Archive for the ‘Over 40 Job Hunting’ Category

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.

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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

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:

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/storysection=news%2Flocal%2Forange_county&id=8107699

and

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/storysection=news/local/orange_county&id=8100181

http://www.great-wall-marathon.com/Themarathon.aspx 

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.

AGE IS A STATE OF MIND

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.