Jobs (6/29/05)

Dear Zelda,

This is hard for me to write, but I was just laid off a job I had for many years and now I'm in the sorry situation of having to find a new job at the age of 58.  My skills (in computers and web design) are up to date, but prospective employers take a look at the snow on my roof and assume that I'm out of date.  How do I compete with the younger generation?


Dear Snowman,

Do you really believe you need to find a job? Why don't you make one instead? With your skills, experience and contacts, you are the perfect candidate to go into business for yourself as a consultant. Businesses pay top dollar for valuable expertise, especially if you keep up to date on the latest technology and skills.  One of my favorite “wisdoms” is to always turn my disadvantage to an advantage. So use that distinguished look of yours and don't forget to charge what your time and track record deserve.

Here are a couple of books I recommend to help you on your way:  What Color is Your Parachute? 2005: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, by Richard Nelson Bolles and Mark Emery Bolles.  It ‘s considered a classic for people trying to find direction for their careers.  Another helpful book is Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants: Breakthrough Tactics for Winning Profitable Clients, by Jay Conrad Levinson and Michael W. McLaughlin.

Give them a read, polish your own skills, think ?Gregory Peck?, and businesses will never give you the cold shoulder.


Dear Zelda,
For the first time in more than 20 years I'm out pounding the pavement looking for work.  I won't bore you with the details about the “you-know-what” in my office who turned my boss against me.  I'll just say she's a “female dog”, and it rhymes with “itch”.

I don't think you can tell me anything useful.  The plain fact is nobody wants to hire me.  With my luck, I'll be a homeless bag lady by the end of the month.

Over the Hill

Dear Over the Hill,

What you've got to get over is your bad attitude.  You're having a non-stop pity party, blaming everyone else but yourself for your current situation.  And by the way, if the colleague who pushed you aside is as awful as you say, the woman is definitely un-dog-like! (We ?rhymes with itch?es need to stick together!)

My advice is to turn your frown upside down. Start smiling at everybody. Smile at yourself in the mirror. When I do that it kind of perks up my jowls and makes me smile even bigger.

Then, after you've improved your attitude, why don't you update your look? Pick out stylin' new eyeglass frames. Get a hip new hairdo and jazz up your wardrobe. You'll look better and feel better about yourself. That's important.

Next up is your resume. Make sure it reflects your accomplishments and the contributions you made to your last company's success. Don't hold back from bragging on yourself. Then, when you go for interviews, let that can-do attitude shine through.

Employers look for something called ?fire in the belly.?  Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with spicy Thai food, which I love.  What it means is passion, enthusiasm and lots of energy.  Show that you've got it and a great new job will be yours.  Just remember to treat your new co-workers right, no matter if your ?itch?ing to do otherwise.


Dear Zelda,

Our names are Pop and Rock.  We are Chihuahuas from the street.  We were recently abandoned and we were scared.  It's a dog eat dog world out there.

A nice lady, an employee of the Houston Humane Society, took us in. Subsequently, we were adopted during the local Channel 2 Pet-a-Thon by a wonderful lady who loves us very much.

We are not socialized yet and still lack confidence. Our mom knows we are afraid of human feet.  We bark at visitors but eventually come around. How can we gain confidence in people?

Our mom is starting her own business. It's a bit scary for her. What is your advice for, or secret to, success in starting your business? We want her to feel confident too! Thank you for any insight you can provide to our family.

Pop and Rock

Dear Pop and Rock,

Your names make me want to dance! I'm already jumping with joy to know that you were adopted by such a wonderful, caring mom.

After your hard life on the street, it may take a while before you can trust the people in your lives, even kind and gentle people.  So tell your mom to be patient and understanding.  Desensitizing you to strangers and to their feet will be a slow process.  But every time you can be calm around feet, your mom should give you positive reinforcement (that means treats!).  No hugs or treats when your are acting scared, though, but certainly no punishment either! Maybe she could try putting treats between her toes so you'll associate “feet” with “treat”. In time you'll learn that the new people in your life will never hurt you and you don't have to be afraid.

If it makes your mom feel any better, tell her that my owner was scared spitless when she started her business. Good thing she had me around to inspire her and give her dogged determination.  Tell your mom to keep on keeping on.  To boost her confidence, she can stand in front of the mirror and say encouraging and complimentary things about herself or put Post-it notes with positive sayings all over the mirror and the walls.  Tell her to visualize success, but if she has setbacks, she should just pick herself up and go back at it.  After all, she didn't give up on you, Pop and Rock, so she should never give up on herself.