Gray Hair Management

Helping the professional win the job race through coaching, marketing and personal - touch networking
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In The Press

If you are a member of the media and need assistance, place contact Kelly Kirkendoll Shafer at or 817.236.6075

The old gray hair just ain't what it used to be.

Friday, April 28, 2006
The Business Ledger -- Business Newspaper for Suburban Chicago

Once seen as a detriment to senior professionals trying to find meaningful work, especially when competing with younger, non-gray haired job seekers, today gray hairis sometimes seen as a positive attribute, according to Scott Kane, co-founder of Gray Hair Management.

"If you are a perceived solution to a problem," Kane said, "then what does age have to do with it?"

Kane learned this first-hand when he was unemployed after spending 25 years in television production. While networking for a new position, he talked with his son'sboss, the head of a Web site development company.

"My son was 25 at the time and his boss was about 30 years old," said Kane, who is now 60 years of age. "My son's boss said, ‘A lot of new companies can use "grayhair."' So I put on my resume, ‘gray hair manager for young companies.'"

The strategy landed him a job as a COO for a music company, but it only lasted eight months."The company changed directions and I was out of work again," he said.

But the experience made him realize that young companies could use the experience, business acumen and professionalism of "gray haired" executives. He hadbusiness cards printed that promoted himself as a "gray hair manager" and he found that people were so interested in the idea that he registered the phrase as atrademark.

"When I trademarked the name some of the stodgy corporations had problems with it," Kane said. "But people in the job search field now know that the gray hairphrase refers to professionalism, not age."

While still looking for work and networking, Kane started to pass along tips about part-time consulting opportunities to other unemployed executives. That eventually ledto the first phase of his new company, Gray Hair Management, which was formed in 2000.

Initially, Kane informally shared job opportunity information with unemployed executives across the country via e-mail. That part of the business has grown to where5,400 job network members nationwide receive daily job leads. Each member receives about 1,500 job leads each month. In addition, 35 Gray Hair Managementchapters across the country conduct networking sessions, usually at a breakfast or dinner meeting. For a one-time fee of $85, senior executives searching for work canjoin Gray Hair Management's e-mail network. For executives who earned less than $75,000 per year the program is free.

The second phase of Gray Hair Management came about, not surprisingly, via networking. Kane met Jack Heyden at a networking session and Heyden joined Kane asa partner in Gray Hair Management in 2002. The partners expanded the company to include coaching, mentoring and networking services to help businessprofessionals, as they term it, "win the job race game."

"About 40 percent of people who are out of work are out for 10 months," Kane said. "They are in it for the long haul, so it becomes a race. The average job at the$100,000-a-year level lasts from 1.8 to 3 years. So someone who is not ready to retire will run the race more than once."The executive coaching program is called Pathways Through Transition. In the program, Gray Hair Management works with clients on a face-to-face, personalizedbasis. The company and the client complete an executive assessment, define strategies and develop practical tactics on how to get the next job.

"We don't do placement," Kane is quick to point out. "We work with the individual who is looking to win the job race."Kane said that Gray Hair Management is helpful to senior executives for several reasons."Number one, many senior professionals have a hard time articulating their value," he said. "Number two, there are those who find it difficult to network, and three, theymay get interviews, but they do not come in first.

"We help them put together a resume, business cards, handbills and also teach them how to do networking," Kane continued. "We help them to market and sellthemselves and to build relationships."The cost of the Pathways Through Transition program can be steep. Kane would not give exact figures, but said that "usually it is two to three weeks pay of what anexecutive was making."

So far, it all seems to be working. Gray Hair Management has grown to include six coaches and counselors, and Kane and Heyden have written a book, "Winning the Job Race," which came out last year. Kane feels good about helping out-of-work executives through his company's services.

"There is an 85 percent chance that the next job you get will comes from networking," he said. "You may not even know that person now; it may be someone that youmeet tomorrow. But ours is a lifetime program because even if you get a job, we know you might need us again."

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Winning The Job Race Book by Scott Kane and Jack HeydenJack Heyden and Scott Kane are executives with over 60 years of combined experience who, in early 2000, were out of work, did not know each other and who were forced to reinvent themselves to survive in the 21st Century workforce.

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