Age Discrimination

How It’s Working Against You!

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By Jerry Lambert

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.

Worried man head in handIf 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.

Worried BusinessmanIt’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.

IS09B4L1NWhat 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?

Mature man using a computer at homeAge 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!

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24 Hours In The Stone Age

What Would Fred & Wilma Do?

By Jerry Lambert

Hello, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club.  This week I want to go a little off topic.  I want to talk a little about Emergency Preparedness.  I know, it sounds like an exciting subject.  However, recently my wife and I found out just how exciting it can be!

Mid adult woman wearing yellow jacket and ski goggles in snowLast Wednesday, the Detroit Area was hit with of one of the worst windstorms on record.  Wind gusts reached close to 70 mph!  For us Great Lakes dwellers, that is the equivalent of a Hurricane!

That evening, my wife and I sat down to watch some TV before dinner.  A short time later, the TV blinked on and off a couple of times, then eventually went out for good.  Along with power to the rest of the house.  This was a unique situation for us, losing power in the Late Winter / Early Spring.

As it turned out, DTE Energy (the main power provider in the Detroit Area) had over 860,000 people without power.  That is over one third of their customers!  It was the largest power outage in their history, and that includes the Midwest / East Coast power outage of 2003!

Since we had no power, we knew none of this.  My first thought was, “Ruh, Roh, Raggy!”  Part of the reason the winds were so high was because of clashing warm and cold fronts that were moving through the area.  The temperature at the time of the outage was 50 degrees and would eventually drop down to 34 degrees by morning.  Not life-threatening, but by no means a picnic.  Even for us born and bred Michiganders!

Woman outside tent with Northern lights, Myvatn, IcelandThe temperature in our house eventually got down to 59 degrees, which is excellent football weather at The Big House in Ann Arbor, but not so great in our living room.  My four guppies were huddled together in their tank for warmth and our dog was looking at us as if we had lost our minds.  We were walking around the house with thick sweatshirts and gloves on.

Thankfully, our period of living in Winterfell lasted only 24 hours.  On Thursday afternoon, we went to go see “Logan”, the latest Wolverine movie.  The power was back on when we got home.  The first words out of my mouth were, “Thank You, God!”

As we found out later, this weather event was a “Perfect Storm” of sorts.  Our much warmer than usual February resulted in the ground not being frozen as hard as it normally would be at this time of year.  Add heavy rain and wind to the mix and you have trees falling over like bowling pins!

Woman in cap, scarf and glovesOur whole weather misadventure got me thinking about what we could have done differently to prepare for this disaster.  I mean instead of just going to the movie theater to get warm!

While researching what to do to prepare for next time, I found an article on the AccuWeather website that covers losing power in the winter.  Since this was a wind-related event, luckily we didn’t have a mountain of snow to deal with.

Thankfully, we did have some firewood in the backyard.  However, since we don’t have a blower insert in our fireplace, it only resulted in the temperature increasing by a whopping 3 degrees!

The following suggestions are from the article on AccuWeather, and common sense, which we were lacking before the outage.

  1. Check your fuses or circuit breakers. This is an obvious thing to check.  However, we were able to determine pretty quickly that our whole neighborhood had lost power.  Still, it’s a good place to start if you’re not sure about the extent of the outage.
  2. Staying warm. The next step is to figure out how you’re going to stay warm.  Load up the beds with extra blankets and break out some additional blankets for your living areas as well.  Grab sweatshirts, fleece jackets, hats, and gloves.  This might seem like overkill, but trust me, you’ll be glad you have them handy if your power outage is longer than a couple of hours!  The article also mentioned blocking any drafts by putting towels at the bottom of exterior doors, closing the fireplace flue, and hanging black blankets on the windows to absorb the heat or put them in the sun on the floor to do the same thing.  That last one seems kind of goofy to me, but whatever.
  3. Stay inside. This seems obvious, unless you are relocating to a residence with power for the duration of the outage.  Otherwise, stay at home if the weather is snowy, icy, or a mix of the two.  Also, don’t use your gas stove as a form of heat.  That can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.  However, this article from eHow shows you how to light your gas stove without power.  That would give you the option of making hot meals in a cold house!  Needless to say, be VERY CAREFUL if you attempt to do this!
  4. CO Poisoning. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is a real danger during these times.  If you are lucky enough to have a generator, please make sure it is kept away from doors, windows, and outside vents!
  5. Food. Make sure you have plenty of non-perishable foods on hand like soups, cereals, nuts, peanut butter, crackers, water, etc.  It is also recommended to have a three day supply of emergency food available, since in most cases, power will be restored within three days.  My Patriot Supply has a three-day emergency food kit available for $25.  You can’t put a price on a hot meal in a cold house!  Flashlights, candles, batteries, and an emergency crank radio are good items to have on hand as well.
  6. Staying in touch. Keep your communications with friends and family to a minimum.  Use a portable battery pack (or packs) to keep your phones charged up.  Don’t forget that many cars can charge your devices and battery packs without running the car.  That way you won’t waste gas or asphyxiate your family!
  7. Kids and pets. Obviously, the best solution is to take them to Grandma’s House, if she still has power.  However, if that isn’t an option, consider a few warm days in a hotel.  Pets can be problematic, since a hotel (or Grandma) may not be willing to let Rover trash the place!  A family member may have to stay in Frigid Acres until the power comes back on.  Or, until you can get someone with power to babysit your dog, cat, or fish.

I want to re-state the hotel option, since this often gets overlooked until it’s too late.  You need to decide quickly if it is worth it to spend a night (or nights), in a hotel room, or tough it out at home.  With a large power outage local hotel rooms fill up quickly.  You’ll need to move fast if you are going to get one!

What it all comes down to for most people is how much cold is too much?  For me, once the house gets below the mid-60s it’s time to go!  But hey, that’s just me.

I hope these suggestions will help you in the event of an outage.  Obviously, some of these tips apply in summer as well.  Thankfully, there’s not much chance of freezing to death in the summer!

Please do your homework and determine what level of preparedness you are comfortable with and plan accordingly.  After all, Fred and Wilma knew how to survive when it all hit the fan, will you?

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!

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The Work From Home Chronicles: Episode 2

More Good Jobs To Check Out!

By Jerry Lambert

Hi, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club.  This week we are going to look at five more Work From Home (WFH) Jobs that you may be interested in.  There is a tutoring job, an audio transcription job, a blog content job, and two others that are hard to describe.

Woman holding stack of Euros

The last time I wrote a WFH article I listed four good jobs and one clunker, so you could recognize the good ones.  This brings me to some additional points.  You have to be very careful when it comes to signing up for WFH Jobs.  There are a number of jobs out there that are nothing more than scams to get you to cough up your personal info.

I believe I fell prey to one of these scams when I started looking into WFH Jobs.  I signed up with a company to take surveys to make some cash.  I never got around to taking any surveys, but I did get a deluge of telemarketing calls on my cell phone as well as junk emails filling up my email box.

Many of these companies may seem to be legit and even if they are, they still sell your personal info to other companies that will barrage you with “Special Offer” phone calls and emails.  That is the last thing you want when you are trying to make money.  Spending all your time blocking phone numbers and emails!

That said, let’s look at this weeks’ selections.  To appeal to as many readers as possible, I am trying to create some variety with these jobs.  I’ll try to continue doing that with my future articles as well.

Transcribe Team: This is an audio transcription job.  I had to transcribe an interview once for this blog and I determined that I do NOT have the patience for this type of work!  However, it may be for you.  It pays $.40 – $1.25 per audio minute and you are paid through PayPal.  From the company website: Are you looking to have a steady supply of transcription work, work at home, and take pride in being a great transcriptionist? Then we are the company for you! 

Easy Shift: This is one of two “Onsite Shopper” jobs.  It assigns you specific tasks that need to be done at a store.  It’s as easy as taking pictures of the store, checking product endcaps, checking pricing, etc.  It runs from an app on your smartphone and unless I am mistaken, you can do it from almost anywhere.  Wouldn’t it be great to earn some money while you’re grocery shopping on vacation? You are paid through PayPal but the pay scale is a little unclear.  The next job I review is similar and it pays between $3-$12 per task.  So, I assume Easy Shift pay is comparable.

Field Agent: This is the other Onsite Shopper job I mentioned.  From the company website: Our agents use their smartphones to collect photos, video, and information from stores and many other locations.  You are paid through PayPal and it pays between $3-$12 per task.  Like Easy Shift, you can do this from virtually anwhere.

InstaEdu: This is an Online Tutor job that earn you up to $20/hr., paid via PayPal.  Not a bad gig if you have an education background.  They must have been bought out because when you click on the link it comes up as the popular Chegg Tutors.  Still, nice pay if you can get it!

Triple Curve: This is a Freelance Writer gig that pays between $8-$15 per article.  The main focus of the company is the creation of quality content instead of lengthy articles.  Explains the low pay.  This appears to be for experienced, professional writers, but hey give it a shot!  You never know!  Like InstaEdu, when you click on the link for Triple Curve, it comes up with Zen Content, so they must have been bought out as well.  It appears that Zen Content has medium and longer length documents as well, so it’s possible that this has expanded into more of a full-service content job.

That’s the list of jobs for this week.  I think they all look pretty good, especially the Onsite Shopper jobs that appear to be very simple and you can do them anywhere!

This will be the part of each article where I detail my results with trying some of these jobs from previous weeks.  I chose to try out 2 jobs from the last time I wrote this article.  The first one was Content Gather, a website where you can post articles for purchase by their clients.  The second one was User Testing, where you test websites and apps and record your feedback.  I wrote one article for CG and posted it.  I have not had any nibbles yet.  I tried to do the “Test Recording” for User Testing.  However, it wasn’t accepted because I narrated the instructions during the recording, which is apparently a no-no.

Woman shouting through megaphone

Now for my warning.  Be VERY CAREFUL of any software that you install on your PC or Phone!  Make sure you do some research online to see if other people have had problems with the software!  After installing the User Testing software, it triggered a Boot Scan from my antivirus software.  That can be very scary, since the PC won’t boot up until the Scan finishes successfully.  Ironically, the only malware it found was from a competing antivirus program.  Funny how that works.  The point is to be careful, as always, whenever installing any software to your PC or Phone.

Well that’s it for this week.  Hopefully, you have found a job or two that have piqued your interest.  Remember, none of these jobs are meant to be income replacement by themselves.  You’ll have to do two or more if you hope to replace a chunk of your previous income.  I know that’s not a very comforting thought, but what are you gonna do?

DisclaimerI am not affiliated with, or compensated by, any of these companies I have mentioned.  They just looked promising to me and I thought I would pass them along.  That’s all.

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!

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Discipline

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

By Jerry Lambert

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.

Portrait of a womanAnyway, 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.

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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.  Merriam-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”.

is09ax4hpGetting 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 because 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!

is09aj7ktPersonally, 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 is very easy to lose track of what is important to you.  That is where an excellent Goal Tracker like Goal-Buddy comes in.  G-B not only allows you to set up Goals, Habits, and Tasks, it has a weekly Dashboard Calendar that lists everything in a checklist format to help you to stay on top of them.

To me, the ultimate form of discipline is going on vacation and STILL working on the items on your Dashboard 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 ideas.

To 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!

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