The pace of change is just breathtaking. We’ve entered a strange new world. There are opportunities, but they are different. You have to be edgy and supercreative. You’re not going to get a job that’s going to be assembly and filing and coding, and frankly, that can leave a lot of the older set a little bewildered.
Bewildered…and fired. This take on the environment in today’s Silicon Valley comes from Russell Hancock, president and chief executive of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, and it’s the centerpiece of a thought-provoking New York Times article that asserts that age discrimination in the Valley is real.
While Web-based companies like Facebook and Google are scouring the world for new talent to hire, older technology workers often find that their skills are no longer valued. Part of the problem, analysts said, is that many of the companies shedding jobs are technology manufacturers, while most of the companies that are hiring are Internet-based. Hiring managers at the Bay Area’s fastest-growing technology companies were blunt. Seth Williams, a director of staffing at Google, said his firm was looking for candidates who are “passionate” and “truly have a desire to change the world.”
Some assert that this language—”passionate, energetic, visionary”—is code for “young,” and that when someone is deemed to be a bad “cultural fit,” he or she may actually just be “old.”
In the past few years, lawsuits have been filed, most notably by 52-year-old Brian Reid, a Google manager who was fired in 2004—just days before Google went public. His claim: the badly timed dismissal cost him up to $45 million in lost stock options. The case was resolved out of court, but it opened the door to more suits and more discussion about what’s really going on in the Valley. As another observer put it, “Especially in social media, cloud computing and mobile apps, if you’re over 40 you’re perceived to be over the hill.”
True? Not true? Speak up. Tell us what you’ve seen in the trenches by posting a comment below.