I’ve owned a successful marketing business since 1985, but technology and changing times have made my particular specialty almost obsolete. The printed page is being replaced with the Internet, websites, FaceBook, Twitter, e-Books and more.
The frustrating thing is that I want to work, and I have a lot of talents and experience, but there is a large glass wall between me and my next opportunity. If you want to apply for a job today, you almost always have to do it on the Internet.
One particular billion-dollar company based in Michigan recently had four job openings for which I was qualified. The job descriptions fit me to a “T.” I applied for all four, online. I sent my resume in and never heard back. No reply. No “thanks for sending your resume.” No nothing.
For all I know, it never went through. There is no way to tell.
So, I got in my car and drove to their headquarters. I told the young lady at the desk that I would like to submit four resumes for the four jobs. I was told that it was not possible: “You must apply online like everyone else, sir,” she said.
Then, recently, I was told by a human resources professional that the reason large companies want you to do that is so a software program can screen you before a human being looks at your resume. They’re too busy to take the time.
So, what could possibly kick me out of their automated system? Could it be that I’m a Vietnam veteran? They ask you that, but what it tells them is that you are old!
I was young when I went over there and I was in Vietnam when they signed the cease fire in 1973. That makes me one of the youngest Vietnam vets alive, but they automatically know how old you are.
They asked about my education — where and when did I graduate? Well, I worked my way through night school at Grand Valley State University on the GI bill and graduated in 1977. Wow, he’s really old, again.
The thing is, there are thousands of senior citizens like myself that are being ignored and facing age discrimination, even though we may still have a good five years or so of butt-kicking left in us. I’ll bet a lot of the kids straight out of college don’t last that long in most cases.
For over a year now, I have been trying to pay my bills by selling my possessions on eBay and doing odd jobs. I renovated a rental house for a friend, fixed a lot of broken things, painted and landscaped it, photographed it and rented it in one week. I think that’s impressive, yet I only used a few of my many talents in the process.
I’ve applied for more than 40 jobs online and have only been called for two interviews — one because I happen to know someone involved in the business and the other because it was a 100-percent commission job that I found by making cold calls.
I don’t mean to go off on a Dennis Miller- or Andy Rooney-type rant here, but I’ve still got things I want to do. I’ve always had a reputation in my marketing business for getting the job done. When other companies said they couldn’t do the job within the budget or time frame, I pulled it off.
I’m just asking those companies in Michigan to be a little more considerate of the huge, talented work pool out there in we baby boomers.
I realize there aren’t a lot of jobs out there right now, but at least give us a chance to talk to you in person. You’re missing out on some great talent.
— By Doug Peerbolt, a Grand Haven resident and a former contributing columnist for the Grand Haven Tribune.