Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Job Crisis After 49?

You’re nearlyOffice Building. photo.royalty free 50 and suddenly what used to be “The prime of life” is OLD! Kids barely out of college (if they bothered to go at all) are getting big jobs and making more money than you dreamed possible at early stages of your career. Worse, you may suddenly be working for one of them who is hailed as the newest Internet genius and is driving your department.

So what’s an experienced, “seasoned” worker to do? Should you get so depressed you give up and quit, or keep dragging yourself into a horrible situation each morning, which makes you impossible to live with at home?

There are other options, says Robert L. Dilenschneider, author of “50 Plus! Critical Career Decisions for the Rest of Your Life.”

Dilenschneider has the credentials to give that advice. When he was president of Hill & Knowlton, and later at his own firm, The Dilenschneider Group, he was public relations counselor to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, university presidents, and top public officials, as well as young people just getting started.

Most important, he was a pioneer in the development of “crisis public relations” that helped clients react successfully to negative events. He provides a similar form of advice to mid-career “50s” facing this new phenomenon of suddenly seeming unwanted in the midst of a career.

“Make a list of 50 things you want to accomplish in your life—then get out there and achieve them,” he advises.

And never ignore signs that you are going to be fired, he stresses. If your boss is always on your case, or if you’re having trouble getting access to him or her, “Get your next gig lined up.” Some other signs include being told there’s a need for improvement at your annual review. You’re asked for more details about time and expenses. You’re out of the loop and you have a new boss.

Don’t try and find something positive about any of that.

Dilenschneider often recommends older workers consider becoming entrepreneurs.

If you think you can do it and you have an idea for a business, pitch it to family and friends for practice, and research industries that appeal to you, he suggests. Create a business card and letterhead and ask three friends who have businesses to become your first clients, charging them one dollar each. Then, use your network to ask for advice, strategic help, a reference, and help getting into specific companies to pitch your services.

But maybe, just maybe, you can salvage your job after a younger person moves in as supervisor and begins sending the message he or she would like a younger colleague in your place. The first important step is to make sure you are adept at and comfortable with technology. The next is to try and convince the new leader that you have knowledge of and experience with many facets of the company and its operation that newer employees do not.

Here are some of Dilenschneider’s suggestions for mentoring young people:

  • Don’t be authoritarian
  • Have something to say and keep it short
  • Don’t take slights personally
  • Tell stories, you’ve got to jolly people
  • Be lavish with praise
  • Never say “I told you so.”

In the event those options don’t work, there’s no choice other than to seek a new job, so start looking before you lose this one, because that’s always a stronger position.

Everyone, young and old, already knows that exploring Internet job sites, newspapers and journals, and keeping up with business news are immediate resources.

But sometimes those “50 Plus” don’t understand the importance of LinkedIn and Facebook, which increase your networking in a personal way and very often lead to that next job. Turn on your computer and sign up!


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