Dealing with Ageism as You Rise to Tech Senior Management

Those who’ve been in the tech industry for a decade or more often have a choice to make: should they pursue a track in senior management, or become more of a “master specialist”? Whatever their pick, they’ll need to figure out how to manage large teams, deal with a diverse array of stakeholders, and deliver outsized results.

Dice’s new Optimizing Your Tech Career ebook offers some tips for anyone who’s at a point in their career where they have to make that kind of decision. But older tech workers also have another battle to fight: ageism. As your career matures, you may have to push back against the false perception that you’re not as hungry or interested in growth as younger colleagues, and/or that you’re not as willing to learn new technologies.

Here’s how to combat that while searching for new positions:

Show Your Accomplishments

In your resume and application materials, and during job interviews, position yourself as the voice of experience: you’re the subject-matter expert who is committed, responsible and resilient in the face of change. While acknowledging youth doesn’t imply inexperience (you’re not there to show anyone up), show how your background can contribute positively to whatever the team does.

Show Your Soft Skills

As technologists grow into their career, they develop nuanced and powerful soft skills. Through descriptions in your resume and stories told during interviews, show how you’ve used those skills to guide teams of various sizes through considerable challenges. Your mastery of communication and empathy is a nice counter to ageism.

Show Your Curiosity

Destroy the false idea that you’re not willing to learn and grow by displaying endless curiosity, starting with asking insightful questions during the interview process. Emphasize to managers and recruiters how you’re constantly picking up new skills and platforms and staying up to date on the latest in the industry. Hopefully, that will help blunt any ageism-driven perceptions that you’ve stalled out.

Show Your Dependability

If you have a long track record of success, you assure new companies that you’re a reliable hire. You should project that you’re happy to work with younger folks, that you’re actually interested in the job at the table (and not using it as a quick springboard to something higher) and that you can bring your considerable expertise to bear on whatever your future manager wants.

For even more on growing your career and seizing management opportunities, check out the Optimizing Your Tech Career e-book!