The Secret to Acing an Interview After 50

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  • The biggest stumbling blocks to older workers are…
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Dear Rich Lifer,

Finding work in your 50s or 60s is no easy task, but new and somewhat surprising employment data suggests that prospects are improving, especially for older job seekers.

One big reason?

This is the tightest labor market in nearly two decades, causing employers to look beyond the sea of Millennial candidates.

At the end of July, there were nearly 7.3 million unfilled jobs, but only 6.1 million people looking for work, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate in July for Americans 55 years and over was 2.7 percent, less than the overall unemployment rate at 3.7 percent.

What’s more encouraging is the average length of unemployment for older job seekers has dropped significantly since 2012.

It’s down from roughly 50 weeks to 34 weeks for job hunters age 55 to 64 and down from about 62 weeks to 30 weeks for those 65+.

In other words, it takes about seven to eight months on average to find a job if you’re over 55.

Stumbling Blocks for Those Over 50

Something I don’t think is given enough attention today are the unique challenges the over-50 crowd faces when looking for work.

Older applicants are competing with tech-savvy Millennials who often come at a cheaper price, and although age discrimination is technically illegal, it’s still pretty hard to enforce.

A study by the Government Accountability Office found five common barriers to employment for older workers:

High salary expectations — You may need to compromise on pay as your skills might not be as up to date as they once were.

Younger bosses — It’s human nature to want to work with people who are like you. If that’s the case, you need to learn how to address this obstacle in an interview.

Out of date skills — Technology is evolving faster than ever. Whether it’s applying for a job online or actually being able to operate new software, the pace can be overwhelming.

Expensive health benefits — The older you get, the more expensive your health premiums become. Bigger companies will be less impacted by this than smaller firms.

Bias — Old habits (and ideas) die hard. Know what biases you’re up against so you can get in front.

Acing the Interview

If it’s been a while since you were actively looking for work, you’ll notice certain aspects of the application and interview process has changed.

My hope today is to give you a few pointers on how to land your next gig, whether you’re coming off a layoff or looking for part-time work as a recent retiree.

If you follow these 10 tips, your inbox should be full of offer letters in the next few months.

Tip 1: Tap Your Network

A major benefit to having been in the workforce for so many years is your network of contacts. Don’t be shy to reach out to old bosses, co-workers, even subordinates.

Let them know you’re on the job hunt. Companies like referrals and it’s a lot easier to get your foot in the door if you know someone.

Tip 2: Get on LinkedIn

A quick way to tap your network is to connect with them on LinkedIn, the popular business-oriented social platform.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create one now. LinkedIn has become the go-to site for recruiters and hiring managers.

There’s plenty of good advice online that will walk you through how to build an attractive profile that will grab the attention of headhunters.

Bonus: just having a decent LinkedIn profile shows that you’re somewhat tech-savvy helping fight the ‘tech-illiterate’ label.

Tip 3: Update your Wardrobe

This might sound superficial but you need to dress for the job you want, and I don’t mean wearing a C-suite suit.

Your look should appear vibrant and modern. You don’t want to look dated because it’ll make the interviewer think that your skills are dated too.

The goal is to look age-appropriate yet current. Invest in a new suit, a slimmer fitted dress shirt, or a new pair of shoes. If you wear glasses, prioritize getting those updated first. Nothing ages someone more than an out-of-date pair of eyeglasses.

Tip 4: Update your Email Address

If you’re still using an old AOL or Hotmail account, you need to sign up for a newer email service. Get a Gmail or Outlook account to show you’re keeping up with the times.

It probably won’t win you a job, but it definitely won’t raise any red flags during the screening process either.

Also, check out Zoho and iCloud Mail, these are newer email services that’ll show you’re a little more tech-forward.

Tip 5: Modernize Your Resume

First, be sure to keep your resume to two pages max. Even if you’ve had a long and successful career, don’t bother listing every job you’ve held.

A good rule-of-thumb is to go back 10 to 15 years in your work history. This will also help disguise your age a bit should you be unfairly categorized. You can leave off the year you graduated from school, as well.

Be sure to include your LinkedIn profile URL and newly updated email address. If you have a landline, it’s best to leave it off and just use your cellphone.

These are minor details that will show a hiring manager you’re up to date.

Tip 6: Use Experience to Your Advantage

A major advantage you probably have over younger applicants is your experience, make sure you point that out and show how your expertise will help the company.

Don’t just tout your past though. Talk about the future and how you can mentor and groom the next generation of leaders in the company.

Tip 7: Show Adaptability

There’s a notion that older workers are typically going to be set in their ways. This is a common hurdle the over-50 job seeker must face. To fight this stereotype, you need to show that you’re adaptable to change.

When you speak to hiring managers, talk about situations where you adapted to change and the positive outcomes from doing so. Another way to show your flexibility is your willingness to take on temporary, part-time, or project-based work.

Employers understand that young job seekers want full-time jobs with benefits and security for their families. Older workers can fill the void especially for jobs that are seasonal or temporary by nature.

Tip 8: Keep up on Trends in Your Field

An easy way to impress hiring managers is to show that you’ve been keeping up in your field. To do this you can simply read industry newsletters, books, or watch videos online.

There are plenty of online courses you can take for further career development. Udemy, Lynda, and Coursera are all good places to start looking.

Tip 9: Highlight Your Tech Skills

You can’t get around it. In today’s workplace, you need to have a solid understanding of the technology used in your field. Find ways to weave the tech skills you have and are learning into the recruitment process.

For instance: instead of just saying you’re proficient in Excel, give a quick example of how you used Excel to filter large sets of data using pivot tables.

Tip 10: Show You’re High Energy

You want to give the impression that you’re ready to hit the ground running and not simply winding down for retirement. Terms like energetic, fast-paced, and looking for a new challenge are easy ways to liven up your resume.

No doubt, finding work as you get older becomes more challenging.

But that certainly doesn’t mean that you have less to offer than younger candidates. You just have to exert a little more effort to show that in your resume and during the interview process.
Stick to the basics and follow these 10 tips, it’ll help improve your odds of landing a job, or two.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

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How to Tell If You’re Frugal or Just Cheap

This post How to Tell If You’re Frugal or Just Cheap appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is often labeled frugal.

He lives in the same house he bought back in 1958 for $31,500.

He never spends more than $3.17 on breakfast, and up until 2014, was driving the same 2006 Cadillac DTS.

It wasn’t until his daughter told him it was embarrassing that he traded up for the new XTS model.

Contrast Buffett’s frugal lifestyle to this story shared on Reddit a few months ago:

RE: What’s the cheapest/stingiest thing you’ve seen someone do?

My grandmother, as she didn’t own a computer, had to mail in all her bill payments. One month she didn’t get her water bill or it was delivered to someone else by accident. Whatever the cause, her next bill was for both that month and the previous month and included a late fee that was less than the cost of a stamp.

For the rest of her life she skipped the bill one month and then paid both the next because she saved a few cents by using just one stamp instead of two. This was a woman who had somewhere around a million dollars in the bank when she died.

There’s a fine line between frugal and cheap. And I’ll be the first to admit I sometimes toe that line. But for many Americans, frugality is a necessity.

Credit card and student loan debt are at the highest they’ve ever been. On top of that, inflation seems to be outpacing wage growth.

These factors make minimizing spending and reducing expenses that much more critical to the average household.

Nevertheless, it’s easy to take frugality too far. Here are a few telltale signs that you’ve crossed over from being frugal to just plain cheap:

Leaving a Bad Tip or No Tip At All

You know you’re cheap when you go to a restaurant and don’t leave your server a tip. If you think, “well, I’ve already paid for the meal therefore I shouldn’t have to tip,” you’re justifying your cheapness.

Waitstaff rely on tips as part of their income. Legally, they can be paid as little as $2.13 an hour plus tips. If the tips aren’t enough to bring their earnings up to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, their employers must add enough to make up the difference, but no more.

Instead of stiff-ing your server, you can save money by eating at a buffet or restaurant where you serve yourself. Or, you can save money by picking up your order rather than having it delivered or dining in.

Cheapos Buy-and-Return Shop

Another sign you’re cheap is if you buy-and-return shop. This is when you buy an outfit for a special event, you leave the tags on, wear it and then return it the next day to get your money back.

I’ve seen my cheap friends do this with appliances and power tools they needed for a season or one-off jobs. It’s not cool. Typically, what happens to these returned goods are the stores have to sell them at a discount since they’re no longer new, or they get scraped, adding to the waste in our landfills.

If you can’t afford to buy new, consider shopping at consignment stores or find used tools on ebay or Craigslist.

Rebate Double-Dipping

If you’re buying a product with a $25 mail-in rebate and you think it’s a great deal, you might be tempted to buy two. However, at the bottom of the coupon it usually says one rebate per household.

To get around this, you fill out a second form using a different mailing address, like a PO box. Legally speaking, this is a form of fraud – and since you’re using the postal system to do it, it can be prosecuted as mail fraud.

But even if you don’t get caught, you’re still being extremely cheap and it’s unfair to the manufacturer.

Instead of trying to double-dip your rebates, look for ways you can stack them. For instance, use a discounted gift card to make a purchase using the rebate code. This way, you save on the gift card plus you get the savings from the rebate.

Stealing Supplies

Your boss might not pay you enough, but that doesn’t mean you can pilfer pens, paper, markers, or sticky notes. Sure, these small office supplies might not seem like a big deal but it’s still theft.

The same goes for condiments at restaurants. If you’re stuffing your purse or wallet with ketchup, mustard, sugar or jam packets, you’re not being frugal, you’re being cheap.

This kind of petty theft hurts companies over time. Your company bought those supplies for office workers to use at the office, and taking them home costs the company money – which in turn leaves less money in the budget to pay you what you really deserve.

Similarly, restaurants have to cover the cost of all those condiment packets by raising their menu prices.

Regifting

There’s an art to regifting and it really boils down to thoughtfulness. If your budget is tight and you decide to regift, don’t gift someone you love something they’ve either given you as a gift or have seen you around using it.

Secondhand gifts don’t always have to be your own. If you find a nice cashmere sweater or leather jacket at a thrift store, your brother or sister won’t care if you paid $10 or $150 for it if it’s been something they’ve always wanted. It’s the thought that counts.

The Bottom Line

There’s a fine line between cheap and frugal. If you find yourself crossing over to the cheap side, think of who your cheapness is affecting. You might be saving a few dollars by being cheap, but you risk hurting your relationships and your own savings in the long run if you continue to be stingy.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

The post How to Tell If You’re Frugal or Just Cheap appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

The Best 4 Ways to Catch Some Zzz’s

This post The Best 4 Ways to Catch Some Zzz’s appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Despite a large body of science supporting the benefits of taking naps, I almost never sleep during the day.

But this past Saturday, after a full morning watching my daughter compete in the West Coast surfing championships, I felt pretty worn out. And with a big group dinner planned for that night, I went back to our Airbnb in need of a recharge.

Most people would just crawl into bed. Me? I have to do some research first!

It turns out there are several different strategies to catching a few Z’s during the day, and optimal times to employ each of them.

The ideal scenario is timing your nap based on when you started your day.

Dr. Sara Mednick is a sleep researcher and she’s created an interactive “nap wheel” that will tell you when the best time to take a nap is.

The goal is going to sleep at a time when your slow-wave sleep (SWS) will perfectly intersect with rapid-eye movement (REM). Basically, the time when you’ll get the deepest, most relaxing round of rest.

Here’s a link to the nap wheel on her site.

Just as an example, if you woke up at 7:00 AM, your ideal nap time would be 2:00 PM.

Of course, whether or not you can take your nap at the ideal time or not, my personal recommendation is not to hit the sack too late into the day.

I can remember one time when I fell asleep on the couch in the late afternoon daylight only to open my eyes after the sun had already gone down. Not that great!

It also pays to watch the length of time you sleep for.

In fact, experts say there are different types of naps to consider:

1. The Power Nap

If you just need a quick refresh, sleep for somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes. You won’t enter really deep sleep so it’s easy to wake back up and return to whatever task is at hand.

2.  The Coffee Nap

This one sounds a little crazy, but it’s the same thing as above only you drink some coffee first. Scientists say this actually works better for two reasons…

Obviously, caffeine is a stimulant. So you’ll automatically feel more alert as it kicks in, which happens to be right around the time you’re waking up.

What’s even cooler is that caffeine competes with adenosine for the receptors in your brain. Since adenosine is a chemical that promotes sleep – and makes you feel more tired – it doesn’t really take hold as much as it would if you hadn’t consumed the caffeine before nodding off.

End result? You may get a double benefit from pre-gaming with the coffee!

Research I’ve read suggests 200 mg of caffeine is a good amount for a coffee nap, though that’s a full two cups worth! 

Also, you should probably avoid taking a coffee nap too close to your regular bedtime. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of disturbing your regular sleep. Most experts recommend stopping caffeine consumption a full six hours before bedtime.

They also recommend drinking your first cup somewhere between 9:00 AM and 11:30 AM but we can talk more about that some other time. 

Now, let’s move on to…

3. The “Almost There” Nap

A one-hour nap is pretty good overall. You’ll get the deepest type of sleep (slow-wave) but it might take you a little while to come around. If you want the best overall result sleep a little longer…

The Ideal Full-Sleep-Cycle Nap

It takes about 90 minutes to run through all the different phases of sleep (light, dreaming, etc.) so sleep for an hour and a half is just about perfect.

You should wake up feeling really good, and since you completed the full cycle it should also be relatively easy to get up.

The Worst Type of Nap

Sleep experts say a 30-minute nap will give you almost zero benefit because you’ll be waking up just as your deeper phases of sleep were getting underway.

So basically, consider a quick power nap with or without some coffee or commit to a longer nap somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes.

What did I end up doing this past weekend?

I had set my alarm for 20 minutes but never heard it go off and woke up after my wife texted me another 45 minutes later!

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

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Your 5 Retirement Options

This post Your 5 Retirement Options appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

It turns out retirement is a relatively new concept. Consider these numbers from The Evolution of Retirement by Dora L. Costa:

  • In 1880, over 75% of men over 64 remained in the workforce.
  • By 1900, that number had dropped to about 65%.
  • By 1950, just 47% of men over 64 continued to work.
  • By 1998, fewer than 20% of men over 64 were in the labor force.

You see, retirement wasn’t always considered desirable. In the 1800s, “mandatory retirement” caused a lot of resentment among older workers and there was a backlash against it.

People wanted to keep working. Work was proof of vitality and productivity. It gave men a sense of purpose and most families needed the money.

However as big corporations grew, they pushed for a younger workforce. Rising wages, private pensions, and social security lead to a flip in the perception of retirement to something more desirable.

In the 1980s, the mandatory retirement policies adopted by law, both officially and unofficially, started to be deemed discriminatory and were abolished.

Today things are even more complex. There are several ways you can retire and each path has its own timeline. Here are the five types of retirement you’ll find in our current economy.

Traditional Retirement

Tell me if this sounds familiar: Get a good job, work hard for forty or fifty years, and then retire around age sixty to enjoy the last decade or two of your life.

During the 20th century, this was considered the standard model of work in the United States. Your retirement was funded through a combination of company pension, personal savings, and government aid.

But by the ‘70s and ‘80s, standards of living had risen enough that some people began to challenge this traditional model. They thought, ‘Why am I waiting until the end to enjoy life?’ There must be a better way.

Early Retirement

This “better way” was early retirement. After running the numbers, employees figured out if you worked hard to increase your income while keeping costs low, you could save enough to stop working at age 50, or 45, even sometimes 40.

What best determines whether or not you can retire early is your saving rate. Traditional retirement requires a saving rate of 10-20%. Early retirement requires you to save nearly half your income — or more.

The more you save and invest, the faster your money can reach what’s called the crossover point — where your income from investments are enough to support your spending. Traditional and early retirement both lead to permanent retirement. But, if you enjoy working, you may want to consider these other three types of retirement.

Temporary Retirement

One of the first books to explore alternative retirement options was Paul Terhorst’s 1988 book, titled Cashing in on the American Dream. Terhorst was an advocate for early retirement, but he also saw another type of retirement, called temporary retirement.

Here’s how he explains it:

We used to work and then retire. [I suggest] you work, then retire, then consider going back to work. Under this plan you devote your middle years to yourself and your family. During those years your mental and physical powers reach their height. You can explore, grow, and invest your time in what’s most important to you. You can enjoy your children while they’re still at home. Later, after you’ve lived the best years for yourself, you can go back to work if you want to. The choice will be up to you.

If you were to follow Terhorst’s plan, you’d go to work for 10-15 years, then take time off to pursue passions and spend time with your family until your money runs out and you have to go back to work.

A lot of early retirees have trouble finding affordable, quality health coverage. One key advantage to temporary retirement is when you return to the workforce later in life, you’ll likely have access to better health insurance.

Semi-Retirement

Temporary retirement was popularized by Bob Clyatt in his 2005 book, Work Less, Live More. What is the difference between semi- and temporary retirement?

Here’s Clyatt:

Semi-retirement is about finding work-life balance. For some, that means continuing with their previous career, but in some sort of reduced capacity. For others, it could mean changing jobs completely to something that pays poorly but offers a sense of satisfaction. And for others, semi-retirement could simply mean supplementing investment income with a carefree job at the local coffee shop or fabric store.

The main advantage to semi-retirement is you get out of the rat race earlier. Even if you’re still working, you have more choices about the kind of work you do. Most people choose jobs or side gigs that are less stressful and more fulfilling.

And because you’ve saved enough that your financial needs aren’t as great, you have the freedom to choose work that pays a bit less.

Mini Retirements

The fifth type of retirement I want to cover is from Tim Ferriss’ 2007 book, The 4-Hour Workweek. Ferriss asks, “Why not take the usual 20-30-year retirement and redistribute it throughout life instead of saving it all for the end?”

With this model, you work on and off as your savings permit. For instance, you might work for five years and then take two years off. You repeat this process over and over again. Hence why they’re called “mini retirements.”

The advantages of taking sabbaticals like this is you get to enjoy retirement and work at every age. The disadvantage is you never amass a lot of savings because you’re constantly spending what you make every few years.

This type of retirement is more geared toward the entrepreneur-type or anyone interested in following an unconventional career path.

Which Type of Retirement Is Right for You?

As you can see, there’s no one right way to retire.

All of the above options offer some advantages and disadvantages. It’s up to you to decide what type of retirement best suits your interests, values, health, and savings.

The good thing is you have lots of options.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

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