Mac vs Windows

A Recovering Nerd Perspective

Have you ever thought about switching camps? Have you ever wondered if you’ve been using the wrong computer all along? Have you ever been curious about what the other side has to offer? Me too. For decades, I was firmly entrenched in the Windows camp. However, I have to say, I am starting to see the Apple Attraction. A great movie illustrates the path of both Apple and Microsoft from their infancy. Pirates of Silicon Valley came out in 1999, but it shows how these two companies have battled with each other to become today’s tech giants, even before the first iPhone hit the shelves.

My background is in IT, but I have always been anti-branding. Do you need a Kleenex? No, you need a tissue. Want to unwind in a Jacuzzi? Nope, you need a hot tub, and so on. When the first iPod came out. People would say, “I need an iPod!” No, I would say, “You need a media player!” I have always believed that there are plenty of low-cost alternatives in the world of tech. You don’t necessarily need to become a member of a cult.

That’s how I’ve always viewed Apple People. Just check out the line at the Apple Store when a new iPhone is released. Why don’t these people recognize they are being hoodwinked into a product lifestyle just by buying a phone? Then I got my first Apple, and I think I see the attraction. My son gave me his old 2007 iMac and it’s still running like a champ. I doubled the memory and it handles most of my work tasks easily. Unlike my 2015 Toshiba laptop, I am using right now. However, the latest version of Windows 10 has really helped speed up my boot time, so it’s not as bad as it used to be.

I was so impressed with my iMac, I decided to pick up another one for home use. This “new” computer is from 2009 and runs like I just picked it up from Best Buy. Since Apple People are obsessed with getting the latest and greatest Apple tech, there are plenty of used iPhones, iMacs, and Macbooks out there. Since Apple seems to build products that last (unlike the rest of the industry), there’s no point in blowing over $2,000 on a new Mac, when you can get a used one on Letgo for a fraction of that cost. Plus, Macs don’t nail you with a major update when you’re trying to boot up your computer for work. Getting hit with a mandatory Windows 10 update at the wrong time can be very frustrating.

So, if you are in the Windows World, you may want to give Mac a shot. There are some amazing deals on Letgo, so you can try one out for a song. One word of advice though. Pick up a wireless keyboard and mouse for Windows. In the Mac World, you use the Windows logo key for anything you used the Ctrl key for in Windows (Copy and Paste for example). There are plenty of YouTube videos and websites out there to help you learn the Mac basics.

There are still some things I haven’t figured out yet, but it doesn’t stop me from hopping on my iMac in a couple of seconds, instead of waiting around forever for my Windows PC to wake up. My wife has even used the iMac a couple of times, and that’s saying something. So give one a try. If nothing else, you can always re-sell it on Letgo and probably get what you paid for it! Happy Computing!   

If you like what you’re reading on this blog, please leave a comment and share it with your friends. New articles are posted every Monday and Thursday. Thank you for visiting! 


Your LinkedIn Summary

Why it’s Replacing Your Résumé!

Hello, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club.  I hope you enjoyed last week’s post Back to School.  It still cracks me up that my neighborhood Big Lots has the “Back to School” supplies out already!  I think they put them out the day after school let out.  Wishful thinking for lots of parents, I’m sure!

This week I am going to discuss the Summary part of your LinkedIn Profile and why it’s so important.  Somebody recently pointed out to me that my Summary was really lacking and needed to be revamped.  Looking at it, I agreed, but where to begin?

When I wrote my article on LinkedIn, I completely overlooked the Summary.  However, as experienced LinkedIn Members know, a powerhouse Summary is essential to showing the world what he or she is all about.

In the article I wrote about Networking, I mentioned a story I came across in Forbes magazine: Three Steps To Writing The Perfect LinkedIn Summary.  In this piece, the author (William Arruda) shows you how to write a Summary that will blow people away, and hopefully get you noticed by the right people. Arruda points out that a well-written LinkedIn Summary is becoming more important than your résumé.

The three steps he mentions are Setting the Scene, Gathering Your Raw Data, and Putting All Together.

Setting the Scene: This is the part where you figure out who you are trying to reach, what you want them to learn about you, and how you want them to feel.

Gathering Your Raw Data: In this section, you list all of your accomplishments, values, and areas where you really shine.  This is where you brag on yourself.  If you don’t do it, who will?

Putting It All Together: This part shows you how to grab the reader, show them what you’re all about, then tell them what they should do next (HIRE YOU!).  It also shows you how you can include pictures and video to make your Summary really pop!

There is also an article by Maggie Graham on  It’s called: Three Tips to Slam Dunk Keyword Optimization on LinkedIn.  What’s with all the threes?  I guess if you go up to four you lose the reader’s attention.  Don’t want to do that!

If you read my article on Age Discrimination, you will remember I mentioned that evil Résumé Database Scanner.  The one that makes it a personal mission to toss your résumé into the junk heap before any human eyes can see it?  Keyword Optimization is what that evil sucker uses to either pass you through the gateway or toss you in the junk heap.

Her article shows you how to use the right keywords in LinkedIn.  That way your profile will turn up in LinkedIn searches by a prospective employer.  The article also includes a YouTube video by the author at the bottom of the page.  Nice.

Both of these articles have invaluable information that will make your LinkedIn Summary stand head and shoulders above the competition.  I have been dragging my feet when it came to updating my Summary.  I wanted to have something a little bit more impressive than Uber and Lyft Driver to WOW people.

Thankfully, my procrastination has paid off.  Funny how that works sometimes!  The payoff is in the form of a job!  Alleluia and Praise the Lord!  I have been hired by Global Discovery Vacations.  My wife and I have been members of this Travel Club for 18 years and I have accepted a position with the company in Sales.  If you live in the Detroit area and are interested in maximizing your vacations, please call the Livonia Office of Global Discovery Vacations (734-462-6301) and ask for Jerry Lambert.  Or, check out their Facebook page for more information.

This leads me to the end of this article, and this blog.  I started writing this blog last October. My intention was to share the trials and tribulations of trying to find a job on the other side of 55.  I have had a lot of fun writing the articles and there has been a positive response from readers of the blog.  Now, however, I have decided to stop writing additional articles.  I have covered all of the topics I felt would be of interest to a job seeker in The Brown Parachute Club.  With my new position, I just don’t think I’ll have the time to continue writing it.

To all of you who have been following this blog, Thank You!  It has been a pleasure to share what I have learned on this journey.  I will leave this blog up and running as I intended it to be: a reference library for people our age.  For all of those who have been laid off and need to find work, along with finding a renewed purpose in life.  I hope these articles have been, and will continue to be, helpful.

While listening to some music the other day, I heard a song lyric that has become my new personal mantra.  Today is Yesterday’s Tomorrow.  Or, as that great philosopher Ferris Bueller once put it, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  Sage words.  I wish you all the best and good luck in your job search.  Don’t give up!!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Back To School

Is it Still Worth Your While?

Hi! Welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club! If you are a regular reader of this blog I hope you enjoyed last week’s article: Have You Ever Thought About Becoming an Entrepreneur? As usual, I always learn a lot when I write one of these articles. If you read it, I hope it sparked some ideas.

This week I thought I would discuss a subject just about everyone thinks of after they are laid off from their job. Should I go back to school? It’s a very important question, and one you should give a lot of thought to.

Since summer vacation has begun, I immediately think about all of those noisy kids going back to school in September. My thoughts also drift to cooler temperatures and FOOTBALL!

When I was a kid, I always loved going back to school. Seeing all my friends, new school supplies, and textbooks that have never been cracked open! This feeling would usually go away by October, but those first few weeks were always magical for me. Then reality would set in, and I would start counting down the days until Christmas Vacation!!

I’m lucky enough to live near the community college I attended back in the late 70s and early 80s. Recently, I have gone back there to use the library from time to time. I go there to write some of these articles and work on other projects as well. Even though I’m not currently a student, I really like the feeling of being on campus. It puts me in the correct mindset to learn new things, such as WordPress. I learned a lot about building this website at that library!

This brings me back to the subject of this article. Should you consider going back to school? For some people, the answer is definitely YES. If you were working on your degree and got sidetracked by life, and are only a few credit hours short of your degree, you should definitely consider finishing up. A degree is an excellent addition to your résumé and shows prospective employers you know how to finish what you started. Even if it took 20 years!

Many Brown Parachuters see going back to school as a great way to “Reinvent” themselves. If you had a Minor you were working on in college, and it still interests you, now might be the time to go for it! After all, it might reboot your career and land you a job that will help get to your retirement years. You never know.

However, if you read my article College vs Vocational Education, I don’t have to tell you that college costs have risen at twice the rate of healthcare! Given that information, how in the heck are you going to finish up your degree? That is an excellent question!

There is a terrific article on the website Love To Know. It tells you all about grant money that is available for senior citizens. Bad news, though. I hate to be the one to break it to you. If you are over 55, you are a senior citizen! Anyway, it this case, being an old fart works in your favor. There are 11 states that waive tuition costs for seniors altogether! Wow!

I remember when I was in school, there was one older lady who was in one of my classes. She was ancient! She must have been at least 35!!! We all thought she was ready for the Old Folks Home. Ah, to be young and stupid again. Nowadays, there are people of all ages attending your local community college and universities. Although the student body is still primarily young farts.

In addition to finishing up your degree, there are many people who attend a class for the sheer joy of learning. I call them Hermione Grangers. In the article on Love To Know, they mention that some colleges will allow seniors to audit a class for free, or at a heavily discounted rate. So, if you’ve always wanted to take that class in Advanced Basket Weaving, here’s your chance!

If heading back to campus isn’t for you, you may still be in luck. There is a relatively new website called The Great Courses. This website offers dirt cheap online classes that are being taught by experts in their fields. Math, Science, History, Fine Arts, Literature, etc. These are not courses for casual learners. They are aimed at serious people who want to learn more about a given subject and are willing to work hard.

For those of you who are looking to brush up on your skills without going back to college, or signing up for one of The Great Courses, there is always GCF Learn Free. I did an article on this tremendous website a while ago. While it is not on par with “Great Courses”, it does a great job of covering the material it does offer. Some of it in great detail. Definitely worth checking out, if you just want to brush up on your Microsoft Excel, or anything of the other courses that are listed.

Well, that’s it. Hopefully, if you chose to head back to school, this article has brought you up to speed on some of the options that are available to you. Just don’t get offended if the kids don’t want to talk to you. They don’t talk to each other either, unless it’s by texting, Facebook, or Twitter!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Sunken Costs

When is Enough, Enough?

Hey! Welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club. I hope you enjoyed last week’s article about Automation. What an uplifting piece that was! This week I decided to cover a topic I have been thinking about recently, Sunk (or Sunken) Costs. These are defined as a past cost that has already been paid and can’t be recovered. Like that vacation in Hawaii. You had a great time in paradise, but the money you spent on that trip is long gone.

There are many ways to look at sunken costs. Financial, obviously. However, there are more personal ways to look at it as well. What if you spent 3 years working on a degree in a field that is no longer viable, or of interest you? What if you have a friend who is a constant drain on your time and energy, who provides nothing to you in return? Those are other ways that sunken costs may be controlling our lives without realizing it.

The main category is Financial, of course. The biggest sunken cost for most people is their house. Cars come in second, but your house is the one cost that will actually increase in value, instead of depreciating at an alarming rate. If you want proof of this, buy (lease) a new car. Then drive into the McDonald’s parking lot next door and check the value of your new “used” car on TruCar or Kelly Blue Book. That little jaunt to the McDonald’s just cost you thousands of dollars in depreciation! Yikes!

Sunken costs are a very emotional thing. You bought that old Model T years ago, with hopes of restoring it and driving it in the Woodward Dream Cruise. If you sold it for 25% of what you bought it for, you wouldn’t just be losing 75% on your investment. You would also be taking a hit to your pride and feel guilty you didn’t take the time to restore the car to its original 1910 condition. Loss of investment and guilt are not a good combination.

Sunken cost avoidance runs rampant in the business world. Due to the time and money already spent on a project, companies who spent the past 2 years getting updated to the latest and greatest technologies often find they are unable to shift gears fast enough and make changes when they should. Never mind that all the “New Tech” became obsolete about 6 months ago! How would you like to be the Project Manager explaining that one to the CEO? Queue the flop sweat.

From your Career perspective, sunken costs can cripple your decision making. You know you should start to learn new skills. However, you just completed your “Data Processing” degree last month, and you are loathe to start all over again. That’s why staying up to date on the latest trends is so important. As I mentioned in my article on Automation, you’d better see the handwriting on the wall and upgrade your skills. Otherwise, when it all hits the fan, you’ll find yourself out of a job with no end in sight!

The silver lining about the times we live in is that there is no end to the amount of learning you can do! I don’t know if you have heard about TED Talks on YouTube. These have historically been the realm of Uber-Nerds (not the rideshare service). Nowadays, these talks have spread out to a number of different topics that range from tech to motivational speeches. Really worth checking out, if you want to stay ahead of the “next big thing”.

However, this is where many people get stuck. They have made a commitment to reaching a goal. The amount of time, money, and effort required to reach that goal may no longer be worth it. This is a very emotional issue for many people. Nobody wants to feel they have just been spending the last year and a half spinning their wheels. Worse, the goal they were trying to reach has just been eclipsed by new technology. “Now, what do I do?” you may ask. I’m not sure, but there’s probably a TED Talk for that.

People are another issue altogether. Without turning this into a therapy session, we all have friends in our lives we may be better off without. The big question to ask is, “If I just met this person today, would we become friends?” That’s a very important question. Because if the answer is “no”, you have to give some serious thought to what you are getting out of that relationship. Again, emotion plays a huge part in this decision.

I suggest you sit down and make a list of all of your sunken costs: Financial, Career, and Personal. Then do a Pros and Cons evaluation whether you should keep the item (or person), or let it (or them) go. If you’re honest, this list can grow pretty long. As I wrote in my article on Procrastination, it’s easier to ignore the sunken costs, than taking a hard look and determining whether you really need it!

I hope this article has helped illustrate what sunken costs are. How to really look at them with blinders off, and make an honest evaluation of them.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!


Why it’s Become the New Classified Section

Hi, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club. I hope you enjoyed last week’s article about Setting Priorities. I know it helped reinforce what I should be doing every day!

Anyway, today I thought I would tackle the topic of Networking. No, I’m not talking about those rooms full of servers that you see in your typical tech commercial. I am talking about Networking between Humans!

Bing appropriately defines Networking this way: “Interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career”. That pretty much nails it. However, if you are a disciple of Dale Carnegie, he would take a slightly different approach, but more on that later.

Back in days of old, when you were fired from a job, you grabbed the Classified Section of the Sunday newspaper. Then you circled some promising ads and hit the bricks first thing Monday morning. It wasn’t uncommon to have a number of interviews and maybe even have a job offer by the end of the week. Those days are over. Yesterday’s newspapers have been replaced by job hunting websites like Monster, Career Builder, and (my personal favorite) Indeed.

However, as I mentioned in my article about Age Discrimination, many times your résumé isn’t being seen by human eyes. Instead, it is perused by a heartless database scanner that will throw your résumé into the garbage can before anyone has a chance to see it.

How do you get your résumé past these robotic gatekeepers? There are some forms of trickery you can use. As far as your résumé goes, leave off the dates of service for each position. Also, use a single space after your sentences, since that’s what all the cool kids are doing nowadays. Then, set up a new Gmail account for your job hunt, since that’s your safest bet not to be labeled a fuddy-duddy.

If you manage to get past all of those roadblocks and actually get an interview, you have a whole new set of “upgrades” to consider. Younger, hipper glasses for one. Also, you may want to update your wardrobe, but hey, you don’t have a job! For us guys, there’s always hair coloring, which should cause any red-blooded American male to shudder. And so on.

But what if you don’t want to do an online and personal makeover just to get a shot at a job? What do you do then? That is where the Magic of Networking comes into play. In today’s job market, it’s much more about “who you know”. Like when your uncle got you that job when you were fresh out of high school with one of the Big Three (Ford, Chrysler, or GM). Ah, you were going to work there until the day you retired. Those were the days!

As I have already mentioned in my previous article, LinkedIn is the lynchpin in your Networking portfolio. However, there are also other ways to get the word out that you’re looking for work. Facebook is an option. However, for many people, this amounts to taking out a front page ad in your local paper telling all of your friends and family that you got fired and need a new job. A little too personal and embarrassing for some people.

Another option is attending Job Fairs and other Networking functions. As a veteran of some Job Fairs, these can be a little intimidating. All of those folks in their business suits, carrying their leather portfolios, can make you feel like small potatoes. Especially when you realize you have most of them beat in the age department by at least 20 years!

An excellent presentation by Wilf Flagler shows the “Mature Worker” the ins and outs of Networking for people our age. It is a great resource and I highly recommend that you check it out and download it for future reference.

There is also another excellent article in Forbes about writing a Perfect LinkedIn Summary. I was recently informed that this should be the main focus of my LinkedIn Profile. I never gave this a lot of thought, but as I bounced around LinkedIn and read some other member profiles, I realized that mine is lacking. I am in the process of using that Forbes article to help spruce it up and make it stand out to anyone who reads it.

A lot of the focus in Networking seems to be “Me, Me, Me”. While I understand you want to put your best foot forward with your fellow networkers, I have always thought this approach is the opposite of that classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. He said that people love to talk about themselves, so let them!

However, since the goal of attending a Networking Event is to put yourself out there, you need to work on your Elevator Pitch. The theory behind this quick presentation is simple. If you found yourself in an elevator with The Grand Poobah of the company of your dreams, what would you say to this person to make a good impression? You are supposed to be able to hit all of your talking points in 30 seconds or less. This way, as you work your way around the room at the Networking Event, you can leave quick impressions with the people you speak with. As well as your Networking Card.

What’s that you say? You don’t have a Networking Card to pass out? You only have business cards from your last job. You know, the one you were fired from? Have no fear, Vistaprint is here! They have a wide variety of Networking Cards, starting at only $7.99!

This Tuesday evening, I will be attending my first Networking Event. I joined a great group called Network After Work, that sets up Networking Events all over the country. To be honest, I have avoided these events in the past mainly because I felt that they would be full of nothing but Millennials. However, since I knew I would be writing this article, I have signed up to attend this event. Hopefully, it will lead to some good connections outside of LinkedIn. I encourage you to check out Networking Events in your area. You might meet someone, who knows someone, who is looking for somebody with your skills. You never know!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Setting Priorities

Otherwise, You’re Just Spinning Your Wheels!

Welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club. I hope you enjoyed last week’s article on GCF Learn Free. It really is quite an amazing website. This week I wanted to talk to you about Setting Priorities and why it is so important in getting things done.

If you read my articles about Procrastination, Goals, and Discipline, you will remember that you’re not going to get anywhere in life without Goals, and the Discipline to take the steps to reach them. However, Discipline without Priorities is like a video I saw on Facebook the other day. This guy was trying to line up 10 kittens in a row. Needless to say, it was an impossible task!

That’s what happens in our daily lives. We have great ideas we turn into Goals, but we’re unsure of where to begin. We have a list of tasks that need to be done in order to reach that Goal. However, we’re not sure “what order” those tasks should be done in to reach that Goal.

This is where Setting Priorities comes in. It allows you to perform a sort of daily triage on the tasks that need to be accomplished. By completing these tasks in the proper order, you get one step closer to achieving that Goal. However, it’s not just Goals that need to be prioritized. Your day-to-day jobs need to be arranged as well.

What’s more important? Calling a plumber to fix the leaky pipe in your basement, or picking up your suit from the dry cleaners? Unless you WANT an indoor pool in your basement, I would recommend calling the plumber first! That’s an extreme example, but figuring out which task needs to be done first is essential to getting things done!

In my article on Procrastination, I mentioned a book by Brian Tracy called Eat That Frog! It is all about tackling your ugliest tasks (or frogs) first thing in the morning. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to finally stop putting off ‘til tomorrow what they can do today.

There is another section in the book where he mentions something called the “ABCDE Method”. As Tracy describes it, there’s more to your life than just ugly frogs that need eating. There are a number of other chores and Goals that need to be completed. This is where the ABCDE Method comes into play.

The method is relatively simple:

“A” items are tasks that “Must Be Done”, like getting that important report to your boss on time. NOT forgetting your Wedding Anniversary, and other critical items.

“B” tasks are “Should Do” tasks. Stuff like getting your dog to the groomer (unless she just had a run in with a skunk, then I would move that up to an “A” task, pronto), getting an oil change, picking up your suit from the cleaners, and generally stuff that won’t stop your world if you put it off for a day.

“C” tasks are jobs that you “Can Do”. Stuff like meeting a friend for lunch, donating blood, helping out at your church, going to the movies, etc.

“D” is for “Delegate!” If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you might want to delegate cutting the lawn to your shiftless teenage son. That way, you can finally fix that leaky faucet in the bathroom.

“E” stands for “Eliminate”. These are tasks you have on your to-do list that may have already completed and you forgot to cross off the list. Or, they may have been relevant at some point, but are now obsolete.

Ok”, I hear you say, “that’s great, but what if there are more than one of these A-E tasks on my list?” That’s where sub-prioritizing comes in. For example, look at all of your “A” tasks and attach a number to the “A” for each one, based on the importance of each item. Like “A1”, “A2”, “A3”, etc. You get the idea. Depending on the size of your to-do list, this might take you a while, but the benefits will be enormous.

There is something called the 80/20 Principle, or the Pareto Principle This principle states that 20% of your completed tasks create 80% of the impact on your job or life. You can see that all of the “A” tasks naturally belong in the 20% group. Everything else should fall into the 80% category. The 80% or “B-E” tasks should be worked on only when all of the 20% or “A” tasks are completed.

This same prioritizing should always be applied to your Goal Setting and Achieving. You may have a list of tasks that are necessary for you to achieve a particular Goal, but you realize they might not really be in the proper order. Either re-sort these “Action Steps” into a logical order or apply the ABCDE Method to them, whichever is easier.

I hope this article has helped you see how your to-do list can be organized more efficiently. There’s one more point I want to make about Priorities. Make sure that you don’t fall into the “80% Trap”! That’s where you wind up spending all of your time working on the 80% tasks instead of the 20% tasks. Why? Because the 80% tasks are easier! That’s why they’re in the 80% list! Remember, the top 20% of your tasks create the greatest impact and will help you to achieve your Dreams and Goals faster! Are they tougher? You bet! That’s why you keep putting them off! However, these are the tasks that will really get you ahead in the world!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

GCF Learn Free

One of the Most Indispensable Websites You’ll Ever Use!

Hello, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club. I hope you found my last article about the difference between an Hourly Employee vs Independent Contractor informative. This week, I want to tell you about another website I discovered many years ago, GCF Learn Free.

At the time I made this discovery, I had just been sentenced to serve out the remaining years of my old job on the Tech Support Desk. I was looking for online tutorials for Microsoft Office since many of the training materials provided by the company were incomprehensible to me.

I stumbled across this website looking for a Microsoft Excel tutorial and I was amazed to find not only that but a large catalog of online courses for everything from Using an ATM to advanced courses in Microsoft Access, the database application in Microsoft Office.

I would eventually describe this website to friends and colleagues as, “The one place to go to if you had just been left behind on Earth!” Or, for you fans of Douglas Adams, a REALHitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. I’m sure E.T. would have gotten a lot of use out of it when he came to visit Elliot.

However, for the purpose of this article, I’ll only go over the job hunting and career-related aspects of the website. I’ll leave it to you to explore the rest of what GCF Learn Free has to offer. Trust me, you can get lost in there for days, in a good way.

The Work and Career section of the website is broken down into four categories. Career Planning, Job Search, Workplace Skills and Money. Many of these lessons can be used before and AFTER, you get the job. Just in case you fudged a little on your résumé and said you know a lot more about QuickBooks than might necessarily be true. There’s a QuickBooks Resources section for that. And much, much more.

Career Planning

This section is broken down into two categories. Career Planning and Salary and Job Search and Networking. Since most visitors to TBPC fall into the “Unemployed” classification, I’m sure you’ll get more use out of the second category. However, both offer useful lessons that will get you up to speed on the latest and greatest job hunting tools.

Career Planning and Salary is broken down into five different courses, plus a quiz at the end of each lesson. This section can be very useful if you are looking to reboot your career and try something new.

Discover Your Career Needs: This section helps get you pointed on a new career path with a list of Self-Assessment tools. It also helps you figure out how much money you need to get paid, and how to gain additional job skills that will help get you there.

Explore Careers: Now that you’ve determined your career interest, this section will help you find a position that aligns with that interest. It uses a man named Sameer as a case study on how to find a new career.

Salary Basics: This section explains how to determine if a position you have applied for will actually help you meet your financial needs, or if you should keep looking.

Gain Job Skills: This part illustrates how you’re going to get the skills needed to land the job you really want. It covers going back to school for a two or four-year degree, but that might not be an option if you’re struggling just to put food on the table. However, there are many eLearning options (like GCF Learn Free) that will help you to gain the necessary skills to land that job! Best of all, like GCF Learn Free, many of these sites are FREE!

Make a Career Plan: Now that you have figured out what you want to do, how much money you need to make, and gained the skills necessary to do the job, all you need is a plan. That’s what this section is about. It helps you to create a blueprint of the tasks you will have to achieve in order to reach your Career Goals.

Job Search and Networking. You have built the necessary skills for your new job and developed a plan to get that job. Now it’s time to put that plan into action. The age of combing the want ads in your local paper is over. It’s a digital world and it’s time to get with the program.

Job Search Savvy: This section helps you get your “job hunting racehorse” into the starting gate for the (hopefully short) race to the finish line. It helps put you in the right frame of mind for getting that new job.

Find a Job Online: Finding the right job is what this section is all about. It walks you through searching for and applying for a job online. However, keep in mind what I said in my article about Age Discrimination. Many times online applications will get kicked out by a database scanner long before ever being seen by human eyes. That’s why the next topic is so important.

Networking Basics: In this day and age, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Well, it’s what you know, too. You can’t apply for a job as a Neurosurgeon just because you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. However, nowadays, getting connected with your peers is crucial. Check out my article on LinkedIn for more info about that.

Job Hunt with Social Media: This area walks you through the basics of how to navigate all of the various Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and others. It shows you how to use these sites to let your friends and followers know you are looking for work. Oddly, it doesn’t really mention LinkedIn, which I would think would be stop number one for someone wanting to put themselves out there.

Personal Branding 101: This is the process of getting people to identify you with a certain job or industry. I have to admit that I don’t know a great deal about personal branding, even though apparently I have been doing lots of it. Updating my LinkedIn Profile (oops, spoke too soon), getting networking cards printed up, attending networking events, and starting a blog like this one, can really increase your visibility.

Well, that’s it for the Career Planning and Salary / Job Search and Networking parts of the Career Planning section. Wait! You say. What about Job Search, Workplace Skills, and Money? I know I have only shown you the tip of the iceberg with the Career Planning section. I’ll leave it up to you to check out the rest on your own. I told you it was a goldmine!

So, as you begin your new career search in earnest, just remember what the Hitchhiker’s Guide has printed on the front cover in large, friendly letters. “DON’T PANIC”. You have GCF Learn Free (and me) to show you the way!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!


Why It’s The Most Important Tool In The Box!

Hi there, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club! This week we’re going to talk about one of the most important tools in your “Job Hunting Toolbox”, LinkedIn. As you probably know by now, LinkedIn is Facebook for business professionals. It allows you to build a network of contacts from many diverse backgrounds. In theory, this network will someday help you find a job. In theory.

According to a LinkedIn company timeline, it was the brainchild of Reid Hoffman, launched from his living room in May 2003. That’s ancient history in “Tech Time”. He was a veteran board member of Google, eBay, and PayPal. So this was not a “blogger in his mother’s basement” discovery. He put together a team from an early social networking company called (go figure) SocialNet and PayPal and boom, a social networking giant was born!

You have probably heard from every job placement professional how important it is to “Network” and “Put yourself out there!” But how do you do that exactly? Hopefully, this article will show you how.

It all starts with your Profile. This is your “Online Résumé” that you present to the digital world. It’s very important for you to fill out your profile as completely as possible. Entering as much personal information as you are comfortable with, along with your previous work experience. I’m not talking about posting your Social Security number or your current relationship status, however, you do want your profile to attract attention. LinkedIn provides many ways for you to do this.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I should go into a little more detail about what you will actually be doing on LinkedIn. If you are familiar with Facebook, LinkedIn should be relatively familiar to you. If you aren’t on Facebook, grab a hold of your son, daughter, or anyone you know under forty and get your account set up right away! As I mentioned before, LinkedIn is Facebook for Business. The theory is that you will be able to create a network of contacts you can reach out to when needed. Like when you’re laid off from your job!

This is directed at people who are still working. This is my first DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DID! When I set up my LinkedIn account, I foolishly used my work email account as my login. DO NOT DO THIS!!!! When you are laid off from your job, and you have forgotten your LinkedIn password, where will they send the email to reset your password? You got it! The email account from the job you were just fired from and no longer have access to! Make sure to use your home email, or better yet, a job hunting email account. I was eventually able to change the login id on my account (without losing all my contacts), but it was a colossal pain in the butt!

I will spend the rest of this article going over each of the different sections of the LinkedIn website.

Home: Obviously, this is the Home Page. This is similar to your Facebook Home Page, where you will see articles that are shared or posted by your LinkedIn Contacts. The left side has a section called Me. This is a shortcut to your LinkedIn Profile Page. I will cover that later. The right side has a list of trending topics as well as a recommended company for you to check out.

My Network: This is the nuts and bolts of LinkedIn. This is the page where all of your LinkedIn Contacts (or Connections) are displayed. On the left side of the page, you will see the number of Connections that you currently have. Click on the number to see a list of those contacts. The center section of the page is a list of LinkedIn Members you can Invite to become one of your LinkedIn Connections.

Jobs: The Jobs Page is pretty neat. Based on your Job Experience you listed in your Profile, LinkedIn suggests jobs that may be a match for you. It’s like having your own personalized Headhunter!

Messaging: This is where you can stay in touch with your LinkedIn Connections and send them Messages. However, you can only send Message to YOUR Connections. I didn’t try this, but I’m pretty sure you have to be a Connection of Bill Gates in order to send him a Message! The left side of the page is a list of your recent Messages and the center section is where you compose a Message to your Connections.

Notifications: This is where you receive notices that your Connections have upcoming work anniversaries, birthdays, and more importantly when someone has viewed your Profile. That is the primary goal of LinkedIn, getting noticed and getting people to view your Profile! Stay caught up with all of your Notifications so you don’t miss out on anything!

Me: It’s all about you, baby! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Anyway, this page IS all about you, and it’s the information your Connections, as well as prospective Employers, will read about you! It is broken down into many different sections.

Your Articles & Activity: This section keeps track of any articles you have written for LinkedIn or shared from another source.

Experience: This is the meat and potatoes of your Profile. You will list all of your work experience here. You should be able to cut and paste the relevant info from your résumé here.

Volunteer Experience: List any volunteer work that you do in this section.

Featured Skills & Endorsements: This is where contacts and former co-workers can endorse you for specific skills. Some of these can be pretty basic, but some are pretty detailed.

Recommendations: This is where former co-workers can write up a nice reference for any future employers to review. Don’t forget to write up one of these for fellow co-workers who become laid off as well. Good karma.

Accomplishments: This is for any special project you were involved in, as well as any publications or blogs that you write for.

Following: There are various individuals, companies, and groups that you can follow from this section of the Profile.

That’s it for my overview. Remember, LinkedIn is all about getting noticed. Start by “Liking” an article shared by one of your contacts. Then “Share” one yourself. Keep in mind this is a business site and videos of puppies and babies may be adorable, but they should be kept on Facebook. LinkedIn is all about business!

Needless to say, this blog is instantly shared on LinkedIn and Facebook the moment it is published! After all, what’s the point of writing these articles, if nobody is going to see them!! I hope this article has inspired you to really dig into LinkedIn and make it your “Go To” tool in your “Job Hunting Toolbox”!

One thing I forgot to mention is that you have to be a LinkedIn Member to view someone’s Profile. So don’t wait, sign up now! It’s free! To see an example of what a LinkedIn Profile looks like, please click on this link to my Profile. I’ve lost weight since that picture was taken, so please don’t judge!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Age Discrimination

How It’s Working Against You!

Hello, and welcome to The Brown Parachute Club. If this is your first time reading this blog, you may be thinking, “What’s up with the name of this website?” Well, when you reach retirement, it’s been said that you receive a “Golden Parachute”. It will enable you to land softly and hit the ground running in your “Golden Years”.

To those of us who are laid off before we reach retirement age, we receive the “Brown Parachute”. If the Golden Parachute is filled with Gold, I’ll let you figure out what the Brown Parachute is filled with.

If you have recently joined The Brown Parachute Club, this article is about your hidden nemesis, Age Discrimination. As I will show you, it comes in many forms, and it’s the main reason there are so many members of TBPC.

When I was laid off in February of 2014 I figured, “Well, this sucks, but I should be able to get another job eventually.” Uh, no. At least not in my field of Data Backup and Recovery, where I had over 30 years of experience. I also couldn’t find work in the Audio / Visual field, where I had 6 years of experience. I even applied for Technical Support jobs (which I hated) and I didn’t get any nibbles there either.

“What is wrong with me?” “Why am I not getting called for any interviews?” “I’m qualified for these jobs!” “What’s going on?” These are all questions I asked myself when I was unable to get a job during the first six months after being laid off.

At that time, I had no idea The Brown Parachute Club even existed. As of 2012, there were over 2.1 million people between the ages of 55 and 65 who had been laid off before they reached retirement. Given the state of the economy in recent years, do you think that number has increased or decreased? Had I known about this, I might have felt a little better about myself. After all, misery loves company.

It’s not that I didn’t try to find work. I was signed up with so many headhunters, I could have been cast in the fictitious movie, “Abbott and Costello Meet the Headhunters!” Where Bud and Lou get laid off ten years away from retirement and try in vain to find jobs! I did get calls from some of the headhunters from time to time. They would tell me that I was perfect for a job that just came across their desk! Only to never hear back from them again about the position.

Of course, if you have been unemployed for a while, and you are in the 55 – 65 age group, none of this is news to you. What you may not realize is that Age Discrimination is real, and it is the “Silent Killer” of your career.

Many companies are laying off people our age, simply because they are trying to cut costs. They go after people like us, with the most seniority, who are making the most money in their departments, because we’re easy targets.

That wouldn’t be so bad if most people our age had scaled back their debt and financial obligations. However, many of us still owe on our cars, house, and college debt for the kids. How are we supposed to keep up those payments with no job? “Not our problem”, says your former employer.

What you don’t realize when you apply for a job online is that in many cases, “Human Eyes” are never viewing your résumé. It’s not Age Discrimination if a computer is discriminating against you. There are certain “Key Words and Phrases” that a Résumé Database Scanner looks for. These word and phrase combinations can be positive, or in our case, negative. I’m sure I’ve been the victim of “Résumé Math” on more than one occasion. When a Résumé Database Scanner starts putting 2 + 2 together, the resulting answer is “OLD!

What company is going to hire you at your old salary, when it can hire some kid fresh out of school for a third of what they were paying you? It’s simple economics, the type where you get the short end of the stick. Even if they were willing to pay you what they were going to pay the kid, why should they hire you? When you only have a handful of good years left. Taylor, fresh out of college, can work for them until he (or she) is your age. Then they can make him (or her) a member of The Brown Parachute Club as well!

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m sure there are plenty of fields where your age is irrelevant to your job prospects and may actually improve them. However, for the rest of us, being old sucks. And not just because of the wonderful new aches and pains that we discover each morning!

A recent article in Forbes illustrates how widespread the problem is. In a letter to a blogger, a letter-writer details an experience he had with a potential client. Without giving away too much of the article, at one point a young recruiter tells the letter-writer, At your age, you’d better take what you can get!The writer of this letter is a consultant with his own very successful business, and he STILL gets hit with this attitude! If he catches this kind of crap, what kind of hope do we have?

Age Discrimination is exceedingly hard to prove. How can you say that you were discriminated against if you never get called for an interview in the first place? If your résumé is never seen by “Human Eyes”, how can a “Human Reviewer” ever be called in for a deposition? It’s much easier to have the Résumé Database Scanner do the discriminating for you!

I’m sorry to paint such a rosy picture, but I don’t believe in sugarcoating the truth. And the truth is, unless you have experience in a job that’s in very high demand, you may be looking for work for a very, very, very long time.

However, all is not lost! That’s why I started this website. I wanted to help folks during this difficult time in their lives. There are many Side Hustle and Work From Home jobs listed here that might help you earn some extra cash, to help you dig out of a financial hole. There may also be some information that will help you to set some goals, become more disciplined, stop procrastinating, lose weight and much more. Just remember, giving up is not an option! See you next week.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!


Why It’s One Of The Most Important Traits To Have!

Hi and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club. Last week’s article was all about dealing with Procrastination, eating frogs and other fun stuff. I apologize if it seemed a little rambling, but I am fighting off a horrible cold/flu and I think it is affecting my writing.

Anyway, today’s topic is Discipline. I’m not talking about the type that leather-clad Mistress Helga dishes out! Although, if you’re into that sort of thing, I don’t judge. What I’m talking about is the type of discipline that can help you to achieve your dreams and goals.

As young children, we’re taught self-discipline by our parents. We, in turn, teach it to our children. It has been said that the one quality all successful business people have is self-discipline. Elbert Hubbard said, “Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.” It’s cutting the lawn before heading over to your buddy’s house to watch the game. It’s clearing the table and loading the dishwasher after dinner, before playing the latest Call of Duty game on the Xbox. It’s basically doing the unpleasant stuff before the fun stuff!

That Hubbard quote is from another great book by Brian Tracy. “No Excuses!” is a book that really makes you examine your life. It’s not so much about a character trait you need to acquire, but about the type of person you need to become. The book illustrates the differences between disciplined and undisciplined people. Unfortunately, most people fall into the “undisciplined” category. In a nutshell, being a disciplined person means being someone that people can count on. Someone who does the hard stuff.

However, there’s more to being disciplined than just making sure you work out every day (although that’s a good start). It is about being a person of integrity. I don’t throw that word around lightly. There are far too many people in this world who lack integrity. Webster’s Dictionary defines integrity as a “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values”.

In this day and age, having a code of morals and values makes you someone special. How sad is that? I don’t want to turn this into a big ethical discussion, but I want to illustrate what being a person of integrity and discipline means. It means you are someone who can be counted on to do the right thing, every time.

My friend Steve and I have an ongoing discussion about integrity. We are tired of seeing news stories about someone “doing the right thing”, when they find a purse, wallet, or a bag of cash, by turning it into the proper authorities. Our viewpoint is that there’s nothing special about doing the right thing. One day, Steve found a bank deposit bag at work with over $1,200 inside, which he turned into Security. I said, “I’m not going to congratulate you for doing the right thing.” At which, Steve replied, “Understood”.

Getting back to self-discipline, imagine if your doctor told you that you had to lose 25 pounds or you were going to die in 21 days! You can bet you would spend every second of those 21 days trying to find every way possible to lose that weight! You would make all the necessary changes to your diet and exercise program to make sure that you lost the weight, so you didn’t drop dead! Applying that kind of urgency in non-life-threatening situations is what self-discipline is all about.

The reason I chose 21 days in the previous example is that it has been established that anything you do consistently for 21 days becomes a Habit. Discipline is the trait that will get you through those 21 days. Developing good habits is essential to becoming a better person.

Discipline is the ability to give up short term pleasure for long term gains. Having discipline ties in very well with having Goals. Goals are “long term gains”. Having Goals causes you to have discipline. Is your Goal to show up at your class reunion 30 pounds lighter? Then maybe it would be a good idea to grab a salad, instead of that piece of cake! And hit the gym tomorrow!

With all the distractions that college life has to offer, it takes an incredible amount of discipline for a student to make it through all four years of college. My oldest son received two four-year degrees in the same four-year period. I still don’t know how he did it. Oh wait, yes I do, massive amounts of drive and discipline!

Personally, I have found that having a checklist to stay disciplined is a lifesaver. We are all so busy with our day-to-day lives, it’s very easy to lose track of what’s most important to you. That’s where an excellent Goal Tracker like Todoist comes in. Todoist is primarily designed as the ultimate to-do-list. You can access it from your phone, tablet, or computer. It can also be used as an excellent Goal Tracker, that allows you to set up Goals, Habits, and Tasks. You can also schedule reminders for each of those using the handy calendar feature.

To me, the ultimate form of discipline is going on vacation and STILL working on the items on your Todoist checklist. I wish I could say that I always succeed in that, however, I do make every effort to stick to my checklist while I’m on vacation. However, that’s the beauty of vacation. When you get back, you jump right back into your Projects, Goals, and Habits. Sometimes taking a break from them gives you a fresh perspective and new ideas.

For me, what all of this comes down to is a long-term view vs short-term pleasure. Would it be more fun to watch the Harry Potter Marathon on FreeForm, than to get my latest blog written? Sure it would. But I have made a commitment to myself and to you, my readers. I will write an article each week, that you will hopefully find interesting and helpful.

That said, hand me the remote! Hogwarts Awaits!!!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!