12 thoughts on “Ageism”

  1. The career path in tech has always been to management as either head of a dept. or starting your own company.

    The advantage of younger folks beyond the lower salary is the flexibility of mind that allows greater creativity. What’s lost is knowledge from the past these younger often never learn. They constantly repeat the same mistakes because they hardly ever get institutional knowledge past on to them.

    This can be a good thing or bad. Musk was often being told he was making mistakes the industry already knew solutions for, but innovation more than made up for that.

    IMHO, programming is considerably being held back because of change just for the sake of change instead of building on what is known. Languages and hardware could both use a clean slate approach if the goal were simplification and implementation of principles that would make a solid foundation.

    I wish I were younger and healthier with the knowledge I’ve gained over the years.

    1. “The advantage of younger folks beyond the lower salary is the flexibility of mind that allows greater creativity.”
      I would disagree with the whole idea that younger people have a more creative mind. That might be slightly true for people under the age of 25 but I work with people in their 50’s that have trained themselves to be super creative. (multiple patents every year and such) I think that is one of those truisums that is more of problem that humans tend to work our ways into a rut that is comfortable and easy.

  2. After a couple of years not having much luck at home in New Zealand, I got hired into a tech company in Moscow as a programmer (no management responsibilities) at 52, with the same salary grade as managers with 40 – 50 people under them. I’m not the only one .. there are I think two Russian guys around the same age with purely technical jobs and the same salary grade — and another with a salary grade one level higher. I’m 54 now, and I may well be here for a while.

    It’s a bit of a hassle to move across the world, but actually I’m having a considerable amount of fun here … except in January. I’m going to take the whole of January 2018 in the New Zealand summer instead of the Russian winter.

  3. It is more than the tech industry. Most big firms are not interested in hiring more established managers, developers, etc because they only look at cost. Experience (beyond the resume) can be a detriment at some point. I crossed that point a long time ago. I have a lot of real world experience and that should cost more to use but cheap is the word. So instead of using that experience, the will stumble around in the dark, chewing up resources.

    Companies claim they want people who think outside the box. In reality, they just want someone to do the exact same thing the company has always done.

    Employees should not be seen as an expense but rather an investment.

  4. I’ve seen the age disparity, and suspected that the relative lack of calls last time I was looking was at least partially due to age. It’s possible that getting stricter on the H1-Bs would improve that, or drive more jobs overseas.

    1. I don’t think you’re forced to put your age in a resume. Also you can reduce the job history as much as you want.

      1. No, you should not put your age on a resume. Legally, I don’t think an interviewer can ask (IANAL). As a software engineer, you can safely limit your job history and experience to the last 10 to 15 years, which is about all that would be relevant anyway.

        Ageism is real, but fortunately it’s not universal. I’m one of the lucky ones. I got hired into my current position at 56; I turn 65 next week, and the work assignments keep coming.

        Job hunting as an older person is dicey, though. Last time I was job hunting, I know I lost opportunities because of age, but you have to keep going. Companies that hire for long-term positions are the ones to look for. Established companies that haven’t gone complacent, and that build long-term relationships with customers, are the companies that value the institutional knowledge that comes with low turnover and loyal employees. Unfortunately, those opportunities don’t come along often.

      2. You don’t have to put your age on your resume, but your educational history pretty well tells people your approximate age.

        1. Well, it’s not like you need to put your graduation date on the resume either. The objective of a resume is basically to get you an interview. So you shouldn’t put in there anything that reduces your chances of getting interviewed. Once you get there you can try to make a case for them hiring you.
          I actually submitted a resume once to a company started by some ex- college colleagues of mine (you know, the kind you only know the name, and say hello once in a while). I passed all the HR tests. Then I was called for the technical interview where was one of my ex-colleagues. They basically rejected my application and posted a new ad which explicitly stated they wanted people with one year less than my age. I later heard from someone working there all the other applicants (5) were rejected early in the process and they didn’t want any of their ex-colleagues working under them… Which I honestly found kind of ridiculous but whatever. If this was a litigation prone country like the US people would have just sued them then and there. But then again I had already two firm offers before I went there so it’s not like I cared much.
          Honestly I found their whole hiring process kinda ridiculous, the kind you usually find at places like Procter & Gamble. It was totally retarded and the technical interview had no technical questions. Other places I went to had a lot more sensible interview approaches and even where there were canned HR questionnaires at least they had technical questions for technical positions.

        2. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

          If memory serves, that’s what happened to one of the job-hunters in the story. Once the prospective hirer found out when he graduated high school, it was over.

          Technically that’s not discriminating on the basis of age. Technically.

          I found the stories in the article depressingly familiar.

          Other advantages of hiring mature workers: they tend to have a greater sense of responsibility, they work the job, and not the hours, and they aren’t constantly partying on the weekend, so they focus on the job Friday afternoon and come in not hung over Monday morning.

          That’s not to mention the lack of babysitting woes.

  5. Many of the anecdotes were from people in marketing, tech writing, publicity, sales, and the like. None of these are actually “tech”, they are traditional job roles applied in the tech industry, and they are all hard to quantify “soft” skills.

    True tech workers tend to become more skilled over time, and those skills have quantitative and qualitative superiority. Engineering judgement grows with experience, and engineering creativity does not have a terribly short shelf life. Marketing and sales, by contrast, require interaction with the customer, and *they* are often ageist.

    When I interviewed for my new position, I grasped the nettle firmly. “The only way I will be able to retire in the manner I would like to become accustomed is to train the younger engineers in the voodoo that I do, so that DSI will remain profitable and growing, making my stock options more valuable.”

    Judging from the results, I think this was the right strategy.

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