Your Job Search
(CONTINUED FROM PAGE 64)
strengths and skill sets and demon-
strate right up front a commitment to
our mission and an authentic interest
in our business,” says Paul Hvidding,
vice president of human resources at
the National Rural Electric Coopera-
tive Association (NRECA), which has
appeared in AARP’s list of best employ-
ers. “It’s almost as if they are saying, ‘I
have a lot of choices where I spend the
rest of my career, but I’m interested in
your organization.’ ”
It’s not fair, but some younger hiring
managers worry that older workers
lack the vitality to keep up. (Interview-
ers have even been known to sneak in a
walk with older applicants, then judge
them on their pace.) So project upbeat
energy, whether that means a brisk
stride or alert assurance when answer-
ing questions. And choose an interview
time when you’re most energetic, says
Jackson: “If at all possible, schedule the
interview when you are at your best
and most alert—if you are a morning
person, schedule it before lunch.”
Even if you’re aiming for a perma-
nent job with benefits, don’t rule out a
temporary contract. A lot of employers
are hiring temps as a way to ride out
the recession. Think of a temp job as an
audition for a full-time role.
In this economy, the audition doesn’t
end when you’ve landed the job. To
solidify your standing, be it in a temp
job or a long-term position, involve
yourself in all aspects of office life, from
bringing in bagels to tackling tough
tasks. Show your loyalty by arriving on
time—or even early—every day, despite
the weather. If the company has a volunteer activity, join in. In other words,
be a team player. “This is important for
the success of every employee, regardless of age,” says Hvidding.
If you’re lucky enough to have a permanent position, don’t feel entitled.
Companies value longtime employees’ institutional memory, but to be
irreplaceable you must stay invested.
Take the initiative and assume new
responsibilities. Broaden your experience to meet the company’s evolving
needs, whether that means taking a
class or volunteering for a committee.
“Well-regarded employees of any age
work to keep their skills up-to-date,”
says Devin Ryder, a senior training and
development specialist at Harvard’s
Center for Workplace Development.
Bottom line: The more versatile you
are, the more valuable you are.
Also, it’s an intergenerational workplace out there. You may report to
someone younger than you, or you may
be teamed with younger colleagues.
Shake off any resistance to new ideas
and techniques. “There’s little room
today for the employee who wants to
do things the way they’ve always been
done,” says Jackson. Instead of grumbling about what your colleagues don’t
know, share what you’ve learned, and
be open to learning from them.
Remember: If you don’t schmooze,
you lose. Used wisely, a bit of chitchat
helps create a personal connection
with your boss and colleagues. (Used
unwisely, it makes you a pest.) How
to go about it? My advice: Keep it light
and genuine, and see what develops.
NEVER DISCOUNT YOUR WORTH
Several months after I rode the subway
with those laid-off Citibank workers,
I heard from the man I’d met on the
train. He and some of his colleagues
had pooled their 401(k)s and started
their own company. “We don’t have the
perks or pay that we used to,” he said,
“but we own this!” Their first customer? Their former employer, Citibank.
Even if you don’t seek to start your
own company, you can learn from his
example. You have what employers
need—even if they don’t always realize
it. Says Jackson: “A seasoned employee
shouldn’t underestimate what he or
she has to offer.” With confidence, networking, and face time, you can show
anyone why they need you. ;
Chris Gardner, author of The Pursuit
of Happyness, is AARP’s Ambassador
for Pursuit and Happyness. Additional
reporting by Tina Adler.
(CONTINUED FROM PAGE 72)
If you can, take the plant to the sink,
then spray and wash its leaves, above
and below, with plain water. The
washing dislodges bugs when there is
an infestation. For larger plants, share
a shower with your leafy friend. If
critters persist, a drop of dishwashing
detergent in a spray bottle of water
should be the next step. Mealybugs?
Dip an artist’s paintbrush in rubbing
alcohol and touch the cottony masses
to kill them off. As for whiteflies, carefully hold a vacuum cleaner extension
over the plants, shake them, then suck
up the critters as they fly into the air.
Good air circulation helps plants
stay healthy, as they would outdoors.
I’ve been leaving the ceiling fan on low
through the winter, and it seems to
have reduced the pests considerably.
Houseplants also appreciate a drop
in temperature at night, so turn down
the thermostat; plants are green in
more ways than one.
WHO CAN SAY IF a single gorgeous
potted plant will satisfy your new
passion—or whether, like me, you’ll
find it hard to grow just one. In any
event, be smart and buy only what you
feel will brighten your days. And don’t
freak out if one plant fails—I can honestly say I’ve learned something from
every plant I’ve killed. Soon you and
your houseplants will “click.” You’ll
figure out their rhythms and what
makes them happy.
You might even want to spread the
good fortune and pass along some
plants to friends. Nearly any houseplant can be propagated—your plants
are the only treasured collectibles in
your home that can be reproduced.
Good luck doing that with a Hummel
figurine or pewter beer stein. ;
Ken Druse, the author of more than a
dozen gardening books, hosts the “Real
Dirt” radio show and podcast. His most
recent book is Planthropology: The
Myths, Mysteries, and Miracles of My