Back in July, house renovators and sometimes archaeologists, Moltus Investments, unearthed a copy of The Daily Telegraph dated Wednesday 10th August 1960 from a property in which they were working. When they posted the pictures on Facebook, it was the job advertisements that caught my eye. Talk about how life, and the job search, has changed!
What immediately grabbed my attention was how many of the job advertisements specify the gender and age of desired applicants. The Lockheed Hydraulic Brake Company invites applications from ‘men aged 28 to 35’ for the role of Employment Officer; Richard Thomas & Baldwins Limited wants to hear from candidates, aged 30 to 45, while the Technical Librarian role with the Plessey Company Limited is specifically open to a ‘lady with considerable technical experience….’ as ‘the post calls for a lady of mature years’.
Interestingly, it was during the 1960s that the winds of change began to blow, focusing on discrimination on the grounds of age and gender, particularly in the workplace. Women were fighting for their reproductive and employment rights; the pill became widely available, enabling them to delay starting a family, and more and more women took up the cause, arguing that jobs targeted at male candidates should be open to them too. The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act was passed later in 1975.
What I also notice when reading these 1960s job ads is how vague the descriptions are. Check out the Underwood Business Machines Limited ad as a perfect example: “Men with evidence of will and ability to succeed are invited to apply”. In many cases, the description focuses on the company and its services, rather than the attributes of the ideal candidate.
In most of the advertisements, the selection criteria is exceptionally broad. This is perhaps because many people applied for jobs based on their proximity to home, salary and hours. Back in the 1960s, the concept of ‘a job for life’ was commonplace. If someone was educated and experienced in a particular field, they were unlikely to look at sideways moves into related fields or how they could take their transferable skills into a completely new career.
Newspapers and job hunting before the internet
After seeing these ads, I had a chat with my lovely dad about what he remembers from his early job hunting days. He tells me that job hunters’ first port of call would be the local library to read the daily newspapers. Apparently, people would tear out job descriptions that caught their attention to cut the chances of other job seekers seeing the ad and improve their own chances of getting hired.
Job hunting pre-Internet was all about scouring the newspapers, knocking on doors, enquiring about ‘Help wanted’ signs, and weekly perusal of the local unemployment office listings.
As the digital internet as we know it didn’t become widely used until the mid-1990s, most people over the age of 35 will have found their first job in the local paper, on an index card in a shop window, or through word of mouth recommendations.
Once we found a suitable role in the newspaper, we would send off a postcard for an application form or painstakingly type out our CV and covering letter on good quality paper, possibly back at the public library if we didn’t have a typewriter at home.
These days, the tactics have changed but the strategy hasn’t. Getting hired is still about standing out from the crowd and making a good first impression.
The role of newspapers in today’s job search
Newspapers are still an integral part of the job search process, although, like the rest of us, they’ve had to step up their game because of the internet. Job listings through newspapers now exist in the competitive online job board market but may well still be your first port of call.
Have you looked at the following sites recently?
Guardian Jobs – a great place to look for careers in the Arts, public sector, third sector, education, and for graduate positions
The Telegraph Jobs – as in the 1960s, this is still largely populated by engineering, construction, technology, sales, and executive roles
The Times Jobs – includes roles in Education, Finance, IT, Legal, Marketing, Public Sector, and Secretarial, as well as graduate positions
TES Connect – for educational and teaching jobs
The Independent Jobs – features jobs in the Technology, Finance, and Hospitality, as well as graduate positions and London-based vacancies
For many people, these are a mainstay of their job hunting experience.
If you’re looking for local opportunities, it’s a good idea to head to your local paper’s website where they are likely to have a jobs board. Check out Kent Messenger’s Kent Jobs website or the Nottingham Evening Post jobs page for examples of local newspaper online job ads – there’s bound to be a similar local site in your area; just search for your favourite local newspaper.
No, you can’t tear the job ad out of the paper anymore to stop other library-bound jobseekers from applying too but newspaper job sites do what they can to take the stress out of the application process. Like other job boards, they generally enable you to apply for the job there and then, email it to an interested friend, connect with the company on social media, and even give you some basic CV advice.
Do you use newspaper sites when you’re job hunting? How did you find your first job? If you were old enough to be job hunting pre-internet, do you remember scouring ads in your local paper? I’d love to hear your experiences.