President Barack Obama named 49-year-old rock star Jon Bon Jovi to his new Council for Community Solutions. According to AARPORG/Magazine Bon Jovi is the only entertainer appointed to the council which brings together 25 “noteworthies” of diverse backgrounds to find ways to reduce youth unemployment.

What this means of course is that when Jon Bon Jovi – who has leant his voice to several significant causes – says we need to do something about a problem people listen because he is a celebrity. That’s why the President appointed him.

What I want to know is this, where is my Bon Jovi?

I need a job and no one’s out there stumping for me. I need a Bon Jovi (or a George Clooney or Denzel Washington) and an elite group of foundation heads, CEOs and academics to figure out how to get me employed. Where is my Council for Community Solutions that was formed to do something about unemployment of people over the age of 50?

The appointment is a slap in the face because many of us were there at the beginning of Bon Jovi’s career and all the way through the “big hair” era, attending his concerts and buying his records, making him the superstar he became. Many of us are still there among his biggest fans. And now when it comes down to the time when we could use his help – and this is not entirely his fault – a man that is closer in age to this over-50 crowd that is struggling in this horrible employment environment to find jobs, has been tapped to use the fame we helped to build to help a generation that really doesn’t need his help.

Yes, youth unemployment is high. It’s always been a problem as I understand it. But young people are going to get jobs eventually. At the very least, they are going to stop being teenagers and they are going to become young adults. Once they become adults everyone will want to hire them. This is, after all a youth culture; which is the problem for people over 50 who are trying to find jobs now.

People over 50 aren’t going to get younger. They can’t wait it out and expect that someday they’ll stop being too old. Each year, each month, each week they are out of a job works against them. What we’re seeing more and more of is the “older” generation, the baby boomers, being kicked to the curb.

The President’s appointment is a slap in the face also as even when the unemployment numbers show any small improvement, the unemployment and reemployment for those over 50 continues to be dismal.

Try sending out a resume or a few dozen resumes showing a few years of experience and see what response you get. More and more the answer is less and less.

· You respond to a job posting for which you have the listed qualifications and you’re told, send us your resume and we’ll contact you if anything matches your skill set. You never hear anything; or

· You hear you have too much experience for this position; or

· You’re told you wouldn’t be happy/satisfied in this position; or

· We’re afraid you’d leave as soon as a better paying position (or one in your field) comes along; or

· Nothing period. Resume launched into the ionosphere never to be heard from again.
The same thing is happening to so many people it cannot be coincidence; it cannot be purely the incompetence of the jobseeker and it can’t be just a few lazy people whining.

You can blame it on the “seniors”, as many are wont to do, but that doesn’t change the fact that something catastrophic is going on. What else could you call a whole generation that is being written off right before our eyes?

Something has to be done and it can’t be done on an individual basis.

No matter how many times I tell a prospective employer as an individual that I’m willing to start at the bottom and I don’t need to make $80,000 a year, he still doesn’t believe me. No matter how many resumes I send out – and I’ve sent out plenty – I still can’t impact the stereotypes in a meaningful way. Not by myself. Hiring managers can still reject my applications, without ever giving me a reason and there is nothing I can do about it and no way I can prove what I know to be the case – that ageism is playing a primary role in the hiring decision.

All across the nation, the media has been reporting for at least the last three years about the job situation for people over 50 who have been searching for jobs for months — for years — with no luck. If you pull together all of the reports the message is clear, we people over the age of 50 need help. As a group. And we need to help ourselves.

As a useful segment of society we still have much to offer. We’re not dead yet and we’re probably not going to be for another 20-30-35 years.

Again I ask where is my Council for Community Solutions. You say we have the ADEA. We have the EEOC. We have governmental interventions that prevent age discrimination in hiring. They’re not working.

Re-training “seniors” isn’t the answer. Re-trained seniors that hiring managers won’t hire are just as bad off as they were before being trained. Hell, thinking of us as seniors isn’t helping either. That just sets us apart in a way that says our skill sets are inferior to those that are needed in today’s markets, and therefore justifies the decisions of hiring managers to seek younger employees. Seniors can’t do the same things younger employees can. They’re slow and set in their ways; and they take too long to learn.
I know you’ve got a lot on your plate Mr. President, and you’ll soon be running for reelection which will make you even busier, but I’m calling on you to give us our version of Jon Bon Jovi and the Notables.

I’m also challenging Congress and other politicians, the legal system, business, academia, those with jobs, those without jobs and every other thinking person to help us recognize that this bias exists, and is being imposed full force. Help us find a way to put “older” people back to work now.

We’re going to be around for a while and we can either be a drain on the country’s resources or (what we’d prefer) contributing members of society.

I sincerely believe we – CEOs, politicians, job seekers, celebrities and others – will come together on this issue and figure out a way of putting people who want to work and already have the skills to work back to work.

If all of the people I’ve recently read about in the media and on the Social Networks were to band together and not only share their experiences but demand action, we could affect a meaningful change. I’m challenging those of us older than 50 who are unemployed or way underemployed to stop whining about it and band together to demand action to do something about it.

Mr. Bon Jovi was quoted as being a big believer in the power of “we.”

So am I.

I am only one person but with you I am one more. Or we.

I believe we have power. Let’s use it. If you believe as I do don’t just comment. Lend me your name. Commit to action. E-mail me your contact information. Let’s get something started.


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