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.

Holiday Networking and Your Brand

The holidays are fast approaching and that means parties, parties, parties – friends, family, and office parties. A great time to network.

Let’s talk first about the “Do’s,” the right things to do during holiday gatherings that improve your brand and build your network:

  •  Attend holiday gatherings. I know, you’ve been invited to so many and it can get a bit overwhelming. I encourage you to participate and take an active role.
  • Be professional. You never know who will be at the event. Work events included. The spouse or significant other of a coworker could be a key connection for you later on. Many of my clients have gotten hired over the holidays.
  •  Take online networks offline. It’s the holidays, just because business may have slowed down, networking doesn’t have to. Good chance your online network has time for a coffee or lunch.
  • Take time to call a friend and other connections in your network. If your friend doesn’t have time for lunch, make time for a brief call. With the recent hurricane and other events, it’s important to stay in touch and strengthen your ties. These events affect globally, not just locally.
  • Develop and practice your networking sound bite before heading to a party or other holiday event.
  • LISTEN. Listen to the conversations and identify areas where you can help. You’ve got to fuel your network to fire it up!™
  • Follow up with whatever you promised.
  • Connect via the appropriate social network(s). LinkedIn is terrific in that it provides regular updates right to your inbox, so you can quickly follow up with a congratulations note or related email.

Networking is all about building and maintaining relationships, not about making the instant sale or begging for a job. Build the relationship first. It will lead to the rest. Networking this way will have a positive effect on your brand and propel your career.

Have you got a holiday networking story to share? Tell us! And get the chance to win my book, “Rock Your Network®.”I look forward to hearing from you!

You Are the Face of Your Brand

Who would you, your customer or a potential employer hire? The silhouette above or one of these smiling faces below?



Your image is part of your brand. Having your smiling face in your social networking profiles helps build your “know, like, and trust” factor. People do business with those they know, like, and trust.

Not only that, have you ever said, “I know the face; I just can’t remember the name…”

Your face, your professional headshot, helps people remember you.

When attending networking events, you leave with loads of business cards, many with names, contact information, and logos, but no face. How do you remember if the name you found on LinkedIn is the right person you met when the profile has only a silhouette?

It’s frustrating.

That smiling mug of yours is part of your brand, use it!

Having your face in your social networking profiles helps people connect with you and know that it’s YOU they met at last week’s event or conference.

According to psychologist Albert Mehrabian in a study about non-verbal communication, “Total liking = 7 percent verbal liking + 38 percent vocal liking (i.e., tone of voice) + 55 percent facial liking.” Fifty-five percent facial liking — that’s significant.

This likeability factor plays a role in helping you build your brand, your connections, and more. People ask me all the time if they need a professional headshot in their social-networking profiles. YES, you do.

Here are a few excuses I’ve heard as to why there’s no photo:

“My head is too big.” It’s been said that Oprah has a large-sized head, and she seems to be doing just fine.

“I want to lose weight before I pay money to get a professional headshot.” When’s your next networking event? Your next conference? Your next sales call? You are fabulous just as you are now. As most people Google you before they meet you, when you arrive, people will immediately recognize you and know that you are the person they were scheduled to meet (not you from 1980, but you 2014). When you lose your planned weight, fantastic! That certainly will warrant a brand new headshot of skinny you.

“I don’t have any money for a professional headshot.” Find a well-lit space in your home or apartment and a light-colored empty wall (no dings either). Wear something professional, smile big, and have your friend take a photo — or several so you can choose your favorite. Save a bit every week and you can invest in a professional headshot soon.

People relate well to facial photos. They like to do business with a person, not a logo or your cat.

Your photo is part of your brand image. Make it congruent to your professional goals, in alignment with your personal brand.

On LinkedIn, it’s important that your profile picture is professional (like the examples above) versus a crazy pose or body shot. One client told me about a person who had a service they wanted to use.

“I Googled him before we met. He had this crazy picture on LinkedIn with his mouth open and head turned sideways. I wasn’t too sure about heading for the meeting after that.”

You can do some fun expressions on Facebook if you wish. Do keep in mind the “Mom and Boss Test” — if you’d be embarrassed if your mom saw the photo or fired if your boss did, then keep your profile photo clean and professional. Not too outlandish.

Twitter’s profile-picture spot is very tiny. Keep that in mind when uploading your profile picture. For Twitter, I do recommend having just your face in the profile photo. Your whole face, not your eye or a tiny picture of your full body. It’s too hard to see.

George Blomgren, Culture Strategy Director of The Good Jobs, said, “We will judge you not just on your profile, but your overall mastery of LinkedIn (especially for IT, sales, marketing, human resources and recruiting jobs). We look for a professional headshot, a powerful summary, at least several hundred connections, a complete employment history (including descriptions) and a good list of relevant groups.”

Final Thoughts on the Face of Your Brand
Start by getting your professional headshot and let’s see your fabulous face online!

© 2006 – 2014 | Wendy Terwelp | All rights reserved.

This article is part of Quintessential Career’s Job Action Day 2012.

Wendy Terwelp, Opportunity Knocks, is a recognized career industry leader. Named in the Top 100 Career Experts to Follow on Twitter and Top 51 Job Search Blog posts, Wendy was dubbed “LinkedIn Guru” by The Washington Post, She’s also regularly quoted in national media including, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Business Journal, More Magazine, Fast Company,,, ABC, NBC and speaks about networking, social media, branding, and careers throughout the country. Wendy is also one of Quintessential Careers’ Career Masterminds, and author of Rock Your Network®.

Job Action Day 2012 – Nov. 5


Get ready for the annual Job Action Day, hosted by Quintessential Careers happening Monday, Nov. 5. Here’s what’s planned thus far:

Job Action Day 2012, November 5th, is all about empowering job-seekers to create, build, and enhance your personal career brand to help you move your career and/or job-search forward.

Job Action Day is a day for all job-seekers and workers to take stock of their situations and make plans and/or take action steps to improve their careers.

As job-hunting and career development strategies continue to evolve, one thing is certain — the power of branding to establish, build, and enhance a job-seeker’s reputation.

A job-seeker’s career brand is the unique set of experiences, accomplishments, skills, education, attitude, passion, and the like that provide the promise of value to future employers.

Career branding strategies should be used in all aspects of career development and job-hunting, including on resumes, LinkedIn profiles, personal websites, social media activities, interviewing, and salary negotiation.

Job Action Day 2012, the fifth-annual initiative spearheaded by Quintessential Careers, includes expert and empowering articles, tips, and blog posts that give job-seekers information, ideas, and concrete steps that you can take to tackle your career brand.

Links will be released soon on the articles, bloggers, and other features that will be published on Job Action Day 2012, including these articles:

  • You are the Face of Your Brand, by Wendy Terwelp
  • The Value of Creating an Adaptive Professional Brand, by Nacie Carson
  • 10 Reasons to Love Your Personal Brand, by Meg Guiseppi
  • Branded Career Communications for Job-Seekers, by Susan Guarneri
  • Employers Don’t Give A Damn About You!, by Rick Gillis

See you there!

I look forward to seeing your comments and ideas. Do share!

Prepare to be Googled

Whether you’re in job search mode or navigating your career, you’ll be Googled. Got a sales meeting? You’ve been Googled. Speaking gig? The audience will Google you. With that in mind, it’s mission critical your online brand demonstrates how you wish to be perceived. Google yourself now (first and last name in quotes) to see what pops up.

Got dirt? Clean it up by removing it (Facebook tags and pics beware!) or burying it (blog content, LinkedIn updates, Twitter posts).

Minimal presence? Start with LinkedIn (typically found on page 1 when you’re Googled). Complete your profile, upload your headshot, and create a dynamic bio. Ambitious? Start a blog and post regularly.

Get found the right way online. Good luck!

© 2012 | Wendy Terwelp |

Recruiter LinkedIn Secret: Follow Companies Where…

George_Blomgren_med - picGuest Expert, George Blomgren,
MRA, The Management Association

The other day, a recruiter colleague shared a tip with me. He told me that when a candidate applies for a job with his company, if that candidate otherwise looks qualified, he looks to see if the candidate is following his company on LinkedIn. If not, he won’t consider that candidate.

Rather an extreme attitude, but it illustrates a best practice. Recruiters assume that the main reason you follow a company on LinkedIn is that you want to work there. So smart recruiters use their company’s followers on LinkedIn as the “low hanging fruit” for their hiring needs. So, take a moment to follow the companies you want to work for!

Editor’s note: Great tip George! The same holds true if you want to get on a company’s radar for your business. And if you’re running a business and want to attract great employees, ensure your company has a company page on LinkedIn.

George Blomgren is the  Director of Recruiting Solutions for MRA – The Management Association. George has 20+ years of talent acquisition (aka recruiting),  and operations experience. Prior to joining MRA, George ran the advertising and marketing department for a fast-growing network of local employment websites.