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64 and unemployed: One man's struggle to be taken seriously as a job applicant (cbc.ca)
327 points by myth_drannon on Jan 28, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 296 comments

I'm only in my 50s, but this is very relateable. Did a couple dozen interviews a year or two ago before finally getting a bite. Somewhat amazingly, even passed the hiring committee at a FANG, only to get swatted down by a rare strike from the executive level.

In one interview, was asked to produce a class that could serialize and deserialize a list of numbers, to/from a string of chars. Sure, it's not that hard. Took maybe ten minutes? A few tests, it worked fine. They declined--"your skills seem rusty". Huh?

I'm in good health and much better financial situation than the guy in the story. But without being too grim, I've accepted that someday I might run completely out of money. If I can't get hired in tech, I'll give McDonald's a shot--it's honest work. Failing that, I'll make my graceful exit.

I find it disturbing he can't find work as a project manager. If anything, that's one role where the practitioners typically know fuck-all about nothing and where good ones are worth their weight in gold.

I LOVE to work with ADULT project managers who have a clue about how projects actually unfold and how things actually get done with a wide variety of personalities in the mix. Instead, more often than not, you get 20-30-something "management fast-track" wannabe's who could not solve a problem to save their lives.

In today's world of agile development, I haven't met any project managers worthy of anything. I feel that strong product managers are capable of managing development as well. I can't believe there are actual people getting paid to move JIRA tickets around full-time.

Good project management is invisible. They just make projects happen. They make sure everyone is talking. They make sure decisions are made. Everyone knows what to do when to do it. Etc.

I seen good project management. It is magical. Then the manager left. Everything slowed down to a crawl.

Yep, it's the thankless job that when done well nobody notices.

Invisible makes it sound intangible. If you can't quantify the value you're adding to an organization, are you adding any at all?

Making sure "the right people are talking", "decisions are made", etc. do sound like things that can be tracked to confirm if a PM is indeed adding value.

>>If you can't quantify the value you're adding to an organization, are you adding any at all?

At some point in time recurring wins can look like a perpetual machine. The problem is when you get there, people think like, Now that we got what we want why do we need this person?

It's only after the person goes and a few months down the lane you begin to see things falling apart. Of course by then things just become the new normal.

    > If you can't quantify the value you're adding to an organization, are you adding any at all?
The problem with that line of thought is that it's not at all easy (or even possible) to quantifiably measure performance on an individual basis. This is especially true for roles like PM's whose job is to enable the labor and talent of others.

Many roles are difficult to quantifiably measure. The same is true for software engineers-- suppose two developers are shipping code, but one writes 2x as many lines of code. Do we say they're twice as productive, or delivering twice as much business value? Not necessarily.

But there should be something that can be measured, even if it's imprecise, to at least show that something's being done. How do you measure the success criteria for the role of a PM? It's challenging. But it should be done.

Measure and "quantifiably measure" are two different things. I agree that performance can and should be evaluated, however, for many jobs that is an intrinsically subjective task.

There's nothing wrong with that. It's just the nature of such roles.

You still evaluate, you just don't boil it down to one "score".

On a similar thought the IT department of organizations in the past was neglected. After all, they don't add any value, they are only needed to shuffle around dead hardware for new hardware.

Similarly a good manager provides auxiliary value; it doesn't directly add value to the organization but if it's not there then the overall value decreases.

Not everything in an organization is immediate positive effect.

Oftentimes I've seen PMs used to talk directly to clients about projects, and groups of execs. Hired because they're great "window dressing".

I worked under one in South Africa and he was genuinely passionate about project management: he was constantly in courses, constantly researching and constantly asking for feedback.

One of the teams I oversee now in NA also has a brilliant project manager. Of all my 12 years in the industry I haven't once seen someone pull a team into productivity nirvana like she does. She deeply understands the concept of agile and every sprint she is trying a new idea with her team (process is a feature!).

They do exist, but they are rare.

Disagree completely. A good project manager sees themselves as a peer to devs, with a goal of shielding their team from dumb administrative stuff (like requests from upper management that are clearly out of touch with how the product actually works).

To do so, they must see themselves as a peer. Anyone with an ego who wants to boss people around will be a terrible PM. A good PM enables their team and is altruistically driven.

Once you work with someone like this, you'll understand how amazing PMs can be.

Not everyone lives in an agile world.

Besides, there are still politics to shield from, budgets to maintain, stakeholders to brief, paperwork to do - all stuff that putting an engineer on - would be an utter waste.

Exactly, for some reason we got rid of PMs, then architects, then "devops" (as they understand it) replaced system administrators, and now as a software engineer you have to do much more, actually leaving less time for your actual are of competence.

It’s easy to be bad and hard to be good. There’s PMs I know that casually joke about how about most of their week is time spent dicking around on the internet while having a few meetings and watching some tasks get done. They are more like project secretaries where they DGAF about being involved. Then there are PMs that go the extra mile to keep stakeholders involved, triage bugs and tasks, and willfully volunteer to fill in as needed. They are the ones that can actually add substantial value to a project.

It's unfortunate. Especially in agile, a good project (err.. product...) manager is worth their weight in gold. I have to be honest, I've had my hand slapped here on HN for conflating project managers with product managers. I admit that I do this because from an agile software development perspective you need a variety of skills.

One of the biggest problems I've seen on agile projects is a lack of analysis. Often "agile" development processes are chosen because people want to avoid analysis. I think the thinking is that if you remove all the documentation and discussion around what you are building, the developers will just "do the right thing" and you'll save a whack of time.

In fact, on the XP teams I've run, I tend to have 2-3 month backlogs of stories. You want to think through what you are building and what the implications are. There are 2 main differences between this and a more analysis-up-front approach. First, your stories are changeable and prone to re-ordering. Second, you defer some decisions until later. There is no phase when the requirements are carved into stone. However, if you get to the beginning of the sprint and you don't know what the acceptance criteria for all of the stories in the sprint are, then you are in big trouble.

Also, I come from the ancient days. I've personally written a 1300 page requirements document. That took 6 months to write. That was largely ignored. When I tell people that I want a couple of months out of "this is what we're doing if nothing changes", these days people think I've got all top heavy on them. Times change...

This is where a good project/product manager comes in handy. You need someone who owns the overall vision of what you are building and has time to think through the implications. You need someone who is constantly grooming the backlog and updating the cards as the vision changes. You need someone who understands the business priorities and knows when and how to reprioritise the backlog. You need someone who is constantly asking the question, "It's fine to do X, but what does that mean for Y", or "What makes you think that this is the solution we need" or "Who is going to be affected when we do X".

Often product/project managers think, "Oh I don't have to know how the product works in detail". This is a huge red flag for me. They often think "Oh the programmers can decide what to do here". Yes, the programmers can, but they already have their plate full with how to do what needs to get done. If you ask them to think through all the details of what and why then they will have less time for how. Similarly, if you have a team of 6-8 developers, then you will have 6-8 opinions about what the best thing to do is. The vision will potentially be weakened and you will often find that the programmers spend half their time arguing about who has the best idea. At best you'll have 1 developer doing the product/project manager's job and the rest will be doing programming jobs.

I could go on forever here. I haven't even touched on dealing with internal politics, reporting, ensuring visibility of problems, coordination with other groups, gathering data, etc, etc, etc. If you don't have someone doing these things then they are often not getting done at all (often to your detriment) or you are wasting your precious programming horse power dealing with the realities of business.

As you can imagine, I over the years I've regularly butted heads with "I don't really want to do anything at all" product/project managers. But if I get someone willing and able, I will absolutely load them down with work that has the potential to make a massive difference to everyone.

what is the difference between a project and a product manager? a lot of what your describing sounds like an engineering manager or ever lead developer to me.

Of course, none of this is set in stone. Different organisations do things differently. I can tell you my reasoning for categorising things the way I do, but I don't think there is any meaning to having a canonical system.

First lead developer. To me a lead developer is the person on a team that leads the technical direction of the team. Programming is all about judgement calls and long term success on the technical side depends on getting those judgement calls right more often than wrong. Some lead developers like to make all technical decisions, but this can create a bottle neck and also piss off the rest of the team. For those reasons, I don't like that approach and prefer to have the lead developer act as a technical coach, leading by example. The lead developer should have the final say on technical decisions and should be aware of all of the decisions being made on the team, but they should avoid making decisions if they can. On political matters, they should refrain from being too active, but rather defer to the development/engineering manager if there are any problems. Lead developers should also write a lot of code IMHO.

The sound clip is, though, the lead developer should be a 10x developer by virtue of doubling everybody else's productivity. However they do that is fine.

I tend to use the term "development manager" rather than "engineering manager" for arbitrary reasons, but they mean the same to me. A development manager ideally should make no technical decisions. That should be left to the lead developer. In some organisations, the team is not deep enough to have an effective lead developer, so sometimes the development manager has to take on that role too. In other organisations, there is no development manager and so the lead developer has to take on that role. It's not optimal, but it really depends on the size and depth of the organisation.

A development manager's responsibility is political in nature. First they must evaluate and track the progress of the members of the team (usually working closely with the lead developer to get insight). They will ideally decide on the head count of the team, choose the members of the team, organise hiring if necessary and arranging for movement out of the team (whether that is a transfer or dismissal) if necessary. The development manager is responsible for the conduct of the team. If there are behavior problems, the development manager must find a solution (usually working with the lead developer) to those problems. The development manager is responsible for tracking performance of developers, negotiating raises, managing career progression, finding appropriate training, allocating resources (for example computers, desks, chairs, internet), etc. They are also responsible for ensuring that outside problems are dealt with effectively. A big part of that is making decisions about how to deal with external requests for development, allocating people to deal with problems, etc, etc. They must work with the project manager(s) to track performance and ensure that there are adequate people available to do the work that is necessary. The must work together to track work completion and adjust expectations for delivery dates, etc.

Where the lead developer is looking at the tactical view about how to best accomplish a series of tasks, the development manager is looking at the strategic view of plotting the current location and direction of the team (as well as dealing with the people problems and political fall out from that).

I wrote earlier about what I see the project/product manager doing, so I won't get into it too much, however I'll talk a little bit more about the communication/politics role the product/project manager needs to do. Unless the company is small, there are usually a lot of other departments, many of which dwarf the IT group. These groups include (but are not limited to) marketing, sales, documentation, customer service, etc. In some organisation you even have a separate IT group from development usually called "services" that does custom development for large customers. The project manager has to coordinate all of these groups. This is a big job. They need to listen to all of these groups to gather requirements. They need to coordinate with marketing and sales to keep them synchronised for timing. They have to constantly update everybody as business needs and requirements change. They need to make sure that marketing aren't putting together a campaign for something that you aren't building. They need to stop sales from selling things that you don't have. They need to coordinate the development of documentation. In some industries they need to arrange for and plan certification. I could literally type for pages on this kind of thing. You need at least one person dedicated to this job for each project in most large companies.

The main difference between a project/product manager and a development manager is that one if focused on the project/product and one is focused on the performance of the team. You can merge these roles in a small company, but there are desirable separations of concerns in these roles. Especially (and it's a bit hard to say this politely), there is plenty of latitude for abuse if both of these roles is performed by the same person.

You will notice that I haven't answered your first question. I don't make a distinction between project and product managers. However, many people do. I think the best way to look at the situation, though, is that you almost always need someone who is responsible for the artefact that you are building. They "own" the requirements for that thing. I will say that just like the lead developer position, I prefer a technique where as "owner" you don't actually make all the decisions. Instead you are aware of all the decisions and you make the final decision when there are problems. It's the ownership of the responsibility, really, rather than the ownership of each individual choice. Otherwise you get into the same position of becoming a bottle neck, or pissing off the rest of the team who has to pay for your mistakes, even though they have no say in the matter. It's a hard job, though, because you really have to travel around talking to people all day and make sure that you understand every decision being made.

On the other hand, just like there is a separation of tactical and strategic goals in development, you can do the same in the project management side. So you can have a project/product "owner" and a project/project manager, who may be responsible for the strategic view of how all these tings are fitting together. In a very large company, you almost certainly need this role. Most of my career has been spent in organisations with less than 200 developers and in those organisations, I've never really seen the need. YMMV.

Edited to fit into a reply (apparently I typed too much).

I have observed a few over the past years. Their work revolves around starting up the standup call, sending meeting invites, moving tickets/stories/defects and yeah thats about it. Seems depressing and frustrating as a dev. But they seem to be as happy as a fish in a bowl. I don't get it.

Even programmers who migrate to project management can lose touch insanely fast. I've seen it happen multiple times. I'm doing both PM work and programming on a project right now and the temptation is always there to just pass off what I'm working on to one of the contractors instead of doing it myself.

Question: >>I find it disturbing he can't find work as a project manager.

Answer: >>If anything, that's one role where the practitioners typically know -all about nothing and where good ones are worth their weight in gold. >>Instead, more often than not, you get 20-30-something "management fast-track" wannabe's who could not solve a problem to save their lives.

You answered your own question. Nobody (wants to)hires people better than them and end up creating impossible-to-defeat competition at work. This is regardless of whatever people might claim about wanting to hire the best.

Some of the best PM's that I've worked with are well into retirement age.

With all due respect, this says more about your age than it says about good PM's.

The project managers and admin staff hired at one of the medium sized companies I worked at were the dating pool for two of the three owners. Stripper hot. Every single one. Underqualified. Every single one. It's gone from secretary pools to middle management pools in the guise of gender equality. One of the owners offered to hook me up with one in exchange for helping him out.

Link to your resume and I'll take a look.

All this bullshit about inclusivity.

What we SHOULD be doing is blinding the candidate and interviewer.

No name. Just the last 2 years of job history. That's it.

You don't know their gender. Don't know their age. Don't know their race.

Just complete meritocracy.

It won't be, because different groups answer questions differently. One famous result (http://web.pdx.edu/~mev/pdf/PS471_Readings_2012/Lizotte_Sidm...) is that woman hold themselves to a higher threshold of certainty before claiming to know something.

An interesting solution would be to score differently based on known biases; but that would be a can of worms in itself.

Meritocracy is a lie used by the privileged. There is no such thing in the real world.

> It won't be, because different groups answer questions differently.

And the common currently practices don't control for that any better. The parent's idea (blind or double-blind screening of candidates) seems like it would, to me, be inherently better if we can figure out how to deal with the logistical complexities it adds. (E.g., how does on-site work? Are there on-sites?) If anything, it would be interesting to weigh against current practices of a few phones screens and a on-site.

(It doesn't seem worse that the world I'm living in, where I'm at the bottom rung doing my damndest to make sure I'm not part of the problem by treating people equally, while at the same time I see some employers offering hiring bonuses for "diversity hires".)

The query in the paper allows the candidate to say "they don't know"; if you force their hand in answering by removing that option, they should be again on equal footing, no?

Additionally, I've also read about mathematical means of recording uncertainty in answers and weighting score with that. (That is, correct answer to which you were more certain net more points, incorrect answers to which you were uncertain lose less points than incorrect answers to which you were more certain.) The end result you're trying to get at is which person is giving better answers and certainties.

> Meritocracy is a lie used by the privileged.

Sure, people can twist things into something they're not, but that doesn't inherently make the original thing wrong or evil.

The issue is that developing a Meritocracy requires that you first solve bigotry. It's arguably fine in theory, but it presupposes what is (at least in my mind) impossible.

It's literally where we get the name "Meritocracy" from. The book "The rise of the Meritocracy" was a satire, not a manual.

> I'm not part of the problem by treating people equally,

If you (think) treat people equally, you are part of the problem. When one group is more vocal than the other, you have to amplify the other group. If not, you're just keeping the current bias in place.

> Meritocracy is a lie used by the privileged.

I don't understand this point of view. It sounds like, by calling it a lie, your real complaint is the ways attempts at meritocracy have fallen short of being an actual meritocracy. That being the case, isn't meritocracy still the correct ideal that we should be doing a better job of striving for?

If this is not how you feel, what is the word for the appropriate assignment strategy that we should be strive to use to decide who gets jobs and promotions?

> That being the case, isn't meritocracy still the correct ideal that we should be doing a better job of striving for?

I would actually say no, at least when it comes to when arguments for a meritocracy are used as arguments against redistribution of wealth from the more "meritocratic" to the less.

Consider, as a thought experiment, if instead of features like intelligence, communication skills, self-confidence, etc., that our economic system instead only valued basketball skills as the means for distributing wealth. That system would be a meritocracy: great basketball players with tons of talent and effort would be really wealthy and successful, while talentless or lazy basketball players would be poor.

I think this is a good thought experiment because of some of the things it highlights. Perhaps most importantly, all short people are pretty much destined to be forever poor in this meritocratic system. If you are short, what value would you see in abiding by this system at all if tall, great basketball players took all the gains? What about if instead great basketball players could be wealthy and successful, but they still had to pay a very large amount of taxes to ensure that short people didn't starve (or revolt).

While a (true) meritocracy may be ideal for how jobs are to be distributed, if it is also how wealth is distributed it means that it is also, by and large, a lottery of DNA. How is that any more "fair" than an aristocracy?

I'm not sure that "fairness" is exactly the right ideal if our goal is the most health and wealth for the most people? I want my doctor to be really great--to be in that job because he is the best at it. I don't want someone placed there by a truly random lottery, and I do want the guy who won the intelligence DNA drawing to be the one I talk to. I also want wealth to motivate people to get into that job, as it is so tough to gain that knowledge, I don't know if there will be enough people without a financial reward.

Fairness in opportunities, which you just disqualified by assuming the best Dr need to be a MALE and GENTICALY PREDETERMINED SMART.

My (short) experience working in health care suggest both are very bad qualifications for a health professional.

So, first off, fair point for calling out that I said "guy." I tried to edit it once I saw my mistake, but the post was locked.

I'm curious, though, why you would not want someone who was genetically smart? Why would you want a "dumb" healthcare professional treating you? Do you not believe intelligence to be related to genetics?

Also, how does being male make one a worse healthcare professional?

If you are saying you want fairness in opportunities, then isn't discriminating on the basis of someone being male the opposite of fairness?

To be coldly rational, you want to pick from the group that is the most discriminated against for entry into medical school. Right now in the USA, that would be Asian males.

An exception is if you may need the doctor to insert a hand into your body. In this case, note that Asian female doctors generally have the smallest hands.

An exception is if you are very heavy and might require feats of strength for your care. In this case, young non-Asian males are most likely to have the needed strength.

It's pretty telling then you went for male pronouns to describe your hypothetical doctor.

Maybe? My primary care doctor is female, so whatever bias using a gendered pronoun might show, at the end of the day, I picked who I thought was best. On merit.

This argument for meritocracy is what a real communist will tell you about communism now. It works basically for anything that we don't have good working examples for right this second. Given that there are no good working examples and/or haven't been any so far, how would we fix the problems that we have seen and can foresee?

Given those concerns, I think it is not reasonable to just say "we need to try again and try harder" because it does a disservice to those times it was tried in the past. Maybe there is a fundamental problem there that still has to be solved?

For a meritocracy, this isn't super complicated. Who decides what has merit? How will you measure this? Are the things that you measure the right things? Given that there is a possibility for side-channel information (for example, certain groups of people having terms they "look for" and that you only know about being part of this group), how will we solve this?

I feel like misquoting Churchill here and saying meritocracy is the the worst system except for all the alternatives.

You'd also be doing injustice to his saying. A (liberal) democracy gives every one the same opportunity. This isn't the case with so called meritocracy.

Well isn't giving everyone the same opportunity the definintion of a meritocracy? Of course no society is a meritocracy, but it is hard to think of a better system.

No; Meritocracy is judging by the results. If we're both in a dancing competition, but you have dance shoes and I wear a workman's steel toed both, giving you the win is meritocratic, even though the opportunity isn't equal.

If you judging system by it's ideal implementation, then you should argue for Communism (we all know how that turns out, and to what a douchy sausage fest so called "meritocracies" ends as)

> Meritocracy is judging by the results.

Say you need brain surgery. Are you telling me you will choose based on some criteria other than results?

I will pick a 9 headed purple alien if it will do the best job. And I won't care that it had the advantage of 7 parents who were rich doctors and harvard alumni. The place to fix inequality is upstream.

The cure for those advantages is to level the playing field.

> If you judging system by it's ideal implementation, then you should argue for Communism

Straw man. Like visiting a junkyard and concluding all cars don't move. That line of reasoning lets you conclude anything with a failed example can never work.

It is not possible to have an "actual" meritocracy. There's simply no way to account for all personal biases and all the historical context that you'd need to to get a truly "objective" decision made.

> Meritocracy is a lie used by the privileged. There is no such thing in the real world.

I remember an essay by a black female engineer. She said what helped her were three things, her dad had a union job, disability payments from the uncle who came home from Korea with no legs. These meant they could fake a middle class lifestyle. And her mother teaching her how to dress and talk like a white person.

Seriously a lot of 'Meritocracy' is nothing more than soft affinity fraud.


Seems like that's conflating actual meritocracy with an exploited/fake form of meritocracy.

Actual meritocracies are rare, but that doesn't mean we should redefine "meritocracy" to be the the distorted (and more common) version of it.

Please provide an example of an actual meritocracy so we can educate you that it does not exist.

Just like every example of a communist regime wasn't true communist, and hence failed!

> Meritocracy is a lie used by the privileged. There is no such thing in the real world.

That's absolutely untrue.. you really discredit yourself when you say provably false things like this.

I assume you’ve read the essay the term comes from


If not; it’s pretty fun.

...you really discredit yourself when you say provably false things like this.

Likewise. And look, I've offered just as much proof as you did.

Will this work for on-site, particularly because "do I think I could get along with this candidate/does this candidate seem like a team player/can this candidate communicate effectively" is a significant part of the hiring process? I think many teams may struggle to have completely anonymous hiring due to the desire to meet their potential teammate and assess based on the teammate's easyness to get along with.

It’d be interesting if a proper study was done. It could turn out to be better. We won’t know till we try.

Thank you--I appreciate it. I should have clarified that I did eventually get a job. Pay's quite low, but it's otherwise fine. And all things considered, I'm loathe to attempt another job hunt any time soon.

You must evaluate personal traits too. This is a given when hiring into a team.

Blind hiring doesn't do anything to prevent or correct for bias outside the interview process for this specific position. Assembling a team this way would likely result in one that looks just like the rest of the industry. Meanwhile the hiring manager gets to pat themselves on the back for "doing their part" without actually accomplishing anything to address the problem.

Check out jobs with the federal government and/or with government contractors. The work might not be as sexy or as lucrative (although sometimes it is), but the pay is stable (lolol... shutdowns notwithstanding) at a middle-class level.

The government is desperate for people who can code.

>The government is desperate for people who can code.

Not desperate enough to teach people to code who want to learn though.

But I bet half the need is from mountains of shit code anyway. The contracting and procurement processes are fucked (source: friend who works in gov't IT contracts -- stay far away from any dev positions involving Dept. of VA).

Demand for good devs is going to be won by companies. We clearly can't even fill private sector roles even at these salary levels. I'm not sure how anyone can look at our really picky labor market with the government's lack of salary and perk offerings and think "yeah we can fill these if we just try a bit harder".

Government really needs a different approach to solve their staffing needs in this regard. They aren't competitive.

I agree with many parts of your reply.

That said, the context was about older and experienced devs who, for some reason, can’t find a job in the private labor market.

The federal government is a much safer bet for these people. As bad as it can be, it’s better than unemployed. Some of the jobs are actually good.

> Not desperate enough to teach people to code who want to learn though.

There's endless free material online for those who actually want to learn.

Those people end up in companies if they're any good at it, presuming they can somehow pass the filtering.

The last month should demonstrate that the government is a terrible steward of jobs. Shutdowns and dysfunction are on a bad trend. Half the board (Congress) won't talk to the other half, and the CEO (President) is a narcissist at best.

I don't think anyone who relies on a paycheck should work for the government, unless God himself touched their heart with his finger and made that their calling. Although the man in the article is probably desperate enough to give that a shot.

I don’t think the shutdowns are quite that bad yet (unless you’re a contractor). Everyone—except contractors—got back pay when the government re-opened.

A vouple months delayed pay can absolutely be devistating to someone at a certain income level, and I don’t want to discount the hardship the recent shutdown has caused. But, I imagine most people well-off enough to have a programming job wouldn’t have too many cash flow issues, given proper financial planning.

most governments in the world don't have shutdowns like the US though. The US doesn't need to have them either.

> The government is desperate for people who can code.

If it was desperate, the pay would be better.

I did end up getting an offer at something like this. Low pay, worthy and mostly interesting work. So no real complaints.

We're at that point too. My solution is a combination of downsizing our life and making my own app business. So far the only app I released (Autumn) was a bust because I stupidly released it on New Year's Eve so practically nobody knew about it, also it's too niche. But everyone loves the quality, so I figure I'll just keep writing more apps. I've got a lot of ideas and a lot of energy. I may have to work at Walmart or something, but I can keep doing this in my spare time. As long as there's at least some food on the table, even if ramen noodles, my family can keep going.

This is going to be harsh but it’s for your own good.

You have no idea what you’re doing and you are blindly digging yourself deeper into the hole by writing more apps. I wrote a couple of quality apps and I had seen some success financial success with them, you are not moving in the right direction.

You can’t write an app and think up a marketing plan afterwards as an extension, it’s the other way around - you find an audience with a need you can satisfy and a loudspeaker to reach them about it, only then you add an app as an extension to that.

If you want to write quality apps as a hobby then go for it, but don’t expect financial stability from that or you will face emotional ruin on the heals of financial struggle. Just don’t.

If you’re looking to make a living then go be a consultant to small-medium businesses. Fire bad clients asap, make unexpected treats for good clients. Repeat business accumulated over a few years will set you up for life.

Your app advice reminds me of something I read on HN: “Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.“

"So far the only app I released (Autumn) was a bust because I stupidly released it on New Year's Eve so practically nobody knew about it"

Virtually no businesses work like this. Maybe NY Eve wasn't the best date, and it's great if you get a boost from the announcement, but you need to follow up with marketing, continue talking to customers, sales, calling people, etc. Most users will not hear about your business from the initial announcement.

A lot of times when you see a business take off after an announcement, it's because they worked for months prior to build an audience. Sometimes that's the developers audience (if you have a lot of twitter/blog/etc followers), or it can be because you preannounced it, collected emails, and kept them engaged as it was being developed. You still need a game plan for after the announcement though.

Good luck... try not to get discouraged if it's not an immediate success. (Your other point, about it being too niche, can be a problem if that niche isn't valuable enough.)

I don't have any first hand experience with app stores, but I read that 0.01% of android apps make enough money to recoup their development costs. I still find the figure stunning

"I'll make my graceful exit" is an option far too many people are taking out there. Our industry is in the top 10 industries where workers commit suicide. There is no discussion in this country about how our economy forces many working people to actually commit suicide because we have prematurely aged them out. Often to be replaced by a kid who doesn't even have 1% of the skills and knowledge of the person judged "too old" but still too young to qualify for social security.

One of FANGs I interviewed at, I couldn’t help noticing they totally avoid asking practical questions that require field experience to understand and instead just focus the entire interview on CompSci college homework problems that recent grads can easily relate to. I wonder why. Hmmmmm ...

To be fair, recent grads also have an enormous amount of trouble breaking into the industry. The prisoner's dilemma of training up the graduate at a negative return for 2 years before watching them get poached is an issue that's been thoroughly canvassed around here. I think it's beneficial to the health of the industry that tech giants are at least somewhat willing to calibrate their hiring processes towards that class of applicant and take on that risk, and I hope they don't move away from that just to even further pad the career prospects of people with 5-10 years' experience.

Yeah, but... CompSci college homework... really isn't that hard? I mean, with some coaching and effort, I can study enough get most of those questions even though my math abilities top out somewhere around high school trig.

I mean, they are gating some incredibly high-paying jobs. Sure, you gotta jump through some hoops to get it, but I'd argue that the coding tests are... well, they certainly aren't the hoops I find difficult.

> Yeah, but... CompSci college homework... really isn't that hard?

Don't know. To me, college CompSci material might as well be greek. But I somehow get by programming...

Now - if we want to talk about contrapuntal music composition techniques - I'm your guy.

Serving food is more than honest IMO, but still a bit of a waste.. Also it seems a lot of capable coders are struggling with harsh if not inhuman business structures. Maybe regroup and form a nice company of nice people.

I like this comment; seems like you could make a pretty good company from the older talent that isn't picked up by the young companies. In terms of pure competition, you could give them all a run for their money with the lifelong knowledge bit.

I've seen something similar where a company made a spot for themselves hiring aging cobol programmers and making pretty good money contracting with other companies. I will try to find a link to the article I read.

I found the link. The company is called COBOL Cowboys.


Thank you, that's cool

The company I worked for last year was about 1/4 older gentlemen in engineering roles. I'm disappointed that other companies are not as keen to hire them, but they had so freaking much experience and it was a pleasure to work with them

So did you try finding a job just in Silicon Valley on the West Coast at a FANG or did you expand your search? It’s hard to believe as hungry as people are for developers that no one in the entire US including remote work, contracting, or consulting would hire you assuming you had marketable skills.

I’m in my mid 40s, was just looking for a job last year and it took me two weeks and from the time I started looking until I had an offer.

That’s been about the speed for the last 10 years across 5 jobs.

In my experience, there's a pretty big difference between mid 40s and over 50. Companies may be hungry, but they've also become more selective.

How will they tell the difference between if I am 45 and 50 before they make an offer? I haven’t put my date of college graduation on my resume since I was 35 and now I only put the last ten years worth of work experience.

Let’s say I’m back in the job market when I am 50 in 2024 and I just keep my experience from 2008 or 2012 depending on the company I am interviewing for.

>>How will they tell the difference between if I am 45 and 50 before they make an offer?

They have eyes, and age shows. Wrinkles, greying hair etc.

Its not that hard to spot old people.

I’m not saying that it is hard to spot old people but the difference between 45 and 50 isn’t that great.

It wouldn’t have mattered either in my last two jobs or my current one since my managers were all older than I am. But, I don’t take any chances. I go to all my interviews clean shaven - bald head, and no facial hair specifically because of the ageism boogeyman. No one thinks twice about a Black guy with a bald head.

No I’m not saying that’s the answer for anyone else.

That was my plan if and when this becomes an issue for me. I'm 35 so I haven't yet (to my knowledge) experienced agism but if I'll live long enough I'm pretty sure I will still need to work for another 30+ years.

Anyway dying/shaving your hair etc will help you mask 50 vs 45, but when you're 60...

Heck one of friends only puts the last 3 jobs he had on his resume, keeps it approachable.

Given a choice, I’ll go straight W2 contracting or work for a consulting company after I leave my current job whenever that is.

Searched in four or five major cities. (Not SV, which is financially untenable for me.)

I'm sure there are numerically plenty of places that would hire me, but finding them is pretty arduous, esp since many of my declines were after all-day travel interviews to the opposite coast.

It's a big change from the past, when jobs would invariably just fall in my lap.

I never understood the purpose of in person interviews at most companies for out of town candidates. It seems like it would make more sense for all involved just to do a video conference.

i'm not really understanding the tech sector. There's often the criticism that we keep reinventing solutions to old problems. And here you are, with presumably 30 years of experience, and no one wants to take a chance?

Maybe the people complaining and the ones doing the hiring aren't the same.

You could also look to start your own business to not require the approval of any hiring committee. Customers are not going to care, and you can probably get them to buy into your product/service without them even knowing much about you, let alone your age.

The difference between being hired into a business and working on your own is that you'll have to create stability on your own, but the benefits seem worth it.

Making a change like that probably takes time to adapt, but fuck me if I ever fail to make use of the skills I've honed throughout my whole life and that I know are useful for people. One just has to bridge the gap between what one can provide and what people need. If someone gets in the way of that because of their own misjudgments, sidestep them and prove them wrong!

It’s not easy to start your own company. Sometimes you have no choice but it’s not for everyone.

By graceful exit, do you mean Smith and Wesson retirement plan ? I think it's still better to become a street beggar.

Yes, but however you feel about suicide, I would never recommend that method. Way too unreliable for me. That's like two nines and you want ten or twenty nines. Failure is not an option.

(For the forseeable future, I have lots to live for. Promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.)

I sincerely hope you were just being facetious in the last line. There's a ton someone with your experience could do such as write books, consultation, coaching, etc.

Remote work too. Your employer doesn't need to know your age.

Do you say that from experience? I've always wondered how the legal stuff works in remote work, including, for example, international workers. I mean, how anonymous can one be in one of those jobs?

Not exactly, but it's not an eventuality I expect to come to pass any year soon.

Many great men and women didn’t embark upon their greatness until their fifties. And quite frankly, if you are leading a life of dignity, principles, and continual learning, you are living up to the true potential of what humans are meant to be (yet so few humans attain). Your life will be a victory whether you’re flipping burgers, houses or companies.

Yes. One good thing about getting older is having better perspective on stuff like this.

This is observational, but I notice older hiring managers are more ok with hiring older applicants. Maybe there’s some kind of relatability or something, but the older hires actually turned out to be cool, insightful people. It’s even pretty funny when they joke about age in a self-deprecating sense.

Consequently, I’ve seen that younger people are more wary of hiring people too far removed from their own demographic like there’s a forethought a 40+ dev is going to be some burdensome fart from an AARP commercial.

> Consequently, I’ve seen that younger people are more wary of hiring people too far removed from their own demographic like there’s a forethought a 40+ dev is going to be some burdensome fart from an AARP commercial.

Younger people often find it awkward and uncomfortable to manage someone who's closer to their dad than to them. I suspect in such cases they just filter them out if they have other candidates.

>swatted down by a rare strike from the executive level

Was this someone you spoke to in anyway? Or was there any rationale hinted at?

It's what I heard from my internal recruiter (who had little reason to mislead on that).

Through a back channel, I heard something that sounded like a euphemism for "too old" or "too family oriented". I take that with a grain of salt, though. Most likely just the operation of pure chance.

Have you ever tried creating your own community? Like through meetup?

This defeatist attitude is what's going to make this come true for you. McDonald? really? How about consulting? Starting your own shit? Perhaps looking outside of the West Coast and other places you might be appreciated? How about the govt, schools, hospitals, banks, big ol boring enterprises? How about other countries? Seriously, you have option and everyone does. If you are smart enough to pass the hiring committee at FANG, you are obviously smart enough to accomplish anytime you put your mind to. I often see these stories and it's often, "poor old me, woe unto me..." and you know what? Yeah, woe unto them indeed.

If you believe you can, you can, if you believe you can't, you can't.

This unrealistic anti-pep-talk isn't helping anyone but yourself.

When you're actually painted into a corner in life, and really are facing a bad situation with no support whatsoever, you get defeatist. It happens. Human beings have feelings, and no amount of vapid self-actualization bullshit is going to make you stop feeling those feelings.

And sometimes there really aren't any other options. If you have no money, and nobody is hiring you, and you have bills to pay, and you have no money, you will have to accept a "lesser" job. This isn't "defeatist", it's real life. You can't wish yourself out of a bad situation. People often have to work hard, from the bottom, until they get a foothold, and then slowly, slowly work back up.

But it's still massively more difficult to do any of this when you're older, because nobody wants anything to do with you. You're the awkward old guy at networking events, in job interviews, virtually anywhere anyone can see or hear you. Nobody - govt, schools, hospitals, banks, enterprises - nobody wants to hire an old person.

Also - "starting your own shit" ? "other countries" ? How is somebody with no money, no contacts, and no collateral, supposed to pull those off? Just wander into a bank and bullshit your way into a loan? Corner some VCs at a cafe in the valley and win $50K off an elevator pitch?

> How is somebody with no money, no contacts, and no collateral, supposed to pull those off?

The ones I know who did it started by contributing to open source projects and developing a reputation. Employers often canvas open source projects looking to hire the better contributors.

I used to assume this was a path. The two luminaries I know (more famous than you even) did not seem to have luck with it.

My advice would be to do personal projects for the pure enjoyment of it, and for learning. I wouldn't expect great career payback, though.

It would need to be a fairly high profile open source project, one that would attract the attention of recruiters. Of course, you'd be compared against the other high profile contributors to it, but what better way to show you can do it?

There are other ways to raise one's profile. One could join the C++ Standard committee and actively participate in it. The top C++ companies will notice you. Or the standards committee of your favorite language.

One can submit papers to relevant conferences. Companies often attend conferences for the specific purpose of recruiting.

Even better, you can do the above without needing to relocate, and with minimal investment of funds.

Interesting thoughts, thanks for sharing

There's something to this. Certainly you have to limit the duration of feeling sorry for yourself.

But you also need to be a hard-nosed realist. Play the cards you actually have--not the ones you wish you had--as well as you can.

>If you believe you can, you can, if you believe you can't, you can't.

As a technical individual contributor, what matters is what you can do, not how you feel.

Edit: Yes, yes, all absolute statements are wrong; Attitude does matter some for technical jobs. But what you can do is overwhelmingly more important than your attitude in tech jobs, just like your attitude is overwhelmingly more important in management and sales.

Yes, at interviews, you must act engaged, and you must display what you can do, and that is kind of sales, but it's really easy mode sales.

Sure, I mean, it depends on job role. In sales? yeah, that attitude is required.

(To be clear, even in sales, that attitude is not sufficient. While it is absolutely necessary to project that sort of confidence, that unshakable self-belief, it is not sufficient. You still need to sell. Attitude is sometimes required; it is never enough.)

More specifically to the person you are responding to? when it comes to individual contributor technical roles? As long as you are engaged and interested in the technical questions? It's cool. Having a ridiculous Tony Robins kind of attitude can actually hurt you there; Most technical people don't want to work with a person who's true calling was sales. When I'm interviewing someone like that, every instinct I have is telling me to get them out of the office. I mean, I do my best to overcome my prejudices, and I will still evaluate them on technical merit, but man, it's not easy.

I think that outside of sales and management (note, that's a big part of running a business) defeatist talk and feeling are kinda normal, and unless they are overwhelming for too long, not really a problem.

This is the difference with technical work. What matters is not how you feel or what you project, but what you can do

While getting out from under my business I was super depressed and engaged in a lot of "negative self-talk" in public. And yeah, it probably hurt me on selling that business (I mean, I think I still got a fair deal for what the business was at the time.) but just because I wrote like I was depressed online, as long as I kept going for interviews (and acting engaged during those interviews) I don't think it hurt my prospects as a technical individual contributor much.

I mean, sales is... a different world from technical work. And yeah, I am going to have to come up with a new attitude if I want to go into management ever again But as a technical individual contributor? Ability is key, not attitude.

It is a good motivational speech however things can be much more complex at some stage...

>If you believe you can, you can, if you believe you can't, you can't.

This is what you tell a child, not a middle aged professional. You should really rethink how you talk to people.

It's tragic and I wish younger devs could have even a small understanding of how pernicious this phenomenon is. No, you won't escape it because you're awesome, or because you love learning new things etc etc.

I'm lucky: I switched into a role where deep domain experience is essential, I did a PhD, I'm one of the top experts in a growing field - I'm more or less insulated from this. Indeed, now I hire people and I'm actually one of the perpetrators of it. We get resumes, I look at them, and inevitably many of the younger people are both (a) cheaper and (b) more on-target with their skill sets. Then there is a much more subtle and non-explicit discrimination on top of that which involves a presumption that an experienced person will not be "happy" working in what they would perceive as a junior level role. That they would find another position and leave. So they honestly can't win - if they don't have the skills they don't get hired, if they do, it is presumed they are too experienced to be happy in the job.

There must be a massive wave of ageing developers that is coming that is 10x the size of what we have seen so far. Something will have to change somewhere, hopefully it will help us all discard some of these discriminatory practices.

>> a presumption that an experienced person will not be "happy" working in what they would perceive as a junior level role. That they would find another position and leave

I have never understood this line of thinking. How long will an inexperienced person, once they have gained a smidgen of experience, be happy in a "junior" level role?

Young people are naturally inclined to be scouting for bigger and better opportunities, while older folks are more likely to value stability and the quality of their work environment, and are usually encumbered in various ways that make them less able to quit a job and move at the drop of a hat.

I suppose there's a valid concern that older people won't be happy with a junior-level salary, but that's something that can be discussed, and many older people would be perfectly fine with a somewhat smaller salary (especially if the alternative is zero income or minimum wage).

At any rate, I would presume young people are more likely than older people to chafe at their role and jump to another company, and I wonder why so many have the opposite perception.

I'm a (relatively) young developer, and I already worry about it.

I enjoy and love working with new tech, I jump to new frameworks and ways of working quite often because it's good fun. I don't think that'll ever change.

I'm already worried for the day where I won't be able to do that because people won't perceive me as a young, hungry up and comer wanting to attack problems, and instead they'll see me as an entrenched, slow, older worker trying to tackle stuff best left to the young'ins.

When that day comes, I can see myself just setting my roots in a long term role in a particular tech that won't change, and I'll probably be bored out of my skull. I can envisage myself ending up going into management just to escape that.

The best teams I've worked with were the teams that had a mix of young and old, it balances a team the same as having a good gender split imho.

Ageism is overblown. The way to get a job for an older worker - I’m in my mid 40s - doesn’t change no matter what your age is. Make sure you have skills that the market wants, don’t get complacent at one company and keep your network warm including local recruiters.

Telling yourself that makes you feel better but it doesn’t change the reality that ageism is a thing.

My wife looked for years until I told he to give up and retire. Working as a consultant, I’m making double what I made as an employee but I’m exceptionally lucky.

Yes because it’s not reality that I’m 45 and find jobs quickly. When I was looking for a job at 42, I submitted my resume to 8 companies through recruiters and had no rejections and three offers in the course of three weeks. Two years later it took one or two weeks. My former manager is in his 50s, decided he was tired of managing after his kids retired and now is a full stack React/C# developer working with Azure.

All of the people he hired in his department who I still keep in touch with are over 40 and all found jobs shortly after he quit as either full stack JavaScript developers or back end .Net developers.

Yes, and I suppose sexual descrimination isn’t a problem in your world either (if you’re a man) but you know what - you aren’t everyone or even most 50 years olds.

I’m 0x39 and I don’t even look for work, it just finds me.

My wife also has 30+ experience and a masters in CS. Her last job was something like 3 years ago hacking/attacking Linux for Darpa for gods sake. She’s a sharp girl just not an outgoing one. No problem getting jobs when she was as young as you are but now, crickets.

Hacking Linux is a specialized skill that isn’t your average everyday job that you can just walk out into the street and get like your bog standard enterprise developer for yet another software as a service CRUD app.

Honestly, the broad market doesn’t care about a masters in CS. Of course it’s going to be harder to find a job with a highly specialized skill.

Why does it necessarily have to be ageism and not just that she doesn’t have market fit?

Previous to the DARPA job, she was doing enterprise development for places like Fidelity - very normal Java, JavaScript, database stuff for decades at multiple companies.

I am not attacking you specifically, but there are things you just don’t know or won’t believe if they haven’t happened to you. Heck, I would have been oblivious to this sort of thing (and sexual discrimination) if it wasn’t for my wife.

If she has a clearance and can write code I can get her hired within a week. Nobody cares about age here.

Feel free to hit me up if you're in NOVA and she's seriously looking for work.

Really? Someone attacking Linux on behalf of DARPA with her experience should instantly be looked at for a principal SDET role.

Standard testing and security testing are two different things.

45 isn't even old. That's mid-career.

The presumption about the junior level role is accurate but for reasons different than what you are thinking. It’s less about the work and more about the people.

Some junior developers have the potential to be great senior developers. They listen to mentorship and independently weigh decision criteria.

Many juniors don’t have this potential and some shouldn’t even be there in the first place. The need for recognition, entitlement, and fear of challenges are common behaviors that are anti-thetical to becoming a senior. In the extreme shitty juniors will become hostile when they feel threatened. It is easy to feel threatened when a good senior can output superior quality work in a fifth of the time.

Why would any competent person want to deal with that immaturity and insecurity? That kind of stupidity doesn’t just make me want to leave the job. It makes me want to abandon the career. You have to understand the senior person isn’t there to attack anybody or take anybodys job. They just don’t want to play the defensive survival games their peers may not realize they are playing.

If it weren’t for the people a junior role wouldn’t be so bad. A strong senior will find a way to shape it into something better, or will learn to manipulate things until large amounts of free time are exposed.

I take it you've worked with some junior engineers that brought neither the social nor the technical skill to their role.

Instead of considering them to be "so bad", an adept senior would work to develop these people. As a senior, use your social acuity, and bring your emotional intelligence to the table. If your juniors feel threatened, talk about it. Assuage their fears -- point out where they are doing well, and where they can improve. Work through the difficult problems, most likely individually, but through team retrospectives too (when appropriate-- never give individual feedback in a group setting).

This sounds like the approach is to avoid juniors as much as possible. And it's challenging to foster a high-performing team environment if that's the mindset one employs going into it.

I am a big fan of mentoring by tough love. Unfortunately, many juniors stop at tough. I can understand frustration and the anxiety that comes with unfamiliar challenges. What I don't understand is the constant desire for recognition or needing to be right like a simple decision is a battle for dominance.

I am all about mentoring people, but I do not savor working in an adult day care. The difference is whether the junior takes honest feedback and accept challenges or whether the junior wants immediate gratification. That distinction really comes down to personality and the wrong personalities are a real downer.

When you put “sensitive people make me sad” In your HN profile it debases your point of view.

I am ok with that for reasons sensitive people cannot accept.

Do you only hire young people or would you hire older PhDs?

So far we hired 2 younger and one older. However the older person did have some issues (not completely relevant to this discussion but perhaps indirectly so - he had some family obligations that became extremely burdensome) that resulted in him leaving. It sort of illustrates that part of the whole complexity of the situation is that older people can have complex lives and that has a business cost. So part of the discrimination is based on falsehoods, part of it is based on real things but is still discriminatory and part of it is actually genuine and legimitately pursing the interests of the business in a reasonable way. And none of that is clear when you are the one doing the hiring, it is all a murky mixture of your own perceptions, realities and emotions.

edit: to answer your question, would absolutely hire older PhDs.

  older people can have complex lives 
"Family obligations" affect young adults in their childbearing years more than 40+ with kids out and on their own way, generally.

Would you consider hiring older PhDs in the future or does the previous incident make you hesitant?

Glad to hear that, as a "mature" PhD

The population of this town is 6,300 [1]. This area of Canada is not known for tech (at all). I totally feel for this guy, it must totally suck, but moving might be a good option too. Or, try starting a business or remote work, if you have to live there. These are all hard things to do, but if you are really down and out, all options should be on the table. Or, look for something in a different line of work, where maybe you can leverage your tech skills? I know this isn't what the thread it about, as age is a major theme here. But, this seems like a little clickbait given there are likely not many jobs in this town. You could likely burn though all the job postings in a few days. I know this comes across as totally tone deaf too.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentville

The number of people I know who would kill to be able to move back to Nova Scotia is absolutely huge. Whatever jobs there are will have huge competition and very low wages.

I'm kind of in the same boat. 51. Working remotely while living in rural Japan. If I lose my job (or quit), it's either get another remote job or move. If I can't get a remote job quickly, I will not wait to find someone willing to relocate me -- I'll be on the first plane to somewhere huge where I can get a job.

Yeah, as soon as I saw that he was from Nova Scotia I thought that's his main problem right there. (I say this as a Canadian.)

I feel for this guy. Ageism is completely real and mostly missing from D&I initiatives.

However there is a 2nd lesson to be learned here. Why in the world does he not have any savings at 64? The article is scant on details, but does mention he was in the computer industry from his 20s, and raised his son, say, until roughly his 40s. That leaves 20 prime years of earning power w/o savings? Something is amiss.

To me this is the lesson learned. If you're in the IT space, live way below your means. Most of us should be earning fantastic salaries and saving it for the day when the same industry that called us "Rock Stars" dumped us as fast as one leaving their 15 minutes (read: years) of fame.

I don't like this blaming of people for not having foresight. You can do everything right and still lose it all.

Let's say he started a 401K in his 20s and slid the meter all the way to right (riskier investments). He would have encountered:

- 1980 recession, the one that got Reagan elected.

- 1990 recession, the one that got Clinton elected.

- 2001 recession, this one mainly affected tech workers.

- 2008 recession, this is the major one.

The GFC in 2008 have left a lot of older workers in the lurch. Many are now coming up on retirement and they were heavily invested in the stocks and not so much bonds. In my case my parents have lost $80k in their 401K. They have only just recovered.

And that example is just 401k, IRA. We won't even get into other matters such as health, divorce, property, lawsuits, failed businesses.

People who invested continuously throughout their working career have done just fine, even with the headwinds you list


If you had a 100% stock allocation for your 401k, you still would be fine, provided you picked broad market indexes. In fact, you'd have beaten most other portfolios.

It's not that 100% stocks doesn't give you long term return, on a 30 year spread, it gives better returns (although more volatile) than more balanced portfolios. 10% bonds, while you're young, is mostly just to keep you from freaking out and selling at a low point. If you have an iron will, there's nothing mathematically wrong with that level of risk.

My guess is there's more to this story than poor allocation.

Some really good Bogleheads discussion here:


I think its considerably easier now to not freak out when the market crash but back in the 80s ?

Perhaps, but the financial world is so much more complex now. All sorts of crypto currencies, tens of thousands of EFTs and index funds. Lots of FUD via social media and the internet. A million and one ways to lose your money.

That being said, indexing is common now but Active was more common in the 80s, so who knows how much money was lost on ineffective managers.

I see your point, however we all should have long term savings that we do not touch, even if things are falling apart. That used to be how pensions were.

Also keep in mind this guy is in Canada and the GFC was not nearly as severe as in the USA.

Should, not do.

The household savings rate in Canada is quite awful [0], and is currently at the lowest rate in their recorded history.

The US, where household savings are known to be bad, and it was recently seen how awful it was with government workers unable to pay for food, is at 6%. Canda is 0.8%.

[0] https://tradingeconomics.com/canada/personal-savings

Canada has lower salaries and higher taxes resulting in lower savings. But in a year should have cpp/old age.

Higher taxes is a form of compulsory savings. If they get sick, they don't go bankrupt.

we should also have our kids in a good school which costs a ton of money is america, either in form of expensive house or private school. then we are supposed to pay for college. we are supposed to have good health insurance for our family. there are a lot of things we are supposed to do and not everyone can afford to do them all.

If you don't sell the lows, a portfolio would still be up a lot over that time period.

I think even buying at the peaks you'd be up.

If he started in the eighties and contributed even a third of the limit, he'd be quite wealthy now even with the setbacks you mentioned. I've only been contributing since '07 and I'm at nearly $700k in my 401k.

Now, the information wasn't as easily available about how to properly invest back then, and I don't necessarily blame the guy for it. Not necessarily, but there is still probably a better than even chance that he has mismanaged his money, as so many do. Doesn't mean he should have to suffer, though.

How is your 401k invested? Contributing the maximum since 2007 would only give you (~187k @ 17k/yr average) and I don't see how you could have almost quadrupled that with anything but the riskiest of investments.

OK, I made an error above. Thanks for catching it. Yes, I have somewhat overstated the benefits of saving in a 401k. In my defense, it's been two years since I last fiddled with my settings, so I had lost track of what was what. Still, let me explain my mistake.

1. My employer matches 50% of my contribution up to the cap. Not entirely uncommon at big tech cos, but maybe less common in smaller enterprises.

2. I also did $50k of in-plan conversions over the last two years.

After you take all those sources out (and the resulting investment proceeds from the funds from those sources), my total is only $400k. I do still think it is correct that someone investing ($2019)5k/y since the 80s would have generated a sizable nest egg by now, but my own experience does not make that case as strongly as I had thought.

Actually, when I run it through a calculator assuming 5% total returns, it looks like that hypothetical person only saves about $700k. Which is enough to live a reasonably good life in retirement, but not marvelous wealth by any stretch.

It's not uncommon to hold additional investment accounts outside of your 401k. So more than likely, YoY investment was close to 30-40k including 18k pre tax.

And to add: low interest rates that tend to follow crashes, especially after the 2008 crash, make purchase of annuities even more expensive.

It wasn't until 2010 that pre-existing conditions were allowed in health insurance.

Programming/computing wages weren't that great years ago. I guess there were a few corporate exceptions, like Microsoft, but so many Programmers/IT guys were not paid well, and there were no benefits. This is when companies were called companies, not Start-ups.

When this current bubble of essentially free money ends, many of you will be in the same boat as this man.

And it does seem like once you turn 50-55 you are conviently let go.

This is the real America. There's a huge swath of 50-65 year olds whom just gave up. While the unemployment rate looks great, that number that measures the people whom are not disabled, but not working, is higher than ever.

I don’t think it makes sense to make blanket statements like this. The best engineer I’ve ever worked with is probably in his high 50s/ low 60s and there is no way he will ever be let go considering how valuable he is to the org, not only because he has great output but also because he’s a really good mentor to younger developers.

As other people in this thread have mentioned I think the ageism is worst for those who arent standouts. But I imagine in almost all fields, you will have trouble as someone with 20+ years of experience getting a good job without being pretty good at the job at that point

"If you're in the IT space, live way below your means."

That translates to: "If you're in a high paying, in demand field, save more aggressively than if you're in a low paying field with limited opportunities"

Honestly, those in the IT field should be able to get away with saving a bit below recommended levels, in part because pay is higher, in part because demand is growing with no signs of slowing down. It's all those other people who should be saving more aggressively!

You don't have to save as aggressively as the people working towards FIRE (financially independent, retire early) but given that the future is unknown, and that the industry does have ageism - saving as hard as you can from the day you graduate isn't a bad thing.

I think what was meant was "If you're in a high paying, in demand field, save more aggressively (in absolute terms) than if you're in a low paying field with limited opportunities."

Since you're getting paid more, you can put away more money while saving a smaller fraction of your paycheck.

I very much agree with this. We save >>50% of take-home in large part because I'm paranoid/convinced that this gravy train is going to make an unceremonious crash in the future.

Divorce or family illness are two things you can't plan for, either one of which could wipe you out no matter how much you saved.

It's easy to say crap like have 6 months of savings. My partner was laid off during an industry-wide crash. She was unemployed for a year, and it took her 7 years (a complete career change) to regain anything like her former earnings. Very few people have the savings to be out of work, or earning 1/4 of what they used to, for years on end.

Meanwhile, you've accumulated a life dependent on a certain income level. That's true even if you live within your means; going from making $200k a year to $40k a year requires a different apartment, a different (or no) car, a different gym, etc etc.

People on here should ask folks who lived through the dot com crash in sfbay what that time was like.

This is why it's very important not to let your spendings increase with your income... As my income increased, I went from saving 30% of my income to saving 80% of my income... I did increase my spendings by a bit but not nearly as much as my income increased.

The other important thing to have is a good insurance.

The main reason I'm doing this is that I want to make sure I can retire at 40 but working toward that goal is a great way to protect oneself in case of setbacks.

> a different gym

Perhaps no gym?

You picked the easiest in the list. Try selling your house for a fair price and see how long it'll take.

Try getting out of a gym contract! I'm only half-kidding!

his divorce was in his 20s. Alimony couldn't be longer than 10 yrs (note he's in Canada, so Canadian law applies), similar for health care.

the article didn’t say he didn’t save, the article said that he run out consuming his savings. he also talks about buying meds. Life can throw curves at you that no saving account can sustain. Don’t judge people unless you have walked on their shoes would be a reasonable advice.

I mean, this is basically what happens to rock stars - so it seems an appropriate reference.

So here's some hiring anti-patterns I've seen, it's not just millennial managers, but I've seen these patterns in lots of companies and interviews.

1. Managers that want to hire people they could be best friends with. Drinking buddies, social media socialites, etc. Don't confuse this with hiring their best friends, they just feel more comfortable around people that they could socialize with.

2. Managers that don't want anyone to undermine their technical authority. And the best way a manager with 5 years of experience can keep his authority is to not hire an engineer with 20 years of professional experience.

3. Managers that think the culture of a company would turn more boring if they hired middle-aged workers. So they must hire young people only. They can usually get away with it if they hire 80% college graduates mostly.

4. There must be something wrong with the person if he didn't get into management by the age of 50.

>4. There must be something wrong with the person if he didn't get into management by the age of 50.

This idea amuses/saddens me. Personally, i know a few older technical people (myself included) who have been managers and chose to return to non-manager work. Non-developers (including non-technical managers) seem to have real trouble accepting that someone would not want to be a manager. Hands on techies usually get the attraction of spending your time building stuff Vs going to meetings, shielding your team from political goings on, taking calls, setting budgets, and moving jira tickets around.

Strongly disagree with #4. If you stay in middle management you are basically the easiest target for company "re-structuring" and your position will be made obsolete in a moment - as you are expensive, visible and easily replaceable with a more enthusiastic/younger/cheaper/less vocal individuals. I have seen it many times, such people are unemployable after years of management on this level.

This seems very true to me. I have only middle managers survive are un-management like. They would join 3 AM troubleshooting, prod deployment calls, be available on weekends. In general about as much concerned as tech lead if not more.

#1 and #3 you can probably avoid by working remotely. The thing with remote work is, companies usually look for devs with above average skills, they also look for devs with previous remote experience and of course awesome communication. As for #4, that's a difficult one, I think you could probably get around #4 if you have a great portfolio of working projects

There is a natural repercussion for being a manager who passes on talent, and hires something less. You lose. Unless you are in a company where being good doesn't make a difference.

Working in a company that hires poorly is its own punishment. Dodge the bullet.

Disclaimer: I don't approve ageism in tech, I'm merely trying to explain the reasoning of the other side of the negotiation table.

The unspoken truth about the job market is that the older you get, the more you should rely on your network when finding jobs. Simply maintain professional contact with 5-20 people that worked with you, know that you can deliver and would recommend you (citing the projects you successfully completed together), hire you directly, or at least give you a gig. Yes, it's a completely orthogonal skill to doing the actual job, but this is something that successful hires do.

So if a 65-year-old person files a cold-call application for a management position (that involves building professional relationships with your colleagues in order to make things succeed), it is very reasonable to ask what happened to their network and why nobody from the network would not have recommended them.

The article actually gives a hint when it mentions selling the assets and accumulating credit card debts. I'm sorry to say that, but this is an evidence of poor resource management. A good resource management strategy in this case would be:

1. Damn, I've lost my job. OK, I have X months on runway. Let's try to find another management position.

2. Oops, my runway is at 80% with no offers. I get 10% conversion ratio from applications to interviews and 0% from interviews to offers. Let's cut down expenses and try experimenting with what I do on the interviews.

3. Crap, runway is at 60%, still no offer. Let's kick down and try to find a dev position.

4. Runway is at 40%, no offer as a dev, still 100% cutoff after the interview. Let's try to apply for a remote position.

5. Runway is at 20%. Get a freakin' trade that people can realistically do in my age, secure recurring income, try to step up and find a remote dev job.

Nothing personal, but if you cannot manage that, you will likely not succeed at managing a multi-million dollar software project either.

This. On the network. This.

For you young whippersnappers (say up to 35), get out, talk to people. Get known. Go to conferences. Establish a reputation.

For you older folks (36+), you might not believe you have a network, but LinkedIn is, despite being crappy in a number of ways, a reasonably good tool for growing your network, connecting with people, and so on. I am not talking about its "jobs" features. I am talking about reaching out and connecting with good people you know, who happen to be networked to someone you might like to meet.

I'm a consultant in my 30s and I worry about my 50's and 60's. I feel like, if I don't get a recurring revenue product going that sells itself without the trade of time for money, I'll be totally screwed. I've tried and failed a few times on various projects, and it feels like time is running out. There are definitely fewer attempts left in me and it takes a hell of a lot of energy to stay positive and try all over.

You want to know a secret for finding engineers as a startup? Be open to hiring any fifty and over engineer that you verify can do the work. Word will get out and you will be flooded with qualified applicants.

I can imagine telling your VC's, oh no we don't use agencies and spend at most 5% of the CEO's time on hiring. When they express puzzlement just tell them a wise mentor gave you his secret.

Yeah, I don't get this age-ism thing at all. I'm approaching my 50's, and I'm still climbing in my effectiveness and productivity. I haven't even yet reached the top of my game yet. I am getting better every year.

Proportionally, I bring to the table 5-10x (at least) greater value than those just-out-of-school with no experience. But I'm only paid 1.5x of their salary.

Granted, there are some folks out there that have been slacking off their whole careers, and after 20+ years, they're very good at it. But in terms of dollar spent to unit of value, I believe mid-career folks like me are way more economically valuable overall.

Professional resume writer and career consultant here, approaching 50, and I’ve helped rehabilitate careers of many clients in similar situations. The line that caught my eye was his quote “I have been unemployed for a long time." I believe the stigma of extended unemployment is worse than ageism.

What I do is a mix of marketing (maximize assets, minimize liabilities, optimize everything), strategy for job search (beyond “spray and pray” resume broadcasting), and building confidence for interviews and the general approach. You have to believe you’ve earned a seat at the table.

There is always more to stories like this. Qualified candidates can overcome ageism with proper understanding of the market conditions.

I'd like to believe this but I've seen some really great contributors just get unlucky for 6 months or more, and then all of a sudden it's been a year and things are starting to look strange.

It's a great market for developers to get hired, but it's still possible to fall through the cracks especially if you aren't good at the specific skill of job searching.

I appreciate the thoughts, and luck does play a part but there are definitely methods to maximize your chances. I tend to find many older workers aren’t aware of how to find a job in the modern market or how to best approach companies. Job search has changed significantly in just the past few years, let alone the past decade.

I'm 45 and I know a bunch of people far older than me who are highly-valued on their teams. Even in Silicon Valley I found younger engineers enjoy working with super-experienced people _IF_ those years actually translated to expertise. What you can't do is sit on your ass for decades then expect to be rewarded for treading water when the cozy job at BigCo finally dries up. All of the computing industry gets more competitive each year. Age gives you a head start if you are _actually_ using the time to keep growing, IMO. Often, people get older and get comfy and stop learning, or they lose the ability to related to younger talent on the team, which is just an essential business skill, like it was when you were young and had to relate to older people. And, if you actually have real skills, but a company won't hire you because the leaders think superficially, you should filter them from the list of companies you stake your future on.

As an aside from the OP, I am 52 and building a startup. I often get the feeling when talking to accelerators and angel investors etc. that they balk when seeing my age. Experience doesn't seem to count for much these days - they seem to be looking for 20-something old young people who are prepared to 'hustle' and 'crush it' and work 20 hour days.

I am willing to bet that most founders who started their companies 10+ years ago would struggle to get a job at those same companies now if they approach them as an applicant off the street today.

In startup accelerator world, people with white hairs are brought in when the the team needs an "adult" to manage things. At an earlier stage, having someone who is 35 or 45 or 55 or 65 might make the VCs and advisors feel awkward.

1) Have a friend (more better) who can hire you. It's usually better to look for programming work when you're employed.

2) Work (or rather, look for work) remotely; this is already mentioned.

3) Work through a contracting company, preferably owned by you. Let somebody else - maybe much younger if needed - do negotiations with customer companies. After those companies start seeing your work, age issues can be reduced.

So far, this hasn't been my experience. I've written books. I have a very strong network among funders and experienced management. I'm probably in the top few percent of candidates my age because I consciously built those advantages, some of which can't be reproduced by everyone in my age cohort looking for a job. But, just because I saw ageism coming at me, doesn't mean that it is excusable.

Age discrimination is something that needs to be eradicated in tech as much as sexism and racism. I won't mince words: I mean sexism and racism, not "lack of diversity." Ageism is just as bad. Investors: If your portfolio is infected with these diseases, it raises your risk. Inoculate against it. Don't fund diseased founders.

Indeed. By definition, not everyone can be in the top few percent.

I hope it's clear that that is effect and not cause.

I have 50 years of programming, co-authored 4 commercial languages, many technical papers, years of research, lead developer on open source, work on hardware (FPGAs), robotics, operating systems, and AI.

When I get the results of my interviews it always includes the phrase "not a good culture fit" (translation: too old).

When I tried to join a class action suit against one company the lawyer told me that the language was VERY specific and would exclude me (and many, many others).

If you're listening David, here are my suggestions. Keep in mind I don't have nearly the wealth of experience you would obviously have.

* Refresh both http://www.avidaid.ca/ your websites with a modern feel http://www.avidaidmedia.ca/ Hire a designer for a fixed price on https://www.upwork.com/ or other freelancer site. Your potential employers will look you up and they don't want to find dated visuals like these. If you don't want to refresh the look of both sites, then take one down. An asset should make you look good, not detract from the perception it might create for you.

* Make sure your site(s) are HTTPS. Get on google and figure out how to do this (or pay the upwork freelancer to do it) and then it can be a talking point in an interview (how passionate you are about security and privacy, for example).

* Remove the word "President" from "President, Senior Project Manager and Consultant at Avidaid Inc." on your CV/linkedin. If you're going to a PM or consulting role then you have to have other roles which show you've done this recently. The "President" thing could work against you: "wow, this guy probably wants way more then we're prepared to pay"

* Maybe try dressing down just a tad - a some nice chinos or a collared shirt but not tucked in perhaps. I'm kinda spitballing here so just have a think about it. If the companies have heaps of younger folks then maybe you could do something to make them feel a little more comfortable in the interview. I personally know I'd be pretty intimidated if a candidate came in all suited up for a PM role. I'm not saying you want the "golf course" look. Just something a little more relaxed perhaps?

* Lastly, the "corporation" and "us" language on your website avidaid.ca is not going to work in your favour I don't think. Your linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/dwimsett/ and the tired website suggest there are heaps of folks working at your consultancy. I can only assume this is a false pretence given the CBC article. I would prefer to see a portfolio which talks about "you"!!! (personally) and highlights projects, interactions and specific work-related interests which you are likely to be passionate about. This will excite me as a hiring manager.

I hope this helps mate.

Those sites are rough. Another option is a website builder like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly. Might be cheaper than Upwork and will at least get you started with a decent layout / theme.

Run the text on your site through grammarly.com, I'm seeing a typo at the end of the 1st sentence. And I agree with cottsak that the use of "we" doesn't help. Here's a thought, how about reaching out to @AustinAllred of @LambdaSchool (on twitter) to see if they want to try taking on the more grizzled set? (do they pay living expenses?) Alternatively, there's trucking. Big shortage for now, and reasonably high pay.

Heartbreaking. I'm only partially in what could be considered tech, but I constantly try to move groups in my industry every few years to constantly pick up new skills. I honestly think I have enough random skills now: databases, programming, systems integration, mastery of a variety of common industry tools, project leadership, specific domain theory and understanding of the math that underlays my industry. However, is it enough and if the whole industry fades, where do I go next?

The problem with tech is that if you did something just a few years ago you are considered "outdated" and this experience doesn't count. For example I wrote heavy duty C++ code until 2012 for more than 10 years but during interviews I often get zero credit for this experience. "You haven't used C++ 17".

When I was on my first job, we got a resume from someone twenty years older than us. Her resume was tossed aside quickly, but I fought with HR to get her to interview with us. She easily turned out to be the best hire ever for our team - she didn't know Java from assembly, but her common sense and problem solving abilities were orders of magnitude higher than any of the "young, hip, programming wizards" in the company at the time. If not for her, my team would've failed miserably. More than a decade later, I still fondly and humbly remember her.

Any time I see younger folks ignoring/mistreating older folks, it annoys me to no end. As a industry, we need to learn to value experience and wisdom as much as we value speed and smartness. And we don't need to accept just because "HR said so" or "manager said so". At minimum, we need to make them understand that there are lots of older folks who can be great asset to the organization.

end rant!

To me, this is what bugs me about the “diversity” brigade - most of the time the conversation is based around ethnicity, physical abilities, or gender but for being long-term thinking we seem to have forgotten that diversity means _everyone_ that can contribute, including age / experience. Simply being old doesn’t necessarily make you better or faster, but it does tend to give you skills. Skills that were acquired over a long career. Skills that make them a nightmare for obscure bugs.

Some folks I’ve hired were older than my father but I valued them for their experience in other industries and to lend their perspectives to how things should be. It is heartbreaking to think that we could be throwing away thousands or millions of man years of valuable lessons - some we should repeat and others we shouldn’t.

That’s one thing I have noticed in all diversity material. It’s always young good looking people. There are no older, overweight, disabled or other types of people. It seems the diversity movement has changed the favored groups but I am not sure it’s much more inclusive.

I guess everyone's idea of diversity is different and no-one's idea includes every group :(

I've tried using paraphrases like this "but it does tend to give you skills. Skills that were acquired over a long career. Skills that make them a nightmare for obscure bugs." It falls flat, and all I get quizzical stares.

We can’t all be James Mickens when it comes to prose in professional discussions unfortunately. If people get it, that’s still a side comment that can carry more depth but the words should still be of substance to the point being made because trying to stop your content for comedic / dramatic effect can backfire as you’ve observed, especially with a diverse audience. Being inclusive and respectful to your audience doesn’t mean stopping with referential humor / puns entirely though IMO. Heck, quoting some random famous person in your slides is kind of the time honored name drop of smart people humblebragging but few seem to say that’s a practice that’s alienating compared to ping pong or beer in the workplace.

A well functioning organization needs a mix of younger and older people.

Yeah, only the last 2 years matter.

It’s really funny, because I’d never worked in Node.js until like 6 months ago, but everyone at the company seemed to think I had years of experience.

It’s surprising how well skills transfer.

Seriously? Like how hard is it to go from C++ prior to 2012 or whatever to 2017? Would it take you a couple of months to get up to speed on the features in 2014 & 2017 that they're actually using? I can understand giving you a bit less credit than someone with up to date experience, but zero? It makes me so glad I'm not a developer.

C++11 and up is legitimately very very different from C++03 and below.

But someone working on C++ prior to 2012 could still have encountered and experienced C++11.

Probably not, there was a really long latency between the spec coming out in 2011 and compiler support. Multiple years.

I am pretty sure I have used things like “auto” and anonymous functions around 2011. The support wasn’t complete but there was already a lot available.

Stuff like range based for would have just come out.

Must be some recruiter saying that because I cannot imagine a tech savvy HR saying that to you?

In a sense it’s probably a filter. Reasonable people give me credit but especially a lot of young guys can’t imagine that people did valuable stuff 5 or 10 years ago.

Our client was impressed with your skills and you are a perfect fit for the team, however your Angular 3.46 knowledge was not enough to consider you for this role at this moment. Please, feel free to re-apply! :)

I wonder if he'd have an easier time as a architect/IT-planning consultant. Clients may perceive less financial risk and grey hair might actually be an asset. I'm acutely aware of my ticking career clock after reading several of these stories in the last year.

My singular focus right now as a “Millennial” is to save enough before 40 to retire if I choose to and, at the same time, figure out how to become self sufficient so that I am not reliant on someone else for income by 35.

Effectively I want to “retire” from having a “job” working for someone else long before I “retire” from earning income.

What's the catch though? Higher stress during 20s and 30s?

High earning job and living well below means with a good amount of luck

Look into index funds and Bogle heads lazy portfolio. There are communities dedicated to financial independence (FIRE) on the internet that can help you with these goals.

I also find it interesting as with the experience it is more difficult to answer certain interview questions. 10 years ago a question like "how do you make sure your code changes in production do not cause outages" wouldn't cause me any headaches but now I am getting stuck as this is something I can talk about for hours and I need to know the context and the details of it so I start thinking what the scope of my answer should be and what they want to hear from me in the next minute or two and that I probably have to squeeze my experience into this two minutes and it is hardly possible so what should I start with? While I am thinking about all this, it probably looks like I have nothing to say at all. It's sad :)

A portion of y’all are 20 somethings who do not know real life. Refrain from giving life advice.

Wasn't that the whole point of this: not to discriminate based on age?

I feel bad for the guy because my dad goes through the same thing, being in IT and being 66, it's hard for him to find anything.

But stop blaming everything on millennials, damn it. We didn't create age bias and blaming millennials for everything is such a cop-out that ignores real issues. Latching onto this idea that millennials are out to get you "because millennials" is extremely toxic and is the reason why there's such a generational divide.

I feel like there is less of a stigma for older contractors. Might be a good idea if you’re getting older in a tech career to shift from full time to contract work?

That makes a lot of sense since the company isn't as invested in a temp/contract hire as opposed to a full time employee. Hiring managers might be more willing to take a chance on an older contract worker than an older full time staff. And frankly speaking, the guy is a temp/contract worker whether he realizes it or not. Even if he secured a full-time position, he'd be the first to be laid off during a recession or downsizing.

But to be doing contract work at 64 can be rough. Is he willing or able to travel/commute at that age? But definitely something to consider.

Health insurance is a son of a bitch when you're older, though =[ it's not necessarily a bad plan, but those insurance rates go through the roof.

He's from Canada. We get basic medial coverage for free. Well, if you are not working it is free, if you are working it is like $50-100/month (depending on your pay level). This is often covered by your employer too, again if you are working. So, there is no real issues there as he gets older.

Oh, that's awesome! Remind me to move to Canada... Vancouver isn't too far from Seattle =) tax rate isn't that much higher, these days, either from my understanding (depending on your income).

Edit: Though, you guys aren't taking us in anymore as easily, these days, though huh? =) I say this all mostly in jest. I do think things will even out here and cooler minds will prevail, eventually.

Vancouver tech salaries though are terrible by comparison with Seattle or even Toronto.

These workers often outperform younger ones. It's well known. To make such poor decisions as a manager they are disadvantaging their own company.

I'm starting to notice that in the Bay Area, older tech workers are more stable then fresh transplants, simply because we've been around long enough to get affordable housing. I make about 15k less then I might otherwise, but its not really an issue for me because I own my home.

Someone on HN recently recommended a book called Developer Hegemony and I'm a bit over a third of the way through it. If you're starting to approach the age where discrimination will become an issue, and you're of the opinion that you'd better start climbing the corporate ladder as high and fast as you can in order to avoid unemployment, I recommend reading at least the first 1/3 or so of this book. (I don't yet know what the remaining 2/3 is about.)

This story scares me. I'm not that far off from my 60s and still have kids to get through high school and college. My strategy is to keep my tech skills even as I move more into management. Hopefully, after I'm deemed to old to work in silicon valley, I can still do remote contract work slinging code.

Unsatisfied expectations of the interviewer?

Maybe it's better to list full experience, instead of limiting to 20 years? And mention the age.

To prepare them better, rather than surprising.

At least he would need to spend less time on interviews with people not ready to hire a 64 year old, and only talk to people who are ready.

That is not a good advice. If you wait for this ideal role for your skills/age - it might never happen. They will not agree you are an ideal candidate even if you tick each checkbox from your perspective (or someone else was quicker or cheaper or whatever). One should try every opportunity as the things are very often unpredictable in the job search quest.

IMHO the opportunity reduces if you plan to surprize them at the in person interview by the difference between the impression your resume makes and the reality.

They invited a different guy than shows up at the interview - it's difficult to call an opportunity.

My father started feeling this in his 50's, then he got his master's degree and his callback rate increased significantly. Now he's in his 60's he's getting a PhD so he'll be marketable as an old guy, even if that is just as an adjunct professor.

FWIW, the adjunct role is very low pay, for quite a bit of work. They pay you for contact hours. 2 lectures per week is 2-4 contact hours. They don't pay you for time grading, traveling, answering questions/office hours, etc.

I've looked at doing that (PhD and over 50) to augment my own income, but the time commitment is huge, compared to the compensation.

He knows where is the problem but does not use this knowledge to take a proactive stance.

"yes I know that I'm old, BUT shouldn't be a problem for the job because... (I keep learning, update my skills often, can do X) ... etc, etc"

>>take a proactive stance

What would that entail?

Address the point in the first minutes of the interview and turn it into an advantage.

If the other part is nervous about your age, talk casually about how this will not be a problem. Be humble, calm, and redirige the conversation toward focusing in your best skills, from more modern to more old techniques. Skills that you can offer because you are not so young as the other candidates, and you love your job enough to keep trying even if you not became an unstable rockstar/diva programmer.

Agree that dying the hair a little, at his home would help. Just to pass from all white to some shade of grey. A 64 man with silky black hair would look ridiculous.

Someone else mentioned dressing less formally. He can work out. He could also dye his hair and... keep in mind the guy is fairly desperate here... wear makeup.


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