It is tempting to just do my writing or something else but I love the work, it pays well and it's fairly expensive to live here.
Speaking of writing, I wrote this the day after the layoffs and it pretty much sums up my feelings...
A tree fallen; the turn of a leaf
Why is the HR team here with crisp manilla folders?
"There's an announcement at 10," please assemble the soldiers.
Somber words were spoken and no questions were asked.
Then with cleaning out our desks most of us were tasked.
The screen turns red, system down in sector 4!
I tense for a moment and then gleefully ignore.
We pack the last picture and hold back a tear,
And say "it's still early, but let's all get a beer."
We relive the drag-out meetings where we battled for the truth,
And the late afternoon YouTubes bordering on the uncouth.
For some it's a blow; for others relief.
It's a tree fallen; the turn of a leaf.
So I'll join another startup, yes that will be fun.
Or even a bank, if they really want to get shit done.
The joy of building and creating with keyboard or pen,
Is what I live for over and over again.
If you're team's on a mission with problems quite hard,
Tell me about it. Please call me. The number's on the card.
I applied for about two thousand roles in 2009 alone, and from 2008-2013, about 3,500 roles in total... In about 6-8 countries in multiple disciplines.
I averaged 30+ applications _per day_ at first... and 1 interview per year.
From 2009 to 2013 I got 2 months of paying work in total.
Reason? I think it's because I was 41 when I started.
I used to mainly work in support, from 1st/2nd/3rd line to sysadmin, systems design and spec, network architect, everything. I do Windows, Linux, Mac OS, networking, comms, some programming knowledge, training, all sorts. But I'm too old to get work as a techie.
I eventually moved to the Czech Republic. I'm in my 3rd position in 4 years, having nearly doubled my salary from its lowest point since I moved here. Mainly because I'm a native English speaker and we're in big demand here.
I can _turn down_ work I don't want over here. But I did have to move to a new country, where I don't speak the language, and accept an initial pay cut to about one quarter of what I hoped for in London.
> I used to mainly work in support, from 1st/2nd/3rd line to sysadmin, systems design and spec, network architect, everything. I do Windows, Linux, Mac OS, networking, comms, some programming knowledge, training, all sorts. But I'm too old to get work as a techie.
Across all the organizations where I have ever worked, I remember plenty of "old" guys doing this kind of IT stuff.
With that background, it's probably going to be hard to apply for anything different. Hundreds of applications but very low interview rate sounds like some sort of insurmountable mismatch between background and job. Or something silly in your application that is raising some sort of "red flag" for no good reason. If your age or date of birth aren't in the application, then that can't be it.
A likely-accurate age estimate is easily discernible for applicants who follow the common practice of putting their education history with graduation dates. A much rougher estimate is also possible with nothing more than specific technologies. You can do pretty well with employment history as well -- and I'd suspect that many among hiring managers or HR staff quickly develop a profile (consciously or not) that rules out both inadequate experience AND experience that feels too scattered or too long.
There could also be other factors, of course. Timing can be an issue. I've heard stories of people applying for hundreds of jobs (who were getting hundreds of applicants per open position) during the 2001-2003 bust. I wouldn't be surprised if it were the same thing in 2009 (though I found 2009 was a great time to be contracting -- businesses still wanted stuff done, they just didn't want the liability of an FTE on the books).
And there's always the possibility that the GP was simply not matched to the job, but it's not the foregone conclusion you seem to be assuming.
> I remember plenty of "old" guys doing this kind of IT stuff.
Most of the people I remember working with have health insurance, too, so naturally not having health insurance has rarely been a problem for working people.
(Which is an indirect way of saying: survivorship bias! The existence of companies that employ workers over 30/40/50 is positive to observe for anyone who'd like to make software/IT their career as long as possible, but the figure that'd probably matter most would be the relative hire rates among different age groups.)
I have tried most things.
I removed all the dates from my CV. No difference; a minimally intelligent pimp can add up. Degree, that's 3y; 3y in this role, 2y in that role, 2 years there, 16y freelancing... This dude is old.
So I removed the early junior jobs from my career history. Result, I got quizzed on how I walked straight into senior roles straight out of university.
So I left out some gaps in the timeline (I've freelanced quite a lot) -- and got curious about the specific tech I'd worked with in particular roles. Deploying Windows NT Server 3.1, or managing a migration from DECnet to TCP/IP, dates you.
You can fool the idiots, sure. But then your CV gets passed to non-idiots.
I don't advertise a DoB any more, nor dates of education, but I do give the years of my various permie jobs. It's easier to just be honest.
If they're ageist, as many are, then you can't lie or BS your way past that.
For example, I took a typing class back in the day and I was taught to always put two spaces after the end of a sentence. But today this flags you as "old".
Also, for me a properly formatted phone number looks something like this, per convention back in the day: 800-123-4567. But today you'd better write it like the following, else you're "old": 800.123.4567.
And so on.
Of course, one of the benefits of being "old" and still working in the tech field is the ability to toss out little gems like the following, which can be remarkably effective at putting some youngster in their place, when necessary: "Jesus, what a freaking noob thing to say/do!"
Another benefit is being able to walk into a situation where the local kids are maybe in a bit over their heads, whipping out what is to them some old and mysterious IT magic, and then start solving their problems in short order. One of the last times I did this I heard "Wow, we've been trying to figure out how to do that for years now!"
But I have done the pulling-magic-fixes-out-of-a-hat thing. It's fun. :-)
BTW, I think I remember a couple more of those resume flags. Back in the day I was taught to list things out like this, this, and this - that last comma being known variously as the Oxford, Harvard, serial, or series comma. (See what I did there?) But the "modern" way of doing it is this, this and this - with no Oxford comma.
Another had to do with email addresses. Dare you ever list something like an aol.com email address (which my wife still has, for example) lest it flag you as "old school"?
Interesting aside here as to things like Facebook: a few years back there was a notion being promoted among hiring folks (no doubt being pushed by Zuck himself) that if you weren't on Facebook then there must be something seriously wrong with you - that you were probably socially or technologically inept, and you were likely then not a good fit for hiring purposes. Today, of course, "Delete Facebook!" is all the rage.
1994-1998 Univerisity of Whatever
Let’s guess the likely minimum age?
For the first >50% of my career, my speciality was that I wasn't a specialist. I can work anything with a keyboard and a display, fix it, tune it, make it talk to anything else, or at a push virtualise it.
But that's an obsolete skill in the near-monoculture of today, when IT means Unix, Windows and nothing else, talking Internet protocols. It's all boring now.
Usefully, though, I also write, so I changed course and became a tech writer. That's working out OK so far.
I am very happy about the move. I'm glad to have left the UK and my quality of life now is far better than it was. I wasn't forced into it. I had a fallback plan: I wrote and sold a book, and used the proceeds to pay for a TEFL course. My plan was to go travelling as a TEFL teacher.
As it happens, I didn't need to do it. Just as I was planning on it, a role abroad came up, and once I adjusted to the idea of a 75% pay cut from what I was expecting, it was a very good move.
I wouldn't particularly wish the fate of being _forced_ to change countries on anyone, but it's not a bad thing. Mind you, I had no family, no dependents, nothing. And I now have the disposable income to visit ageing parent more often than I did from London.
For 2 reasons.
 I only did broadcast/scattershot approach for the first year. After I got kicked off benefits the 2nd time (for attending a meeting of my startup -- an unpaid position -- in another part of the country) I stopped trying for anything I could do at all, anywhere, and started targeting my applications far more specifically, at things I was a really good fit for, with customised CVs etc.
No difference. Maybe a slightly higher rate of rejection letters.
 As others have said, timing.
I was freelance for most of the period 1996-2001 and 2003-2007. I decided to return to F/T work in '07 and applied for about 500 positions in 4 months before I got my first interview. I was hired over the phone, first interview.
It's getting to the interview that's hard. I interview well. I'm smart, lucid, eloquent, approachable.
These days, that means keyword matching, to get past 1st and maybe 2nd level selection.
2009/2010 were very bad. 2011, I got a role, but only very very briefly. 2012, I was even flown to Scotland for a 2nd interview, then got a second, non-IT role. 2013, I retrained in TEFL and went looking for teaching roles. End 2013, I applied for, and in early 2014, I got, a role in Brno, Czechia.
Doubftul. I was 40 when I was looking a couple years back and had a better conversion rate of application -> interview than I've had in my entire life. This is for Rails/React work. I had 15 interviews out of maybe 25 or so applications, had a few opportunities I turned down and landed perhaps the best job I ever had.
I'm beginning to look again at 42 and got 5 interviews in the first week and turned down at least at least 3x as many ops that I didn't like because I'm rather picky.
Are there companies that are pushing my resume to the side because they can glean my age by work history and graduation year? Perhaps.
What I will say though is your experience matches much of what I saw circa 2001 during the .com upheaval. I applied to 50 companies in the first month after the startup I was at blew up at, not a single interview. I was 25 at the time though. I knew many people in their 20s who gave up trying to get work.
I imagine looking for work in 2009 was a whole heckuva lot like 2001 depending on what field you were in.
It does seem to be better for programmers.
I was primarily a support guy, but also systems admin, network architect/rollouts/installation, training, even project management and security consultancy at a push.
We're regarded as far more fungible than coders. Coders make more money and if you are good in a niche, something popular, or something wildly obscure where it's hard to find people, then it's easier to find work.
2 of my former partners are programmers. One a general database programmer; she found it hard to retrain into suitably trendy databases, but once she did, she was off and running. Another in a very obscure language, but once she found a role, after a few years, she was making 50% more than my best-ever pay in London.
Either you write in something desirable (even if niche), or you're good enough to switch languages easily and readily (and regularly) retrain in something desirable. If you do that and are good, there's work out there.
If you're a humble grunt who fixes stuff, it's much much harder.
This is really where the notion of age discrimination would come into play, just this concern someone has been doing the same thing for X years and stopped growing - passion and curiosity is ageless.
That said, regardless of this timing is a big concern. I am bracing myself for a difficult market if the tech bubble deflates, and to that extent the next position I get is one I plan to be at at least 3-4 years.
* How do you even send that many applications? Is there some site where you can click thousands of checkboxes and apply? Do you send individual emails?
* What modifications do you make when applying from job-to-job?
* What adjustments did you make along the way? Did you change your resume or make any other major changes to how you were presented?
* For how many of those jobs did you proceed to an interview?
> * How do you even send that many applications? Is there some site where you can click thousands of checkboxes and apply? Do you send individual emails?
(3500/2) = 1750 hours, or just shy of one work year with holidays/vacation/etc.
If he is applying to multiple countries, of the course of 5 years, I wouldn't be surprised if 3500 jobs were posted for him to apply to that his qualifications were relevant for.
To be honest, I've applied to a non-negligible number of jobs every year just to keep interviewing and looking for better options. At 30min per application, the limitation was my time rather than the # of positions that were open given how flexible I am about location.
The only difference is I've been continuously employed and the applications are as much about maintaining my ability to interview effectively as it is firing bosses I don't care for.
As I said, though, from 2010-2013 I became a lot more selective, meaning it was only an hour or 2 a day.
I tried to use as broad a range of places as I could find. I bought the Guardian every Thursday for the ads in the Tech pull-out, until they cancelled that. I subscribed to Computing and Computer Weekly and went for any print ads in there, too. I applied to a few from New Scientist as well, borrowing friends' copies or going to the local libraries.
There are indubitably many ads for each role, and also fake ads for agencies wanting lots of people on their books, but you can't really tell real from spam, so I just applied for them all.
A few questions:
1. How many events do you attend per week? (could be related to any industry at all - could be a tradeshow, a panel of speakers, tech meetups - anything really)?
2. How many hands do you shake at each event?
3. How many people from these events do you follow up with?
If your score is "0" for all of the above then you are doing it all wrong.
You need to meet people in person, each week. The only way to do that short of showing up at the front desk, resume in hand, is to go to events.
You need to set a goal of attending 1-2 events per week (minimum), and figuring out how to get in front of hiring managers from companies you admire.
Figure out what events those people might attend socially or professionally. Get up to speed with events in various industries in your city.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable at events, and find a way to make them enjoyable.
People who log facetime at events do immediately jump to the top of the pile compared to people like you who are #200-300 at the bottom of the stack in the applicant tracking system for some BS job posting on Monster (many of which are for non-existent jobs).
Don't be #300.
Start attending events!
There's no reason you should have to apply for 3,000 jobs, that is a waste of time.
Start working smarter - even if you are introverted and awkward in person.
Now pick your head, up, get out there and get started!
You can do this!
90% of all successful placements come from people who have personal contacts with the hiring manager or somewhere else at the place doing the hiring.
90% of the remainder (9% of the total) come from headhunting firms that are actively looking for candidates to fill a particular special position.
The final 1% comes from placement advertisements and job search facilities.
And this from the lady who ran the job search facility for the University of Oklahoma (at Norman), called the “Job Location Program”. It covered every single staff and faculty position that was being hired for across the entire University.
So far as I can tell, the job placement situation hasn’t really changed much in the 30 or so years since.
So, you have to ask yourself, where do you want to spend your time and money? Do you want to spend it all in the area with only 1% placement success, or do you want to spend it somewhere else that might have a higher probability of getting you something?
I had a file of application letters, needing minimal customisation to fit. Copy, paste, add salutation/role/location, attach CV, send.
My CV is longish -- 3 pages -- but then, so's my career. I've done what I can to optimise it for keywords that will get hits when pimps do searches.
The CV didn't get customised for specific applications unless I really wanted that role and thought I'd be perfect for it. It didn't help. I don't bother doing it any more. I maintain a "writer" and a "techie" CV, just in case.
Every morning, I would make a cuppa and breakfast, sit at the PC, read a few comics and the news, then start applying. I'd keep going until there were no vaguely relevant positions left. It took from 2 to 5 hours most days.
I logged every application in an OpenOffice/LibreOffice spreadsheet: date, title, reference number, agency. Every fortnight, I signed on at the Jobcentre, and took the printout of the last 2 weeks' applications to get it initialled as evidence. I needed that in August; by then, the printout was about 2cm thick.
I probably still have it somewhere. Perhaps I should put it on Dropbox for people to see the evidence. :-)
Without knowing the details, I'd guess that the age prejudice is in your head, and instead your resume just raised a bunch flags. One common mistake is listing several disparate skills, with no coherence; recruiters need to be able to categorize you in one of their "boxes" - SRE, engineer, Unix sysadmin, Windows sysadmin, security analyst, leader CTO-type, etc. Jack-of-all-trades are usually the first ones to be dismissed.
Other common flag is lack of consistency in your trajectory. Candidates jumping between jobs too quickly may be a problem, unless you're looking for a short-term contractor.
Also, after you've been out of the market for a couple of years, it gets harder to get back in. So it's natural that now you're having to turn down offers. Again, another proof that age had nothing to do with your low success rate.
You should keep this fact in mind as you write a resume and decide which jobs to include, which jobs to perhaps delete, and whether you want to include your graduation date. It isn't necessary to include a graduation year or all of your jobs, so you can usually shave some years off your age "on paper" without being considered as deceptive.
Sometimes I'll add a line "Previous experience included..." to indicate that there is prior work experience, but I don't list the years.
1. Don't include graduation dates in your resume, just the University/School name and Major(s)
2. Truncate your resume to just slightly over the required years of experience. e.g., include past 12 years experience for a job which requires 10+ years
3. Keep your resume to under 3 pages (max). Nobody has the time to wade through an 8 page resume, even if you have worked on the most awesome projects at the start of your career
Seemed to work for me
That may answer the question for you, but ageism is a legal concern and disqualifying candidates because they didn't tell you when they graduated isn't dissimilar to asking someone how old they are in a job interview and refusing to hire them if they don't.
The goal is to appear no older than a 30-39 year old professional on the job application as much as possible.
22+15 = 37 (24+15 = 39, if a masters)
Do you as a potential employer care that I was an Informix DBA in 2000?
HR wants experience who isn’t at peak earnings. If you tried to recruit me from a Jon I liked at 30, a 40% raise would be affordable. Now, no mas.
A 15 page menu isn't better than a 1 page menu... A spa advertising every stone in its parking lot doesn't make you think nice things about their mud baths...
The implication of your post is that the hiring managers responsible for 3500 jobs are *all" discriminating on age. That seems unlikely, if only because there are people in the UK tech sector older than that who can still find roles, so evidently not all managers discriminate.
It is endemic in the Anglophone world. I also speak a little German, French, Norwegian and at a push Spanish and Swedish, and I applied to anywhere that was hiring English speakers there, too... with cover letter in the local language, naturally.
So I think it's a Western problem.
I encounter virtually none here in the former Communist Bloc, where people are more interested in me because of my experience.
Plus, my prior company had a rather spectacular special severance package for those of a certain age who would sign an agreement not to sue for age discrimination. (This was accompanied by a thick stack of statistics of who had been laid off, showing that they were well prepared to defend themselves from any such lawsuit, but I'd rather take the money than spend the next umpteen years in court, and have the lawyers take any hypothetical judgment in the end anyway.)
Those that have a hard time getting back in are often a victim of discrimination not truly based on age, but on stagnation. A 50 year old who has worked on five interesting diverse projects in the last 10 years will find work. A 50 year old who spent the last 20 years working for the same company using old tech may struggle, and by the time you realize you need to retool it can be too late.
If you weren't stagnant when you were young, you're not going to be stagnant when you're old.
Younger ones have the benefit that their skills are still likely to be relevant at a larger subset of the employer pool.
Also, in my experience, stagnation can run in the other direction, temporally. I encounter many young people who won't even learn about, much less consider, using a tool like 'make', simply based on the assumption that newer seemingly similar tools must be better. Sometimes the old ways really are superior for the task at hand.
Most of the successful tech people I know that are 50+ never overstayed their welcome at companies where they stopped learning, or they were always being recruited by other firms and moved around. Recruiters generally aren't knocking on doors of someone who has been at the same company for 20 years, and that's for a variety of reasons.
Not the way you're describing it. However, there's a pretty common correlation between age and relevance of skillset, which is a direct consequence of stagnation over many years.
The point is that someone saying "old == stagnant" may actually be thinking of it the way I'm describing, which has more validity.
Read it again. It's referring to older stagnant people, not all older people. The longer someone has been stagnant, the more out of date their skills become.
Because that is the case generally speaking. People become more resistant to change as they get older. They become more conservative, their openness trait decreases.
That last sentence sounded a bit cynical - So anyway, the main trick with being older in tech is not being open but remaining enthusiastic (most days)
Suppose my boss asks me to find a good Thai restaurant for lunch. If I'm new to the area, I'll be very "open" and spend a lot of time looking into the possibilities, etc. If I have a lot of experience eating at Thai places in town, I'll be less open. I already know the best one out of a substantial set, and it's less likely that I'll find a better one without a lot of work. Call it stagnation, or call it being careful with the company's money.
If you do C#/Java/Go/Rust/C++/C, you're probably not going to be left behind.
I have no fears of being completely unemployable in my 50's or 60's. But in my mid-40's now, I'm already losing interest in web development as a particular niche. A lot of students and junior developers might not be completely aware that there's even a difference, a subset/superset thing there.
Web development is so accessible, anyone can self-teach. It's not so common to learn EAI, ETL, large-scale batch processing or data streaming, etc by way of personal GitHub side projects. It's basically a long, slow process of getting hired for roles that you're not 100% ready for, at companies with those sorts of needs, and growing into it over time.
> If you do C#/Java/Go/Rust/C++/C, you're probably not going to be left behind.
I wouldn't be so sure. The landscapes don't change as quickly as web dev does, but they do change. I did a bit of Java/Hibernate work 8+ years ago. I look at modern Java code bases now and it's so annotation heavy I couldn't make heads or tails of it.
The age bias is real.
While humans are growing up, we're accustomed to view our "elders" as our superiors in all respects. Childhood teachers encourage this view. However, at the point when you enter the workforce, in my opinion you should set these ideas aside and treat everyone as a peer; and keep your mind open to the idea that both people may have something to learn from the other.
No missed opportunity, I pivoted the deal after turning down the first.
Fast moving ecosystems means more things become deprecated more quickly and you also risk more "train thing that will be useless next year".
Yes, COBOL is still being used at many of these companies, but other departments are using up-to-date .NET or Java and don't ever look at COBOL.
After 6mth of hunting in vain, he wrote a CV focussed on his oldest skill -- Fortran -- and found a role in weeks. When he told me this, he'd been renewed 5 times and had been in a 6mth role for nearly 3 years. He suspected he'd be doing it for the rest of his working life.
I got a bunch of interviews around 2010-2011 for DEC OpenVMS sysadmin work. I do have VMS skills, but not high-level ones -- but companies were having real problems finding people to maintain their Alpha and Itanium servers. The demand was there.
I think the hole that older developers fall into is that their particular skills are out of date, and they have not expanded their skill set. I've talked to C++ developers who can't speak to anything beyond writing C++03 code for the last decade. You're basically looking for a niche position with that resume.
Among older tech workers I know, I see a growing divide in their career tracks. A few become high priced consultants and charge between $200 to $300 an hour. The rest are in jobs where they are just hoping they don’t get fired. See recent stories about IBM.
I can't speak in general, but I have observed in my circles that this is at least somewhat true, and for altogether natural reasons.
Most people, once they hit their late 30s or 40s, family (if they have one) takes priority and they don't have as much time to dedicate to going to Meetup groups, conferences or late nights spent gaining proficiency in new technologies. In general having kids vastly reduces one's free time.
Knowing a technology deeply requires many hours of intentional practice, commitment and energy, which many if not most people in that age range with families don't have a lot of at their disposal. Their "tech growth rate" slows down considerably relative to when they were in their 20s.
For example, I've noticed many SQL DBAs of a certain age have a hard time learning distributed databases because they often expect something familiar (databases are databases, right?) yet find themselves having to bone up on so many new concepts (that CS degree was so long ago) that many give up. Only the truly dedicated, truly passionate and truly nerdy persist, but they are in the minority. A common refrain heard is that "there's just too much new stuff coming out all the time, you can't learn everything", which is true, but it's often also an oft-employed excuse for not dedicating oneself to being current.
So when most average tech folks hit 50, they have pretty much lost about 1-1.5 decades of high-rate tech learning.
I try to keep an open mind when interviewing these folks, and we even have some great employees with that background, but so very few of them surprise me positively.
I sincerely hope they get rescued from their dead end jobs some how. It's such a shame. So much talent just getting wasted (IMHO).
When I advise clients on career topics like this, I usually weigh whether the day job provides the client with a marketable skill set. If not, that person needs to consider doing things outside of work to maintain marketability. If the day job provides challenges and the proper set of tech, no real need to invest much additional time to learning.
Absolutely, and if they are not, one can either ask for them or switch jobs. The latter unfortunately is less of an option in smaller metro areas where the job market is limited. I've friends in smaller cities are who are stuck because there are only a few games in town.
That said, remote work is an option these days.
But there is still the inertia and difficult of switching jobs (an HN post a couple of days ago speaks to the difficulty in moving to a new tech job).
I am still at the one of the lowest levels on the totem pole, so maybe I am missing something obvious here.
In journalism, the career path is jr writer, writer, sr writer, jr editor, sr editor -- and then you go do management.
I was the IT Manager of a London stockbroker in the City by 26 years old. I didn't like it and ultimately quit.
But the expected career path for many companies is to go from being a "mere" techie to being a manager. If you don't want to do that, then age becomes a big problem.
I changed track to journalism, not knowing that the Web was going to kill the computer magazine industry within a decade. But short term, it was a good move, and I loved it.
More and more people going into software engineering than in previous generations.
most importantly the kind of work that was available for me 20 years ago was just inherently more interesting than the kind of work I can find today.
if you don't get 'retirement money' early on, I would highly recommend spinning up another vocation to spend your later years with. at the very least you're in a privileged position where, ageism and market conditions aside, you can always backfill with a little drudge work.
You can argue whether candidates in their 50s are less viable, but it was clear that age was a factor. Not just being typecast as stodgy, but also that many people simply don't want to work with, or compete against, someone who's older.
I see comments about people getting old and not wanting to learn new things, but for me it's almost the opposite. One of the things I like most about tech is learning new things, and once you've been in for several decades, there are fewer and fewer truly new things left to learn, and positions where you'd get to learn them are fewer and fewer.
It was almost a fluke, but I did finally find a job (still in tech) that works for me. But if you knew the details, it wouldn't cheer you.
I may yet leave soon, and just live out my days as a churchmouse working on Open Source projects. We'll see.
My story: A couple years ago I started job searching, at 38. I had been at my current job for 5 years. I had a hell of a time getting anyone to bite. I had a dozen phone interviews that I felt went well, but no callbacks. This stroke me as odd, as when I had been searching last time, I had to fight off people and had multiple offers.
I noticed a trend in the jobs I was applying for. Kubernetes, Node, C#, etc. Things I didn't have on my resume, although I knew I could learn with ease. But your prospective hirer doesn't want to hear how good you are at learning their stack. There are enough candidates to choose from that already know what they need, and I was told that more than once.
The jobs I was applying for were the same description, same mechanics and job duties I had been doing for 15 years already, but since I didn't work with the latest stack -- too bad.
I eventually got lucky and found a job that was transitioning from what I already knew to one of these newer stacks.
I'm active in the local Python meetups - my last talk was about the new data classes in Python 3.7 (currently beta so I can't possibly be more up to date). Some white hair over my face would hint at my real age if I let them grow for a few days but otherwise I don't look 47. I commute by bicycle (13 milles every day). I spend weekends on hackathons just for the fun. I'm lean and fast both physically and mentally.
But when you are near 50, good luck finding a good position. Age prejudice is a real problem in our industry.
I know a lot of older tech workers supporting important business systems while their skills slowly become out of date.
They are frequently adding $1 million+/year in value while being paid ~$100-$120k/year.
The businesses would pay $250-$350k/year if they had to.
If the older workers were demanding the premium and saving the $100-$150k/year extra after taxes then being out of the job market for a year or two to reskill wouldn't be a problem.
Luckily most of the younger generation are very mercenary and are in tech for the money. So it's a problem that hopefully will fix itself.
Do you think they would sooner cut off their nose to spite their face?
In my experience, you'd consider yourself lucky to work for a company that sees I.T. as a strategic/operational advantage (and not merely a "cost center") and therefore pays its staff 10% better than market average plus bonuses.
Unfortunately, I've worked for truly "I.T. forward" companies like that and still seen a merger or buyout completely flip the culture. Overnight I.T. salaries and budgets were seen as indulgences and people were laid off or quit in droves.
The one thing I've learned about this industry is that no matter how innovative or adept an engineering department is, an exuberantly stupid executive team can completely squander and destroy that asset surprisingly quickly.
Like I said "if they had to".
You still have to make a compelling case.
Surely you have seen teams with 3 solution architects when they don't even really require 1?
Or teams with contractors who have been in the same team on contract 5+ years?
The problem is most senior devs don't even collect the information they need to make a compelling case.
Like if I asked you how much more productive are you than a new (3-6months) senior dev on your project? Would you be able to show me?
I'm ~14x more productive on my current project than a newly hired senior dev and can give you the jira queries to prove it.
That was in 2011 - I retired and started doing in-home tech support for little old (rich) ladies and gentlemen. I haven't looked back :-)
I think any on-site is going to vary widely by where you are, the demographics of your area, and the size of your service area. It's too easy to get into traveling half an hour or more to get to a customer, and if you're doing that without trip charges then suddenly a 1-hour visit turns into 2 hours of your time and halves your rate.
Currently I'm working full time as a data engineer for a local government agency waiting for some side business to take off.
Just started a productized service business offering "an elite squad delivering a complete web application over a single one-week sprint" (the idea is to take some business process currently managed through spreadsheets+email and turn it into a web application - complete with reports, filters, search, permission control and etc in one week).
I started my own unrelated business (sort of fell into it, applying my observations about certain marketplaces) with the immediate goal of having more hands-on control of my fate -- I could live with the impacts of my own stupid mistakes, but I wanted to insulate myself from others' stupid mistakes.
So, I stayed above water even through the 2008+ downturn, even while a lot of my colleagues who had stayed in the industry were out of the conventional full-time workforce as well.
But now, my industry segment is going away (ironically, due to the stupid mistakes of the industry superpower), so I've folded up the worst-performing 60% of my business. Now, I have to decide whether to just sell my SV house and "retire" or somehow find an appropriate role for my "out of date" (in terms of modern stacks) technical skillset.
I think at this point, my most marketable skill is writing and breaking stuff, and writing about breaking stuff, but the trick is finding the right company with those needs.
I have been laid-off 3 times (most recently in January, 2017). Each time, I have had little troubling finding a job.
I should mention that I am active on Kaggle and that I code during my day job (C#) and code in my free time (mostly Python).
I have not yet found any problem in finding new roles.
Might also be useful to give some idea of skill set previous job too so people can average themselves appropriately as I think that’s the intent here is to gauge where it hurts the most for this to happen and perhaps what skill sets might be seeing it more?
Maybe I’m wrong so I’m open to suggestions on improving this discourse
So the number of older programmers moving down the pipe will grow hugely with the explosion in the number of programmers in the 90's.
That and to an extent the field is continuing to mature, We've only had the internet in most peoples homes for what, 18 years (not sure what the 50% line date was).
For me I find it's not hard to stay current since I devote my 'TV time' to programming and I like learning, I've also been careful not to find myself stuck in a niche by moving from one part of industry to another.
My plan is to just stay current with the technology, I was raised on basic, pascal in the 80's, moved to C in the 90's, then Delphi, C# and the web.
It helps that the only constants in my life since I was a kid have been that I love reading and I love programming.
I leave work, go home, have a shower, something to eat and then program (or play chess) as a hobby.
Despite the frustrating situation, you'll end up better off. And if you're looking to get back to the tech workforce, here are some tips that I hope might help: https://medium.com/layoff-aid-blog/how-to-hack-the-tech-job-...
I have seen this happen during and after both the dot com bust and the great recession. Timing of the layoff will certainly impact things, as does the perception of skill stagnation, but there is a component that is related to age as well. I personally know a seasoned VP who only started getting callbacks after they dropped 10+ years of (relevant) experience from their resume. I also know someone who was told by a recruiter to dye their hair. Most of these stories are from 2001/2002 and 2009-2012 but unfortunately I doubt that it's limited to recessionary environments.
I'm probably naive but I don't get the logic.
You are there to burn brain cycles for a fixed pay, a high pay at that. Experienced older crowd demands higher pay. Most gigs could care less about their experience; 95% of the gigs consists of mundane task completion and pump out code demanded by often micromanagement processes.
Older crowd is more likely to question, call out bs, and demand work life balance.
Young are more impressionable, willing to burn the candle night after night. 24-hour long hackathons on soda and pizza anyone? This is unhealthy in so many ways lol. This says more about the profession rather than ageism. Name another profession where people willingly accept working under such unhealthy circumstances, especially off the clock. Lunch at your desk is the norm.
Fuck it! Frankly, the profession is ideal for a (wo)man-child, crippling any mature, healthy social development. End of the day, it's you and the computer 1v1. No one outside IT/tech gives two fucks about your abstraction flame wars, coding practices yadi yada unless bottom line is suffering. They'll throw bodies at the problem. Meanwhile Stfu and code.
Case in point - as soon as I removed my graduation dates from my resume I started getting more initial calls. Previously I would hear nothing - i assume it was b/c I was filtered out by the HR app parsing bots.
Ageism is real in this field..its youth culture. You just gotta know this and work around it.