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Age Discrimination – Lessons Learned – IV of IV

November 14th, 2008

This wraps up age discrimination in the workplace (not necessarily in the job search).  Today is lessons learned.

Lessons Learned:

(1) Defend

Be prepared to be smacked in the face with the “dead fish” of age discrimination. Like gravity, it’s a fact of life. It’s not you, the quality of your work, or the anything else. It’s a structural flaw in our own thinking. No one can help you but yourself. No one can postpone the inevitable. No law or regulation will succor you. (Have you seen how much you get for “unemployment insurance”? You have to be your own “unemployment insurance”!) Make your plans with it in mind. Don’t get caught short.

(2) Life Plan

The old Wall Street Journal commercial has an element of truth in it. You have to learn. They want to sell you a subscription to educate and inform you. Really, you need your own written life plan. Has to be written. Wish I’d done it. That old commercial recounts the anecdote about the written life plan. The 3% of the Harvard grads, who had it, achieved it. A Life Plan is critical for success. Even at this late stage, I’m writing mine now. Five decades too late. But, who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.

(3) Trust nothing

Assumptions, promises, “facts”. All meaningless. Only “you” matters. Be honest with yourself. Don’t kid a kidder. Self-delusion is the worst of all disabilities. Wishing won’t get you to the NBA; Pretending your going is insanity. If you write everything down, you have a stake in the ground. An anchor. Examine the “facts” and figure out how to test them. Examine your risks and manage them. Your resume tells all sorts of lies about being a strategic planned and heroic accomplisher, use those skills on your own situation.

*****

Finally, JibberJobber is a tool use it. Recognize what it is telling you. You are alone in your life raft. But you don’t have to be. Reach out and form real connections. Social networking is NOT LinkedIn, Facebook, and other sites. It’s tying someone else’s lifeboat to yours and paddling together. Wish I was better at it.

That’s it. A rather somber topic this week.

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Age Discrimination Tactics – Part III of IV

November 13th, 2008

The third part of age discrimination week… the first part was the story, the second part was strategies, today is tactics:

Tactics:

(1) Awareness

Ring your own gong of “mindfulness”. Several times a day. Be mindful of age discrimination and review how it will impact your plans and programs. Financial plan. Career plan. Hobby plan. Fitness program. Education program. Skills program. Language program. Every day, several times a day, you must ask am I “on plan”. What is happening? What is not happening? What actions should I be taking?

(2) Networking

You must keep building your own bridges. Get out and talk to people. Gather data, information, knowledge, and wisdom. Inside your circle, outside your circle. Inside your company; outside it. Develop a sense of what is going on. Have scouts out. Have feelers out. Be the sensor.

(3) Money

You must realize that, like in poker on TV, chips are power. The investment pyramid rests on a emergency fund and a savings layer. Don’t neglect that. When my “bridge to retirement” came up a few years short, it was my savings layer that is enabling me to cross the chasm. If that wasn’t there, with the bad market, I’d be SOL (strictly out of luck).

What are your tactics to combat Age Discrimination?

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Age Discrimination Strategies – Part II or IV

November 12th, 2008

This is Part II in a four part series.  Read the original story here.  Our RIF’d (reduction in force – another way of saying “laid off”) friend shares three strategies he should have employed to be prepared for an age-discrimination-induced-termination.

Strategies:

(1) Financial discipline.

I was preparing for retirement. But, I should have done better. Saved more. Hired a financial adviser; not some brokerage flunky. Been more focused on the “what if”. What if the bridge comes up short? That was a question I should have been asking all along. How’s your financial pyramid? Can it stand up to a tsunami of a premature job loss?

(2) Diversified income stream

Followed my own thinking, I should have created my own internet business. Hard to do, yes. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. They will kill you. I had ideas that I could have “spun out”. The internet is perfect for “part time” jobs. Instead of trying to convince younger people to do it, I should have done it myself.

(3) Recognition and self-defense

That Last Company was mucked up. (Maybe that’s why they hired me.) Should have done something different. They were a rickety bridge. Maybe I should have kept looking for a better one.

What are your strategies to combat age discrimination?

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Age Discrimination Leads To Termination – Part I of IV

November 11th, 2008

This was going to be a 3 part post, but I just reread it and decided to make it 4 parts.  Today’s is the LONGEST, as it is the story (yesterday I introduced the idea).  I’m starting with the very last thing this person wrote:

Finally, JibberJobber is a tool: use it. Recognize what it is telling you. You are alone in your life raft. But you don’t have to be. Reach out and form real connections. Social networking is NOT LinkedIn, Facebook, and other sites. It’s tying someone else’s lifeboat to yours and paddling together. Wish I was better at it.

One Man’s Story
Age Discrimination in Modern Corporation
A warning to defend yourself

No secret. I’m an Old Guy.

I started my career in The Telephone Company. Judge Green. RIFed generously. Went to Wall Street; made nice money. Own businesses. Bounced around. Recognized the changing paradigms of “employment”. And coasted into “old age” by landing my “Last Job” (I saw the “Last Lecture” video. Stole the concept!) at another big company for my transition into my “golden years”. Got sacked by age discrimination. Saw it coming. But, was powerless to stop it.

This blog post is your wake up call. You maybe somewhere on the wrong side of an age that ends in a five or a zero. “It’s going to happen to you” you think. You need to adjust your thinking so that when it does, you’re ready for it. I wasn’t. It’s happening to you, silently; every
day you put foot to floor, it puts one more thread to your anchor.

We all know that there is age discrimination in hiring. Hair dye, functional resumes, and dropping graduation years from school are all symptoms. You can’t hide it. Career counselors urge your to turn a negative into a positive. Ever try to keep water out of a hole on the
beach? You have to acknowledge how pervasive it is. I think I have some coping strategies; nothing to stop or prevent it. But surviving it!

I was 57 when I came to my Last Company by selling myself into it. I found a strategic structural Information Technology Customer-impacting problem, and sold myself as a “fixer of it”. Pushed aggressively. I knew that there was age discrimination out there, but, despite being
relatively financially OK, I wasn’t OK enough to go 8 years without a paycheck until SocSec and Pensions kicked in. I NEEDED another job to bridge the time. I selected my Last Company for a high probability that I could spend 8 years there. My salary expectations were modest;
I wanted time to bridge to retirement.

It was a really screwed up; that Last Company. Be it incompetence, stupidity, or crookedness, I arrived to find the job I had been hired for was no longer there. Reorg! It was a punch in the gut. They had something for me to do. “To help them out” while they figured out their recent reorg. I say crookedness, because I suspected, but never could prove, that they had “bait ‘n’ switched” me. If offered the job I was now doing, I wouldn’t have accepted. But, now that I was committed, what choice did I have? The offers were not exactly rolling in for this Old Guy. I knew there was age discrimination out there. Remembering I was looking for a bridge, not a career, or a
stepping stone, I shut up and buckled down.

As a footnote, the problem I sold into to solve, I got fixed in about six weeks in my spare time.

I milked that interim job for three plus years. And did a lot of “stuff”. Then, they had another bloody reorg. My boss, naive in the ways of corporate politics, took care of himself, getting what he wanted, and, inadvertently, threw all his seven people, under the bus.
When the reorg smoke cleared, the other six were “pink slipped”. They were all younger than me. They had families to care for, lives to lead, and ambitions to fulfill. So they moved on. All I wanted was to walk the rest of my bridge.

As  a footnote, I’ve talked to that fellow many times, and I think he was honestly fooled by the words in reorg talk. I think he felt bad. But, not too bad, he was happy with what he got. It wasn’t him under the bus. I was the lone hold out.

Remembering my goal was a “bridge”. I sucked it up and endured. Bungee managers, “insults”, and poor treatment. I was crossing my “bridge”.

Then, after yet another reorg, I could sense a change in the wind. All the deadwood was gathered up under a new meaningless title. Org charts were produced. Promises made.

It was a plain on the nose on your face. I was “hanging out” in the wind.

One promise was that all the surplus would get first priority to interview for all positions. Lie! There were other lies and betrayals, but that was the first and biggest!

A job, “perfect for me”, was filled, without them following their own process, without me even getting a courtesy interview, by a younger woman. She moved into my old office, as I sat in a cube outside it.

My warning bells went off.

I began documenting each slight, each failure to follow process, each pass over. It became a body of evidence. I kept “my doomsday file” in my car. I documented each age-related departure.

It was obvious.

Finally, my time came. My then boss called me to a “meeting” in a different part of the building. It was supposed to be a “one on one”. There was another woman there. HR. “Position eliminated”! I knew what it was. Be there, done that, had the t-shirt. I signed nothing and
gave them notice of my intent to sue.

I went from there, escorted out of the building like a thief, to my lawyer. Stopped on the way home.  (Remember my file? It was in my car for a reason!)

A flurry of activity to bring the lawyer up to speed. He thinks I have a credible claim. (What lawyer being paid wouldn’t say that?) I don’t want a fight. I want those three years.

We’ll see if that lawyer can get it for me?

So, don’t’ cry for me (Argentina?). I write this for you to be warned. Like Marley warning Ebeneezer, I hope you hear my chains, my pain, and my strain. And, be afraid. Be very afraid. Here’s my impression of Dickens and hopefully I’ll scare your into action. I’ll send you three
Spirits that will each have three suggestions. Marley sent: Past, Present, and Future. I’ll send: Strategies, Tactics, and Learnings.

The followup posts this week are:

  • Strategies to fight (or prepare for) Age Discrimination (Wednesday)
  • Tactics (Thursday)
  • Lessons Learned (Friday)

Feel free to share your age discrimination story in the comments.

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Age Discrimination Sucks

November 10th, 2008

I was just too old in my job search.

I found I was competing with younger kids, who were okay to ask for (or require) less money for their starting salary.  Even though I had more experience, etc etc., I felt I was just too old.

Age discrimination – I was too old at 32.

I also felt discriminated against from the other end.  I was just too young.  Other “product managers” and “general managers” and IT execs that I was up against were about as old as my dad, and had decades of relevant experience.  Way more experience than I had. I was simply too young, even though I had enough experience (I thought) and ambition to do the job right, and make a significant impact on the companies I was applying to.

Age discrimination – I was too young at 32.

Age discrimination sucks.  Any discrimination sucks, of course, but I think age discrimination is one of the most common (I hear about it ALL THE TIME).

Over the next few days I’m going to share a story from someone who filed an age discrimination claim.   The story is touching, of course, and it will likely make you mad… but there is sage advice in the story.  For now, you can read a few other posts that have to do with age discrimination:

I should note, the story I’ll share this week is about an ex-employee and age discrimination, not age discrimination in a job search (that will be for later).

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Avoiding a Layoff – Great Tip to Avoid a Job Search

November 7th, 2008

I saw a very cool point from Susan Ireland’s blog, where she links to a Vault video with advice on avoiding a layoff.  From Susan Ireland’s post:

Here’s a point I especially liked:

If you think your company might be heading for a round of lay-offs, sit down with your manager and ask what project is most important to the company right now. Then try to get involved in that project as your primary responsibility. If you’re working on something that’s of secondary importance to the survival of the company, you’re more likely to get laid off. If you’re working on a primary project, you’re less apt to be sent packing.

Brilliant! Here’s the video:

Thanks Susan Ireland!

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Income Security vs. A Bunch of Other Ideas

November 6th, 2008

Yesterday I talked about the idea of Income Security.  A few weeks ago I brainstormed where this came from on LinkedIn Answers, and asked for input.  I got over 57 responses, and it was awesome learning from others.  Here is what others had to say (read their entire responses here):

Jeff Harris said:

Income sounds more like an investment strategy. I like to call it career confidence or employment confidence. Having been in IT with all of its volatility, I gauge 3 factors in employment measurement;

Keith Harrell-Steward said:

It sounds good. But language is a tricky thing, Having income security is part of Job Security. But then it might not be if your focus was to maintain or improve income and your company was experiencing cut backs which resulted in no monetary increase.

Paul Jones says:

Income Security is close, but I don’t think it hits all the right bases. It sounds like something from one of Robert Allen ‘Multiple Streams of Income’ books. His point is that you need more than one pan in the fire…. But JibberJobber and Jason Alba aren’t about either of thise ideas…. JibberJobber is about job insurance.

Susan Travers asks:

What about Career Enthusiasm?

Thomas E. Kenney says:

The term I like to use is “career insurance.”

Reason being is that “insurance” implies two things:
1 – insurance requires an investment,
2 – insurance provides dividends when necessary.

Chip Hartman says:

the best term I can think of is: “career equity

Bill Florence says:

I don’t think there is anything that is secure or guaranteed unless your the recipient of a mega annuity for life. I see two parts to how the word ‘security’ is used here – one is duration, the other is amount.

Bob Schecter says:

Try “tenure“.  It doesn’t guaranty your job, but it at least requires some compelling or just cause for losing it.

Bob Waldo says:

Try “marketability“. The only way to stay ahead of the curve and maintain gainful employment is to maintain a marketable skill set.

Aaron Huston says:

… “employment viability“, which directly relates to both job, career and income security…

Pete Johnson says:

The example he gives is that if you took away Bill Gates’ money, property, and securities, if you stripped him of everything except the clothes on his back, he’d get hired someplace in less than an hour. Why? Because he has knowledge in his head and relationships with people in industry that are in demand. His Human Capital keeps him employable.

Charles Caro says:

The best one might hope for these days is “job stability” or “career stability“, but even that may be overly optimistic. Perhaps something like “sustainable career” would be more fitting.

Heather Gardner says:

You can use the term “Career Security” to some extent.

Maxine Hartley says:

I think the new security is knowledge, being/staying current – basically having a consulting mentality.

Ken Schneider says:

I’d go with lifestyle security

Thomas Clifford (Director Tom) says:

Career confidence.”  Feeling secure is really about feeling confident, right?

Stephanie Hester says:

I agree with the folks that said “income security” implies much more than a job/career. … That being said, I like the suggestions of “employment viability” and “career confidence.”

Curtis Koch says:

Knowledge Security“, coming from the Cobol back ground this may help in the future for securing a position with larger corporations.

John Kemp says:

Try “Self-Employed“; you can be sure that the boss you then work for at least listens to you!

Carolyn Greco says:

I think we’re stuck with ‘job security,’ Income security starts sounding like stock, bonds, etc. This is like trying to change the word ‘outplacement.’ – The terms are too entrenched in existing lexicon.

Greg Hyer says:

Maybe we should consider using the existing phrase “Quality of Life” rather than job security?

Mike Powers says:

Remember when “Disaster Recovery” was re-framed as “Business Continuity?” Maybe we should call it “Career Continuity!”

Arion Holliman says:

Income Security – My vote is cast in favor of Income security, while it may sound like an investment, it should.

Danette Howell says:

income security or even career security depending on which direction you might want to take.

Susan Geary says:

I use the term “Career Assurance” and recommend that everyone keep a detailed file with employee performance evaluations, award certificates, training certificates, nice emails, letters of recommendation, official job descriptions, and of course, old resumes.

John Reinke says:

I think the term you are looking for is “Success Security“?

Gerald Lo says:

I favor “employability” as it seems slightly more dignified than “mercenariness.”

Bengt Wendel says:

I prefer the word “employable“, a translation from a Swedish term (anställningsbar). You can do your best to be employable, build a network and keep knowledge up to date.

Polly Pearson says:

I like the notions of employability and career assurance … in my view it all comes to down to “Relevance.”

Lois Geller says:

How about Job Ownership?

Jason King says:

I definitely think income security is a better word. Because truthfully, not many of us would be devastated if our job ended, as long as we could maintain or improve our income/financial standing. I think this is why people don’t care much about their old job when they get a promotion to a new/better job. Even if there isn’t a raise immediately, they see that their marketability has just improved.

Carlos Hernandez says:

Approaching the security aspect whether it be career, job or income is a process that appeals to many.

Anthony Bowen says:

Income security descibes what I believe most people are aiming for, not “career security”. I can get a job doing what I want in a stable organization for a substantially less amount of money than in a prior job. Your career would be secure, but not your income. Plus, income security can be return on investments toward retirement; a second activity that promises to provide more income, or even marrying a wealthy spouse!

Makini Harvey says:

I offer “career focus” as a choice. I encourage my clients to focus on their careers rather than a job because it allows them to think long term rather than something they need to do for the moment, even during difficult times.

Billie Sucher says:

I like “career resilience” — careers, jobs, and work are constantly in a state of change and flux. Resilience, to me, sounds authentic…keep moving forward, respond, bounce back in positive, meaningful, constructive ways to meet today’s ever-changing workplace needs and demands.

Daniel Harmon says:

you might try something that focuses less on the money and more on the person’s value. Like your “perpetual marketability“, “perpetual market value“, or “personal value security.”

Karthik. B says:

I will consider “Career Enabler” that is the motivator to take it to the next level in career achievement.

Sheryl Spanier says:

How about “work continuity” which involves staying professionally current, maintaining an abiding interest in your functional expertise, and engaging with others continually…helping, supporting, showing a real ongoing professional commitment.

Susan Ireland says:

I think “income security” is an excellent term.

Alexander Kofman says:

The new key phrase to replace job security is “Entrepreneurship.”

Shazib Khan says:

There is no such thing as Job security, income security, career security etc. in this world and it has never been there. … never rely on one thing, always keep on striving, always help the needy and leave the rest to God.

Dave Maskin says:

… and the answer is: “employment security

Krishnamurthy Hegde says:

The question of ‘job security’ stems from two basic aspects ie Financial Security and Confidence in Competence.  You need both to enjoy life. You need Financial Freedom and Confidence about the value that you can bring on the table.

Bruno Roques says:

I’d suggest “career continuity strategy

Julie Walraven says:

I think the most important thing is that people look at possibilities. Alexander Kofman’s answer of entrepreneurship is a way of looking at possibilities.

Christine B. Whittemore says:

it becomes “personal security” which is a function of confidence, self-motivation, and extreme passion for an area of interest. It’s more than income security because it affects your entirety, and it leads to a nimbleness that allows you to overcome the ups and downs of traditional careers and jobs. But it also requires that you be relentless in remaining relevant.

Thomas York says:

I will suggest two as a starting point of reflection: “Income Risk Management” and “Income Assurance” on the flip side, while “Job Security” may no longer apply, perhaps you might think of “Career Risk Management” as an alternative.

Allan Wind says:

Employment variability might be another way of saying no job security, and actively managed life style the solution.

Kathleen Wood says:

The only real job security we have is our ability to consistently provide value. Periodically the job changes, but as long as you provide value- rest assured the world will reward that and hence, some security exists.
so reframe the phrase from security (to stay in one position) to Job opportunity or “opportunity to provide value

Michael Wolff says:

“self empowerment” leads to “relationship security”, leads to “income security” and “personal fulfillment“…

Adrienne P. Wilson says says:

So I would go for “vocational security.

Charlotte Weeks says:

I actually like “Career Security.” I feel like “Income Security” applies strictly to finances. When I hear “Career Security,” what comes to mind is skills and experience that can be adapted to future positions.

Matt Youngquist says:

Despite all of the interesting interpretations and suggestions your question has sparked, I actually think you had the right term pegged properly from the outset.

Brandon Wright says:

I agree. Income is the bottom line, that is why we work (or don’t if we have enough of it). We don’t hunt for a job, we hunt for income.

Anthony Leaton says:

Maybe you’re looking at risky yet financially viable employment

Sharif Mansur says:

I use the phrase “career skill sets.” It’s difficulty to speak of “security” and “insurance,” as they imply a guarantee. Speaking in terms of “skill sets” lets the person focus on emplyable skills they can take to another company or industry.

Kankesh P.S. says:

Income can come from multiple resources and channels to a single person by way of the same type of profession. So it is very hard to replace ‘job security’ with ‘income security’.

I think I’m going with Income Security… not because I don’t like the others, but Income Security is still the only phrase that just jumps out at me as the right phrase.  What do you think?

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“Job Security” Is Gone. Let Me Introduce “Income Security.”

November 5th, 2008

It’s no secret that “job security” is the thing of yesteryear.  The idea of having a job that is “cradle-to-grave” is an idea that only very old people can embrace… the current worker, whether they are 17 or 67, knows there is no such thing as trusting the employer to keep you around, provide you pensions and health insurance, and all of those other sweet perks our grandparents and great’s got to enjoy.

Today it’s a dog-eat-dog, fend for your self, swim with the sharks world.  And if you think there is job security, even by that super-hot company, or the super-cool CEO, or the never-going-to-die industry, well, I’m sorry.  You are wrong.

But I’d like to think there is something else to work towards, and I call that “income security.”  I’ll define “income security” as my ability to continue producing income.  A big part of income security has to do with my ability to produce income (ie, if I have a job, and lose it, how quickly could I get re-employed?).  Another big part of income security has to do with creating multiple streams of income.

I found this cool definition of “job security” from Business Dictionary:

Assurance (or lack of it) an employee has about the continuity of gainful employment for his or her worklife. Job security usually arises from the terms of the contract of employment, collective bargaining agreement, or labor legislation that prevents arbitrary termination, layoffs, and lockouts.

Maybe income security would be defined as:

Assurance a professional has about the continuity of personal income.  Income security arises from the professional’s ability to create multiple streams of income, as well as their capability to produce new streams of income quickly.

What does this mean to you??

Let this sink in a bit… tomorrow I’ll share the opinions I got when I asked about this phrase on LinkedIn, and the many different positions people took (as well as their alternative phrases, instead of “income security.”).

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VOTE!

November 4th, 2008

If you don’t vote today, you can’t complain about it for the next 4 years.

Even if you don’t think your vote counts.

Even if you don’t like either of the two candidates, and think you are only choosing two of the lesser evils.

Even if the lines are long.

No matter what, go vote.  Today.

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Job Action Day – November 3rd – Do Something for your “Job?”

November 3rd, 2008

From their press release, Job Action Dayaims to empower workers and job-seekers to take proactive steps to shore up their job and career outlook…

I call that CAREER MANAGEMENT.

How do you “shore up” anything?  Where is all the job security?  How does a job seeker compete in this market, when so many talented professionals are getting dumped into the job search market (aka, laid off)?

Is there any hope?

The traditional sources of job security included the sheepskin (which first was a high school diploma, then was a college degree, and then became an MBA… it’s all an illusion now, though), a good employer (like, in the olden days, the railroad, and now perhaps a good state or federal job), a solid work history and credentials, etc.

If any of that provided job security, it certainly didn’t work for me.  And I know plenty of people who have done “all the right things” for their career management and enjoyed (tongue-in-cheek) over twelve months of unemployment.

What can YOU do for Job Action Day, to take charge of your own career?  Here are some ideas of things to do TODAY (pick one):

  • Sign up to receive the JibberJobber One Thing, which is one email per day of something ACTIONABLE to do for your career.  We’ve been doing this for a few weeks now and it has been great.
  • Do something for your personal brand.
  • Do something to grow or nurture your network.
  • Do something to quantify your credentials, including starting a job journal or updating your resume.

I’ll leave it at that… if you want more ideas, read through the 30 months of this blog… there are plenty of other ideas.  Also, you might be interested in reading what these bloggers write about Job Action Day, with their suggestion(s) on what you could/should do today:

Tomorrow you must vote.  If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about our federal government for the next 4+ years.

This post is sponsored by I’m on LinkedIn — Now What??? The manuscript went to the editor for the second edition printing.  If you are looking for help with LinkedIn, a LinkedIn book, etc., this is what you need :)

You can get your own copy of I’m on LinkedIn — Now What??? here, or follow the blog-behind-the-book here.

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