Back to Your Future After 50

Back to the Future day photo courtesy of Back to the Future II

This post is in honor of Job Action Day, which tackles the after-50 career.

In Back to the Future II, Doc Brown and Marty McFly took their DeLorean time machine to October 21, 2015. Thirty years ago, filmmakers took some giant leaps as to what would be happening this year. Some predictions almost happened, like Cubs in the World Series (they made the playoffs) and Rocky (there’s a new Rocky – and it’s Creed) and some didn’t, like faxes and the Jaws 19 sequel.

What does this mean for your career after 50?

After 50, my clients look at careers differently. Is their current profession (or former one) meaningful? Do they enjoy what they are doing? What might a new career look like? Do they have what it takes to make the leap? You do, it may look differently.

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” – Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown

New Career Direction:

While you may not need a road for your new career, you’ll want a focused career direction and a map to get there. What you wanted to be when you grew up may not be what you want now. Plus, new careers are constantly being invented. Thirty years ago, social media, blogs, and smartphones didn’t exist. How can you apply your current skills and expertise to a new field? When working with clients in career change mode, one of the action items I recommend is to make a list of your talents and check out’s “My Next Move” to see careers you can explore that use those talents, skills, and abilities.

Find Meaningful Work:

According to one study, Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are delaying retirement. While there was not a Rocky 19, Rocky Balboa (aka Sylvester Stallone, 69), is still going strong. Instead of being the fighter this time around, he serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed in this year’s movie, “Creed.”

Review the list of talents, skills, and abilities you created and identify nonprofits that may benefit from those skills. Or use them to see who and how you could mentor a younger employee.

One of my clients, a finance executive, left his financial career to explore his two passions, golf and nonprofit. He wanted to give back. He landed an Executive Director role with a nonprofit organization that benefits youth through the game of golf.

Create Your Own Business:

Doc Brown was not only an inventor of things, but a “re-inventor” of himself. With each Back to the Future movie, you see the Doc using whatever tools are available to create opportunities for him and Marty to escape perils and change the future for the greater good.

One of my clients, a training and development professional, retired from one gig and created her own consulting firm dedicated to transforming leaders and creating cohesive teams – the work she enjoys doing most. She also wrote a book about her experience.

Update Your Personal Brand:

Throughout the Back to the Future trilogy, Doc and Marty have to quickly adapt to whatever year it is – the future as well as the past.

One of my clients at 50+ took a risk. After being downsized, she decided to target a career and work environment she really wanted. Her “nothing is holding me back” attitude and willingness to do what it takes, helped her reach her goal.

She said, “I thought these dreams might have been way, way too big —but they’re happening! (Washington) DC called me…. Thank you for all the work and coaching. I truly appreciate the guidance and would recommend the sessions we had. YES, YES, YES, I just keep smiling.” A year later, my client was promoted.

One of the things she likes most about her new gig is that they appreciate and value older workers. Many employers do. Use your personal brand to attract right-fit employers.

Good use of social media is another way to boost your personal brand. When 86% of people Google you before ever meeting you, a strong online presence is important. And LinkedIn typically lands on page one of that search.

If you’re already on LinkedIn, take a look at your profile. Does it reflect your current brand, skills, employment, and goals? If not, it’s time to update.

Revive Your Network:

While social media didn’t exist at the time the Back to the Future series, offline networking, like Doc and Marty collaborating, did.

Networking is the No. 1 way people land new gigs, new clients, and new business. Take the time to list all the people you know in your network, including former coworkers, colleagues, friends, family, George McFly, etc. Who needs to know about you?

Does asking for help with your new adventure feel uncomfortable? It’s OK. You’ve survived many life events by now, you will again. Each time I ask my clients in workshops or coaching sessions how they feel when they help others, they use words like: wonderful, good, happy. Won’t it be great to have your network feel this way when they get a chance to help you?

Marty McFly: Doc… what if we don’t succeed?

Doc: We *must* succeed.

You will succeed when you get back to your future and take control of your career. Won’t it be great to love Mondays?

Copyright 2015 | Wendy Terwelp | All rights reserved.

Ageism: Are you an Al Bundy or a Betty White?

By George Blomgren, Guest Expert

A lot of older job seekers I work with are concerned that ageism is hurting their job search. And they may very well be right. But I believe the decisions we make through our lives have a profound impact on how we are perceived once we reach the point where employers may be biased against us.

Let’s face it, employers aren’t generally biased against our age, they are biased against what they associate with age. Consider two stereotypes for older workers. We probably all know at least one of each of these types:

The Al Bundy Curmudgeon. He’s grumpy and unpleasant to work with. He’s seen it all and is contemptuous of everything. Millennials? No work ethic! Technology? Who has time to keep up with all this new crap! Social media? Don’t get me started! A new way to do something at work? I’ve been doing it this way for 30 years and I have nothing to learn from you!

The Betty White. She’s hip, she’s funny, she knows the difference between Twitter and Reddit. She embraces new technology (and all the other changes life has thrown at her) with enthusiasm and zeal. She’s open minded but discriminating, and brings a wealth of life and professional experience to everything. She’s always happy to share her wisdom, but she respects that everyone has his or her own ideas and perspectives. She’s an invaluable resource to employers. [Editor’s Note: Betty jumped on Twitter at age 90. At 88.5, she appeared on Saturday Night Live as a result of Facebook votes.]

The fact is, we get to choose which stereotype we resemble as we age. Do we keep open minds? Do we keep up with the latest technologies? Do we work hard to find common ground with new generations and workers from different backgrounds? Are we receptive to new ideas and ways of doing things at work? Where we stand on matters like this is only too apparent to employers.

Which are you?

The fact that there are so many older workers who embody the “Curmudgeon” stereotype makes it harder for all of us “Betty Whites” by perpetuating employer’s biases. All the more reason we have to actively endeavor to avoid “hardening of the attitudes” and embrace your inner Betty.

George Blomgren is the  Director of Recruiting Solutions for MRA – The Management Association. George has more than 20 years of talent acquisition (aka recruiting), MarComm, technology, and operations experience. Prior to joining MRA, George ran the advertising and marketing department for one of the country’s fastest growing network of local employment web sites.

Job Searching Sucks

I’ve been listening in on several LinkedIn groups of late and there’s a common theme, job searching sucks!

Comments have included: “No one hires older candidates.” “I don’t know how to communicate transferable skills.” “I know I sure don’t want to do what I did before…but…” “I hate networking.” “Who do I talk to?”

It’s true that many of the above are perceived obstacles. Let’s talk about some solutions that work in overcoming them.

1. Know what you want. If you don’t, it’s much harder for your network to help you. “Know anyone who’s hiring?” is not an effective networking opener. Plus, it is not the hiring decision-maker’s job to tell you what they have open or what position you may be good for. One HR director from Hallmark told me, “Help us out a bit. We’re not career counselors. Tell us what you want!”

If you’re making a change and are unclear of your new direction, I recommend completing career assessments to help you gain focus. Use a real person to help you, not just online assessment tools. A career coach or counselor can help you narrow down your choices and determine the right path for you. It’s a team effort, because your coach is objective, and sometimes a person needs help in defining goals (and a little prodding as well).

2. Age. You are the age you are. Trying to hide your age is going to be an eye-opener when you show up and appear older than 40. Rather than hide your age, demonstrate your value to an organization. What do you bring to the table BESIDES years of experience? A CEO of a staffing firm told me, “For people with 20 or more years of experience, DO NOT write that into your resume. Put a BENEFIT STATEMENT into your resume – something that speaks of how you 1) made the company money, 2) saved the company money or 3) streamlined procedures. Years of experience is immaterial and may indicate that you are just “old.” Companies want to know what kind of contribution you can make to their success – not how many years you’ve been working.”

I have worked with clients 50 and older. One 58-year-old client was very concerned about this. I must say, I had no idea she was 58, and only guessed she was older than 50 because I worked with her daughter previously. She was smart, savvy, dressed young – yet very professionally – and had modern glasses and haircut. This is important for interviews. Another, 62, bought a fitness club and runs this. All of my clients have “young” attitudes, are willing to learn, many are very physically active. You can talk about your marathon, bicycling, etc. on your interview if it comes up. If it doesn’t, know that you can mention relevant hobbies on your resume. I do not mean golf and reading. These are BORING. I do mean, if you ran a marathon in Prague, cool. Mention it. I did this for a client who was transitioning from being an experienced hospital staff nurse to pharmaceutical sales. She got the gig.

3. Transferable skills. Sure you’ve got them. It’s your responsibility to help employers connect the dots. It’s not an employer’s responsibility to do it for you. How? a) Demonstrate your thought leadership online – blog posts, tweets, article links, commentary all help you achieve this. BONUS – doing so shows you “get it” and are hip to online social media. b) Build your LinkedIn network. You are who you hang with. c) Read things outside your industry as well as inside. This gives you a broad perspective. Then communicate your new thoughts online, in white papers, and at your next industry gathering (professional network, etc.).

According to a Microsoft survey in 12/2009 about social media and hiring, 79% of interviewers said they Google candidates before meeting them. In another survey, 45% of employers said they would eliminate candidates based on what they found online.

Let’s help them find some good (not scary) stuff.

Want more ideas? Visit my newsroom here:, subscribe to this blog, and subscribe to my e-zine ( – check out the sign-up box).