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Community Manager

Want to take your career to the next level? Ask a Career Coach!

Welcome to the AARP Online Community! Now through September 15th, we are joined by Career Coach John Tarnoff. Please ask your questions by reply post below--all are encouraged to particpate!

Have you thought about shifting into a new career or are you ready to accelerate your current career to the next level? Career Coach John Tarnoff us here to help.  Ask him how to navigate toward your next career move or how shift into your dream job. Start now charting the career path of your dreams!

 

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Newbie

I would love to get advice on how to switch industries.  I have been in the entertainment industry for my entire career.  I have worked for the major studios in operations and international localization as well as for technology companies that work with the entertainment industry.  I have had roles running engineering groups, sales, marketing and responsible for P&Ls in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  My problem is that I want to live in the Milwaukee area to help my aging parents.  I cannot seem to get any companies to understand that my skills are transferable.  All they see is entertainment and they don’t even give me a chance to interview,  any suggestions would be appreciated.  Thanks.

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Career Coach

Hi, @KurtS148745  -

 

First, kudos to you for making the choice to support your parents.

 

From your description, it sounds like the skills you acquired in entertainment are eminently tranferable, and did not involve the more proprietary work that we often associate with entertainment (e.g. talent management, content distribution etc.).

 

Perhaps it's how you're presenting this on your LinkedIn profile and in your resume.  You want to stress the skill and the value, not the employer.

 

It also sounds like you're applying to positions and sending resumes, not interacting with people as a way in.  Your network is the only way you're going to make headway on this.

 

Start with all of the people you know from your current/past work who might have connections to companies in Milwaukee where you would want to work.  Since it sounds like you have a pretty solid engineering/tech background, there should be a number of colleagues (including vendors, partners and others not strictly in entertainment) who would be able to refer you.

 

See if you can make connections (and connect on LinkedIn), and then set up a week's worth of meetings in Milwaukee with these new connections.  These are informational meet-and-greet meetings.  The pitch:

 

You're in town because you're in the process of moving in order to be closer to your family.  This is a legitimate, laudable, and understandable goal.  People will be positively inclined to support you.  You're not asking for a job.  You're looking to make connections, understand what opportunities are available in Milwaukee, and looking for guidance on which direction you should choose.

 

In these meetings, they'll get a chance to hear from you and get a picture of who you are, what you've done, and how you want to apply it.  They will hopefully provide you with further networking contacts to whom you can present the same pitch.  And while you're in town, research local networking/trade/industry groups that could be holding networking events, including meetups, lectures, conferences etc.  Add those to your agenda.

 

More referrals and contacts should result, and by following these threads, you will eventually find your way into the right companies who will either have an open position for you, or who may even create a position for you based on what you offer.

 

To that last point, look through some of the other posts on this thread for my advice about creating a solid value proposition in your LinkedIn profile.  As an experienced professional, you want to have defined what it is that you do best, what gives you the greatest satisfaction, and how you can use that to provide tangible value for an employer or a client. Don't be a "jack of all trades."  No one needs that.  And don't be afraid of narrowly defining yourself by one area of expertise or one specific problem that you are the _best_ at solving.

 

I hope this has been helpful, and best of luck!

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Regular Contributor

Ever since I lost my job a few years ago, I tried to apply for a new position. Since I was too old to do anything for a paid position, many of the offers I received were on a "volunteer" level. Every employer assumed that since I was "retired", I would not mind working for a company for free since I was able to afford working for free. This of course is **bleep**! I am not working because I was forced into retirement!

 

The question remains! How can I apply for a decent job where my application would be taken seriously, rather than a job that would be a hobby position, or something that just gives be something to do? One company once told me "When you work with us (for free), you will be keeping busy! It's much better than watching TV all day long or just spending the days puttering around the house looking for something to do!"

 

-Bah!

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Career Coach

Thanks, @Olif -

 

You're not "too old" to do anything (unless it's physical activity that your body can no longer do).  That's ageist thinking, unfortunately.

 

But you also have to demonstrate that what you do has value.  Please review some of the advice I've given to other people on this thread in similar circumstances. 

 

Think about everything you've done, everything you've learned, what you love doing, and what you're good at doing.  How can that serve others and help them succeed in their businesses?  Whats is the specific value that you can offer? Is it a skill you can teach?  A problem or set of problems that you can solve?

 

Figure this out and you've got the seed of a product or a service that you can offer.  Maybe you'll find job openings that can take advantage of that.  Maybe you'll want to network your way to finding people who need what you offer.  But this is one way to take back control of the career process so you're not being written-off as "too old."

 

If you're providing something of value that's helping a business run or succeed, it doesn't matter how old you are.

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Newbie

I want to take my skills and life experience make a shift to freelance work online working with lawyers in various legal issues maybe helping an organization or legal firm run. Maybe help someone with your rights in the workplace.  

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Career Coach

Sound like a good plan, @JudyH634346 !

 

Is there anything I can help you with?

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Newbie

As a retiree, I have started a non-profit that serves senior citizens.  Is it possible to obtain mentorship, sponsorship and advocacy through AARP relating to gerentology?

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Career Coach

Bravo, @medinbu !

 

It sounds like you've started a very valuable program.  I am sure that there are others on the various AARP message boards in the non-profit space who could help you out. Search under "gerontology" or other keywords. It's not a question that I cover.

 

Best of luck with your project!

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Contributor

Approximately 2 years ago, I was injured and although surgery helped a lot, I am left with presumably permanent limitations with fine motor skills in my fingers.   I am trying to move and learn assistive technology skills but have made no progress in finding assistive technology that includes calculating functions.  

 

I wanr and need to work again but am a total loss to figure out how to move on focusing on my strengths.   Among my expertise: forensic accounting,fraud investigation (plus developing training materials and teaching continuing education for certified fraud examiners and CPA’s

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Career Coach

Thanks, @Elisabeth1953 -

 

It sounds like you have teaching experience that could be useful if you are not able to perform some of the physical functions that you performed previously.

 

If that is an appealing avenue for you, as an older worker, your experience counts for a lot in an educational context.  I would explore all of the education offerings available locally and online, and look for the gaps - either material that is not being taught, or not being taught well.  How can your experience and your unique point of view better inform that education process to yield tangible results for potential students?

 

You might also do some research in your field to learn what managers in the profession are looking for in their staff, and what skill sets or experience are lacking in the candidate pool.  Managers in most businesses are frustrated by the lack of skills in the applicants they field for open positions. You could target your education offerings specifically at these areas - creating a win-win for both employer and candidate.

 

To get started, I would approach local community colleges or industry-focused trade schools and offer your course or courses.  Build up some experience teaching and getting the feedback from students to hone the product.  Don't jump into online learning until you've built experience in front of live classes - what you'll gain there is going to be invaluable.  Then, you can translate that experience and the credibility (and testimonials!) of your live students to leverage the establishment of your online program and brand.

 

Reach out to other educators in this field on LinkedIn - which is also, of course, a great place to find others in your field who could be resources for you, as well as potential clients.

 

See my earlier postings for more information on tips to create a viable LinkedIn profile.  It is essential to any professional's career strategy.

 

Let me know if you have additional questions!

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Hello,

I want to make a career change.as I'm tired of not making money on a regular basis.

Currently, I'm a Realtor for 6 years, and have a background in finance, insurance, investments.

I'm 63 years old.

Any suggestions?

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Career Coach

Hi, @DouglasF182890 -

 

Thanks for reaching out!  

 

As you'll know from looking at previous messages on this thread, I don't believe in recommending specific kinds of jobs for people.  I believe that particularly after all of your experience, somewhere inside you, you have the best idea of what that job is that you want to do that's going to fill you with a sense of meaning and purpose.

 

My five-step process for figuring this out starts with your willingness to review and reframe any outdated or limiting beliefs about what you're good at, what you can or can't do, or how the world works. 

 

Then, talk to the people who know you well (and for a long time) and drill down into how they perceive you, what you have done best (and worst) in your work to date, and what possible ideas you could or should pursue. 

 

Then, I encourage you to confront any baggage you may have around the work you've done to date - all of the wrongs that have been done to you, the disappointments around missed opportunities, deals gone wrong, bridges burned etc. etc.  It's time to forgive all that (including yourself) for the past.  Everything is a lesson, and you've got to be able to bring a positive attitude and a beginner's mind to your next act.  If you don't, any lingering hesitation or bitterness or cynicism will be felt by those around you.  And you don't want that happening in a job interview!  

 

Next step is to "workshop" the career ideas you're thinking about.  Do your research, immerse yourself in this new area (or areas if you're trying to narrow it down).  Meet the people, take notes, make plans, run spreadsheets, get domain-specific advice (e.g. from the Small Business Administration if you're thinking of launching a new business). Create mind maps, vision boards - anything to capture all the pros and cons of the prospective job, career, or business you're considering.  Share it with your close friends and trusted advisors.  Make it an iterative process to figure out where and how you'll be happy in your new career.  Sit with it until you've dispelled all the doubts and are crystal clear about what it's going to look like.

 

Finally, use your network to make it happen.  Don't think that sending out resumes is going to get you a job. That's the biggest mistake you can make (just look at the people on this thread who have been stymied by that approach...).  Know the value proposition that you're bringing forward, and how the role or the business you're contemplating can make clear dollars-and-cents impact (i.e the "ROI").  The more clear and concise you can be about what you want to do, the easier you're making it for friends, colleagues, and connections to help you find the employer, partner, investor or other connector to get you where you want to go.

 

Yes, it's a lot more involved than saying "I'm going to look for a job as a Marketing VP in the golf industry."  Good luck on that approach.  You'll be competing with younger and likely cheaper candidates who will get the nod before you do (ageism is an unfortunate reality...).

 

The bar has been raised for older job seekers.  Think of yourself as a consultant providing value to a client vs. an employee taking direction from a boss.

 

What is the special synthesis of everything you've learned and loved about your work in real estate?  Jot it all down on a white board and imagine how it could be portable to other businesses or industries.  Again, your network is the key.

 

Hope that's helpful!  Let me know if you have any more questions.  And if the five-step approach sounds interesting, check out my book, which goes into all the details.

 

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Contributor

testing

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Contributor

I would like to know what to do if I don't have any job references. I have had my same boss for 28 years (3 different jobs). I have told him I want to leave to do something different. He said if I leave he won't give me a reference.

 

Thank you.

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Career Coach

Wow @ColorMyWorld72  -

 

Let me get this straight:  your boss has worked with you successfully for 28 years, and yet is so jealous or petty that if you leave to do something else, he's going to play the victim and cross his arms and not give you a recommendation?

 

Well, I guess there are some small-minded people out there - although that's scant comfort for you at this point.

 

Still, do you think there's a way of salvaging this?  Could you take him to lunch and acknowledge him for being a great boss (he had to be at least "OK" or you probably wouldn't have stayed with him for 28 years, right?).  If he feels like you really appreciate the relationship, and his leadership and guidance, he might not feel so hurt that you want to leave.

 

Explain to him that this is not against him or against the company.  It's really about you wanting to grow more as a person and as a professional, and since he has (ostensibly) supported you in that process over all this time, he's got to be able to see that maybe after 28 years, it's time for you to "go to grow."

 

Ask him what his biggest concerns are.  If he is afraid of the problem he's going to have in replacing you, what about reassuring him that you'll work with him to find and train your replacement?  Maybe there's already someone at the company who he already knows who would be the right fit for your position (that would make it even easier).  Is he concerned about confidentiality and trade secrets and you "stealing" ideas or maybe clients/customers?  You can reassure him that that is not your plan or intent. 

 

Explain to him from the heart what you want to do and why it is so important to you.  Again, make it about you growing, not about you being bored or dissatisfied with your current job.  The more he understands your motivation and hopefully empathizes with you, the less he'll be upset with you.

 

If all else fails, and you can't get him to budge, it's not the end of the world.

 

Over these 28 years, you've got to have developed some great relationships, both in the company and with vendors/suppliers/partners.  Ask them to write recommendations for you on Linkedin on your profile.  To make it easy, do some research on what goes into the best-written LinkedIn recommendtions, then write a draft of each recommendation that the individuals can each customize by adding their own personal details or style to the text.  Once they've agreed to do the recommendation (and let them know you'll help draft it to make it easier - a good incentive for them!) send them the draft in an email and let them revise it and paste it into the LinkedIn recommendation interface.

 

The fact that you were in 3 positions at the same company over 28 years is in itself a recommendation.  You don't have to get your boss' recommendation to be validated.  Actually, the recommendations of colleagues and external people you did business with may carry more weight because they're actually more transactional.

 

By the way, to do all this, you already have to be connected to your recommenders on LinkedIn as 1st-level connections.  So if you're not a LinkedIn user already, you should get busy building out your profile (see other messages on this thread).  You'll need a good LinkedIn profile in any event as you embark on your next act.

 

Let me know if you have any further questions!

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Regular Contributor

I wish to inquire about a number of concerns regarding to career change.

 

Please forward all replies directly to me. I will reply accordingly

 

Thank you.

 

Olif Spear

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Career Coach

Hi, Olif @Olif  -

 

We're only conducting public conversations regarding career questions.

 

I encourage you to post your questions here.  Please also review the other questions and responses on this thread for helpful information!

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Newbie

I recently lost my job.  My contract came to an end at the age of 62.  I have applied for over 4,698 positions none of which panned out.  I get through the first two interviews and they seem to love me but when I go for the last interview and it comes down to age and financial compensation, I do not get the job. I have even now downplayed what my salary was.   I began applying for any position just to be able to pay some bills.

 

I am beginning to think I will never get a job at this age. I am at a loss.  I recently turned 63 and my savings are depleting rapidly. I will be desperate if nothing comes soon.  What can I do? 

 

TMS

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Career Coach

Wow, Tricia @TriciaS290892 -  That's a lot of job apps!

 

I totally hear your sense of frustration.  You are NOT at the end of your rope.  

 

I'm sure they do love you in these interviews, but the chances are that they're a) a bit intimidated, and b) misinformed about how older workers operate.  The conventional bias is that you're going to be too expensive (and you've already checked that box), and that you're not going to stay long, and that your skills are outdated, and that you won't fit with the younger crowd.  

 

These are all, of course, false assumptions, but as I've said over and over on this thread, we're not going to change anyone's mind overnight.

 

My prescription (and, shameless plug, I invite you to take a look at my book, which spells this out in great detail) is to think of yourself as a consultant providing value to a client, not as an employee looking to take directions from a manager.

 

After all this time in your profession, you should be able to identify where things are broken, how things can be fixed, and where the business is going.  You are uniquely positioned to provide the fix for one or two of these crucial gaps in your field (find an expert niche!).  You also have decades of experience and, most importantly, connections to be able to vet your assessment of what needs to be fixed, and how.

 

85% of jobs are filled by referrals, not by job postings.  So it's no surprise you're not getting any traction.  Focus on your network.  But in order to do that effectively, you have to come up with the specific value proposition that you bring to the table.  I don't know your business, so I can't advise you specifically.  But others you've worked with (including and especially former supervisors if you're on good enough terms) can help you narrow down your pitch so that it is something you can do with great authority and effectiveness, but also with gusto and confidence.

 

Then you have to re-craft your LinkedIn profile to fully embody that value proposition, including the "why" you do what you do, and the meaning/purpose you get from your work.  Use the profile Headline and About sections to underscore WHO you are, not WHAT you do (that comes in the Experience section).

 

Armed with this consistent, expressive, and most of all topical narrative, you are positioned to grab the attention of both potential employers and potential clients.  Your prior employers and colleagues, who are now working in other companies most likely, could be the first people to either hire you or refer you to someone who needs your services.

 

No matter whether you get hired into a fulltime position providing this service, or wind up with multiple clients (on potentially monthly, or yearly contracts), you're exercising greater control over your career, and only focusing on opportunities that are right for you.

 

Otherwise, you're trying to hit a distant target with one arm tied behind you and a blindfold on.

 

Make sense?  Let me know if you have further questions!

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Contributor

How do I find reputable companies to work for from home doing case mgmt or utilization mgmt.? I keep running into false advertisements.

Thank you,

Darcy Wallace 

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Career Coach

Thanks, @dwallace1954  - You should check out the reputation of companies on LinkedIn - or simply by googling them.  I would also suggest that you try to be more pro-active in terms of seeking out the companies you would like to work for or with, and connecting to other people doing the same kind of work you do and want to do, and getting referrals from them on target companies. You can also find these people on LinkedIn. 

 

If you haven't yet established a contact network on LI, that should be one of your top priorities.

 

If you spend more time researching the right companies and less time responding to ads, you will take back control of this process and yield better outcomes.

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Contributor

Good evening. 

I am a Director of Rehabilitation and want to get more involved on boards and do consulting as well.  I have had experience in the past as a Regional Director for Rehab and started up states for other companies.  I have experience transitioning people over to another company with a 90% retention rate and love to teach and share with others.  What would you suggest for me to grow more in my career and supplement what I already love?  How can I break into boards and expand my expertise into other areas.  My specialty is Occupational Therapy.

 

Thank you

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Career Coach

@lorilu3 , it's all about your network, right?

 

You have to make your intention known to those who know you, have worked with you, and can refer you.

 

Identify the companies you'd like to serve and see who can connect you. Make sure your LinkedIn profile communicates your strategic insights on where your field is headed. This will serve as a baseline for the conversations around Board work.  Use the LinkedIn article and post opportunities to share relevant articles and create your own original posts on topics that interest you. Build your reputation as a thought leader!

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Good evening- I have a Masters of Arts in Special Education/Certification in Autism. I would like to takemy career to the next level. My preference is to work with adults with autism sprectrum disorder and individuals with disibilities. I am in the process of applying for next fall semester online Masters of Social Work degree program, my interest will focus on community social work. 

 

Thanks

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Career Coach

Hi, @df5493  - It sounds like you've got a good plan that's already in motion.  Did you have some specfic questions or concerns I can help you with?

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Newbie

@JohnTarnoff I have a landscape and a catering business and at one time my catering business was growing, I didn't have all of the tools in order to make my catering business blossom. My landscape business has always been good, I just want it to become bigger and better. 

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Career Coach

Thanks @DavidB852954  - Sounds like you are on a solid path.  Did you have a specific question or concern?  It sounds like you need to invest in some additional marketing support to grow your business.

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Need help to find a job:

Hi @JohnTarnoff -I had to leave my job as a school para-educator because of severe sciatica pains. I have been through therapy.Now that I am feeling a little better I cannot work with children from birth-3 and up with autism spetrum disorders, because there is a lot of play therapy involve with these assignments. I have applied to Applied Behavior Analysis and when asked why I left my job of five years and I give them the reason they refused me employment. I have been applying for jobs online for Job Coach and Transition Specialists. I applied for unemployment for assistance and was rejected I appealed and waiting for a reply from them.

 

 Thanks,

@DF

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Career Coach

Thanks for your message, @df5493 -

 

I'm sorry to hear that you've been going through a challenging time.

 

There are some things that I'm not clear about in your story.

 

If you're being refused employment because of your injury/disability, then I would think you could have a case for discrimination that falls under the ADA.

 

I'm not quite clear why you are applying to positions as a Job Coach and Transition Specialist if this is not your background, and your CV doesn't have similar positions on it.

 

While I recognize that your condition does not permit you to participate in some of the aspects of your previous work, surely there's more to being a para-educator than that.  Could you be training other para-educators? Are there modalities and curricula that do not involve the physical exertion you are no longer capable of doing?

 

If the work you did was successful and respected, have you obtained letters of recommendation from your previous employers to use in new applications?

 

Have you reached out to former/current colleagues (and managers) for advice, recommendations, and referrals.  If you read my other messages on this thread, you'll know that I'm a big believer in the power of your network to secure that next job.

 

Finally, your condition/disability aside, what is the greatest quality as an educator that you bring to the job?  Do you have a particular ability to build effective working relationships with your students? Are you an invaluable support resource for the educators and administrators you're working with?  What is it that makes you special and that you feel best about when you are "in the flow" of your work?

 

Make sure to capture and define this special quality or set of qualities and use that as the key value that you bring to the table.  When someone asks "What do you do?" it is this quality or set of qualities that you want to talk about, not just say "I'm a para-educator."  You want to start thinking (and talking) about the impact that your work has on and for other people.  

 

Don't just respond to job postings.  That is the least efficient way to find a job that you'll enjoy and stay in for the long haul.  On LinkedIn, research companies/institutions, and find educators, administrators, program directors and others at these places who are doing the work that you want to be doing or involved with. Contact them, introduce yourself, and build a relationship by asking for information, asking specific questions about your field, and otherwise engaging as a peer, _not initially as a job seeker.  If they like what you have to say and respect your point of view, they're more likely to refer you to other professionals - some of whom may have job openings...

 

I realize this is not the answer to finding a job tomorrow.  I don't have the answer to that question (and I don't think anyone does).  But it is the answer to finding a job you'll  be good at and will find rewarding.

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