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Welcome to The JoyPowered Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing joy in the workplace. I’m Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting. With me is my cohost and good friend JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm. A Wall Street Journal article on November 18, 2019, was entitled “For Older Workers, Age is a Big Secret.” In this particular article, they cited an Urban Institute study that reported that 56% of US workers who are age 50 or older are pushed out of jobs before they plan to retire, and only 1 in 10 of them will ever find new work that earns as much as the job they are forced out of.
I’m not surprised about the first statistic, but I am surprised at the second one.
Yeah, it’s it’s a shame because in your 50s, I think historically, you think that’s probably your biggest earning years. It may not always be with people continuing the workforce, but to get pushed out of a job at that age, it’s hard to go out and equal that. I do think that’s probably true.
The article interviewed several people who have worked hard to hide their age at work for fear of being written off as old, or no longer relevant, or worth investing in. I do know this, I have to tell you, when I was working in corporate America, I kept coloring my hair until the day I was done there. And then I let myself go gray because I was doing whatever I could not to appear, you know, as a mid 50 year old at that time.
Yeah. Well, and certainly we advise people all the time not to put their college graduation dates on their resume or on LinkedIn or start their resumes with their very first career so that people couldn’t sort of back in or think they could figure out how old people are.
Which I think is a good thing to do. I don’t think you want to lead with your age. You shouldn’t be embarrassed about it, right? Because you bring a world of worth, but The fact is if there’s someone who has an unconscious bias about age or investing in somebody, wondering how long you’re going to stay, let’s not make it easy for him.
Well, this episode today is not about living in fear of your age holding you back. We decided to go out and find a few people who have actually reinvented themselves with the pursuit and achievement of a new career, you know, closer to the age of 50 or older.
And we’re going to call this their encore career.
Yeah, I love it. I’m excited about this.
Our first guest today is Ann Bolt, a college advisor at Carmel High School. Ann has an interesting background, not only today, she’s a member of the National Association of College Admission Counselors and the Indiana Association of College Admission Counselors. But prior to being a college advisor, she was a stay at home mom for 12 years, and what’s really interesting, even before that, she had worked as a genetic counselor for 13 years at Albany Medical Center, the IU School of Medicine Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, and at St. Vincent Hospital’s Family Life Center. Ann, that is such an interesting background.
Yeah, we’re so glad to have you here today.
It’s nice to be here.
Would you mind telling us a little bit about your first career as a genetic counselor? You know, what was your education? What prepared you for that?
Yes, actually, I had an undergraduate degree from Illinois Wesleyan with biology. And at that point, I was thinking I was pre med and then discovered the career of genetic counseling as a senior. And it just totally resonated with me, it was my way to be able to still be in the medical field, but also use my interpersonal communication skills. I definitely needed to be in a people type of career where I was going to be able to interact with them. And then I went on for my Master’s, it is a Master’s degree level career. And at that point, they’re only about eight programs in the United States. And I was fortunate to get in and went to University of Pittsburgh, so I had a class of 10.
A two year program, and just loved it, and then was launched from there to go to New York. And actually where my mom was from that was just full circle. That’s reason I ended up in Albany, New York.
Yeah. And then I know you stayed home with your kids for a while, is that what sort of stopped your career at that time was having kids?
Yes. I mean, it was my choice. I had people very willing to work with me, and I was working part time when I did eventually leave. We adopted a daughter from China, and I was limited in terms of my time with her and it really just became a priority of being home with her at that time. I loved my career. It was very difficult at that point, but we just decided it was better and important for me to be home with my girls.
Yeah. So then when you started thinking about returning back to outside employment, walk us through your thought process about not going back into genetic counseling.
Well, it’s funny because I always thought I was going to go back into genetic counseling and the thought isn’t still completely left my brain, to tell you the truth.
I was offered jobs, and people want it to bring me back on, and they were willing to let me do it part time, and knowing myself, I never do anything part time. So, my concern was doing it full time, but getting paid part time or if I was paid full time, my life balance would not have been there. So, I put that on hold. When my oldest daughter’s a senior, I thought, you know, I’m going to do something a little to earn a little money, keep myself busy. On top of everything else, I was doing a lot of volunteer effort ops, things I were doing PTO, and Girl Scouts, etc. And I went online to say, oh, I’ll see if I can substitute teach for a little bit. And I saw the posting for a college advisor. And as silly as this may sound, I really almost heard angel singing and the light streaming onto my screen. And I literally said this is my job.
Wow, I wish it worked for all of us. It would be so much easier, wouldn’t it?
The angel singing!
Yes, it really was. And it was perfect because it actually was able to use my skills. And I know I got my foot in the door because I had a counseling degree even though it wasn’t college counseling. There were 125 people I found out that applied for the job but myself, I think with my degree, also being very active at the PTO, they already knew me. And I was also very, very much my own advocate. I went up to the chair of the counseling department and I shook her hand very enthusiastically and I said, I’m Ann Bolt, I want this job. And so it really is kind of ‘the rest is history.’ Love my job now as a college advisor, love working with young people and their parents, and I am definitely doing counseling and utilizing my skills. It was a whole new world to learn, new acronyms, a lot of new things.
Oh, I bet.
But I still now get excited when I talk to people about genetic counseling.
And then I kind of go gosh, am I supposed to go back to genetic counseling?
I’m waiting for the angels to start singing.
So, my youngest is a senior. But right now my plan is to continue doing this. I went and got continued education through the University of California, Irvine, because I’m all about credentials and credibility. And working at Carmel High School eight years has also given that to me, but I do love both careers. So I feel very blessed. It was really more that this fell in my lap.
Oh, that’s marvelous. Well, I’ve got to ask? Because I know it’s not polite to ask people about ages, but I think it’s helpful to our listeners, because we’re talking about, you know, reinventing ourselves.
And thinking about what we want to do in our encore career, or our encore encore career. Do you mind sharing? How old were you when you decided to go back into the world of work and decided to go do counseling?
That means I have to do math here…
Okay. Fair enough.
No, no. I was, I guess I was 48 when I went back. Well, just as a part time, college advisor. And I just turned 56. And that’s probably my biggest thing when I think about going back into genetic counseling. And I just asked and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I would still grab you in a minute.” Because there’s so few of us, and the world of genetics has exploded. So I wouldn’t necessarily be worried about my age, although maybe that’s very naive of me to say, but I think it’s a very specific niche. But I never felt any age discrimination in terms of me going back as a college advisor.
That’s wonderful. You know, truly what we’re reading is that people are working well into their late 70s, or even some people longer. I was teaching a class at a university, gosh, within the last couple years, and there was somebody on their team that was in their early 90s. People are healthier, I think and people want to keep working. And sometimes people need to keep working. So for a lot of reasons, I think 56, you’re a baby to me.
Well, thank you. I kind of feel that! I don’t feel that age, that number. And that’s the other thing. I think I have so much experience and wisdom to impart.
And actually there’s a new program… I’m totally changing from my college advisor here, but there’s some Master’s degree at Manchester University in pharmacogenomics, and that is really very exciting to me. The angels haven’t quite sang, but I feel like they’re starting to, you know, warm up the orchestra a little bit. So, you know. But I do, I love college advising too.
Yeah, I thought one thing you just mentioned that you thought credentialing was really important to you. Was that encouraged at all by the school or required or you just personally did that on your own?
You meant at Carmel High School? Yeah, that was totally on my own. I just want to make sure I’m doing the best job, always, for whoever I’m working with. And it’s validation, number one, that I knew what I was doing a little bit. Obviously I learned a lot as well networking and learning who else is doing this in the area as well as the country. So that is really important to me. And also because I am a board certified genetic counselor, I took the same exam as the physicians, this was there’s a lot of turmoil with the American Board of Medical Genetics because the geneticists were not recognized as a specialty a while ago by the AMA. The AMA wanted to recognize them, and then they said, “Well, you can’t have any non MD level professionals in the AMA,” if they were going to cover that as the American Board of Medical Specialties. So they, I mean, kind of kicked us out of that board certification. And we understood that part of it. So we formed our own accreditation with the American Board of Genetic Counselors, because it’s such a new profession really, as well. The first class for genetic counselors will establish in ’69. So anyway, I’m board certified by AMABMG and took the same exam as the medical doctors. And also I am a board certified by ABGC. And now we have licensure too.
Well, and I asked that question because I switched careers too, from being an accountant and moving into HR. And that was one of the first things that my HR director at the time recommended that I get certified as an HR professional and I felt that was really important too, to give me more credibility and also more learning too, but also validation. I think that I could learn it, or I could do it. And I think that’s another option for people to think about. Maybe I don’t have to go back and get a Master’s degree or go back and, you know, go back to college. But there’s so many different kinds of certifications out there now that people could consider in a second career.
Ann, what advice do you have for others thinking about an encore career? When they fear starting, you know, starting over, what type of advice would you give?
I think the first step is really just some soul searching in terms of what is your interest, what are your aptitudes? I think they don’t always… sometimes I think people just think of their interests like, what do I like to do? But I think it’s important to get a little deeper, and what are you good at doing? And I think they can also obviously blend and kind of have a partnership. But, I think sometimes people don’t really stop and think, what are they good at? Are they good with numbers? Are they good with organization? Are they good working with people? And I think that when you start figuring that out, you start exploring, you start talking to people, what do they like about their career? What do they not like? I think it’s just gathering information, doing some research. I think that’s key. And I think really that soul searching part though, what do you like? What gets you excited to get up in the morning? And how are you… and I also, in a biblical sense, I feel like there’s a purpose. I think God has given us each a purpose. So I think if you really start thinking of that, what is my purpose here? How does God want.. how does He want to use me? And I think that kind of can give you some answers as well.
I love it. I think it’s really important to what you just said about thinking about what are you good at, but also what do you like? And I always think for me that I think I was good at accounting, believe it or not, I think I was good at it.
I believe it JoDee!
But I didn’t like it. I knew it wasn’t what was empowering me or inspiring me. So I needed something more than that.
Yeah, oh that’s great. Well, Ann, is there anything else that we need to know?
Well, I guess the one thing is I feel like I never want to stop learning. And I really feel like when I go and visit these colleges, I want to go back to school. Literally every school I come back and I’m like “Okay, I want to go to that college.” I mean, I get so giddy, you know, going and visiting these campuses. And so that is exciting for me that I can then share that with the individuals I work with. Or finding and literally seeing their eyes light up when I tell them about a program. I just had a student yesterday I was working with and told her about her Earlham in Richmond, and some of the opportunities, and her eyes literally kept getting more and more excited. And I was like, “oh my gosh.” So, I never want to stop learning, and I have so many interests, I guess I feel very blessed that I have so many interests to choose from and do things. And then when I can make a difference in someone’s life, that’s really very, very important too.
I think your students are very lucky to have you and we were very lucky to have you on the JoyPowered Workspace today.
Well thank you!
Thanks For coming in!
Our next guest is someone really special, JoDee. It’s Bill White, who’s a senior lecturer at IUPUI in a construction management program. Full disclosure, why he’s so special is that Bill is my husband and my hero for figuring out what he wanted to do in life. Really, I think was age 50 Bill, I may be wrong on that, where you decided that you wanted to do an encore career and you busied your figuring it all out.
Yeah, sure. I’ll go with that, sounds right.
Bill, could you tell us briefly the work you did as an architect and project manager before switching careers?
Yeah, so I actually I functioned as an architect, I think about 12 years. And then I migrated into what is now Chase, and I became a project manager, maybe a corporate architect for Chase, and that’s how I got into banking. And there I managed architects and I managed general contractors, and the construction and renovations of various branches. And that kind of morphed into a kind of a project management spin, and by that point I moved into then what eventually became Regions Bank. And my last employer, I believe, was CB Richard Ellis and they managed building the real estate for Regions. So I managed, I did remodels, I did much of the same for Regions as I did it Chase.
So it sounds like you know, you had your architecture degree, you practiced architecture, you went into construction management. Seems very highly related, how that all kind of evolved. Well, what triggered your decision to do a career reboot and stop practicing architecture or actually doing project management in construction?
Yeah, I’ve thought about that. And I realize, Susan probably is aware of this, I would attend these large meetings with my fellow project managers. And I would come away… unbelieving that everybody in the room was so engaged with the topics that we were talking about. And they all thought it was important, and I was thinking, well just tell us what we need to do, and we’ll go away and do it. And so that was that was one of the clues right there and became increasingly disenchanted. I was bored, and I remember having a revelation. Actually, this is a revelation that predates working at Regions, I was actually still functioning as an architect. And I remember thinking, I was driving on my way to a job site. And it just occurred to me. I know I want to be a teacher. But I didn’t move on that for another 10 years.
Oh, interesting. Interesting. And did you have to go back to school or do some other preparation to become a college faculty member and/or did that prevent you from moving forward earlier?
Yeah, so I quit working. I shouldn’t say I was working for Regions. I was working for the contractor that held the account for Regions, strictly full disclosure there, but I decided, yes, absolutely. I quit. And I worked for myself for a while. And that was as an architect and it was really tiny jobs. I mean, we’re talking bathroom remodel.
Very glamorous. Yeah.
Yeah is really just unsatisfying. And I was sort of lost and I found I want I didn’t want to be a teacher. My kids at the time were just in high school and we believe that they just left and gone to college. And I was trying to decide whether I wanted to be with like a teacher college or high school and high school, actually, I remember looking at the program at Earlham, where I could have gone back to school and got my Master’s, but my kids, fresh out of high school said “Dad, you don’t want to teach high school.”
We know you, and it’s not gonna work.
Yeah, and so anyway, to teach college I needed at least a master’s. So I was able to go and get my master’s at the Purdue School of Engineering Technology IUPUI downtown, and it just so happened, I was actually then… I was teaching as an adjunct. They needed someone to fill in and because of my architectural and my construction background, I was able to fill in and meanwhile also take my classes to get my master’s, and that was the minimum entry level to get into teaching college. I didn’t need to go through an exhaustive… get my license, or anything like that, or go through all that challenge to become a secondary teacher or primary teacher.
Yeah, that’s great. So now you’ve been teaching for how long?
Yeah, I’m thinking I might be starting my 12th year here this fall.
Wow. It’s been a successful encore career. That’s wonderful.
It’s been my longest gig in my life, actually. Yeah.
Bill, do you wish you had made the move earlier?
Boy, yeah, probably. Actually, I remember when I was in college, actually I kind of have a history of switching don’t I, Susan?
Not wives. Thank you, Bill. You’re not switching wives.
No, not doing that. But my senior year at IU, I’d studied journalism. My degrees are journalism and sociology. My senior year at IU, I decided that I know what… I had a revelation. I know what I want to do, I want to be an architect. So after that I went to Ball State for five years. So I just, I never worked as a journalist, a photo journalist. And so I went to Ball State for five years. And as Susan will remind me that, you know, “gosh, nine years of education, I think you probably could have been a doctor.” Instead, I was an architect, which I worked at as an architect. So getting back to your question, you know, what I always love? As more I spent in college in education, the more I recognize, I really enjoyed college campuses. And I really love the environment. And it’s just a real positive and as a fundamental, I remember going down to IU Bloomington the first time ever thinking “this is paradise down here,” and that’s when I was in high school. So I think it’s kind of connecting the dots. It kind of makes sense, but not when I was in the middle of it.
Yeah, that’s great. Yeah. So Bill, what advice would you give a listener who’s contemplating changing directions or mapping out an encore career for themselves? What advice do you have?
Yeah, I was thinking about that. And I think I’ve been so blessed and so lucky. The job became available and it’s a job it’s an Indianapolis, and I didn’t have to move, I didn’t have to do any relocation. So what can you do? You know, I tell my students this, I tell them, “okay, don’t close your mind off to any possibility.” And you know what? The career I’m doing right now, is that the end all, be all for what I should be doing in this universe? I think there’s probably lots of things for lots of people. Right? And and but this one is working for me, and I have a genuine engagement in it and my skin is in the game. My skin was not in the game when I was functioning as a project. Manager wondering why are all these people in this meeting?
Unknown Speaker 22:03
Why do they find it interesting?
Yeah, why do they find this topic interesting? And okay, so how do you do this? So, look at what you want to do, and then figure out what the credentials are. So I did look and see Well, okay, in order to teach college a master’s is appropriate. And, you know, I was not adverse to continuing my education and gosh I wish I had… at the time when I was graduating from IU, I thought, are you kidding me going two more years for master’s in something else? That’s crazy. But now, boy, I don’t know. I think I might have gotten more of the academic route straight out of my first college degree. But okay, so how would I advise? Keep your eyes open, you know, what? If there’s a constant dissonance that you’re experiencing with what you’re doing, and you’re not happy, you need to make that change. Now I was really fortunate because I was not the sole breadwinner. Thank you, Susan. So I could make this change without causing financial ruin. And so that was really blessed and really lucky for that. But you know, so that, you know, students are asking me how they can change careers, you got to worry about that. And it’s, it’s a bigger challenge. But you know what it’s worth it. I can tell you that it’s worth it. I can tell the people who are wanting to consider this. It’s worth it. And yeah, you know what IUPUI, we have lots of students that are starting over. So you know what, they’re near and dear to my heart. So I’ve got students who are right out of high school, and I’ve got students who are in their mid 20s. And even, you know, 30s and they feel a little out of place. I say, “don’t worry about it.” Okay. And I really encourage once a year, it’s okay, and you’ve got a long career in front of you and man, gotta do something that you get your skin in the game, you enjoy it.
Great, well, thank you so much for sharing your story. That’s great advice to others.
Well, I hope so, I hope it can be a little help.
Thanks so much for joining us.
Thanks Bill, see you soon.
See you soon indeed. All right.
An article by Kate Lopaze at thejobnetwork.com offered some factors to consider if you are thinking about changing careers after the age of 50. Why don’t we go through those JoDee?
Yeah, her first question was, are you prepared to move backwards? So as your statistic that you mentioned earlier said, you might have to… you might not be making as much money, so you might take a step back in salary or benefits certainly might you might have accrued a lot of vacation at that point in your life and then starting over might be going back to two weeks off or, or seniority and again, the vacation time.
All right. So it really I think you have to be realistic, right? Yeah. Number two, she said was : what experience do you have? And how can I make it attractive to decision makers in a different field?
Yeah, yeah. I think it can be important, maybe to find that bridge or those connecting points, even if it doesn’t seem, you know, people ask me all the time, how did I possibly get from being an accountant, from being an accountant to becoming an HR professional, but remembering I was still in the same industry, right? So that was a good connection point for me had I gone out and put myself on the market trying to find an HR position.
You became the HR director of the firm that you were an accountant at, makes sense.
Right, so I had the industry, so I didn’t, I didn’t have to start that part over for me I was able to transition, and my selling point to them was that I understood the business of public accountants, right? Number three is what are your soft skills? And how can those translate to what is needed in an entirely new role? Those might be things like just do you have exceptional communication skills or leadership skills or management skills, time management skills, delegation, whatever it is, you do well, and again, how can you connect those particular skills to the new role, even if the role itself might seem totally different,
I think the soft skill that is really useful to mention, if your experience doesn’t align at all with what they need you to do, I think the fact that, if you’re a quick learner I think demonstrating things that you had to learn very quickly without any background will hopefully help that individual realize, “okay, maybe she hasn’t done XYZ, but boy, she taught herself ABC.”
So that could be helpful. The fourth question you should be thinking about, according to Kate Lopaze is, what education would you need? And how much of yourself and your money are you willing to invest in it?
Our guest speakers so far have told us that the both of them went back to get more education, and that that may not always be necessary, but you know, what it? It is an investment in yourself and for the purpose or the encore career that you want to have, it just may make sense.
Yeah. Yeah. Number five, what is your retirement plan? And will your ability to retire when you want be effective by changing careers later in life? Important question.
It goes back to being realistic that if you’re going to do this, recognize that there could be some cost to it. But honestly, it’s probably worth it if it’s what you really want to do.
Yeah. Well, and you know, possibly if you’re considering a new career that maybe will allow you to continue it on into retirement, right?
Maybe your retirement looks differently than you thought it might, but it might be a way of allowing you to slow down or be more flexible for example.
Yeah. Our third guest today is Peggy Hogan. Peggy is our recurring career coach guest and is the manager of career transitions at Purple Ink. Welcome back, Peggy.
Thank you for having me.
We’d love for you to share some examples of individuals that maybe you have worked with or people in different types of industries you think would be helpful to our listeners who have successfully carved out an encore career after the age of 50?
Sure, I think a couple examples come to mind. I worked with someone who had been a journalist early in her career, stayed home with her kids and then decided that she wanted to go into marketing and actually started as an intern with a small marketing company.
Oh, that takes a lot of courage. Yeah.
Oh, I love it.
I think teachers we see going both ways, either going into teaching from an industry… I know someone who was actually an inventor who became a high school science teacher, a lawyer who retired and became a high school business teacher. And seems like there’s quite a few nurses who perhaps had a different educational path early in their career, and then they decided to go into nursing and went back to school.
Oh, that’s wonderful,
Nice. And some of those, it seems to me to be easier on the first couple of examples, and I shouldn’t say easy because I’m sure they were difficult transitions. But people your first couple examples likely that people didn’t have to go back to school to do it. The other examples maybe so, certainly nursing, you would have to go back to school and go to education, which I think could be, maybe I don’t know, maybe I’m speaking for myself, a bit daunting to think about going back to college, just going to college alone, and then really changing your skill set for a new career.
Right. And I think the key to that for nursing in particular is there’s high demand and the salaries are pretty good. So you can maybe make that investment if it’s at the right point in your life, and you’ve got the ability to pay for that schooling. I did know someone who had to go back and take the introductory math classes to get into the nursing program, which was quite competitive. And that was daunting, but then she got into it and you know, is enjoying a great career in pediatric nursing.
Yeah, I just love to hear those stories of people who don’t wait too long. It might seem like they waited a long time to just switch careers but yet could still have 20 years, 30 years ahead of them in a new career,
What specific advice do you have for listeners wanting or thinking about having an encore career?
I would say stay current, or get up to speed, if that’s the case for whatever career you’re going to go into. So if you look at even the terminology for that field, that industry. Technology, staying up on whatever that technology might be, it could be the basics such as Microsoft Office, or it might be something specific to the career that you’re pursuing, like CAD, or maybe it’s Adobe Photoshop, it might be coding that you decide to go into, but get up to speed and on technology, it might necessitate taking a class to learn that, or maybe practicing or volunteering for an organization where they might be more willing to kind of let you play around with that software and they might be a little bit more patient, but that gives you some experience that you could then take into a paid opportunity. Read, subscribe to any industry publications, blogs so that you can kind of catch up on that terminology, best practices.
Great advice. Yeah, podcasts, maybe too.
Podcasts are great, sure, definitely. If I was going to switch into HR, I would definitely listen to this podcast.
Thank you, Peggy.
I also would recommend planning financially for the move. If you’re going to go from a lawyer to a teacher, you know, perhaps you’ve already got the money saved for your retirement. Or if you’re going to go from a teacher into a lawyer, you’ve got to think about that investment and the schooling and does that make sense at that point in your career, so you do need to plan financially. Could be a pay cut involved in making a job change. Network with people, both connecting on LinkedIn or anyone who’s in that field. Certainly think about your strengths, personal branding, too, which I think we’ve talked a little bit about ageism, but I can go into that in a little bit more detail. If now would be the time for that.
I’d love to hear about it.
Okay. For personal branding, ageism is a real thing, I believe, but I think it is something that we can combat. So go into the process really thinking and personifying who they would want to hire, but also be authentic to who you really are. So that would be displaying traits like positivity and energy, being open to new ideas, willing to pitch in and be that person who can stay late, get the work done, willing to learn, displaying health and wellness, because that is something that we sort of attribute to youth – but anyone can be healthy and active and then, again, that sort of being up to date with the terminology and not being afraid of technology are all things that you can do to combat ageism.
Smart. You know, one other thing that kind of builds on what you said is that, sometimes I’ll be working with a client that maybe is in their mid 50s, later 50s, and they are now thinking about this new thing they want to do or new thing they want to be. And they just haven’t really built a network outside of their current industry or current profession. And so really thinking about even if right now you’re listening, you think you know what, I don’t want to make a switch now, but I, maybe down the road, I will try to be as active in your community as you can. Because if you’re going to stay there, just having a wide network of people in all different types of walks of life and businesses and volunteer groups, it’s going to help you, they’re going to help you because you never know when you might need a reference or when they might know somebody who knows somebody who’s in that particular field that you might want to do. So I just I really do think it’s important that wherever you are in your career, think about making sure that You’ve got a network that’s that’s wide, that’s vibrant, that you do things for. Because you never know someday you might, you know, need to tap them in the shoulder get their advice, get their input.
Yeah, I think that’s so important too, and she briefly mentioned it but Ann Bolt, our earlier guest talked about how when she applied to be a high school counselor, 125 people applied for that job. But she had been volunteering at school. And a lot of those people knew her and that was a key to her success and getting that job, even though she didn’t have a background in… she had a background and counseling, but not high school counseling. So I think that’s a great point.
The statistic that I saw on that was that over 80% of people get a job through networking. It may not be that someone told you to go apply for that job, but somewhere along your journey of getting that job, tapping into your network can help put your that finish line.
Sure, I mean, you’re really always interviewing. Whether you’re on the PTO board or you are watching your child’s sporting event, how you behave and how you represent yourself, pople are noticing.
And you’ve got to kind of leverage those relationships. But, I think the number one thing that people still are looking for when they’re hiring is likability. So if you look like a hard worker, they know that you’re professional, you’re kind. You’d be a good coworker, you show up on time. That’s still something that means a lot.
Yeah, I think the best news of all for people exploring a second career to is the job market, right? We have the lowest unemployment rate in 60 years. And so companies, whether appropriate or not, are being forced to consider different types of candidates. And they need to consider older people or people looking for a second career too. So that that’s going to open up many opportunities for people they might not have thought or so available to them before.
Yeah, I think you need to look at, you know, what careers are out there, what jobs are available, like nursing, where there’s a huge demand and look at your amount of investment, and think of what is something that I’m already doing that someone else is going to like. So if you were a teacher, maybe your next step is to be a facilitator in a corporate environment. But it might not be that easy to just all of a sudden become an architect when you’re 60. You know, not to say that you couldn’t become an architect, but you have to be kind of realistic about your educational investment, and the time that you’ve got left too.
And if you’re trying to research jobs, I know we’ve referred people to it before, but I think it’s good to remind people about the Department of Labor’s online tool that can tell you about jobs, the amount of different types of careers there are in the United States, how many openings there are, the average types of pay, the tasks that are performed in that job, and the skills necessary. That is onetonline.org.
Right. And that also points out the outlook for those careers too if it’s a bright outlook or not, too.
So before you spend all that money going back to school, is that a shrinking or an expanding career? So that’s a great, great point. Another great resource for people wanting to find a job over the age of 50 is AARP, who works with employers who are targeting mature workers. If you go out to aarp.org, employers can find resources and job candidates can tap into their job board. I really think it’s worth a look.
Yeah, fantastic. Peggy, how can our listeners reach out to you if they’re interested in pursuing a different career?
They can reach out to me through Purple Ink through our website, or they can email me, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
And that’s Purple Ink with a K.
Right. We do have some assessment tools. We use the Strong Interest Inventory and Clifton Strengths often to help people as they’re determining what an encore career might be. Definitely worked with several people who are about to retire, who want to know what their passions are, and use that data as they, you know, form their path.
Beautiful. Thank you, Peggy.
All right. Well, Peggy, thank you so much for joining us today.
Well, you’re welcome. Thank you and to all those pursuing an encore career, best of luck to you.
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So Susan, you also have had somewhat of an an encore career, tell us about about your journey.
Sure. I had worked in a large corporation for 35 years and I really thought that’s who I was. I was a corporate animal, doing HR, loving it learning, I felt, every day. And then when I was 55 that came to an end. And I thought “gosh, I am 55, I feel like I’ve got a lot of juice left in me. I’m not ready to do nothing.” Although there’s a lot of things I do like not doing. I mean, I do like to read, I like to see movies. So those are really fun things that, you know, I could not do a lot of when I was working full time, but I thought I still want to be active in the world of work. So I decided to start a consulting practice. And I do call it my encore career. For a while I said, “Oh, I’m retired. I’m just dabbling in consulting. And my husband said “anybody who works as hard as you do doing that, that is another career. You are not retired, you’re not allowed to use that word around the house.” So I stopped saying that I was retired. And instead, I really started building a practice primarily through referrals, working with businesses, some for profit, not for profit, a couple government agencies, helping them really figure out HR solutions to all different types of problems and situations. Sometimes in the arena of employee relations, sometimes in the recruiting area, figuring out cradle to grave, do we really attract the kind of talent we want? I’ve done a lot of work on culture, trying to improve workplace culture, that kind of led to getting a chance to do executive coaching, which has really been a fun, new, and exciting thing for me. I also took on a part time, I’d say a super part time, career coaching gig with a couple of really large entities that do this, you know, globally. And that was great experience for me because I learned how to be a career coach from really great institutions, and really learned a lot about technology and tools that are available today to help people get jobs. So that has been very, very fun. And then the other thing in my encore career is I thought… I had done some teaching early in my life, I worked as an adjunct faculty member at a local university, and I also spent a little time during my years in HR in the training area. I thought “wouldn’t it be fun to get to train HR professionals?” And so I reached out to SHRM, to see if they ever hire people like me to train and I got a chance to start doing that, experimenting with it, fell in love with that, and so to this day, I like to say I’ve got three buckets to my encore career. I’m doing HR consulting, for businesses, I’m working with individuals either as a career coach or an executive coach, and I’m getting the chance to actually train HR professionals on a whole whole range of topics. So it’s just been really fun and rewarding and, and now I think, when am I going to retire from retirement like? What’s next? Well, I can’t think of any reason why I’d ever want to stop doing this. So I think I’m going to stick with this one.
Yeah. And unlike us talking earlier to Bill and Ann, they really had pondered this change in career for a while. Yours was somewhat unexpected, or did you ever think you might have a different career?
I never thought I’d have a different career. My job ended. I was being replaced by somebody up in Chicago. And so It was a kind of shocking that “oh my gosh, I am not working for the bank anymore.” So I needed to kind of reinvent myself, they say rewire myself pretty quickly, if I wanted to, you know, continue working, I’d spent little to no time thinking about what’s next. I am going to say it was a little scary is that there was like no barriers to entry. You know, we talked about several of our other guests talked about going back to school, getting credentials, getting your education, when you go into consulting, and I’m sure that if, if I was trying to do genetic counseling or doing something that required licensing would be completely different. But you can just hang your shingle out. That you just blew me away. I could say I was a consultant and voila, I was I thought who in the world’s going to hire me just because I say I’m a consultant? But they have, and they do, and if you are listener that’s hired me before thinking about hiring me, thank you for making my dreams come true. My dreams I didn’t even know I had.
Yeah. Which is interesting, right and people thinking about switching careers that there could be lots of different roles like that maybe that were there is a little barrier to entry as opposed to some of the ones where we talked about where people went back to school, got certifications, got their master’s degree. Peggy talked about going back into education to become a nurse. There’s a trade off there, right? That if you understand the demand, Peggy mentioned understanding the demand for nursing, and how you’re pretty confident that’s going to pay off for you because to invest in going back to school, you know, there’s a reward on the other end of the table where as taking on a career with little barrier to entry might be easy to move into, but yet more competitive and/or more risk. So just some more options to consider. for your own career. Susan, we have a listener question today. And this one came from one of our listeners who completed the podcast evaluation form in order to get SHRM credit for listening to the podcast. They said, “recently, I went through an interview process for an HR position where I was asked to present a case study, a roadmap to a real HR initiative for this employer. I was told that this step was for the finalist round of candidates. I was taken a little aback, actually, since essentially one will be providing this employer with significant solutions to their problems and issues as a prospective employee and hired or not hired on that basis. Isn’t that what consultants are paid to do at huge rates?
Oh boy, well gosh, I hope you got the job. I would tell you that it is more and more common that employers will ask for work samples. And you know, that could be a variety of different types of work samples. It could be somebody who’s going to be in a position where they have to give speeches, or maybe do training. You might be asked as a candidate, if you’re a finalist, to actually do kind of a simulation. In this particular case, it sounds like they were trying to figure out how do you handle different types of HR issues as they arise? I think that is not necessarily that they’re trying to steal steal your ideas, I I like to believe that they’re truly trying to asked you to do something that’s very relevant to what that job is going to require. If you’re an employer thinking about doing it, I would consider it just one of your data points, I would not make that your hire or no hire decision. But I would use it perhaps as one data point. I would make sure that I didn’t take whatever the person gave me, I would not keep it, whatever they presented, I would make sure they took it back home with them. I don’t want anyone to ever think that we asked somebody to do work for us, we didn’t pay them for it, and we kept it and use their ideas. So I do think it’s important to have some protocol around it. If you have a work sample, don’t ask the person to kill themselves doing it, you know, keep it pretty defined. Pretty simple. Maybe if you want them to make a presentation, they’re limited to three slides, if they want to use PowerPoint, or one poster board or whatever, so that the person who may not end up working for you spends a lot of time doing something then has a bad bitter taste in their mouth that after they went all that work, you didn’t hire them, and I’d make sure that they knew you weren’t planning on using their material. Give it back to them, be appreciative of it, and then use it just as one of your data points. JoDee, what about you?
Yeah, I agree. I have to tell you I’m a bit impressed with the company, that they had to go through this kind of process. Now, again, I would agree with Susan, that we shouldn’t be asking for excessive presentations or an excessive amount of work to be done, but if this was a part of the position itself, even just presentation skills, right, I think that good for the employer for asking for some, some real analysis or presentation on it, assuming it’s not too much.
My son recently switched employers and he was talking to a variety of different firms. Almost every single one of them asked him to put together like, what would be your first year plan? Here’s what our issues are, what are some of the things you might do? So I’m hopeful, I always said “make sure, Grady, that they aren’t keeping your material,” so that they’re not solving the problem. But I think you had to go in there and just do it kind of like a story problem. And I think it can help really reflect your skills and abilities.
Yeah. And also sometimes I think it can just reflect your thought process on it too, and what types of process might you go through to solve a solution, regardless of whether your answer is right or not? What was the process that you went through to determine it?
Yeah, well, good luck. So we have In the News, and today we’re going to be talking about an article that Sue Shellenbarger wrote in The Wall Street Journal, October 29, of 2019. And that article was entitled “The Juggle On the Job When a Loved One Dies.” It cited information from the Disability Management Employer Coalition that I found really interesting. 89% of employers now have a bereavement leave policy, which is the highest ever. Historically, employers had a narrow definition of family members whose deaths are eligible for you to take off time. They used to offer probably as few as three days, if they offered it at all, for a funeral. And that was tough. I can remember when a funeral was out of town. Takes you a day to get there, a day, you know, just for services, and a day to get home. It doesn’t really give you time to be that supportive family member you want to be. The good news is the trend with employers is now to be much more generous. Facebook, for example, moved to offering up to four weeks of bereavement in 2017.
Nice. Sheryl Sandberg, you know from Facebook has been a real advocate for this leave, so I’m not surprised that they were one of the leaders and increasing their time off.
Yeah, that is terrific. Airbnb and MasterCard have increased their maximum to 20 days. And many other employers agents to attract, retain and engage employees are now looking at active How generous their bereavement leaves are. Maybe it’s a good time for all of us to take a look at ours.
Yeah, good advice.
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