Job-Seeking Tips for Older Tech Pros

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In recent years, it seems as if tech has evolved into an industry that lionizes the young. Despite all the press about 21-year-old rock-star developers and 30-year-old CEOs, though, there’s still a significant market for older tech pros, especially those with specialized knowledge.

For those older workers, landing a new gig might take more than just a resume and solid interviewing skills; the job market has evolved substantially over the past decade, and other means of attracting employers’ attention have come to the fore, especially for developers and programmers. While it might take some inner flexibility to adapt to these new methods, they will prove essential for anyone jumping into the job hunt for the first time in a while.

Social Networking

Building a significant social presence might seem like a waste of time to anyone who’s never really engaged with Twitter, Facebook, or the other platforms out there. Whatever your opinion, setting up profile pages on all those networks is key, if only because everybody out there is doing it, and HR staffers and recruiters now scan those pages as part of their job.

Social profiles don’t need to be excessively formal in tone and image; a well-composed, non-embarrassing profile picture is always a good start. Use your social accounts to participate in discussions about tech topics, and learn the wonders of #hashtags to find those with similar interests.

GitHub and Open-Source Repositories

If you’re a programmer with a lot of open-source projects under his or her belt, take the time to set up a GitHub account; upload your interesting projects and bits of code to it. Even if you don’t want to share your work, bug-hunting and constructively critiquing others’ code is a good way to build a reputation among developer communities. Since some HR and recruiters use GitHub as a way to source job candidates, you could find yourself on the receiving end of a job offer if you stand out as a solid contributor.

Learn New Stuff

The biggest threat to tech pros’ continued employment is letting their skills atrophy. You may already know the ins and outs of older-but-popular programming languages such as C++ and Java, but it doesn’t hurt to see how other programmers are pushing the boundaries of those platforms (websites such as Hacker News are a huge help with that), as well as explore the possibilities of new languages and technologies. If you’re skilled in Objective-C, for example, you can increase your job-earning potential by learning Swift, which will likely become the primary way of building iOS apps over the next several years.

With hardware, the need to learn new stuff is even more important, given the segment’s rapid evolution. What you know about servers or PCs will be ancient history sooner than you think; and with more businesses embracing the cloud over on-premises data centers, adapting to new methods of building and administrating is more important than ever.

Show Your Perseverance

Older workers have abilities that only come with decades of experience, such as perseverance and the creativity that comes with having seen a million permutations of the same challenges. When updating your resume, cover letter, and social-media profiles, make sure you emphasize how your skills have translated into years’ worth of accomplishments.

Image Credit: Family Business/Shutterstock.com

Comments

7 Responses to “Job-Seeking Tips for Older Tech Pros”

August 20, 2015 at 9:20 pm, JJBrooks said:

I’m 53 and I just show them some of the things I have built, the gets me the job. Would you ever higher an artist without seeing their work? People in our business always do.

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August 20, 2015 at 9:58 pm, give-me-a-break said:

I would never work for what passes for “software companies” today. They are more like software sweat shops. I am very suspicious of hiring young programmers. I find they can’t really think and have too great a need for “direction”. To much focus on the visual I suspect and not enough on text and symbols. Everything is a “task” to them, like a hurdle to be jumped over. No sense of ownership. They would never dream of spending 20 years working on one application. It’s all about the resume. No sense of craft. No joy in the code.

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August 21, 2015 at 11:30 am, LP said:

For the most part, you can translate this “specialized knowledge” of “older” programmers into knowing how to not reinvent a worse wheel. Time and time again I see new programmers oversimplifying the problems at hand and creating something less functional/elegant than what existed before. They are reinventing the field, but probably not in the way they think they are…

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August 23, 2015 at 6:28 am, Mark Stratmann said:

I am a 50 year old developer and am luckily finding demand for my skills is very strong.

I don’t know about the efficacy of social networks in job seeking other thank making sure you have a solid profile

A few years ago I had basically got what I would now call middle-age-lazy. I was in a good full time job, doing Microsoft based stuff, very pleased with my skills and had been too lazy to properly learn Javascript, Ruby, Linux etc. i.e. I had failed to keep up with the modern technology trends.

And in my opinion I quite rightly found myself unable to get a new job when the old one evaporated. Regardless of all the years of experience and skills.

Since then I now do what I find a lot of 20 year old developers do, and what I used to do when I was in my 20s. I work on my own projects, the technologies I use at home has to be stuff I don’t yet know, I do this “home-work” at least 8 hours a week and more if I can get it.

My experience with other, older technologies allowed me to very quickly become expert in the new technologies, and I find this allows me to do far more with the new stuff than many younger developers who have not yet encountered the numerous use cases that I have.

I now find that my job prospects are excellent because I can do large complex projects using all the tools that employers are demanding. The jobs are also a lot more fun.

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August 27, 2015 at 6:44 am, Some Senior Fella said:

My hands look much much better than those in the picture. And I am a senior at 62.

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August 30, 2015 at 11:15 pm, Harry said:

Dear folks,

Assuming you are nearing the 50s, and still in the IT industry.

Do you continue upgrading your skills in technical or non-technical skills please ?

As age continues to be looked upon as a criteria in the IT industry, what should seasoned IT practitioners consider please if they wish to continue working till retirement?

Appreciate your thoughts.

Cheers, harry.

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September 19, 2015 at 3:08 pm, John Pittaway said:

Harry,

I am over 65 and still in IT. I have to re-invent myself every 5 years or so. What I have discovered it is these “re-inventions” have frequently been evolutionary rather then revolutionary. The main thing is, be ready to change.

I recommend .Net as a platform with a relational database. SQL Server or Oracle are excellent choices.

Look on the Dice jobs listings for the hiring trends in your area. The more hits you get for a specific skill the better.

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