MONEY job search

How to Cold Call Your Way to a New Job

Phone Book
Lisa Noble Photography—Getty Images

Get a stranger to give your career a boost with these three easy steps from career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine.

Cold calls are not just for salespeople.

In the course of your job search, business launch or other career transition, you will need to reach out to people you don’t know. You may be looking to get their insights, to expand your network, or to get information you need to make you a better candidate.

Don’t be afraid. If you’re respectful of their time, you focus on your commonality, and you are specific in your ask, you should be able to engage a stranger’s attention fairly easily. Use this three-step guide to a concise but captivating cold call or email.

1. Establish your common bond.

The first thing you have to do is introduce yourself. But don’t just default to your standard professional introduction. Pick the description of yourself that establishes what you have in common with the person you approach, even if it’s not career-related. For example, I’m a Money.com blogger but also a business owner, career coach, recruiter, Barnard graduate, wife, mom, stand-up comic, et cetera.

If I am approaching a Columbia alum, I may open with Barnard graduate, even though I attended years ago. If I contact a journalist, I may open with Money.com (or some other publication if we both wrote for that other one).

The best choice is dictated by the person you are contacting, not what you typically use as your pitch.

2. Explain why they are “the one.”

In the above example, the Columbia or journalism connection is the first step in my hypothetical cold call, but it’s still incomplete. There are lots of Columbia alums and lots of journalists. Why am I contacting this particular one?

Perhaps I read an article that cited them. Perhaps they work in a company or in an area that I am researching. Perhaps they gave a talk somewhere, and I am following up on something they said.

You need to explain why the person you are contacting is unique, so there is urgency for this person in particular—not some other alum or journalist—to get back to you.

3. Pick a small and specific request.

Once you have established a common bond and explained to your cold contact why he or she is the only one who can help you, you need to explain how he or she can help.

Your ultimate goal may be a job or a sale or a career change. But don’t ask people for any of these.

A job lead, for example, is too big a request this early in the relationship. This is also not a specific enough request: Does it mean you want to speak to HR? Are you inquiring about a particular opening? Are you asking this person to hire you?

Your new connection won’t be able to get you directly to your end goal on the first call, but there are many small, specific steps in-between that he or she may be able to help with.

For example, if you reach out to someone because they work at your dream company, ask about the organizational structure of the specific department you are targeting. Ask about the person who runs that group. Ask about projects in the pipeline or key objectives. The answers to all of these questions will enable you to better position yourself for the job, but these requests are not in themselves about getting a job.

By asking for a job, you put your cold contact on the defensive. By asking about the business, you demonstrate that you care about making an impact.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic. This column will appear weekly.

Read more from Caroline Ceniza-Levine:

 

MONEY

What The Simpsons Characters Taught Us About Money

Tune in to "The Simpsons" marathon for laughs—and also for lessons about careers, consumerism, college majors, and what should and shouldn't be used as toilet paper.

Thursday, August 21, marks the kickoff of an absolutely epic marathon of “The Simpsons” on the FXX channel. Starting at 10 a.m., the network will show every Simpsons episode ever (#everysimpsonsever in social media-speak) back-to-back in chronological order, with “The Simpsons Movie” thrown in as well. That’s a total of 552 episodes—25 seasons of the longest-running sitcom and longest-running animated show ever—running 24 hours per day for 12 straight days, ending on Labor Day, September 1.

In honor of the marathon, we thought it would be fun to reflect on what some of the most colorful and memorable characters on “The Simpsons” have taught us by their good (or, more likely, bad) examples. Here are 11 money lessons from “The Simpsons,” each with a memorable quote to bring the message home.

 

  • Homer Simpson

    Homer Simpson on THE SIMPSONS
    Fox

    Homer: “If you don’t like your job, you don’t strike, you just go in there every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.”

    Lesson: Job security can be wonderful thing. Homer said these words to his daughter Lisa during a teacher strike at her school, and they bring to mind how amazing it is that an inept, clueless worker like Homer can avoid being fired from his job at the nuclear power plant. By extension, the takeaway is that workers should not underestimate employment fields that come with decent job security. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer lines of work are immune to forces like the economic downturn and increased automation across all industries. So pretty much everyone should always have an updated resume at the ready, and be prepared to launch a second career at a moment’s notice. Oh, and do try to do your job well rather than “half-assed,” to limit the odds you’ll get fired in the first place.

  • Kent Brockman

    Kent Brockman on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Kent Brockman: “Things aren’t as happy as they used to be down here at the unemployment office. Joblessness is no longer just for philosophy majors—useful people are starting to feel the pinch.”

    Lesson: Choose a practical major and career. TV news anchor Brockman, the face of journalism in Springfield, is known for tone-deaf reports like this one, delivered during a season five episode when a casino was proposed to revitalize the local economy. (A concept that quite a few U.S. communities have glommed onto lately, by the way.) His offhand swipe at liberal arts majors obviously calls to mind how important it is for students to choose a college and college major wisely.

  • Marge Simpson

    Marge Simpson on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Marge: “We were using $50 bills as toilet paper and toilet paper as dog toilet paper.”

    Lesson: Don’t go overboard when success comes your way. Marge is usually the voice of reason on “The Simpsons,” but even she could go off the deep end—like in the casino episode mentioned above, when she became addicted to playing the slots. (Money-hungry Monty Burns, who of course owned the casino, explained that legalized gambling was “the perfect business: People swarm in, empty their pockets, and scuttle off.”) The quote above from Marge was related during a “Behind the Music”-type episode, when the gang reflected on how famous and rich they became at the height of “The Simpsons” craze. The simple moral is: Don’t let success or sudden wealth change who you are, nor what you consider appropriate material for wiping your butt. For that matter, the whole career of Springfield celebrity Krusty the Clown, who built and lost fortunes many times over—once betting everything he had that the Harlem Globetrotters would lose (“I thought the Generals were due!”)—is a cautionary tale about how not to handle success.

  • Waylon J. Smithers, Jr.

    Smithers on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Smithers: “Your new duties will include answering Mr. Burns’s phone, preparing his tax return, moistening his eyeballs, assisting with his chewing and swallowing, lying to Congress, and some light typing.”

    Lesson: Do what you need to do to impress the boss to get ahead. OK, so you might not want to mislead Congress or get quite as up close and personal with your boss as Smithers does with Mr. Burns. (Smithers’s quote is directed at Homer, who temporarily took over Smithers’s duties.) But less extreme ways of buddying up to the boss can yield serious benefits in your career.

  • Bart Simpson

    Bart Simpson on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Bart [speaking as Steve Mobs]: “You are all losers. You think you’re cool because you buy a $500 phone with a picture of a fruit on it? Well, guess what? They cost $8 to make, and I pee on every one! I have made a fortune on you chumps, and I’ve invested it all in Microsoft.”

    Lesson: Don’t be suckered into buying overpriced technology you don’t need. Bart skewers Apple—and trendy overpriced tech in general—by subbing in his voice for Steve Mobs, a turtleneck-wearing stand-in for Steve Jobs, speaking from a big screen to a crowd of over-the-top fanboys at a “Mapple” store. Guess who is also being mocked here? Early adopters who blindly buy whatever gadgets are hottest, most hyped, and splashed in front of them at the moment.

  • Millhouse

    Millhouse on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Millhouse: “I kind of traded your soul to the guy at the comic book store.”

    Lesson: Understand the true value of things. Bart sells his soul to Millhouse for a mere $5, and Bart thinks he took his pal for a sucker in the deal because there is no such thing as a soul. (“It’s just something parents made up to scare children, like the boogeyman or Michael Jackson,” Bart says.) After Bart realizes the error of his ways, it’s too late to get his soul back because Millhouse swapped it—for pogsfeaturing TV alien Alf, of all things. The “joke” here is that both the boys have dramatically and foolishly underestimated the value of the soul, which should not be sold at any price. If indeed the soul does exist, that is.

  • Mr. Burns

    Monty Burns on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Mr. Burns: “Eternal happiness for one dollar eh? Hmmm… I’d be happier with the dollar.”

    Lesson: Some things are more important than money. The richest man in Springfield is the ultimate miser, who loves money above all else and reluctant to part with a dollar even for a seemingly “eeeeexcellent” reason. Mr. Burns probably has more quoted lines about money than any other Simpsons character, including “What good is money if it can’t inspire terror in your fellow man?” and the one above, spoken in response to Homer’s telemarketing plea promising eternal happiness for just a buck. Occasionally, though, Mr. Burns gets his comeuppance for his stingy and crooked ways, most notably when he was shot by Maggie when trying to take her lollipop—yep, he was stealing candy from a baby.

  • Moe

    Moe on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Moe: “Sure, Homer, I can loan you all the money you need. However, since you have no collateral, I’m going to have to break your legs in advance.”

    Lesson: Borrow money responsibly, from a reputable source. After Homer loses all his money investing in pumpkin stocks when they tank after Halloween—another money lesson entirely—he goes in seek of a loan to keep up with his mortgage payments. He deems a loan from Moe, the local bar owner, as less than ideal, before turning to an arguably worse resource: his gruff, spinster sisters-in-law Patty and Selma. They give him the money, but turn him into their servant and make his life a living hell. All in all, if you need help with your mortgage or are dealing with debt collectors, try not to be like Homer, and steer clear of characters like Moe, Patty, and Selma.

  • Apu

    Apu from THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Apu: “Pardon me, but I would like to see this money spent on more police officers. I have been shot eight times this year, and as a result, I almost missed work.”

    Lesson: Have a strong work ethic. The Springfield Kwik-E-Mart seems to never close, and its proprietor, Apu, never takes a day off. Not even when he’s shot on the job. And sure, he’s overworked, but at least his dedication and hard work helps him run a successful business. In the quote above, Apu is weighing in on what Springfield should do with a $3 million fine paid by Mr. Burns for dumping nuclear waste illegally. The town doesn’t heed Apu’s suggestion, and instead falls for the pitch of a mysterious huckster named Lyle Lanely, who convinces Springfield to build a boondoggle of a monorail. There are some lessons to be learned in there too, of course.

  • Lisa Simpson

    Lisa Simpson on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Lisa: “My administration will focus on the three R’s. Reading, writing, and refilling the ocean.”

    Lesson: Your circumstances shouldn’t dictate your ambitions. In episodes that show the future, we find out that Lisa, the bright and plucky middle sibling stuck in the nutty, underachieving Simpson household, winds up being president of the United States. If she can make it given her surroundings, anyone can.

  • Comic Book Guy

    Comic Book Guy on THE SIMPSONS
    FOX

    Comic Book Guy: “I’ve spent my entire life doing nothing but collecting comic books… and now there’s only time to say… LIFE WELL SPENT!”

    Lesson: Follow your passion. While some say that “follow your passion” is horrible career advice, Comic Book Guy, quoted from “The Simpsons Movie,” seems to have no regrets doing what he loves most, even if others think it’s silly. Then again, awkward, friendless Comic Book Guy is basically a miserable character, and at times he admits as much. “Oohh, I’ve wasted my life,” he reflects on one Halloween episode. We still say follow your passion, so long as your passion isn’t a complete waste of time.

  • Making Homer and Marge Simpson Speak French

MONEY Business Travel

How to Keep Fear of Flying From Grounding Your Career

An anxiety filled flight can make it tough to give your best at work. Jupiter Images—Getty Images

If your job requires you to get on a plane, this anxiety could hold you back at work. Here's how to cope with your worries.

It’s understandable if the recent spate of high-profile airplane crashes around the world has made you nervous about flying.

Three airline disasters in eight days last month have pushed the number of dead or missing this year to more than 700, putting 2014 on track to be the worst year for airline fatalities since at least 2010. With 464 fatalities, July was the fifth worst month in aviation history, according to the Air Safety Network.

In the aftermath of these tragedies, aviation experts and many news outlets issued the standard post-crash reassurance that flying is still much safer than most forms of travel, including driving a car.

But even if flying isn’t more dangerous, the fear of it can have a big impact on your life and your career. If you’re anxious about air travel, you may turn down opportunities to attend important business conferences. And even if you can get on the plane, you may be too anxious to sleep and emerge from the trip exhausted. If you need to work during the flight, anxiety can sap your productivity.

The medications you might take to cope can leave you fuzzy just when you need to be sharp for a client meeting or a speech. At its worst, a fear of flying may keep you from rising the corporate ladder.

“The impact on careers is pretty clear and often striking,” says Dr. James Abelson, director of the Anxiety Disorders Treatment program at the University of Michigan. “We regularly see people who shy away from jobs that would require them to fly and even turn down promotions.”

Who Suffers the Most

Exactly how many people suffer from a fear of flying is unknown. Some surveys find that about 25% of people are nervous about air travel. In a July poll, 36% of Americans said that recent political turmoil has made them afraid to fly internationally. But true aviaphobics make up just 6% of the population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Whatever the stats, there’s no doubt that millions are anxious about getting airborne.

The phobia is more common among those who are successful, says Dr. Martin Seif, a psychologist who specializes in anxiety disorders and operates a fear of flying program called Freedom To Fly. That may be because people with hard-driving, Type-A personalities get uncomfortable when they aren’t in control. Plus, workers in management and executive positions are more likely to have to get on a plane for the job, says Seif.

Indeed, a number of successful celebrities, from sports stars like Wayne Gretzky to entertainers like Aretha Franklin, suffer from a fear of flying that has affected their careers.

What You Can Do

Whether you’re a celeb or a worker bee, you can take advantage of online resources, in-person programs, and even apps to get your fears under control and limit the damage to your career.

Several airports and airlines offer workshops to help nervous flyers, according to USA Today. At Phoenix Sky Harbor International, a fear-of-flying class convenes monthly, with an advanced session that allows students to test their coping strategies on an actual flight. Captain Ron Nielson, a commercial airline pilot for 40 years, runs the Fearless Flight program. Milwaukee’s General Mitchell airport’s Overcome Your Fear of Flying program is headed by Dr. Michael P. Tomaro, an aviation psychologist and certified flight instructor. San Francisco’s International airport hosts a fear-of-flying clinic that will run five workshops this year. A few international airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, also offer programs.

Seif’s Freedom to Fly program is airport based. Students go through the airport security, board the plane, and take short flights to learn how to deal with anxiety management. He also offers individual counseling sessions.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers a number of articles and lists resources for overcoming fear of flying.

SOAR, an organization started in 1982 by Captain Tom Bunn, a licensed therapist and airline captain, sells DVDs and one-on-one counseling sessions. It has also developed an app to manage anxiety on the go, with videos, relaxation exercises, and turbulence forecasts for your flight. The VALK Foundation, a Dutch institute that studies and treats the fear of flying, also has an app to help anxious passengers.

Simple techniques, such as doing slow controlled rhythmic breathing, can also help. The best cure for fear of flying: flying.

“The active ingredient in overcoming any fear is exposure,” says Seif. “The more you fly, the easier it is.”

TIME

4 Extremely Easy Ways to Fake Confidence

125770273
Thomas Barwick—Getty Images

Expert advice to bluff your way to the top

Confidence is crucial for advancing in your career, but a lot of Americans today are suffering from a lack of confidence with their jobs and the state of the economy. This doesn’t mean that you’re relegated to the sidelines until circumstances improve, though. You’ll just have to fake it. Afraid you’ll be as obvious as Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally? Here’s some advice from experts on how to bluff your way to confidence.

Be shameless. “Confidence rarely equates to competence,” points out Tom Hayes, founder and owner of marketing company Riley Hayes. “sometimes the most competent people are the least confident and that the most confident people are the least competent.” Research shows that people unconsciously defer to people who project an air of confidence, regardless of whether or not they “should be” in charge. Yes, taking those first steps can be excruciating, but if you can just get the ball rolling, your colleagues will automatically perceive you as having confidence and leadership qualities.

Spend your down time studying what leaders do. Even if you’re not feeling it, having the right tools to project an air of confidence can go a long way, suggests Heidi Golledge, co-founder and CEO of CareerBliss.com. “We have noticed employees using their free time to join ToastMasters… programmers reading the latest management and technology books as well as taking a weekend to join a conference in their field lead by creative industry leaders,” she says.

Or don’t. Doing something you enjoy in your free time — an activity or hobby that has absolutely no bearing on your job — can still have a positive impact on your career confidence, Golledge says. So what if you’re a database manager or an administrator — if taking art classes or running obstacle races revs you up, go for it. Then, when you’re back in the office, recall the confidence boost that comes from doing something you like, even if you’re never going to become an expert.

Focus your efforts. If you’re an introverted type, faking confidence and being “on” all the time can be exhausting. In a Harvard Business Review blog post, consultant and speaker Dorie Clark suggests grouping your to-do list so you’re not facing social interactions where you have to project confidence every single day. “Batching my activities allows me to focus, and alternating between social and quiet time enables me to be at my best when I do interact with people,” she writes. If you can pick a day’s worth of tasks that won’t require you to put on a “game face,” you’ll be refreshed for the next time around.

MONEY office etiquette

3 No-Fail Ways to Handle a Coworker Who’s Too Loud

Businessman plugging his ears
Anthony Lee—Getty Images

Q: My colleague makes loud personal phone calls all the time. I work in an open office and sit right next to him. How can I get him to be more quiet without creating an awkward situation?

A: Dealing with noisy neighbors is one of the many curses of working in an open office space. (You’re also more likely to get sick and be less productive).

Nearly 70% of offices now have open layouts, according to the International Facility Management Association; plus the average square footage per person has dropped from 225 to 176 between 2010 and 2012—and is expected to fall to 100 by 2017, according to corporate real estate association Corenet. So some ambient noise is to be expected.

But being cozied up to your colleague doesn’t mean you have to settle for an earful of his high-volume personal calls.

You’ve got a few options for how to resolve the issue.

Ideally, a professional and polite conversation with your co-worker will solve the problem. “Sometimes it’s just an awareness issue,” says Bill Driscoll of staffing agency Accountemps. “Your coworker may not realize that everyone can hear their personal business.”

But if you don’t want to say something directly, ask your manager to speak to him. Rather than ratting out your colleague for doing personal business on work time, says Driscoll, simply tell your boss that the loud talking is distracting you from doing your job. Your boss should be empathetic when you pitch it in terms of the impact on the results you are able to deliver.

A final option is to ask your manager if you can move your desk to a quieter place in the office, with no naming of names.

Whatever you try, keep this in mind: “We spend almost as much time at work as we do at home,” says Driscoll. “This isn’t something you should have to live with.”

MONEY entrepreneurship

30-Year-Old Tech Mogul’s 1,200-Slide Motivational Opus In One Image

You're welcome.

Earlier this week, a serial entrepreneur named Ryan Allis decided to share online the nuggets of motivational wisdom that he’s accumulating over his 30 very busy years. On its face, that doesn’t sound like a terrible idea. Allis is, by any measure, a very successful businessperson, having launched a couple startups and selling one of them — the email marketing service iContact — for $169 million in 2012. He may be only 30, but he certainly knows a thing or two about being successful.

There’s just one problem. Instead of posting an article or short video, Allis uploaded a 1,285-slide powerpoint presentation detailing everything—and it does appear to be everything—that he’s learned over the past 10 years. Each slide contains just a few colored words in giant, sans-serif letters. Most convey the kind of common-sense motivational bromides we’ve all heard many times — the kind of stuff that, no matter how true or useful, often fails to have an deep effect on people precisely because they’ve heard it so many times.

Other pieces of advice, meanwhile, come across as a little weird. At various points, the iContact founder urges readers to ditch any friends who don’t “inspire” them; suggests moving to a “cultural center” if they don’t already live in one; and recommends finding a mentor by sending unsolicited email or Twitter messages — or even by just showing up at their office. What if that doesn’t work? He suggests you keep up the charm offensive for at least six months.

But what’s really most notable about Allis’s presentation is its sheer length. As I skimmed it, I had to wonder: Would the people who most need to hear Allis’s advice reallyslog through all those slides? I seriously doubted it — and was reminded of something that that greatest of motivational writers, Benjamin Franklin, once wrote: “I have already made this paper too long, for which I must crave pardon, not having now time to make it shorter.”

Figuring that Allis must be too busy to cut his opus down to size, I thought I’d take a shot. You can read my one-slide summary above.

Now you’re ready to succeed in business, make boatloads of money, and eventually write your own motivational slideshow. You’re welcome!

MONEY Careers

3 Easy Résumé Fixes to Help You Make a Career Change

Yellow highlighter
Rob Chatterson—Corbis

Ready to move to a new industry or a new kind of role but can't get employers to pay attention to you? You might need to tweak your C.V., says career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine.

Recently, I coached an experienced healthcare executive who wanted to switch industries. She had substantive experience in business development, research and project management, but had been sending out her résumé with little response.

This is a common problem of career changers: Your résumé points employers in the wrong direction—to your past. It represents a field that you no longer want, so don’t get called in for the jobs you do.

However, with these easy adjustments, your résumé can help—rather than hinder—your career change.

1. Highlight qualifications that cut across industries and roles

When you describe your roles, take out any industry-specific jargon. You want your prospective employers in other industries to be able to see you working for them. The healthcare executive that I was working with needed to focus on general research skills, rather than make specific references to clinical research or medical research. What skills do you have that cut across industries—sales, project management, people management, marketing, analysis, financial acumen?

2. Demonstrate relevancy

Employers will be reluctant to hire someone whom they have to teach about the industry or the job. So you need to show that you have already have demonstrated some movement in that direction. Professional work experience is an obvious choice to demonstrate expertise…but then you would no longer be a career changer. Courses or certifications, professional associations and conferences, and volunteer work are more realistic ways that you can get hands-on experience with an industry, and this activity gives you something to put on your résumé . What can you use to prove that you’ve done something related to your new career area?

3. Reference emerging trends

In growth areas, demand for talented candidates exceeds supply, so employers in those fields are more open to considering outsiders. This healthcare executive had led business development for data-intensive projects, which relates nicely to the red-hot area of Big Data. By referring to her sales focus with phrases like Big Data or market analytics, she emphasizes an expertise for which multiple industries are competing, not just healthcare. What hot skills can you highlight—digital marketing, social media, customer engagement, Big Data?

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic. This column will appear weekly.

Read more from Caroline Ceniza-Levine:

 

MONEY Second Career

Why You Need a Second-Career Matchmaker

Dave Dardis worked for over 39 years at IBM in management roles in sales, marketing and business development. He retired about six years ago, spending his newfound free time volunteering at nonprofits in Silicon Valley. He found the volunteering work deeply unsatisfying.

“They were along the lines of ‘Can you help us for several weeks and then we’ll wave goodbye,’” Dardis, 68, recalls.

But in a parking lot conversation following a nonprofit event, Dardis learned about The Encore Fellowships Network. He was intrigued.

What The Encore Fellowship Is

The program was created by Encore.org (whose slogan is “purpose and passion in your second act”) to serve as a matchmaker for private-sector professionals and nonprofits. It typically lasts six to 12 months and comes with a stipend.

In 2011, Dardis applied to become an Encore Fellow and, after being selected, was asked to choose among three nonprofits. He picked the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV), which spearheads local educational initiatives. Its draw? Dardis’s parents were both teachers; so is his wife.

The part-time Fellowship paid $25 an hour for 1,000 hours. When it ended, Dardis was hired as HFSV’s chief operating officer where he works three days a week on fundraising in his “unretirement.”

Says Dardis: “I am doing things that leverage my skills from IBM. I am having fun. This is a gas.”

The 20-hours-a-week schedule gives Dardis time to run errands, cook dinner for his wife and spend relaxing weekends watching his grandchildren play soccer. Financially, he’s doing fine with a pension from IBM, Social Security and two checks a month from HFSV (earning close to what he made during the Encore Fellowship).

From Creating Ads to Helping Ex-Cons

Beth Kempner worked in New York City for Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising for 25 years, where she became a Senior Vice President. When Kempner’s kids were in high school, she decided it was time to “retire” and spend more time with them before they left for college.

In her “retirement,” she did a project for the Taproot Foundation, a pro bono consulting firm, and got a certificate in the Funder and Grantmaking Program at New York University. Then, while browsing the Internet, Kempner chanced upon the Encore Fellowship program. She applied and became an Encore Fellow in 2011, working in public affairs for the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a nonprofit that helps ex-cons get and stay in jobs.

Like Dardis, Kempner (now 55) stayed on when the Fellowship finished. She was hired as CEO’s part-time Director of Public Affairs, leveraging her advertising and marketing skills. “It’s a wonderful job,” she says.

Kempner has been with the organization for three years, working three three days a week. She’s passionate about the work, but loves the free time that has let her rediscover tennis, revive friendships and take classes.

The Encore Career Gap

Many others in their 50s and 60s are inspired by the fledgling encore career movement where Durdis and Kempner are foot soldiers. But some are unsure about which encore career to pursue, how to find a good opportunity and whether the finances will work out.

That may explain why a new Encore.org survey of Americans age 50 to 70 found that although 55 percent believe it’s important to take their skills to help others, only 28 percent said they are ready to make the leap into an encore job.

Structure and Support

It’s also why a structured, focused program like the Encore Fellowship Network can ease the transition. There are now Encore Fellowships in 15 cities in the U.S. and England, with more in the works. Each is run slightly differently, with its own application season and process.

“Not only did they [the Fellowship management] help direct me to this new ‘life’ but the support system in place in fantastic,” says Kempner. “Over the year of the Fellowship, we had speakers from every part of the nonprofit world come to speak to us and share their transitions and experiences.”

Adds Dardis: “The Fellowship isn’t a once and done kind of experience.”

Dardis and Kempner said the Encore Fellowship’s application process forced them to think about their skill sets and what they wanted out of their next chapter. Although Kempner said she had doubts whether she was qualified to assist a nonprofit for ex-cons, a meeting with the group’s former head convinced her to take a risk.

Both have found their “unretirement” work extremely fulfilling. That’s often true for people who transition from full-time professional jobs into encore careers.

Nicole Maestros, a Rand Corporation economist and author of the study, “Back to Work: Expectations and Realizations of Work After Retirement” found that 26 percent of full-time employees who retired reversed their decision and returned to work (either full time or part time) within a few years. They did so mostly because they found retirement less satisfying than they had expected, Maestros says.

The Evolving Fellowships

The Encore Fellowship model is evolving in interesting ways. For the past two years, Intel has been offering its U.S. employees who are eligible to retire the opportunity to apply for Intel Encore Career Fellowships. So far, more than 200 Intel employees have become Fellows.

More nonprofits are learning about the Encore Fellowships and snagging its talented men and women. But too few people who could become Fellows know about the program. Dardis learned about it through a chance parking lot conversation and Kempner by browsing the Internet.

The Encore Fellowship is also only one piece of a much bigger unretirement and encore career infrastructure puzzle. There are many more on-ramps to be built. Still, the Fellowship is a practical path for some boomers to thoughtfully transition from one career to another.

Check it out.

Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor for American Public Media’s Marketplace and author of the forthcoming Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and The Good Life. He writes about Unretirement twice a month, focusing on the personal finance and entrepreneurial start-up implications and the lessons people learn as they search for meaning and income. Tell him about your experiences so he can address your questions in future columns. Send your queries to him atcfarrell@mpr.org. His twitter address is @cfarrellecon.

Related Links:

 

MONEY pay raise

5 Ways to Get a Big Raise Now

Envelope With a Money. Image shot 03/2013. Exact date unknown.
Alamy

The best salary bumps go to the most valued workers. Here’s how to make sure you’re one of them.

All signs point to a rapidly improving job market, giving workers the upper hand over employers when it comes to getting a decent pay increase.

“The economy is heating up, and employment is improving. Employees should have more leverage and more confidence to ask for more,” says Bill Driscoll of staffing firm Accountemps.

It’s about time. While pay increases have steadily been rising since the end of the recession, the gains have been modest. Mercer is projecting an average pay raise of 3% for workers in 2015. That’s up from 2.9% this year, 2.8% in 2013 and 2.7% in 2012.

But for top performing and highly skilled workers, the pay bumps are much plumper.

Mercer’s survey shows the highest-performing employees received average base pay increases of 4.8% in 2014 compared with 2.6% for average performers and 0.1% for the lowest performers.

“Differentiating salary increases based on performance has become the norm,” according to Rebecca Adractas, a principal in Mercer’s Rewards consulting business. “It’s an effective way for employers to recognize top performers without increasing budgets dramatically.”

Here are five ways you can snag a better-than-average raise.

1. Gather your accolades. You know you’re good at what you do, but when clients, customers and respected colleagues say so, that carries weight with higher-ups. Collect emails of praise from your boss, ask customers or clients to write testimonials for your work, and get feedback from your manager after completing projects.

2. Prove you’re a top performer. There’s nothing like a number to show you are delivering on the job. Quantify your accomplishments. Sure, that’s easier if you’re in sales and you can show you’ve more than hit your targets or landed a big account. Did you implement more efficient ways to get things done, cut costs to meet budgets, take on additional responsibilities above and beyond your normal job duties? Those count too.

3. Know what to ask for. Are other people at your firm getting raises? How is your company doing? Is it hiring people or laying them off? Even companies cutting back don’t want to lose experienced employees. That doesn’t mean you’ll get a raise, but it will help if your request is grounded in reality.

It’s also important to know how you stack up against others in your position. If you’ve been at your company a long time, you may not be making as much as recent hires. Use tools such as PayScale.com’s salary calculator to research compensation by experience level, company size, and the city where you work. You can also talk to colleagues or even co-workers who have recently left your company about how much people make in your position. It’s still taboo to talk about salary, but if you ask for ranges, it’ll be an easier discussion to have.

4. Ask. Seems like the obvious place to start, but 56% of workers have never asked for a raise, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. Sure, it can be an uncomfortable conversation, but this stat from the survey should give you courage: Two-thirds of workers who asked for a raise received one.

And now is a good time to have the conversation. Companies draw up their budgets for the next year in the fall, beginning in September. Wait till December to talk with your boss and it may be too late.

5. Don’t take no for an answer. If your manager isn’t willing to give you the pay bump you’re looking for, ask what you can do to get it down the road. Take notes and set a time to follow up. After the meeting, send an email thanking your boss for talking with you and summarize what you discussed so you have in writing what was laid out.

If a bigger than average pay increase isn’t in the cards because budgets are tight, consider other perks that you’d value. “Smart companies are retaining their talent in a myriad of ways besides salary increases,” says Driscoll. That includes one-time bonuses, working a flexible schedule, additional vacation days, telecommuting, covering more of the cost of health benefits, a richer 401(k) contribution, even cell phone reimbursement. “There are other ways to increase your salary without getting a pay raise,” he says.

Related:
7 Reasons It’s a Great Time to Ask for a Raise

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45,362 other followers