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Job Hunt Challenges for the Over 50 Crowd If you have just recently lost a job or maybe are not happy with the job you are currently holding, you are going to be on the hunt for a new job. Hunting for new job is never easy, whether it is your first or your tenth job. You know that it takes a good amount of preparation till you might hold another permanent job. But for the older crowd, especially the crowd over fifty, the challenge of finding a new job is even greater. Explore some of the facts why it is more challenging to find a job after 50. Starting out by the age factor, many companies want young and dynamic employees that are open to new and challenging tasks. Many employers believe that a person over 50 is set in his or her ways and therefore not able to tackle the same great tasks that might open up as a young, fresh out of college open minded person. A person over 50 is closer to retirement and might not want to take any risks as a young career fresh from school employee. Risks are sometimes what a company needs to get forward, new ideas, new thinking. Another reason is the salary competition. If you are over 50 and looking for another job, you most likely have a lot of experience in you sector. Experience usually is measured in money and the salary for an experienced person is generally higher than a starter salary. While experience is desired, some companies can just not afford to hire somebody for 10-20 thousand dollars more than they can get the fresh from college employee. If you lost your job, you might accept one of the lower salaries, but while you are in the application process, the human resource person reading your résumé does not have that information about you. Some of the bigger companies get scared by the fact that you are really close to retirement and if there are certain retirement plans and structure in place at a company, they might not want to hire you. You could retire within 10-15 years or less and then the company is stuck with paying you retirement payments. Hiring a younger person instead guarantees them no retirement payments or plans for retirement in general for the next 20-30 years. From the employer’s side, these are great savings for their pocket. Another reason often seen from employers as a reason not to hire a person over 50 is that the person they are hiring might be more prone to sickness and take more sick days than a young person. Why would they think that? Statistics have shown them that the tendency for time off due to sickness is greater for people crossing the age threshold of 50 years versus younger people. Be honest, being over 50 means for most people more aches and pains all over the body. You are more tired and get exhausted quicker. So if you do get a chance to go to an interview when looking for a new job, you need to make the best out of it. Besides all the factors mentioned above, a person that is over 50 and is looking for a job can be a great addition to any company and you need to make sure that you let your interviewer know that. An interview is a great challenge and can be mastered quite well if keeping these thoughts that employers have in mind. Emphasize the fact that you do bring experience and connections. Let them know that if they hire you, they get a person that at least is settled in life. You have had all your children, or did not want any, but at least you will not be missing because of pregnancy, birth of a child, and sickness of a young child or similar events.

Writers Block: What Causes it and How to Overcome it (writers block) If you are a writer then you know what I am talking about. You have everything ready, a drink, a snack, the topic, and even reference material. You sit down ready to start typing or writing, which ever you prefer, and it happens. You are stuck, your mind is blank and you have no idea how to fill that blank canvas in front of you. It is a writer’s worse nightmare come true. You have writers block. First you need to figure out what is causing it. There are a multitude of things that can be causing it. Stress is one of the biggest factors that cause writers block. Whether it is stress caused by personal matters, deadline dates, or fearing your article won’t be good enough it can block the words from flowing as easily as the should. Sleep deprivation doesn’t let your mind function to its full potential. Getting a good night’s sleep is imperative to having a clear mind and being able to focus. The project itself could be causing the writers block. A topic you are not interested in can easily turn your normally resourceful mind into jelly. The research on that topic turns into a grueling task. Then trying to put the words on paper that make sense and will peak someone’s interest seem impossible. If a topic has personal meaning to you it can be hard to write objectively about it. A simple informative topic can easily become a personal rant session. Writing because you have to, not because you want to makes it hard to concentrate and focus. Now that the basic causes have been covered, you need to know how to fix it. Writers block is not permanent. Identifying the reason is the hard part. Relax. The world is not going to end if the article isn’t as perfect as you feel it should be. Just because you don’t think it is perfect doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Go and read some of your previous writings. Even if what you read has nothing to do with your current topic, it can be inspirational to you. Don’t burn yourself out on a topic. Try to split up the writing process. Research and brainstorm one day and write the next. This will give you time to think about your topic and figure out the angle you want to write. Talk your way through it. Call a friend or colleague and chat. Tell them the topic you are working on and get their opinions or ideas. They may be able to offer fresh insight and ideas. Work on multiple projects at one time if you can. Bouncing back and forth between a few topics can keep your mind hopping and will keep boredom at bay. Take a break from you current project and write about something that motivates you. Chances are once you get those creative juices flowing they will continue into your next project. Make yourself a schedule and stick to it. If your schedule says 500 words by noon, write your 500 words and stop. Even if you don’t have a project going, by writing daily you will stick to your schedule and keeps your imagination going. If you write from home, which most of freelance writers do, make a quiet time and treat it like a real job. If you have young children at home, write while they nap. Let your answering machine be your secretary. If it is important they will leave a message. Most importantly remember why you started writing in the first place. Even the best of the best have gotten writers block at one time or another.

The Convenience of Online Writing Degree Programs (online writing degree programs) Online writing degree programs are not readily available, but they are growing in popularity. There are many traditional and online schools that offer online degree programs to busy writers. The online degree programs offer courses that teach students the basics of writing, including paragraph structure, theme writing, descriptive writing, tech writing, and grammar. Usually in writing degree programs, writers are given many assignments within one week, which range from analyzing the work of others to composing their own short stories and essays. The courses offered in an online writing degree program are much like the ones offered in traditional programs, and students will begin their program by taking beginner’s courses and eventually work their way up to the more advanced. The beginner’s course teaches the basics of writing, but after taking them, students will be able to take more specific courses, such as creative writing and tech writing. The online programs give students more freedom, but the workload is almost the same and students will have more and more writing assignments as they move further into the degree program. The online writing degree programs offer bachelor degrees as well as masters’ and there are many schools that offer these online programs. Chatham College is one school that offers online writing degree programs. Chatham online is the online division of Chatham College, which offers online masters’ degree programs for writers. The writing degree program offered by Chatham online offer 7-week courses and it has no residency requirement. The programs give students the freedom to study anytime or anywhere an Internet connection is available. Chatham online offers many degree options for its students, including the Master of Professional Writing degree, which gives students training to become technical writers, content developers for the web, advertising copywriters, and public relations specialist. It also offers the Graduate Certificate-Non-fiction Writing. This program gives students the opportunity to use their nonfiction writing skills and focus one subject, which include nature, environmental, or landscape writing. Students are given many writing assignments and attend many online writing workshops where their work is presented and critiqued. Once the program is finished writers will have a portfolio of their work that is of publishable quality. Another unique program is the Graduate Certificate-Writing for Children and Adolescents. The Certificate in Writing for Children and Adolescents provides students the chance to write fiction and nonfiction for children and adolescents. There are also many other colleges that offer online writing degree programs including Burlington College. Burlington College offers a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Literature through an online program. However, this school does require a four-day residency in Burlington, Vermont at the beginning of each semester. Goddard College is also a school that offers a master’s program online. The college offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree through their online program. In this program, students are able to study poetry, fiction writing, creative nonfiction writing, and memoir, play writing, and screen writing. A short residency is also required for the program at Goddard College. The University of Denver is another school that offers online writing degree programs. It offers the Certificate of Advanced Study in Creative Writing. The program includes a range of courses on content and writing processes for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and other areas of writing. There are many other colleges and universities that offer online writing degree programs including Goucher College, Lesley University, University of Central Florida, and Washington State University. Like all degrees, online writing degrees are not simple to obtain, but they can provide convenience and knowledge, which helps them advance as a writer, or develop writing skills to that will help them in the future.

Important Networking Follow-Ups: How to Get Those Job Leads Calling When you leave a networking event, you may be buzzing at the prospects offered by all of those new contacts you made, but soon, the cold reality sets in. How will you be able to convert those contacts you made over a glass of wine into valuable business opportunities for you? Successful networking is all in the follow-up. If you’re looking for a job, following up is all the more crucial. Without touching base after a networking event, you become just another face in the crowd of job hunting hopefuls. The first important rule for following-up with networking contacts is to lay the foundations for the follow-up during the initial meeting. At networking events, there can be a lot of empty promises thrown around. Use that first meeting to convey the message that you haven’t gotten caught up in “networking fever” but instead that you are very serious about exploring the job opportunity that you’re discussing with your new contact. Ask the contact when would be a good time to follow-up with them, and then reiterate the information back to them at the end of your conversation: “I look forward to speaking with you Friday at 2 p.m.” If they don’t give you a specific time, then suggest one to them. This rule holds true even if your contact is giving you a lead on a job not with them but with another contact of their own. Let them know you appreciate the information by saying, “Thanks. I will plan on calling Mary on Monday afternoon at 1 p.m.” Not only will this convey your seriousness about the opportunity presented to you, but it may also get you some handy inside information, as the contact may reply, “Oh, no, Mary will be out of town until Thursday – call her then.” The next important rule to networking follow-ups is to follow up with EVERY lead a contact gives you. If a contact suggests that you call someone whom you know won’t really be able to help you in your job search, call him or her anyway. Otherwise, when your contact finds out you aren’t taking their advice, they may just decide not to give you any more the future and any business person can tell you that you never know from whom the most valuable lead will come some day. Keep the lines of communication open by giving any and all suggestions a whirl. Last but not least, do the actual following-up. Follow up with your contact exactly when you said you would, and in the exact manner you said you would (phone, email, letter, etc). If for some reason you can’t make contact at the arranged time, keep trying. If you haven’t made arrangements for a follow-up with a contact, then the rule of thumb is to follow-up with them as soon as possible after meeting them. Try to at least send an email or letter the next day saying what a pleasure it was to meet and that you look forward to talking more in the future, and then say in that note when you plan to follow-up with your contact by phone. Then, of course, stick to that new follow-up obligation. Even if the promises made by a contact while networking don’t pan out for you on the job front, don’t cross them off of your contact list. Keep them in the loop about your job search and your career goals. While they may not have been able to make if happen for you this time, you never know what they might be able to do for you in the future. Your most promising business contact may be someone you already know.