The Best and Worst Parts of Freelancing

Best and Worst Parts of Freelancing

freelancingYou’ve been an office worker for ages, dutifully trudging into your job every single day. But now, you’re ready to become the master of your own (work) destiny and forge a new career as a freelancer. And why shouldn’t you, since you’ve acquired numerous skills and experience over the course of your career. Before you advertise yourself as a freelancer, there are some things you should know about this style of work. Here are the best (and worst) parts of freelancing.

The Best Parts of Freelancing

You can customize your schedule.
When you worked in an office, you were basically told what to do, when to do it, and, unless you had a telecommuting job (in which case, you were able to work anywhere in the world), where to do it. As a freelancer, you are the boss, deciding when you want to work, where you want to work, how you want to work, and with which companies. So if you don’t feel like working for a few days so that you can spend some time with your kids, or if you feel like working from your local coffee shop, or if there’s a particular company that you’d like to work for, all of this is determined by you.

There are an abundance of well-paying freelance jobs.

Currently, there are about 53 million independent workers in the U.S., and that number is expected to rise to over 60 million by the year 2020. While you might think that you’ll have a lot of competition based on those stats, think again. There are a plethora of freelance jobs to be found, which is why four in 10 (42 percent) of freelancers have found (and completed) a freelance gig entirely online! And a whopping 77 percent of freelance workers claim to make the same (or more!) money than they did before they started freelancing, which shows that freelancing can be an excellent way of earning a living.

You can do what you love.

Typically, freelancers work in an industry that they truly love. As such, you get to pick and choose the projects that have the most meaning to you. This makes freelancing fun since you’re doing what you love—and getting paid for it.

The Worst Parts of Freelancing

It can be feast or famine.
By far, one of the biggest negatives to a freelancing life is the unsteady source of income. Some months, you might be overwhelmed with work, and other times, you might not have a project lined up for months. So you’ll need to be prepared for those times, both financially and emotionally. You should always have a few months’ income saved up to get you through the leaner times, and don’t dip into it. And you also need to remind yourself that not having any work to do is not a reflection of you or your skills. There are simply ebbs and flows in freelancing, and before you know it, your work calendar will be full again.

You need to think and act like a business owner.

When you worked in an office, you didn’t think twice about keeping track of your expenses. When you have a freelance career, though, you’re essentially operating as your own independent business. That’s why you’ll need to keep exact records of all of your earnings as a freelancer. You’ll also have to do your own taxes (or hire an accountant to do them for you), and keep track of your business expenses—right down to the copier paper and pens that you use in your home office.

You’ll need to be an expert networker.

Completing projects is only one small part of a freelancer’s life. The bigger bulk of your time will be spent trying to land those new clients and assignments. And the way to do that is by networking, networking, and networking. For most people, networking is something that they simply don’t love doing. But in order for you to keep your client list strong (and the projects pouring in), you’ll need to feel comfortable talking to potential clients about your skills, success stories, and previous work in order to garner new assignments.

Just like anything else, being a freelancer has its own pros and cons. But once you know the ins and outs of freelancing life, you can make it work for you, earning a living and scoring some serious work-life balance in the process.
Jennifer ParrisThis post was written by Jennifer Parris, career writer at FlexJobs, the award-winning site for telecommuting and flexible job listings. FlexJobs lists thousands of pre-screened, legitimate, and professional-level work-from-home jobs and other types of flexibility like part-time positions, freelancing, and flexible schedules. Jennifer provides career and job search advice through the FlexJobs Blog and social media. Learn more at www.FlexJobs.com.

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Passion for Career or Hobbies or No Passion at All

Passion for Career or Hobbies or No Passion at All

PassionPassion is a term that is thrown around a lot these days:

  • Some of you have passion for your career
  • Some of you have a passion for the arts, literature or music which is fulfilled outside of work
  • Some are searching for passion and cannot seem to find it

When I wrote the post What If You Are Not Passionate About Anything? back in 2012, I did not know it would be one of the most found posts on the Career Pivot blog. It is found through Google Search hundreds of times each month.

Passion for your Career

When I left home, I was not expected to follow my passion. I was expected to get an education and then get a good paying job. Did I know what I was passionate about when I was 18—or even 21—years of age?

Heck no!

It took me many years to get out of the box and start to explore my passions. For me, it was a near fatal bicycle accident shook me to the core.

I know I am not all that unusual. A lot of my clients are searching for their passion, too.

Passion for the Arts, Music, or Literature

Over the last three years, I have met many who had a passion for the arts, music, or literature. Many of them dropped those passions because they could not make enough money and have success by pursuing them as a career.

Some dropped them completely and, in the process, made themselves miserable. Others pursued their passions as a hobby—singing or playing in church, drawing, or reading all of the time.

I have helped a few clients reignite their passion by encouraging them to just do it. I wrote about Susan in The Arts and Your Career. Susan had been a photographer early in her working career, but eventually gave it up. Since then, she has taken it up again and now it feeds her soul.

No Passion at All

I wrote the post What If You Are Not Passionate About Anything? based on my Birkman assessment. I have a lot of varied interests and I switch jobs frequently. I have no one single passion that drives me and my career. It is a combination of interests that drives me.

I have discovered 10-20% of the population are just like me. Society tells us that we should have a single driving passion. Well, that is just not true for some of us.

As many of us approach retirement age, a new concept has arisen—an encore career! A new opportunity to pursue our passion.

Where do you fall in this continuum of passion?

Are you interested in figuring out your passion and make a pivot to a new encore career?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career – 5 Steps to Your Next Career Pivot

Your Next Career Pivot

Repurpose your careerWhether you are a Baby Boomer, Gen Xer, or Millennial, retirement like your parents had is no longer a possibility for most. Just about everyone will have to go through career changes—career pivots—sometime in their life. It’s time to learn how to repurpose your career.

Let me lay out five steps for you to follow that will help you repurpose your career and make a successful career change.

Step 1 – Know thyself.

Take time to understand your core needs, like autonomy, creativity, and your own definition of a good team. Reflect back on your career when you were the happiest. Use my Career Reflection Worksheet to guide you through seven areas of job satisfaction.

Many of you have morphed into altered versions of yourselves in order to fit comfortably in corporate America. You may not really know yourself anymore. I use the Birkman Method® assessment to dissect your personality and find those areas where you are no longer in line with your authentic self. Most of us who have worked over 20 years have done this to ourselves!

(More: Career Reflection – A Twice a Year Duty )

Step 2 – Build your tribe.

Who can you count on for help and support during this transition? Who is going to lift your spirits when you slip and fall?

Your next career move will almost always come through a relationship! Strategically build relationships within industries and at companies that can help you make your next career pivot.

Build a team around you…and keep in touch with them!

(More: Strategic Networking – Building Your Tribe )

Step 3 – Act on facts, not assumptions.

We often think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, but when we get there, we find out it’s AstroTurf.

In 2003, I left the high tech industry to teach high school math. I made two flawed assumptions:

  • As an engineer who had taught adults all over the world for 20 years, I assumed that school districts would want me to teach math. They did not! They did not want any guy over 40 years of age (likely because we don’t do what we are told)!
  • I would be able to get reasonable health insurance for my wife, son, and myself from the school district. NOPE! My out-of-pocket expenses were double my COBRA payment. I stayed with COBRA until I could find another alternative.

You need to turn off assumptions and really research new opportunities.

(More: Assumptions – Be Careful when making a Career Pivot)

Step 4 – Learn how to network strategically.

By using social media tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you can target individuals who you need to meet and develop relationships.

Sometimes your best connections will come from people who do not know you from work. When I was looking for a teaching position, my best connector was my chiropractor. She knew a lot of people outside of my normal sphere of contacts.

If you have children, your children’s friends’ parents can be a goldmine of connections. When making a career pivot, you will want to be creative in finding new connections.

(More: Networking Strategically to Your Next Position)

Step 5 – Learn to ask for help.

Yes, I am a guy. I do not like asking for directions. But you’re heading into new territory and no one succeeds at a career pivot without others’ help. Set aside your claims to status and your pride in order to reach for something new where you may now be the rookie. This is hard at first, but it gets easier.

When I went off to teach high school math, I was a total novice. I needed to suck it up, admit that I did not know what I was doing, and ask for help. I found a teacher across the hall who would share her lesson plans with me. For an entire year, I stayed two days behind her teaching schedule.

If you follow these five steps, you will have a good chance of being successful when you repurpose your career.

(More: The Key to a Successful Career Shift: Asking for Help

Special Announcement

As part of the 100 Days on Jobs for Career Changers, FlexJobs.com and Career Pivot are excited to host a webinar on “5 Steps to Repurpose Your Career.” If you’re wondering how to transition your ideas for career change into action, this webinar will be a great resource! For more information and how to register Click Here!
Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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This post originally was published on FlexJobs.com.

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7 Steps to a Successful Military Transition

Military Transition

MilitaryTransitioning from the military can be overwhelming but there are steps that you can take to make the process easier and more enjoyable.

The key is to begin the process earlier rather then later. I assisted many service members with their transitions over the years and when it was my turn, I was able to have a stress free transition with several job offers. I started my planning process two years before my retirement date retiring stress and debt free.   You can do the same thing.

Start by attending your local transition assistance program, and try to attend two years prior to your separation/retirement date. In doing so you will learn what is expected of you during the transition process and you will meet key players that can assist you. Then begin to do the following:

  •  Take an honest look at yourself – Before you start drafting your resume, spend time reflecting over your career, to include the time before you came in the military.   What did you enjoy most about your career? What are your strengths, weaknesses, and skills? Take time to review the skills, education and certifications you have acquired and earned. What kind of work do you want to do?
  • Research the careers you are considering – The Internet is the most powerful research tool available today. You can find information on the industry, position, companies, salary, etc. that interest you all at the push of a few computer keys. If you know someone who is currently or has been in the position, give him a call. People love to talk about what they know.
  • Assess Your Skills – In conducting the research did you identify any skills that you were missing? Your employment prospects may improve if you get some additional education and training. Are you willing to go back to school to acquire the certification or degree required? You may be able to do so before you leave the military. Many graduate schools have evening programs to accommodate working adults. Leading universities now offer online programs you can take anywhere. Join associations; do volunteer work in the area.
  • Make a Financial Plan – Make sure you write down your financial plan to include a budget and list of ALL of your current expenses. What will change when you leave the military? Estimate that your retirement pay will be and remember o include items such as medical, dental, and housing expenses you are not accustomed to paying. Most importantly start saving money and work to become debt free before you leave the service. Choosing to save will give you more control over your career path.
  • Network – Effective networking is still the number one way people find out about jobs and secure a position. See if you can join the local chapter of the business association you’re interested in, or at least visit some functions as an observer. Don’t underestimate using social media as a tool for networking. Many employers now advertise positions and look for candidates on social media platforms. Set up your LinkedIn profile and start making connections before you separate or retire.
  • Get a mentor – A mentor is someone who can serve a role model who has “been there and done that”. A mentor has a similar experience as the mentored and shows them the ropes. Ken Williams, author of Mentoring the Next Generation of Non-Profit Leaders, says, “Mentors can do a number of things for your career. They can help you build your resume, guide you on a project, and help you identify resources, including referring you to other mentors and important people in your field.”
  • Write a draft resume or hire someone to. Don’t wait until the day before the transition class or just before you separate/retire. Gather your prior evaluations and awards and look to see if there is information you can use in your resume. Focus on transferable skills that are applicable to any work setting, such as being organized or working as part of a team. Keep in mind this is a draft. When you begin your actual job search you will need to update your resume for every job you apply for using key words for the job description.

There are other steps that you can include in your job search but these are key steps to get you started. Realize that change causes stress. Therefore to minimize the stress, identify what you can control and what you cannot, and take steps to minimize what you can.

Include your family in the process and don’t be afraid to ask for help and in turn help others who follow. For more precise guidance and support, you may want to hire a career coach. To help evaluate possible coaches, look for relevant experience, like work in human resources, and ask for references from people in situations comparable to your own. If not, spend some time looking over these suggestions and get started on your preparations.

The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be enjoying your new career.

Carolyns CowensCarolyn R. Owens, a retired Navy Commander, is a Career, Transition and Life Coach and the Chairwoman/CEO of Infinity Coaching, Inc. (www.infinitycoaching.net). Connect with Carolyn via email at cowens@infinitycoaching.net or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cowensinfinitycoaching/en

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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College Degree After 50 – Worth It?

College Degree After 50

College Degree After 50Is attaining a college degree after 50 years of age worth the effort and expense?

There is a lot of conversation about whether higher education is worth the money.

Robert Reich recently wrote a piece for Salon.com titled:

Robert Reich: College gets you nowhere

The Author writes:

This is the time of year when high school seniors apply to college, and when I get lots of mail about whether college is worth the cost.

The answer is unequivocally yes, but with one big qualification.

A college degree no longer guarantees a good job. The main reason it pays better than the job of someone without a degree is the latter’s wages are dropping.

If this applies to a high school senior what about a 50+ year old who has seen their industry or profession disappear?

It all comes down to what you expect to gain from attaining the degree.

Preservation or Reinvention

Are you trying to preserve or re-invent your career?

I have heard of many going back to school and getting a masters degree in their chosen profession. As long as their current employer supports and/or funds the degree program, it proves to be successful. A good example is getting a Masters in Education, for those in the K-12 education field.

It is used to be that attaining an MBA was a sure fire way to spark your career. I am not sure that is true anymore. Especially, if you are going to invest $100K of your own money. I have one client who received her MBA from a prestigious executive MBA program, and it has done nothing for her. Of course, she received it during the great recession.

In my research for writing this post, I have found nothing that says getting an MBA after 50 makes sense financially.

If you think differently, please comment below.

If you are reinventing your career, my experience is that getting a bachelors or masters degree after 50 is not a good investment, especially, if you are taking out student loans!

I have talked to dozens of individuals over the last couple of years who obtained their college degree after 50. Almost all of them told me it did not give them the competitive edge they needed.

If you are entering a new field after 50 years of age, you will be competing with others much younger than you. The same issues of age discrimination that you found in your old field will likely apply in the new one.

My conclusion is that getting a college degree after 50 works for preserving your career.

It does not make sense most of the time getting a college degree after 50 works to reinvent your career.

Either way, you must do your research. Find others who have successfully forged the trail before you embark on getting your college degree after 50.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs offered at many community colleges are much less expensive and time consuming.  For example, Austin Community College offers certificate programs in non-profit management. If want to make the leap from for profit to non-profit, this a cost effective means of gaining skills and will give you some street cred in your new field.

I recently talked with Christine Jensen, who I found through her article on PBS NextAvenue website called RIF’d at 59: The Lessons She Learned.

Christine is now a freelance writer. She is considering going to her local community college for a photography certificate. It is affordable and she can pick and choose what to take. She may not even pursue a certificate if she obtains the skills she needs without completing the program.

It all comes down to — do your research!

Have you pursued your college degree after 50? Was it worth it?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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3rd Anniversary of Career Pivot

3rd Anniversary of Career Pivot

3rd AnniversaryFebruary marks the 3rd anniversary of Career Pivot, which is dedicated to helping baby boomers and others make career transitions.

The Career Pivot website now attracts over 15,000 visitors a month. I wanted to chronicle some of the history behind Career Pivot.

In the Beginning

I was deep in developing curriculum for designing routers and switches using network processors in 2002. The dot com bust was in full bloom. I was traveling back and forth to Asia to train major networking equipment companies. It was then that my world was turned upside down.

On July 11th of 2002, I was riding my bike alongside a local bicycle club. I came down a hill and slammed head-on into a Toyota Corolla. I spent five days in the trauma center, broke a lot of bones, and dislocated a shoulder, but had no internal or brain injuries—that I am willing to admit to! You can read a lot more about his here.

Following Your Passion

In 2003, I decided to volunteer for a layoff and pursue my Texas High School Math teaching certificate. I have a lot of funny stories from this experience.

I taught Algebra I and II for two years in a inner city high school in Austin. Although I felt extremely successful, no one in the administration noticed. After two years, I was exhausted and needed to leave for my own preservation.

Following your passion is not enough.

Launch Pad Job Club

After leaving teaching, I was lost. I did a short contract for the State of Texas as a trainer for a failing project. NOT FUN!

I found myself in a Launch Pad Job Club meeting in April or May of 2006. I saw many others who had been spit out of large technology companies and found themselves…lost. Despite how I felt, I was determined not to return to the world of high tech. I joined the board of directors of Launch Pad later that year.

I pivoted into the non-profit world for a year, only to learn I could not deal with the dysfunctional nature of the industry.

The Great Recession

I was found by a another tech startup in late 2007. What I did not know at the time (and neither did most of you) was that the great recession was just around the corner.

In 2009, the concept of Career Pivot was born. I looked around and found few were addressing the upcoming plight of the baby boomer generation. Every few months, I would attend a Launch Pad meeting—and they were huge!

I left high tech for the second time in 2011 after my boss put me in a highly unethical position.

In 2011, I hired a college intern to do some research on the plight of baby boomers. The numbers he came back with were not just bad, they were awful!

Career Pivot Launch in 2012

The Career Pivot brand and website were launched in February 2012.

Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers was published in January 2013 and has now sold over 1,200 copies worldwide.

Career Pivot made the Forbes Top 100 Career Website list in September of 2013. Career Pivot has been featured on multiple lists since.

What is very disappointing is that very few other websites have followed. I created my own list this year but….

I am now celebrating the 3rd anniversary of Career Pivot.

What has changed?

  • I see a lot of older Gen Xers with the same issues
  • The economy has improved, but not enough to make a significant difference in most of your lives

What has not changed?

  • Age discrimination is alive and well
  • Retirement is still not attainable for most baby boomers

What has changed for you? What change would you like to see?

Leave a comment below

The momentum for Career Pivot continues to build in 2015.

Thank you for all of your support!

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Baby Boomer Walkabout – A Moment of Clarity

Baby Boomer Walkabout

walkaboutWikipedia defines a walkabout as the following:

Walkabout refers to a rite of passage during which male Australian Aborigines would undergo a journey during adolescence and live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months.

I have a client who just completed a baby boomer walkabout.

Bill (not his real name) was laid off from his job in the fall of 2014. It came as a complete surprise to him. Bill is in his late 50s and has always worried about money. He has been fanatical about saving his money for retirement.

One Month Walkabout

Bill decided to wait until the next year to start his job search. He also decided to buy a Rail Pass and travel the US for an entire month. What he did not realize was that this would turn out to be a baby boomer walkabout.

He spent the month sleeping on friends’ couches, park benches (illegally), in a rental car, and other odd places. He spent a lot of time by himself.

He met many people who were living a very minimalist lifestyle. What he noticed about them was that they were happy!

He spent a month in utter simplicity. He found that all he needed was healthy food, a place to sleep, a place to exercise, and good coffee.

His walkabout was a true moment of clarity!

My Walkabout 35 Years Ago

In 1980, I was working for IBM…and was very unhappy. I decided to take my own walkabout! I had two weeks vacation, and asked for 12 more weeks off without pay.

The reaction from management was, “You want what?”

My request was turned down.

My boss did some research and discovered he could give me two weeks off without pay without needing to get approval from upper level management.

He granted my request, and I spent four weeks hiking through Colorado, Utah and Arizona. The last excursion of the trip was to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and camp.

It took two weeks into the trip to wind down and relax. By the third week, I did not know what day of the week it was, and didn’t care. I spent most of the month by myself. I met a lot of fascinating people.

When I got back, I was a changed person: I now saw life through a different, relaxed lens. Like Bill, I realized I needed very little to make me happy.

One week after my return, I met my lovely wife. Hmm…I’m sure this was no coincidence!

I considered selling all of my worldly possessions and joining the Peace Corps.

Did I? NO!

I went back to work, got married, had a child…but I did know myself a whole lot better. I still believe I missed a valuable opportunity. I had my moment of clarity but I let it pass!

Bill and His Walkabout

Before Bill’s trip, I sent him a link to an article in the Huffington Post about Tim and Lynne Martin called, “How We Downsized 2,000 Sq. Ft. Into Two Rolling Duffles To See The World.” Tim and Lynne sold all of their possessions and traveled the world. They chronicled their adventures on their Home Free Adventures website.

Bill has since returned home and is interviewing for a new job, however, with a very different perspective on life. He is thinking of selling his big house, disposing of many material possessions, and following a similar path of Tim and Lynne Martin.

Bill has a level of contentment and peace that he has rarely experienced in his life. His walkabout experience was truly life changing—but now what?

Bill is giving himself two years to prepare AND two years to negotiate with his spouse on what is next.

Have you taken a walkabout? If you did, what did you learn? What did you change?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

8 Best Baby Boomer Career Websites

Best Baby Boomer Career Websites

Career WebsitesGood career websites that focus on baby boomers are few and far between. Recently, Hannah Morgan, The Career Sherpa, published her list of the Best Job Search Websites 2015.

Of course, Career Pivot made the list in the over 50 category. There was only one other website in that category, Kerry Hannon’s website. Kerry regularly writes for Forbes, AARP, and PBS Next Avenue.

When Career Pivot made the Forbes 2013 Top Career Website list, I wrote a post where I dissected the list, and was very disappointed—there were only three career websites that focused on baby boomers.

career websites

Last week, Career Pivot also made the list of Top 100 Software Developer Blogs for 2015.

Let me give you my top 8 baby boomer career website list!

Top 8 Baby Boomer Career Websites

1 – Career Pivot

Okay, I am being self serving, but Career Pivot is the only website that has made just about every list.

2 – Next Avenue

NextAvenue.org is owned by PBS. This website was launched in 2012 to serve the baby boomer community exclusively. It focuses on many issues that baby boomers are facing, not just career-related.

3 – Life Reimagined

Life Reimagined was launched by AARP starting in 2012 and relaunched in 2014. AARP is very late to the career market, but is making a good effort to address the needs of the baby boomer community.

4 – Kerry Hannon

KerryHannon.com is a place where you will find all of Kerry’s materials. Kerry writes for Forbes, AARP, and PBS Next Avenue. You might say that Kerry is a pioneer in this field.

 5 – My Lifestyle Career

MyLifeStyleCareer.com is a creation of Nancy Collamer. Nancy is the author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. What I love about Nancy’s book is that it lays your possibilities out in bite size chunks that are easily digestible. Her blog is full of great ideas.

6 – Encore.org

Encore.org was created prior to the onset of the Great Recession. Their mission statement says it all:

Encore.org is building a movement to tap the skills and experience of those in midlife and beyond to improve communities and the world.

7 – 40PlusCareerGuru

40PlusCareerGuru.blogspot.com is the creation of my dear friend Neil Patrick. Neil is like most of you. He was part of a redundancy (he is from the UK, so I need to use the funny language they use), and now works for himself. Neil started his blog in order to brand himself, and he has done a fabulous job.

8 – John Tarnoff – Boomer Reinvention

 JohnTarnoff.com is the creation of John Tarnoff! Specifically, you will want to check out John’s blog.

A career development coach, speaker, university educator and former media/entertainment executive, John Tarnoff focuses on personal and professional transformation across generations – reintegrating the Boomer Generation workforce into the rapidly evolving 21st century workplace, and developing programs, opportunities and curriculum to support new generations of leaders and entrepreneurs.

Why not the top 10?

My intention was to give you a top 10 list, but I could not find 10 well established websites!

Let me point to two other websites that are either new or under new ownership

ItsAllAboutMe.Today – Midlife Enpowerment

ItsAllAboutMe.Today – This is a brand new website that was developed by another friend Hugh Taylor. Check it out.

Boomers Next Step

BoomersNextStep.com – Jenni Proctor bought this domain and has re-launched it. Check it out.

Am I missing something? If so, comment below and tell me about any other Baby Boomer Career Websites you think are valuable.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Changing Industries to Smart Grid

Changing Industries to Smart Grid

changing industriesMany of you have expressed an interest to follow your passion and change industries. This post is about the story of Daniel Elizalde. Daniel has never been a client of mine, but he has followed many of my methods.

About ten years ago, Daniel realized he wanted to be in cleantech. He believed it was one of the biggest challenges of this century, and he wanted to be part of it!

As with most of us, he did not do much about it for five years. It wasn’t until his product manager job at VI Technologies was coming to an end that he started to pursue his dream.

However, he had a problem. He applied to a couple of companies, and he did not get a job. He was not clear what he wanted or how his skills applied.

Key Point – When changing industries, you have to be able to clearly map your current skills to the new industry. This has to be abundantly clear to get anyone in order for you to be taken seriously.

What is Cleantech?

Cleantech is one of nebulous umbrella terms that relates to many technologies. He had to start by learning what cleantech encompasses before he could focus on companies or roles to target. Was it wind, solar, smart grid, fuel cells, electric vehicles, batteries, or something else that he should focus on?

Daniel did a lot of research online. He also started to network more, and found a number of local groups to join. He was out asking for AIR (Advice, Insights and Recommendations). The magic  is he asked for advice.

Niche Area

When changing industries, you really need to niche yourself. Find the area within an industry where your skills map the best. Daniel is a Software Product Manager. He learned that Smart Grid was the area of cleantech that could leverage his skills the best.

Daniel got very specific on the niche he would pursue.

He continued to research the area with a passion. He read everything he could get his hands on and talked to anyone he could, asking for AIR.

As he talked to companies, he realized his skills were not an exact fit. By asking for AIR, he discovered that some of the main trends in Smart Grid are UX and Cloud, were he fit the best (again,  moving down into a smaller niche).

He also learned that energy companies usually require domain knowledge, which he didn’t have.

As I wrote in my previous post on changing industries, most companies are looking for the purple cow (the perfect job applicant), and want you to have ideal business AND domain skills.

Key Point – You need to ask for a lot of AIR (Advice, Insights and Recommendations).

Domain Skills

Daniel then made a career pivot. He first took a job in the UX arena and then took another job in the Software As A Service(SaaS), or Cloud industry. He gained experience in both areas. Taking these jobs was part of the plan to get the skills that Daniel needed to join the energy industry. They were great jobs, but he approached them as stepping-stones towards his dream job.

Now he needed some Smart Grid experience. This is where Daniel did something that was brilliant.

Daniel started interviewing key Smart Grid thought leaders and other key professionals with great industry connections on his blog TechProductManagement.com. During the interviews, he focused on the skills that he had and the problem he could solve for them, as opposed to his lack of domain knowledge in the energy industry. This was key.

Through the blog, he met many of the key players and became a known player.

Key Point – Through his blog, Daniel demonstrated enough expertise in the new domain world and in Product Management as a whole, that people started talking with him.

Location

All of the companies that Daniel was interested in working for were in California. Daniel lived in Austin, Texas. He could get interviews but they went nowhere.

He finally decided to move to the San Francisco bay area.  In preparation for his move, he made a couple of trips to San Francisco to network and ask for AIR in person. Once companies knew he was serious about moving, they started taking him seriously. Within a month of his move, he was hired.

Daniel ElizaldeDaniel is now a Senior Product Manager for Stem Inc.

Daniel will tell you that changing industries was a marathon and not a sprint. Daniel showed an amazing amount of determination and stamina.

What about you?

Have you changed industries? Tell us your story!

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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How Do I Know That You Know Your Stuff?

Know Your Stuff

know your stuffHow do others know that you know your stuff?

Where are the proof points?

Where do you keep examples of your work?

It is no longer acceptable to tell prospective employers that you accomplished X or Y—you need to demonstrate it.

Building a Portfolio

I used to think that having a portfolio of your work was for creatives. When I taught High School math, the school system encouraged us build a portfolio of lesson plans and teaching aides that we had developed. Portfolios are not just for creatives anymore.

Rich Media

You can now connect your LinkedIn profile to anything on the Internet. You can place rich media links in your LinkedIn Summary section and within each position in your LinkedIn Experience section. You can link to YouTube videos, presentations on Slideshare, articles you’ve written or been quoted in, or anything that demonstrates that you know your stuff.

You can also upload files to your LinkedIn profile. These could be PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, or anything the demonstrates that you know your stuff.

What if your work is proprietary in nature, or you do not own the material? Having worked for two tech startups, I have seen that first hand.

You need to get a little creative.

Create a Blog or Website

Create your own repository for material that demonstrates that you know your stuff. A great example of this is . I will be writing about Daniel’s pursuit of changing industries as a product manager in the coming month. Daniel needed to demonstrate his expertise as a technical product manager. He created his blog called TechnicalProductManagement.com, and he went about interviewing thought leaders in his new industry (Clean Tech). He built a repository of information that demonstrated that he had enough expertise in his new industry to be considered for a position. More on this in a few weeks.

Daniel’s blog is a classic example of creating a portfolio. He published on a regular schedule, once a month, and over time it became quite apparent that he knew what he was talking about!

LinkedIn Publisher

LinkedIn Publisher is LinkedIn’s publishing platform. It is rapidly becoming a game changer.

This is a free service that allows you publish your own articles. They will appear in your LinkedIn profile. It is a professional, simple, and low cost way of demonstrating that you know your stuff.

It is very likely you have read one of these LinkedIn Publisher posts:

Each of these posts can be found on my LinkedIn profile.

Take Action

Building an online portfolio of work products is the best way to demonstrate that you know your stuff!

What is the best way for you to demonstrate that you know your stuff?

This will not happen overnight. Be persistent and the fruits of your labor will pay off.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group