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 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.
I seen good project management. It is magical. Then the manager left. Everything slowed down to a crawl.
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.
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?
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
>>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.
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.
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.
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.
It's literally where we get the name "Meritocracy" from. The book "The rise of the Meritocracy" was a satire, not a manual.
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.
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?
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?
My (short) experience working in health care suggest both are very bad qualifications for a health professional.
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?
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.
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?
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)
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.
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.
Actual meritocracies are rare, but that doesn't mean we should redefine "meritocracy" to be the the distorted (and more common) version of it.
That's absolutely untrue.. you really discredit yourself when you say provably false things like this.
If not; it’s pretty fun.
Likewise. And look, I've offered just as much proof as you did.
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.
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.
There's endless free material online for those who actually want to learn.
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.
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.
If it was desperate, the pay would be better.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
They have eyes, and age shows. Wrinkles, greying hair etc.
Its not that hard to spot old people.
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.
Anyway dying/shaving your hair etc will help you mask 50 vs 45, but when you're 60...
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.
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!
(For the forseeable future, I have lots to live for. Promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.)
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.
Was this someone you spoke to in anyway? Or was there any rationale hinted at?
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.
If you believe you can, you can, if you believe you can't, you can't.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is what you tell a child, not a middle aged professional. You should really rethink how you talk to people.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Feel free to hit me up if you're in NOVA and she's seriously looking for work.
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.
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 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.
edit: to answer your question, would absolutely hire older PhDs.
older people can have complex lives
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Also keep in mind this guy is in Canada and the GFC was not nearly as severe as in the USA.
The household savings rate in Canada is quite awful , 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%.
I think even buying at the peaks you'd be up.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
Since you're getting paid more, you can put away more money while saving a smaller fraction of your paycheck.
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.
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.
Perhaps no gym?
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.
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.
Working in a company that hires poorly is its own punishment. Dodge the bullet.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
* 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.
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.
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.
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.
Effectively I want to “retire” from having a “job” working for someone else long before I “retire” from earning income.
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.
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.
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.
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.
They invited a different guy than shows up at the interview - it's difficult to call an opportunity.
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.
"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"
What would that entail?
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.