Here's one you might ask: Why? I'm pushing 60 and I've attempted to interview for developer jobs over the last year. Got nowhere despite 40 years of experience. Getting really, really tired of this industry's attitude toward people like me.
Based on questions below, I'll give a bit more. Earlier this year I had a personal referral into Facebook for a developer position. They do hiring centrally. A very young person in the HR department spoke to me, put me in the central database, and apparently shopped my experience around to a number of different groups. No takers. No one wanted to interview me, so the application died. Never did a tech assessment.
So now I've started a new group, and I expect this thing is going to generate a lot more money than any work at Facebook ever would. So Facebook did me a favor. Still, it rankles.
The idea of that is just so hilarious to me, but I totally get it. When you have groups of 20 somethings without any older leadership, they can obvious do really amazing things. But, sometimes you get a group of them that just have no clue about things they will learn in the coming decades. When I started in the 80's, there were older, more experienced people around. I felt it was my job to hoover up all the wisdom and knowledge they had. I watched Bill Joy and Sam Leffler pour over just acquired code from BBN. That code? TCP/IP that would be merged into Berkeley UNIX. There are so many times I peered over shoulders just to watch something I barely understood. I hope this sort of thing happens today. I just never read about it (and I might not be looking in the right places).
I suspect it's rooted in the historic youth of computer aficionados back during the early-mid PC era in the 1970s and 1980s, and a cargo cult idea that youth was the ingredient that made this stuff happen. Instead it was the other way around. The youth of the participants was a product of all this stuff being so new. Now that the PC revolution is almost 50 years old there are tons of people who know computers very well in all age groups.
This may sound very cynical, but it's literally how big consultancies (not only in tech) define their hiring strategies - PwC being one of the prime examples, where new hires already come in expecting to have a bad and underpaid experience, in exchange for a strong label in the CV
That and there's no better place where you can cast a wide net to catch large amounts of people, with a repeatable cadence and well defined bar, than a university/bootcamp group/education program of any sort. If you're playing a numbers game (eg recruiters that get paid per hire, managers that get rewarded for empire building, etc), nothing can beat that "pipeline".
I’m not 50-60 but so this already. I still haven’t found a way to prevent people from inserting me into these train wreck projects. I call it out, it’s ignored, I’m labeled “not a team player”, and end up on most managers shit list.
Not when multiplied by number of hours foolishly spent on employer interests while caught up in the competitive frenzy with effectively zero other obligations.
The only time those offices had lights on after hours were when the cleaning people occupied them.
My assumption has been even after the nest empties these folks have better things to do like relaxing in their preferred home(s), eating their preferred meals, sleeping in their preferred bed, all accompanied by their preferred people. They have substantial obligations to self, and feel entitled to that having put in their time in years past.
Young people suck at setting boundaries let alone enforcing them. Older people generally take better care of themselves and don't fall for the infantilizing exploits of "startup culture".
Companies need to wake up and look at some of the best resources out there. The over 50 crowd! But they don't. When I was laid off in late 2008 it took me nearly 2 years to find a contract job until the position opened up with my current employer.
For me as a young coder, the long hours were less about office amenities and more about me a) wanting to get the work done and b) not having a whole lot of other things to do. I got to work at 9:00am or so, and if I stayed until 9:00pm, I'd still have energy to go out to dinner with friends/roommates until midnight or so. Rinse & repeat.
As a 20+ year older version of myself, getting home late means I don't see my child before he goes to bed. I also go to bed earlier because I'm up and awake to deal with said child by 6-6:30am at the latest.
I worked at a place with a foosball and ping-pong table in 2018, but they were infrequently used, and when they were in use, it was always the same three guys.
Incidentally most startups I've been part of, there were just a few guys doing the vast majority of the heavy lifting while the rest treated it as just another 9-5.
Is there a way to identify that talent and pay them more?
Or find them and poach them?
I assumed this was the kind of thing Microsoft was already doing with both github and linkedin under their belt, either for bolstering their own ranks or as a paid service to offer recruiters.
He made the biggest land grab for developer and engineer mindshare in history, and Microsoft will be able to turn that into advantages across so many different efforts.
They're playing at the next level.
Also, once the dev's kids are in college, their time frees up tremendously. I'm not sure that's recognized.
There are a lot of negative consequences of this sort of “factory hiring” mentality (for one, you exclude huge numbers of some groups of people because everything is one size fits all), but if you contrast with hiring experienced folks, it’s way more streamlined. You don’t have to do sourcing, figure out location/geography, match up skill sets and team fit, deal with expectations around title/role, etc.
A lot of people mention salary and hours worked, but I suspect the real limiting factor in hiring at fast growing companies is time and staffing to do hiring, and if all you care about is the number of people typing code, you get new grads being overrepresented
Then there really is a tendancy of software engineers to exit the profession in the 35-45 time frame. I actually ran data from the bureau of labor statistics and found that effect to be true- the number of 35-45 year old programmers/software engineers in 2010 was noticeable large than the number of 45-55 year old programmers in 2020.*
Those things combined make software developers still trend very young.
* Yes, they may be dropping out due to ageism, but I also suspect that many burn out and move to adjacent roles. Ageism and barriers to entry are more interesting in explaining on why we don't see more older people entering the profession
Where do they go?? I’m tired of the daily BS I have to put up with as a developer but don’t know where else to go. I don’t want to be any kind of manager (double and triple booked meetings aren’t my thing).
There are two types of young software companies:
- Some companies hire a smaller amount of experienced people who really know what they're doing, know what they're worth, and compensates them appropriately.
- Other companies hire a larger amount of bright, motivated young people that don't know how to do anything, trains them up quickly, then tries to milk them for 1-3 years until they smarten up enough to leave.
I don't think it's as exploitive as it sounds. The young people get a slingshot early in their career and a good bullet point on their resume, and they're free to leave whenever they want. And most do leave in due time to do bigger and better things.
I'm a member of Mensa, skipped 3 grades of math when I was younger, am almost done with my 4th degree, and nobody wants me because I'm not in either of those two groups. 2-3k resumes, 4 interviews made it past the initial phase for Analyst/PM positions. It's a problem, trust me.
I skip any resume that I see where someone "brags" about how smart they are -- I care about teamwork and how open to new or different ideas someone is, and both of those are orthogonal axes to "intelligence" in my experience.
It's ludicrous for you not to accept a pay cut if 10-20k given your lack of experience. Get off your high horse!
You go to Stanford and MIT (already pre-filtered) and find kids that are really good. You don't have to overcome existing job obligations, etc.
Then this cascades with referrals from this group. A lot of software/silicon valley companies haven't been around that long so people haven't had time to work there for decades and become older.
Silicon Valley has an advantage (fame, high pay) that makes it easier for them to focus recruitment on highly selective schools. This creates knock on effects.
I’m just describing what I think is happening, nothing else.
I'm a bit over 50. I have a wife, child, house, and obligations outside work. I'll put in 40 - 45 hours a week and I'll go home.
When I was 22, I had some weeks when I put in over 100 hours. There's no scenario where that happens today.
Profitable companies, however, tend to have older folks as they understand their industry and understand how to extract money from it.
Follow the money. College kids are cheap. Someone who's been coding for 40 years knows what he's worth and won't fall for vaporware stock options instead of proper health insurance.
"I've done a lot of neat things in my career, but I love to learn new things and I always hate it when one says "well the way we did it here was such-and-such, thus that must be the correct way"
and he literally replied:
"thank god, we have hired too many people from Facebook as their first job and they think that just because they did it at Facebook, that theirs is the only way - and they are like 22 years old"
When I was at FB, I noticed this - too many people wanted to be the Big-Swinging-Dick in whatever area... too much ego attached to their current position... not enough *wisdom*
Anyway - at 46 - I regret how much time I put into my career (meaning directly focused on work - rather than relationships - as my ~26 years in tech have garnered me nothing but lost relationships because I was too focused on "uptime" -- QUALITY DOWNTIME (in life) TRUMPS TECHNICAL UPTIME IN TECH.
Now with a ~1.5 year gap in experience... I am floundering looking for something to do, and I lament going to the fricken Nursery to buy mosses, and envy the guy watering them..
Anyway - if you need any (previously highly technicals) who are now relegated to PM as opposed to OPs -- I'd love to give you a try.
The laws on age discrimination are about discriminating against old people, but not about discriminating against young people.
If age discrimination is real, that means that people are not valuing older people properly - they're undervaluing them. You could have roles that are explicitly only hiring people 40+ and that restriction would be legal (at least as I understand it).
I think this would be interesting to try.
While age discrimination is certainly real, I think it's also conflated with the fact that there just isn't a lot of demand for people who are good at their jobs in general.
I'd liken it to how, if you take up baking, then on pretty much your first try you can make a pie that's better than the pie from almost every commercial bakery. The reason for that isn't because home bakers have more knowledge of baking techniques than professional bakers -- they don't, not by a long shot. It's because if only 1 in 100 people is willing to actually pay enough to make it profitable to make properly made baked good, then there just aren't many situations where you can build a business around doing that.
In other words, older people might not be less employable in spite of the fact that they're better at their jobs, but because they're better at their jobs.
Most home bakers get better results with frozen pie crust. A great home baker can do better, but not on the first try.
Cookies, on the other hand... yeah, if you can read and follow instructions at the level of a third grader, you can make great cookies.
My current startup hired me partially on account of product experience. I’ve been an exclusively technical resource.
If you tell recruiters "this role can only be filled by someone 40+" it immediately forces that competence filter within those bounds. If there is a lot of under valued talent there that could be a strategic hiring advantage.
Obviously don't do this for all roles, but some age restricted 'tribal elder' roles or something for each team would be interesting imo.
But you don't need to discriminate on the reverse direction, and doing that is probably harmful.
It was mostly a thought experiment about how a software company could gain a hiring advantage in a clever way (if old people are undervalued by the market for dumb reasons). At least in the case of age the categories are clear (as opposed to more nebulous socially defined groupings of people).
Edit: I meant 35+ not 40+. Updated.
It's perfectly legal to have "years of experience" requirement, so for example you could have a requirement of: "Communication with spoken language is a valuable part of the job. We require all applicants to have 35+ years of experience speaking one or more languages".
That's practically a requirement that you're 40/45+ without ever mentioning age.
For what? Youth is not a protected class. Discriminate against them all you want.
> You would need to prove there is any difference in language skill from someone with 15 years versus 35 years, otherwise it is just an age requirement superficially disguised as a needed skill requirement
Age discrimination is different from other discrimination cases. It's really hard to win, for instance. The company doesn't have to prove anything. The worker would have to prove that it was explicit age discrimination. For other types of discrimination, like race, the only thing that needs to be shown is differences in outcomes.
Do you get to the interview and then they see your grey hair and treat you like Grandpa?
Do they just not call you for an interview at all?
Is it the leetcode and focus on the specifics of very new and flashy tech that is the problem?
And everyone I talk to complains about no experienced tech people.
Not sure how I can get calls so quickly, but they aren’t FAANG level interviews either. Small startups and desperate corporates mostly.
I had twenty years of experience at the time, and they wanted someone who was exactly like me with all my skill and knowledge, but ten years younger.
I never responded to them, but they have been the butt of many jokes since.
They can also be fairly insulting in tone. I guess us oldsters are too "thin-skinned" for today's hyper-competitive world. We make unreasonable demands, like being treated as humans. We're supposed to ignore mortal insults. Maybe it's just like a hazing ritual, where we are supposed to prove we are willing to abase ourselves for the corporation.
Work environments are also completely centered around the needs and desires of younger folks. In many cases, it's not deliberate, but these are companies that are run by people in their twenties, and staffed by people in their twenties, so the sample population is a bit...homogenous. Perks are designed to entice younger folks (like hiking and skiing offsites, no weekends, Friday night happy hours and pub crawls, free beer and food, open-plan, "hip" offices, Urban locations, T-shirts, no short-term disability, etc.).
The recruiters are just plain rude. They ghost me, almost immediately after finding out that I'm older than 35 (a lot older). Very different, from when I used to look, before my last job.
The LeetCode tests are "Young-Pass Filters." They generally cover topics that people fresh out of college would nail, and I know that many engineers spend countless hours, practicing LeetCode (maybe while they are supposed to be writing non-leet code for their employers). How do I know it? Because I keep getting notifications, when they post their results on LinkedIn and other places.
I've learned that if I see a binary tree test, I might as well look elsewhere.
I have been writing shipping code, since 1987. I seldom encounter the neat little problems that I see in whiteboard tests. Just yesterday, I was dealing with some weird threading/memory leak issues; and those are a blue-assed bitch to debug (spoiler: I fixed them). Every single day, I have big, nasty problems that need to be fixed, and every single day, I fix them; often by designing good, robust, high-quality frameworks, modules, and applications. Device I/O problems are fun, too.
The most unfathomable thing, is people directly and unapologetically, ignoring my portfolio. I have a big one. Real big. I know that it isn't that special, because I see bigger and more impressive ones, all the time. There's a lot of really talented, experienced developers, with years of work, open to perusal.
These folks are looking to hire critical-path talent, responsible for the lifeblood of their products, pay us six figures, and then they deliberately ignore resources that could tell them more about us than twenty hours of interviews. People could make the "hire or ignore" decisions, simply by reviewing the portfolio. They wouldn't even need to call me on the phone, or let me know they were interested, in any other way. Complete stealth.
But, like I said, I'm not particularly interested in rejoining the "rat race." This forced me into an early retirement, and I'm fine with that. I work harder, these days, that I ever did, and it's a joy.
What "mortal insults" are you regularly subjected to during the course of your job...?
One big one, is the assumption that applicants are supplicants. The constant attitude that the corporation is the "Dom" in the relationship, and that they are doing us a big favor, by offering us a chance to beg for the job.
Other things are obviously bored and unmotivated interviewers; implying that my being there is an imposition to them, changing interview dates without prior consultation, arriving at companies, to find that no one is expecting you, and getting passed around surprised, unprepared, and visibly angry managers, not asking probing questions, asking if I'm "up to" long project crunches, assuming that I don't know current tech, commenting on the outfit that I decided to wear (I have to assume that it is a fashion faux pas), scheduling interviews in noisy restaurants or bars, assuming I need to use the bathroom a lot (might have a point, there), that "face drop," when you walk in the conference room, and they see you, for the first time, "ghosting" me, asking about my grandchildren (I don't have any), making comments that, as an older person, I should "ask for less" compensation, assuming that I'll be retiring soon, and won't be "loyal," (which is rich, as the whole industry is based on SWEs leaving after 18 months), assuming that I'll be an overbearing, lecturing "OK Boomer," and won't be able to get along with the "culture" of the company, smartass remarks during interview tests, etc. Want me to go on? I know that this list hit a lot of folks. I'm not alone.
Many of these issues are ones that everyone has to face. I don't think that older folks are singled out. It's just that we are old enough to remember when it wasn't like that, and that interviewing people was something exciting and interesting. When we were looking at folks we desperately wanted to work with, and we showed them.
I was a hiring manager for a long time. I always treated prospective hires with the greatest respect; even after I had decided not to offer them the position.
But really, ignoring the portfolio is the biggest one. It's, quite frankly, insane. The only reason to ignore it, is that the decision has already been made, not to hire, and no one wants to waste the time.
Good way to get yourself blackballed. I wouldn't even mention it now, if I were looking for work.
Ironically, in the early 2000's it was the opposite. Something did change though because I've seen the problem you're talking about.
One thing could be companies, recruiters, or manager looking for CS or CE degree specifically. Someone who is 60 outdates CS and CE. I'd caveat by saying most fresh grads don't actually know how to negotiate algorithms correctly. They leetcode like everyone else before the interviewing process. As I've gotten older I've developed more holistic understandings of some data structures and algorithms, but definitely not all of them. The skill I think I became more adept at was working through the logic of them more efficiently. That's the gift repetition gives though, I suspect. All that to say, if entities are overvaluing those degrees, it's an irrelevant requirement.
Another thing could be that most jobs are phrased, "CS, CE, or equivalent experience". As someone without a degree "equivalent experience" at times boiled down to, "Have you worked at a FAANG or on FAANG level problems?" It's a circular dependency unless you spend some time in growth companies or start ups that don't have these hard requirements. Again, it's another useless requirement because you either have the math chops to solve the problems in front of you or you don't. I don't need provenance to tell me that.
All that to say, I don't even imagine how old someone is when I'm looking at a resume. Most of my judgement relies on the interviewing process and whether you can negotiate a simple algorithm and some systems design. That's as data driven as I can get it right now, although highly inefficient, but inefficiency is worth the time for quality, imo.
I'm that old, and I have an undergrad CS degree. CS degrees were already common in the early 1980s.
> 1973 Two-hundred B.S. degrees awarded
PS - Purdue is the oldest CS department in the US, though perhaps another university started an undergrad program earlier?
It was reorganized into the Department of Computer Science in 1964.
In 1965 the College of LAS undergrad degree was established.
In 1972 the undergrad degree in College of Engineering was established.
I assume within 4 school years of both they issued undergrad degrees.
The first graduate degrees were awarded in 1967.
At Nova they had the big iron too even though there were only 11 students.
There's more to the story on that one.
Nobody small could afford a mainframe.
"I have not, do you have those problems with 10k users too?"
That being said, it has been my dream to be a developer for years. I even studied Math, CS and Mech Eng in college. But, sometimes life takes you in unexpected directions. No gain with no risk, I guess...
On the bright side, I never had to deal with the environment that breeds such young know it alls. These places usually pay very little and simply inflate positions. Trust me, as an old geezer, you don't want to be on a team of 21 olds. Especially if some of them will have power over you
I recognize I'm taking a risk making this switch, but I also can't see myself sticking with marketing much longer.
I don't miss working for marketing one bit. Programming is so empowering
I'll venture one idea-- Once you have enough experience you start to be able to see the emperor has no clothes situations. Not being naively positive about everything can be interpreted as being overly negative (at least in the bay area). Funny enough it might just be the "negative" ones are more accurate (Depressive Realism) .
"Perhaps the reason people have fewer new ideas as they get older [...]"
Adam Grant, "Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World", chapter 4 :
"When companies run suggestion boxes, there is evidence that older employees tend to submit more ideas and higher-quality ideas than their younger colleagues, with the most valuable suggestions coming from employees older than fifty-five."
What do you think is the reasoning people having ageist behavior use to convince themselves they are not bad people? That old people won’t learn, or won’t be “tecahable”, or “manageable”? That old people will be slow somehow? What were you able to grasp from the experiences you had?
One looming issue for small orgs is a worry that an older employee will drive up the cost of the company health plan.
I think it's not so much the politics as it is that people see other interests and don't know what to do with them. It's as if having done additional things during your life somehow dilutes the main things.
I am now 71 years of age. I retired in 2014 after 42+ years in corporate development. I have developed 3 commercial products in my career and am Still doing development.
I have worked through three major eras of computer technologies from mainframes, to LANs, to the Internet. I am also a published technical writer in Europe.
Can I get hired today? Not a chance. I took an interview out of curiosity several years ago just to see what was going on in the industry. Even though I answered all the questions successfully, the attitudes of the interviewers were questioning why I was even there since I was in my late 60s at the time.
I have written on several ocassions that the entire field went to crap in 2010 when Microsoft changed from ASP.NET WebForms to the ASP.NET MVC paradigm, without continuing to refine the WebForms internals as they had been doing. From what I could see, this move was done to accommodate the new mobile technologies but other than that, the Microsoft Community had completely ignored this new development paradigm as its mirror image was always available from the then known Castle Project. But few showed any interest in this offering. Why would they when WebForms could do everything actually required with a lower learning curve, and substantially less complexity.
I worked on one of the largest MVC projects at the time in the United States. I worked with 2 other highly qualified software engineers and quickly saw the attraction of the MVC paradigm. It allowed anyone to break as many rules of project development as they liked, while creating as much complexity as one could want. The project completely collapsed after 3 months (my initial contracted time) for 2 very specific reasons (though we made each of the expected phase deadlines); one, the management had no idea how to handle such a project and as a result, increasingly got into viscous fights with the client the application was being developed for. And two, the MVC paradigm, though providing all the flexibility required, could not provide superior project time lines as a result of its inherent complexity. The WebForms environment and tools would have done the same exact things with much faster turn-around times. However, my 2 colleagues could simply not get their heads out of the sand long enough to see the mistake they had made by adopting such a development paradigm.
And to this day, I always wonder why anyone would take up a development technology that added a tremendous learning curve, far more complexity than WebForms ever had, resulting in far more vulnerabilities to attack as a result.
I can't blame everything on the younger generations of developers but they were certainly a driving force behind this adoption. Everyone was going to develop the next mobile killer-app.
The odd thing is that Microsoft had on one of its web pages that discussed the use of MVC whereby it stated that it should only be used for content and not such things as database intensive applications. Well as MVC continued to get traction, that statement was eventually removed, though the paradigm did not get any less complex.
Since the early 2000s, Internet development especially, has been driven by fads emanating from the younger generations of technologists. Some of this is warranted as the industry needs younger people to try out the newer technologies that come along.
However, the loss of the senior personnel driven out by younger arrogance combined with corporate greed that exploits such people has had devastating effects on a profession that saw its vital functions and working hierarchies destroyed for the sake of both these factors.
No senior engineer worth their salt would have allowed such developments in their organizations seeing them as primarily driving up costs, development timelines, and severely lowering the integrity of the organization's systems.
Today, everything is now under attack from the criminal element on the wires, with Cloud operations being the juiciest targets for such attacks. Web sites are poorly designed and long proven implementation architectures have been thrown out the window to accommodate cost reductions and just plain laziness. But everyone just keeps promoting this path. Mostly because our younger counterparts don't know any other way of doing development.
Without the guiding influence of experienced, senior professionals, the entire IT industry has been lost to a fantasy emanating out of Silicon Valley and elsewhere with corporate buy-in because it sounds "cool" and it promises to reduce costs in an area that simply tends to be costly when done correctly, though there are ways to reduce these costs scientifically.
Young people in our profession are the life blood for taking on the challenges of new tools and software. But they do not have the experience to know what works or doesn't. They do not understand that in general, everything will do the same things that have always been done in our profession and the slight increases in application performance they get from their efforts does not mean that such new techniques are justified in terms of general implementations. But now there is no one to demonstrate this to them. You can see this trend in the differences that the spat between SpaceX (Musk) and Blue origin (Bezos) are bringing out.
Despite Elon Musk's idiosyncracies, he has created new industries generating huge profits and his SpaceX company has hired and worked with some very talented engineers. Musk is a highly intelligent man with a double degree in both economics and physics. What is Bezos? As Economics Professor, Richard Wolff stated recently, Bezos is nothing more than a glorified delivery man making an obscene amount of money for coming up with nothing really original.
His Blue Origin company appears to be run the same way as his Amazon warehouses, where everything is on deadline, everything is corralled into budgets, and safety is an afterthought. No wonder his top engineers are beginning to leave the company, with some going to SpaceX.
Blue Origin has never produced anything to the level's of SpaceX but Bezos insists that he has a right to the NASA contracts for the Lunar modules being developed.
The two companies, on the face of it, are like night and day.
Our profession is just as much a science as it is an art. But without the science (Blue Origin does not have), you cannot get to the art (SpaceX).
This disastrous loss, is just not the fault of the inexperienced younger technicians but instead must also be placed at the doorsteps of our large corporations that threw out our American citizens of all ages to outsource one of our most valuable industrial capabilities, that of software engineering, mesmerized by the ability to cut costs (and corners) at all levels of our profession. And many foreign managers were brought in to do just that making things even worse.
GE, the most innovative company in the world in its heyday, was destroyed by Jack Welch as he turned it into a financial operation. Now GE is merely a shell of itself. It no longer innovates because it no longer produces anything.
Sears Corporation is another example of American management stupidity. Twenty years ago the board hired a real estate mogul whose intent was to make money by selling off the vast land holdings the company owned, thereby destroying one of the most successful retail outlets in the nation and ruining thousands of lives economically along the way.
To understand the need for the experience levels of older technologists, we have to turn to a real life example in our profession. A few years ago a highly competent senior technical analyst at 55 years of age decided she wanted to get experience in the new wave of technologies with the younger and newer technical startups. She resigned from her company where she could have stayed until her retirement and joined a startup. The younger technicians were anxious to tap into her experience levels for development projects until she began to warn them that their approaches would not work. Increasingly, this women was soon pushed aside as she watched one project after the other go down in flames as she had warned these younger professionals that they would. After around a year she left the company and formed her own, now successful business.
Unfortunately, the die has been cast and there is little that can be done within established companies. But young people can start anew with worker-cooperatives where there is an emphasis on a 50-50 split in a company's employment practices. Half the company made up of senior personnel and the other half the young tigers. The older people to temper the whims of the young, and the younger people to bring fire into their endeavors.
Finally, there is but one bible of software development to be followed, despite the many other publications on the subject; the 1996 edition of "Rapid Development" by Stephen McConnell, which is still in its first edition printing.
Every young professional should get a copy of this venerable book that is based upon 35 years of project analysis and research as it will clearly demonstrate that unless one is working in scientific or engineering development endeavors, general development will NEVER change. It can't simply because the axioms to it are like the laws of physics. Not every tool has a a place, software design patterns are solutions looking for problems, and every single development endeavor has an optimal number of people that can be assigned to work on it within an optimal time frame to complete the effort.
This is what has been lost to us as professionals and we need our younger counterparts to begin thinking in terms of discipline, structure, and paradigms that have been proven to work by software engineers over so many years...
Sr. Software Engineer
One thing I figured out early on was that development processes really haven't changed, no matter how much spin folks put on new approaches (Agile, etc). I wrote processes for major tech companies, but always told anyone I mentored that processes really haven't changed that much.....it's the same ole "best practices" with new marketing spin terms added in. It drove me nuts when teams would try new techniques without realizing that you need to keep in mind the basic foundation processes, and even a hybrid approach if needed (and in most companies/cases, it was needed).
Anyway, I retired a few years ago because I was sick and tired of watching money get wasted on the latest new process or toy, when sticking to your guns and doing the hard, low level planning and structure at the beginning of a project was the real key. The "Rapid Development" book you mentioned is a great read and still 100% relevant today.
I actually had a chance to correspond with Stephen McConnell a number of years ago and asked him why he would adopt Agile when he had spent so many years promoting standard software engineering principals and processes. He replied that was still teaching the same software engineering standards but simply used Agile terminology to keep his business relevant.
Since most of the technical managers didn't know the difference they never knew what was really being taught to them.
The drop in my interview track record since my 40s is stark. 2 years ago, after 6 months during which I failed to get 6 jobs for which I interviewed, I made it to the final round for a position at a startup and was subjected to the usual all-day grilling. The CEO was an older man and the hiring manager was in her late 40s, but all the other interviewers were in their early 20s. I left convinced I had nailed the interview and feeling optimistic. On the way home, the hiring manager, bless her soul, took the unusual step of calling to tell me the team had overruled her own enthusiasm for hiring me and she felt terrible about it. Without saying it in so many words, she made it plain it was because of my age.
The age discrimination here extends beyond getting hired. I’ve been subject to cruel jokes and shunning in the workplace that, were I in another disenfranchised group, would be labeled workplace harassment and likely subject to strong discouragement by management at the very least.
Some people in these comments ask the source of the age discrimination as if they are skeptical and astonished, Astonished!! such a thing could be going on. They look for a rational explanation. Here’s the explanation: we are tribal animals. From young people’s perspective, they are “Us” and we olds are “Them.”
Sometimes young people are conscious of their hostility toward us and sometimes not, but that’s it. It requires no explanation more than that.
It’s traumatic to be subjected to treatment like this, to the point I have stopped looking for a job. Humans are not built to tolerate constant social rejection, and it’s more important for me to be alive than to be wealthy. I’ve withdrawn from the tech world and started a business that will not make me and my family wealthy, but will support us, albeit with modest means.
I hate the fact that I have become a bitter old man at 57!! I hate that Silicon Valley has come to this!!
I’m working through my bitterness and will get over it someday. And I will have the good fortune to leave this dystopia.
Best way to combat it I think is to just suck it up and obfuscate your age. Chop off all but the last 8 years on your resume. Remove the dates. I've even gone as far as getting a young-ish haircut and wearing clothes that feel silly but send the right signals. Might even have to dye my hair soon, too LOL. It can feel like the "How do you do, fellow kids" meme , but I figure it can't hurt.
As some one who is in late 30s, I fail to understand why any young person should make fun of old people.
What do these young people plan to do about their own age? To prevent aging do they plan to die early?
Interesting. I look forward to hearing if this works out long term. I'd be worried about legal implications of something like this but IANAL.
While it can be difficult on the paperwork side, it's nothing short of amazing. It helped us find high quality fits for the team AND we actually had a better understanding of skill levels.
We also used it to educate ourselves on what each employee would need in their on boarding and personal development plans.
Probably not going to get that many low-level postgres specialists with deep experience walking through the door. If the consultant feels good about the project then they've got the chance to stick around in the long term.
The interview process was similar to any other company, but at the end we asked the candidate to do a short project (20 hours or less), which they would collaborate on with someone internally.
So only the best candidates made it to the project and hopefully at that point there were pretty sold on the company.
Did we lose some candidates? Sure, but we also didn't have any hires we regretted after changing to it.
This might be true for the employer, but for the employee, I think there could be serious issues. For example, my present employer would be very unhappy if I agreed to this and I have no idea how it would play out. I'm almost positive it is in violation of my present employment contract.
Did the candidate that went for it actually have full time employment? If so, did they get approval first?
Our time limit of 20 hours or less, also helps. The hours could be spread over many weeks if needed to ensure there wasn't a conflict.
That said, it's not unheard of that some employees have more strict contracts such as yourself and we certainly would have had to pass on those candidates or find another way to evaluate them.
We also had the luxury of being a fully distributed team (pre-covid), so collaboration could happen during the candidates off hours, with a team member that was working.
> It's unfathomable to me that corporations can have so much power over one's time outside of work.
I think this, and the general brain-drain from the broader industry, is really holding the tech sector back. So much OSS could be written if contracts weren't abusive in this way.
We've got automated switchboards, giant robots that make cars, giant robots that do our farming, massive plants for producing power. We even have enough housing already built in this country to house 6x the total number of homeless people. It's a false economy, and we know it because we're primarily a "service" economy.
So if most of our food is produced by robots, we have enough housing, and most of our jobs just exist to push health care paperwork around. Why are we not all on 20-30 hour work weeks?! I'm pretty sure most people would be fine doing 5-10 hours a week of essential nursing or working a field or whatever outside their "primary" job if you got 10-20 hours off the rest of the week.
Our system is freaking stupid.
But this actually may work for simple tasks, and a company in question doesn't looks like it is gonna throw simple tasks on their consultants.
Generally you're free to do whatever you wish with your free time outside working hours and the employment contract has no power over it.
Guessing it's not illegal to solicit someone under such a contract, but potentially a new hire could be ordered by a court to stop working at the new company, or a 3rd party could make claims that the outputs of their former employees are owned by said 3rd party.
I would expect my company to be unhappy if I were to consult for a competitor on the side. There's probably language in the employment agreement that prohibits that, and even if there isn't, it's still the kind of thing you should avoid due to conflict of interest.
But I'm not sure about an agreement not to take a similar role. If the employment agreement says that, I'm not sure that it's legally binding. Even if it is, you may be able to weasel around it with "but it's consulting, not a full-time position".
Note well: IANAL. If you're concerned, get advice from a lawyer rather than from some rando on the internet.
Also, the demands listed in employment agreements are not always legally enforceable, or not legally enforceable in as broad of a way that they appear to be phrased.
For most US jurisdictions, intent is required on the part of the obstructing party, but in a minority of jurisdictions, negligence is enough.
I suspect this is why there's a clause in most employment agreements that I've signed, where the employee has to represent that they are free to enter into the agreement.
We can look at: Louis Rossmann soliciting firmware, tools, schematics, and parts from people. He's started that he feels he is, at best, in a legal grey area. At worst, he's paying people to exfiltrate intellectual property and trade secrets from Apple.
Moonlighting can look like industrial espionage if you squint really hard.
Meanwhile the government wants everyone to stay in employment until the retirement age of 67.
To finish on a positive note: love the contract to hire approach. :)
As an example I've worked with so, so many web frameworks over the years, even created one or two of my own (small, limited functionality things). Most of them nobody uses any more, because newer frameworks are just better.
But I bet the majority of recruiters see "Web Framework X, 1995" in my resume and think...wow, how outdated is this guy...what they don't seem to realize is that with some exceptions and advancements in technology, they all do the same things, even now. The issues you run into are mostly the same or so similar it's easy the spot the pattern, if you've got the experience I have. This is the same for any problem area for any experienced developer.
That is very, very hard to convey in most interviews.
What I do not have is skills to develop an implementation of a randomly selected algorithm in 20 minutes on the spot, because the last time I even saw it mentioned was 35 years ago, and even then I probably used a well tested library for it. Ask me about why you'd want to use that algorithm, or why I'd choose it over another one...that I could answer.
I have never seen a need in my entire career to program anything like these samples were expecting applicants to program.
While searching for jobs, I look to avoid the "Senior Trap", when everyone on your team is senior, then by default, the new person is the new junior developer, regardless of actual title. While searching for a lead role recently, I have found companies where almost every dev is a lead. Startup, flat org. That is the Senior Trap ^ 2.
I wonder how far I could have gotten if I embraced asking for help sooner instead of just tinkering away and relearning old lessons.
But perhaps just adding ", no recruiters" would be enough to clarify.
The "bright young things" are busy rewriting this system in mvc c# etc, which I help with in a minor role. This has been going on for 9 years with very little signs of completion! Not only have local developers been involved but also software companies in Russia and India have been involved! Developers have grown old on this project (including me!).
So whatever malaise has hit this project it seems to be international. My background on projects is mainly using the "waterfall" approach. My customers wanted a fixed price and so must have a fixed specification. I however appreciate the agile approach as being more flexible and reactive. But both methods must require users and developers to think through the problem and draw up at least a framework of requirements? This hasn't happened on this project and probably accounts for the slight overrun!
It's true that software development now is a lot different than it was back then. There are many new skills and technologies to learn, and old ones that no longer apply. But what people need to understand is that old people can and do learn the new skills and technologies. "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" doesn't apply at all to software engineering, believe it or not old people are super familiar with the AWS and machine learning and Agile and other "new" stuff.
To note, the problem goes both ways, a teenager can have an impressive portfolio/knowledge and be rejected regardless.
A couple of years ago I played around with this idea that it'd be great with a completely censored hiring process, where at the screening stage you can't really see info such as:
- Names are censored or made into generic placeholder names
- All dates are removed. And rather than having from/to date of employment, maybe make more general groups, like "short","mid","long" periods of employment.
- No profile pictures
But then I read some study from France where they tried out just that, and it didn't really help on diversification. Strong candidates still had a much stronger resume, while those you'd want to help up still had fundamentally weaker resumes.
But even as such, other "telling" signs can be worked around:
- College graduation years can easily be skipped - what purpose do they serve besides the count of years?
- You only need to put in the last few positions anyway, anything 10+ years is mostly irrelevant.
If someone graduated university in 1986 (or 1976), it doesn't matter if they've written their birth date on their CV or not.
I'm 23 with 1.5 YOE and so far my experience has been the opposite: Startups and companies I want to work for only have open positions for seniors and seem to mostly discard my applications, despite the fact that I've been programming in my free time for practically a decade now and consider myself a strong developer.
At this point I've honestly just given up and decided to work for crappy companies for a few years until I have the resume to get a job that I actually want.
How young counts as old in tech these days?
As a counterpoint, I know plenty of over-40 (and older!) wise software engineers working for places like Google. So maybe the discrimination is worse at someplace like Uber?
Personally, I value age diversity on a team, just as I value gender, ethnic, etc. diversity. The added perspectives benefit everyone!
That fits perfectly because 40 is when age discrimination becomes illegal: https://www.eeoc.gov/age-discrimination
You should report that headhunting firm.
yes, but at what age were they hired? and at what level are they working?
But this is still good
The question then is whether age is a predictor.
Maybe it's because I'm a 20 something dev in Silicon Valley? Maybe it's because I don't trust anyone who calls themselves experts in anything? Maybe it's because I work with plenty of "older" devs in Silicon Valley? Or that I think the two-jobs-at-once hiring process is horrible?
I probably shouldn't feel uncomfortable with it, but I do. I guess the ad isn't for me, though.
So, you don't like competing with older people? They say they hire young people too, so I'm not sure why else your age would have any bearing.
> Maybe it's because I don't trust anyone who calls themselves experts in anything?
Some people or organizations really are though. They exist. Google are experts on search. I don't think anyone could support an argument against that adequately.
> Maybe it's because I work with plenty of "older" devs in Silicon Valley?
How old? The author of the post chimed in above, and they're close to 60. Is that about what you were expecting, or quite a bit older?
> Or that I think the two-jobs-at-once hiring process is horrible?
That's not a requirement, that's a relaxation of a requirement that allows more people to try out. Think the person working a non-tech job or working a current consulting gig that will end soon as well as those looking to switch from a current full time employment. As long as those people don't have legal requirements requiring they don't work elsewhere, I'm not sure what's the problem with letting people manage their own time for this stage.
Huh? No, not what I said.
They seem to try to say they don't bias against a group of people, and then turn around and be passive aggressive against younger devs in Silicon Valley.
Age clearly has a bearing. They bold "We hire old people". They're already primed to think about the age of their candidates, and potentially bias towards older people.
Or they're primed to make sure they try to exclude accidental bias, or are just signalling that people that might forego the process under the assumption that they are already biased against give it a go?
This is sort of like the whole "Well don't white people matter too" criticism to BLM. Saying something matters or you do something doesn't necessarily imply you don't do something else. They've even gone out of their way to say yes, they hire young people too, but you're still eager to read some slight into it.
What way would you advertise this position such that older developers felt welcome that you think wouldn't cause you to feel biased against?
Why would they feel unwelcome?
On this post, I'd feel unwelcomed as a young person. Which, whatever, I don't actually care beyond having a conversation about it. I'd just not apply.
Likewise, as a white person if a posting said "We hire black people!" then I'd be like "alright I guess this isn't really for me" and not apply.
I can't but feel this is a problem of you being uninformed. I don't know if that's because of what I presume is relative inexperience in the industry and lack of exposure to the problem based on your age, and I'm not trying to be flippant or denigrate, but there's a widely known and acknowledged problem of ageism in this industry. So widely known and acknowledged, that those that try to cut through the problem feel the need to advertise like this.
You can search on HN, or elsewhere for more info.
But if they're in the market for a job, and they have experience with Postgres internals, why would they not apply to this if it otherwise seemed promising? They have to apply to somewhere and they presumably have many years of experience applying to jobs and such.
I get that it's a PR thing. This makes them stand out, and get to the top of HN. I just can't imagine being a young person and applying to this posting (if I wanted to and was qualified).
Because you're making statements that seem to indicate you don't understand how it works.
> But if they're in the market for a job, and they have experience with Postgres internals, why would they not apply to this if it otherwise seemed promising?
Because that's how discrimination works. When you feel your effort might be wasted, sometimes you are much more considerate of where you spend that effort. Sometimes you don't spend it at all.
> They have to apply to somewhere and they presumably have many years of experience applying to jobs and such.
No, they don't. The alternative may very well be people assuming there's no place for them in the market, so they stay at their current job even if unhappy or underpaid. Signalling to people that might be under the impression they have no place at your company that they actually might is worthwhile in many people's eyes.
This is a discrimination issue. Would you have the same perception if we were discussing women, or minorities, or people with disabilities? If you're a man, does "We hire women. (And men too.)" also make you think that you have no place at that company, or make you think they are trying to encourage diversity?
If a specific job listing said that, then no. It'd clearly be a listing trying to get more gender diversity, of which I do not help.
For a real life example, there was a Google internship program back in the day that was specifically geared towards under-represented people. It mentioned in the posting that anyone could apply, but why would I? I'm a white straight male. I don't fit into that program.
Trying to get more diversity doesn't necessarily mean they just want to hire those people underrepresented, or that the program (or company) would necessarily be filled with just underrepresented people. The nature of the problem is such that one of the current tactics is to clearly call out to those that you think are valid candidates that are ignoring the call to apply. The understanding is that it gets you closer to a societally representative mix of people, whereas without that it would be worse. That doesn't necessarily mean that's the only people they want to hire, or that by not applying you are actually helping that overall issue.
For very large companies like Google it's possible that they indeed do try to tailor programs to primarily hire for diversity purposes to meet some overall goal, but I suspect (and hope) they don't do it like you suggest. Having one program that's mostly of fully staffed with underrepresented people is probably self defeating in that it spurs other problem (the goal should be a diverse mixture, not concentrated groups within a mostly homogeneous whole), and if they do desire people that aren't just those underrepresented, then there's no reason not to apply.
That said, I think we've mostly plumbed this topic.
As a white person, I don't understand; why wouldn't you apply?
And then if they turned around and also said "Unlike Silicon Valley, we aren't racist" then I'd just be uncomfortable with the whole thing.
Not a perfect 1:1 comparison here, but hopefully it makes sense.
It's also hard to explain but by coupling the "we hire old people" with "but we're not actually hiring you, just putting you through an extended probation with no benefits, security, or investment" it kind feels like the opposite of inclusive. It's a whiff, you know, it's their company, they can hire how they like, but it's weird to focus on one form of illegal discrimination they don't engage in and follow it up with extra hiring hoops.
Contracts are tailor-made for this situation. Great way to get started at low risk to both parties.