Are engineers in the United States either too young or too old?
In trying to hire application developers for the semiconductor industry, Lance Jones, vice president of technology at Evans Analytical Group in Sunnyvale, Calif., decided the “sweet spot” for senior-position experience was five to 10 years.
But the applications the company received were largely from foreign students looking for a visa sponsor, or senior-level engineers with more than 20 years of experience. In other hiring efforts, the results have been much the same.
“It could just be that we have heard for so long that everything is moving to Asia, that it has discouraged many of our young people from studying engineering. This leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Jones writes at EE Times. “CEOs complain about lack of talent, and at the same time state that they are going to Asia. Where is the incentive for the younger generation?”
Jones concedes that test and applications development might not be the sexiest jobs around, but asks, “who will be there to pick up the slack once us grey hairs leave?” Still, Jones doesn’t go into why more experienced candidates wouldn’t be ideal for the positions in his company.
The federal government, for one, has a similar problem: More than half of its IT workers are 45 to 59 years old.
Though older tech workers often say that recruiters never call back once they see their age, Luther Jackson, a program manager and researcher at the Sunnyvale-based employment and training agency NOVA, urges candidates to learn more about social networking and get involved in user groups and meetups.
For older workers concerned about keeping their jobs, career counselor J.T. O’Donnell of CAREEREALISM.com advises focusing on being the one who solves problems for the management team.