Tech Pros Fear Losing Jobs Due to Age: Survey

Ageism in tech is a hotly debated issue. On one side, you have many older tech workers complaining that discrimination is rampant. On the other, companies insist that they hire based solely on merit—not an applicant’s age.

However much ageism plays a role in tech hiring, it’s clear that job candidates are worried about it: according to a new survey from Indeed, some 43 percent of tech workers were worried about losing their job due to their age. In addition, 18 percent said that the worry was constant, and 36 percent said that they hadn’t been taken seriously by colleagues because of their age.

“There is a serious disconnect here: a contradiction, even. The older workers get, the more concerned they are about their careers. And yet most of their colleagues at tech firms believe they still have much to contribute,” Indeed concluded.

Although workers over 40 are protected by federal civil rights laws, that’s never stopped the controversy. Last year, when Dice sat down with Dan Lyons, writer for the HBO show “Silicon Valley” and a former Newsweek editor, to discuss his book “Disrupted: My Midadventure in the Startup Bubble,” he blamed a tech culture that wants big profits as fast as possible.

“I think it starts with those guys—the investors, what they want and what they push for,” he said. “I think they’ve all decided that the optimal return is young kids: Burn them out, get rid of them, replace them.”

Of course, it doesn’t help the industry’s case when tech CEOs such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg say things like, “Young people are just smarter.” But there are firms that prize the knowledge of older tech pros. For instance, Amazon Web Services has hired many of tech’s most notable figures, including James Gosling (co-inventor of Java; 62 years old), Tim Bray (co-inventor of XML; 61 years old), and Andi Gutmans (co-inventor of PHP; 41 years old).

“[Amazon] puts such a premium on independent groups working fast and making their own decisions it requires a particular skillset, which generally involves a great deal of field experience,” RedMonk helpfully pointed out in a recent blog posting about AWS. “A related trend is hiring seasoned marketing talent from the likes of IBM.”

So what can older tech pros do to compete in this environment? That’s a very complex question. Peter Greulich, a 30-year IBM veteran, told Dice in late 2016 that targeting open positions that demand management or leadership skills could give more experienced tech workers an advantage. “Use exciting words in your résumé and during interviews to show youthful enthusiasm,” he said. “Then highlight your maturity by talking about your ability to lead and guide younger professionals.”

Even if you’re not interested in a management role, highlighting your experience is key—as is keeping your skills up-to-date. Although it can prove aggravating to constantly learn new languages and platforms, it’s vital when trying to land jobs with employers on the cutting edge.

77 Responses to “Tech Pros Fear Losing Jobs Due to Age: Survey”

  1. It’s not helping when employers and recruiters are telling 20-year experienced tech workers that they only want 3-5 year experienced workers. They want someone slightly knowledgeable but not so knowledgeable that they’re actually worth something.
    It’s also not helping when your tech job/specialty is devalued by outsourcing and racing to replace you. I have friends that have been forced to train their younger cheaper replacement and get fired the next week. As for going from one company to another for the same position, the pay keeps dropping. A position that paid $X in 2010 was only worth $X/3 in 2014 and $X/5 today. I got out of I.T. because of all this.

    • the Baron

      Yep. I am a tester and QA analyst. I was laid off for lack of work, because the company sent testing overseas, and because I’m over 50, and I was a salary liability. My separation agreement (ie, the instrument of surrender) included a paragraph in which I agreed not to sue the company for age discrimination.

      Along with shipping testing overseas, the company is replacing personnel with college interns. Some of them get hired, but they leave after 3 or 4 years for better positions.

  2. Robert B

    There is a business case for seeking out younger workers which may fall along the 80/20 principal.

    Younger workers have the need to prove themselves and to accumulate successes. They also likely posses a simplified view of how an implementation should be, which reduces design and implementation time; they’re able to demonstrate nearly immediate progress on a project.

    An employer may be composed of a management team from two extremes of tech; those without low level technical experience but knowledgeable in a related important domain (e.g. marketing, sales, and/or business), and those who have low level technical experience but lack confidence and/or patience in their leadership skill set to deal with feedback.

    The first group doesn’t know what they don’t know.

    The other may rightly or wrongly trust they themselves posses a clear and complete understanding of the project and all they need are some “sharp programers” who can channel and augment their coding skills and bring their vision into reality. “Wrongly” can be broken down further to over confidence, self delusion, or “just get a POC and get the next round then we’ll refactor”.

    The young programmers will see a lot of there code thrown away and rewritten, as there was never more than a verbal specification given and interfaces change.

      • Yeah well, the Supremes, who have lifetime tenure, put the impossible burden on the employee to prove discrimination. Meanwhile the company lawyers have come up with an employee evaluation process that simply uses false allegations to document so called poor performance. As an individual you can’t win.

    • > Younger workers … also likely posses a simplified view of how an implementation should be, which reduces design and implementation time; they’re able to demonstrate nearly immediate progress on a project.

      That sure is not my experience. Engineering students coursework is a series of exercises, each more complex than its predecessor. Apparently that leaves many with the impression that the Real World uses the most complex architecture possible. One contract I was called in for was to clean up a recent graduate’s mess of linked lists. My “ageism solution” was to eliminate the lists and process one item at a time. That made it impossible to exceed available memory even if ten million shoes were ordered.

  3. I am 63 year old and was replaced by a younger IT person. I had 12 years with the company. The company went through a buy out and let several older people go. There is still age discrimination but hard to prove.

    • So right Joe! Laid off after 21 years by a newbie manager who did understand our role sucks. Ironically, laid off just shy of my 41st birthday! This was after drilling that we were to become Agile and cross train our job with everyone. I should have seen it coming… Agile=Layoffs are coming

  4. Billy Bob Johnson

    If you truly believe that workers over 40 are actually protected by Federal civil rights law, you’re crazy. Do you know what most HR heads do when it comes to cleaning house of “mature” workers? They throw in some token under-40 workers who aren’t doing too well. Then if a complaint is filed, the government looks at it and ALWAYS says, “Well, they also fired some under-40 workers, so, no case”. I’ve watched it be done at three different corporations over my career.

    It also doesn’t help when large corporations decide to raid India for talent. You have fantastic, hard-working people right in front of you, but you want someone from halfway around the world. Thanks, Mr. CIO, you’re a “true” patriot.

    • John Boy Grandpa

      Absolutely spot on Jim Bob! This just happened to me at the end of September. Company I worked for was bought out last year and first thing they did was open an offshore Support team in India and they started hiring kids right out of school for 40k. I knew it was coming, but I’m in my 50s so it’s tough Landing a new gig.

      Like so many on here, I’ve had great response and they tend to like me from the phone interviews, but when I walk in and meet me on the face to face, Stevie Wonder could see it on the faces. Then it turns into a quick interview and “we’ll be in touch. . .”

      The beat goes on. I wish something could be done about ageism (and racism and sexism).

    • Anon (still searching)

      Indeed, the laws against age discrimination are not enforced, as no fired older worker dares or has the means to sue.
      Before I was laid off, I was moved to a group in which layoffs were imminent, so HR could come up with a nice statistics that they also laid off at least one younger worker for every older worker (the project on which the younger ones worked had come to its end; together with a management decision to outsource more of that group’s work).
      Then, to get separation benefits, one had to sign some four pages of small print, which contained the provision that the separation benefit would have to be paid back instantly if the laid-off worker sues (for age discrimination, or anything else) or, even if the laid-off worker _agrees to testify_ in any law suit brought by another person against the employer. (Even if this may be difficult to enforce, it is a deterrent.)
      And of course, once someone sues, his employment chances with any other employer in the same area become zero.

  5. Sheila Oltman

    I think it’s true that younger people early in their career are ‘hungry’ and willing to do whatever it takes to gain experience…even work crazy hours and travel if need be…a more seasoned professional maybe doesn’t feel as strongly about establishing one self..they are content where they are. Having said that…staying sharp on current technologies is key….a must for all techies. If u stop learning, u will find yourself unmarketable and unemployed in your field.

  6. I’m getting let go after 20 years, now 51. I have been told by a recruiter to leave certain information out that shows age. Company was bought out and now they decide they do not need any IT in an office that has 125 users, another 75 in remote offices. There is about a total of 5000 employees. Main office has just a handful of IT there. I did become complacent as I thought I would retire here. I did keep some skills up but not in the right areas. Hopefully I will not be faced with age discrimination. I’ve had to do interviews with of young people coming in for certain projects. It’s sad to say, they do not know as much as someone that has been in the field for awhile. They are use to GUI interfaces and do not know the simplest commands and what they do. I have had to answer the same questions over by them. Many younger people are use to scripted resolutions. We all know at least 50 percent of the time scripted resolutions do not always work. They can not work beyond that when needed. The struggle was real for them. Yet employers want talented people, with 3 – 5 yrs experience and not pay anything. You get what you pay for.

    • I was told the same thing once by a recruiter. I’ve also been told by hiring managers (both when interviewing and from friends who were hiring) that leaving off dates or anything showing age is an immediate reg flag. Aside from that, do you really want to walk into a job interview and watch the interviewer’s face fall when they see an old?

  7. It’s all about economics and profits folks. Pure and Simple. My 1st job as a programmer in Columbia MD with a start up at a tender age and A-lister ended soon after complete all “challenges” to include 1st gen report writers; BTree ISAM/DB; floor planning and precursors to modern menu system. All in the scope of 3 months. Took job at 40% below market rate due to 80’s economy with a solid BS in CS. The experience taught me 2 things; hold your knowledge card close to your vest always; the smartest one in the group who knows the system inside out is seen as a threat to others and can be disposed off in the face of insecure co-workers or managers fearful of an underling taking their job or showing them up. It’s still going on but now aided with H1B scalpers and the likes. It’s gotten worse because of that. It’s nothing personal, it’s the way the system is designed to work. So learn what you can, build yourself up and burn rubber before you get burnt out; don’t get in any comfort zone unless you are part of management who has a handle on the future plans. Remember always, the view from the rear never changes unless you are the lead dog.

  8. Cheryl Wahlheim

    absolutely ageism is in the tech sector and it caught me completely unaware. My team was running well, we were happy with each other, I got along very well with the other tech managers and my boss and I had a good relationship. A new CIO came in, found out my age in a meeting and made it her mission to get rid of me. I quit rather than go through the humiliating process of the “performance improvement process. Since I left, the company has gotten rid of 3 more older, highly paid male employees. I now know of 5 men between the ages of 54 and 60 who have also recently lost their job. The funny thing is, the young millennials will leave after 2-3 years to make more money.

  9. When you start to hear “We need to break the silos…” or “Share your knowledge..” while they are hiring more juniors abroad to “work together”…run. There is no commitment at all, investors and management are just concern about “the numbers” and the most important one is how much they can get personally. Corporation world is too contaminated with this way of doing.

  10. Trey Grant

    Older workers have several advantages over younger workers in tech fields. We may not know the latest buzz words or have the latest programming. We know how to make it work when it is not a text book case for what is wrong. The companies let the older workers down because they will not let us get training when we ask for it. As an older worker, I spend much more time learning the new technology than not learning about it. Give us a chance. If we ask for training to learn how to develop apps, let us get it. I would like to get a job in security. I have seen many types of viruses, worms and malware. Use my knowledge to learn how to stop it.

  11. Sad, but true. I do feel like there is a lot of work to be done, and as the baby boomers age out, there will be greater demand for tech personell. But the continual drive to produce quarterly profits drives some very bad long term decisions. The are so many jobs that don’t leverage the experienced workforce because they can sort of get the job done with someone with less Experience and pay a lot less money. The results of this type of behavior take years to flow through the system, and the CEO will have long moved on to bigger and better things. Hopefully, more and more companies will realize the benefits of this fantastic resource pool, and begin to show that by acknowledging these resources with good high paying jobs they deserve.

    • Anon (still searching)

      All articles complaining about the coming shortage of STEM workers should point to Fast Eddy’s career plan (‘plan to retire by 40’). Unless you rose to senior management, or became a tenured professor (or have other ‘star’ qualities, less than 0.1% of us can aspire to) your career will be over sooner than you think.
      And you better have enough money saved by then to last you a lifetime (not to think about sending children to college).

  12. There is no protection against age discrimination. It takes a recruiter 10 seconds on Google to find out your age. Companies are competing to hand out this information. If you get an interview, it means that either the recruiter was too lazy to look you up, or you have a skill that they can’t get any other way.

    I worked my way up from junior programmer to management, and ended up as a director in an IT organization. I adapted and learned niche technologies that the kids didn’t know. I used this knowledge plus my experience to lead change and implement systems. This approach allowed me to stay employed for far longer, despite pressure to “hand off” projects to non-technical (young) people or outsourced team at the earliest possible moment.

    If you are older than X (defined by each company), you will be subject to abrupt changes in your evals, microagressions (snide comments from managers about the age of other people, exclusion from meetings, projects etc), and when all else fails to get you out of there, layoff or “job elimination”.

    We need politicians who take this issue seriously, and put some teeth in its enforcement. Due to the way that age information is used against people, it should be illegal to display it online. As another poster mentioned, layoffs to dispose of older workers should be outlawed, and the current obvious loopholes should be removed.

    • One more way you get an interview: The company wants to prove they don’t discriminate. They force themselves to sit through some interviews with older workers and waste everyone’s time, because they know they won’t hire that person, but they are desperate to show that they consider older workers. Too bad about that “fit” that never works out.

      • Frank Bee

        Exactly this. I experienced this over the summer. A second interview used to mean that you had a good chance of being hired – now it means nothing.

        Lesson learned: Don’t travel for interviews. Make them interview you over skype – don’t be a moron letting them fill in their EEO paperwork.

      • Anon (still searching)

        I remember a phone interview a few years ago, where the interviewer went through a list of questions; he seemed so relieved when he finally found one which I couldn’t answer.
        That is why many job ads contain a laundry list of software packages or other requirements marginally related to the job.
        This way, any candidate can be rejected on the ‘merit.’ If you later learn who was hired you notice that he/she also doesn’t know many of the items, but is under 40, if not under 30.

  13. For the young Millenials generation with only stay in a company 2 tops 3 years (there are a few exceptions), I only have this to say

    The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is.

    The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metacognitive inability of low-ability persons to recognize their own ineptitude.

    Without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.
    Note: there are non millennials that fit into this description as well. 🙂

    Because of their illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is. They think they can find all the answers by Googling (no experience necessary).

    Is funny to see them say “I can solve this in 5 minutes” and they go to Google and search, search get thousands of answers but they dont know which one is the correct one. After 2 hours searching they give up. 🙂

    • This is certainly a factor. It seems like many of my fellow millennials are extremely easy to manipulate and very susceptible to flattery. That’s probably the real reason these companies want to hire them.

      One of my co-workers positively BEAMED when Zuckerberg said younger people were smarter. Completely blissfully unaware that we are next on the chopping block.

      I’d much rather have a solid career for my working lifetime than have somebody fan my [expletive] now and [expletive] me later.

  14. So… Are there any “seniors” out there having success; finding that their experience is being rewarded; who feel they have successfully stayed abreast of new developments and cutting edge technologies; are valued at their company? I think we need to hear from the outliers here!

    • Databases. Despite the importance and growth of big data, the population of good DBAs and data analysts is aging to the point where it’s a major problem. Younger people – if they know the job exists – either don’t have the math and other skills for it or don’t really know anything about the job. It’s an area where people who work in it aren’t just a little older; they’re a lot older. I’m not talking about someone who can set up a user or run Oracle; lots of those people around. For anything beyond that, like tuning for a petabyte of data or data warehousing, there simply aren’t many young people who can do it. I know people with this skillset who are past retirement age and still working, because the company can’t find anyone to do it and is willing to pay them more to keep working.

    • Frank Bee

      Does it count that I was recently laid of after 24 years working for one project. I kept up with tech trends and was the sole developer/DBA/sys admin bringing in > $200 million in project funding.

      If I worked two more years I would have been entitled to life-time benefits (health etc.). Lesson learned. I was given two weeks notice while out on Jury Duty.

  15. Craig Wala

    I have a been developer for 15 years and a manager of developers for another 7 years before being part of a layoff where our entire division was moved to a low cost country. Saw it coming so I retrained to move out from software into various areas such as program management , operations, and marketing. I have friends that did not want to give up their software career or at least explore options that allow them to be near software or engineering but not necessarily in design or development. For example a Program Manager job allows you to cross into many industries and could keep you around software but that is just one component. I worked with Legal, procurement, external customers, internal customers, compliance etc etc. If you just complain about

  16. Yep. I’m not a grandma (have no children, in fact), but try being a woman over 40 in tech. You get the best of both worlds. When someone is looking for an example of the most clueless tech idiot, it’s always their mom or grandmother. It doesn’t matter what’s on your resume and what you can prove through work examples. There’s a view that everyone will be uncomfortable, because they’ll be judged on behavior and feel like they’re working for mom, while at the same time, you won’t even know how to set up your phone (despite having a track record of development for said phone).

    As far as those examples from Amazon, that’s nice that they hire creators of hugely successful languages. I’m sure that’s just the sort of experience that connects with the average older tech worker who’s been out of work for several years or simply given up on the field.

    • Quite right! They even put up a poster in the coffee area saying that you didn’t understand your systems well enough unless “you could explain it to your grandmother”. Nobody saw anything wrong with this.

      Also as a woman, you are seen as the equivalant of ANY other woman, regardless of experience. In the job I recently quit, it was suggested that the CIO’s secretary could probably do half of my job. I was asked to sign off on this, though I was a director with 20 years of intensive and diverse IT experience. I had just spent a year leading a highly technical cutting-edge implementation they were desperate for. Now, with 70% of it in place, they figured it was a good idea to hand it off to this very nice 20-something woman.
      Last week, their outsourcing company tried to recruit me back as a consultant to save their bacon. Um, …. no.

      • Wow – disgusting. If the phrase were “unless you could explain it to” (fill in any other supposedly protected group), that poster would be considered extremely offensive. Older women are the invisible group that it’s still considered perfectly fine to consider slow, stupid and laughable.

        • Oh – and it’s all too common to get that call to see if you’d save their bacon on something they can’t figure out. At least you got offered pay. I’ve had several places try to get free work after I’d left. I don’t think they’d try this with men or younger women, but older women seem to be expected to “want to help” because it’s the nice thing to do. No. Bills to pay and more interesting things to do.

          • I work on a product that’s coming to the end of its life, so I have may be another year, maybe two if I’m lucky. It’ll be a little early to retire but I can probably manage it.

            But assuming I get laid off (I’ll get a good severance), I might take some interviews anyway, just so that when the cargo shorts across the table launches into one of these nonsense routines, I can just deadpan him, write a $/hr number of the back of my card, slide it across the table and tell him to call me if he needs someone to actually get some work done.

  17. Eric Bliumis

    Amazon was willing to hire co-inventors of Java or PHP even though they were over 40!? Wow, how generous of them. This factoid inserted into the article is completely absurd for obvious reasons that I don’t even need to explain.

  18. Craig Wala

    Sorry hit enter before i meant to anyway…worked on PM jobs which made me more valuable. Its no use complaining that H1’s took away our jobs or younger people took away jobs. Must learn to adapt and find new careers. My father was an engineer and when he retired he got into real estate and has had a 20 year career in it and still going strong. I started working with him on the side and learning and if I get let go then that is my plan B. Forget about being bitter about things you cannot control, find new things to make money from and learn to live significantly below your means ( i have to some extent but not as much as I should have but satisfying to cut out things we do not need). I do not know what lies ahead but important in my opinion to constantly update your (hopefully multiple ) sources of income and being judicious about the money coming in should provide us with some sense of security. Anyway just sharing my journey .

    • I too am on a similiar journey. After working in ‘the field’ for 27+ years. I find myself looking for ‘other’ i.e. outside of IT employment. What the companies don’t understand, is that it was us ‘oldies’ who were responsible for their big buildings/data centers etc… maybe someday they will learn.

  19. Mark Mapes

    I am older than most and looking for a job now. I know I probably wont get a job that paid as well as my prior job as I no longer have that history of a good worker. So my salary expectations are low, that is I would be expecting a salary more commensurate with a junior tech. That is OK with me as I already put in my many years with a few companies and I don’t think I need a senior level position, though if asked I would certainly be able to do it. Now all I need is a job that does not require me to relocate.

  20. Paddy Joe

    The answer for “senior” people in tech is that you should not allow yourself to become “senior”. All tech people should be gearing themselves to self-employment from their mid-twenties. “The industry” will always terminate you – you can pre-empt this with entrepreneurship. Work for Yourself!

    • Yeah, that’s great for people who can do that. I’m working for myself because there was no other solution and I had health benefits through my husband, plus no kids. Not everyone is in that situation. The whole idea of up or out has been in tech for far too long, and adds to the perception that anyone still working for The Man past 40 is a loser. Please don’t make the situation worse for people who either aren’t interested or able to do this for various reasons. So much of the problem is perception.

      • Paddy Joe

        That comment is based on my own experience of being duped, used, abused and finally laid off. I could write a book about my own experience with this crap.

        From experience, I say no matter what is going on in your life – work towards self-employment in tech. That there is age-ism in tech is 100% clear. It’s up to you to avoid being the subject of abuse – recognize that “the industry” doesn’t give a rats about you and position your career with that in mind.

  21. the Dominator

    The last interview I had was May of 2014. I had been laid off in Feb. of that year, when I was 59. I had a phone interview with 2 people in Tech Support, one of them being in Management. They couldn’t wait to get me in for a face to face interview as they had been looking for my skills for 6 months.
    When I got to the interview, I could see the look on their face that I wasn’t going to get the job. What are we going to do with this relic was easy to see. Nobody over 40 in the place. Thing is they saw my Linkedin profile with my picture. They knew I was older. Ageism is alive and well.

  22. In my experience, less experienced (usually younger) engineers are often ignorant of existing solutions to problems. Every problem that comes along is ‘new’ and must be solved by their coding prowess and latest scripting language | Big Data components | Javascript framework | fill-in-your-choice-from-an-infinite-palette. They’ve discovered fire and are busy reinventing the wheel.

    That of course is a stereotype, but there’s truth to it. It underscores one reason so many projects utterly fail. New frameworks and languages are of course necessary and often valuable, however the industry would be better served if it enabled their more experienced workers to contribute patterns of successful solutions, while less experienced engineers lay down the code in their language-de-jeur. Of course the onus is on engineers to actually advance their knowledge to higher and higher levels, not just keep up with the language of the day. Many engineers don’t, and their contribution ability deteriorates.

    tend to believe they’ve discovered fire. They’re busy reinventing the wheel.

  23. I’ve been approached many times by HR drones to join the w-2 world as a programmer with companies both large and start up. I simply tell them I’m not interested in commuting 2 hours a day to sit in a cubicle coding for 10 hours with a bunch of video playing, skate boarding, chito eating children, on a piece of a bigger project or concept that I think is stupid anyway. I’ve been successfully self employed since advice is… If you can’t join them – beat them. I’m 52 and they couldn’t pay me enough to be a team player! Get a business license and go sell your services.

    • Frank Bee

      Yes! One of the upsides in companies hiring for “Culture Fit” rather than skills is that it’s a world of opportunity for skilled contract workers.

      Eventually the work has to get done. Work remotely for yourself.

  24. Frank Bee

    One more thing. Tech hiring used to be about skills. This is no longer the case. Read up on “Culture Fit Hiring” by some of the “Thought Leaders” in tech.

    If you are experienced now and still working you need to be looking at 2nd incomes and/or other career directions – you will get burned.

  25. I will paraphrase Red Adair’s famous statement saying “if you think I am too expensive, go hire the amateur.”

    In the tech world, the hiring managers should be told “if you think I am too old, go hire the amateur.”

    The younger, less experienced Techie is bound to make the mistakes that we, the older crowd, have already made and won’t repeat.

  26. Tech industry is about Tech (but of course)
    If you can keep up with technology – you can keep your job and your salary. If not both job or salary will be difficult.
    Keeping up with technology is not easy (but of course), things change a lot and lot more rapidly- so it is a double whammy.
    Other career work arounds can be move up the ladder into Managerial, Sales etc position – slightly easier to deal with Tech in these roles. Also resetting salary expectations can help.
    Outsourcing etc are added dimensions to this problem – most part out the control of individuals, so fixating on this will not solve your problem.

    • Mister E

      Sam, if only it were that simple: just keeping up. You can be ahead of the curve and still never fit in no matter how skilled, humble, or “love of learning” you are. I started college at 14, rode every tech wave since then, and yet the “culture fit” hiring practices keep companies filled with 100+ employees in team photos that look like they have no one over the age of 25. I’m certified in GIAC, PMP, CISSP, ITIL, and have learned roughly 30+ languages in 30+ years. And even with degrees in EE, physics, business, and IT, I still somehow am not even good enough for an entry level job at any predominately millennial owned and run company with 30+ employees. I’ve applied at over 500+ jobs with at least half that many companies. I’m only 51, but over the past several years of searching for any job that paid over minimum wage, I’ve tried to cut 60% of my experience out, asking for more, asking for less pay, offering to work for free on a project, and none of it has worked. I’ve been told I’m too old, too intimidating, and even once that anyone over 45 should retire. But most just use the standby excuse along the lines of culture fit or somehow there are a lot of over achievers with resumes better than mine. So comments that say one must stay current is only 10-30% of the issue.

      And Yes, it sucks to be one of those people that helped build and promote the sandbox they play in, and most of “them thar young uns” seem more like tech consumers rather than innovators, but I’m on board with the idea of personally swinging back to the entrepreneurial side. I like the idea of competing against those with a bias against me due to age. So, why not start a company that respects those that are over 40 and deals with others that feel the same. Mark Zuckerberg, et al, can choke on my intellectual dust. I don’t care about making a billion dollars and ruling the world, I just want to do what I feel in love with at 14: tech and making it useful …. and maybe creating some jobs if I’m lucky. The tech is there to work remotely. If you can’t find a job or a pivot point into another field or role, then entertain hanging up a shingle digitally and make it work for you instead of against you.

  27. Jim Lennane

    I’m 77. Still a highly knowledgeable C# programmer. Everyday experience with EntityFramework, OAuth2, JWTs etc. Cant get an interview to save my life. I applied for a local IT position that paid half of scale. No interview! You can imagine what they got for an employee who would be 25 and accept that offer.
    I also founded a tech company that became listed on the NYSE when I sold in 1989. Why do I want to work? Because I love programming complex solutions.

  28. Folks, get ahead of the pack. Wait on the other side for the systems to unravel and help find the solution when the system is turned face down by the inexperienced. Get Certified in Security, learn the security standards. If you are good in development, security management should be an easy transition. From my vantage point, it is a matter of time before the old legacy systems in many State Agencies and Govt begins to crumble. Big Iron days are gone but efforts are in progress to shield the bad programs with virtualization technologies. It’s only a question of time before the dam breaks. Just recently, a State level Accounting system is in so much disarray it can’t even give accurate account for a single individual. Now multiply this by 1000’s and you can see the scope and scale of the problem. You can only shrink wrap dinosaur systems with so much shrink wrap before you run out of plastic. Re position yourself where you will be of most value to society. Welcome the change with joy.

  29. Anybody who thinks there’s no age discrimination because “that’s against the law!” is quite naive. There’s so many ways to get around age discrimination (well, any discrimination for that matter) that it ain’t funny. No HR person is ever going to say “we had to get rid of that guy because he was just too old, and this younger generation is mentally sharper, picks things up quicker, and works for a lot less money”. The main purpose of the HR department is to keep the company from getting sued – they aren’t really there to protect employees rights.

  30. Pack Your Bags

    I’ve been reading a lot of really good comments and observations. Agree Agile means layoffs. Agree that keeping your skills updated is good but not for your current job but for your next job. Won’t change any decisions made for your current job. I have 28 years with my current large company. I have 23 IT certifications. Just this year I completed 3, ITIL, Data Analyst and CompTIA Cloud. I did everything in the direction the company indicated. Oh, and I have 2 more years for full pension. I know most of you said you can’t prove age discrimination but I am not tossing in the towel that easy. I have 3 lawyers in my family, one who was an injury lawyer just retired and the other 2 are corporate attorneys. I also have access to legal research through my teaching so I am going to look into this before I sign that paper. I’m sure my company is not aware of my resources. I’m just an IT guy who teaches on the side. I teach a Law and Technology course for paralegals and my recent notification has just inspired me to take those legal research tools to the next level. I thank you all for sharing. Not an easy thing to do when you’re caught off guard by a termination you didn’t see coming.

  31. Business analysts in technology have repeatedly shown that diverse teams outperform all others. The superstition against experienced workers has to be very strong to overwhelm attention to the bottom line. In my 30s, a job search took about three weeks. Now that I’m past 50, my last search took a year and five months.

  32. Well worked at Hewlett Packard for 29 years the last 9 years the owners had died and new CEO decided to lay off people over 20 years by the 10 thousand at a time. they got me when I was 50 so no retirement at first getting a job was easy but, now at 58 this year I been hired twice as an employee and was told that I had too much experience they wanted someone with novice experience, I asked you mean younger and he said no the position was entry level.
    I said you saw my experience and you made me an offer, now two weeks later your saying because I help a few of your engineers out that I have too much experience. Yeah its age discrimination big time. Its said o see.

  33. Yes, it is true that there is some age discrimination. I just turned 57 and worry about it some, but through the years I also have worked hard to keep my skills current with trending technologies. Yeah, it’s a pain to always have to keep learning, but it has kept me working over the years.

  34. It’s not just IT. It’s in Manufacturing, Accounting, Medicine, and almost every other profession. The excuse is lower productivity, but the real reason is high salaries and health insurance costs. I had a manager who let me go because of “bad” production, and yet I was one of the best performers, and had just improved their warehouse productivity by 20%. You can lie with statistics , especially if its your job or theirs. Anyone over 45 is at risk.

  35. The guiding principle continues to be: “Know what skills you have and who needs them”

    Tasks are out there that need doing. If you can do them best and/or cheapest, you’ll be offered them.

    At 63, I get more inquiries about work than ever. Practically anybody I interview with offers me a position.

  36. It’s not just about age. The ideal candidate for these jobs in IT today are indentured servants from another country. They are sponsored and are fined thousands of dollars, fired and sent back home if they do not do the job they were told to do.

    When large firms in big cities can target a group of Indian-born young guys at 50-60k a year, have them drive 2 hours into the city every day that’s their ideal candidate.Versus hiring an American professional from an American education (read: debt) at twice that wage for residence and benefits.They will use those H1Bs just like they use young Americans. They will use them up and spit them out. Then those young guys will be the old burnouts nobody will hire.

    It’s absolutely corrupt and the weapon big money uses to deny a new middle class in America. This corruption comes right from Washington D.C. and their fake goodwill gestures. It’s all a ploy to screw the middle class of America.