Introverted Sales Guy Job Search – Case Study

Introverted Sales Guy

Did you say introverted sales guy? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

Actually, it is not.

I spent a good bit of 2015 working with Steve (not his real name). Steve is a introverted sales guy—or better known as an account manager. In the sales world, he was the “farmer.” He cultivated long term relationships with his customers. Steve was really good at it.

Steve had spent over twenty years selling very specialized manufacturing equipment. One day early last year, the company let go of over half of the sales staff. Steve was approaching sixty years of age…and he was scared. He had not searched for a job in over 20 years and was afraid to tell anyone he was unemployed. Steve is a classic introverted sales guy.

I will jump to the end and let you know that he was hired into a great position in less than a year using the system I am going describe below.

Evaluation Phase

Using the Birkman Assessment and the Career Pivot evaluation process, we worked in tandem to dissect various facets of his personality.

What were his core needs at work?

What made him feel valued?

What energized and restored him? (By the way, his were art and the outdoors.)

What kind of boss did he want?

How much structure did he need? (By the way, he was a structured anarchist!)

From the evaluation, we created a set of branding statements to work with. We then tackled his brand story. We reworked his LinkedIn profile, connecting to all of the complex products he sold in his previous position.

Based on his needs, we developed a set of open ended questions that he could use in any interview.

As an introverted sales guy, he was now very prepared. He could explain why the right company should hire him.

All of this was pretty standard for any job seeker. Then, the real fun started.

Reaching out to Weak Ties

Steve reached out to colleagues he had formerly worked with from last 20+ years. These people are referred to as weak ties. Weak ties are those people who know you but do not have close connection to you now. Even though your connection to them is weak, they know people you do not know. Weak ties are actually more valuable in your job search than anything else. Steve had lot of weak ties.

Steve felt embarrassed that he was unemployed. Reaching out to these people was really hard!

What Steve discovered is that most of the people he reached out to had experienced unemployment in the last decade. We are long past the time when, if you were unemployed, there had to be something wrong with you.

The more Steve reached out to former colleagues, the easier it became. Did I mention that Steve is a really nice guy? People remembered him and were willing to help.

He became quite adept at finding people on LinkedIn using the advanced search feature. You can read more on how he did it here –> #2 Method to Find Companies – LinkedIn Advanced Search

He rapidly grew his LinkedIn connections. He found a tribe that was willing to help.

Finding Companies

Steve then took a two pronged process to find companies that were capable of hiring him.

He followed the process described in this post –> #1 Method to Find Companies – Weak Ties. By leveraging his weak ties, he found companies that needed account managers with Steve’s expertise.

Next, he harvested LinkedIn company pages. He started with his last employer and used the “similar companies” section to find companies that were either direct competitors or were in adjacent industries. You can read more on how to do this here –> #3 Method to Find Companies – LinkedIn Company Pages.

After following this very deliberate process, he found the perfect match. A former colleague and weak tie worked for a company that made components that went into the manufacturing equipment Steve previously sold. This company needed a national account manager!

The interviewing or, as I like to refer to it, the courting process, happened pretty quickly. It was only about 6 weeks from the time he was introduced to the company to the time he received an offer of employment.

The Introverted Sales Guy Job Search Process

Steve now knew who he was. He could explain himself—something most of us who have worked in the corporate world for 30-40 years cannot do.

Steve did not attend any networking events. He spent all of his time researching his weak ties, reconnecting with them, and finding companies that were capable of hiring him. He did all of his “networking” one on one via e-mail and phone conversations. He leveraged his network to the fullest. Steve had a network that was larger than he would ever have believed. As an introverted sales guy, this process was quite comfortable once he realized that just about everyone was willing to help.

I told Steve early on that his next job would come through a relationship and that he had no control over the timing. This is exactly what happened.

Steve learned that he needed to maintain his network of relationships for the rest of his career. He is now a believer in using LinkedIn for both his personal career advancement but also for finding and cultivating relationships in his sales position.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation?

Tell us how you handled it. Tells us your story.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Why Are You Not Being Found? Try Thinking Like a Recruiter

To Be Found, You Need to Think Like a Recruiter

Most of the time, the reason you are not being found is because you are not thinking like a recruiter. Recruiters are using LinkedIn to search for talent using specific strategies.

Think of this like dating. If you want to find a mate, you need to hang out where the opposite sex can find you. When I was a young man, that meant belonging to social organizations or clubs and hanging out with friends. When I got older, it also meant going to bars and doing other activities—I met my wife playing volleyball through an informal Sunday evening volleyball group.

If you want to be found by recruiters, then you need to understand the strategies recruiters use to search LinkedIn. This way, you can be found by recruiters…just like you wanted to be found by the opposite sex.

Let’s start with the basics.

search current titleCurrent Job Title

Recruiters use LinkedIn Advanced Search to find people. They start by using the current job title field. Having a current job title is critical to being found.

In the image to the right, the recruiter is searching for individuals who have product manager as their current title.

The image below lists one of my contact’s current title as  Sr. Product Manager, and it is the current title because the end date of the position is current.

 

current title product managerWhat if you are unemployed? Create a position!

I have a shell consulting company called Global Basis Consulting. When I was unemployed, this was my current position. If you look at my LinkedIn profile you will find the following:

globalbasis

If I were to sell Career Pivot, I would could change the Global Basis Consulting end date to present and I would have a current position.

You have to have a current position to be found!

Current Job Title Contents

Your current job title should be as descriptive as possible AND give multiple variations, if needed.

For example, let’s say you are a product manager. What kind of product manager?

Software Product Manager

Can you add any keywords? Like Software as a Service (SaaS) or Agile?

SaaS Agile Product Manager

Let’s say you also handle product marketing for the product.

SaaS Agile Product Manager | Product Marketing Manager

Now you will be found if a recruiter is searching for a Product Manager OR a Product Marketing Manager.

Let me be clear, you cannot lie. Only use job titles that fit your current job!

current title keywordsKeywords

Besides searching job titles, recruiters will use keywords to find prospects—as shown in the image to the right. In this case, the recruiter is looking for a product manager with Software as a Service (SaaS) experience.

The results of the search will list profiles with the current title of Product Manager that also includes SaaS in their profile. The more times SaaS appears in the profile, the higher it will appear in the ranking.

You need to place keywords in your summary and in your current and past positions.

DO NOT KEYWORD STUFF.

The easiest way to do this is to place a keyword entry at the end of each section. A good example is to look at the Summary section of my LinkedIn Profile.

summary_keywords

Using this method, it is very obvious what I am doing. Place a keyword section at the bottom of each section.

Do not use keywords that are not valid for the section.

Connecting with Recruiters

You should connect with recruiters at your target companies. If you are following my Targeted Job Search Strategy, you will know how to strategically connect with recruiters.

If you are a 1st degree connection of the recruiter who is searching, you appear higher in his rankings. Recruiters move around a lot. They move between companies that needs their services. They carry their connections with them. Over a period of time, having a lot of recruiters in your network will be very beneficial.

Do you now understand why you are not being found?

What is you next step?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Try Before You Buy Job Search

Try Before You Buy?

try before you buyHave you thought of using the “try before you buy” method for finding your next job?

“Try before you buy” is when you offer to serve as a contractor or a consultant (at a competitive rate) to see if you want to work for the employer…AND the employer gets to try you out before they hire you.

I had success in getting a number of older candidates hired by using this method. They offered to do a fixed amount of work for a fixed amount of time. This allowed the potential employer to have clear boundaries regarding budget. This mitigates the risk the employer is taking in hiring you. If you work out, they know they have an excellent candidate. If you do not work out, they have greatly limited the risk of a bad hire.

CEO/COO – Try Before You Buy

I am working with many former C-level executives on their job search. When you are a displaced CEO or COO and over 55, the odds of finding another CEO or COO position are very small. There are very few available positions..and lots of competition.

This is where “try before you buy” method works very well.

The plan is to create a consulting business that will allow prospective employers to try you on before they hire you. Heck, you may find that you like the freedom of consulting!

Creating a Consulting Business

Think of yourself as a consultant. In previous jobs, what are the problems you solved that make you the proudest? Pick 2-3 business problems that you can create service offerings around.

Get some help to come up with a name for the business, purchase the internet domain, and create the LLC to make the business legal. Putting the LLC at the end of the name will give your business an air credibility, among other benefits.

Hire a credible web designer to create the website. I use Melinda Taylor of Weborization for my website, and I have referred many clients and friends to her. Just find someone who will give your website a professional feel. This is one example of when going to a family member is probably not your best choice.

Build your business plan. If you are a CEO, COO, or another C-level executive, you probably can write a business plan. However, if you need help, search online for “SBDC” (which stands for Small Business Development Center) along with  your state name. For example, SBDC Texas or SBDC New Jersey. The results will include some local centers as well as the state SBDC website.

Small Business Development Centers are funded by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and are a free resource.

After Glow Effect

Using this process, most of my clients find is that their job search becomes much more effective. They have a reason to talk to prospective clients. Their overall mental attitude improves.

I have one client who, as soon as he started to work on his consulting business, found a couple of different opportunities. One was with a start-up where there was a definite possibility of his being hired as a contractor in a temp-to-hire position.

Whether you are a displaced C-level executive, or just an experienced professional who is over the age of 55, you need to seriously consider a “try before you buy” job search strategy.

I am currently talking with an experienced former CEO to create a workshop and support group to work with older, displaced C-Level executives. If this is of interest, please reach out to me via my contact me page.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Introverts, Have You Scheduled Your Restorative Niches?

Restorative Niches

restorative nichesI learned about restorative niches from the book
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

Many people who know me find it hard to believe, but I am very much a closet introvert. I appear to be very extroverted because I am a public speaker and can work a networking event with the best of them. However, when I’m done, I am toast! Done. Exhausted.

Susan Cain gave me a name for how I help my introverted clients and myself: restorative niches.

The term was created by Professor Little who, like me, is a closet introvert.

Susan Cain writes:

“Restorative niche” is Professor Little’s term for the place you go when you want to return to your true self. It can be a physical place, like the path beside the Richelieu River, or a temporal one, like the quiet breaks you plan between sales calls. It can mean canceling your social plans on the weekend before a big meeting at work, practicing yoga or meditation, or choosing e-mail over an in-person meeting. (Even Victorian ladies, whose job effectively was to be available to friends and family, were expected to withdraw for a rest each afternoon.) You choose a restorative niche when you close the door to your private office (if you’re lucky enough to have one) in between meetings. You can even create a restorative niche during a meeting, by carefully selecting where you sit, and when and how you participate.

Scheduling Restorative Niches to Recharge

Most of my clients who are square pegs need to schedule restorative niches into their day. Another way of saying this is that they must schedule time to recharge.

Whenever I have a presentation scheduled during a day, I block out time prior to and after the presentation to be alone. I look for activities that recharge my batteries like taking a walk outdoors.

I have a client who sets an alarm on her phone to ring twice a day. At those times, she takes out her drawing pad to draw.

Draw what you might ask?

Anything she likes.

Introversion and the Workplace

Most of us have learned to act like an extrovert. You would not believe the number of sales people I have worked with who are quite introverted. They have learned to behave like extroverts, but it saps their energy. They are closet introverts.

What to do when the workplace demands you behave like an extrovert? You schedule restorative niches.

Example #1

I have a client who is very artistic. She loves to knit. When she has to run all day team meetings, it exhausts her. She is now working on scheduling short breaks during the day, get away from everyone for 15 minutes and she knits.

At lunch, she eats quickly with her team, but then finds a quiet place to knit.

Example #2

My client loves to read novels. He had to present four or five times over a couple of days at a conference. Rather than sitting in the room listening to other presenters, he would go back to his room and read his favorite novel for 30-45 minutes after each presentation. This had a tremendous restorative effect.

Example #3

My client loves the outdoors. He is a sales guy who spends a lot of time on the phone. Also, he works from home. He has learned to schedule short walks in his neighborhood three times a day. When he gets stressed, he takes his phone and laptop out on his back deck.

The walks in his neighborhood help him manage his stress, and moving his work environment outside during these times has proven invaluable.

In each of these cases, we identified something the client loves to do and scheduled it into their day. It was not until I read Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking that had name for it: restorative niches.

Are you an introvert?

Do you schedule restorative niches into your day?

If so, tell us about them by making a comment.
Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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5 Simple Steps to a Successful Telephone Interview

Telephone Interview

telephone interviewWe have all had a telephone interview. They are a very important part of the initial screening process for filling a position. If you do not get past the initial screen, well…you will not get the job.

Let me give you five simple steps to follow for a successful telephone interview.

Step 1 – Research the Interviewer

It is critical that you know something about the person you will be interviewing with.

Look them up on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

If you are interviewing with a recruiter or HR person, send a connection request immediately after getting the interview notice.

What are they posting? Where have they worked? Do you have any hobbies in common? This is where Facebook helps!

You want to be able to personally connect with the interviewer.

For more, read: Understanding the Hiring Manager Prior to the Interview

Step 2 – Prepare Probing Questions

I want you to think like a consultant during the telephone interview. You should probe for pain points. In an initial telephone interview, this might include the following:

  • Is this a newly created position?
  • What are the responsibilities of the position?
  • Are these responsibilities new to the department, organization, or company?
  • What are the new business requirements that are causing you to fill this position?

You are looking for reasons that the position is open. Once you understand the reasons, you can properly position yourself as the best candidate.

For more, read: Probing for Pain Points in an Interview

Step 3 – Prepare Yourself Mentally

You want to feel confident and poised in the interview.

One hour before the interview, get some moderate exercise. This might be going for a fast walk or climbing stairs for 15-20 minutes. If you are nervous at all, this will help take the edge off.

It is not important if you are sweaty during the interview. They cannot smell you over the phone!

The next step is based on the premise that your body shapes who you are.

Amy Cuddy was a TED Talk presenter, and in her video Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are, she explains that, when you take on powerful and winning body shapes, it will increase testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain.

You will feel more confident.

For this activity, you will probably need to go into a bathroom stall. Stick your hands up like Usain Bolt when he won the 100 meter dash at the Olympics. Keep them up for two minutes and soak in that winning feeling. If you still don’t believe me, read her paper, Power Posing.

Yes, I know this sounds crazy, but it does work!

For more, read: 3 Steps to Walking Into Your Interview with Confidence

Step 4 – Setup Your Interview Space

Prepare to take the telephone interview in a quiet space where you will be standing up.

Use a headset on either a land line or your cell phone. If you are using a cell phone, make sure you have a very good signal. If you have to go outside, be sure to find a spot away from wind.

It is critical that you be standing up and have the use of your hands to gesture.

If you are a pacer when you talk, make sure your shoes do not squeak. You may even want to take them off.

For more, read: 4 Steps in Creating Your Video Interview Environment

Step 5 – Be Positive and Tell Stories During the Telephone Interview

One key way to stay positive during a telephone interview is to smile!

Yes, I know that the person on the other telephone cannot see you, but if you are smiling, it is really tough to be other than positive.

When you are asked a question, try to answer by saying, “Let me tell about the time that…” Do not simply tell the interviewer you can do the job. Instead, answer the question by telling a story of when you demonstrated the skill required for this new position.

For more read: Adding Storytelling to the Interview Process

If you follow these five simple steps you will improve your chances of moving forward in the interview process.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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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.

For a deep perspective on this topic read my post 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.

For a deep perspective on this topic read my post 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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US Educational System is Broken – Let Me Explain!

United States Educational System is Broken

educational systemI am passionate about our educational system—and disappointed with its failings. I just finished reading a Washington Post article called Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous.

wrote:

If Americans are united in any conviction these days, it is that we urgently need to shift the country’s education toward the teaching of specific, technical skills. Every month, it seems, we hear about our children’s bad test scores in math and science — and about new initiatives from companies, universities or foundations to expand STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math) and deemphasize the humanities. From President Obama on down, public officials have cautioned against pursuing degrees like art history, which are seen as expensive luxuries in today’s world. Republicans want to go several steps further and defund these kinds of majors. “Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists?” asked Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott. “I don’t think so.” America’s last bipartisan cause is this: A liberal education is irrelevant, and technical training is the new path forward. It is the only way, we are told, to ensure that Americans survive in an age defined by technology and shaped by global competition. The stakes could not be higher.

The problem is they are missing the point entirely. The current educational system is broken.

K-12 Education

Our K-12 educational system is broken.

After a near-fatal bicycle accident in 2004, I left the high tech industry to teach high school math. I taught Algebra I and II for two years.

(More: Being Hit by a Car Changed the Course of My Life)

Question: When was it decided that one should take Algebra I, Geometry, and then Algebra II—in that sequence—in high school?

Answer: 1890s

What I have discovered is that very little has changed in our public school curriculum in over 100 years. YIKES!!

When I was teaching Algebra II, I discovered that I was required to teach logarithms. WHY??

When I was in high school in the early 1970s, you needed to understand logarithms to be able to use a slide rule. Click here if you have never heard of a slide rule! Other than that, logarithms were pretty useless.

So, little has changed in our K-12 educational system, but the kids have changed a lot. It is failing so many of our students (especially those who are gifted artistically).

Now, we have a proposal called Common Core. It radically updates the way we teach English and Math.

99% of those who oppose it politically do not understand the problem and have never read common core methods. It is a political hot potato.

The vast majority of students leave of our K-12 educational system ill prepared for higher education.

Why?

They only learn what can be tested via multiple choice test. Common Core fixes this, at least for Math!

By the way, to fix this, we need to start with pre-kindergarten!

Our Higher Educational System is Broken

Why do we go to college for four years? Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, etc. all take four years to attain. Why is that? I sure would like to know.

I spoke at the Women Communicators of Austin Speed Networking Event this last weekend. It was a thriving audience of University of Texas students who aspire to be great communicators. They were all worried about getting an education, gaining employable skills, and garnering experience from internships so that they will be find a job when they graduate.

The problem is the cost! They cannot pursue a liberal arts education that teaches them to think…something that many baby boomers pursued via the higher educational system.

Today, when students graduate from the higher educational system, most come out with hefty student loan balances.

So, when Fareed Zakaria writes articles like  Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous, he misses the point. Most are obsessed with getting a STEM education because then you can get a job to pay off the student loans.

Our higher educational system was built to create students who can think. What students need from their higher educational system is the skills to get a job to pay off their student loans.

What our higher educational systems should produce are students who can think, have enough skills to get a job AND not leave them hopelessly in debt.

Fixing our Educational System

Not much has changed in our educational system in over one hundred years. The needed changes will take a long time. We need to ask ourselves some hard questions:

  • Why do we have summer break for three months in the K-12 educational system? We know having such a long break hampers students’ progress when they return in the fall.
  • Why do colleges have summer break, when a significant portion of the student population are over 25 years of age?
  • When we know not all children learn at the same rate in all subjects, why do we structure schools this way? (By the way, this drove me nuts when teaching Algebra!)
  • With the availability of the Internet and video conferencing, why do we have college campuses?
  • Given the diversity of our younger population, why are we not teaching both English and Spanish? Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore!

I have taught adults for close to 20 years in approximately 40 different countries. I taught Algebra I and II from 2004-2006 in an inner city high school. I can tell you these other countries do not have the answer for teaching to our highly diverse population.

It will take a long time, but the current system needs to be re-evaluated from the bottom up.

Unfortunately, we have politicians in control who have not a clue of the real problem.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Boomer Labor Power: The Experienced Dividend

Boomer Labor Power

boomer labor powerFor years, companies have sought out younger corporate talent to replace aging executives. What has evolved is the appreciation for the 50+ sector that brings a broad span of experience in human development, generational understanding, fiscal needs, and more.

In a recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employers agree that the Boomer Labor Power of 50+ employees has many advantages. A few statistics that emerged from this survey:

  • 77% of older workers have more knowledge and skills than their younger counterparts
  • 71% are more mature and professional
  • 70% have a stronger work ethic
  • 63% are good mentors
  • 59% are more reliable than their younger counterparts

The SHRM survey of its members also indicated that only 36 percent are beginning to examine internal policies and management practices to address the issue of the potential loss of experienced talent through retirement.

Is you company prepared or will Boomer Labor Power persist?

The shift toward older executives working longer …

The number of executives working in and through retirement years has been building for the last decade. They are proving that they can make a greater contribution as the Boomer Labor Power to an organization in a shorter period of time. They are healthier than their counterparts from 10 to 20 years ago. In addition, most have been in the workforce throughout the computer evolution so they have kept up with technology and learned to adapt quickly to change.

According to some executive recruiters, more organizations are hiring older employees – a trend that has picked up speed in the last few years. Their rationale is that age doesn’t matter if you have the right skill set and experience. They don’t worry so much about length of the hire because many employees today tend to move on within three to five years anyway. (source: http://www.diseco.com/more-companies-are-hiring-older-workers/)

Are you seeing this shift to Boomer Labor Power?

On the other hand…

A recent article, “Why Aren’t Firms Planning for an Aging Workforce,” by Jim Emerman, Executive Vice President of Encore.org, revealed that many companies are undervaluing older workers and how a few forward-thinking companies are implementing programs to tap the strengths of the Boomer Labor Power.

You still need to “sell” your assets…

To get the job the formula remains the same.

You need to demonstrate to the hiring manager or recruiter who you are and what you can do for an organization. As a 50+ executive job seeker, you have the advantage of highlighting your seasoned reliability, good judgment, ability to listen, problem-solving ability, and comfort level in working with different types of personalities. Also, it’s critical to emphasize how your valuable life experiences, perspective and ideas can benefit a team comprised of different ages and add a positive, new dimension to a diverse workforce.

What are you or your company doing to be prepared for the Boomer Labor Power shift?

LouiseGarver(Jan17-2014)Louise Garver is an award-winning, certified resume writer, executive career coach, branding, online identity, and job search strategist. Previously her career included recruitment and corporate management experience. Co-author of “Win Interviews!: The New Must-Have Game Plan”, Louise earned 13 career-related certifications, a master’s degree, and post-graduate certification in career counseling.

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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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