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The Best Advice for Seniors Considering a Home-Based Business of Their Own

Welcome to a new guest post series where professionals share their insights. Today’s column focuses on seniors reinventing their careers through home-based businesses.

Guest Post by Carla Lopez

If you’re considering getting back into the working world after retirement, you aren’t alone. People are living longer, healthier lives, and as a result, many seniors are coming out of retirement to begin anew. In fact, some statistics indicate over 20 percent of all new entrepreneurs are between the ages of 55 and 64.

Is entrepreneurialism right for you? Read on for navigating the whys and hows of starting your own home-based venture later in life.

Home sweet home

As AllBusiness explains, there are plenty of advantages in working from home, particularly for seniors. It’s a flexible opportunity, so you can still enjoy the freedom of your retirement, setting your own schedule, opting who you work with, and so forth. You gain all the tax advantages of being a small business owner, yet you don’t need much capital to get your business off the ground. On top of all that, if you have any mobility concerns, you have the convenience of not having to travel to a workplace.

Develop a game plan

In order to be successful in a new business, it’s essential to map out a plan. Consider making a checklist identifying your to-dos. As you firm up your ideas, explore this guide, which leads you through all the ins and outs of starting a new business. It helps you understand everything from gauging startup costs, to researching your target market, to various financing options. Acknowledge your overall goals in order to carve out steps to meet them, and you’ll be on your way to success.

Choose your direction

Your new business might be very straightforward. Perhaps you have a hobby you’re ready to put to work, or you want to dabble in something you used to do full-time. Or maybe you plan to take your expertise to others as a consultant. These are great options for a new entrepreneurial venture!

On the other hand, we sometimes know we want to start a new project, but aren’t sure what direction to go. Perhaps finances are driving your decision or you simply miss the challenge of the working world. You might even have a loose idea of what you want to do, but aren’t sure how to frame it.

As an example, with the continued growth in tech, many people are drawn toward launching a startup. If that’s on your radar, Fortune points out you don’t have to be a computer guru to be successful, but you do need to be innovative. The climate calls for startups to be fresh, challenging, scalable, and disruptive. Outsource as needed to get off the ground, and be sure you hire team members who are fluent in their respective crafts.

Pool your resources

Before you go too far, you should contemplate what resources you have to get your venture off the ground. Chances are you would prefer to avoid touching your nest egg, and thankfully, there are alternatives.

There are a number of small business loans to consider, and it’s best to research your options to find a good fit. Your well-formed business plan can help you secure approval, and lenders will examine your credit history, just as for any other loan.

Various organizations also offer assistance. Some states participate in the Self-Employment Assistance program, or SEA program. Career Trend notes there are also grants available to some seniors who are starting their own businesses. Check in with local government and business organizations as well, since they sometimes offer incentives to new businesses.

Count on connections

When it comes to inexpensive fuel for getting your small business up and running, little beats networking. Get involved with your community, touch base with neighbors, and let your friends, family members, and former associates know what you’re up to. Consider joining industry-related forums, local business groups, and associations for small business owners. You can even look into meetups relating to what you’re doing.

Prep your spiel

Sometimes, people who are new to a leadership role feel awkward when first building their small business network. If talking about your enterprise doesn’t come naturally, one idea is to write out an elevator script and rehearse it. You’ll be well-prepared for impromptu opportunities, and word of mouth can be a powerful tool – put it to work!

Build a website

Nowadays, businesses will have a difficult time succeeding if they don’t have an attractive, user-friendly website for their customers/clients to use. According to USA Today, a website can help you build your brand, establish credibility, and help market your services/products. And while you can easily build a website over the course of a weekend using pre-built templates, it’s often best to hire a pro to create one for you. When you begin your hunt, it’s important to look for the right WordPress developer. As Upwork notes, WordPress sites can be simple or more advanced, and freelance WordPress developers should be able to fully navigate the entire WordPress content management system, including the ecosystem, back-end and maintenance. The right developer will create a website that is both engaging for your clients and that can take your business to the next level. As you start to interview freelancers, keep in mind that you could pay between $30 and $150 per hour for a WordPress developer depending on the size of your project.

Make space

Since you’re planning on working from home, it’s important to carve out a workspace that suits you. Remember any supplies you purchase are business expenses and can be depreciated, so keep your receipts.

Be sure to set up an area that promotes productivity and is comfortable. Inc. recommends aiming for a well-lit, uncluttered home office in a quiet corner of your home where you won’t face routine distractions. If you need a production area, space for customers to park, or any other details for your new venture, be sure to take that into account.

The time is ripe for seniors interested in a home-based business. Create a solid plan, pool resources, build a network, and establish an appropriate workspace. With your thorough planning, you’ll be set up for success.

Photo Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz (iStock)

10 Steps to Find a Job When It’s Been Years Since Your Last Job Search

Dear Future Im Ready, message on paper

By: Tiffany J. Franklin

Congratulations on taking the first step towards a new job! While it can be comforting to stay at one company for years, finding a new job can be reinvigorating for your life. Not only will you have the opportunity to meet new people and tackle new challenges, but hopefully you will feel excited about your work in a way you haven’t in a while. Once you’ve mastered one role, it can be easy to slide into the same old routine and feel uninspired. Putting yourself out there can be really scary, but think of how happy you could be in a year by making changes now. Be good to your future self!

Now that you’re ready, it’s time to consider how the job market has changed since you last looked for a job. Strategies that served you well 5, 10, or 20 years ago could leave you trailing behind now. I’m amazed at how much things have changed in the past few years as asynchronous video interviews (company has prerecorded person asking you questions and recording video of your live answers for a 1st round interview) have become commonplace and it’s more important than ever to use keywords in your resume to do well with the applicant tracking databases used by top companies today.

Let’s dive in and go over a checklist to help you be successful with your search.

1) Get your resume done by a professional who knows the latest resume tricks.

This is not a shameless plug for my services, although I am available for resume overhauls. Whether you use my services or those of another career coach, you need an objective third party to help you maximize your experience for today’s job market. If you’d rather save money and do things yourself, it’s helpful to read articles about how to design your resume for today’s applicant tracking databases.  See this helpful guide

2) Tailor your resume to each job to which you apply

Often you hear people lament that when they apply to jobs, it feels like the application goes into a black hole never to be heard from again. That’s because over 90% of Fortune 500 (and many non F500 companies) utilize applicant tracking systems (ATS) to process hundreds of applications, or thousands with very popular companies. These applicant tracking databases are all keyword based, so it is a must that your resume and cover letter closely align with the keywords in the job description. There is no one size fits all resume or cover letter!!

While this sounds daunting, there are tools available to you as a job seekers to help in your search. My favorite is the job Scan website ( – this site allows you to paste your resume in one box and the job description in another, then it will show you in seconds what percentage of a match you are for the role. Better yet, it then shows you exactly which keywords you need to incorporate into your resume to make your job a better match. I have taken a resume from a 23% match to a 92% match all by reworking the keywords. It’s important to note that you must be truthful with this. It’s better to have a lower match rate and be honest, rather than embellish and be exposed later for lying. My rule of thumb is to see if I can get a resume to be at least a 70-80% match while still being genuine in the experience descriptions. Job Scan will provide you 5 free scans and then you can purchase a plan to get unlimited scans. If you share a link to Job Scan through your social media accounts, you may have opportunities to get additional free scans. Even doing a few free ones can help you understand how to approach future applications.

Another way to ensure your resume gets read by a decision maker is to engage your network. See step #5 below for tips for effectively leveraging your network.

3) Write a cover letter for each job you really want and tailor it to each job to which you apply

Over the years, there has been much debate about cover letters and whether they are needed for a successful job search. In my experience, I found that half of the recruiters swear by them and the other half of them don’t even read them. You don’t know which group you’re going to get, so hedge your bets and write one, especially for jobs you really want. Why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to pitch yourself to an employer and outline how your skills, competencies and past experiences will allow you to meet their needs?

During my recruiting days, I found cover letters super helpful because they not only showed me how a candidate communicated, but they also demonstrated that a candidate went above and beyond. Anyone can say they go the extra mile, but these candidates already did that. When I posted a job listing on LinkedIn and had 50 candidates apply, I would skim the cover letter applications first because of their effort. Did I always select a candidate with a cover letter? Not necessarily; when it came down to it, I had to pick the applicants that most closely aligned with the role.

Just as mentioned in number two above, companies also run cover letters through applicant tracking systems that are keyword based. The Job Scan website will allow you to enter cover letters into the system and show you how to align them with a specific job description. For more tips on cover letters, see the post – writing cover letters that recruiters will read.

4) Cast a wide net, diversify your job search and strategize in the beginning of the search

In an age of applicant tracking databases and people more readily moving across the country for jobs than in decades past, that means there is much more competition for jobs. That being said, not all of these applicants are a good match. Please do not be intimidated by the numbers of applicants. Instead, focus on optimizing your applications and connecting with your network.

When I work with clients who have struggled with a job search, the biggest challenges tend to be with the resume they have been using in the past and not applying to enough jobs. I’m not saying you have to apply to 100 jobs (although some candidates do) or that when you’ve applied to that 100th job, that’s the one you will get, but you do have to put yourself out there.

Once candidates have taken the time to get all their marketing materials together, I often recommend applying to a job a day when they are in the midst of a job search. Of course this depends on other responsibilities in your life, but it’s a great way to ensure you are in the game.

Another piece of this is to diversify your search – don’t limit yourself to just once job site. Check out Glassdoor jobs, LinkedIn (jobs tab), Indeed, Career Builder, and then the niche job sites for your field of interest. Remember to create search alerts for each of these sites, so that way you go fishing once and then the jobs are emailed to you each week.

Before beginning your search, take some time to think about what you value most in a new job and be purposeful. Check out this article on deciding what matters most to you in a job.

If you need help get started, email a for a quote and to schedule a career strategy coaching call.

5) Networking is Key

One way to get past the applicant tracking databases is to get your resume in the hands of decision makers through networking and employee referrals. Networking is simply connecting with people. At first, many say I don’t know anyone in that field, but you have more connections than you realize.

Make a list of all the people you know – friends, family, former colleagues, and former professors and supervisors. You also can reach out to alumni from your universities ( to see if they have any advice to offer about the culture of a company and what they wish they knew when starting their careers. Sometimes these conversations can lead to opportunities down the road.

As a general rule, I like to devote half my time to networking and half my time to sending resumes to job postings on the various job sites and company career sections.

6) Cultivate references now

Be sure that you think about people to list as references on your application at the beginning of a job search. It’s easier if you start asking for references at the beginning of a search, rather than frantically sending emails when you want to apply for your dream job posting the next day. Check out my Essential Guide to References with sample emails on how to ask people for references when it’s been a while since you last connected.

7) Mock interviews are a must

The difference between a mediocre interview and a great one is preparation. Even after 20 years of serving as a career coach, I still “study” for interviews, just as I take time to prepare presentations when I have to speak to a crowd.

As yourself, what are are the 5 main skills/competencies the employer wants you to have based on the job description. Then, come up with success stories that demonstrate these competencies in action. Check out the article on interview prep for more specific tips.

Hiring a career coach for a mock interview or even doing one with a friend if you need to save money will be helpful. You may think you know answers to Tell Me About Yourself and other questions, but when it comes to saying them aloud in a concise manner, that’s where practice and having someone offer a helpful critique is key. Keep you answers to interview questions between 90 seconds and 2 minutes long. It’s okay for the interviewing to ask a follow-up question. Remember, you are aiming for a conversation between you and your interviewers, not a monologue.

Finally, breathe! You’ve got this. No one interview or job determines the course of your future. If this one does not work out, then an even better job could be just around the corner.

8) Don’t forget the thank you note

Sending your interviewers a thank you note the evening of the interview (or next day at the latest) is expected these days. Send individual notes to each interviewer and vary the content slightly to reflect your conversation. Email is acceptable and ensures the interviewer receives it in a timely manner. If you really want the job, you can follow up with a handwritten note as well (although be sure you vary the content so it’s not the same as the email). For more tips on this, see my blog post on thank you notes.

9) Use principles of data analytics to track your progress and continually adjust your search

Data analytics is all about using data to identify patterns, gain insights and guide future decision making. This can be helpful with a job search. As tempting as it is to finish creating your resume and one cover letter and then say “mike drop – I’m done,” it’s more effective to see it as an evolving process. I recommend creating an excel sheet with columns for your job applications, company names, requisition numbers, dates you applied, which version of your resume you used, notes about when you heard back, if you have any contacts, and whichever details you find useful. Then, at the end of each month, see how many places you applied and which version of your resume is gaining the most traction. Ask yourself why you think that version is working and consider using that for future applications. Are you getting interviews for places where you have contacts? This strategy helped me when I moved from Nashville to Philly and applied to a few different types of places before landing at an international staffing agency as a recruiter.

10) Look for ways to stay relevant

Never leave your career to chance or in someone else’s hands. With the global marketplace shifting rapidly from year to year, you want to provide yourself with a firm, yet flexible foundation to facilitate future pivots you may want to pursue. Even if you love your current job, look at job postings one level up in your field (or in another field if you want to make a career change) and see which skills are necessary. It’s usually a combination of hard skills specific to the job and more general soft skills (communication, teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and analytical skills). Once you identify potential skill gaps or areas for growth, see if you current employer offers any courses or if you have been out of work for a while, look for online courses (, Coursera, and many offered through colleges online or in person). The key is to always keep learning and being prepared to make career shifts to remain competitive in your space or shift to a new field.

Need help with your search? I am happy to help. Email me at to receive a quote and book your service.

Photo Credit: krung99/iStockphoto

Which Style of Resume is Right for You?

Tiffany J. Franklin, M.S. Ed.

iStock_000005359598XSmall - resume

Resumes are the building block of all job searches, so the format you choose is critical for the success of your search. Here are the three styles and when to use them.
1. Reverse Chronological

This is the most common and lists your most recent experience first. It includes bullet points under each job describing your duties and most importantly, your accomplishments. It’s best to use this style when applying for jobs related to your most recent positions and it’s great for showing how you’ve grown in your career.

2. Skills Based (Functional)

This type lists skill areas related to a job and bullet points under each that demonstrate when you have utilized that skill. At the bottom, there is a listing of your positions and companies without details under each. This one can be disorienting for a recruiter (like being lost without Google maps) because it does not provide context under each job. I’ve heard recruiting colleagues wonder if candidates using this style were trying to hide job hopping or a negative experience with their last employer.

3. Hybrid

This is a combination of the two above and uses the best of each. After the Career Summary, add a section called Key Skills and choose 3 skills that you can tell are most important from the target job description. For each skill, write a few bullets starting with strong action verbs that demonstrate your past success with that skill and quantify (if possible) to show the scope of your impact. These bullets can be pulled from any job you have had and mention the company and job title in the bullet. The resume proceeds like the reverse chronological one after this section, but with abbreviated descriptions under each job. This format is great for people with broad experience who want to highlight a few key areas. It’s also useful for those making a career transition and often preferred by the executive clients I’ve coached. If you have had many jobs or a bad experience at your last one, this can be helpful as well.
There are many choices when it comes to formatting your resume. Which of these will help you most effectively tell your story?

Tiffany Franklin is an executive career coach who works with clients of all levels with resume overhauls, cover letters, LinkedIn updates, mock interviews, and career exploration. 

To learn how Tiffany Franklin can take your job search to the next level, email or connect –

Be sure to check out Tiffany’s other career site for Radiologic Technologists:

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