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Job market for a 30+ person learning to code?
63 points by rburgosnavas on Aug 7, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 70 comments
Hi there,

I was wondering if anyone has any experience in the job market after learning to code later in life. I'm 37 years old and I have about 4 semesters (probably a year and a half) worth of coding classes with a focus on Java and Android. I think that at the pace that I'm going I will be able to claim some level of expertise by the time I'm 39 or so, but my fear is being to old to be employable.

What's your take?

Something to consider: a lot of the reason people discriminate against older programmers is because it's a signaling quality for other, harder-to-measure qualities that are really important for programmers. When someone sees a 37-year-old mediocre programmer who's been programming since he was 22 and spent 10 years at his last company, they think "Why haven't you advanced? Why are you still doing the same stuff you were doing 10 years ago? Are you lazy? Not passionate? Don't have the mental capacity or will to learn new things? Have you gained no new skills in the last 10 years?"

This logic doesn't apply to someone just starting out at age 37. Here there's a really easy explanation for why you're mediocre: you just started out. And I find myself viewing someone who, say, just got out of the military at 35 and is now trying to get a job as a programmer at 37 very differently than someone who has been writing CRUD-screen apps for 15 years.

I wonder if the reason why programming tends to be more ageist than many other professions is because learning new things is really a core part of the profession. An accountant can take their core skills and jump into any job, because the rules are basically the same everywhere. A Ruby-on-Rails dev can take their skills, but they will have to learn a good deal about the existing codebase to be productive regardless of whether it's using the same framework. So someone who shows they haven't learned anything new in 10 years is toxic in the software industry.

The inability to keep up with new technologies is something that ended even by my own generation (I'm 30 now). I can't think of anyone under 40ish that hasn't been able to grasp some new concept.

People like myself who have been programming or working on computer tech stuff almost their whole life would have learned how to consume and adapt new technologies simply as a way of life. I think the whole ageist concept is out of date already and will just continue to deprecate even more as people who grew up with changing technology and embraced it will become the majority in the field.

That's a good point. If one is passionate about what they do and considers it innate, then I guess the only way to stop progress is by making a conscious decision to quit, or by an unfortunate event.

You will need to create your own opportunities. Simply taking courses in coding is not going to cut it. Take what you learned so far and apply it to something concrete. Studying Android? Build an app and put it in the market place. Blog about it. Get people to use it. You will soon discover larges gaps in your knowledge. Study those concepts on your own. You can't wait for a course to teach you.

You are in a difficult spot. It is not so much that younger developers are better, but developers that start young shows that they have passion, and are not simply chasing a paycheck. You need to prove that you are not only a competent developer but also that you are passionate about the field. Start reading ... A LOT.

Good point. Every piece of information is remembered a lot better and fits into your brain if you have a problem for it to solve.

1. Learn to code (You're doing that now) 2. Write down ideas (10 a day) about businesses you can start with software (thank you James Altucher for that tip) 3. Once you have a solid idea (dont do your first one) start writing an MVP. Not sure what an MVP is? Listen to the Lean Startup book on Audible (or buy the real book if you like to read) 4. Build a MVP product and ship it. Get a couple customers. 5. Work hard. 6. Eventually get paid and not work for anyone, other than you and your customers.

You're 37 now, you definitely dont want to be in a cube farm with a bunch of other resentful folks who write code for a fortune 500 company. I'm sure you have some domain knowledge around something else. Perhaps you were a flooring installer prior to code. Maybe you were a plumber, who knows. Take that skill and think about what software could have helped you during those times. Look for competitors, evaluate the market and then once you find that idea in that proper niche market. Go for it.

Another book to listen to: Start Small, Stay Small

Good luck!

Ah, "MVP", a new term to add to my repertoire, haha. Your advice is very valuable sir, thank you.

I'm well aware of the concept of sitting down with a piece of paper and a pen and trying to come up with ideas for projects. Unfortunately I'm struggling with the right balance of "reading to learn" and "doing to learn". I know that doing things, implementing ideas, etc., is probably the most productive and beneficial thing I can do for myself, but I get into this "I most read about this and that" loop that is not efficient.

The little amount of time I've spent trying to come up with projects have been unsuccessful but only because I do not spend considerable amount of time brainstorming. Your advice on how to approach this is excellent. As I wrote in my updated YC profile, I think we need more music apps for Android, but real music apps, not toys, so this is something I should put my attention on.

To get past your problem of your not "brainstorming" succesful ideas, I suggest you watch these slides by the creator of the Business Model Canvas:


there are a ton of resources on Stanford's Entrepreneurship Corner:


and Steve Blank's blog:


Steve Blank wrote a book called Four Steps to Epiphany which is really good and advocates his "Customer Development" strategy:


You'll see a common theme on most of those sites, which is basically to listen to the customer, "get out of the building" and validate your idea early (thus, the MVP)

If you need some inspiration for brainstorming and protoyping, Stanford has some advice on their Design School site


and some material is available here:


look up "pretotyping", and the book Pretotype IT, it will inspire you:


Great stuff, thanks!

tl;dr - Ship something, THEN look for a job.

In the real world, your age is a handicap, no matter what people say. Look for differentiators. A great one is the ability to point to something reasonably complicated that you built from scratch and shipped. Very few programmers can do that, and the ones that can are a class above in the eyes of many employers.

One thing you have going for you is actual life experience that a fresh college grad can't possibly have. I'd try to figure out a way to emphasize that in the interview process. Certainly it's a better strategy than trying to hide your age.

I earnestly recommend going WAY, WAY past whatever you're learning in class, and becoming a subject matter expert in whatever you like working on most. If it's Java, read the entire JVM spec, for instance. Many employers will test primarily for raw problem-solving ability and general CS knowledge in interviews, but I find that intimate, detailed knowledge of one or two areas can also be a powerful differentiator.

Of course, make sure you can actually code. The only way to do that is to code a lot. Remember it's possible to know a lot, and even be able to explain a lot of technological concepts, and still not be able to code worth a damn. Don't be that guy. If you ship something substantial, you're going to have no choice but to do a good deal of coding, and enough server admin / networking / etc work to get an idea of how everything fits together, and a taste of the sorts of compromises one makes in actually getting something out the door.

I suffer from a different, though similar, disadvantage in the interview process: being black (and dressing, acting, talking like it unabashedly). I've learned to live with reduced initial expectations over the course of my educational and professional career (not interested in a debate on this; I have dozens of unambiguous life experiences to confirm). The upside is that people are primed to be surprised by what you can do. Try to view that as an advantage.

Knowing the entire JVM spec is frequently less useful than being able to code a for loop whose contents do some domain specific thing that a 22 year old ninjedi will, with diligent study, understand in ten more years.

You mean, be able to come up with in ten years, or understand in ten years?

The former is good. But in case of the latter, I wouldn't want to touch your code with a ten foot pole. (Even complicated Haskell type trickery, or, say, mathematical optimization algorithms shouldn't take longer than a few weeks to explain.)

"domain specific" means something like, your code implements the thing you spent the last 10 years becoming an expert on, which you hopefully understand to such a degree that expert coding will be no help in trying to replicate it.

Yes. That's why I mentioned not only type trickery but the one domain specific example where I can claim to be an expert in (mathematical optimization).

I guess, the original ten years was hyperbole?

I think you're missing the point completely. Patrick's comment wasn't about a specific for loop and how hard it is to understand. Knowing what types of problems people have and how to write code to solve them is much harder than learning the JVM spec and much more valuable.

How long did it take you to become an expert in mathematical optimization, for example? I doubt very much that that's something you picked up in a few weeks.

I know that solving problems people have is hard, and worthwhile. It takes a long time of concentrated effort to get good at it for specific domains. That includes picking the right problems, and then either picking the right solutions or coming up with them in the first place.

But here's where my contention lies: Making those choices is hard. But you should be able to explain the logic behind them (or how you came up with a solution) in a few weeks.

To give an analogy: The first task is like acquiring a map of a territory. That needs painstaking surveying of the whole area. The second is describing a path you took through that territory. You needed the whole map to choose the right path, but describing the path should be faster than acquiring (or describing) the whole map.

Don't read the entire VM spec. This thinking of knowing something inside out helps you how to use it is bunk. You don't have to know the how the rules of chess came into being to play chess.

Or you could go that way, and do it as the parent says, and end up like me, somewhat dazed and confused a decade later.

Just because you invented radio does not mean the programming you put on it is the best. Realize that programming(computer) is a skill that most can achieve only through rigorous grind.

There, I saved a few years of frustration to you. Knowledge is power. Amen.

I have to disagree strongly here. I do believe understanding something inside and out help you use it, and more importantly helps you invent new solutions, but I realize mine may be a minority opinion.

Then again, this is HACKER news and what I've described is pretty damn close to the core hacker ethic.

The two languages I call myself an expert at are Python and Javascript, I can say confidently that I wouldn't call myself an expert at the former without a damn good understanding of the entire language, data model, standard lib, and standard CPython implemention, nor the other without at least a decent grasp of the ECMA-262 spec, the knowledge of which comes into play more often than one who hasn't read it might guess.

Your chess analogy doesn't really make any sense, sorry. A better one is to understand how a car is built before you drive it. I think that might just make for better drivers.

Hopefully, the OP and those reading the discussion take away that you shouldn't stop at proficiency. Strive to know your stuff down to the bits. Don't become complacent; as I've read elsewhere here, Feel the incline, and walk uphill.

> A better one is to understand how a car is built before you drive it.

Yep, I agree. That is a better analogy. If you know how to build a car, you will be an expert at building cars, not driving them. I mean, how many of the better racing drivers are builders themselves?

If you always have to think about the how, the expression and the art suffers. Always. Human brain does not think in abstract logic, no matter how much you convince yourselves otherwise(may be except for some). It is always better at thinking intuitively.

Now, if you disagree, I would encourage you to keep posting. I like to discuss this. Not just to challenge you, but would like to know about the mistakes in my thinking.

>Knowledge is power.

I do not think that phrase means what you think it means, given the rest of your post.

:) Good catch. Meta-knowledge is power.

Great points! It comes down to how deep you want to go, too. Programmers are still finding jobs, and it seems like our market is better than most hiring markets, at least in the United States. So if you just want a job programming: they're out there.

If you want to be a real hacker, though, (Why else would you be here?) you need to be a little crazy, and obsess over the deep details of your specialty.

Presumably, you have been doing something with your life these last 39 years. I would venture to say your best bet is to take the experience you have in what ever field you were previously in, combine it with your new found programming knowledge and build something.

This is an interesting question and one I've thought about a lot too. I'm 37 and an experienced developer/entrepreneur. I've been self-employed for 12+ years but if I ever had to "get a real job", it's something to think about.

First off, remember that it's not legal for a US employer to ask your age. They can only ask if you're over 18. Of course, if you want to be sly about it, you'll need to craft your resume carefully (putting the year you graduated from high-school or college can tip off). Also, your looks may or may not belie your age (I have no gray hair and can look late-20s if I shave my beard).

Also, I think the biggest (perceived) issues are that either (a) employers don't want to hire older developers because their experience demands higher pay or (b) they want younger developers who can work insane hours. I must say, I don't know if these are generally true (they aren't when I hire people).

But for you, (a) shouldn't be an issue. You're a new developer so you probably are fine with a entry-level salary.

> First off, remember that it's not legal for a US employer to ask your age.

Just to clarify on the legal distinction: They can ask, and you can answer or not. What's illegal is making an employment decision based on age. Of course, the most foolproof way to prove to a belligerent labor attorney that age did not drive an employment decision is to never possess the age information in the first place. So nobody asks, and any company big enough to have an HR department internally forbids it from asking about age or any other protected factor like national origin and religion. But it's not illegal simply to ask.

Also, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act only protects workers over 40. 37 is actually fair game for discrimination.

Citation for both of the above: http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/age.html

Two other issues that seem to come up in the bay area are "culture fit" (which is sometimes a euphemism for "we want to have fun at work and it doesn't sound very fun to hang out with someone who is old") and "trajectory" (which is a euphemism for "if you were really an A player, you'd have a senior role by now; since you don't, there must be something wrong with you, even if we can't figure out precisely what it is in an interview.") That you've just started out should logically eliminate the second concern, but it doesn't really, since it's a stereotype and people are not rational about stereotypes.

It's probably best to avoid companies that think about hiring in the way that they'd think about selecting frat pledges, in favor of companies that think about hiring in terms of increasing their capacity to get work done. But if you really wanted to get a job at the former kind of company, my advice is (1) try to build a rapport with your interviewers somehow, so that they look up to you and think you're cool, rather than pity you for being old and wanting to be let into their treehouse, (2) contextualize yourself as having gotten really excited about programming all of a sudden, after a few decades of kicking ass in other fields, and then having made a lot of progress in programming very quickly. That's something that anyone can respect.

The "culture fit" is definitely an aspect that I consider intimidating, and yes, I live in the Bay Area. I know it shouldn't be intimidating in my case because I think I'm good at accommodating myself to an environment pretty well.

I'm in exactly in the same boat as you but I'm focused on javascript and HTML-5 technologies. I started off doing 5 months of C++ and realized that my ability to make anything tangible (and more importantly enjoyable) with it probably wouldn't come to fruition for at least half a decade. I decided to focus on HTML-5 technologies and a niche focus on audio based applications as a catalyst to learn and have fun. I will tell you this, the few opportunities that I've had have come out of having little projects visible online for people to "see". Having "real" projects up and viewable is an absolutely huge differentiator, and here's the kicker, they don't have to be that "good", they just have to demonstrate competence and ability. Right now I'm working with an entrepreneur and former coo of one of the biggest tech companies in the world, and all I did was respond to a craigslist ad. I unabashedly told him I was new at this and older. We talked for an hour , laughed alot and the exact same thing happened with the phone conversation I had with his tech lead who's been doing back end work for 30+ years. If you're proactive and have the coding "brain disease" others who are infected will more than likely take to you. For the record I've only been doing it for a year/year-and-a half (not including the C++ stuff). But I also want to emphasize one thing , I've never taken a class and am self-taught. I want to do this and I personally enjoy it.

That's great and encouraging story. Thanks for that. I see that in the end you sell yourself honestly as someone who lives and breathes hers or his field and that learning is an obsession, then you have an advantage.

I don't think you could ever be too old to work as a programmer.

When people say they would rather hire junior programmers it is because of their drive to learn new stuff and their use of the most modern techniques, not their age.

Java is a great basis to work off, and I bet you'll get a fine job with it, but also consider learning a more dynamic language like Python, perhaps learn it at codecadamy.

I don't personally have any experience with being 37 and looking for a job, but I don't see a reason why someone should turn a fine developer down because of his age.

Also, 37 is not very old at all..

I think people want to hire young ("junior") programmers because:

1. They are cheaper

2. They are more likely to have less focus on work-life balance (i.e., willing to work crazy hours)

3. They can be more easily molded to a company's development philosophies or culture

It's not about age, it's about skill. It can be hard to find honestly skilled programmers, even with how many coders are out there. Know your tools (the whole ecosystem, including version control, testing, profiling, etc). Know your languages. Know how to estimate your work (which only really comes with experience, but you don't need to wait for a job to build that experience). Know how to communicate what you are doing and how you're doing it and how to convey that what is being asked cannot be done in the time allowed (by suggesting alternatives rather than flat-out 'can't be done').

Most coding jobs, especially for junior devs, are going to want code-samples - that's where you have a chance to shine. Contribute to an open-source project or create something you can share (even if it's a 'how to get started with X' kind of project, it lets you demonstrate your coding/documentation approach).

thanks for the piece of advice. I am sure a lot of people young and old will find it useful

My take is that your age should not the biggest thing you should be worried about. If all you have are coding classes on your belt, and no actual projects in the wild (stuff you did outside of class, apps you built that are on the market, open source contributions) then that should be something you should aim to rectify.

well, if you would put a contact information in your https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=rburgosnavas HN profile (in the about field) i would contact you for a freelance project (if you do freelance).

i recommend to stop seeing age as an obstacle, see it as an asset - what did you work before? see your new programing experience in context of your previous work experience.

note: i'm 35, i love starting over

Thanks for the tip about updating my profile. Sure, I would be interested in freelance. Like a lot of people have mentioned, it would be a great opportunity to get the exposure and knowledge I need.

I currently work for a non-profit as a "database administrator" which actually translates to MS Access manager, and I do other things like update their website, edit, write, etc. I've been able to use a lot of the skills I learned from my MySQL classes with Access, and web development from doings lots of Google searches about PHP, CSS, etc.

If you are okay with an entry level role and wage for the first 1-2 years then you are on the right track. In fact that is one of the best ways to learn best practices is working alongside experienced developers. You'd be getting paid to learn! You're in the market with the highest demand for workers right now so fret not, keep on learning and you'll be fine.

Consider getting a low-level job in a shop which is doing Java/Android work (presuming this is your interest). You might at first do 2nd-level customer support, testing, or other non-programming things. However, especially if you position yourself to employers as someone taking on such a role so you can learn on-the-job, you'll be able to finagle your way into more challenging work. Maybe there's some manual testing which can be automated. Now, you've shown you can write code. Before long, you'll find yourself in a development role, and you'll have been paid while learning. By letting potential employers know of your intentions, you can induce selection bias in your favor -- the employers who want testers who will shut-up and do as told will throw your resume away, but those who want motivated people who can take on greater responsibilities will love your goals.

I disagree. If you want to program, program. If someone can't bluff / impress / negotiate their way into some kind of programming position - and they need 'a job' - then they are better off improving their skills or addressing whatever the issue is that is stopping them succeeding. These days 'lack of experience' should not be an issue - one can always start doing something on their own, help out an open-source project and so on. I guess I approach this from the point of view that you should never settle for less than what you want to do. Sure, some 'careers' involve a 'start at the bottom and work up' or 'start somewhere and work sideways' component, but I do not believe that coding / software development is one of those areas.

Mathworks might fit that bill.

Oh please don't refer to 37-39 as old! I'm not quite there myself, but I I'm not far. :) it is never too late to kick ass if you want to kick ass. Best of luck! Like others have said, go create your own opportunities.

If you get good, your skills will speak for themselves. And besides, discrimination based on age is illegal in many countries.

First of all my advice is go for it. Don't let pre-conceptions about age hold you back. In my last job the older engineers were far more talented and productive than the younger fresh-out-of-college or college drop-outs.

Another thought: younger engineers are sometimes preferred simply because they're teeming with naive energy. When I think of hiring someone who I know will spend majority of their time grinding down a mountain of technical debt who do I look for? A naive 20-something college drop-out who will work themselves to the bone for 80k, beer and foosball? Or a 40 year old pro who's been through a successful acquisition, has enough money to not have to work and will figure out in about 2 days how lame the founders are for letting the technical debt grow into such a monstrosity?

There's an intern on my team that is going back to school for a second degree in CS. He's 32 and will likely have a full time offer locked up by the end of the summer.

Most of my team is in their 40s and I don't think they would have any trouble hiring an older person as long as they had talent. Honestly, you might be a better hire because you're less likely to leave the company in a couple years than a 21 year old that's still trying to figure out what to do with their life.

The conventional wisdom say age is a handicap in any industry, because young replacement are by the dozen and cost less.

However, in software, barely decent developer are very rare. I have interview more than 100+ people before I start my own startup and another bunch for it, and hardly I can point to 3/4 people that at least solve my interview:

- Code in paper this: Have word, reverse it - Say to me why that is wrong and/or how make it work for very large datasets.

The majority fail hard with the first one. Not matter if come from university, college, work before as developers, etc.

So, if you can do basic programming well, you will have a job. If also, can bring something else to the table - any other skill related to the job - then you will have a better job.

You can try with sell your services in something like odesk.com (I don't see how can age be relevant in that kind of market) if found hard get your first job.

However, I think a person of your age have a BIG advantage over younger: You must be, at this time, more mature, better communicator, more professional, better attitude, etc. That is very important, because everyone wanna have the best hackers, but in reality, prefer professionals ;)

if you freelance and do remote work no one need know how old you are. the surest way to get started freelancing is to build something of your own and just start showing it off. If it's good people will ask you to build things for them. So as you learn you should be hacking together something tangible and useful. When you're done you'll have become competent and you'll have a portfolio project to show.

I got a decent programming job only at 28. Though I coded a few programs since I was 17, only at 26 I was assumed at a "developer" position, as PHP junior dev. Then learned Python and used it wherever possible, and at 28 got full-time Python developer job, now I'm 30 and work as Python Team Leader.

Several years ago things like lambda functions, scope and closures were weird and hard to comprehend for me. It took time, but after all you can become fluent.

As I see now, it doesn't take as much brilliant mind as it takes just "flight log hours" to handle complex problems. A guy who won a national programming olympiad (Russia) told me he won by "outsitting" the others, ie. he took more time to prepare and knew more cases. Although it was a disappointment for him (that problems became all the same and boring), it's a nice surprise for us: we (not-CS-graduates) can eventually cover the "flight hours" gap.

When people are looking for older developers they are often looking for experience - for someone who have enough technical understand to command respect and lead a team of less experienced developers.

I do not believe that this first group would be the right fit for you.

However, there are some developers that are worth their weight in gold. In my opinion, age does not even come up in such discussions. These people are usually very good at one thing.

The thing that you want to be good at could be something current like Node.js (which will eventually become an old technology), or it could be something timeless - like 'shipping'.

My suggestion, try to be the person who has shipped multiple products. Think of the smallest products that you can build, then try to remove 99% of the features, while still keep them useful, and build them.

If you have a couple such products under your belt, I doubt that you will ever be job hunting.

Awesome, I had to look up what you meant by 'shipping'. Thanks for that. This is a pretty interesting article on that subject http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2009/09/23.html

Yup. 'Shipping' comes from the old days, when we were trying to ship a product to (from development to users). In the web era, this is as simple as publishing to a server, but you very quickly realize all the tiny things that you need to do to make something that people actually want to you.

Build something small that you like and are proud of. Whenever we look to hire developers (especially Android devs) - those with a few apps in the store immediately get a pass on the first round of interviews and make it to the next level.

Honestly, building something tangible skips through a lot of the other pieces.

You don't mention if you have other skills you could use in a software development job. I think that's something many older employees can bring to the table. It might be harder to work for a social/mobile company than a company in a vertical that requires other knowledge.

As someone with experience hiring developers, my concerns about "older developers" were two-fold.

First, the cultural fit. If the company is all mid 20-somethings, would you fit in with the team. ?

Secondly, are you really set in your wise regarding your code and almost as important, what SDLC you're comfortable with (because we aren't using waterfall here!)

So I wouldn't ever not hire someone just for being old, but those are two concerns that I'd have with any candidate and they're a little more of an issue with older developers.

That said, regardless of your age, what is going to get your a job is networking. Start getting involved in the community now. Take on freelancing projects. Attend meetups. Get to know people.

Age doesn't matter. If you are smart, work hard at getting better all the time, and stay up to date on the latest tech/langs/methods you will be hirable.

All but one of the best devs I've worked with are older than 37.

Though the ramen/YC/bootstrap companies get most of the press there are so so so many jobs at larger, more established companies with great benefits and work/life balance where you get to solve hard problems. They are actually pretty fun places.

Seriously, don't think about this again. You are wasting time you could be spending learning a great design pattern, or making your own Android app or whatever.

I graduated with a degree in Computer Engineering when I was 36 years old. Except for a couple of year break when I was running a pottery shop/art gallery I have worked ever since. I tell the other 50 something guys I work with that I am in a better position than they are. A quick glance at my resume, someone thinks I am about 38 due to my graduation date. This gives me a chance to at least get an interview.

If you discover you love programming, then you're all set - all will follow from there.

If you don't, then you may be wasting your time.

If you're not sure, keep going until you are.

If you can demonstrate you are productive and adequately grounded in general computer science, you should not have trouble getting contract assignments in a hot area like Android programming. You can use the contract assignments to build your resume. Or, if you have the means to write some apps for Android app stores that look good and get good reviews, you may be able to skip that step.

In my experience if a candidate is willing to accept the pay level of a younger colleague (just because they have similar number of years of experience) then employers don't care much. However, if it's a strategic job opening to be filled by someone expected to build a full career, it'll be harder to sell yourself knowing that your first 15 years are already gone.

One thing to consider is that you are competing with the entire world. So average developers in the US will have trouble. Doesn't matter so much if you start at 30, matters more how good you are in comparison with younger (or older) men and women.

build something you can show off, then apply for jobs.

a lot of employers are going to also ask: what do you do to keep up with the changes in technology?

also, learn SQL. it's easy, and necessary. pick a database, install it, become somewhat familiar with it.

if you have skills and work hard - you should be in a really great spot to find a cool job, start or join a cool startup.

Not sure about the job market, but if you find coding to be interesting, or even exciting, things will be much easier.

Wow! I am amazed by the overwhelming response. Thank you guys!

I became a startup founder when I lost a position at a startup because they hired a younger (cheaper) person. I have 20 years of experience with several patents, etc. Literally we were expanding the team, I interviewed the person, he got the new position, then I was let go. Totally age discrimination, but I couldn't prove it, of course.

Even 20 years ago, Microsoft, et. al. focused on hiring kids right out of college... they're young, easy to mold, cheap, etc.

I won't say the job market is closed to you, but I think that the best power you always have comes form making something yourself. IF you have trouble getting a job in this field, building your own startup -- and I mean, a real business that sells someting to people, SaaS, or whatever business model works for you- something like patio11 -- would be making your own job.

These days we don't need the capital concentration that companies represent, you no longer need to do time as an employee. You can make your own job.

If a company thought someone could do your job for less money and let you go that is not discrimination. That's a healthy labor market.

They may have, mistakenly, undervalued your experience but that's a bad leadership decision, not discrimination.

You can't legally be fired for that reason though.

In what jurisdiction? In the US, most jobs are "at will", and you can be fired from them for no reason at all. There are some reasons that are actually illegal, but I don't believe "we think we can hire someone cheaper" is among them.

In Germany it is not allowed to fire someone because you found someone cheaper and can be challenged in court.

Same in the UK. You can only be fired for disciplinary or performance reasons; or if your position has been made redundant then they must offer you another job if one is available. I'm sure it will vary in the USA in different States.

Same here, too, but I think nirvana lived in the USA before being accepted to Startup Chile, so that was probably where he was laid off from. And I don't think it does vary significantly between states in the US.

The person they hired couldn't do my job, and the company imploded pretty soon afterwards. They were simply choosing to hire inexperience cheaply rather than build a real business. I think this is a result of the fact that their primary product was stock they sold to investors.

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