Friday, August 31, 2012

You may be retired and not know it

I used to joke around that I was retired—I stayed at home and played with my animals, I would say, isn’t that what retired people do?

Then, four yrs ago, work fell off that ever-popular cliff. I was home, so were the animals, but I was way not working!

Now about a third of people near retirement age say they don’t plan to retire. Two years ago, that was 29%.

If you can hang onto a job into your sixties, maybe you better!

But thinking all it takes to work in your sixties and seventies is determination may be thinking wishfully.

Half of all retirees retired before age 60—voluntarily or not.

I know I can’t get a “real” job—I am limited walking-wise (arthritis) and mentally (freelancer).

This stuff is not easy. It actually is rocket science.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Meditation--at least it's cheap

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says we all may need to be less stressed and more focused.

I personally am a mess of stress, the hideous economy, my business (which I built!) ruined, and my mother dying.

I keep trying to meditate, but I cannot even sit still and I don’t mean in a lotus—if I ever “assumed the position,” I would need the Jaws of Life to free me.

Still, a professor David Levy at the Univ of Washington, found that those with meditation training stayed on task longer. Memory also increased.

Levy divided his subjects into three groups. One got 8 weeks of mindfulness-based meditation, the second body-relaxation, and the third got no initial training.

The meditation group has lower stress levels during multitasking tests, and could concentrate longer.

Meditation “strengthens your attention muscle,” Levy said.

There are many ways to meditate—the simplest is to sit, concentrate on breathing in…breathing out…breathing in…the dishes aren’t done, just sec…no, breathing in, breathing out.

Keep bringing your mind back.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Downside of being "too good"

Companies, I have found, tend to want status quo—someone is doing the job, keep doing it.

They have other problems to solve, branches to open, and so on.

CareerBuilder says it may be neat to be indispensable for a while, but you can get locked in.

Your boss probably would rather you ask about it than quit.

Find another project you would like to do. Maybe you can put in a quarter of your time learning about it.

If the boss gets upset about your asking, well, you have to decide—bring it up with HR or the boss’s boss? Think it through, Write down the pluses and minuses.

Being bold can often be the play.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Your resume is not about you

Shocker? It’s about how you would help the employer.

It can be more than one page, lose the weird fonts and bolding. Stay above 11 pt type.

Keep paragraphs short so eyes don’t glaze.

Limit it to the last 10, maybe 15 years. An exception might be PERFECT experience that was earlier.

As you get older, EDUCATION moves down.

No hobbies, weight, age, married or unmarried, no photo.

A computer may read it, anyhow. Those little scamps are everyplace.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Want a government job?

Tian Chen, AZ Republic, Aug 26, 2012, says even though govt payrolls are being cut (in my opinion, a needed thing), you can still land a govt job if you try.

First, visit government websites and check out job postings. Start with

See how they lay out requirements—how they do the position descriptions, minimum requirements, and preferred attributes.

These are very important. You want your application to spit these back—don’t just send your usual resume. Craft it!

Start with professional experience closest to the job requirement—even if it was years before. Then put supporting education. Then other work experience.

You can go over a page—that is not operative anymore.

Join professional organizations that work with your target govt agency Get to know people.

Apply, apply, apply—don’t just send in one of two things and wait.

If you are a veteran, by the way, you get preference.

Friday, August 24, 2012

My mother left this morning

After eight days in hospice, and some more cerebral events, she finally died this morning.

I would use the word ordeal more than the word blessing.

My sister and I, her caregivers for more than 16 years, are crushed by weariness…numb.

Here is the obit we worked on. We love you, Mom. See you later.

Lawrence, Hope Delinda Warren
94, of Chandler, died on August 24, 2012. Born in Wauwatosa, Wisc., of Paul Gregg and Delinda Warren, she married George Herbert Lawrence, MD, in 1943. Following World War II, they located to St Louis, where they raised four children, Jean Lawrence, Linda Jones, George Lawrence, and Jonathan Lawrence. She is also survived by nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.Her husband died in 1991. She never touched a computer key in her life—her legacy is a love of learning and of beauty in appearance, clothes, and nature. “Your absence has gone through me like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its color.” W.S. Merwin.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Be yourself

You’d be amazed at how many other people you can be if you don’t watch it. The nervous person, the too-serious person, the frowning person, the discouraged person…these are not good in an interview situation.

CareerBuilder says be direct and honest about what you offer.

Show enthusiasm, establish rapport.

You want to be hired—not fake you.

Take deep breaths, relax.

Be your best version—no curse words tossed in, no awkward jokes. Don’t exaggerate.

Companies want brains, emotion, personality—and experience. Check yourself on what you are bringing in each category.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Don't let small stuff throw you

My daughter was going to a job interview and had taken off her nails due to a fungal infection. She obsessed over thinking her nails were weird.

In another recent case, we spoke with a physician who apologized first thing for wearing flip flops—I could not even see her feet, but she was all worried.

Little things can loom large.

Don’t let them. Remember to smile, to want the job and say so, to not interrupt the interviewer…that kind of thing.

Work gurus Dale Dauten and JT O’Donnell talked to a person worried about bad teeth.

They said don’t flash the ivories but do smile. Make sure your eyes smile, they said.

In that case, they also said to try to get some work done—that teeth could affect how the candidate would look to clients.

Not sure if fake nails were in the same category, but you see where I am going with this.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Discrimination--can we get over this? Ever?

You’re a racist—no, you are…aren’t you sick of this. There are idiots in every color and nationality. Fact.

Anyhow the govt (ours) is now filing more class action suits for patterns of disgusting mean behavior in companies—such as putting up hangman’s nooses, etc.

What are we—five yrs old?

Of course, business groups say these big expensive suits are over-reaching. The govt says they are efficient.

The companies are often big and well known—Denny’s, Verizon, United Airlines.

Good to know or even ask about when interviewing, although I would not say, “Say, do you discriminate and is anyone suing you?”

For my money, there is discrimination on age, too.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Gen Y likes old-school books

The University of Cal and California Digital Library did a survey that said 58% of students use ebooks, but most still prefer print and paper pages.

Only 34% of the 2,400 surveyed preferred Nook, Kindle and the gang.

Graduate students tended to take to the technology better.

Problem is—highlighting, among other approaches.

Ebooks are mostly for pleasure reading—say at the beach. But simply reading is not what students do. Ebooks make it hard to jump around—read summaries, put the book on the desk and make notes, etc.

I feel a little less dino-like.

Do this many kids write in their books? Oh, well-diff subject.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Maybe my complaint helped

Scroll down some and you can see the complaints I made to a hospital about care of the elderly—case in point, my 94-yr-old mother.

This morning she took another very bad turn—back to the same ER—and it was a whole diff story! They swarmed over her, one nurse kissed her hand when she thought we weren’t looking.

No one mentioned my letter but I bet it went to the ER at some point---so get out there and bitch if you see something you don’t like!

Gotta book—back Monday.

PS I will also write letters of praise.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Is the economy driving you nuts?

After years of this “advice,” I had a nightmare last night. I was the job hunter (an office job again, not this scrambling for assignments). The interviewer looked like that scraggly-haired Debbie Wasserman-What’s Her Name.

She was telling me about the position, it seemed easy enough—clear enough. I smiled, let her speak, the whole thing.

Then she said, “I gave you 18 chances to succeed or fail and you failed all of them!”

I followed my advice—and said, “Can you tell me what I did wrong for future reference?”

She said, NO!

I left—in a Hummer driven by some woman with her hair in a bun. No idea who that was.

Is this mess getting to you? I need vodka.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Are you setting yourself up to fail?

John Lees, a UK career guru and author of How to Get a Job You’ll Love, says there are six types of frustrated job hunters out there now.

Those who think they know what to do and don’t. They have a weak CV, they are stuck in first gear.

Those who have their own way of doing things, thank you. A radical rethink may be needed.

Those who are too angry to change. These are people who hate glass-half-full advice (me).

Those who look like they are looking—but aren’t. They list contacts, etc., but never call.

Those who know what to do, but don’t do it. They know they need multiple strategies, but don’t do it that way

You can always become the person who finds out how to do it right—late in the day.

Any of these sound familiar?

This was in the Harvard Business Review, by the way—even the big boys and girls need a nudge.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Where do you get your best ideas?

Andrew Don wrote about this in the July-Aug issue of the Canadian version of the Costco Connection.

Business Link, the UK’s online resource for small business, asked 500 entrepreneurs where they got their ideas.

The bathroom? Bingo—41%.

Nearly half—49%--said in bed.


I would say working for someone else would make one’s thoughts turn to autonomy. But being your own boss is not for everyone.

Some people are mean bosses—to themselves. They work 18 hrs a day, don’t draw enough pay, and lie awake.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Is now the time to buy?

I would say—do you necessarily even EVER want to buy a home? It used to be a certain investment—now, it’s like renting with full responsibility for fixing things that break.

Yes, the interest rates are dirt low—but you need pretty big “downs.” Of course, a big down payment means less you are paying on with interest.

If you rent, you can leave it you want.

You may not be able to do that so easily if your balance is more than you can get for your house. The upsidedown deal.

But—if you rent, you can get chucked out.

This is happening to a relative of mine.

Makes those trailers look pretty good, huh?

I want to tear down my house and build a geodesic dome—but rest assured, this won’t happen.

Let’s just say I met R. Buckminster Fuller at an impressionable time of my life.

Friday, August 10, 2012

So many people just "get by"

Renie Cavallari, CEO of Aspire (, says you need to make a conscious effort to shine.

Be adaptable, be engaged.

She also brings up that positive attitude thing (this can be overdone in my opinion, but maybe that’s just me).

People who are “outstanding,” she contends, are at the top of their game, delivering extraordinary results. They are tapping into their passion, they are self-motivated.

Top-notch performers are really a rung below, but still an A player. About 17% of people in an organization fit this.

About 72% are mediocre.

The rest, she says, may be naysayers—trying to ruin everything. They identify the problem over and over—without any solution.

What about that saying “It’s all good.” Do you think that?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How much math do you need?

If you are going to be an engineer, statistician, or scientist maybe you need a ton of math. But in the Arizona Republic, there is a debate in the Letters about how much math the average person uses.

I get along remembering how to figure percentages and interpret medical study results—if death comes to 40% of people who have a disease and a pill makes that 10%--it is not a 30% improvement—it’s 75%. That kind of thing.

How much math do you use in everyday life? Can you do arithmetic without a calculator—add and subtract, multiply and divide. Etc?

One letter writer—a teacher as I recall—said he made students work things out by hand.

For some math is a beautiful, logical language of its own—lyrical even.

I am not one of those people. How about you?

I admit to liking plane geometry—because you could write the proofs in words. I am a word person. Can’t say as I use geometry much.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My readers know this--I hope

CareerBuilder goes over some mistakes job seekers make.

First, many get an interview and they wait for an answer—keep your options open. Keep on looking and responding.

Don’t turn up your nose at descriptions of jobs. They may not be your dream, but you need to start someplace.

Always send a thank you note for an interview. A few lines, mailed, maybe a word or two on your strengths.

Prescreen your references. Make sure they know someone may call. And make sure they still like you.

Clean out your briefcase—don’t let anyone see a rat’s nest in there.

List only 10-15 years of your experience. Lifeguarding in HS is TMI.

Don’t use your work email—this will make employers think you would use THEIR equipment for job hunting.

When the answer is no—send another thank you for the opportunity to be considered.

Look yourself up online, see what employers will find.

Don’t think you will get a job by saying you need one. This is about what THEY need.

Don’t be so desperate you offer to work for free or sell yourself short.

Stand tall, people.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How long should you wait?

Our dear job gurus Dale Dauten and JT O’Donnell were contacted by someone who made the final cut in a job competition, then was told the trip to headquarters was “pushed back.” He or she wondered what to do.

Dauten said are you going to be the person sitting around waiting or the one who presses ahead with other options?

JT said maybe they were busy—but to call and see where things stood.

Dauten added: The guiding principle of job searchers should be DON’T WAIT.

I would add also—DON’T STALK. But everyone these days seems a little slow on tagging up. Even if you don’t want to hear the answer, ask the question.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Selling? Check out what is nearby

Ellen James Martin, AZ Republic, Aug 5, 2012, says what is located near your house may influence the deal you can get—for or against.

Sewerage treatment plant? Drawback.

Airport? Could be a negative. (Cemeteries always seemed to me to be good prospects—but I guess planes could interrupt services.)

School across the street? OK if your kids are in school—but when they get out? Churches are only crowded on Sunday—so they may be OK.

People want to be 10 mins from groceries, hardware, gas stations.

Many buyers like full-grown leafy trees.

Crime? If it’s bad—this can hurt. Graffiti can be killer.

Retirees often want a short trip to docs and hospitals.

It’s all up in the air—there is a buyer for your house someplace—keep looking.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Employers are quite the busy detectives

CareerBuilder reminds us that those employers out there—the ones standing—are looking to eliminate people and they do it on the net.

They check work history, residences, dates of employment, everything they can dredge up.

Red flags are gaps in employment, reluctance to say why you left, and unusual periods of self-employment (mine has been 35 yrs—oops).

They go social networking sites and look at what you said about work, various employers, and school.

If you spit back keywords in your app—say project manager—employers may “test” you. What projects, money made or saved, and so on.

I know all this is pretty old—that you know it. Just don’t forget. And please do not put the skimpy outfits and beach shots on your sites, much less anatomical uh-ohs.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

If you must decamp

I am not sure I get this idea of yanking up roots and leaving your home when you retire or get older.

Maybe you need a cheaper place.

Chandler AZ is cheaper than DC, but moving from my home has devastated me.

If you are feeling itchy, though, Rebecca Lurye, USA TODAY, says certain cities are better than others for older people.

The Midwest is better than Florida, supposedly. This according to the Milliken Institute in CA.

They developed 78 markers of "success" for older people, from cost of living to available doctors.

These are opinions, not facts., they say.

The top picks: Provo-Orem, Utah
Madison, Wisc
Omaha, Neb-Council Bluffs, Iowa (tied)
Cambridge, Mass-Quincy, NH (tied)
New York0Long Island- Northern NJ (tied)

Also rans are Souix Falls, SD, Iowa City, Bismarck ND, Columbia MO, Rochester, Minn.

Well, that last one has the Mayo Clinic. I can see that.

I dunno—can you suggest better ones? Everybody around here seems to want to go to Raleigh, NC—I have been there many times…It’s OK, no big woo.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer doldrums

Slogging into August, still unemployed, what a drag.

Everything still has a “school” feel—nothing doing until Sept.

Andy Teach, writing in Forbes, though, says there are few things you must do to keep your hand in.

Maybe get some temp jobs—these are good for poking around, reading bulletin boards and networking—and can even go perm.

Take a class. Maybe get a certificate—project manager, html fundamentals, this, that.

Volunteer. You will feel good and meet people. Break up the routine!

Work on your website, build up your social media.

Go to breakfast meetings, networking groups, whatever is meeting.

At least get those jammies off! Auntie Star sez!