Where in the heck are my keys?

May 4, 2015

Lately the dang things have grown legs and that’s not all.

I tend to wander while I check emails, pay bills while I talk on the phone, and straighten up the office while I meet my deadlines. I text while doing laundry, making dinner, and heating up the shower. I do writing research during otherwise idle time in the loo. (Come on, you know you read in there, too.) I am one of the great multitaskers on the planet. My proficiency at maximizing the amount of junk I get done in any one moment astounds me. I am hot.

But, wait. I walk into a room, and stop in my tracks. I glance around, puzzled. “Why in the heck did I come into this room? What was I looking for? I know there’s a reason I walked in here!” It doesn’t matter for what, or why the room is used. The reason for jaunting in there has simply evaporated, poof, into the ether. My confidence fizzles. Aahhhh, the rise of “senior moments,” forgetfulness, of losing our grasp on daily details. The taking forever for our memory to kick in for recall of significant moments of our lives, and the logical place we stored something.

Our day of reckoning is here with the dreaded realization that we can’t remember “what’s his name’s” name in Apocalypse Now, or the chord progression for “Stairway to Heaven,” or a paragraph we just read in the paper. We’re holding up grocery lines with PINS that have dissipated from our brains between the grocery aisles and the checkout. And don’t get me started about the car keys. Where in the heck are they? So what if I don’t hang them in their rightful place when I walk in the door? So what if I unconsciously drop them on a chair, or leave them in a pocket? How hard could they be to find?

How hard, indeed. The dang things love “hide and seek,” taunting me as I scramble through the house, working up a frenzy to leave. The fact is, this has become a daily routine. Is it dementia? Mercifully, the answer is “not likely.”

German researchers recently announced good news for all of us who can no longer find our keys, or carry on an intelligent conversation without telltale expressions of “Oh, yeah, who was that?” or “Oh, shoot, give me a moment!” or “Dang, what was the name of that show where what’s-her-name shot that guy, you know, that strange lookin’ dude?”

It turns out that we’re all experiencing brain fade not because we’re ascending in age, but because we’re adding so much new knowledge daily to our brains, they’re stuffed FULL. Our brains are like computers, and different stages of life affect data recall. The less information in the computer, as in “young” person, the faster data is retrieved. In our case, new information is being assimilated as quickly as it can. Old facts are being dug out of an increasingly deep pile of life’s accumulated, well, you fill in your own blank. “The brains of older people do not get weak,” says Michael Ramscar of Germany’s Tubingen University to the U.K.’s The Independent. “On the contrary, they simply know more.” Aha! We’re not feeble minded! We’re just brilliant, like Einstein, except for the wild hair!

Throughout our years of relentless pursuit of knowledge and the search for meaning, our brains accumulated more information than we can juggle at one time. All of our memories of places visited, the names of everyone we’ve ever met, and everything else we’ve learned, has stacked up. We must sift through it for recall of even the simplest thing, like the location of the car keys.

Now, a word to all of us boomers about my above-mentioned multitasking. In 2008 a study was unveiled in The New Atlantis Journal of Technology and Society about the illusion of brain comprehension while doing more than one thing at once. It reports that as early as 2005, Hewlett-Packard funded research by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London to determine how distractions in business, a.k.a multitasking, affect our mental capabilities.

Folks, it turns out that if we are doing emails and phone calls all at once, we “suffer a FALL IN IQ MORE THAN TWICE that found in marijuana smokers.” Remember that commercial in our day, with eggs frying in a pan? The voiceover said, “This is your brain on drugs.’’ Multitasking is like smoking a doobie. We think we’re mastering the universe, but we’re just getting stoned without the buzz.

Hey, everyone is deluded by the lure of multitasking. Young mothers juggle a crying baby, a whining toddler, food preparation, and telephone conversations, all at once. No wonder they occasionally forget the first-grader at school. Law enforcement officials who are driving, looking around, checking onboard computers, and wondering why we’re not driving with both hands on the wheel really aren’t focused. Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of Crazy Busy, says that multitasking is a “mythical activity in which people believe they can perform two or more tasks simultaneously.” Even Millennials are lousy at this, and experts wonder how it will affect the world’s future productivity.

Okay, so how can we improve cognitive function, other than dropping multitasking? Researchers say that exercise, weight management, non-smoking and low alcohol consumption contribute to a 60% drop in tendency toward dementia. Exercise alone has a huge preventive effect, according to the journal Neurology.

Now, aren’t you glad I read this research while I was running the vacuum cleaner? I’m okay, you’re okay and our knowledge is still in our brains somewhere. When I figure out where, I’ll let you know. I kept the studies in a logical place for future reference. For the life of me, though, I can’t remember where.

Jobs: where they are now

May 31, 2013

Today’s job market is changing geographically and metaphorically, and current job seekers must keep their eyes on the literally shifting sands of opportunities. For the first time in a generation, gains in jobs are happening now within industries that might surprise you, and in locations that might have been declared “dead and done” in the last period of growth of our economy.

If there is one word to describe what’s happening in this country and where the jobs are, it’s change. Silicon Valley is once again booming with the success of companies like Instagram, Salesforce.com, Yelp, LinkedIn and Twitter joining Google, Yahoo, Cisco, Facebook and YouTube. Wired magazine, in its May 2013 edition, reports that Silicon Valley continues to produce the most spectacular companies of our era, this time no longer in danger of a bust. A plus side in finding employment there is the general salary range, which tends to average $90 to $100K per year, as opposed to $50K throughout the country.

The June 2011 issue of Wired Magazine dedicated a large section of its pages to delivering the employment -related facts and figures that emerged from 2006 to 2010. There are jobs out there, and some of them are growing swiftly, but they may not be in the places we used to find them. The good news is, if you’ve got your game on, these industries, according to Wired, grew at a pretty good clip.

Wired asked Linked In to analyze the 7 million US members who had switched jobs since 2006 and present the industries to which they had gone. The results? The “renewables and environment” industry grew enormously since 2006, a whopping 56.8%; and jobs involving the Internet grew 29.8%. Jobs in the wireless industry grew 21.4% from 2006 to 2010. Employment in the computer industry and network security grew 21.8%.

But Silicon Valley jobs are not the only growing ones. Jobs in online publishing grew 29.1%. The professional training industry grew 13.9%. The E-learning industry grew 18.7%, and graphic design grew by 7.8%.

If you’re in the business of computer games, information services or biotechnology, your field grew by 11.1%,  8%, and 12.8% respectively.

“Old-fashioned industries” are being transformed as well, with oil and energy up 7.3%. Jobs in that industry are driven by exploration in North Dakota and Louisiana, and are attracting thousands of unemployed Americans. Railroad manufacturing is up 9.4%, and medical device manufacturing up 12.5%. Time magazine reports that farming income was up 27% in 2011.

As a testament to the “old fashioned” trend, an April 24, 2013 Forbes online article by Jacqueline Smith  listed the “Ten Happiest Cities For Young Professionals” which surprisingly included Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Riverside, California; Chicago, Illinois; Houston, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona. These seasoned cities ranked alongside the more commonly cited San Diego and San Jose. Their resurrection is driving jobs.

The employment picture in the U.S. reflects major changes in the industries that are hiring, and where the opportunities lie. Smart job seekers are polishing their resumes accordingly, and hitting the road.

Di Chapman is Chief Communications Officer of Power Connections, Inc., and a speaker/writer. Her book How Smart People Sabotage Their Job Search was coauthored with Susan Howington, and is available on Amazon.com. She can be read at http://www.Examiner.com, CBS Local Atlanta Online, and http://www.thecurrentplus.com. Her LinkedIn profile is www.linkedin.com/in/DiChapman.

Seven reasons boomers are successful in their “next act”

May 24, 2013

Robert N. Butler, M.D., a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and founder of the International Longevity Center-U.S.A., had much to say about how boomers view the contributions they can make to their communities, country and the globe. The stereotypes of us declining in our work and productivity are finally starting to change, all because we have embraced youthfulness and  new goals.

Many boomers are not looking at work as something that ends as they age. As they leave traditional “9 to 5” positions, they are starting and succeeding in businesses throughout America. Here’s why.

We know our purpose and passion.

Starting a “next act” can be our way of following our purpose and passion.

For most boomers, freedom from childbearing and raising children, along with the wisdom gained from decades of working to make ends meet, and the soul-searching of growing older have given us a firm grasp on what we see as important in life. We know what we love to do, and how we prefer to do it. We know what we want, and, more importantly, what we don’t want.

Frank Mack, founder of City Antiques in Roswell, Georgia loves running his independent family business out of a 15,000 square foot retail space, with a 3000 square foot warehouse. Everyone knows he has a passion for finding furniture, antiquities and antique books. “I love  recycling, re-purposing and re-loving antique finds for use once again. I left the corporate environment and found my next act in this creative business.”

Vikie Barbos, 60, founder and CEO of the three “Tuscan” assisted living homes in Fountain Hills and Scottsdale, Arizona, found her perfect purpose in eldercare.

When families bring an aging relative to her homes, they are invariably shellshocked from caretaking, and the seniors themselves wonder what their futures hold. “They look at me and ask, ‘Do you really think you can help me?’ I promise them I will give the help they need, no matter what time of day or night.”

We know the meaning of value and value-added.

We’re savvy, educated consumers and professionals who demand value in our own lives and want it for our clients. We’ve negotiated and purchased multiple homes, cars, furnishings and kids’ educations. We know value when we see it.

Susan Howington, 55, started Power Connections Executive Coaching, Leadership and Outplacement Service when she was in her own transitional period. At 55, she brings to the country a new paradigm in helping professionals in job search and career management.

The most valuable service she and her team renders is about making connections. “It’s how most jobs are found. That’s definitely our value-add.”

Power Connections provides individually customized person-to person programs. “We want to see and get to know each person, and start tailoring their search process wherever they are,” she says.

In addition, Howington and her team help working and nonworking professionals define their brands and manage their careers through workshops and globally recognized tools such as Harrison Assessment Talent Solutions products.

We’re redefining “youthful.”

We’re younger than ever in energy and spirit. Don’t let the grey hair and increasing facial lines fool you. We enjoy working with young people, and love hearing their hopes and dreams. We often move to healthier cities and towns where we can pursue outdoor activities, lured by communities with walking paths, biking paths and overpasses for busy streets. We’re invading exercise classes in droves.

Eileen Disken, founder of Smart Bodies Fitness in Fountain Hills, Arizona, retired from the New Jersey public school system in 1998 at age 53, with a plan for her next act. Moving cross-country, she set up a personal training business in the desert. She had already achieved the women’s world record for her 24-hour ultra-marathon win in the South Jersey Roadrunners’ race in 1978, and had run the Boston Marathon. In 1973 she competed as the first woman in the Penn Relay Marathon. She started body building in her early 50s.

With abundant energy and a genuine interest in helping others achieve optimum fitness, her motto is “Age is a state of mind.” She gained her clients through word of mouth. Now, 15 years later, at nearly 68, she has 50, most of them successful entrepreneurs, and many of them over 50 themselves.

Vikie Barbos’ business never tires her out. “I’m required to be active and available 24/7, knowing we might need to issue a 911 call. I’m the one who interacts with medical teams for all of my residents.

We’re also a generation who embraces plastic surgery to align our outsides with the youthfulness we feel on the inside. The demand for arm lifts, eye lifts, jowl lifts and liposuction is higher than ever, for both men and women.

We are genuine and authentic in our relationships.

The years of keeping up with the Joneses are over.  We know who we are. The relationships we build with clients, investors and vendors are infused with honest intentions to treat them respectfully.

Frank Mack’s clients, vendors and associates are loyal to a “t” as they know he is always supportive of them. His storefront and knowledge are avenues for their own successes. He rents out cubical-like spaces to independent antique enthusiasts who wish to sell products with no leases or city licenses needed. “I’m breaking even after three years in business because I’m surrounded by people who love what they do. We have a ‘main street’ atmosphere in the store, with incredible relationships, and service for the hundreds of customers who shop with us.”

Howington says reputation is everything in building Power Connections. “Our relationships with business leaders and organizations are critical to our success in providing valuable connections to our clients,” she says.

“In eldercare you must have good relationships with your workers, hospitals, home health agencies, hospices and family doctors. It’s the only way to succeed,” says Barbos. “You also must have great relationships with residents’ families.”

Happiness is our first priority.

More than fame, fortune, expensive homes and cars, we value our happiness and the happiness of those around us.

Howington points out that her business success is all about helping clients create the happiness of finding a new job or career path. “Their exhilaration and renewed anticipation about their future is what defines our happiness here as well.”

Barbos is an immigrant from Romania, used to having extended family living under the same roof. She currently cares for her mother at home. She established her assisted living homes as beautiful living spaces for her residents. “I want to create happiness for them, helping them all enjoy each day. I have never treated them like they are old. We keep them active and social.”

For Mack, the happiness his growing venture provides him is unfolding as he creates the largest collection of antique books and medical antiquities in Georgia. “I have found the secret to happiness and success right here. I’m surrounded by amazing finds. I no longer need the biggest house on the block, or the fanciest car. I’m living my dream.”

We know first hand the search for meaning.

We want to make a positive impact on our families, communities and the world. We don’t want to “die with our music still in us,” to quote Oliver Wendell Holmes. We’re willing to keep working  for as long as it takes to do it.

Disken plans to keep training “to whenever.” She cultivates her own fitness daily with runs and hikes. She is a churchgoer and participates in a Mastermind group. “I am always open to means to self-improvement,” she says. “It keeps you fresh and focused on the good in life.”

Barbos is fulfilled with caretaking and a business full of meaning. “Many people don’t understand eldercare. You learn so much from seniors. They all bring something special to others.”

“I make a comfortable living,” she explains, “and I put most of my earnings back into the homes. I have put two kids through college, and now my daughter works with me to manage the Fountain Hills residence. I am so happy she finds meaning in the eldercare as well.”

We know our clients’ priorities.

Disken’s days usually start before the crack of dawn with client trainings at 5 a.m., and often end at 6:30 p.m. Her clients need to fit in exercise before and after work. “I have to meet them whenever they’re available,” she says. “They are busy people.”

She asks them to pursue fitness as a priority in their lives, and tells them, “There are no excuses for not pursuing health as a top priority throughout life. My goal is to instill in them a love of exercise and what it contributes to overall well-being.”

Howington adds that her clients’ number one priority is creating a better life through their next career move, or maximizing their current job situation. Her motto to them is “Outplacement Excellence. Custom Approach. Individualized Attention. Every time.”

To even suggest that aging is equivalent to slowing down is to ignore baby boomer employment trends and the number who are creating their “next act” by starting businesses. Boomers are becoming one of the world’s largest demographic groups, and if they have their way, they’ll be one of the most successful populations in history as well.

Di Chapman is the coauthor of “How Smart People Sabotage Their Job Search” on Amazon, and a business and health writer who writes for CBS Local Atlanta, Examner.com, numerous blogs and private clients. She has written four books and countless articles for publication.

Where the Jobs Are (part III)

January 30, 2012

Think Strategically! Think Big! Think … Omaha???

“Dreams are never destroyed – only rearranged.” – Paul Abram Constantine

Susan Howington of Power Connections articulated something to me a few weeks ago that constitutes a new trend in job search throughout the country. She said to me, “Diane, we have a new situation going on here. Job searchers over 45 are having a hard time finding work, as are job searchers in their 20s right out of college. So, what can we offer the two groups of professionals who are benched due to our economic debacle?”

I recalled that, as I was researching the articles for The Daily Job Hunt blog, my eye had been caught by some reports of “downtown” rebirth in some of our nation’s older, smaller, and admittedly, less “sexy” cities. This rebirth phenomenon is being driven by young people who are graduating colleges and finding that there is no place to go but home – to places like Omaha, Portland, and Orem. Their presence in their home cities is driving a renaissance of an artistic coffee culture, teeming with revitalization and energy. Surprise, surprise! Once again, what’s old is new. As Parts I and II of this “Where the Jobs Are” series revealed, trends are taking us “back to the future.”

This benefits not just the recent college grads – but Americans of all ages and educational levels. We’re all in this together, and need to forge new pathways wherever the opportunities are. A good job has always been the cornerstone for the American Dream.

So, let me tell you where there are jobs right now.

You know, as the John Cougar Mellencamp song goes, “I was born in a small town,” so there is a part of me that derives satisfaction from seeing some of our older, more established cities and towns in America spring back to life. Yes, I’ve worked in New York City, D.C., Dallas, Phoenix, and Orange County, but my roots are Midwestern near the Canadian border in North Dakota, which by the way, is teeming with oil exploration right now.

Brad Briggs, a staff writer for StreetAuthority, reported in a November 2011 Investing Answers that there’s a modern-day boom in my birth state, where it turns out shale oil can now be profitably extracted from the ground. Apparently, in the last four years, it isn’t just jobs in oil exploration and extraction that have popped up, but the need for thousands of workers to help meet the demands of the oil field workers who have moved there. Ward Koeser, the mayor of Williston, North Dakota, told Briggs that the town had between 2,000 and 3,000 job openings, and if you feel inclined to move there, you could probably land one of them in one day to one week’s time. Don’t take my word for it! You can read Brad’s article at The ONE Place in America Where Jobs are Plentiful; but don’t stop there -it isn’t the only place!

And, again, just a few days ago, Investing Answers featured a report by Nathan Slaughter of StreetAuthority who reported that when it comes to investing success, the wealthiest investors in the world tend to invest in natural resources. As North Dakota booms in its quest to produce oil, Slaughter reports that there is also a boom in shale oil drilling in the NW corner of Louisiana’s Desoto Parish, which has become the nation’s top producing natural gas field. At this point in history, where there is shale oil drilling, there is opportunity.

As my title promises, there are jobs happening as well in Omaha, which Kiplinger named in 2011 as the “number one best value city for its vibrancy, cost of living, and low unemployment rate.” Greater Omaha hosts over 30,000 businesses, and the city is one of few in 2012 who maintains a triple-A credit rating. Some of the resident businesses there are household names like Omaha Steaks, Mutual of Omaha, Gallup, PayPal, Aflac ,and TD Ameritrade. You’ll also find a footprint there for Google, Verizon and Yahoo!, among many other technical brands.

If there isn’t enough great statistical information to attract a job seeker to Omaha, there is the youthful, energetic vibe of the redeveloped downtown district. Since about 2002, when the younger set decided to meet there for coffee and jazz, the evolution of the downtown area has been a testament to the city’s solid economic health and growth while the rest of us have been licking our wounds.

Look, I’ve talked to a number of my readers who need jobs, but who cannot cut family and friendship ties to a place like California, and I completely understand. But, I also know that it’s easier to whine and moan about why you cannot do something, rather than take the proverbial well-planned leap. As terrifying as it sounds, moving to take a job can be one of the best things that will ever happen to you, particularly when the move is to a place where the buzz of productivity fuels optimism and well-being. I know, because it has happened to me.

I also know that young people who are hitting a wall in California, or Arizona, or Florida could be encouraged to go where the jobs are. Isn’t that what WE did in our day? Who among us didn’t hop in our “beater” and drive to a distant place, waving to mom and dad as we backed out of their driveway? As we did then – following healthy job leads to new locales – we might just need to do now.

Any discussion of hopes and dreams brings up the notion of a rewarding job with a promising future. It is the springboard to our desire for homes, marriages and children. The American Dream was built on a good job, first and foremost. It’s one of those times when the dream seems to have died. But perhaps it hasn’t – perhaps, as my dear friend Paul Abram Constantine says, it’s just been “rearranged” – or in this case, relocated.

Diane Y. Chapman (Di Chapman) is the Chief Communications Officer of Power Connections, and the founder of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service. She is also a contributor to How Smart People Sabotage Their Job Search: Ten Mistakes Executives Make and How To Fix Them,” available on Amazon.

Where the Jobs Are, Part II

September 26, 2011

Pack your bag for a road trip and get ready to roll!

I ended Part I by encouraging you to fasten your seatbelt and get ready to be surprised about where, geographically, the jobs are happening in this country, and what appears to be shaping up into a bonafide trend.

Earlier we talked about industries that have experienced job growth (Yes, job growth!! It does still happen!) in America since 2006, and the nature of changing job descriptions. The June 2011 issue of Wired Magazine did an amazing job of discussing where the opportunities are popping up, and how shifts in job descriptions may offer many of us an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. The magazine is optimistic about the potential that is shaping up in the job hunting landscape.

I offer you some towns worth checking into, according to Wired Magazine’s June 2011 issue:

Provo-Orem, Utah has become an attractive location for IT talent. Wired reports that Overstock.com recently opened a development office there and plans to hire over 150 employees. Also, Brigham Young University there fosters startups that are ultimately sold to bigger players.

Do green jobs interest you? Fort Collins, Colorado has revved up to meet the growing demand for clean energy.

Waco, Texas has recently attracted three aerospace companies, and is known as an excellent geographical area for aviation maintenance, avionics and dispatch.

Longview, Texas is also hopping, particularly in industrial manufacturing and distribution. Eastman Chemical employs more than 1500 people there.

Moving into the Midwest and beyond, Bloomington, Indiana has become a hub for the biotech industry and is home to the Cook Group, a $2 billion medical device maker.

Reading, Pennsylvania is now the place where batteries are made, including new types for hybrid automobiles. A company called East Penn has received a $32 million grant from the Department of Energy and has hired 150 people to help it churn out over 2.8 million batteries per year by 2013.

Finally, in the South and Southeast, Spartanburg, South Carolina has become a Mecca for plastics production, and hosts the country’s only BMW factory.

Plus, notably, there is renaissance along the I-85 corridor, which Wired reports has become a new region for middle-class manufacturing opportunities. It’s no secret that this strip of Americana has a labor pool of low to no-income Americans, and is among the statistics for the lowest per-capita income in the country. The following companies have established manufacturing facilities along the Interstate:

Hyundai Motor America located and opened its only US factory in Montgomery, Alabama and employs 2500 people. Firstmark Aerospace in Creedmoor, North Carolina produces components for airplanes. Centurion Medical Products supplies kits for surgery implements made in Salisbury, North Carolina, and has recently expanded it operations by 20%. Jobs there include professional positions such as engineers, chemists and biomedical specialists.

Also popping up in the Carolinas are Kemet, a precision capacitor manufacturer in Simpsonville, South Carolina, and Comatrol, a manufacturer of hydraulic components in Easley, South Carolina. Atlas Lighting Products, a maker of industrial lighting fixtures, is expanding orders as I blog in Burlington, North Carolina, due to its energy-efficient products. Wired mentions two other companies who are moving forward at a productive clip: Hartness International, a packaging machinery manufacturer, and Wabtec, a railroad components manufacturer, both in South Carolina. Wabtec sells to urban rail systems and recently increased its staffing by 25%.

The opportunities for work in this recession do exist, even though they might require a relocation. Whether you decide to pursue them – or not – is up to you, but if you’re currently unemployed and need to put food on the table, these leads are here for you.

Like I said up top, get ready to roll. Oh, and don’t forget your sunglasses. The future in these locations is so bright, you might have to wear shades! Don’t take my word for it. Drop in on Wired and see for yourself!

Di Chapman is the founder of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service, and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Executive Outplacement and Leadership Coaching service. Find out more about Di at www.powerconnectionsinc.com, www.LinkedIn.com/in/DiChapmanwww.thedailyjobhunt.wordpress.com and www.twitter.com/InspirationalDi

Where the Jobs Are! The Shifting Sands of Opportunities

September 13, 2011

If you don’t read anything else about the job market this year, you MUST read this. And I mean ALL of you, whether you are unemployed and seeking work, or gainfully employed and sitting back because you think your situation won’t change.

The job market sands are shifting metaphorically and geographically. You might be surprised at where the gains in jobs are happening right now – and I mean the industries where growth is actually happening. With all the loud, heated public vitriol about the employment picture in this country, constructive reports about growing industries are few and far between. But, I found one – and it’s a good-sized report that will hopefully give you a boost, or at least a “road map” to help you navigate the future.

It’s time to make the decision to keep your eyes on the shifting sands of opportunities. And by the word “sands,” I mean the metaphorical job market shifts; and literally, the geography of where jobs are headed inside the United States. Depending on your own personal circumstances, this information may surprise and delight you; or drop on you like a bomb. Nonetheless, it’s important for you to know.

If you’re currently employed, you probably exhibit the tendency to put your head in the – ahem! – sand – about shifting job market factors. Humans seem to have an aversion to smartly gathering up protective information about things when they don’t believe that something will happen to them. I know of many people, and perhaps you do as well, who, instead of dusting off their resumes because there are rumors of changes throughout their organizations, prefer to sit back and say, “I’ll wait to see what happens.” As a resume writer since 1990, I cannot tell you how many individuals I have worked with over the years who frantically called to come in for a resume composition at the very last possible moment of needing one.

If there is ONE word to describe what’s happening in this country and where the jobs are, it’s CHANGE. Yeah, I said it. Change. No doubt, if you’re like everyone else, this is the last thing you want. I encourage you, though, to look at the information I’ve compiled, and enthusiastically assess how it affects you, your career and your life. As difficult as change may be, it holds the potential to be the best thing that ever happens to you! Honest!

Where the jobs are – the top growing industries, and how their jobs are changing.

The June 2011 issue of Wired Magazine dedicated a large section of its pages to delivering the jobs-related facts and figures that have now emerged in the rubble of the financial catastrophe around us. There are jobs out there, and some of them are growing swiftly, but they may not be in the places we used to find them. The good news is, if you’ve got your game on, these industries, according to Wired, grew at a pretty good clip from 2006 to 2010. Amen to that! Here is a summary of the list, with some percentages attached to the growing industries:

I won’t beat around the bush on the good news. Wired asked Linked In to analyze the 7 million US members who had switched jobs since 2006 and present the industries to which they had gone. The results? The “renewables and environment” industry grew enormously since 2006, a whopping 56.8%; as well as jobs involving the Internet, which grew 29.8%. Jobs in the wireless industry grew 21.4% from 2006 to 2010 – no surprise there. Jobs in the computer industry and network security grew 21.8%.

Now for a few stats that might surprise you. Jobs in online publishing grew 29.1% since 2006. The professional training industry grew 13.9%. Railroad manufacture grew 9.4% and medical device manufacturing grew 12.5%. The E-learning industry grew 18.7% (we saw that coming), and graphic designers saw their field grow by 7.8%. Who knew?

If you’re in the business of computer games, oil and energy, information services or biotechnology, your field grew by 11.1%, 7.3%, 8%, and 12.8% respectively. But wait! Time magazine reports that Farming income – farming income – was up 27% last year and is still rising. Farming is expected to grow another 20% this year.

The most amazing thing, though, according to Wired, is how the jobs themselves have morphed since 2006. “Old-fashioned industries” are being transformed, with the lines between blue and white collar positions becoming blurred, and educational requirements evolving in ways that are more horizontal than vertical. The hopeful result in all of the shifting trends in job creation is that our country’s middle class will once again start to emerge strong and healthy. This is good news for all of us. Change is happening.

My next segment on The Daily Job Hunt is part two of this report on Where the Jobs Are! Although some of you will claim it’s the other shoe dropping, I think it’s fascinating information that could hold promise for millions of people. Perhaps for you it will put the wheels in motion to a new, promising life. Buckle up and get ready!

Diane Y. (Di) Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service, and the Chief Communications Officer of Power Connections Executive Outplacement and Leadership Coaching Service. Connect with Di at http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/DiChapman and follow her at http://www.twitter.com/InspirationalDi

What’s YOUR Story Today?

May 3, 2011

Boy, have I got a story for you!

If you need a shot in the arm today … or a word of encouragement … or a kick- start to keep going, I believe there is inspiration here for the taking, whatever your challenge is today.

I won’t even pretend to tell you that everything is rosy out there right now. Our recession, and its destruction of our jobs, our savings and our retirement funds, has dished out to us what can seem like an insurmountable hardship. This I know. We’ve talked about platitudes, we’ve talked about getting out in the community, and donating time to great causes. We’ve talked about trying new things, and de-aging our perspectives and physical appearance.

The news on the job hunting wire can seem daunting. Truth is, the American workforce faces its toughest challenge yet. As Harold Meyerson in The American Prospect says, “America’s leading corporations grow more and more decoupled from the American economy. Their interests grow increasingly detached from those of our workers, our consumers – and our economic future….Unlike any recession in American history – including the Great Depression – this one has come at a time when America’s leading employers can return to profitability without rehiring large numbers of American workers.”

This is a particularly difficult situation for job hunters who are over 45 / 50 years old. We’re in the industrious “boomer” segment of our culture. We’ve always believed that if we work hard enough, we’ll set the world on fire, educate our children, and retire with many good years ahead of us. We’ve certainly made it a prosperous place. The current recession slammed us, and our future.

So, if walking in your own shoes today, while you seek to find ways to re-enter the job market, your community, and your life, seems particularly grueling, I hope this story of inspiration, contribution and personal purpose will buoy you on the choppy seas. The story is about a 56 year-old friend of mine named Beth Sanden, who was partially paralyzed in a training accident while preparing for one of her Ironman Triathlons several years ago. Beth’s life changed in an instant when she was thrown from her bike, breaking her back. Her journey as she learned to live with constant nervous system pain, and even to walk again against all odds, has been remarkable. She is a world-class athlete still today, unstoppably raising awareness and funds for other physically challenged individuals.

With walker, cane, and hand-cycle in tow, she travelled to China last week to compete in the Great Wall of China Marathon outside of Beijing against able-bodied competitors. Beth finished the 26-mile race, conquering the Great Wall of China, in approximately 7 hours and 20 minutes.

My hat goes off to Beth Sanden. She has overcome her physical challenges, reinvented herself, and has become a global emissary for the Challenged Athlete Foundation ( http://www.challengedathletes.org ), helping thousands of others in need of limbs, wheelchairs, walkers, and exercise equipment that can give them back their mobility and participation in the community around them. Beth’s personal favorite is the hand-cycle. It unlocked her future as a competitive challenged athlete.

Beth’s efforts on behalf of the Challenged Athletes Foundation were documented in two news stories presented by ABC in Orange County, California:





Check them out!

Each of us has our own metaphorical “Great Wall of China Marathon” to run at some point in our lives. Let Beth Sanden’s story be an inspiration for your own!

Di Chapman is the founder of Words to Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service, and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc Executive Coaching, Career Management, and Leadership Development service.


February 15, 2011

Can we talk?

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a very long time, and want us to be honest with each other. I believe that if you’re in the market for a job, and you’re over 45 or so, you need to think about what “age” you project to others. This topic has many layers of discussion, and I want to address one here that has to do with “first impressions,” i.e., how you look when you walk in the door of an interviewer’s office.

I know, I know. I read the blogs, discussions, and columns on Linked In, career sites, and numerous publications. Many of you are offended at the suggestion that we plant ourselves in front of the mirror and take a physical inventory of “how we look” when job hunting. It can seem inappropriate and insulting to suggest that looking “younger” can be advantageous when we are actively seeking a new job.

But, I will go on record with my opinion about how necessary it is for us to come across as having as much youthful energy as possible when we are competing in the hunt. It’s particularly true if we are unemployed and in transition, since unfortunately, that alone puts many of us at a disadvantage in the job market.

“Isn’t the only important quality a person takes with them to an interview their capabilities and experience?” we can insist. Of course, it’s critically important, but hear me out on this. Simply put, I believe youthful energy must be addressed by all of us “over-40-somethings” if we are going to compete in a youthful job market. I’m not suggesting that you don the attire of a 20-something year old, and tug at your miniskirt when you get out of the car; or adopt the posture of “pants on the ground.” I am, however, encouraging you to see that “Age is a state of mind,” and if you begin to think and act more youthfully, your exterior appearance will undoubtedly begin to look more youthful as well.

Take a moment right now to look in the mirror. What “age” do you see looking back at you? And I don’t just mean outwardly. There is so much more to vitality. Do you see a spark of energy? Do you see someone who makes an effort each day to look as healthy as he or she possibly can? We are all different, and your vitality factor is relative to your past health and life experience. The point is, once you honestly assess your physical appearance and your ability to alter it in a positive way, you will know just how “youthfully” you can realistically come across.

How Has Our “Less than Youthful” Image Evolved?

Now, here’s the rub, for all of us who started our careers circa 1970, ’80, or before: even though we feel younger than ever (Don’t you? I do!), and more able to produce better results than ever, and to take on challenges with more focus than ever, we are dogged by a collective belief that says “Aging is unattractive, overweight, out of shape, burdened by health problems, tottering, having no physical relationships, and being ineffective.”

If you were an alien from another planet landing on earth and tuning into television with your highly evolved powers of observation, you would be barraged by the images of “Help me! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” and “When the moment is right, you’ll be ready … but be sure to see a doctor if you’re ready for more than four hours!!” I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the point.

Somehow, grown up, mature adults have projected the impression that we ARE those things, or the stereotypes would not exist.

So, step in front of the mirror. How would you describe the image you see? Yes, it’s daunting, but you must go through this reality check. And, below, I list the questions I call my “age indicator test.” Yes, there are things we do, or don’t do, that affect how we appear to others … that can affect your perceived vitality factor, and perhaps reduce the age your image projects. It’s up to you to decide to take or leave the questions. But, your answers directly reflect your interest in “de-aging your first impression.”

This “age indicator test” is appropriate for men and women BOTH:

  • Do you smoke? If so, why?
  • Do you exercise regularly? Or are you making excuses for refraining from exercise that is appropriate for your health and ability?
  • Do you need to lose weight?
  • Is water your beverage of choice? Or do you drink mostly sodas (regular or diet), or alcohol most days?
  • Are you getting regular checkups with a healthcare provider to make sure you are as healthy and energetic as you can be?
  • Do you schedule regular dental care and oral hygiene?
  • If you have a health or dental condition that requires care, do you make sure you receive it?
  • Do you enjoy active pursuits that keep you moving?
  • Do you do your best to keep up with current wardrobe, eyeglass and accessory styles?
  • Do you make sure you have at least one interviewing suit, fully accessorized including current shoes?
  • Do you keep up with current hairstyle and hair color trends? Do you seek professional stylists to help you with your appearance?
  • If you are a woman, do you utilize makeup appropriately, and make sure that you stay current with trends?

Bonus Questions:

  • Have you sought assistance with turning back the clock by seeking nutritional counseling, dietary guidance, or taking nutrition courses?
  • Have you utilized a personal trainer to guide you in the type of exercise that can benefit you with your particular physical body type and health history? Do you follow his or her advice regularly?
  • Have you sought the advice and services of a dermatologist, esthetician, and/or plastic surgeon to address issues of aging skin?
  • Have you sought services for teeth whitening, veneers, replacing outdated crowns, or straightening?

Before you dismiss my “age indicator” questions as being too focused on physical appearance versus experience and wisdom, please keep in mind that the two are not mutually exclusive … and when paired together, can produce powerful results. Both experience and youthful energy are highly valued in our culture. Why not commit to pursuing both if you are able? Why not have both in your corner when you are looking for work? If someone told you that bringing more health, vitality, and youthful energy to your life could increase your success at interviewing for work, wouldn’t you heed the advice?

Look, if you’re like me, you want to have confidence that there is much more of life and productivity to come, and you want to project to others that you are energetic enough to jump into them. I don’t ever see myself as unproductive or put out to pasture. And, I don’t want any potential employers to see me that way either. So, why give them the chance?

Perhaps you’ll join me in this perspective. Then … go get ‘em.

Di Chapman is the founder and president of Words to Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service, and the Chief Communications Officer of Power Communications Inc. Executive Coaching and Outplacement Service. She can be found at www.LinkedIn.com/in/dichapman and www.twitter.com/InspirationalDi.

You’ve Still Got It!

January 4, 2011

To say that 2010 went by in a flash is the understatement of the year – unless, of course, you mean that it went by in a nano-second. I heard somewhere that time is actually accelerating its pace, that this sensation of it literally screaming by us at the speed of light might not just be “all in our heads.” Apparently, there are some laws of physics, laws of nature, recent scientific studies, and philosophic observations that all support the notion that we are barreling into the future at a much faster rate than in previous history. So, I want to bring this up right now, while you are fresh into a new year, and perhaps feeling the pressure of a job hunt still on-going from 2010. If you looked into the mirror on this first Monday of the new year, and felt absolute fear about what this year might bring to you as an unemployed professional, I’d like to remind you of just one thing: “Don’t worry, you’ve still got it!”

While the calendar might have turned over in a mathematical and symbolic way, 2010 can be looked at as merely a “chapter” in your life. As the expression says, “Life is not a destination, but a journey.”  It’s an expression I love, because if you truly make the effort to see your life that way, you can live one day at a time, savoring and being fully present in each moment. And even though as Americans we believe that “the pursuit of happiness” is a right of citizenry, we can be misguided about the meaning of happiness, and how it is actually manifested. The happiest of lives will still experience good days and bad, confusion as well as clarity, and dashed hopes alongside joyous victories.

Starting off the year as a professional “in transition” might surely be classified as a life event that qualifies for the “dashed hopes” category. Honestly? It’s not necessarily a chapter you wanted to write. But, the journey is still going forward. Yes, you are only human. You are entitled to the angst that accompanies unemployment as it stretches like a lonely road before you. I believe I can say with certainty that you never dreamed when you lost your job in 2010, you would still be looking for another in 2011.

So, now for the message that I want you to take away as you read this. I know you’ve still got it! The skills you have on your resume are still in tact. Your executive and professional history is still on record. Your triumphs and achievements are still with you – no one can take them away. Your educational background is still yours to keep forever. Your wisdom about life and work, and their challenges, solutions, and outcomes is still finely honed. Your talents are many, and bring value to your relationships.

You’ve still got it – the ability to make things happen, to generate success, to collaborate, to bring team members to the table for a worthy goal.

The year 2011 is going to be about changes – changes in how we work, how we think, and how we measure success in our lives. It’s going to be a year that starts a process of valuing flexibility and creativity in working styles. You’ll be called upon to work in teams with multiple generations, and diverse talents. You’ll be asked to define the future in new ways, and to change your perspective on the meaning of well-being, a job well-done, and the impact of your life on your  relationships, community, and country.

Susan Howington just released another blog post in her “Fuel The Economy” series. She’s taking a bold perspective on what we can do to help all of you who are unemployed. The bottom line in her message is “We can hire you!” We can hire the unemployed. You’ve all still got it! And you deserve to be working.

Keep going! 2011 is just a new chapter in your life. Make it the chapter you’ve always wanted it to be. You’ve done it before – and you’ve still got it!

Di Chapman is the Founder of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer and Chief Writer of Power Connections Inc. Executive Outplacement, Career Management and Coaching Service.

Finding Balance at the Speed of Life

October 27, 2010

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Ghandi

Yes, I know I’ve used that quote in my writing many times, but if you’re in transition, losing sleep over the future, negotiating for a new job, or hopeful that an offer is going to be your light at the end of the tunnel, Ghandi’s wisdom bears repeating. I’m reminded of traveling from Paris to Lyon, France, on the TGV high-speed “bullet” train years ago. High above the ground, the train clocked speeds of 125 miles per hour and more. The countryside literally flew by.

Doesn’t it seem like life right now for most of us is a speeding bullet train, with the added uncertainty of the stability of the tracks? We’re speeding faster and faster into an uncertain future, teetering on the rails of life, like a roller coaster dipping and climbing … and we’re holding on tight.

I know all too well of which I speak. I used to be Superwoman! Since summer’s end, though, I’ve been behind in everything – I’m like a hamster on a wheel, squeakily spinning it with as much velocity as I can muster, but to no avail. Yes, I’m moving faster, but the complexity of all of the issues and events of life during this recession have slowed me down mentally and emotionally. I’m “still kicking,” but with less clarity, more confusion, and more of a sense of overwhelm-ment than ever before. Superwoman has flown off the planet, and I’ve been left holding a five-pound bag containing ten pounds of overdue everything: blogging, twittering, phoning, reading, writing … you name it. Stop the world!!! I want to get off!

Can you relate?

Trust me, I have always been one focused professional, never making excuses about my shortcomings, always returning calls promptly, meeting deadlines, and going the extra mile for my commitments. But, I’ll admit that right now, I’m wondering when I’ll get my balancing act back in swing. If you’re wondering the same thing about yourself, you are not alone. The uncertainty of what our economic future might be collectively, and even more unsettling, what it might be for each of us individually and our families, is enough to knock even the toughest players off their game.

Are you losing sleep over the loss of a job – whether it’s your own, or a loved one’s? Are you uncertain of what changes landing a new job will bring? I just went through that with my husband – eight months of executive unemployment.

My husband and I are thrilled about his new job, and I’ve never seen him happier. However, wait for it – wait for it – we are now in a “commuter marriage.” His new job is three time zones and about 2000 miles away! BUT, and it’s a BIG but (go ahead, laugh, it’s a fun pun!) – we are so thankful that during this time of unparalleled recession for us and our peers, we are blessed with work.

Are you watching the clock on your finances, tossing and turning as the plans you made for retirement have unraveled? I get it. Retirement? What retirement? The AARP Association reported in its most recent bulletin that 51% of American households won’t be able to maintain their standard of living once they retire. In fact, we must change the notion of seniors as “non-contributors” in our society, and allow them to be productive way beyond what we have traditionally considered “retirement age.” It’s an economic necessity to keep us from plunging the largest demographic in human history into poverty, all at once. Thank goodness, “50” is the new “30.” We Americans are going to need to extend our working years into our 70s.

For now, I’d like to suggest you look at some productive ways to keep going to meet the road ahead of you, wherever it leads. I want your “take-away” today to be a renewed energy and resolve, courage to keep going, an “aha!” moment, or just plain inspiration for staying the course. I’d like you to take some action right away:

  • Look at yourself as part of the solution to our tough times, even if you’re in transition right now, looking for a job yourself. Doesn’t that give you a perspective of potential, instead of fear or lack?
  • Get out and circulate in the community, and consider taking a volunteer position or a “day” job in a busy place that will keep you meeting new people and feeling like you’re contributing to life.
  • Be proactive about the upcoming mid-term election and get out and VOTE! The biggest issue of this 2010 election is JOBS, hands down. Be a part of the buzz. No matter what your political party or inclination, pull that lever in the polling booth. It’s powerful! And while you’re at it, why not volunteer to help build a great turnout?
  • Count your blessings and start each day anew, with expectation of great potential in everyone you meet and everything you do. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Look for a “break” and the good in everything you see!

Finally, lighten up on yourself. Take a breath! My message here is “If I can do this … you can do this, too.” But it takes courage, acceptance, patience, and resolve, and the willingness to see that the struggles many of us are experiencing this year are the gateway to truly understanding what it means to be human, and to live a life of purpose, passion, and transformation. It can be a pathway to self-improvement and a new happiness in the simple things in life.

You can do this! Honest!

Di Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc. executive outplacement, coaching and career management service. Her Linked In profile is at www.linkedin.com/in/DiChapman. You can also follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/InspirationalDi.