Baby boomer

Baby Boomers in the Workforce – What’s Next?

I recently blogged about the Truth about Millennials in the Workforce. I hope that I displaced some of your misconceptions and offered you a new perspective on this misunderstood generation. Now let’s take a look at baby boomers and what lies ahead for this group of workers.

The U.S. Census defines baby boomers as people born during the Post–World War II era between 1946 and 1964. For boomers like myself, our careers are likely winding down. We’re thinking about retirement. Yet, many baby boomers are choosing to stay in the workforce. About 35 percent of workers continue to work past the age of 65. The reasons for staying employed vary—from financial need to wanting to work.

There is also a concerted effort by employers to keep skilled professionals in the workforce, creating more of a phased approach for the exit of those within retirement age. Businesses are trying to Stave off the Brain Drain, because there are not as many qualified professionals ready to assume the positions of those retiring. Companies are creating flexible work hours, additional benefits and more opportunities for those reaching retirement. Anything to keep older workers engaged so they can train and mentor younger employees.

However, this trend will surely have a ripple effect down the road. The prolonged rate at which people are retiring will certainly impact opportunities for younger generations, who will now have to wait longer to gain seniority.

But what I find most interesting is some of the commonalities between the two generational spectrums—millennials and baby boomers. While the millennials make demands for life/work balance and company authenticity, baby boomers are looking for much of the same. I think both groups can find common ground on many things, learn from one another’s experiences and work together to create a more skilled and happier workforce.

Are you baby boomer who is choosing to retire later? What would be your advice to millennials and vice versa? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Truth about Millennials in the Workforce

We’ve all heard of the plight of the Millennial. The child that was over indulged in her youth, treated as if he was extraordinarily “special,” and is now looking for affirmation and adoration wherever they may land. In the workforce, some consider them more of an Achilles heel rather than an asset.

At Kaczmar & Associates, we completely disagree. We’ve had the pleasure of placing millennials in promising positions where they are thriving and employers are benefiting from the not-so-new kid on the block. Here’s the truth about what we’ve seen from this misunderstood generation of workers:

Authenticity – After living through the public collapse of Enron, it is refreshing to see a generation demanding transparency from corporations. This transparency makes everyone more accountable, even the employee. This also speaks to the fact that Millennials have been at the root of social media and authenticity is social media’s core value.

Family First – It was once customary to show your commitment to a company by staying late, working weekends and putting your job first before anything else. Millennials feel quite the opposite—they demand quality time with their family. This doesn’t mean they aren’t hard workers, or that they work less. Quite the contrary, they manage their time and use technology as their tool to make them more efficient. And ultimately this makes them happier people, which result in happier employees.

Power in Collaboration – Millennials thrive in a collaborative setting. This not only comes from their ability to multitask but also from confidence. They don’t see their boss as an expert but more of a mentor/coach. They value their superior’s opinion but also have the resources and tools to develop their own. We often forget that there is amazing value in collaboration because an individual usually takes the credit for his/her masterpiece. But take a closer look, because behind every figurehead there is most likely a very powerful collaborator.

Purpose – What is most refreshing about millennials is that they don’t work for the paycheck; they work for a purpose. This reminds me of my father’s generation, who took such pride in the company that they worked for and the values it held. There wasn’t conversation of big salaries and bonuses, but why their work mattered. Companies that are looking to make a difference and do right by the employees and the world – whether it is environmental or social – and will capture the hearts and careers of millennials.

Before you pigeonhole that millennial sitting across from you at an interview, I hope you’ll remember some of the finer points of this generation. We certainly do.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What’s your take on millennials in the workforce?

New Year, New Trends

As we say goodbye to 2014, we look ahead to the New Year and its anticipated innovations. In 2014 we saw the rise of marketing automation and big data. While I anticipate similar trends next year, there are three that stick out.

With the recent Sony hack, I predict that security will be top of mind for companies and governmental organizations. Whether being attacked for political or financial gain, the vulnerabilities are the same. Cyber security firms will likely have a busy 2015, equipping against and monitoring for impending attacks. Organizations will also need to step up their internal processes, educating their employees so they don’t inadvertently put their company’s systems at risk. It’s not a matter of if there will be future hacks, it’s when.

Technology giants are not going at it alone. More and more are partnering to create innovations. Apple and IBM announced they are joining forces to make intuitive enterprise software apps. IBM also teamed up with Cisco recently to offer VersaStack, an integrated infrastructure bundle that pairs IBM storage with Cisco servers. I expect more collaborations such as these to be announced in the coming months.

Fitbits were a popular gift item this holiday season which leads to the rise of wearable technology next year. Apple Watch is sure to stir frenzy when it is released in early 2015. And more devices from other competitors are sure to follow. But these devices will heavily depend on apps so the marriage of mobile and wearables is one that will be strengthened as their popularity rises.

What continues to hold true is that with these trends and emerging technologies, companies will be investing in people. So if you are looking for a new career path or the next step in your career, being aware of the trends and the companies that lead will keep you ahead of the pack!

I’m looking forward to seeing how these trends play out in 2015. What do you think we’ll see next year?

Happy New Year!

Tis The Season . . . to find a new job

Just because your office may be winding down for the holidays doesn’t mean your job hunt should. In fact, the holidays are a great time to ramp up your job search.

Here’s why:

Party Time: Although your crazy uncle’s holiday party may not always be the highlight of the season, he’s the most connected man in town. Be the first to arrive, wear your best suit and your biggest smile. Most conversations start with “what do you do?” Happy hunting!

Down Time: After you’ve finished wrapping gifts and partying with the best of them, you may actually have some down time. Instead of watching A Christmas Story for the 100th time, beef up your resume, peruse LinkedIn, contact your recruiter and if you feel really inspired, start preparing for your Killer Interview.

New Jobs in the New Year: With budgets approved and a solid hiring strategy in place for the New Year, many companies start their employee search in November and December. Schedules also open up during the holiday season, so getting face time with the executive team may be a reality. Don’t forget to get your power suit pressed for all of your interviews!

While everyone is sipping on egg nog and recovering from the holiday haze, you’ll be sending out thank you cards to your new connections from your crazy uncle’s holiday party and inviting them to connect on LinkedIn. With any luck, your efforts will be rewarded and you’ll start the New Year off with a bang as the newest hire at your dream job!

Share your holiday hire successes with us below!

Barefoot Leadership

Earlier this month we learned to talk like a leader; now we’ll walk like one. Barefoot Leadership is described in the internationally renowned book of the same name. The book chronicles real-life ‘barefoot leaders,’ how they overcame adversity and led their ‘followers’ to success. In a nutshell, barefoot leaders are those who are not afraid to go against the grain to do what’s right. I think the following characteristics exemplify a true barefoot leader:

Doing the right thing is oftentimes not the most popular course of action. Whether you’re facing a boardroom of superiors or a crowd of influential people – it’s scary to speak up. Regardless of the setting, letting go of your reservations and rolling the dice on the outcome is empowering. This can mean accepting responsibility for your actions and avoiding the blame game or making a move that seems unorthodox.

Lead by example. What better way to build trust among your followers than by showing them that you are not afraid to back down. This is how socio-political movements are born. Just remember that you are leading, not dictating, so leave your iron fist at the door. One of the core principles of barefoot leadership is that everyone is important; so don’t take a cheap shot, even against your adversaries. That builds respect.

Barefoot Leadership author, Alvin Ung, states that if leaders don’t possess the “5 C’s: conviction, character, capacity, compass and a (higher) consciousness…we don’t find them inspiring.” David Sivers’ TED Talk puts these ideas into context, albeit in a humorous way. He profiles a dancing, shirtless and, yes, barefoot guy who inspires others to join him in his groove. The lesson here is that anyone, not only CEOs and politicians, can be influential, effective leaders.

What do you think about barefoot leadership? Do you think it’s an effective leadership style? Share your thoughts with me below.


Talk Like a Leader

I recently stumbled upon a wonderful little book that challenged me to take a look at the way I communicate. The Leader Phrase Book contains thousands of phrases and provides great communication tips, written in a way that is relatable and adaptable to any business situation. From what to say during a negotiation to how to ask for a raise, this book is a terrific resource for professionals. Here are the takeaways I found to be most insightful:

Use a professional, non-confrontational tone.
Be confident, but don’t let that confidence come across as arrogant, aggressive or dismissive. When you’ve made a decision, be resolute but be open to others’ opinions. Even when you don’t heed to your colleagues’ requests, you will remain a respectable figure if you are diplomatic and emotionally even-keeled. No one likes to feel threatened.

Speak clearly and briefly, but know when to keep quiet.
We’ve all been there. Stuck in a meeting with someone who seems to love the sound of his or her own voice. Don’t be that person. If you tend to be long-winded, recognize that you are engaged in a two-way conversation and allow your colleagues an opportunity to engage. Silence can work to your advantage. Don’t interrupt. Wait until after someone has completed their thought before interjecting with questions.

Be personable, not exclusive.
Everyone likes to feel like they have some decision-making power. Making sure everyone feels like they have a stake in the overall outcome builds alliances. This is especially important when working with cross-disciplinary teams. A true leader knows he or she can’t accomplish their goals alone.

What communication tactics do you find effective? What qualities do you look for in a leader? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment below.

Silicon Alley Gets Boost with Digital.NYC

Move over Silicon Valley; New York is upping the ante as a technology hotbed with Digital.NYC. With a little help from IBM, this citywide initiative is making The Big Apple a more attractive destination for startups to, well, start up. Not only is Digital.NYC fostering the city’s thriving tech community, it is opening up opportunities for high-tech talent in the Northeast.

Think of Digital.NYC as the Craigslist for the technology industry in New York City. From one online hub you can find events, jobs, courses and collaborative workspaces. Investors can quickly search for prospects among a sea of startups, and vice versa. Plus, gain access to resources that can empower you to start up yourself.

As NYC continues to solidify its status as the technology capital of the East Coast, it will be interesting to see how the industry will shape the city and its high-tech dwellers. In the meantime, I’m happy to see the East Side at the forefront of innovation and getting the recognition it deserves.

Are you an NYC-based techie? How are you seeing the industry landscape changing? Leave me a comment below.

Looking for a job in the New York City area? Check out our featured positions and apply if you see something you like.

What Type of Employee Are You?

I saw a great post on Linkedin recently about the four types of employees you find in (almost) every workplace. It’s a great exercise for supervisors to assess their current teams. But I think it’s an exercise that employees could benefit from as well. Here’s how you can determine if you are a star, student, land mine or not yet gone:

Start by asking yourself what you do for your company that contributes to its success. Are your sales numbers off the charts? Are you a master at building client relationships? If you don’t have a clear idea of what your strengths are, ask a close colleague what they think.

Then, evaluate how you fit in. Do you and your colleagues share similar interests? Do you believe in the same core values as your company? Think big picture. You don’t have to be the most popular guy or gal around the water cooler to align with the culture of the company.

Take some time to reflect.

The Good
Star: If your contribution and cultural responses are an emphatic “yes,” you’re likely a shining star. You lead by example, take pride in your work and are an asset to your team.

Student: If your contributions seem minimal but are growing steadily, you’re likely an apt student. A star has probably taken you under their wing and is cultivating your potential. This is a good position to be in. You can only go up from here.

The Bad
Land Mine: You’re a model employee – on paper. You meet your quota but that’s as far as it goes. Your passion – if you ever had it – is gone. You know it; something is missing. If this is the case, you’re in land mine territory. If it’s a temporary rough patch (i.e. a challenging project, personal hardships) you have the potential to jump into bonafide star status. If it’s more than that (i.e. change in company policy, leadership or direction you wholeheartedly don’t agree with) then it may be time to move on to another organization that shares your priorities.

Not Yet Gone: You’re delivering subpar results and time isn’t making it any better. The sad truth is, your employer probably wants to give you the boot but is hoping you resign before a replacement is found. Look inside yourself and find out why you’ve strayed. Maybe you’ve just lost interest in your career. Or, you may feel like an outsider within your organization. There was a reason you were hired in the first place. So let those qualities shine once again with a new employer.

New Hires
If you’re a hiring manager, just because a candidate isn’t a star, doesn’t mean they are unhirable. Think about your company’s needs and don’t rule out a rising star who would make a great addition to the team.

What do you think? Are you a star, student, land mine or not yet gone? Share your comments with us below.

Pundits, Quit your Gerrymandering: 3 Ways to Win at Office Politics

With midterm elections right around the corner, yard signs, bumper stickers and other paraphernalia are a common sight. You’ll have friends (you know who they are) who will undoubtedly try to convince you to join their party, vote for their candidates and flood your Facebook timeline with posts about making the “right decision”. Nonetheless, after Election Day, we’ll move onto Thanksgiving and then our next holiday of choice – seemingly forgetting all about the political hullabaloo just a few weeks back.

Office politics are a little different. You can’t show your support on a sticker or t-shirt, but you definitely have leaders and allies. A lot of people see office politics as something to avoid, but I believe if you are ethical in your politicking, you can yield great results. Here’s the thing, your office probably has a couple of folks looking to promote their personal agenda, similar to many politicians. But you’ll also find like-minded individuals who are looking to better serve the company and advance their careers, but not at the expense of others. Here are three quick tips that will keep your office politics clean and the mudslinging at bay.

  1. Listen Carefully – Early in my career I received some great advice from my mentor. He urged me to talk less and listen more. Whether you are selling a service to a potential client or working on getting a new policy adopted at your company, listen to the people around you and their needs. If it’s a customer, you can shape your pitch to their requirements. With your colleagues, you can win them over by addressing their issues and concerns in your policy while advocating for your shared cause. Another great thing about good listening is that it’s a talent you can take home.
  2. Don’t Take Sides – This may be one of the hardest things to do in the workplace. Unlike high school where you publicly displayed your allegiance – jocks, nerds, glee club – and wore it like a badge of honor, the office requires you to be a bit more discreet. Work with your colleagues to solve problems in a diplomatic fashion, focusing on the solution and not on the person fighting for it. Take the person out of the equation and you’ll be sure to get great results.
  3. Forget About Winning – Unlike the political race, you may never have a clear winner. You may shape your solution differently after hearing your colleague’s opinion or research. Ultimately, you could be wrong but if you are pliable and willing, everyone will benefit from taking the competition out of office politics so you can craft the best solution.

We’d love to hear about how you handle office politics. Share your tips with us below. One last thing, don’t forget to vote on November 4th! I’ll step off my soapbox now.

Kick Back and Relax Y’all!

In one of my first blog posts, I wrote about the importance of working hard and playing hard. I spoke about the importance of making time for you. So I took my own advice and headed to Montana, where I had the opportunity to completely unplug. It was absolutely invigorating. I enjoyed some of the most beautiful scenery while horseback riding, ate exquisite food and spent some much needed down time with my lovely wife. Ultimately, I returned to work with a clear head and recharged.

Whether your travel plans include Montana or Miami or your own backyard, you need to take the opportunity to unwind from the work grind. Not only can a vacation (or staycation) reinvigorate you mentally but it can help you physically too. A study of 13,000 middle-aged men at risk for heart disease revealed those who skipped vacations for five consecutive years were 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least one week off each year.

Who wouldn’t want to take time off? It’s not just workaholics. According to this article by the Huffington Post, many workers are actually afraid to take time off. Whether the fear is self-imposed or part of your employer’s culture, you need to take the initiative, not make excuses and take your PTO.

Remember, Labor Day was established for everyone in the workforce. So kick back, relax and enjoy your holiday.