I also think this is more a problem for non-tech jobs. In today's world, if a software-engineer wanted to travel the world for 8 months I suspect she could easily get a job when she's done. She'd probably be getting recruiter-calls while on vacation.
The only place I sensed age discrimination were the places I wouldn't work anyway, the crazy "we expect 65 hours a week" shops.
In fact, older LTU workers could learn from the tech strategy of consulting and freelancing when "gaps" in their careers emerge. So long as you have something to show for it, such as a new skill or someone in your network that can raise their hand and say, "Oh yeah, she mentored me through this big project my company is working on" then you can help yourself out a bit.
I want to know how much of this is HR's fault. What the hell are they looking for, and why? Everyone admits this is a problem, but HR goes on as if they're oblivious to it. And then you read about how they're dismissing candidates that don't have an adequate social media presence, and you begin to wonder why on earth these goons run hiring.
Is this a real thing? I'd like to know more.
It's bad in VC-istan but I don't think it's bad in technology as a whole. There are plenty of 50+ programmers at places like Google who are well-regarded.
The fear that many of us who are in our 20s and 30s is that the culture of age discrimination-- one that we, although young, really don't support, but that is inflicted upon us by the VCs-- will get worse in the next decade or two. Right now, it's not apocalyptic and most good programmers will be fine. The concern is that if VC-istan becomes the new normal in employment, ageism will be more of a problem when we get to 40+. Right now there are still a lot of good jobs for 40+ programmers at the Staff+ SWE level at places like Google and Amazon, but that won't be true if VCs acquire more power.
Everyone admits this is a problem, but HR goes on as if they're oblivious to it. And then you read about how they're dismissing candidates that don't have an adequate social media presence, and you begin to wonder why on earth these goons run hiring.
HR looks for reasons to reject people. They have to, because they get so many junk resumes. They cut for too old or too young or too long at the last job or too short at the last job. You need, whenever possible, to engage with people who are looking for reasons to accept people.
I'm a good developer at a good job and not that old. A few years ago I was in transition between a several-year volunteering engagement and work in the private sector, and the job search took a while. I got very few interviews at the time. I would have been an asset to any decent employer that hired me. I do not think the resumes I submitted were junk.
There appear to be structural changes underway that are making the job market volatile for a range of people, especially the long-term unemployed. I am not sure where it is all heading.
Not all rejected resumes are junk, but there's a flood of resumes from unqualified people who send out 100 per day.
It's like dating. The more damaged people engage in more activity, so you encounter a biased sample. If the good people send out 5 resumes per job search, targeted toward specific employers fitting their skills, while the unqualified send out 200 (in the hope of getting lucky) then you'll have a 40:1 overrepresentation of the bad.
You were probably a victim of the junk, because when there are so many junk resumes flying around, good people get lost in the shuffle.
There appear to be structural changes underway that are making the job market volatile for a range of people, especially the long-term unemployed. I am not sure where it is all heading.
Yes, that is very true. I don't know, either. In the next 30 years, society will need to establish a basic income just to be marginally stable, because there's no other way to pay for the periodic retraining people need as one job ends and another begins.
Companies used to train people. I'm actually a basic income proponent for similar reasons, among others. But when you put it like that, why should the taxpayers foot that bill and not the companies that reap the value?
The companies won't foot the bill. They'll just hire very young people with the relevant training or send the work overseas.
Technology is more about job replacement than destruction. The problem is that few companies are willing to train people up. The world is unfortunately too big for there to ever be a real labor shortage (at least, in the next 30 years).
My sister did just that and landed a job immediately upon returning.
I can deal with not being hired for lack of fit, but at my age being offered a junior position is an insult. There are plenty of reasons someone might not hire me and many are neutral (position filled, bad day on my end or theirs) but a crappy offer at least feels like a statement.
Or am I just assuming programmer, and you're actually something else?
If you're told your boss manager will be a 23 year old who was BFFs with the founders all growing up, and you are 35 with 15 years of experience, that's kinda degrading.
If you're a 30 year old with 10 years of experience and you're being offered less than what an undergrad gets entreating into facebook or apple or google ($30k sign on, $50k+ worth of 4-year options to start out with (which will easily be added to so you can cash out $500k to $1M within 6-8 years)), that's kinda degrading too.
Sometimes your specific experience doesn't match the outside world anymore. Maybe you have eight years experience using Custom Designed Internal Framework that's of no use to the outside world. So, there you sit, being judged along side people with eight years less experience than you because all your experience is "hidden" to the new company, their interview process, and your social peers.
There are many ways jobs and the interview process can make you feel less than stellar.
Of your examples, the one with less money is just less money. I understand issues with a drop in salary, but the reference to "junior position" above seemed to imply more than salary.
On the first, I've been older than my managers for years now. Who cares? I don't want to be a manager, I enjoy programming. I care deeply whether that 23-year-old is a good or bad manager, but that has nothing to do with how old she is.
If you're a professional, your rate is market or pro bono. Anything in-between just gets horrible. Your salary is what it costs the company for management to waste your time. If your salary's low, your time will be wasted.
In the sense of "meaning of life stuff" (fulfillment, meaning, purpose, etc). Your salary is what you charge someone to make you do things you wouldn't normally do. Sometimes, especially in "tech," jobs and natural interests align. In the normal world, that isn't always so.
At Google, if you attended Stanford and landed in the Mt. View office (the office being more important than the school) there was, even when I was there, a decent chance of getting a legit SWE-2/SWE-3 experience that would train you to make more of yourself, and make promotions (up to Staff) basically ensured so you could focus your energy on actually learning and becoming a great engineer.
But as it is now, I see a lot of companies seeking Junior-level positions, but with big expectations and knowledge requirements. Everything except wanting to pay a proper salary.
I'm 30 with 7 years of experience. I wouldn't say I'm a top-1% programmer (probably top 5%, possibly 2%) yet but I'm a really good data scientist and I've seen a lot of different corporate environments. Also, being a Lisper (but also knowing well the virtue of static typing, having worked on production Ocaml systems) I have good taste. There are still some holes in my knowledge (I was a math major, not CS) but I'm filling them pretty quick.
I wouldn't take a job where my day consists of being handed bugs or small features in some large project where the decisions were already made. Someone else can churn tickets, I'm past that point in my career. I'm not a prima donna. In the short term (say, two weeks) I'll do what is required no matter how unglamorous. But in the long term (3+ months) I'm not going to work in a role that's incoherent with my career objectives.
I only work in roles where I get to make some of the technical decisions, because if I'm purely in an implementation role, I won't learn anything. I generate ideas and implement them; if I'm only doing the second of these, then the work is meaningless to me. If the project is big and complicated-- say, 2.1 to 2.3 in difficulty on this scale: http://michaelochurch.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/the-trajector... I'd probably be doing that under light supervision and that's fine, but if I'm not engaging in a learning process and in control of what I work on, then I'm wasting my time at this age.
Is it that you want to be more of an architect and were being offered programming positions?
Senior programming is different from junior programming. As with writing, there are varying forms of it and they have different flavors that might not be obvious to those who don't do it on a daily basis.
A junior programmer fixes bugs and implements features that come downstream from executives, product management, and more senior programmers. There's a lot of value in that experience, if it comes with mentorship, when you're starting out. But when you get to my level, the quickest way to learn is to do things and find out directly what works and what doesn't.
A senior programmer gets to set priorities, generally has a lot of autonomy over what he works on, and has input (and, often, final say) in product and architectural decisions.
It's not about title, as it were. There are plenty of people with "Senior" in their title who are junior in terms of how they work, and there are others without fancy titles who are de facto senior.
But, you know, in context, there's a huge difference between not finding a job and not being able to easily make the next step up in your career.
At 7 years, you just don't have much senior experience (that's a comment about years, not knowledge or talent). 7 years is a lot of programming experience, it's just not a lot of senior dev or team lead experience.
It's a good career move to insist on this in your next position, and I'm not doubting that you're capable of it, but that puts you in a completely different category than somebody who can't find work at all or somebody who's been a senior dev for 20 years and can't find a position.
One thing to be aware of is that a lot of shops, myself included, almost never hire senior/leads directly. I'll pay your salary request, but no matter who you are, you're going to spend a couple of months on somebody else's project before you lead your own, just to understand the code base, the team, the tracking and VCS systems, the culture in general. We may have an understanding that you'll lead the next big project if you don't flame out, but you're still going to have to spend some time down in the code trenches.
In the traditional world, yes. But what about our wacky tech world where the 22 year old is a founder/ceo/manager of the entire company? Are you less experienced and knowledgeable that that person?
I agree with your part about not hiring externally for new internal projects though (unless all your other internal projects are horrible and you need new blood to get out of institutional brain damage).
We often worry that acquiring human capital is a double edged sword, but it's hard to find that in the data.
That said, BLS has written that older workers face both lower rates and longer durations of unemployment:
It seems contradictory at first glance: how do older workers have better and worse luck at the same time?
One way to explain this is that as older workers gain in specialized skills, it makes "search costs" more difficult, it's harder to match them to the right job. PhD's in narrow disciplines face a similar situation: it's much harder to find that good fit right out of school, but in the long run, once you find a place, you're more likely to be well compensated, poached, or retained in employment by those who understand your skill set for the rest of your life.
There could be other explanations. But from the raw data, if you had to bet on someone being employed, try to pick someone who is highly educated and older, no question.
Even adapting is no assurance of your future employability.
I am also in my 60s, so I also feel for people who might suffer from age discrimination (or gender, race, religion, etc.)
There should be a level playing field, but sadly that is not always the case.
> twice in the last five years potential customers wanted to hire me for projects but they were blocked by their HR departments who thought I was black. Offering to show birth certificate of my father did not helped.
There is no ethical, legal, and legitimate reason to not hire someone for a consulting job because they're black. There is an ethical, legal, and legitimate reason to not hire someone because they have been unemployed for a long period of time. Or to at least consider other candidates who don't appear to have been unemployed for a long period of time.
I'm hoping your comment about showing a parent's birth certificate was solely an attempt at an analogy and not meant to be something you think realistically would or does happen. An employer can't deny a candidate employment because a candidate is or isn't black, or their parents are or aren't black. That's the point. Race and color are both protected classes in the US . A person's long term unemployment, just like their level of education and attractiveness, isn't a protected class. Meaning a job can discriminate against a person all day every day based on their history of long term unemployment.
And just to add, the birth certificate of one parent doesn't determine a person's race as far as society is broadly concerned, particularly if you're considered black in the US .
 - http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/
 - The President of the United States
 - http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/12/%E2%80%98one-d...
 - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jefferson/mixe...
It absolutely boggles my mind that at any company an HR department would be able to block a hire like that. I mean why not just give the accounting department veto power over hires too?
I've thought about this as a solo freelancer. Within my (small) niche, everyone knows who I am, and I can point to external signs. Outside my niche, people pretty much have to take what I say on faith when I describe what I do.
My research, involving in-depth conversations with hundreds of unemployed job seekers, indicates that no group of workers is more committed to contributing to a company that gives them a chance to prove their value than older workers who have been long-term unemployed.
Importantly, while some employers fear that older workers will not sticking around, my research suggests the opposite is more likely. It’s worth considering whether, in fact, it is younger workers in their 20s and 30s who are more likely to be actively searching for opportunities to move across jobs in an effort to develop a portfolio of marketable skills and experiences. Older workers are really looking for a company where their considerable skills and experiences are valued and can make a difference.
One concern tha jumps out (i'm sure to many) is the reference to a measurement of "future comittment", which seems at best unpredictable. Take, for example the divorce rate amongst newlyweds. His methodology may indeed be wide-rangingly useful (assuming its good), but we don't get a sense of it here. It does seem, in any event, that the HR heuristics at BigCos these days are apparently shallow.
I expect a technical employee (myself included) to bring to the company some multiple of their salary each year. With that in mind, I'm far more interested in the possible upside of a good employee than in reducing a portion of the costs of a possibly cheaper employee. (I'm generally "on the hook" for some amount of constant costs: 401-k match, insurance, building occupancy costs, free food/drinks, management attention/overhead needed, etc, so a 25% lower salary might only net me a 15% lower overall cost.)
Long term unemployed, excessive job hopping without good explanation, long stints of employment without promotion or other evidence of growth are all red flags. They're not fatal in isolation, but believe me, they get scrutiny by hiring managers who are paying attention.
Someone involuntarily out of work in a tech field for 6 months is likely to, at a minimum, interview poorly. (Otherwise, they'd likely land somewhere inside of 2 months.) For your plan to work, one has to be willing to low-ball a candidate who likely just interviewed poorly with you. I don't think the risk-reward works out, which is why I'm probably part of the problem, but willingly so.
Candidates that interview poorly get a polite rejection, not a lowball offer.
Heh heh. Well, sure. It isn't your money.
Hugely helpful for the employee, but an "adequate, not spectacular" employee who works for me for 18 months isn't helping my company much overall. The first 6 months is straight negative; the next 6 is break even, and the next 6 pay back the hole we dug in the first 6. So, good for them and hopefully break even for me, except I lost 18 months of "tempo" with one of my employee spots.
For a cash-strapped company, this plan might make more sense. For a profitable and growing later-stage company, I think this makes much less sense. (I work a much later stage company, so that surely colors my opinion and biases here.)
More creativity is called for. For instance, are you snowed under by 300 resumes for only one position? Maybe you need to rethink how you describe your requirements. Read every 10th resume and then rewrite your requirements. Winnow down the resumes to a semi-short list based on one or two key things. For instance in software development look at the type of projects they did. What did they deliver regardless of the technology that they used. You will probably still have 100 resumes. Then send your new requirements to each of these people by email, give them 24 hours to reply with a two page letter explaining how they can help you achieve what you have described in your new requirements. Probably most of them either won't reply in time, or their letters will be godawful things that you can't even read to the end.
But you will find a few gems to interview.
To do this right your new requirements need to focus on describing the problems that you face and the timeline in which you want to solve those problems. Ask people explicitly to question your current approach. Maybe that guy with no PHP experience actually does have something to offer to your all-PHP shop.
Or do something else. Just do it creatively, think out of the box, and try to make it interesting for the applicants as well.
I found two different companies trying to hire -- those looking to fill positions, and those looking to solve problems. Huge difference between those two; the former is tactical, the latter is strategic. Everyone needs to strive to find the latter.
I found interviews with those looking to "fill a position" bordered on the absurd in terms of their hiring approach. It throws you (the job seeker) off your game and makes you question your own competency. Don't fall for it; keep looking for those companies that are trying to solve problems.
Could you give some more concrete examples, or something? Are you talking about ongoing maintenance jobs (like your time will be spent mostly bugfixing) vs building-new-product jobs? I'm really curious what you mean.
I found companies that were "filling positions" were those that had a previous role defined, and now needed to either replace the previous owner, or add to the organization (they had budgeted for it, for example.) These tended to be larger companies, and the focus for the job was the role. In these cases, the role had largely been pre-defined.
The short-list of companies I spoke with that were trying to "solve a problem" didn't think about what role someone should fill, but rather what capabilities a candidate could bring to their team. These companies I found were often smaller (less than 100 employees), although I'm sure it could apply to larger ones. The difference with these companies is that their focus (from my vantage point) was not on organizational structure, but rather on thinking about how a candidate could augment their team.
It was very eye-opening, and once I picked up on that pattern, I began to ask the "right" questions.
Rather, it seems like workers need to compete on a new trajectory and perhaps be re-educated. Although, I don't know if how system supports that very well.
Can someone explain why people don't just do that instead of complaining about "discrimination?" Heck, I myself would never hire someone who had been unemployed for a year and lacked the ability to either get a job or start their own thing.
Sorry to get all ranty but that is exactly what the author is talking about. I've been there a few times and it wasn't due to a lack of effort in trying to start something and casting a wide net. Good people exist even if they haven't worked in a while, it's not like they suddenly dried up and died.
Even if you can't find a job during that time, there's still things you can do to improve your chances of getting employed. Start learning new technologies, attend/start a local meetup, build a website, volunteer, take online courses (many of which are free or low-cost), answer questions on StackOverflow, contribute to projects on GitHub.
The worst thing you can do is to just interview and wonder why you aren't getting any offers. Technology is a rapidly changing field, if you can't get a job with your current skill set, do something about it and show that on your resume.
It took six months for me to get interested in coding again. I started experimenting with Processing then developed an ios opengl based app.
The last company I worked for closed our division (and laid all of us off) solely because of politics. The irony was that we had had the highest return on investment of any division in the company for more than a decade.
I'm now stuck in a dead-end job at a small company. Our CEO has an absolutely toxic managerial style and I need to get out. Unfortunately, I'm in one of those complicated situations where it's really hard to find another job (e.g., over 40, specialized field, geographically-bound).
The CEO's toxic management style means, among other things, we're all expected to work absurdly long hours. So, I don't have a lot of time to put in to job hunting or retraining, and I have vacillated between how I should be using my precious time.
One of the things I've considered was developing an app (that scratches an itch of mine; but I've heard others complaining about similar problems here on HN, so I know I'm not alone). While your experience certainly doesn't mean that I will get an offer, it supports the premise that a single app can lead down the right road.
All you need to do is file for DBA and start accepting really low-paid gigs off a site like elancer. And yes, you can literally just snap your fingers to get those.
The point is you're not starting the company to actually succeed. You're just starting it to list something besides unemployment on your resume and hence get a real job.
"All you need to do is file for DBA and start accepting really low-paid gigs off a site like elancer."
If you're going to bother to be on elance/odesk/etc, you'll have a public profile. To get any decent work there, you'll have to have a good public profile, which can be tarnished by any one of the people you work for making extremely outlandish and ever-changing demands, with the threat of a 'bad review' hanging over your head.
Furthermore, there are always dozens (at least) people vying for the $100 gigs - you can't just 'snap your fingers' and get one (or several). And again, even if you could get one, it's not really the sort of work you want to do (in many cases).
Your point about labeling yourself an independent contractor is, in itself, not bad, but it's partially just a smoke screen - doesn't really help pay the bills on day 1.
And even more to the point, there are a number of companies that won't hire people who've been freelance/contract for any period of time - they see it as the person being too willing to be 'disloyal' or 'job hop away' at a moment's notice.
Labelling yourself as a contractor or independent business during unemployment period is definitely one way to explain a long gap, but it's not a silver bullet.
If you're an HR manager or a compliance officer with 20 years of industry-specific experience, there simply aren't any freelance gigs you can pick up, no matter how low-paid. And the experience you have isn't general experience at all. It's often not even industry experience. It's often experience specific to a single enterprise's internal functions.
And having a non-executive position on your resume in that world is worse than LTU.
Nothing wrong with consulting, and IMO nothing wrong with trying and failing to go it yourself, but if I think you're being intentionally deceitful on your CV, you'll be dropped like a rock as soon as I'm reasonably sure of that point.
I realize you only need to fool one firm to get a job, but it's not a trivial couple hour exercise to implement.
>whether the filing date is during a time of your unemployment, etc?
Why does this mater? Isn't the most likely time to start a consulting company during a time of unemployment?
I've actually come across that situation. It speaks to character. If you genuinely were consulting, or even trying to form a consultancy or freelance business, but ultimately failed, that's one thing. Making a fake business and doing the minimal paperwork to "make it legit" so you don't have a paper gap on your CV is quite another.
> Priceless Career Advice.
I was once a PhD student, ABD at a top 15 university in math, with undergrad degrees in math and physics. I had very competitive all around scores on standardized exams, all 90th percentile and up. Upon leaving grad school, I became homeless & destitute, even depressed at times, but I still had the will to put on a good face and still had the intelligence & drive to learn & excel. After finally landing a junior dev position 3 years after grad school (after teaching myself programming), I quickly developed and took on a senior dev position in under a year.
By your stated viewpoint, you would have missed a bargain stellar talent who was open to any opportunity offered to him. Ability & willingness to learn/execute a skill isn't inextricably linked to employment periods - that is a terrible fallacy.
The good news is that you'll be making $750,000 a year as a developer. Just hang onto that job...
I don't doubt that it'd be different technology. But why would I not evolve? I'm constantly learning new languages and techniques through side projects. People who aren't constantly pushing themselves to learn more probably should get left behind.
Do you personally hire people?
No matter how good you are, long-term unemployment will fuck up your confidence, especially after 50 when you're supposed to have your shit together. I've seen it happen to some really stellar people.
Financial stress poisons everything, and only a small percentage of people (maybe 5%) can prevent that sense/fear of letting their family down and being a drain on society from crushing them. Trust me on this one.
It's easy as hell to find work (consulting or full-time) when things are going well, especially in our industry. It's not so easy for people who take a fall, especially when it's unexpected.
Instead of blaming employers, there are other causes for long term unemployment. The first of course is a slow growing economy that would normally absorb the unemployed. The other, I believe, is the greatest cause of our long term unemployment: raising the federal minimum wage $2 back in 2008.
Without going into detail, creating an artificial floor for the price of something limits the supply. For example, Some employers won't hire someone at $7 an hour, but might at $6. Some employers could hire 5 employees at $5 an hour, but only 4 at $7.
Many positions have quite limited returns on the right tail, that are easily reached by people of no special intelligence. If you're a Mickey D worker, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If you're a clerical worker, again, doesn't matter much. Almost anything that falls under admin, doesn't matter very much. Sales? Well, there's a certain charisma required but certainly working in most of sales doesn't require much intelligence - I know, I've done sales myself before and written procedures for it. Once computer speech is reliable I expect a lot of sales people to become unemployed outside of B2B.
Being a manager? Well, if you're in a technical firm there's a fair amount of person experience required there, but it's not hugely challenging - it's more a matter of decency and common sense. (And honestly, my faith in companies being able to reliably select for managers is 'HAHAHAHA, no.')
And the dreadful thing here is that the better you are at a skill, the harder it is for people who don't share that skill to recognise it. So unless the company's hiring procedure is geared towards finding it, i.e. they live to find the right tail, that will likely go unrecognised. The search costs increase the more skilled you become. Hence why so many crap programming jobs are advertised as 'X years experience' ; the person doing the hiring is an HR girl who doesn't know how to recognise the real deal and probably doesn't really have the time anyway.
If you're doing most any job that doesn't qualify as intellectually challenging, it doesn't matter much how smart you are to the company, they'll not profit by your intelligence. If you're doing any job where ability is poorly assessed, (which kinda screws you if the person interviewing doesn't know the job themselves,) it doesn't matter how smart you are - they'll not ask the right questions to find out.
If you want to look at how people end up LTU, I think you have to stop thinking about them as people; with hopes, dreams, and virtues. (Yes, that does make me feel sick.) That's not what they look like when you're looking at their CVs.
Think of them almost like you're picking horses in a race: Someone tells you a horse has been out of racing for a long time. Do you gamble on it?
If it was a truly exceptional horse, maybe you do. But the average unemployed person is going to be average at best. Given you can't expect them to be any better than the employed person, do you gamble on them?
Of course you don't. The horse might have been out of the game for a number of reasons. But how many of those reasons are good - and what's your gain over gambling on a horse that hasn't been out for a while? If you had more information about it than the market then you might - but your expected value of information for most jobs is going to be low due to the lack of recognised ability to leverage their intelligence in most roles.
If you're LTU, without some form of background check, that's indistinguishable from having been in prison, or having a mental breakdown, or getting sacked for a reason. What were they doing for the last six months? You don't know, but there's a higher than average chance of it being something bad.
When you have multiple candidates to choose from, and you can't easily distinguish quality given your initial investment in them, and your EVI is lower than the cost of that information, it makes sense to be risk averse on easily seen indicators. Maybe you're missing great candidates, but for most positions, what's your motivation to care?
When they're competing with people who aren't LTU, and who can do the job about as well, the company's expected return on investing in them - spending the time and money to check these things - seems likely to be negative outside of companies that can leverage exceptional individuals.
If you're old and good, the supposition is that you'll resent being told what to do by someone inexperienced and probably not as skilled. If you're old and bad, then you're not a desirable hire anyway. Catch-22.
The way to fix this is to move to organizational models that don't rely so heavily on subordination and hierarchical rigidity. Conceptual hierarchy is necessary, but a fixed hierarchy of people is not.
Also, I think the VCs are to blame. They pick founders who are very young, because they're easier to take advantage of. Since it's rare that a capable 50-year-old will happily work for a 25-year-old founder, and the "boss should be older" rule traverses the hierarchy, the accepted age band at every rank becomes younger and more narrow.
There's no reason to resent someone being your boss if they happen to be younger. If they are a good leader, that has nothing to do with their age differential.
I do agree that VCs have a lot to do with youth bias in startup culture, and for the reasons mentioned. It is easier to get a younger person with no external obligations to work insane hours. Why else would Facebook and Google build campuses that employees never have to leave?
I don't believe in homogenization of demographics, age and experience over the long haul. It leads to stagnation of perspective and ideas, because the experiences of the teams are so similar.
I think that people can learn from each other, both directions, and that is good for a team that has the bravery to challenge the status quo.
The problem is there is a lot of truth to these stereotypes.
For the first two weeks of his employment, the guy was quiet. Really, really quiet. He just kept to himself and read the material I'd given him. I was starting to get worried, when one day he asked to talk to me about his tasks... He then proceeded to ask a series of incredibly pointed questions about the work we were doing and his part in it. Not only had he absorbed the details of our requirements, and our plans to meet them, but he had already anticipated the problems & challenges that we would be facing months & years down the line when it came to testing and delivery. He was completely on top of his game.
As a youngster, my approach was very different from his. Lacking experience, I would energetically tackle things head on, and deal with problems as they arose. Working with this older guy really made me appreciate that other approaches are at least as valid.
So, if someone is on top form at 40, they'll probably be even better at 50.
Not everyone ages well. While there are certainly great employees in their 50s and 60s, you'll also find a pretty high percentage that
1. Stopped learning 20 years ago, either because they didn't force themselves out of their comfort zone or because they became experts at something and couldn't take the financial hit to do something else as a non-expert.
2. Have some sort of medical problem that affects their concentration. I work with a guy who has terrible back problems for which he has pain meds. He can go for a few hours without taking his meds and he's pretty productive then. Otherwise he can't concentrate very well and doesn't add much. Nearly everyone ends up taking blood pressure medications, and they have side effects.
3. Have ordinary age-related cognitive decline. This is the big one. If you were a genius at 30 you'll most likely be pretty smart at 50. But if you were average at 30 you're going to be below average at 50, with below average memory and reasoning skills. Everybody has cognitive decline, even in the absence of other problems. In many industries experience makes up for it. Not so much in software.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you shouldn't hire people over 50. All I'm saying is there's truth in the stereotype.