Age No Object for Online Pioneer

Sixty-four-year-old Robert Paltos has nearly three decades of experience with online media. He used Ladders’ online tools to carve himself a new niche.


For an older generation of job seekers, a frustrating and discouraging job search is made simpler by new online tools, social networking and a savvy, technologically literate workforce.

Some online pioneers even have decades of experience in this field already.

Sixty-four-year-old Robert Paltos began his career in newspaper and magazine publishing in the late 1970s. But as technology encroached, he found his way to Internet service provider Prodigy in the nascent stages of the Internet boom before combining his two areas of expertise as an online sales professional.

Paltos, who lives in Jersey City, N.J. (just across the river from the center of the publishing universe in New York) found a niche as national sales manager for Lee Enterprises, then the fifth-largest newspaper franchise in the country, representing the firm’s online network of newspapers to potential advertisers.

A new way of doing business

“Even as recently as a few years ago, that was really lucrative,” he said. More recently, however, profit margins for online advertising quickly dwindled, and although Paltos generated close to $5.6 million in revenue, Lee Enterprises profits were less than 5 percent of that number, he said.

It’s a common story in the publishing world, as print newspapers and publications try to navigate a treacherous, ever-changing market in which most readers want personalized content delivered digitally instead of hard copy, Paltos said.

“My role was squeezed out, as is the story with most of these print publications that move some or all of their content online,” he said. And it happened rather quickly, Paltos said — not surprising in an era when information moves at the speed of light and print publications just can’t keep up with the 24-hour news cycle.

But the same technology that made Paltos’ former position obsolete would also make his job search faster and easier than he’d ever thought.

Following instep with innovators

In October 2008, Paltos signed up for SalesLadder on the advice of a former colleague. Paltos said the ability to specify job criteria, select job advisories, and use various online-tracking and follow-up tools makes far superior to other job boards.

Within about six to eight weeks, Paltos had located, followed up with and interviewed for a number of positions.

“I had nine meetings with various possible employers over about two months,” he said. “Now, I was rejected for three of those positions, but they were all very promising.”

In addition, Paltos participated in a panel for one of Ladders’ live events with five other job seekers, he said, all of whom were in his age range. The contrast between the job seekers’ and Ladders’ employees was striking to Paltos.

“I found it very curious that their employees were so youthful, while the median age of those of us on the stage was about 57 or 58 years old,” he said. “It’s a remarkable testimony to the heavyweight experience Ladders has, and how this bright-eyed team of professionals can leverage technology to benefit older job seekers that may not be able to navigate a complex online world.”

During his job search, Paltos said an organization called Irish Central stood out for him because the job description detailed many responsibilities he’d had at his previous publishing, sales and online positions.

Paltos applied, interviewed for and was hired as a director of sales and business development at Irish Central, an organization that serves the needs of the Irish community globally, where his responsibility is to attach advertising revenue to existing customer relationships and to search out and develop new advertising opportunities.

Though Irish Central isn’t a massive organization, Paltos said he believes his age and his experience are an asset to the company. While the New York firm has been serving the Irish-American community for about 35 years, it was only last year that an online portal was introduced, he said, and the firm started to use the Web and other online resources better to serve their constituency.

“Last year when the company opened an online portal, they quickly realized they couldn’t promote anyone from inside the organization because the necessary tech skills weren’t there,” Paltos said. The company has since hired not only Paltos, but an online Publisher and filled several information technology positions.

“This position pulls together all aspects of my previous work experience,” Paltos said. “It’s a perfect fit.”