Breaking Down Tech’s Ideal Employers by Age

Although it might seem to outsiders that technology is primarily a young person’s game, the industry employs workers of every age. Just look at Amazon Web Services, which depends on the advice and guidance of tech luminaries such as James Gosling (co-inventor of Java; 62 years old) and Tim Bray (co-inventor of XML; 61 years old). Or Google, which relies on the advice of Vinton Gray Cerf, 74 years old and widely credited as one of the “fathers of the Internet.”

When we launched Dice’s Ideal Employer survey, we asked our 5,000+ respondents for their ages, and then analyzed that data in aggregate against the data from our other questions. The results gave us some insight into what tech pros value in an Ideal Employer, as well as the ideal companies for various age groups.

For technology professionals between the ages of 18 and 35 (i.e., the Millennials), the Ideal Employer was Google, followed by Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook. That certainly makes sense: tech pros in this demographic highly value a positive and dynamic workplace culture, and all of those companies spend a lot of money and resources to deliver on that front. Younger workers, like their older peers, also enjoy a competitive salary and bonuses, as well as equity awards—which these firms deliver to those with the right mix of skills, experience, and accomplishment.

Rounding out the top ten Ideal Employers for tech pros under 35: IBM, Tesla, Deloitte, Cisco Systems, and Dell. This is a mixture of old firms (IBM is 106 years young) and new (Tesla is just 14 years old), but all offer pros the chance to work on cutting-edge technologies: whether you just graduated or you’re entering mid-career, these companies are devoting massive effort to machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other facets of next-generation software and hardware. (If you work for Deloitte, you’re presumably advising companies on how to best navigate this brave new world).

For those in Generation X (ages 36 to 50), many of the same companies dominated their subset of the Ideal Employer list: Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook constituted the top five, followed (in descending order) by IBM, Cisco Systems, Tesla, Walt Disney, and Oracle. As with their younger peers, Gen X’ers clearly want to work for brand-name companies that are not only innovative, but also provide a mix of great benefits, strong workplace culture, and financial stability.

When it comes to the Boomers (those workers over the age of 51), the Ideal Employer list is a little bit different. Google tops their list (yet again), followed by Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and IBM. Rounding out the top ten: Walt Disney, AT&T, Facebook, Verizon, and Oracle.

As a group, both Millennials and Generation X’ers cared overwhelmingly about competitive salaries and benefits, which came in at first and second, respectively, on their lists of important attributes. By contrast, Boomers named “challenging work” and “positive organization” as their first and second, followed by competitive salaries and an open/transparent organization.

Perhaps tech professionals who have reached Boomer status are happy with their salaries, and pin their happiness on other factors; Millennials and Generation X’ers, scrambling up the corporate ladder, place more emphasis on what they can earn. Recruiters, hiring managers, and startup founders should use that data to inform their outreach and retention strategies.

View the complete 2017 Dice Ideal Employer Rankings

3 Responses to “Breaking Down Tech’s Ideal Employers by Age”

  1. Mel Schwan

    As a boomer, I agree with the above statement. I value an employer that is taking the industry to the next level of technology. Whether it is cognitive intelligence or autonomous vehicles, the chance to shape the future of the world is inspirational to all of us that have seen TV go from black and white to 4k virtual reality.

  2. The statement, “Perhaps tech professionals who have reached Boomer status are happy with their salaries, and pin their happiness on other factors” — my hunch is that this shows a difference of perspective based on phase of life. I was very much focused on salary in my 20s & 30s. I’m 55 and salary is secondary to some other factors — like time off. I recall an article a few years ago comparing Bommers to Xers and one question was, “Would you want a performance award to be a bonus or more time off?” The Xer said, “bonus” and the Boomer said “more time off.” This is not a slight to youth — their financial needs are more prevalent (save for a down payment on house, child care). Older people are looking at doing things they really want to do in their remaining years.

  3. Frank Campagna

    Some Boomers seek more autonomy & significant (e’g. Making a significant contribution to the world, after achieving many or most of their personal career goals. Significance can be attained by having a beneficial impact on the lives of others, either directly or vicariously (e.g. through the aspirational mission of their employer).