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We Hire Old People (relevantdb.com)
375 points by ccleve 59 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 292 comments

I wrote the ad. Holy cow, I didn't expect to be #1 on Hacker News. Will answer any questions.

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.

I worked at an electric autonomous car company in the Bay Area (not that one) that was crawling with 22 year olds slinging code every which way. Periodically a bug emerge that the younger generation couldn't get their head around. Invariably one of the older guys (in his 50's or 60's) would spend an afternoon looking at it, fix it, and then yell at all the kids in the room. I was somewhere between the two age groups and it was hilarious to watch.

and then yell at all the kids in the room

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've seen this too, and I really wonder why there is such an age bias toward straight out of college kids. Having some is fine but the whole industry seems heavily biased in that direction.

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.

Younger people have more to prove, have nothing to lose, have no understanding of the politics of work - all that makes it easier to "extract more" from them - in particular new grads, who are "blank slates" you can train to your culture very easily.

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 may all be true, but (at least some) older people have more to extract.

Yes and no - more experienced people have more to _impart_, because they've been there, generally know what to focus on, etc. That doesn't necessarily mean they're eager to just put up with anything or just "play along" most cultures, and IMO that's key to a lot of the disguised ageism in the industry. With experience, you also you bring along your own set of practices and habits accrued through the years, which _may_ be good or bad, but do introduce "drag" on the system. When organizations talk about "strong culture" or "strong focus", that's really corporatespeak for "compliance" - "we do things this way" - and ageism is a very direct symptom of that.

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'll go a little further and say that more experienced engineers are just not as likely to put up with bullshit. If you've been in the industry long enough you've seen plenty of it from management, marketing, charismatic startup CEOs, etc. You've seen it lead to death marches, dangerous products, wasted effort, burnout. And you're just more likely to call it out and/or object. Most company cultures just don't like that - they want everyone to play along and pretend there's no problem with the plan from on high. They like the NCGs because they're very unlikely to object (in addition to being willing to work for a lot less).

> You've seen it lead to death marches, dangerous products, wasted effort, burnout. And you're just more likely to call it out and/or object.

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.

> That may all be true, but (at least some) older people have more to extract.

Not when multiplied by number of hours foolishly spent on employer interests while caught up in the competitive frenzy with effectively zero other obligations.

I have far fewer obligations in my 50s than I did in my 30s. Kids are gone, I’m happily married and not in the dating scene, I am settled in a home. Other than work and hanging out with my wife, I don’t have anything else going on. But back when I was dating and then had young kids and then even older kids (with all of their activities) I had a ton more obligations outside of work. It started going down in my mid 40s and now I’m totally free. I don’t intend to retire for 15-20 more years, that is a lot of years of zero obligations someone could get out of me.

Allow me to count the number of over 50 year olds I crossed paths with while burning the midnight oil Getting Shit Done crunching at the office...

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".

You must not be counting where I am! I can assure you that I am the oldest developer in the company, certainly in the US. I have been with my current employer for a bit over 9 years. I have worked many, many days until 2100, 2200, plus weekends. I do what needs to get done. I am 64yo and while it is harder on me to go 70-80 hours/week, than when I was 30, I routinely put in 50-55 hours/week.

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.

Same for me. End of 2008 laid off from systems engineering in global mobile device and services industry. After some consulting work I went back to coding/sw design(which I did from 1983 to 2000) but had always kept up with transitions to web stack and all the current stuff. I’d get oh you haven’t used the exact tools in our tool chain for at least 3 years. Geez, I only had to learn and participate in defining process and tool chain for so many times. Zuckerberg boo!

Yes, and likely got things done before leaving for the day.

I thought the idea that "work" could only be done in the "office" died?

Why Could you not finish your work during normal hours?

And yet here I am at 5:30 am on a Saturday in front of my PC taking a break from some coding. Probably 4 hours before my 24 year old son even stirs from his pit.

I'd venture a guess that (especially in SV/venture tech startups in general) that bias also comes from young folks not having many/any external commitments, so may be easier to get to work longer hours - someone with a family probably can't pull a 60 hour week as easily as someone living in a microstudio with few other cares in the world, yeah?

Absolutely this. It's easier to force younger coders into a slave-like work environment, complete with beer on tap, foosball tables, and other amenities to get them to live at the office to constantly work on the product(s). I can't say it's like that everywhere, but most startups are _designed_ to take advantage of their workforce to quickly "move fast and break things" looking for their market fit.

>It's easier to force younger coders into a slave-like work environment, complete with beer on tap, foosball tables, and other amenities to get them to live at the office to constantly work on the product(s)

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'd like to see numbers on how many companies actually have beer on tap, or foosball/ping-pong tables at work in 2021.

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.

> 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.

> Incidentally most startups I've been part of, there were just a few guys doing the vast majority of the heavy lifting

Is there a way to identify that talent and pay them more?

Or find them and poach them?

Troll public git repositories for committers with the greatest number of hours having commits, then audit for quality?

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.

Nadella is a genius.

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.

Google, sigh...

Sure he didn’t get the idea from sweaty Steve Ballmer? “Developers developers developers developers!”

The beer on tap exists up until the point that an HR person is hired. I've worked at a few companies that had kegs. Some seemed to make it a habit to drink and code late into the night, which I rarely did, but to me it at least signals that corporate BS hasn't infiltrated the company yet.

It exists until the moment there are _HR violations_ - just like any other practice that's acceptable at an early stage as it grows. I've worked at 10k+ companies that still had beer on tap, and they obviously had huge HR departments.

I recall a ping-pong table at an IBM branch office 55 years ago but it was only used at lunch hour. As a consultant at dozens of companies, I've seen a lot of neat perks especially in Silicon Valley but no beer taps.

Even absent external commitments (which, BTW, also biases towards men), older folks are often more resistant to 60 hour weeks since they've either observed or experienced burnout and understand that these unsustainable death marches typically result in lower productivity, more bugs, bad code, and mounds of technical debt.

I generalize of course but I think older people realize there's more to life than the office and career. Takeaway pizza behind a laptop feels less glamorous at age 40.

Sure, the "you can't pay me enough to have me sacrifice my life outside of work" POV dovetails perfectly with the "a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine", "you can't pay me enough to sacrifice my physical or mental health", and "why would I join a company that can't figure out how to work sustainably" ones.

Was hoping that millennials and now Gen Z were seeing this sooner than the previous generations. Which gen are you from?

Sure, and yet for the experienced devs that make fewer mistakes and things that can be iterated on more easily, they get the same amount done in less than 60 hours.

Also, once the dev's kids are in college, their time frees up tremendously. I'm not sure that's recognized.

Yeah, but you aren't allowed to ask about a candidate's marital or parental status, and age (at the crude not-a-20-something level) is usually apparent without having to ask.

Yep, true. Having a resume that stretches back to when the recruiter was watching Teletubbies makes it super apparent.

A large part of it is ease of hiring. In 80% of cases, new grads are relatively simple to hire; you go to campus recruiting fairs, get bundles of resumes, and since new grads don’t usually have specialized skills, you can do bulk filtering by things like GPA or simple coding exercises.

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

Part of it is just demographics- there are just massively more people getting trained in CS/programming then they are old timers out there. I graduated a decade and a half ago and the size of the computer science department has tripled.

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

> Then there really is a tendancy of software engineers to exit the profession in the 35-45 time frame.

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).

Inexperienced people are just cheaper.

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.

Right, but what about us 43 year olds in the middle? There's a couple 10s of millions of us. I'm trying to move into the tech field, have a decade of migrating paper documents for law firms into databases & doing other simple ETL, but that is disappearing. I saw it coming years ago and am almost done with my masters in data analytics, but all of those jobs pay $10-20k less than what I was making before. There is no where for me to transition into because I don't have 5 years of DBA experience and am not willing to work for $40k just spewing out simple code for 3 years, not that anyone would hire me for it anyway.

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.

Quick tip: leave Mensa off of your resume.

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!

I think it might be simpler - it's a lot easier to hire straight out of college kids that have no other obligations.

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.

Right, but you realize that's only a few thousand people produced per year right from the Ivy League? We're a country of 350+M and there are 10s of thousands of small to mid sized businesses that need the help too. The entire HR industry is setting up a false system that is completely unsustainable and just yelling out: "Those people don't exist", when they do, you're just not approaching it correctly.

My comment was about why competitive Silicon Valley companies skew young and out of college, not about anything beyond that.

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 know this is a cynical take, but I think a big part of the youth focus is how easy it is to take advantage of the young.

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.

Most likely it's the way the fresh grads get hired: they go through internships either in the same company or in the direct competition and this largely increases their perceived value. It's as same as people normally returning to the same shops/services and following referrals of their acquittances, "a devil you know" etc.

My perception, I came to the game late, is it's SOOOO much cheaper to hire right out of school. Experience is expensive. I graduated in 2000 and there were 250,000 open entry-level positions promptly filled byu 250,000 H1B visas.

VCs want people "plugged in" to the latest social fads--that's young folks. That's where the quick money is--go big or go bankrupt.

Profitable companies, however, tend to have older folks as they understand their industry and understand how to extract money from it.

why there is such an age bias toward straight out of college kids

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.

Annecdote: When I interviewed with Twitter in ~2008/09 the manager asked me about what I thought about my previous experience (I was already ~15 years into my career).. and how it would apply at Twitter

I replied:

"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.

I wish I could hire non-technicals. The problem is that the product is only partially built. No product means no need for anything other than product at this point.

Refreshing. Great ad design and to the point. 8/10. I would give it 10/10 if you included compensation range.

I have to agree. The ad was pretty much one of the better I have seen. Not everybody spends their life on FOSS. And a contract-to-hire model should work for everyone.

Many employment contracts prohibit doing additional contract dev work. I agree the spirit of contract to hire is great, but worth noting it won't work for everyone.

I've also thought this would be an interesting approach, even explicitly.

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.

> If age discrimination is real, that means that people are not valuing older people properly - they're undervaluing them

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.

I think you chose a slightly funny example. Pie crust is a bit of a challenge to get right. Your first one is definitely going to be ugly, and there's a very good chance that it will be tough. Filling is easy, but crusts require experience to know how much is the right amount (of water, of kneading, of rolling).

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.

Yep. I had to demonstrate competence in system design and scaling for my current role. We haven't touched that stuff at all as nobody has wanted to pay for that upfront and when scale has been needed, they have just added compute.

Right, and that's not even the difficult part of doing a startup. I did a software dev interview where they asked me if I had any questions, and I said something along the lines of "I notice that if you look at Mark Zuckerberg's reading list, he's reading books about things like the history of the Islamic golden age, whereas you're asking me questions about javascript syntax. Do you actually think the latter is more important?" And then they kicked me out halfway through the interview.

DO they really want the opinions of developers for anything non-technical?

My current startup hired me partially on account of product experience. I’ve been an exclusively technical resource.

If the entire market is discriminating against old people, you don't need any discrimination to fill those roles with them. You just need to ignore age and filter for competence.

Ideally yes, but if the discrimination is there in the process (by recruiters/interviewers intentional or not) then that's hard to do. People will think they're 'ignoring age and filtering for competence' when they're not totally.

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.

Oh, sure, when the entire society is discriminating, not discriminating may require active initiative. Things like this one "we don't care if you are old" announcement surely help.

But you don't need to discriminate on the reverse direction, and doing that is probably harmful.

I definitely agree with this sentiment in nearly every case - goal of society should be one where these kinds of characteristics are irrelevant and discriminating in some other way to correct is generally a bad idea.

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).

Seems to me that "we prefer older workers for this position" looks a lot like affirmative action. Do you feel the same about that?

Depends on how you communicate "prefer". I would not write that in an ad without context, and it would fell like a very assholey thing to say in a rejection (similar to "you don't have culture fit").

How awkward would it be to have the 35+ requirement be outlawed. Would certainly be interesting to read those legal arguments.

Edit: I meant 35+ not 40+. Updated.

It would be quite tricky to outlaw.

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.

That seems like a court case at least. 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

> That seems like a court case at least.

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[1]. 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.

[1] https://www.nextavenue.org/what-it-takes-win-age-discriminat...

Are you referring to the constitutional requirement for USA presidential candidates?

All the best developers I know are over 40, if not in their 50s or 60s. I don’t understand the stigma. All the young smart programmers I know will be better next year than last year

I'm a 55-year-old Systems Architect at a big media company where I am a highly-valued senior engineer. But a few years ago I too had a personal referral into Facebook for a developer position, and I was invited in for the tech assessment, so I figured, why not see what the process is like, and how resistible the offer is? I pseudocoded simple algorithms on a whiteboard for a 25-year-old for an hour or so, and then never heard from them again. I don't really care, but yeah, it does rankle.

I'm in my early 50s, been programming since a teen and got my A+ and Microsoft system admin certs not long after they first came out. About ten years ago I left a partnership and was looking for work to make ends meet until I found the right job. Had an interview with a company for a tech/sysadmin type position. I was interviewed by a 20 something and one of their questions was how I would diagnose and repair a PC power supply problem. I said does the computer come on? No, I'd replace the power supply and get on to other things. She stopped me and started grilling me how I would know if the power supply is bad or not. I told her I could just look at the computer and tell, especially if it isn't powering on. She was getting a little upset and asked wouldn't I use a tester and check the other components, and I told her there's no need to get that involved when it's just a power supply. Needless to say I didn't get the job.

What is it that happens?

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?

Don't even get to the interview stage. My tech skills never got assessed.

Same with me. I'm to the point that I'm going to create an alternate resume that only lists experience of less than 8 years, instead of 30+, and use a very old photo of myself on socials.

I'm only 38 and I already do that (my first job as a developer was at age 18).

Yeah, I truncated the experience section and for education I removed the years of attendance.

8 years would only be 40% of my current job tenure.

Same here. I've sometimes wondered if getting a newly minted college degree would work to bypass the age filter.

Damn. I have no great experience and can get interviews in a day or two.

And everyone I talk to complains about no experienced tech people.

How do you get interviews in a day or two with no great experience??? These days, I just feel lucky to get an email rejection back at all

I mean I don’t have brand companies. I worked for the government and a quasi tech startup.

Not sure how I can get calls so quickly, but they aren’t FAANG level interviews either. Small startups and desperate corporates mostly.

That's because what they really want is a 20-something that has 10 years (or more) of experience.

I’ve had recruiters basically ask me for exactly that.

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.

All of the above. That's why I am no longer interested in working for anyone else.

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.

> We're supposed to ignore mortal insults.

What "mortal insults" are you regularly subjected to during the course of your job...?

This whole thread is about the hiring process; not working. I wouldn't stay at a job for fifteen minutes, if I was treated in the way that some of these interviewers behave.

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.

This. Exactly so. I was old when I got my degree. I work in gov't now and wouldn't go looking for IT work again if my life depended on it.

Some of that sounds worthy of a lawsuit. I guess it’s not worth the trouble for most potential hires.

Yup, and they know it. Ageism is totally supported, in tech. Companies run ads that basically say "Bros only."

Good way to get yourself blackballed. I wouldn't even mention it now, if I were looking for work.

> 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.

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.

> One thing could be companies, recruiters, or manager looking for CS or CE degree specifically. Someone who is 60 outdates CS and CE.

I'm that old, and I have an undergrad CS degree. CS degrees were already common in the early 1980s.

I remember around 2007 having a hard time finding colleges I could get accepted to that offered CS or CE. You are right in that "outdates" was probably the wrong word to use, but I don't know how accessible they are much less to call them "common". That's just my anecdotal experience, so if those two points aren't true outside of my experience then I'm fresh out of ideas.

It appears that undergrad CS degrees were a thing by the early 1970s:

> 1973 Two-hundred B.S. degrees awarded

[1] https://www.cs.purdue.edu/history/table1.html

PS - Purdue is the oldest CS department in the US, though perhaps another university started an undergrad program earlier?

University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign created the Digital Computer Lab in 1949.

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 UF they had been maintaining and operating the duplicate "backup" full IBM mainframe system for the Apollo program at Cape Canaveral, and offering degree programs for some time by then.

At Nova they had the big iron too even though there were only 11 students.

There's more to the story on that one.

Great, then a BS in CS existed even earlier?

Yes, they were graduating and going to work for NASA, Wall Street, insurance companies, military & contractors, IRS and mainly things like that.

Nobody small could afford a mainframe.

> "Have you worked at a FAANG or on FAANG level problems?"

"I have not, do you have those problems with 10k users too?"

As a 58 year-old who has pretty much given up on tech, thanks for doing this. I'd apply, but I have no experience with postgress internals and have never even used Postgress.

Agism is so bad in this industry. Thanks for writing that ad, it's brilliantly worded!

I'm 47 and strongly considering jumping from marketing to front-end dev. I have experience with development so I'm not starting from scratch, but I'm definitely not a pro level developer. I'm fine with a drop in salary, but your comment sure worries me about finding ANY job.

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...

I started at 31 or about a decade ago. Never managed to get past a single 20 something with the power to hire people. Not a single time.

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

Appreciate the comment. I'm definitely not chasing startups full of youngsters. I'm way, way beyond having any desire to work for FAANG type companies. I just want to write code and get out of marketing (which has been good to me, but never my passion).

I recognize I'm taking a risk making this switch, but I also can't see myself sticking with marketing much longer.

If you can safely afford to give it a proper try, and really want to, then go for it.

I don't miss working for marketing one bit. Programming is so empowering

I wonder what you attribute the ageism towards? I wonder what actual or perceived traits trend with age that hiring managers are trying to avoid?

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) .

When I'm feeling generous, I would guess the company doesn't want to spend the money required to compensate people with that level of experience.

As a 38 years old who has worked as a software developer since age 18...I'd say software developer salaries really plateau long before you're 60. You make "senior" after about 5-10 years of job experience, and not everyone makes principal or director (or CTO).

Or ungenerously, they think all engineers are interchangeable and don't realize there may be a difference in code quality between different levels of experience, so why not just get the cheapest ones you can.

That's not the issue, as an older dev I'm willing to work for the industry standard wage. Sr. Engineer is Sr. Engineer.

Which is in itself a kind of prejudice, assuming I'm going to demand more money.

My experience is it has everything to do with the non-work part of work. Diversity isn’t really the goal, the goal is building a team who has fun happy hours, eats breakfast lunch and dinner together, off-sites with passport, knows the latest beers/whiskey/alcohol du jour. There’s a reason you don’t see many 30 year old single moms in the sorority. It’s just not a good “fit”.

Other good qualities of your ad: it is clearly written and provides an idea of what the position involves. I wish more companies took this approach while advertising openings.

Paul Graham http://www.paulgraham.com/genius.html :

"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."

Thanks, appreciate qualifying a bit what is considered “old”. I am 41, but only 4 years of software development experience. So only applied for junior positions yet. I don’t think I faced ageism applying to jobs, but I rarely applied to SV jobs (I am not from the US).

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?

You're assuming that the bias is overt and conscious. It doesn't have to be, any more than sexism, racism, or classism do.

One looming issue for small orgs is a worry that an older employee will drive up the cost of the company health plan.

You're a borderline public figure in politics and your role in politics seems to have been your primary occupation over the past few years. Does that ever come up in your conversations with tech recruiters? Given these specifics, I'm not sure if your experience generalizes to other old engineers, though I'm sure ageism is a problem for older engineers in our industry.

No one has mentioned it, although it may well be a factor.

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.

Same boat. I can retire from my current position, had the notion of putting my papers in here, collect my pension, and work someplace else. Jobs I applied to where I'm 100% matched for, I get nothing but crickets back.

we've hired and got many older people working with us (55+). the main reluctance of hiring them is many are inflexible and stuck in their ways. sure they have 20+ years experience but many don't bother to update themselves on new methodology and advances and still expect a significantly higher pay. the ones that do like to learn are definitely an asset with their life experience too and get along well in a diverse team.

how do they even know your age? I think it's a pretty common best practice to only list your most recent 2-3 jobs for a 1 page resume and you could just remove your college graduation year to hide that as well.


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...

Steve Naidamast Sr. Software Engineer

Very well stated Steve! Excellent read.....and your last two paragraphs are spot on regarding development processes. I started my career as a support engineer, but eventually someone figured out I could talk in front of customers and not screw the pooch, so I became a project manager, and eventually an executive level program manager.

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.

Cheers, Mike

Thank you for the nice review of my post.

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.


I naively moved from New York to Silicon Valley when I was 52. Not saying there isn’t age discrimination in NYC, but here it’s a nightmare.

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.

I've been called "The Dad of the Team" and Grandpa at jobs, and I'm in my early 40s. I have a good sense of humor and don't take offense to it at all, though. It is kind of shocking to take a moment, look around the office, and realize you might be the oldest person in the room, despite being middle aged! Definitely not looking forward to my next job hunt though. I understand it just gets tougher and tougher from here on.

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 [1], but I figure it can't hurt.

1: https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/13/15966094/30-rock-buscemi-...

While I understand your attempts to make yourself look younger, I really find this cruel to a degree. No body should pretend to be something they are not, just for a job.

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?

> The hiring process is in the form of a paid, short-term consulting gig that will lead to a full-time offer if we like you and you like us. We'll give you some tasks, you'll get them done, and then we'll talk. No need to quit your day job to do this gig; we'll work around your schedule.

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.

We did this at the last startup I founded.

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.

I imagine this simply would not work for someone with multiple offers though, which could act as a pretty severe filter of talent.

It just looks like a consulting gig with the potential offer of a job afterwards. If the rates are good and the offer is decently compensated, it's probably a fine way to recruit for what looks to be a highly specialised position.

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.

Well we didn't market it like that and while technically it is consulting for a period of time, it doesn't have to feel that way.

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.

> No need to quit your day job to do this gig

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?

We interviewed a lot candidates this way and yes all of them were employed full-time. None of the candidates we interviewed worked directly in our specific industry, so as long as they didn't work on company time of their current employer, there was no conflict.

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.

Labor must not be so fearful; play it close to your chest and cover your tracks. Change jobs if it works out, otherwise stay at current position and nobody is the wiser.

The fact that offering gig work to FT employees could have legal repercussions sounds off alarm bells about the US's unhealthy attitude towards employees. It's unfathomable to me that corporations can have so much power over one's time outside of work.

(Opinions are my own, not my employer's)

> 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.

I mean the fundamental issue is we've created a society that's automated an INCREDIBLE amount of work, and yet the daily work week is no shorter.

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.

We do this at Gumroad. Works great; will never go back.

Do you have any pointers/docs on how to make this work? At the most basic level, how do you prevent people from wasting your money with no effort on their part e.g. by transitively contracting the task to the lowest bidder and pocketing the difference? (Not to say there are many people out there who would actually do this, but incentives clearly need to be fixed if it is feasible.)

IF I am ready to pay XXX bucks for doing a given job in N days, I don't really care about who actually did it. I do care about quality, so if it is substandard - we'll part ways with this contractor sooner or later.

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.

It's pretty common for companies to do contract to hire (enough so that recruiters will often just write CTH in their emails). This is a variation of that which seems a lot fairer than another approach I've experienced, which was a full-day pairing exercise which effectively translated to donating a day's work to the prospective hirer (admittedly, its value to them was relatively low since you were coming in with little knowledge or context, but its value to you is presumably non-zero).

What would you think is illegal about it? They make it clear that age is not an issue.

My thought is that it might be illegal to do consulting without your employer's approval in some places (like the US).

It can certainly be in violation of an employment contract. What makes you think it would be illegal though?

In some places. Not in Poland, as long as you're not competing with your employer. Also clauses like "we own the work you do in your personal time" have no legal implications here, because they directly contradict the labor law.

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.

In some places, it might exceed the allowed working hours, that would be illegal.

It could be a breach of contract, but it would be up to a court to decide if that part of the contact is enforceable.

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.


A lot depends on the local labor law. Here where I live (Poland and I guess same in the rest of EU), the outputs of your work which were not directly ordered by your employer or were not part of the job are not owned by the employer (and stating that in the agreement is not enforceable), even if done during working hours or done using employer's equipment. Of course you can get fired for doing a side project in the office or using the equipment without prior agreement, but you take your side-work with you.

Important distinction, "legal implications" can mean that an action is unlawful, or that it can result in a lawsuit. This is of the latter sort. If you use your employer's hardware, or your contract forbids secondary employment (or "we own everything you do on or off the clock" type clauses), then there's a risk of your employer's lawyers coming after you.

Many full time jobs include language preventing you from working a second job in a similar role.

Similar role? Or at a similar company?

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.

I doubt the person they are searching for is currently in a similar role. They want domain specific knowledge about a stable and _old_ codebase. They want the person around as a teacher mentor, and the first gig is something the business needs but would prefer to sub out. Seems like a normal accepted practice when defined that way.

Never accept such jobs unless you are desperate. Your employer does not control or own your spare time. Don’t cede control of it to them!

How far does that extend when interviewing? Some companies claim all code written. In theory that might include your leetcode.

That's still not illegal: it's breach of contract.

Non-competes, anti-moonlighting clauses, and contract employment are all quite common and have been for a long time. The "legal implication" is that you read the contracts and follow it or work around it. Most corporate/employment lawyers, HR teams, or hiring managers should be fairly familiar with these situations.

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.

I wouldn't call it not legal, but it indeed can violate the terms many employees sign when they join a company. I think it's a matter of how they frame it. If they frame it as actually doing some work for the company then I would say that would be illegal for many. But if it's framed as an interview then maybe it's OK. Not a lawyer, I assuming it's gray area.

I mean, they say outright they hire old people and they hire young people. So I think you can make the argument fairly easily that that group includes everyone and that they are not discriminating.

Not GP, but I assumed they are talking about the part that they quoted —- consulting gig while on another job, not any discrimination worries.

I don't think there is discrimination immediately evident. I think there are legal implications in actively soliciting contract work from people who currently work at other companies under full time contracts that may preclude them from doing stuff like that (ex: FAANG).

I don't think that is true. Any agreement you have with google/faang is your agreement and your punishment. You cannot bind others into the agreement. They face no legal implications.

For the most part, this is correct. One exception is "tortious interference with a contract". Let's say I work full-time for Company A, and in my employment agreement, I agree not to do any work on the side. Then let's say Company B knows that I work for Company A and knows that I am contractually prohibited from working for them. If Company B induces me to breach my employment agreement with Company A, Company A can often sue them under the "tortious interference with a contract" cause of action.

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.

The issue would be with IP. Facebook might be able to claim that the code your contractor worked on for you actually belongs to them.

Why can’t I solicit work from all comers, trusting that they have the responsibility to ensure that they aren’t violating any contract that they’ve agreed to (without my knowledge)?

If you are asking: "Why can't I solicit XYZ from all comers, trusting that they have the responsibility to ensure that they aren't violating any contract"

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.

I suppose that still excludes the atemporal.

They meant employer NDAs, etc.

When companies say there's a shortage in labor they mean there's a shortage of cute fresh 25 year olds who don't talk back and accept bad treatment. Employers will do anything not to hire 40+ year olds including recruiting people from Greece or Lithuania. Enter the great European brain drain.

Meanwhile the government wants everyone to stay in employment until the retirement age of 67.

Let's not forget that those corporations are allowed to avoid paying tax while workers are taxed through the nose. Proxy taxation doesn't work, because you don't see people enjoying the same growth as corporations wealth wise. The whole system needs an overhaul and big corporations need to pay the money back.

To be clear, age discrimination happens far more broadly than just Silicon Valley. You just hear about it more because there are far more software engineers in Silicon Valley than anywhere else, but it is not a Silicon Valley only problem - it is a global problem.

To finish on a positive note: love the contract to hire approach. :)

The contract to hire approach is great for the company if the applicant accepts it, but any good applicant would not because the applicant would simply take another full time job with benefits instead. Especially in today's market.

Except in this case, it's a very short-term part-time CTH arrangement, which would allow someone to pursue the opportunity while still employed and get paid for their time. Better than an unpaid full-day interview from the prospective employee's perspective.

any concrete examples of the broad ageism claim?

My friend in France recently complained to me that it was impossible for him, at 52, to find another job in the industry. He's at the top of his field (databases). Its pervasive.

As what some would call an old person (~50), I love this. There is so much knowledge in old workers. Not all is relevant, sure, but there is so much that is timeless stuff that every young Engineer will learn, sooner or later, though varying degrees of suffering. If we could put away arrogance (from both young and old) we could do so much to advance the field.

The thing that gets me is the cookie cutter interviewing approach a lot of places do. They ask about specifics, but that's not what is the really valuable stuff.

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.

Hang in there. I had to go through the Leetcode ordeal as well and it gets easier. It feels awful at first, but if you stick to it, read through the solutions, make sure you understand them, after 100 problems or so it all starts to come back and it becomes much easier. Its probably not the interview methodology I would use but I can see how efficient it is from the interviewer's POV.

I took a look at this LeetCode stuff on the web site. I reviewed a few of the sample, possible tests and found them utterly ridiculous.

I have never seen a need in my entire career to program anything like these samples were expecting applicants to program.

Oh yeah, I absolutely love talking with the oldest possible people I work with. I'm not being sarcastic or anything. The older colleagues always have unbelievably awesome insight and interesting stories, and really wise advice. In a purely selfish way I'm always disappointed when someone retires because I know what kind of knowledge and wisdom is walking out the door. I always hope to be this type of person for those around me, sharing knowledge/experience to those who are up-and-coming in the career/industry. :)

So do we at TableCheck (Tokyo, Japan) https://www.tablecheck.com/en/company/jobs/

I wish more ads said that the company hires old people. I work in the pharmaceutical industry at a company where the CSO stated he didn’t want anyone over 50 working there. If you are over 50, you won’t be promoted and they want to push you out the door while hiring inexperienced younger people to be leaders. These people make a lot of mistakes and often have poor judgement as well as a terrible work ethic. But they did go to an ivy league school! If I had my own company, I’d be damm sure to only hire those over 40. And perhaps only those who didn’t go to an Ivy.

We hire old people too! We've found that experienced people are a perfect fit for a startup


If anything, perhaps the current tech job market is moving away (for now) from junior developers. Assuming it is also exacerbated due to teams being remotely located.

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.

How many Postgres core committers are there under 60? Except for the handful of people who do a Ph.D. under Michael Stonebraker or whatever, that seems like a hobby that most people don't even get into until they're retired.

Given the Principals only ask, this is interesting. There is something humble about asking for mentor, and this is something that I wish I had when I was younger.

I wonder how far I could have gotten if I embraced asking for help sooner instead of just tinkering away and relearning old lessons.

Principals, in this context, means people applying directly, rather than recruiters on their behalf.

I interpreted it as "Principal level engineers only". Clarification would be helpful.

To contrast, I've seen this often enough that I knew immediately that they meant, don't try to send us blinded candidates and claim a finder's fee.

But perhaps just adding ", no recruiters" would be enough to clarify.

It is meant to tell recruiters to go away. Principal in this case means direct applicants.

Damn, it's only one job. I was hoping it was a job board.

We'll hire more than one. A bunch, if this product works out.

A more accurate title: “We Hire Old Person, Or Maybe Young”.

I am a 78 year old contract developer, maintaining/developing a medium size system +- 200 modules. it takes me about 4-5 hours a day which is fine! Experience teaches you to tread carefully with critical systems (and people). There really is no need to work 10-12 hour days! Unless it is an unforeseen disaster this usually means you are not very well organized!

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!

Anecdotally I've had someone who was older than me, with less experience, talk to and treat me like a college graduate... They used soft language and acted like I didn't know what IoC was or how to model a domain. The guy was the worst coder of the bunch but for some reason he was in charge of the backend development because of his seniority. He was the worst developer/manager hybrid I've ever come across. It was a security software startup and he constantly challenged me with questions like "least privileged expansive" to describe the security models. I'd answer him, and a week later he would go through those motions again - and again. I definitely believe there is ageism in this sector, but I also believe it goes both ways.

My dad is a programmer in his 60s. He has some interesting stories. And yes, when he was interviewing he got passed off as "overqualified".

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.

In theory, us older folk are cheaper because we have Medicare. Short term memory is reduced, but good note taking and Prevegin fixes that. I have fond memories of older programers when I was a 20 something. Code is more than algorithms.

I switched from IT to construction 20yrs ago and never look back. My question to Mark Zuckerberg regarding his 2007 comment would be if he would let a young lawyer out of college defend his company in the supreme court? If he would hire a startup to build his new fancy campus? Would he send a fresh graduate from the Mid West to DC to lobby for his agenda? If software fails they send an apology and a bug fix. If the engineer fails a condo building crumbles, a lawyer will not get a retrial and the lobbiest is not getting anywhere. Trial and error works in SW but almost nowhere else.

I want more companies to follow this. Age is a good thing in most industries, maybe all. I think silicon valley’s stock market drove it towards a “younger is cheaper and will work for free lunch” and that pushed our elders out.

Or that programmers who'd rather focus on things like "minimum viable products" and "just get something down" rather than "designing maintainable systems" and "avoiding sources of tech debt" skew young/inexperienced.

I’m just as capable of adding tech debt as a younger engineer is!

I always thought engineers' job was to make designs in line with best practices, which should hopefully reduce tech debt (in contrast with technicians, whose job is to execute and worry less about the overall project). But that was a lonely and pointless hill to die on...

Best practices are a great source of shared tech debt.

As a general question, why would someone write age/birth date in a CV? Maybe it's different per region, but I never saw this as a strict requirement. Profile pictures may be skipped as well (although a good quality image is hardly telling much). As a personal experience, hiring personnel sometimes asked about it, some even told this is required by employer/customer, I told them they can drop my application then - it never turned out to be a problem after all.

To note, the problem goes both ways, a teenager can have an impressive portfolio/knowledge and be rejected regardless.

One can probably infer the age from things like school/employment dates, or if your CV lacks those, things like number of earlier employers or tech used at earlier jobs.

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.

It's not just age and birthdate. What about the year I graduated college? The year I started working? These are not perfect, but you can put a pretty tight lower bound on a candidate's age with these. You can leave these out, or say, lower your claims number of years of experience, I suppose.

Per my experience in recruiting, not many will make these inferences during a process, especially with a lot of candidates/large company.

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.

> As a general question, why would someone write age/birth date in a CV?

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 so sorry to see you've taken the ad down! I lead a creative team and teach marketing/advertising classes, and would love to use it as an example of thought-provoking creativity. I understand it may have been controversial but personally thought it was brilliant. Is there someplace I can still find the ad? The fact it was taken down just adds to the discussion value, IMO.

Question: Where can I find these companies that heavily bias towards hiring young people / new grads?

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.

Junior positions can be difficult to come by as well. We can’t all be 28. What are these people thinking?

Define ‘old’.

How young counts as old in tech these days?

A recruiter from a prominent SF / Silicon Valley tech headhunting firm once told me that 40 is the cutoff for individual contributors.

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!

> A recruiter from a prominent SF / Silicon Valley tech headhunting firm once told me that 40 is the cutoff for individual contributors.

That fits perfectly because 40 is when age discrimination becomes illegal: https://www.eeoc.gov/age-discrimination

You should report that headhunting firm.

> I know plenty of over-40 (and older!) wise software engineers working for places like Google.

yes, but at what age were they hired? and at what level are they working?

That statement could be illegal.

Not could be. Is.

I'm only a few years off 40. I have no plans to be anything other than an IC and think I'm much better now than I ever was. Personally I've only seen developers get better with age. Sure some are old and cranky but they are generally correct too.

LOL heard how expensive engineers with > 5 years of experience are... So I guess > 27 is old!

I hope/believe that this is getting higher with time. Worldwide, programming as a full-time profession only blew up 15-20 years ago. There will be an increasing mass of aged IT people, and career paths will be fleshed out in parallel - the same had happened with all modern-age jobs, like racecar drivers or professional bodybuilders.

The greater of 30 or <3 years younger than however old a disgruntled engineer is>.

36. (months of exp)

pretty sure old these days means you remember dial up modem noises better than whatever music was on the charts at the time.

I am glad someone is going for the older set (selfishly since I'm in the older set), but it has been a concern of mine as students get attracted to the technology fields. I work at a TCU (Tribal Colleges and Universities) and most of our students start later than average and graduate much later. Age discrimination is problematic to populations that receive their degree when they are already in their thirties. Tech's love of 20 year olds is a real problem.

Great job with the add. I am in my early forties. I have been doing contract work that has to be bid every 4-5 years. I had considered finding something more stable when I was a little bit younger because I know as you get older in tech it gets harder to find work. I am still doing the contracting because I like the people I work with and stuff. Hopefully it can take me through to retirement!

There's putting in tons of hours of effort to uncover an answer. There's knowing all the ways that didn't work before and why, and then knowing where to look for an answer. Certainly depends on the field, but choose which way you want to go.

Other than "old" engineers which could obviously be valuable - I think having everyone finding their place in society is a great vision to have. Makes me happier seeing old, or even disabled people fulfill themselves

As an old—and disabled—person, I found this a rather patronizing comment.

You know it really hurts when (at the age of 64) you can not be hired as a FORTRAN programmer even with 10 years of FORTRAN programming experience.

Young people fail to appreciate the fact that the technology they use was actually created by older generations.

So that's what "Senior software developer" really means.

Would have preferred "We hire olds"

But this is still good

In our society programming is only for young people. You always have to have a backup plan for job when you will be older. Mine is olympics games.

I was thinking of Extreme Sports... :-)

Wow, and I love this company!

what about you hire people and stop focusing on age

If age is a predictor then the incentives are there. The right way to combat inherent incentives is a legal framework which can direct society against natural tides, not by asking harder.

The question then is whether age is a predictor.

Comes off like young people grasping for an adult.

Isn't that what old people say they bring to the table though? Experience?

Why do I feel uncomfortable with this listing?

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.

> Maybe it's because I'm a 20 something dev in Silicon Valley?

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.

> 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.

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.

> 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?

> 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.

> Why would they feel unwelcome?

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[1], or elsewhere for more info.

1: https://hn.algolia.com/?q=ageism

I don't know why you think I don't understand that ageism is a problem.

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).

> I don't know why you think I don't understand that ageism isn't a problem.

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 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.

> It'd clearly be a listing trying to get more gender diversity, of which I do not help.

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.

> 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.

As a white person, I don't understand; why wouldn't you apply?

If they specifically mention race in the listing, then it's probably a program specifically meant to help a company's diversity. I definitely do not fall into that category, and would feel that I'm actively hurting that effort by applying.

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.

I'm old as well and I'm uncomfortable with it. The tone is kind of passive-aggressive and although this extended temp-to-hire thing is paid, it also rubs me the wrong way; like you, I can't completely say why. I'd be curious to see if it works for people, though (I kind of suspect it won't because of the time investment involved but who knows).

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.

They’re looking for a very specific skill set. Just any good coder is not gonna do.

Contracts are tailor-made for this situation. Great way to get started at low risk to both parties.

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