Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Convincing an Interviewer You Want to Downshift

To snag a position with less stress, take these three steps


If you’re nearing retirement, you might be thinking about finding a less demanding job with a better work-life balance: One with fewer hours, less responsibility or reduced travel demands.
But when you’re ready to apply for a less-stress job for less pay, how do you communicate that effectively to potential employers? More to the point, how do you do so without seeming like you’ve lost your competitive drive?
It’s a challenging situation. We are taught to approach the career ladder as a forward climb — one that leads progressively upwards to positions of greater status, pay and responsibility.

But when you reverse direction and want to take a step downwards, employers tend to react with skepticism. They worry that downshifting is code for “tired and checked out.” (It doesn't help that a Gallup survey last year found that workers in their 50s and 60s are America's least engaged.) And they fear that if you accept a lesser role than the one you just had, you’ll be bored and leave when a better opportunity arises.
Given these concerns, the key to convincing an employer to let you downshift is to do three things:
1. Reformat your job search materials — resumé, LinkedIn Profile and cover letter — to be in alignment with your desired job.
2. Target employers and industries that are receptive to midlife career changers and flexible work schedules.
3. Prepare yourself to effectively address the employer’s concerns during the interview process.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these “must-do” strategies:
Reformat Your Job Search Materials
If you want employers to take your request to downshift seriously, you need to edit your resumé and LinkedIn profile so they no longer scream “High-Level Executive!!” or “24/7 worker.”

Fortunately, there are a number of creative ways to downplay your old status, while still emphasizing your core competencies and skills:
  • When reviewing job listings that fit your target position, analyze the keywords and incorporate them into your resumé and LinkedIn profile. Then, highlight in your resumé and profile only the specific skills and accomplishments that most closely match your desired role. Eliminate accomplishments that are no longer relevant or ones that suggest you’re looking for a pedal-to-the-metal job. Remember, while you need to be truthful, you don’t need to include every last detail of every job you’ve ever held.
  • Select a resumé summary statement or LinkedIn Profile headline that reflects your desired position, not your current title. For example, if you’ve been a vice president of sales and you now seek a job as a sales representative, use the heading “Sales Professional” and not “Sales VP.”
  • Consider changing the format of your resumé. The standard reverse chronological version might not be your best bet when trying to downshift, since that format emphasizes career progression and job titles. A hybrid resumé that focuses on your areas of expertise, followed by an abbreviated chronological work history, makes it easier to highlight relevant skills while downplaying job titles.
  • Spend time reworking your cover letter. A carefully crafted cover letter gives you an opportunity to address your reason for downshifting. Here’s an example: “My current position as vice president for sales requires that I travel overseas nearly two weeks every month. While I have been very successful in this role, I have now decided to seek a position that will let me continue to focus on my strengths — outstanding client relationships, top sales results and an extensive network in the industry — without the demands of international travel.”
Target the Right Employers
It will be far easier to downshift if you apply to employers that are open to flexible work arrangements.
In general, it’s best to steer away from large corporations that tend to have an up-or-out culture as well as industries known for their sweatshop culture (e.g., law and consulting firms).

Instead, look to small businesses and new companies where hiring managers might leap at the chance to hire a seasoned pro from a larger organization and save some money in the process. Just make sure to vet their expectations carefully. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a situation where you’re expected to do a full-time job for part-time pay.
Nonprofits can also be a good bet. Many nonprofit employers are accustomed to hiring older workers looking to transition out of the corporate grind into encore roles. Just keep in mind that some nonprofits have kinder cultures than others, so do your homework to find a good fit.
To start exploring jobs at nonprofits, take a look at sites like Encore.org, Bridgespan.org and Idealist.org.
As with any job search, networking is key. Your network can help you identify employers receptive to flexible working arrangements and midlife job seekers.
Referrals are especially critical when you’re trying to downshift. So whenever possible, use your network to refer you into interviews. A strong recommendation from an internal employee can help bolster your credibility and improve your chances of getting hired.
Prepare to Address An Employer’s Concerns
Potential employers are bound to wonder why you’d be willing to accept a lesser job for lower pay. So you need to be able to convince them that you are not only willing to do so, but that you will be happy and effective in this new role.
Don’t waffle or hesitate when explaining your goals to an interviewer. Emphasize that if you were hired, it would be a win for everyone: The employer would get a seasoned and skilled employee and you’d gain the flexibility you desire.
If you come across as confident about your decision to downshift, the employer will feel more comfortable, too.
Carol Fishman Cohen, co-founder of iReLaunch, a firm that assists people looking to reenter after a career break, says she counsels people in this situation to say something like the following:
"One of my top priorities is to deliver excellent results to my employer while also managing the rest of my life outside of work. So while it might look to you like I am overqualified for this position, this level is exactly where I want to be in my current life stage and I intentionally sought it out. I feel confident I can deliver excellent results to you at this level of seniority."
Cohen says her firm has had professionals use these words almost verbatim in interviews and get hired.
After you secure an offer (congrats!), re-confirm your understanding of the expectations regarding hours and responsibilities. You want to be certain that what you and the interviewer discussed will be exactly what you’ll wind up doing — and not more.

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.
More information is available a www.frontporch.net.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Watts Project Keeps Sunny View on the Cutting Edge of Technology

With the generosity of residents Lyn and Bruce Watts, Sunny View Retirement Community has launched the “Watts Project” to help with resident care through innovation and technology.

This project brings new technology along with training for Sunny View staff and was inspired by a pilot project in partnership with the Front Porch Center for Innovationand Wellbeing and Intel.

The pilot provided Sunny View staff members with 10 Microsoft Surface tablets to use in their daily duties. Intel and the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing implemented the study to analyze how technology can help increase staff productivity. At the conclusion of the study Sunny View was able to keep four tablets.

“Four Surface tablets just didn’t seem to be enough to get the work done,” Bruce said. “I wanted to make sure the staff had enough equipment to ensure we had the best care available.” With the Watts’ contribution, Sunny View will purchase seven additional tablets. The Watts will also contribute additional funds each year to help keep this project funded into the future. Whether it’s new technology or more training for staff, the Watts Project will keep Sunny View at the cutting edge of resident care.

“I am extremely excited about the Watts Project,” said Sunny View Executive Director Sally Plank. “We learned a lot from the study. Putting technology into the hands of our staff helps us understand how it streamlines some of our processes and motivates our staff to implement new ideas.”

Framing Stories with Hope

by Nancy Gordon, Director California Lutheran Homes and Sunny View Centers for Spirituality and Aging, a Front Porch Partner

Since I started serving in the older adult world, I’ve had many elders tell me that growing old is a difficult process. As the saying goes, “It’s not for sissies.” They are often a bit bemused that they’ve lived so long and are sometimes unsure how to frame the future. What does hope look like at 90?

I’ve been thinking that as the losses mount up as we age that there needs to be room for lament. So often we tell ourselves and the elders we work with to “be positive!” It’s good to have a positive attitude, but it’s also good, I think, to be able to name what has been lost and to take some time to lament the loss of something that is precious. I’ve sometimes wondered if the elders we tend to label as “complainers” might end up that way because their important losses weren't validated and noted.

Read article in full at: California Lutheran Homes and Sunny View Centers for Spirituality and Aging

Monday, March 16, 2015

How to Go Gray Naturally

It’s not easy, but it is possible. These tips can break your cycle of monthly dye jobs.
By Mary Bemis for Next Avenue


My friends tell me I should consider myself blessed, because at nearly 52 years of age, I’m just beginning to show my gray. And while it doesn't bother me — yet — I’m starting to think about color for the first time in my life.
The odds are, though, that I won’t go there, for a variety of practical reasons: the chemicals, the cost and the hassle of upkeep. But mostly I just don’t want to mess with Mother Nature.
I came close to coloring my hair last year, when my father passed away. My sisters and I contemplated dyeing our brunette hair red in solidarity: My father went into the great beyond at 84 with the same gorgeous copper-red hair with which he came into the world.
How Women Used to Grapple with Gray
Until recently, women fell into two basic camps: those who colored and set their hair until it didn’t, or couldn’t, move (think “helmet head”) and those who went gray naturally.
“Several decades ago, when women decided not to color their hair, they just grew it longer and pulled it back,” says Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a trichologist at Philip Kingsley salon in New York City. “You got away with having gray hair because that’s what the norm was — it was either done and colored or it wasn’t.”
Today, women who want to hide their grays have many options. There are demi- and semi-permanent hair color options that are ammonia-free, and therefore less damaging, as well as permanent color, a stronger cocktail of chemicals that keeps the color longer. (Semi-permanent color typically fades in about a dozen shampoos, while demi-permanent color lasts twice as long. These options are best for those whose head of hair is about one-quarter gray.)
Then there’s a completely different contingent of women ready to get their gray on but whose husbands don’t want them to. “I’m always intrigued by what dictates that,” Phillips says.
Either way, there’s no getting around the stereotype that gray is “distinguished” on gentlemen and “dowdy” on ladies. “The high-level women I consult with say, ‘I can’t let it grow out now. It won’t work in the boardroom,’” says Phillips. That’s true in reverse, too. “When the husband is in the boardroom and there’s a lot of social interaction, he often doesn’t want his wife to be gray,” she says.

Steps to a Color-Free Future
If you’ve been coloring your hair regularly but feel ready to take the gray plunge, realize that growing it out isn’t going to be a quick and easy process. First, get a consultation with a good colorist, preferably one who has helped a lot of women slide into silver. And then, because your look is going to be one of “transition” for a while, choose your timing carefully and plan to be patient. You don’t want to start growing out your color right before an important presentation or social event.
Tips for Going Gray
  • Go shorter. A different cut helps to eliminate a bulk of the hair you’re trying to match or catch up to — it also introduces the element of new.
  • Go lighter. Ease into gray by going lighter first, says Phillips, who recommends starting that process as early as possible. This eliminates and/or lessens the demarcation between regrowth and pigments that you’re applying.
  • Add lowlights. Instead of doing a full base color, start doing lowlights — that is, instead of coloring all of the hair, re-pigment hair that’s your base color in strands as opposed to in full. “There are several benefits to this,” Phillips says. “It buys you more time between appointments and it can look very natural — not like you’ve gone gray overnight.”
  • Temporarily cover new gray growth. Within five days, you start to see the shadow of roots; by week four, they’re obvious. In response, the hair-care industry has created a number of products to cover you up in between appointments. You can use a crayon-like cover-up stick from Roux; mascara wand–type color applicators, such as Generation Klean’s Gray Disappear; spray-on hair color powders, like Bumble and Bumble’s; and rinses and foams, including a line from British hair guru John Frieda.
How to Care for Gray Hair
Once you’ve grown out your gray, plan to put in a bit more effort to maintain it and keep it healthy. Step up your regular maintenance: Your old shampoo and conditioner won’t cut it anymore. Choose products that brighten and clarify the gray, like Blue Malva from Aveda, Pantene Pro-V Silver Expressions, Clairol Shimmer Lights and Pure Silver from Philip Kingsley.
Because gray and white hair is naturally more coarse, dry and brittle, you’ll want to give it special care, like having regular deep-conditioning, warm-oil scalp and restorative elasticizer treatments.
“In a perfect world, you should have an elasticizer treatment every two weeks,” Phillips says. “Or you can do it yourself at home.” This helps to bring moisture and elasticity back into the hair fibers to help reflect light and shine. She further stresses the importance of protecting your gray hair from oxidation and advises clients to stay out of direct sunshine, which can make hair dull-looking.
Refresh Your Face
When you do go gray or white, your skin can look a bit washed out. This is a perfect excuse to toss your old cosmetics and bring in some new, added color.
Choose hues that will brighten your complexion and not fight the gray. The right (and brighter) blush, for instance, becomes much more important now, as does a nude lip liner and a rich lipstick that’s just a few shades deeper than your natural color. But steer clear of black liner, face powder and smoky or dark eyeshadows. These will not only age you, but work against your gorgeous new gray.
Need a little more inspiration? Just think of all the beautiful gray-haired women out there, including Emmylou Harris, Jamie Lee Curtis, Helen Mirren, Annie Lennox and models Carmen Dell’orefice and Kristen McMenamy. And for camaraderie and more good tips, check out the upbeat blog Revolution Gray. Apparently gray isn’t just a hair color, it’s a lifestyle.

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.
More information is available at www.frontporch.net.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Quick Study: The Latest on Vitamin D and Dementia

New research shows a clear link, plus 3 ways to get more D

Older adults who are severely vitamin D deficient have a 122 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, according to a new study published in the journal Neurology.

The research team, lead by Dr. David Llewellyn at the University of Exeter Medical School, anticipated a link between vitamin D deficiency and cognitive problems (previous research has shown a general correlation). But they were surprised by how high the risk was.

“The association was twice as strong as we anticipated,” Llewellyn says.

Adults moderately deficient in vitamin D had a 53 percent increased risk of developing dementia of any kind. Those who were severely deficient had 125 percent increased risk.

The large-scale study looked at 1,658 adults older than 65 over the course of six years.

Clinicians have stopped short of saying that supplementing with vitamin D will reduce the risk of dementia — more studies need to be done, they add — but with one billion people worldwide estimated to be low in vitamin D and approximately 44 million suffering from dementia, this is a significant, and possibly encouraging, finding.

3 Ways To Get Your D

Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to a wide variety of health problems, from cancer to decreased immune function to depression. To maintain optimal vitamin D levels:

1. Let the sun shine in. When exposed to sunlight, our skin converts the rays into vitamin D. Older adults’ skin may be less efficient at this, however, making it more important to get vitamin D levels tested and perhaps take a supplement.

2. Find other healthy sources. Vitamin D is found in certain oily fish, mushrooms, and supplements. If you take vitamin D in supplement form, keep in mind that it is better absorbed by the body when eaten with a meal containing healthy fat.

3. Get tested. You can ask your doctor for a vitamin D test or order one through a direct-to-consumer service such as Direct Labs. Testing may be especially important for people living in northern climates, where exposure to bright summer sunlight (the kind that triggers vitamin D production in the body) is limited.

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.
More information is available at www.frontporch.net.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Second Career? They're on Their Third and Fourth

You, too, just might have a succession of encore careers


Most of my boomer friends tell their adult children to plan on multiple jobs and careers. The era of corporate loyalty and the organization man and woman is long gone, they (and I) say — due to a hypercompetitive global economy and their likely desire to embrace new opportunities throughout their worklives. Good advice.
But boomers ought to heed this insight, too, embracing multiple acts during the second half of life. I think you shouldn’t just plan on a second career, but maybe a third or a fourth.
Linda Lyman: On Her Third Career

That’s also what Linda Lyman told me with a smile when we met at a Phoenix breakfast event for UMOM, a nonprofit helping families break the cycle of homelessness. She’s exploring her third career in what I call Unretirement (also the title of my new book on the trend).
Lyman moved to Phoenix 31 years ago, eventually managing legal services for a land developer. On the 17th anniversary at this job, a colleague congratulated her and asked: “What will you do for the next 17 years?” The thought of spending another 17 years at one place jolted Lyman, then 46.
“I have to get out of here,” she thought. “I am going to do something more meaningful.”
Lyman next began working at a small nonprofit that mentored at-risk kids, New Pathways for Youth, and ran the group successfully for a decade. She loved the work, but decided it was time to “retire” earlier this year. “Ten years is a long time,” Lyman says. “I needed to have more life balance. I left on my own terms. It’s good.”

Now Lyman, 58, is eager to teach in an inner-city school. “I want to do something that I’m passionate about,” she says. “Teaching is what I thought I was going to do when I was in high school. It’s nice to be circling back.” Her husband is 65 (he’s retired from Intel) and the couple is open to relocating for Lyman’s teaching job, with Wisconsin and Minnesota high on her list.

Ginia Desmond: Heading Toward Career No. 5

Ginia Desmond is now on her fourth career and may be heading towards No. 5. My sense is that she has danced from one adventure to another.
Desmond was a serious artist early on, with a Masters in Fine Art. She painted in Argentina while living there with her first husband and then in The Philippines, where her second husband — Charles Kepner, founder of the Kepner-Tragoe consulting firm — worked.
Desmond brought some Philippine fabrics back when they moved to Tucson about a year later and sold them to a local boutique. The store owner wanted to buy more fabrics, so for her second career Desmond created Sangin, a trading company importing baskets, fabrics, lighting fixtures and similar items from The Philippines and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
She ran the business for 27 years and sold Sangin in 2003. “I never got rich,” she says. “But we didn’t go broke and I employed a lot of people.”
Time to return to her first career, she thought. So Desmond again picked up her charcoal, oils and watercolors and worked at becoming an established artist.

But Desmond took a screenwriting course at the University of Arizona in 2004 and fell in love with writing screenplays, which led her to career No. 4.
She’s since written a dozen-plus scripts; some have been optioned and she has been hired to write a few others. One of her scripts is Lucky U Ranch, about a bullied boy living in a trailer park in the ‘50s who is helped out by an angel appearing in a Cadillac that’s pulling a shiny silver trailer. A local director liked it and offered to turn the script into a movie if Desmond could find a producer.
She thought about the offer and finally landed on a producer — herself. Could this be career No. 5?
“I could buy a home or I could make a movie,” says Desmond, now 72. “I’ve bought several homes. Why not make a movie?”? She put up the money, is hoping for a winter release and is now working on another screenplay, Singapore Fling, about revisiting the island nation late in life to meet up with an old flame.
While Lyman and Desmond have led very different lives, they’ve both taken a savvy approach in approaching their encore careers.
For example, Lyman took advantage of her retirement from New Pathways for Youth to think through her options. When she kept coming back to becoming a teacher, she reached out to few that she knew to glean insights about the job.
At the moment, Lyman is thinking about applying to Teach for America. The program is best known for hiring young college graduates and placing them in schools in low-income communities, but the organization has been increasingly opening its doors to midlifers.
Desmond has a talent for finding intriguing opportunities, but was careful to ensure that she could afford her latest venture: movie producer.
She didn’t let her enthusiasm for the project put her finances at risk. An unusual source of income helps: she gets royalties from her songwriting father, whose best known hit is Here Comes Santa Claus.
Turns out that for many of us, our Unretirement may not be our encore career but encore careers. Pretty cool.

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.

More information is available at www.frontporch.net.