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Ageism is a real problem, but in my opinion ageism is often cited by job seekers where the problem is something else entirely. In tech, there seems to be quite a bit of discrimination today against employees who have worked for many years at the same position, and that discrimination is typically aimed at large environments. Startups seem to be ok with hiring older engineers who bounced around and worked in startups in the past, but they usually won't give much consideration to a 50 year old who developer has spent the last 25 years at an insurance company or major bank.

Take two 50 year old engineers. The one who has had 10 jobs over the past 25 years is considered infinitely more employable than the one with 25 years at the same department of the same company.

This case isn't ageism, it's the expectation of career stagnation, yet many of those engineers with that 25 year tenure think it is. It's a leftover from the days when loyalty was tied to tenure, and loyalty was valued highly in the hiring criteria. Those days are over. Loyalty is nice, but loyalty that negatively impacts your career options (no learning or improving, inability to use marketable tech skills, etc) is foolish.




That makes a presumption that someone who spent 25 years at the same employer stagnated. I spent nearly 10 years at my first employer, but in that time I had three different positions. On my resume I have started listing it as three separate positions, which seems to confuse some people but is an accurate portrayal of my time there. I do not think one employer == one role is an accurate assumption and that "10 jobs over the past 25 years" vs. '25 years at the same department of the same company" is a false dichotomy that assumes people like me do not exist.


I'm not saying the assumption is fair, and there are certainly exemptions. I'm saying that startups tend to assume that if you've been at the same place for 25 years, there is a reason for that, and the reason is usually negative.

When you say 'people like me', keep in mind that just because you have had three different roles at one company in itself doesn't mean you didn't stagnate, just as the person with ten jobs may have stagnated.

All assumptions have some danger, and I'm not condoning the behavior. I think it's valuable to explain to people who feel they are being discriminated against based on age may be more likely associated with stagnation (actual or assumed) based on extended tenure.


Yes, and I think that bias is (quasi-)ageism.

I'm certainly not saying that someone who has held multiple positions has not stagnated, either, simply that fundamentally the only difference between me and someone who worked for three different companies but had the same roles as I did is merely the company nameplate. To make different assumptions based solely on that is illogical.


It's quasi-ageism, I guess, in that junior level workers are difficult to accuse of stagnation. So although junior level workers may stagnate, it may be assumed that they didn't yet. I've seen devs in their early 30s as victims of this stagnation assumption (10 years in some traditional industry).


If you've switched 10 companies in the last 25 years, then your value contains lots of stuff that was transferrable/common to different jobs; if you've been 25 years in a single tech area, then it's very likely that your key value is in-depth knowledge of that particular area - unless I need that exact area expertise; an employee with 10 different shallow expertises would be more valuable to me than 1 really deep expertise that's outside my scope.


What about 10 similar shallow experiences vs. 1 really varied experience? That is exactly the false dilemma I was talking about earlier. Changing companies does not automatically mean changing roles, and staying with one company does not automatically rule it out.


None of the judgements need to be 100% true - it's not automatically, but if it's noticeably more likely than it is this way, then it's completely valid.

Are you arguing that in that scenario it's more likely that the one-workplace worker really has better experience, or are you arguing that it's possible that he has better experience?

CV-sorting is not a maximization problem, it's a satisficing problem of getting a few good candidates to the interviews at a reasonable cost; which generally requires throwing out 90% of CVs without spending the resources to seriously investigate those people. As long as you have enough qualified candidates, factors that "often are bad, but sometimes are good" equal an automatic forward to the circular folder under HR desk.




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