted by 20-somethings who were looking to be able to afford a larger house, really makes sense for Baby Boomers.

Co-owning Homes Makes Sense for Boomers, Since Almost One-Third of all Boomers Are Single, or Spouseless

In Case You’re Wondering, That’s Some 25 Million Single Boomers Who Aren’t Likely to Marry, With the Breakdown Working Out Like This:

  • 12 percent never married, about twice the percentage of the previous generation
  • 16 percent are divorced or separated
  • 4 percent are widowed

Beyond That, As the News Media – or Your Parents – Like to Remind Boomer Women:

  • Women over 40 have a far harder time finding mates than men
  • Boomer males – those who don’t live in cardboard houses or under the highway overpass – remarry at higher rates
  • Men die sooner, which means the pool of available – and desirable spouses – is smaller for women
  • So unless you’re a Boomer woman who still subscribes to that 70s-era women power manta – “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” – the sad fact is many Boomer women find themselves living alone, spouseless and childless

Bottom Line: Due to Scattered Family and Sheer Numbers, Many Boomers – Men and Women – Will Need to Find a Way to Create Their Own Support Systems as They Grow Older: Living in a Traditional Family Unit – With Spouse, Children or Even Siblings – Just Isn’t Possible 

Which makes the concept of living with friends a lot more palatable than living alone, without a built-in support system.

You can read an example of Boomer women “going co-ho,” in this story from The Richmond (Virginia) Times. 

Here, the partners are longtime friends and empty-nesters: Susan Grady, 68 and Sharon McAbee, 52.  Both work full-time. Grady is a human-resources generalist with Virginia Blood Services, while McAbee is self-employed.

Before they decided to buy a home together, they’d been close friends for 30 years. In fact, Grady is godmother to McAbee’s daughter, a college senior: 

  • They had spent many years talking on the phone week after week, lamenting their loneliness
  • “Finally, we said, ‘We’re so stupid,’” Grady recalled
  • Even so, their decision to join forces and stop living alone wasn’t undertaken without care

Getting Their Arrangement Underway Wasn’t Done Quickly, They Took Time and Due Diligence

The friends say it took them a year to find the perfect house — but they’re delighted with their spacious home on a golf course.

To assure their individual needs were protected, they ironed out the legal details with an attorney, got a mortgage together, and have been more than satisfied with the results since moving more than a year ago.

The two share cooking duties and other household chores. They live with three dogs and a one-eyed cat in a five-bedroom, 3,800-square-foot house that provides plenty of space for privacy and for welcoming visiting children, mothers and other relatives. They even hosted both of their extended families last Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  • “We’ve been really happy here,” said Grady, a mother, grandmother and widow 
  • McAbee, a divorcee , had been renting a home since her divorce but liked the idea of “paying into something I’m going to get equity out of.”
  • The both agree that it’s been a great decision: “We like the location, we like the house, and our neighbors are great.”

A Way for Empty Nesters to Fight Off Loneliness…

Ben Winters, their Realtor, notes that for older homebuyers, the advantages of co-owning a home are largely financial – shared expenses and home maintenance, more buying power – but it also can help stave off loneliness for those living alone.

  • “The other thing is companionship,” said McAbee, “When my daughter went to college, I was miserable.”
  • Said Grady, “It’s nice to have someone to cook for.”

Apparently Grady and McAbee are still working on merging their furniture, so maybe someone ought to tell them about the power of Craigslisting the surplus