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

————————————————

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

4 Signs That You Are Working for a Failing Company

Are You Working for a Failing Company?

failing companyI have multiple clients who currently work for failing companies.

These companies fall into a variety of industries:

  • High Technology
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Telecommunications
  • Oil and Gas

Each of them have worked for these companies for many years. Do they see the signs that the businesses are failing?

Well…they see it, but it is easier to bury their head in the sand than to admit they really need to get out!

So, what are the signs?

Repetitive Layoffs, RIF, Resource Action, or Redundancy

I have one client who works for a major pharmaceutical company. The building is starting to look like a cemetery—hardly a living being there. When there are more open desks than filled, that is a sure sign that you are working for a failing business.

How many times have I heard, I made it through the last layoff - I am safe!

No, it is not if you get laid off, but when.

This may well be a sign of a failing company!

Circling of the Wagons

This can typically be seen in upper level management, where the old guard circle the wagons and protect their own. One symptom I have been seeing is bright up and coming women being pushed out by older, more established men. You might call this the return of the “good old boy” network.

This usually happens before a major layoff. Upper management starts to maneuver themselves into prime positions before they screw everyone else.

This may well be a sign of a failing company!

Generous Pension Buyout Offers

I’ve had many clients who have been offered lucrative pension buyout offers within the last six months. They are “take it or leave it” offers, with the requirement that they retire. Most of these clients have been at their companies 30+ years, and are not in a position to retire (with children heading off to college, spouse with health issues, other mitigating factors, etc.).

They tell me, “If I can last just five more years…”

But beware—these offers expire quickly and will never be offered again. I tell them,  “They want you gone! Figure out how to make it work!”

Reminds me of 1999, when IBM converted my pension to a cash balance plan and then switched it back for everyone who was over forty years of age. Oh yeah, minus a whole bunch of perks—like health insurance. A former boss of mine said:

They took it away and gave it back, they would never do that again.

IBM stopped funding the pension in 2008. I left in 2000 with a lump sum pension payout. Best financial move I ever made!

This may well be a sign of a failing company!

Management Bad Behavior

Have you seen bullying behavior?

Have your manager’s e-mails become more and more terse?

Do you feel like you are being shouted at in e-mails?

These are all signs of stress in the workplace. When a business is failing and in a tailspin, there is more work to be done by the few that are left. Stress levels increase exponentially. This brings out the worst behavior.

This may well be a sign of a failing company!

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you may be working for a failing company.

It may be time to move on in your career!

Disruptive technologies like mobile communications, cloud computing, and fracking are wreaking havoc on many long established multinational giant companies.

Playing it safe in your career is the new risky!
Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

————————————————

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 paper “Strategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

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

Work to Live OR Live to Work Transition

Work to Live or Live to Work?

work-liveMost baby boomers work to live.

I know when I started my career, I sure did!

I was raised to be an employee who was supposed to go to work for a father-like corporation that would take care of me until I retired!

Do not get me wrong—I often enjoyed my work. The further I progressed in my career, I found increasingly better positions that suited my talents and skills.

I still went to work to get that paycheck. Oh, that regular paycheck that paid the bills, put food on the table, paid the mortgage, saved for our son’s college education, and planned for retirement.

The goal was to get that paycheck.

(More: Demise of the Paycheck – Good Riddance)

Live to Work

Some of you are blessed to have a talent that permits you to live to work.

Many of us have a talent like that, but do not recognize it.

In 2002, I had a bicycle accident that shook my belief system to the core. I hit a car head on, where speeds exceeded 50 miles per hour.

I lived!

From that point on, I have been working on the live to work thing.

I taught high school math at an inner city high school. I was amazingly successful, but could not teach and stay healthy at the same time.

I did a year of non-profit fund raising, but could not tolerate the dysfunctional organizational behaviors of non-profits.

I started Career Pivot in 2011, and I can truly say I live to work.

It was only then that I realized I had talents that would allow me to live to work.

(More: Talents Versus Skills – Do You Know the Difference?)

The Great Recession

The great recession has shaken quite a few people in our generation. Many would now even enjoy getting to a place where they could work to live.

Prior to the great recession, there were organizations like Encore.org all set to leverage the urge to transition from work to live to live to work. The idea was that, when we retired, we would want to give back.

With 69% of us worried that we will run out of money in retirement, giving back is not in the forefront of our thoughts!

Work to Live — Live to Work Transition

Most of us will work until we no longer can. My plan is to never retire, but work fewer hours at something I enjoy.

The great recession and the fundamental shift in our economy has changed almost all of our retirement plans.

Are you planning on a Work to Live — Live to Work transition?

Are you just hoping to be able to continue to Work to Live?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

 ————————————————

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 whitepaperDon’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

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

Is Telecommuting Good or Bad for Your Career

Telecommuting and Your Career

telecommutingRecently, the Austin Business Journal had a poll about telecommuting called Would You Be A Good Telecommuter?

This a hot topic, as we how have Los Angeles-like traffic in Austin. The question about telecommuting is not whether it would be good for you, but whether it would be good for your career?

I want to address two types of telecommuting: working in a remote city versus working from home to avoid the commute.

Telecommuting in a Remote City

With advances in technology, it is now possible to work from just about anywhere.

This has great advantages:

  • You are no longer restricted to working for companies located within your city
  • Greater variety of opportunities

This also has a number of disadvantages:

  • Team - When you are remote and, specifically, remote geographically, it is more difficult to develop relationships with your team. I have a client who manages multiple remote development teams, and he uses Google Hangouts to interact with them. This is still a challenge for him.
  • Cross Functional Teams – When you are not in the office, it is easy to be out of sight and out of mind. This is specifically true when you are trying to develop working relationships with people outside of your direct management chain.

Relationships are key to your career success. When you work in a remote city, you will really have to work to develop those key relationships.

Telecommuting Locally

Many of us have been given the option to work from home. Is this a good idea? It depends.

Is there a culture of telecommuting in the organization? If so, is there a pattern?

Do many employees work from home on Friday? Are there specific times of the week, like Wednesday morning, when employees work from home?

Whatever that pattern might be, follow that pattern. You want to telecommute whenever others telecommute. You want to be in the office when everyone else is in the office.

Why come into the office when most others are gone? I have one client who came into the office on days when others were telecommuting and she said it was like walking into a graveyard—really quiet!

Pick your times to be in the office when there is a high need for collaboration. Be strategic.

Resource Actions or Reduction in Force

Whenever there is a Resource Action or Reduction in Force or Redundancy, or whatever other name your have for a layoff, the easiest employees to eliminate are the remote employees. Often, management does not need to see these employees face to face to tell them their positions have been eliminated. I have seen this done over the phone and even by e-mail. Yes, I have known employees who were laid off via e-mail!

If you telecommute, you need to put some extra effort into developing key relationships. If you live locally, pick the times to work from home carefully.

Conclusion

What relationships do you need to cultivate, and will telecommuting detract from those relationships?

In my honest opinion, there is a lot to be lost by telecommuting in bad times…and a lot to be gained in good times.

It should be noted that Flexjobs.com just released their list of Top 100 Companies with Remote Jobs in 2015.

Do you telecommute? Is it a good or bad situation?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

 ————————————————

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 whitepaper “Don’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

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

The Demise of the Paycheck – Good Riddance

Demise of the Paycheck

paycheck

My Last Paycheck

Paycheck…where is that dang paycheck? Oh, I did not get one in 2014. That’s right. I have not had a paycheck since 2011.

Because it is January, I started to gather my papers together to do my income taxes. I paid my property taxes today. I made sure to file my quarterly estimated taxes. What was missing is the W-2 statement I used to get from an employer.

It still feels strange not getting a paycheck!

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

Does this seem familiar?

For most baby boomers, we were encouraged to take the safe path, to work for a solid company and get a regular paycheck.

When I started to work for IBM in 1978, I got paid weekly. Every Monday, my paycheck was deposited into my credit union account like clockwork. It was always there! There was security in knowing that there was a steady flow of money coming in.

They Moved My Cheese!

In 1993, IBM went through its near bankruptcy. I watched as many of my older colleagues were walked to the door. They got big severance packages, but the security of the paycheck was gone.

In 1999, IBM made their first attempts to eliminate the pension plan. I started to realize that the concept of job security and a secure paycheck are an illusion.

They moved my cheese!

At that point, I decided it was time to move on. I left IBM in January of 2000 to go to a semi-conductor startup, Agere, Inc.

It was freeing to leave that father-like company—a company that was no more. I left on my terms. I still had a paycheck, but this one was not nearly as secure.

Dot Com Bust

Then came the dot com bust. I watched as many of my former colleagues were laid off from IBM, as well as other large companies.

I hung on to the concept that I needed to stay employed.

In July of 2002, I had a moment of clarity when I endured a near fatal bicycle accident.

I considered starting my own consulting practice, but I could not get health insurance for my wife. I clung to the concept that I needed to stay employed and get a paycheck. I made a couple of career pivots to teach high school math and work for a non-profit. In both, I had a paycheck and health insurance.

The Great Recession

In December of 2007, I took another position with a tech startup called LifeSize. Once again, I watched as so many friends were ejected and lost their steady paycheck.

In 2009, in the depth of the great recession, I started to explore the concept of starting a business, which is now called Career Pivot. I spent over 18 months in my exploration phase. I really liked that steady paycheck!

Sometimes, we have to get hit on the head a few times before we take action. It was late in 2010 when I was put in a highly unethical position at work. It was then that I had enough!

No Paycheck or W-2

It has been four years since I received my last paycheck. Once again, I will not get a W-2 this year. It has been scary at times. We live on less. In fact, we live on a lot less…but we are happier!

Due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I can get health insurance for my wife. It is expensive, but at least I can get it. By the way, I think ACA is a great thing for baby boomers who want to ditch the paycheck. I am all for disconnecting health insurance from the workplace, but that is a whole different topic!

It is liberating not depending on my employer for a paycheck!

In fact, there are many predictions that say over half of us will be contractors or freelancers by 2020.

Are you willing to ditch the paycheck?

Paycheck?  Good Riddance!

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

 ————————————————

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 paper “Strategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

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

Is It Time to Move On In Your Career?

Time to Move On?

move onAre you reaching the point where it is time to move on in your career?

Why are you staying?

Inertia. Inertia is a dangerous thing.  You might be saying:

I have been here too long to just leave.

I am too valuable to let go.

I will wait for the next package to come along.

Or, are you just too comfortable in your position, and to move on would be a lot of work?

Either reason is dangerous. In most cases, you probably have not yet formulated a Plan B.

Example #1

I am currently working with a gentleman who has worked for a large technology company for over 30 years. Last year, everyone on his team was offered an early retirement package. My client turned the offer down.

The problem was that everyone else on his team took the package! His boss even took the package.

He is now doing the work of four and, best he can tell, there are no plans to back-fill the other positions.

He has been offered a generous retirement package again.

Is it time to move on? You tell me!

Example #2

I just talked with a nice lady today who has been programming IBM mainframes for the same company for 20 years. Her employer has rarely laid anyone off. The plan is to migrate off the IBM mainframe over the next few years.

She is being offered opportunities to learn new programing technologies, but it does not excite her. She really does not know what she wants to do. She is in her early 50s and has been doing the same thing for a very long time.

It is time to move on! The problem is what to move on to.

18-24 Month Plan

She is like several clients that I have whose time to move on is very near. With each of these clients, we are putting together an 18-24 month plan. They know the future lies in working for themselves in one way or another. That plan includes:

  • Performing market research on starting a business, freelancing, or finding multiple employers that would be interested in their services on a contract basis
  • Creating the business plans for the next step
  • Establishing their business on paper as either an LLC, LLP, S-Corp or C-Corp
  • Creating a budget and allocating resources

You are probably saying, “How will I do all that?” I am sending all of them to their local Small Business Development Center for help! These centers are funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and are FREE!

When the time comes that they are approached with a business opportunity or told by their current employer that their services are no longer needed, they will be ready.

They are ready financially.

They are ready with the business plan.

They are ready emotionally.

It is the third piece that is really crucial.

When I started Career Pivot, I had my business plan in place. I knew the financials. I am a recovering engineer, so I had everything logically laid out.

That still did not stop me from waking up at 3 AM every morning in a sweat thinking, I do not have a paycheck.

Being ready emotionally, when the time to move on comes, is critical.

Are you going to be prepared when the time is right to move on?

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

————————————————

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 whitepaper Personal Branding for Baby Boomers – What It Is, How to Manage It, and Why It’s No Longer Optional!

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

Working for a Family Owned Business – Pros and Cons

Family Owned Business

family owned businessHave you considered going to work for a family owned business?

These businesses have their own special qualities.

What prompted me to write about this was an e-mail I received after I posted my LinkedIn Publisher post, Are You a Perfect Fit for the Job? Then You Will Not Get It!

The author of the e-mail said she had been a perfect fit for her last job, but had to quit after one year. She wrote that her predecessor lasted only seven months. The job was crazy! The boss was crazy!

My response was, “I bet it was a family owned business!”

She said, “Wow. Yes. The owner, her husband, and son worked there.”

From my experience, there are pros and cons when it comes to working for a family owned business.

Pros

Family owned businesses tend to be smaller. If you are a generalist (versus being a specialist), this is a good thing. You will likely get to wear more hats—getting a greater variety of assignments.

A family owned business can feel like a family for the whole staff. I have known many owners who treat their employees like they are part of the family. For the right person, this can be quite comforting and create an inviting environment.

Cons

A family owned business is exactly that—family owned. Did you grow up in a dysfunctional family like I did? If the family is dysfunctional, then it is highly likely the family owned business will be dysfunctional. I have worked for a non-profit that was dysfunctional, and cannot imagine working in a dysfunctional family owned business.

Do you want to move up? Well, if you are not family, the likelihood of taking a leadership position is small. Well-run family owned businesses also tend to have very low turnover. This can make moving up within the organization difficult.

Is the business growing? Yes? Will the business grow past the capabilities of the owners to manage it, and are they willing to bring in outside talent? If you are in your 50s, you will remember a book titled the Peter Principle. The premise of the book is all of us will inevitably rise to his or her level of incompetence.

I have seen this with multiple clients who work for a family owned business. The business grows and grows, but the management team rises to their level of incompetence. The family cannot see that they need to bring in talent from outside of the family.

Family Members After the Business Fails

I have worked with multiple clients who were part of a family that ran a family owned business. They were left jobless when the business failed during the great recession. Many of them find it difficult to find jobs with traditional employers because they simply do not fit into a corporate role.

Have you worked for family owned business?

What was your experience?

Are you a good fit for a family owned business?

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

————————————————

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 paper “Strategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

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

Mentors – Both Formal and Informal

Mentors

mentorsDo you have one or more mentors?

My one regret from early in my career was I did not seek out mentors. I regret not having someone who could guide me when there was a fork in the road. I have encountered multiple of these forks in my career, and I did not always choose the best path.

Today, I have multiple mentors. I have a business coach. I have multiple mentors that support me in different aspects of my business. I also mentor others.

Some of these relationships are formal, but most are informal.

Why would someone be willing to be one of my mentors?

I am often asked, “Why would someone be will to be one of my mentors?”

It is a compliment. When I mentor someone, I get that good feeling that I have helped them.

Think of it as a gift. By allowing someone to guide and help you reach the next level, you are giving them a gift.

Formal versus informal mentors

I have multiple informal mentor relationships. These are people in my tribe or fan club who I can go to when I need advice or a favor. We do not meet on any regular basis.

Just last week, I was in the process of moving my website to a new service provider, and I needed advice on how to proceed. I reached out to one of my mentors and I got really solid advice.

I have several informal mentors that I can go to for help with PR, sales, networking, etc.

I have formal relationships with several mentors. One is my business coach. Another is the provider of the Birkman Assessment which I use with all of my clients. I pay my business coach and my provider, but these are still mentoring relationships.

Most formal mentoring relationships will have a regular schedule that you will follow and clear goals that you are working to achieve.

Finding Mentors

You first need to determine what areas you need help in. You can then target people who might be able to help in three areas:

  • Work – Look for leaders in your workplace
  • Outside of Work – Look for leaders in the industry or discipline. They do not necessarily have to be located near you.
  • LinkedIn – You can take the same strategies that I recommend in the Targeted Job Search to find mentors.

Early in my career, I had a team leader explain to me that, when he took a new job, he sought out those who knew what they were doing AND were not jerks! It is the second part that is critical. Find those that enjoy helping others.

 

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

————————————————

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 whitepaper “Don’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

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

What I Learned About Corporate Culture From My Cat

Corporate Culture and Cats

Corporate CultureI recently learned a lot about corporate culture from my cat, Jack!

You are probably wondering what I could learn about corporate culture from the cute guy in this picture. Jack is pretty cute, but what the picture does not tell you is he is quite large.

Jack is 17 pounds and, as you can see from the picture below, when stretched out against a meter stick, he is quite long.

Corporate Culture

Click to Enlarge

Jack is that guy or gal at work who seems likes a really nice guy until… something changes.

He or she then becomes a completely different person.

Maybe you just hired someone new into your department and, suddenly, the dynamics change.

Maybe your company was acquired and the corporate culture shifts.

Changes in Corporate Culture

Corporate Culture

Click to Enlarge

A couple of months ago, we took in a stray cat who we call Rex. Rex was probably abandoned by college students who live in the apartments behind our condo unit. Rex is quite gentle and much smaller than Jack. Rex is eleven pounds.

We kept them separated for about a week, letting them get to used to one another. What we discovered was that Jack is a real bully.

The corporate culture in our household changed dramatically.

Jack would try to monopolize space. He was protecting his turf.

Have you seen this at work?

Rex figured out how to sit on the bar and watch Jack. At the right moment, he jumps down and walks by Jack. Suddenly, he runs up the stairs with Jack in close pursuit. Rex is a lot faster than Jack, and he knows it. Rex knows how to bait Jack.

Just like office politics.

Rex and Jack’s behaviors are slowly getting better. We are policing their behavior and rewarding good behavior.

Life after Acquisition

I have worked for two successful tech start ups. The cultures of the two were polar opposites of one another but that only became apparent after there was an acquisition.

In 2000, I went to work for a semi-conductor start up that was acquired in 2001. After the acquisition, not much changed. We added new people and they seemed to seamlessly fit in. The founders were very clear on the culture they wanted to create, and hired only people who fit their vision. I stayed for almost four years after the acquisition because of the corporate culture.

In 2007, I went to work for an HD video start up that was later acquired in 2009. Almost immediately after the acquisition, the culture changed. It was just like us bringing Rex into our household.

  • Bullying behavior started
  • Managers and their teams started to protect their turfs
  • Hiring practices became very political

I left thirteen months after the acquisition when my ethical boundaries were crossed.

The similarities between what happened after the acquisition and bringing a new cat into our household was striking!

What Was Different?

In the first situation, management clearly defined the culture and their hiring practices mirrored the culture they wanted to create. After the acquisition, that culture endured for a very long time, even in very tough economic times.

This did not happen in the second situation—the culture they created was only skin deep. The corporate culture was only a facade which they were able to maintain in good times but not bad.

A good litmus test for a prospective employer is ask what changed in the last recession? Did the corporate culture change?

Have you experienced a corporate culture that can endure change?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

————————————————

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 paperStrategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

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

Are You a Generalist or Specialist

Generalist or Specialist

generalist or specialistHow you manage your career depends on whether you are a generalist or specialist.

When I started my career in the 1970s, large corporations valued generalists. In my 22 years of working for IBM, they let me take a variety of career paths. It also suited my personality, because I have a lot of varied interests. After a few years in a job, I would get bored and wanted to do something new.

IBM allowed me to work with a lot of leading-edge technologies that are still around today. Some of these included:

  • Word Processors – I worked with early word processors even before the IBM PC was released.
  • 3D printing – I was working with early 3D printers in 1989.
  • HTML and Internet Applications – I was designing Internet applications in the 1990s, long before it was common.
  • Advanced Router Design – When I left IBM in 2000, I developed curriculum to teach major equipment manufactures how to design next generation routers and switches.
  • High Definition Video – In 2007, after spending a couple years teaching high school math and working in the non-profit arena, I went to work for a HD video conferencing start up developing a training and certification program.

I am a generalist. I have enjoyed working with a lot of different technologies and methodologies. My challenge was that I got bored about every three years and wanted to move on to something different.

Specialists Rule

A fundamental shift started about twenty years ago. As technological change sped up, the need for specialists increased. Starting in the mid 1990s, I saw many move on to become specialists—and they were generously rewarded…for awhile. If you developed skills and became a specialist in an area that was in the early adoption phase, you could make a lot of money, again, for awhile. That was only true until others developed those same skills. The key was to identify correctly which skills would be desirable to have a year or two ahead of the demand.

This is easy to see in the world of technology, but does it apply elsewhere? YES!

In the world of Human Resources, you could be a generalist or a specialist in recruiting, compensation, benefit programs, diversity, HR IT, etc…

In the world of sales, you could be a generalist or a specialist in B2B or B2C, Internet sales, Channel sales, etc…

The challenge is that, if you are a specialist, your skills may not be valued in 5, 10 or 15 years. Let me give a few examples of skills that have become obsolete:

  • Experts in direct mail (snail mail) marketing – With the exception of credit card offers, what industries still market through direct mail?
  • Travel agents – When was the last time you talked to a travel agent? Fifteen years ago, this was still a valued skill.
  • Specialists in the complex process of laying out news print for your daily newspaper – When did you last pick up a paper newspaper?
  • Photo-Journalists – Why have photo-journalists when everyone has a camera?

These were all valued skills just a few years ago.

What if I am a Generalist?

Generalists are typically more valued in smaller organizations. Small organizations typically cannot afford to hire a lot of specialists. I have a client who is a marketing generalist. She like to write press releases, e-mail marketing, social media, direct mail, creation of collateral,….. You will be more valued in smaller organizations who need their employees to wear a lot of hats.

What if I am a Specialist?

Specialists need to stay on top of their areas of expertise and be willing to move when their expertise becomes a commodity  or obsolete. This requires vigilance and the willingness to move with industry trends. You must be aware of disruptive trends in your industry.

Examples of Disruption

Taxi and Limousine Services – Will Lyft, Uber, Sidecar or even Google’s Driverless car make these businesses obsolete?

Local Television News – When did you last watch the evening news? The local news programs are still around, but will they be in ten years?

Cable Television – Why have cable television service when there is Netflix, Hulu, etc?

Facebook Marketing – Will Facebook be relevant in 10 years? It did not exist 10 years ago and may not be relevant in another 10 years.

Give it some thought.

Are you a generalist or specialist?

Are you prepared for disruptive change that is coming?

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist