Should I Take the Buyout Package

Buyout Package

buyout packageHave you or someone you know been offered a buyout package?

If you work for a large multinational corporation or the US federal government, the answer is probably yes.

How do you determine whether to take it or not?

The idea for this post came from a New York Times article, Making Money Decisions When You Lose Your Job.

I have also had multiple clients who were offered a buyout package or severance. You will find references to them in my post, 4 Signs That You Are Working for a Failing Company.  Rather interesting—I reposted that same material on LinkedIn Pulse and it went viral. Check out the comments.

I then recorded a podcast with Roger Whitney, the Retirement Answer Man, on this topic.

Evaluating the Buyout Package

You need to consider the following:

  • Immediate financial needs
  • Tax implications
  • Health insurance
  • Provisions of the separation, including non-compete clauses
  • Long term financial needs
  • Mental health and well-being

Immediate Financial Needs of the Buyout Package

How are you going to make ends meet financially?

  • Check out unemployment benefits
  • Consult your financial adviser immediately
  • Perform a careful budget analysis. How much money do you actually need to live?

If you plan to return to work, a good rule of thumb is to allow one month of unemployment for every $10,000 of annual income. If you are making $100,000 annually, you can expect your job search to take 10 months.

(More: How Long Will My Job Search Take?)

Tax Implications

If you get a lump sum severance in the second half of the year AND you get 6 months or more of severance, you may move into a higher tax bracket…especially if you find work quickly.

I had one client get contract work within 6 weeks of being laid off. This was in the September/October time frame. He told his new employer to withhold pay until the following year. This helped him in two ways:

  1. He did not need the money now, and the extra money would’ve pushed him into a higher tax bracket
  2. He would receive a lump sum check in January, which was an emotional relief

If it is late in the year, you may be able to negotiate to delay receiving your severance until the following year. Larger multinational companies may not do this, but smaller companies will likely negotiate.

Consult your tax accountant.

Health Insurance

This is less of a big deal than in the past. Now, you can buy individual health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). You will get sticker shock!

Group health insurance via your employer is EXPENSIVE! You paid for it indirectly via lower wages and your employer purchased it. Check last years W-2 statement. It clearly states what your employer spent on your health insurance. When you continue your company health insurance via COBRA, it will be pricey.

Consult with an insurance broker who can spell out your options. You will have many of them, but, since you will be paying for your health insurance at least for a while, it’s worth it to go through them all.

Provisions of the Separation, Including Non-Compete Clauses

Read through the separation agreement. I suggest you take it to your lawyer.

If you have a non-compete clause in your contract and you live in a right to work state like Texas, that non-compete is likely not enforceable. Contact an employment lawyer.

Long term financial needs

Review your retirement accounts with your financial adviser. When I left my last company, I was completely stressed out. My blood pressure was very high and I was becoming physically ill from working there. I had to get out.

I went to my financial adviser and asked, “Can I retire? Can I retire now?

After running numerous Monte Carlo simulations, the answer was yes. I had no plans to retire and I had already started Career Pivot legally, but it gave me piece of mind to know that I would be okay.

I have had multiple clients who have been offered both voluntary and involuntary packages. I always tell them to talk to their financial advisers.

Mental Health and Well-Being

Your mental health and well-being is critical in evaluating a buyout package. One of the key factors to consider is that you will likely not have a paycheck. No matter how well prepared you are, emotionally giving up the paycheck is really difficult.

When I gave up the paycheck, I still woke up at 4 in the morning in a cold sweat saying to myself,

“I do not have a paycheck!!”

Do not under estimate the emotions that will surface. Find someone—a spouse, friend, counselor, clergy, social worker, etc.—to help you work through these emotions.

(More: Demise of the Paycheck – Good Riddance)

When a buyout package is offered, evaluate it using expert advice. You may be tempted to wait for the next round.

When a buyout package is offered, the next round is almost never more lucrative.

Have you been offered a buyout package? Tell us about your experiences!
Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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The Best and Worst Parts of Working from Home

Working from Home

working from homeWhen you’re stuck in the throes of commuting and cubicle life, working from home can seem like the light at the end of the tunnel. And for the most part, it is. But there are aspects of telecommuting that can be taxing, particularly if you’ve never done it before. Here are just some of the best and worst parts of working from home—and how to handle them.

The benefits of working from home:

Your schedule is your own.

Doctor’s appointments. Your child’s writing celebration. Gym time. There are so many demands on your day that it’s hard to fit them all in, especially when you work in an office. Having a flexible schedule means you can adjust your schedule to meet the challenges of your day—and still get all of your work done. It might mean starting your workday earlier or finishing up later, but having complete control over your schedule is truly the ultimate in work-life balance.

No interruptions.
When you worked in an office, you had a steady stream of chatty colleagues stopping by your ‘cube to talk…and talk…and talk. Phones were ringing and machines were beeping. Sitting in your home office, though, you can savor the silence—and zero interruptions. Being able to work in a more focused manner without incessant interruptions is definitely a bonus of working remotely.

Increased productivity.
Studies have shown time and time again that remote workers are far more productive than their in-office peers. Why? Without having a lengthy commute, a micromanaging boss breathing down your neck, and typical office interruptions, telecommuters can experience greater productivity without anything to interrupt their workflow.

The downside of working from home:

It can be lonely.
When you first started to work from home, you couldn’t believe how absolutely quiet it was. You could hear the slight hum of your computer being on. In fact, you could hear yourself think! At first, that was a huge benefit. But after awhile, working from home can get a bit lonely, even for those former office workers who were once desperate to ditch their office mates. One way to combat this is to stay in touch socially with your virtual colleagues, either by instant message, email, phone, or even sites like Yammer or Sococo, which can give you the virtual feeling of working together as a team. Another option is to take your office on the road with you, working at a local Starbucks, the park, or even a co-working space where you’ll be around people but still be able to get your work done, too.

You have to be very disciplined.
Sure, you have a project due by the end of the day…but there’s a Walking Dead marathon on that you want to watch. While there are a lot of distractions when you work in an office, there might be even more when you work from home (your comfy bed, anyone?). So it’s important to treat working from home as if you were working in an actual office. Set up your home office away from other distractions, such as the TV or the kitchen. Even though you have flexibility as to when and how you work, you still need to take your remote job seriously and treat it as such.

You must be able to problem-solve.
You can’t connect to your company’s videoconference. Your landline connection is spotty. A myriad of tech issues can happen when you’re a telecommuter. Whereas you could always reach out to the IT department when your computer glitched on you, now that you’re working from home, you are the IT department. Being a telecommuter means that you’ll need to be able to problem-solve fast—and also on your own.

But fixing issues isn’t always just of the tech kind; you might get what reads like a testy email from a coworker. Or you might get a confusing IM from your boss. Instead of letting issues slide (and then having to deal with the emotional aftermath later), it’s up to you to exhibit your superior communication skills to handle anything that comes your way. That way, you can clear the air and continue working peacefully (and productively) from home.

Just like anything else, working from home has its pluses and minuses. But if you go into it knowing what to expect—and knowing some traits about yourself, too—you’ll be able to thrive as a remote worker and find the Holy Grail that is work-life balance.

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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Assumptions – How They Create Career Sinkholes

Assumptions and the sinkholes they create

AssumptionsAssumptions—we all make them when we manage our career!

Of course, this company needs someone with “xyz” skills.

My next job cannot be as bad as this current job.

Everyone lets people accrue vacation time from the time they start.

I will work for the local school district, and of course they have good health insurance.

I have either heard these from clients or I have made these mistakes myself.

Conscious Versus Unconscious Assumptions

Conscious assumptions are easy. It is the unconscious assumptions that will get you into big trouble.

Years ago, I taught a problem determination workshop for IBM. When you get stuck on a problem it is usually due to an unconscious assumption. Let me give you the example I told in that workshop.

Early in my career, I owned a 1976 Ford Pinto, a non-exploding one. It would not start and I diagnosed that it had a bad starter solenoid. Early one Saturday morning, I went to the local auto parts store and bought the necessary part. I installed the new solenoid, but it still would not start.

I spent the rest of the weekend diagnosing the problem. Finally, around 4 PM on Sunday I screamed in frustration, “It has be to the damn starter solenoid.” I bought another new starter solenoid, and this time, it worked!

My unconscious assumption was that the first new starter solenoid had to be good. It was NEW! It had to be GOOD! I wasted much of a weekend because of that unconscious assumption.

I will make a wager that most of you have experienced something like this in your life. I created a sinkhole that I fell right into.

Assumption Examples

Example #1

I had a client who had an offer in hand from a Fortune 500 employer. When we did some careful digging through the offer letter, we learned that:

  • The employer did not let new employees start accruing vacation until after their six month anniversary.
  • They were not offered company health insurance until after their six month anniversary.

What we discovered from a former HR employee at the company:

  • If my client asked, they would credit six months of vacation time into their account when they were hired.
  • If my client asked, they would pay my clients COBRA payment for six months until they were eligible for company health insurance.

Notice in both cases, the benefit was only offered if my client asked. Would you have asked? Probably not.

It would have been easy to assume that health insurance and vacation started at time of hire. It also would have been easy to assume that, once we learned of the reality, there was nothing my client could do about it.

Assumptions could have easily created a sinkhole for my client to fall into!

Example #2

In 2002, after a near fatal bicycle accident, I decided to pursue my Texas High School Math teaching certification. I was an engineer. I had taught adults for over 25 years in over 35 countries. There was a shortage of math teachers. I made the assumption that finding a teaching position would be easy.

It was not easy!

What no one told me was the public school system wants people who are highly compliant. Guys over 40 years of age and who come out of the corporate world tend not to be so compliant. Principals know that!

No one in my teacher certification class cohort who was male and over 40 years of age could get an interview. Nobody would talk to us! Only when school was about to start in August would principals begin giving us the time of day. Why? They had no choice.

My assumptions created a sinkhole that I fell right into. I did get a teaching position less than a week before school started, but it created a stressful situation that I would not want to repeat.

I can give you a lot more examples. Assumptions can be very dangerous!

What assumptions have you made that created a sinkhole? Did you fall in?
Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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3 Signs You Are a Closet Introvert and What to Do!

Closet Introvert

closet introvertI will admit that I am a closet introvert!

I am not alone. There are many of you out there who appear to be extroverts, but are really closet introverts.

Is there a 12 step program for this condition?

Why do naturally introverted people start behaving like extroverts?

They get paid to be extroverted! DUH! The awards and kudos all go to extroverts!

I was a pretty shy kid. I was 6’4″ and 145 pounds when I graduated from high school. I had a big head of read hair (this was the early 1970s). I was no chick magnet.

I went to engineering school at Northwestern. Lots of introverts there!

I took a job at IBM programming word processors. Lots of introverts there!

In the mid 1980s, I took a job running a help desk supporting mechanical engineers. I got to talk to people. I got better and better at it. I got to run quarterly meetings. I was good at it. WOW! As a result, I received kudos.

I went off into training. I got to speak more. I got promotions. I won awards. I learned to behave like an extrovert. There was only one issue.

Boy, did I get tired. It was exhausting! It manifested physically in lower back problems. Once or twice a year, my back would spasm. I had to learn to take better care of myself if I wanted to continue to behave like an extrovert.

I learned to behave like an extrovert, but it consumed lots of energy.

Does this sound familiar?

Here is a great video on why you have become a closet introvert.

Lets talk about three signs that you might be a closet introvert.

Group Dinner

You have traveled on business to meet with clients or coworkers. You have been with them all day! At 5 PM, someone says,

“Let’s go get drinks and dinner!”

If you feel like you want to go back to your room and vegetate, you are likely a closet introvert.

Being with people all day has drained you. You need time to go back to your room and recharge.

Public Speaking

You have worked hard to give a great presentation to an important audience. You are pumped up and go on stage with a burst of energy. The presentation goes great.

When you walk off, everyone gives you positive accolades. You feel great. You sit down, and the adrenalin starts to wear off (adrenalin is a GREAT DRUG!). Fifteen or twenty minutes later ,you slump in your chair, exhausted.

You are likely a closet introvert.

Evening with Your Spouse

You have been in meetings all day, but now it’s time to leave. When you get home, your spouse wants to have a discussion with you about an important issue. You just want to crawl into a corner or go to bed!

Come on, you know exactly what I am talking about. Unless you had time to decompress on the commute home, you need down time.

You are likely a closet introvert.

What to do about it?

You are paid to be an extrovert! Therefore, you are not likely to want to make any changes in how you behave.

Here are a few ideas on how to take better care of yourself as a closet introvert.

  • Block off times of the day to be alone – If you are in all day meetings, find a place where you can sit by yourself, and do something that gives your energy. This might be reading your favorite book, listening to music on your iPhone, or getting online to research your next vacation. Even if it is just for 10 minutes multiple times a day, you will be surprised what it will do for you.
  • Eat a snack before a presentation – I worked in an IBM Briefing Center for many years. I found that, if I ate an apple before my morning presentations, I felt so much better afterwards. I learned that my breakfast was not sufficient to get me to lunch when I had to present in the morning.
  • Block off time before and after an event – If I am going to present or attend a conference where I will be interacting with a lot of people, I block off several hours before and after to be alone. I do not allow that time to be compromised.

I have stood on stage many times and told the audience that I am a closet introvert. They all go—right!! The problem is that a good part of the audience are also closet introverts.

Do you see yourself in this post? Are you really a closet introvert?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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The Arts and Your Career

The Arts and Your Career

ArtsCreating a career in the arts or music is incredibly difficult.

I work with so many clients who are highly creative. They tend to have big interests in the arts and music. Many have stuffed those interests because they cannot make a living at what they love.

Let me tell you two stories about clients who have started to feed those interests.

Susan and Photography

I have written about Susan twice before:

Susan started her career as a photographer. She quickly found that she was unable to make photography into a viable moneymaking career. So, she just stopped.

Her top three Birkman interests were Literary, Social Service, and Artistic. She was highly creative and loved helping people. Her job in market research allowed her to fill the first two, but she had stuffed her interest in the arts. When I learned this, I told her to get out her phone and just start taking pictures. She needed to fill her interest in the arts!

She responded, “Take pictures of what?”

My response was,  “Anything you want!”

Susan has gone through ups and downs (as you will discover in the previous posts). She is currently working for herself taking project jobs.

Over the last few years, I periodically get texts from Susan with absolutely beautiful images. Each time, you could tell she was beaming.

The photograph above was taken a few months ago and was just accepted in a major black and white photography competition.

Susan texted me when she learned her photograph had been accepted.  Susan was ecstatic.

She does not get to fill this interest in her career…but it can be—and needs to be—filled in her personal life!

(More: Talents versus Skills – Do you know the difference?)

Steve and Music

Steve graduated from high school and pursued a music degree. After a couple of years in college, he realized that he would never be able to make a living as a musician.

Sound familiar?

Steve pursued multiple business degrees and was pretty successful. When the great recession caused his business to fail, he was at a crossroads. He was now almost 40 years disconnected from his musical past.

He found work and was doing okay financially, but he was not happy. Almost by accident, he reconnected with some band buddies from his past. He found that his passion had not gone away.

The arts and, more importantly, music fed his soul.

The business world of music has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Now, we are working together to see if he can marry his acumen in business with his love for music.

Common Themes

When I work with clients who have high interests in the arts and music, there are some common personality characteristics:

  • They tend to be more shy and introverted than normal. Some have learned to behave like extroverts, but they really are closet introverts.
  • They are far more likely to be emotional and kind, empathetic souls.
  • They do not like conforming to strict rules. They tend not to function well in rigid environments.
  • They like to add flair to their work products. This often comes out in beautiful Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. They take pride that their work products look good!

The Arts and Your Career Rarely Intersect

I remember being in Washington D.C. last year to visit our son and daughter-in-law. We were in the National Portrait Gallery and met young employee who was a recent college graduate with an art history degree.

I told her congratulations on finding a good job where she actually got to use her degree.

More importantly, I said I was sure her parents were even more ecstatic that she found a position using her art history degree!

Those of you who have high interests in the arts and music are probably not getting those needs filled within your career. If you have stuffed those interests in order to pursue a career that pays the bills, puts food on the table, pays the mortgage, and puts your kids through college, you may want to resurrect those interests.

Have you taken your interest in the arts or music and stuffed it?

Maybe it is time to repack your bags!

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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3 Signs You Are Institutionalized Like Brooks at Shawshank

3 Signs You Are Institutionalized

institutionalizedAre you institutionalized like Brooks in The Shawshank Redemption?

Brooks was a convict who was being paroled after having been in prison for 50 years. The thought of leaving was so overwhelming, that he attacks a fellow prisoner so he can remain in prison.

“Red” (played by Morgan Freeman) explains:

Red: Would you knock it off? Brooks ain’t no bug. He’s just…just institutionalized.
Heywood: Institutionalized, my ass.
Red: The man’s been in here fifty years, Heywood. Fifty years! This is all he knows. In here, he’s an important man. He’s an educated man. Outside, he’s nothin’! Just a used up con with arthritis in both hands. couldn’t even get a library card if he applied. You see what I’m saying?
Floyd: Red, I do believe you’re talking out of your ass.
Red: Believe what you want. These walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them.

That’s institutionalized. Sound familiar??

Watch the video of the scene:

Do you work for a major corporation or government entity? Are you scared to leave?

Are you institutionalized?

I can think of three major groups that tend to be institutionalized.

  • Large corporations, like IBM
  • Military
  • K-12 education

There are others, I am sure. Please comment below and give me your suggestions!

Your Network

Do most of the people you know work for the same institution?

Are most of your LinkedIn connections working for your current employer? Do you lack LinkedIn connections because you did not see the need?

When I worked for IBM during their near bankruptcy in 1993, most of my colleagues lived in IBM ghettos. These were neighborhoods that were inhabited almost exclusively by IBMers.

When I taught high school math between 2004 and 2006, it was an all consuming work environment. I lived and breathed what was going on in the school, and I rarely came up for air. Most of the teachers had little experience and contact with the outside work world.

If you can count the number of people you know outside of your institution on your two hands, you are probably institutionalized.

(More: Strategic Networking uh err .. Strategic Relationships

Your Vocabulary

Do you speak “work speak?” Is the vocabulary particular to your institution? When I worked at IBM as a programer, we talked about APARs, VM, MVS, and JES.

When I taught high school, we would discuss TEKS and TAKS.

When I worked in a briefing center for IBM, we would bring in military customers and they could throw out so many acronyms that our heads were spinning when we left the room.

Can you speak jargon-free English for a whole day?

If not, you are probably institutionalized!

(More: Finding Keywords to Manage Your Career [Video]

Your Skills

Do your skills have value outside of your current institution? If not, you are probably institutionalized.

I remember when, in 1993, my boss was offered an early retirement package. She was 49 years old with 30 years at IBM. She was one of my best bosses ever.

She thought she had no value outside of IBM. She was institutionalized.

Of course, her skills were highly valued outside of IBM, but she did not know it!

(More: Talents versus Skills – Do you know the difference?

Next Steps

Start by networking with people who have left your current institution. Where have they gone?

Contact them and ask for AIR – Advice, Insights, and Recommendations.

I had a client who was a West Point graduate. I asked him if any of his classmates left the military and went on to successful careers in the private sector.

His response was YES!

I asked him do you think they would be willing to help him?

His response was YES!

Get help in translating your skills outside of your current institution. I think you will find that, if you use the right vocabulary, you will be able to sell your skills.

Practice using this new vocabulary on anyone and everyone who is willing to listen.

Are you like Brooks?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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3 Lessons Learned by a Baby Boomer Career Blogger

Baby Boomer Career Blogger

Baby_Boomer_Career_BloggerI became a baby boomer career blogger in June of 2011. Three and half years later, I have learned a lot. My readership has taught me so much.

I thought now would be a good time to reflect on what I have learned and get feedback from you!

Baby Boomers – We are not like our parents!

I attended a session at South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Conference called Getting Old: A Job for the Young.

The session was led by José Colucci from IDEO. IDEO is a leading design firm that does a lot of work for Apple.

Many of his assumptions were that our old age lifestyle will look a lot like our parents’ did. WRONG!!

Yes, we will live a lot longer. We will also work a lot longer because we will not have enough money to retire on.

For example, he stated that we will purchase as many cars in retirement as we purchased before retirement. Hmm…I turn 60 years old next year, and I am looking at purchasing my last car. I expect this car to keep me going for 20 years! I think I have owned 8 cars in my lifetime.

I see these kinds of assumptions all over the place.

What I have learned as a baby boomer career blogger is that “We are so NOT LIKE OUR PARENTS!”

(Sorry for the rant!!)

We were Raised to be Generalists, and Traditional Education has Failed Us!

I have said many times:

I was raised to be an employee to work for a father-like company who would take care of me until and through retirement.

When I entered the workforce in the mid 1970s, generalists were valued. We were not encouraged to become specialists.

I attended a session at SXSW Interactive called Higher Education: To Get a Job or Create a Job? The premise of the discussion was how can higher education prepare our kids for a job when the skills required by industry changes every couple of years.

Most of us were raised to attain a set of skills that would sustain us throughout our career.

WOW—that is not at all true anymore! The skills I have acquired in the last three years as a baby boomer career blogger are pretty amazing.

What school did I attend? NONE!

What classes did I take? NONE!

Did I attend a lot of meetups? YES!

Did I read a lot online? YES!

Did I participate in online discussions like #blogchat? YES! (By the way, I attribute 90% of what I have learned about blogging to the #blogchat community.

What I have learned as a baby boomer career blogger is—being a generalist is no longer a safe route, and your skills will be acquired in a non-traditional manner.

The World is Changing and Our Children are Leading the Charge

The millennial generation are our children. I state in my multi-generational workplace workshop

They is the way they is — because we made them that way!

The bad grammar is on purpose! LOL!

The millennial generation are also referred to as echo-boomers. They are the opposite of ourselves. Just as we were the opposite of our parents.

I spoke last week at SXSW Interactive as part of the session called: Personal PowerWorks: Power Your Personal Brand and Career.

This was part of the Social Good Hub Program, learn more at http://sxsw.com/sxgood.

For most of us baby boomers, we would have been more interested in getting stoned and preaching peace when we were the of age of those in the audience. These younger folks are truly interested in creating a better world.

I WAS IMPRESSED!

What I have learned as a baby boomer career blogger is that our children are in control of our future!

The World has Changed

There is an incredible amount of information that is dispensed on Fox News, CNN and MS-NBC that our generation digests everyday. We listen to it and get really upset.

Our Congress is paralyzed because of all of the rhetoric. In my humble opinion, it is ugly!

What I have learned as a baby boomer career blogger is that we need to accept:

  • To teach and inform industry and government that we are not like our parents
  • That we will need to proceed in our careers very differently, and that we are not in control
  • To take the lead from our children

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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Middle Skill Jobs Going, Going and Gone

Middle Skill Jobs

middle_skill_jobsMiddle skill jobs—jobs that do not require a four year college degree—are rapidly disappearing.

Last week, I wrote in my post Can Disruptive Technologies Disrupt Your Career about technology changes that could eliminate or disrupt careers. These jobs will primarily fall in the middle skill jobs category.

As was written in the DallasFed Economic Newsletter by Anton Cheremukhin:

Employment in the United States is becoming increasingly polarized, growing ever more concentrated in the highest- and lowest-paying occupations and creating growing income inequality. The causes and consequences of this trend are often considered in the context of what has been a relatively “jobless” recovery from the Great Recession.

hollowing_out

Classic Example

A classic example of the elimination of middle skill jobs can be seen in just about every airport.

Fifteen years ago, if you walked into an airport, you would be holding a paper ticket. There were gate agents who would check you in at the departure section of the airport.

Today, there are kiosks where you check yourself in. The issuance of boarding passes is completely automated. In fact, most of you check in before you leave your home or hotel.

Thousands of middle skill jobs have been eliminated.

Liberal Art Education

At one time, a liberal arts education would, at the very least, land you into many middle skill jobs. That is no longer true.

I am working with multiple clients who attained liberal arts educations at prestigious universities. Many ended up in administrative positions. They proved their worth by making processes work within their corporations. This might be in areas like Human Resources, IT, or Manufacturing.

They made things “just happen” in a human-centric process world, then, their jobs were automated. A common job title that has been nearly eliminated is Administrative Assistant.

Today, just about any process-driven task can be automated and then outsourced to any place in the world.

Why did this happen to them? They had really good soft skills, but soft skills can be easily eliminated in a hard skills environment. Their liberal arts education that led to middle skill jobs could easily be eliminated.

What to do?

Can your job be automated?

Get serious! Even customer-facing service jobs are being automated.

Should you go back to school?

I recently wrote the post College Degree After 50 – Worth It  where I asked whether going back to college made sense. My conclusion is that, unless the education is highly targeted towards a specific skill that is highly desired, it does not make financial sense.

It may make sense from a personal development perspective, but financially—NO.

Should you get training and certification in a highly desirable skill?

YES, but do your research first.

Middle skill jobs have been eliminated during every recession in the last century. That is not going to change!

Are you working in a middle skill job?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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How to Find Work Flexibility in Your Next Career

Flexibility in Your Next Career

flexibilityFor years, you worked in the same industry, happily clocking into the office each and every day. But now, things are different. While you would still like to keep working, you’re looking for a little more flexibility—and a lot more work-life balance—in your life.

That’s where a flexible job comes into play. A job that offers a flexible schedule can help you gain control over your life as well as your transition to a completely new career. That way, you can continue earning a paycheck but still have the time you want for other more personal pursuits, in particular spending time with your family.

Fortunately, flex comes in various forms. For example, you could work a full-time remote job, in which you would work a typical 40-hour workweek, but from the comfort of your home office (i.e., no more commuting!). Perhaps you would like to work a full-time schedule, but you don’t want to work every day. In that case, a compressed workweek could be a fit for you. In a compressed workweek, you might work in an office from Monday-Thursday, but work extra hours during those four days, leaving your Fridays free!

If you want to decrease the number of hours that you work, you could also find a part-time telecommuting job. In that scenario, you might work upwards of 25+ hours weekly, but not have to go into a traditional office. But if you’re looking to slowly dip your toes into your new career field, freelance might be the best option for you. As a freelancer, you get to choose when you work, who you work with, and how you work. You can score a permanent freelance job or have a variety of clients that you work for. Freelance work (i.e., being an independent contractor) allows you to truly work when you want to.

With so many options in flexible work, it can be hard to pinpoint which type of flex is best for your situation. So you’ll need to consider the following factors in determining what type of work flexibility will, well, work for you!

Your Budget

Determine how much money you need to make monthly in order to have the life you want to live. The amount you need to earn each month will ultimately factor into which type of flex work you’ll look for.

Your Family

Let’s say that you’re caring for a family member, or are a proud part-time babysitter to your grandchildren. You may need more (or less) free time to be with your loved ones and take care of your family commitments. As such, you’ll need to scale back (or ramp up) the number of hours that you’re able to work.

Your Health

If your calendar has one doctor’s appointment after another on it, finding a freelance job that pays the bills (but also lets you completely customize your schedule) will be an important factor in finding your flex.

Your Career Goals

Let’s say that for the majority of your career, you were a tax accountant. Now, you’re switching careers in order to become a world-class baker. It’s uber important to decide why you’re switching careers and how much time you want to dedicate to it. If you want to focus on this new career and are willing to work really hard at excelling at it, then finding a full-time telecommuting job would work for you. If your new career is more of a passion project that you want to dabble in once in a while, you might look into part-time work to slowly immerse yourself into this new career and make the transition easier.

Now that you’ve determined what kind of flexible schedule job you’d like to have and identified the factors that went in to making that decision, it’s time to find a flexible job! The best way to land a job with work flexibility is to look for companies that are known to have flexible policies. You can find out this info from looking at a company’s website or even calling its HR department. And when you’re looking at job descriptions, you should look out for words such as “telecommuting,” “remote job,” or “virtual position.” But be careful of job postings that use words like “work from home” or “work at home” as they might be job scams.

It’s exciting to start a new career, no matter what your age. And by having a flexible position, you can work in the career that you were meant for, and do it all on your terms.

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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Can Disruptive Technologies Disrupt Your Career?

Disruptive Technologies

disruptive technologiesI am attending SxSW Interactive  this week. I am amazed at the possibilities for market disruption in so many areas.

Twitter was launched at SxSW in 2007, and now you see hashtags on just about every news outlet.

Will disruptive technologies disrupt your career, industry, or both?

Automobiles

New collision avoidance technologies are being implemented throughout the auto industry. As vehicles are able to avoid collisions, the economic impact on society will be reduced. When driverless cars are introduced, it has been hypothesized that possibly as much as 90% of collisions could be eliminated.

How will these disruptive technologies affect:

  • Insurance industry
  • Auto parts suppliers
  • Auto repair shops

Just 10 years ago, it was predicted that driverless cars would not be technically feasible anytime soon.

Healthcare

We have seen many disruptive technologies emerge, described as wearable devices. My wife has a fitbit which she uses to track how many steps she takes each day.

Even more important is the development of EKG apps for your smartphone. For about $200, you can have a portable EKG machine.

How will these disruptive technologies affect:

  • Hospitals – Hospitals charge for EKGs
  • Physicians
  • Clinics

Finance

Bitcoin, which is digital currency, has the possibility of changing the world of finance and accounting. It has the possibility of completely eliminating the credit card industry.

Mobile payments could very well change how we pay for everyday products. Are you ready to give up your credit card?

How will these disruptive technologies affect:

  • Banks
  • Credit Card companies
  • Governments

Publishing

We have already seen the rise of e-books within the last five years. Now, audio books have become progressively easier to produce and publish. My book Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers is now available on audio. It was not feasible to self publish an audio book just two years ago.

I sat in a session where comment moderation was discussed by employees from the NY Times and CNN. The NY Times has a large staff that moderates thousands of comments a day.

How will these disruptive technologies affect:

  • Magazine publishers – They are already disappearing
  • Newspapers – Same
  • Book Stores – When was the last time you went into a book store?
  • Publishers – Traditional publishers are progressively becoming inconsequential

Sharing Economy

We have entered into the sharing economy by being able to rent our house, condo, or apartment on AirBnB or HomeAway.

Disruption is occurring in the local transportation markets with Uber, and Lyft. Will taxis become obsolete?

How will these disruptive technologies affect:

  • Hotel industry
  • Taxi industry

Next Disruption – Higher Education

I just walked out of a session called Higher Education: To Get a Job or Create a Job?

It was discussed that the skills needed in three years to be competitive are still unknown. Therefore, going to school for a 4 year degree no longer guarantees you the skills needed to be employable.

Higher education must become more nimble and entrepreneurial. If it does not, it will progressively become irrelevant.

All of the disruptive technologies I have written about are creations within the last 2-10 years.

What does this mean for your career?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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