Several months ago, my wife found herself amongst the ranks of those searching for employment. We both found out quickly that searching for a job is indeed itself a full-time job. Updating and submitting resumes, cover letters, meeting with recruiters, searching the web, joining all the major employment search sites and responding to emails and calls, is not only taxing on the brain and stressful, but extremely time consuming. Not to mention the roller coaster ride of interviews, waiting, tolerating resume scanning software (used now by many companies to save time but proven to weed out qualified candidates), waiting, possibilities, near misses, waiting and of course, rejections. But her persistence paid off, as she was fortunate enough to land a good job with a great company.
Recalling this experience, while perusing an on-line copy of a 1965 Nashua Telegraph, prompted me to flashback to the job market of the 60’s to compare then and now. The differences are borderline comical.
Today’s employment search primarily involves the use of web sites like Indeed, Linked-in, industry specific recruiters and of course, as much personal networking as humanly possible. We are now protected by discrimination laws (although some would argue that point) and most interviews range anywhere between one-on-one face to face meetings to those that appear to be tribunals, where the candidate could face from 2 to 7 people per meeting in one room. Most professional opportunities today require a minimum of several interviews, from human resources, to potential peers, to the hiring manager. No company can legally broach the subject of gender, creed, color, sexual preference or physical ability, other than if a physical limitation would prohibit someone from performing a specific job function.
Flashback to a September 6, 1967 copy of the Nashua Telegraph’s help wanted pages. Then, long before the internet, most jobs were found in the newspaper. While scanning the top of the page, the obvious modern-day faux pas are the columns separated into help wanted male, help wanted female and help wanted male or female. So, hiring managers back then had the clairvoyance to know which jobs best suited which gender (said with tongue in cheek). One ad read: “Young married man with supervisory experience to train to take charge of production department.” So, any young man being considered for this position would need to report to the interview with a marriage certificate? I’m trying to figure out what the correlation is between marriage and production management?
Another ad read: “Male, All Benefits, Mohawk Tanning Associates.” Ok, I know what they did at Mohawk and I’m not sure even most men who worked there really wanted to work there, let alone any women. It remains an EPA question mark today. Enough said.
Of course, under the help wanted female columns, were the typical secretary and clerk typist positions (one for Sanders Associates, but they also offered a drafting training program with no gender requirement listed). Nashua Plastics had convenient shifts for working “housewives” and mothers (so, if you are a father, you need not apply). But Doehla Greeting Cards had production positions available for both men and women. Maybe they were starting the progressive movement?
MacMulkin Chevrolet was looking for an Auto Service Salesman, long before they were called sales “consultants.” Today, many women are far more successful in sales than men. M-A-C Finance was searching for a “Branch Manager Trainee: If you are a young man between the ages of 21 and 35, looking for a chance to get ahead…” Hmm, almost sounds like an Uncle Sam ad prompting you to report to the local draft board or recruiting office. It was obvious then that once a man reaches age 36, he could never stand the stress or retain the knowledge given in such a training program. He’s officially washed up.
Can you imagine such help wanted ads in today’s newspaper? The ACLU would have a field day. It may have been a much simpler time back then, but it seems like many applicants began the job search with a couple of strikes against them.
Makes me think about how fortunate I am to be retired and how those days are all behind me.
Don Canney is a freelance writer and professional voice artist. He was born and raised in downtown Nashua with great interest in Nashua history circa 1950-1970. He now resides in Litchfield.