Career Ken is now on the blog!

March 9th, 2009 at 1:52 pm by under Your Money

Join me on this blog in asking questions and discussing the challenges you’re are finding in landing work and staying employable.

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9 Responses to “Career Ken is now on the blog!”

  1. Ken Soper says:

    Here’s the entry from the Forum at The Series Your Money, Your Questions:

    “I feel very stuck and don’t know how to reinvent myself. I am 54 and have and MBA in international business and work in marketing. No one is hiring marketing people and certainly not 54 year olds making between $80,000 and $100,000. I’d be happy to make less but no employer is going to believe that and will think I’m taking a job till a better one comes along.
    My mortgage company won’t refinance my 20 year mortgage to a 30 because I am unemployed. I can sell and lose $50,000 to $60,000 on the deal but I can’t buy another house because I’m unemployed. I have two dogs and I doubt anyone would even rent to an unemployed person, even if they did accept dogs.
    I’m absolutely terrified of losing everything – I am a sole income household – and I have no idea what, at 54 I could “reinvent myself” to.
    Thank you.”

  2. Ken Soper says:

    Another person responded:

    “I have heard from many people in the past who were willing to make whatever the employer was paying yet were turned away because they were “over qualified” and would come to expect to be paid more than the employer wanted to. Included in that at times was the prospective employee would not be a satisfied worker and and therefore not meet their top productivity. “

  3. Ken Soper says:

    Dear Feeling Very Stuck:

    I can appreciate your concern. If you are as upset as you sound, you need to get some counseling help to feel more in control and able to think things through clearly. Start with a faith community or community-based counseling service. Or your EAP if you have health insurance that will cover such sessions.

    Depending how you are looking for work, one can get the impression there’s nothing for me. Reactive approaches to finding new work (newspaper, web-based job classifieds) probably will be of little help. More staffing firms are seeking professionals for full-time temp gigs, so I would check with executive recruiters and with staffing firms that have an exec/senior management division. Also, CPA firms seem to be getting into this to help their clients find talent. Attorneys that do corporate legal work also will have connections and try to fill needs.

    You need to be networking with everyone you know (make up your own business cards), especially at professional association meetings and groups like The Economic Club of Grand Rapids. That is the one really good way to find work, anyway. You may find local job clubs helpful as well, like the one I facilitate (; there are others popping up as well (St. Roberts Catholic Church, Blythefield Hills Baptist Church, Trinity Lutheran Church) to name several.

  4. Ken Soper says:

    Responder to “Feeling Very Stuck” brought up the “overqualified” issue.

    If you are told, “you’re over-qualified,” by definition the speaker is suggesting that they believe you CAN do the work. (And if they are talking to you, what made them decide to do that IF they thinking you’re overqualified? Are they really looking for a consultant?) They’re not being candid about the REAL reason they are disqualifying you, or at least hesitating to go further in the selection process.

    Your goal then is to identify the real heart of the objection with a question or two back to the interviewer, something like this: “Yes, I can do this assignment very well, thank you for stating so. Help me understand what your concern really is: what is it about my qualifications which leads you to state that I’m overqualified?” This will help you get at the root of the concern, which is probably they fear you won’t stay if a better offer (work assignment and/or $$$) comes along. Your objective then is to find an answer to satisfy and remove the objection. We have to assume if a position we’ve applied for is something we have done in the past that there’s a question of “why is s/he willing to move backwards?” One marketing exec I worked with had this response: “I want to return to my first love, where I performed the best, enjoyed myself, and made a lot of money for my employers—-like this sales opportunity.” Then he told a story of a success in sales, showing his love, enthusiasm for that activity.

  5. Larry of Hastings/Barry Co. says:

    Two years ago, my wife and I lost our jobs. We got our unemployment checks, etc. My wife got a job part time. My health has not been good long before I lost my job. My health keep going down hill. About 5 years ago, I had a stroke. Last year, I went to applied for disability(social security). My DR said I shouldn’t be working. My DR filled out the nessary paperwork, I got disability the first time applying.(almost unheard of.) I get about $1,000 a month, my wife babysits our grandkids. We are doing good, compare to alot of people. I am hoping my health gets better, maybe the government would help me to get some job training, so I can work again. I am not really ready to be disabled for the rest of my life. I still have alot to give. I am 49 years old, will be 50 later this year. Don’t give up, have faith, is what I tell people. My wife and I came close in being homeless, etc.

  6. Ken Soper says:


    If you are serious about going back to work, assuming you have not been declared 100% disabled, you should go to the state of Michigan website and explore the services and eligibility requirements of the Michigan Rehabilitation Services department. If eligible, you may be able to get some type of assistance in training or in finding a suitable work assignment. Note that “If you are eligible, a vocational rehabilitation counselor will help you identify a suitable job goal, determine the services needed to become ready for the job, and assist with the employment search” [from the state’s website:,1607,7-122-25392_40237_40240—,00.html.

    I’d go see the folks at MRS in Hastings:,1607,7-122-25392_40237_40244_40913_41068-140562–,00.html. Here’s their address and phone #:
    Barry County ISD — Michigan Works!
    535 West Woodlawn
    Hastings, MI 49058
    269-945-9545 ext. 144

    One option to look into might be self-employment, particularly if you need to work from home. Increasingly small businesses can operate almost exclusively on the web. Godspeed!

  7. Larry of Hastings/Barry Co. says:

    I am about 100% disabled at this time. I have two bad knees, can’t be on my feet no longer than 10 mins. or so. Most of my jobs I ever had, I was on my feet or did alot of walking. I had knee surgery when I was 16, since then bad knees. I suffered with knee pain for years, and contiue to do so. I am kind of young for knee replacements. I don’t get out much at all. If I get out, very little walking, etc. I have been looking at different ideas about working from home. Alot of home business scams. I am doing some research on a couple of internet businesses. I will be getting better, or at least get around better. Thanks for the info.

  8. Nancy says:

    I inquired a few weeks ago whether a woman making $18,000 and looses her job and a man making $18,000 and looses his job do they both bring the same amount in from unemployment? Saying they both worked the same amount of months for the year before getting laid off. I would really like an answer on this as I think it is important for the people to know whether we are getting the same pay, as we obviously have the same expenses.
    Thank you.

  9. Ken (Career Ken) Soper says:

    To Larry of Hastings/Barry County.

    Self-employment is probably a good option for your situation. I would recommend that you check your public library for books on self-employment, particularly those that cover work-from-home options. Based on my quick look at such print material available through my local library and the Lakeland Library Cooperative, here’s the volumes I would start with.

    Home-based business for dummies / by Paul and Sarah Edwards and Peter Economy (the Edwards have written several books on this topic)

    Also, here is a link to Internet home-based business books available through the Lakeland Library Cooperative:|Shome+based+business+internet|Orightresult|U1?lang=eng&suite=def

    You may also be able to cull some excellent information about small business development from the state’s Small Business Development and Technology Center website page for your locale:

    If you approach them, do your homework and briefly explain (without all the physical ailments described) that you need to explore employment options, including self-employment from home, and that the work would need to be primarily performed sitting.

    Internet based self-employment of course would sound like a possibility, assuming you are skilled in using a computer, or could get the training. It’s conceivable that Michigan Rehabilitation Services may also be able to help you to explore such possibilities, including training for work or in developing a home based business.

    The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) also has many resources, including online training, you might investigate:

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