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Ask Slashdot: Finding Work Over 60? 306

Posted by timothy
from the speak-up-sonny dept.
First time accepted submitter Hatfield56 writes "I've been in IT since the mid-1980s, mainly working for financial institutions. After 16 years at a company, as a programmer (Java, C#, PL/SQL, some Unix scripting) and technical lead, my job was outsourced. That was in 2009 when the job market was basically dead. After many false starts, here I am 3 years later wondering what to do. I'm sure if I were 40 I'd be working already but over 60 you might as well be dead. SO, I'm wondering about A+. Does anyone think that this will make me more employable? Or should I being a greeter at Walmart?"
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Ask Slashdot: Finding Work Over 60?

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  • by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:42PM (#41921811)

    Definitely get into asbestos removal. Asbestosis won't hit for 30 years.

  • Consulting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dhermann (648219) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:42PM (#41921815)
    Rather than applying for a full-time position, have you considered forming your own independent consulting business? You would have to leverage your contacts in the industry, but there is a massive difference in the culture between hiring a 60-year-old technical lead and hiring a 60-year-old's consulting business. Vendor management contacts just won't care, in my opinion, if you're professional and can get results.
    • Re:Consulting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:53PM (#41922067) Homepage Journal

      Indeed: I'm his age and retire in a year and a half. But if I'd been job hopping for the last 40 years and not built up a pension, I'd be looking to go into business myself, because most employers simply won't hire geezers.

    • Cut your own trail (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:02PM (#41922219) Journal

      The problem you face is one that I faced long ago in a completely different vein. I was unemployable, because although I had developed programming skills, they were self-taught by reading books and websites rather than school. Without significant experience, I was unemployable as all the jobs had requirements like Bachelor's requirements.

      So I did what seemed to be the only thing left - started my own company! I chatted it up with anybody I could find who ran a business and needed something done, found some people willing to pay for a solution, and worked long hours for a while until my revenue stream was sufficient to live on. Now 15 years later, I have ownership of a valuable company that has grown successfully every single year since starting, employees working a job they like with decent pay and a work environment set up the way I like it. Sure, it has its stresses, but they are stresses I choose to assume or ignore, and I like the control that offers me.

      It's not for everyone, but I will probably never have a "job" ever again.

      • by Synerg1y (2169962)

        I too, completely agree, those long hours don't seem as bad because you're working for yourself. And once you've cleared the "learning" hurdle, you've achieved independence. 40 hours carry their own set of stresses and scary situations, what if your manager retires and the person that replaces him/her is garbage? Or what if those 40 hours look more like 60?

        The difference is there is little to no fall back I suppose short of savings / reserves, but you can get fired anyday and still be in the same boat if

      • by number11 (129686)

        I did what seemed to be the only thing left - started my own company!

        There's people that will work for, but there's also people it won't work for. For one thing, figure that if you're starting up, you're going to have to spend half your time in marketing (if you thought sales and schmoozing were nifty, you probably wouldn't be a programmer, but at least you'll learn why those inane ego-boosting seminars are so popular with salesmen). It also tends to be boom-and-bust, periods when you don't have any work interspersed with periods where there's too much work. Plus, you get

    • by flibuste (523578)
      I second this. It's probably a better bet for the OP. Companies won't hesitate hiring someone with a lot of experience that won't be on their permanent payroll when they need to. Of course, it also means having a bit of job-hopping but that is part of the consulting life.
  • IT jobs at 60. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:43PM (#41921841)

    I feel for you. I was laid off 6 years ago at 50 and I finally got a state IT tech job for way, waaaaayyyyyy less money.

    I have almost built back up to where I was 7 years sgo but it was tough.

    A+ or any of the other minor certs will not make much difference in your job marketability.

    • Re:IT jobs at 60. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bfandreas (603438) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:55PM (#41922093)
      This is the bit that has always amazed me. Our sector thrives on experience and there hasn't been anything genuinely new these past 20 years. Only the jargon and the syntax of the languages ever changed.

      The only reason why I never employ somebody past 40 is because we can't pay the kind of money they expect. So you may have to scale back on that. No kind of certification trumps the kind of resume you could send.
      Also you may have to disclose your retirement plans. And one possible cause making you unemployable are insurance premiums. Disclose you have your own healthcare plan and don't need that from your prospective employer. Perhaps your best option would be to go freelance? Corporate HR tends to be stupid when it comes to hiring.
      • Re:IT jobs at 60. (Score:5, Informative)

        by eln (21727) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:08PM (#41922329) Homepage
        Just so you know, asking an older person for their retirement plans in an interview or at any point during the hiring process can open you up to a very costly age discrimination lawsuit. Not hiring people over 40 because you think they'll ask for too much money will do the same. If you're simply reporting that people that age tend to ask for too much money that's one thing, but if you're proactively screening out older applicants because you think they might ask for too much money, that's against the law.
        • by bfandreas (603438)
          ...and this is exactly the reason why corporate HR has trouble hiring past 60. Your best bet is to be open about it IF you even get an interview.
          I don't know about the situation in the US but a mandatory retirement age(which the US may or may not have) solves this bit of the problem. No need to ask in that case.
          You are perfectly capable to do the job but are disqualified since the prospective employer doesn't know how long they get to keep you. But they can't ask you since they might get sued. That's a ca
        • by dkleinsc (563838)

          My usual advice when it comes to avoiding discrimination suits: Never ever ask demographic classification questions during an interview. If it doesn't affect someone's ability to do the job, it shouldn't affect your interview. An applicant can of course mention these, but you shouldn't ask about:
          - Age
          - Religion
          - Marital and/or parental status
          - Military service (except for some government agencies that have programs that try to hire veterans)
          - Gender identity
          - Sexual orientation
          - Racial identity
          - Ethnic back

  • A+ (Score:3, Informative)

    by Niris (1443675) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:45PM (#41921865)
    Having taken the A+, Network+ and Security+ as a requirement for my current job, I can tell you that they're not worth a damn thing. The tests are simple and they just check basic knowledge that you probably already have as a programmer. You could always go the route a lot of fresh grads who are also not working do: start writing apps. Games are fun, easy and profitable enough if done well. Plus there's a slew of tools to make them quickly produceable. Lately I've been playing with the AppGameKit (AGK) from the Game Creators, and I like it. They have a free version that you could try out and see if it's something you'd be interested in.
    • Having taken the A+, Network+ and Security+ as a requirement for my current job, I can tell you that they're not worth a damn thing.

      Emphasis mine.

      Apparently they were worth a damn thing, that thing being your job. The worth of a certification isn't simply what it tests you for, it's what job it can get you. If you're not going to have a job unless you get that certification, how much is that certification really worth?

      As well, just because A+ covers basic ground level knowledge doesn't make it pointless either. You wouldn't believe how many people I've encountered working in various positions of technology that have a finely honed

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        No, they are worthless. I got mine as a condition for a previous job because the State of Alasaka government requires them to work on equipment, and I was working for a contracting company that worked with the state. I got the job without them, and got them after I got the job, and no job before or since cared about them.
        • No, they are worthless. I got mine as a condition for a previous job because the State of Alasaka government requires them to work on equipment, and I was working for a contracting company that worked with the state. I got the job without them, and got them after I got the job, and no job before or since cared about them.

          Like any tool, it's worthless until you need it. You obviously missed the point of my statement, and you show yourself to be just another shill trying to apply his personal worldview to all cases. But then again this is slashdot. I should have expected argument for argument's sake.

    • The tests are simple and they just check basic knowledge that you probably already have as a programmer.

      I cut my teeth in IT and made a transition to programming about a decade ago. I've found that many programmers aren't particularly well versed in IT, and vice-versa. They're two very different types of jobs.

  • Contracting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:45PM (#41921879) Homepage Journal
    Get into contracting. If you've not done it before...look around and get with a contracting company....preferrably one that does Federal Govt Contracting.

    Can you survive a clearance check?

    If so, you should have no problem getting on with a company doing DoD contracting....they OFTEN look for years of experience. If you're good, have a decent resume, they will submit you in....they want you to get the jobs so they can get $$ off you.

    The market is often dying to hire people with lots of resume experience.

    You definitely have a leg up on younger programmers.

    • Absolutely, contracting is the way to go! We have a bunch of guys who retired from John Deere to get the benefits and then walked right back in the front door as contractors. If I wasn't interested in running my own business, I'd plan on staying a contrator forever. I love moving every so often. And I don't need health benefits for another ten years or so based on my good genes.

      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        And I don't need health benefits for another ten years or so based on my good genes.

        Err...I'd definitely NOT advise going without health benefits.

        If he takes my advice from above, and starts with a contracting house that has federal contracts...he'll basically be a W2 employee of that company most likely....and put on site to work. He'll get full ( and often quite generous) benefits.

        If you go indie....form a "S" corp for yourself....1099 your work for billing....and set up a HSA (Health Savings Account),

  • Try Urbana, Maryland (Score:4, Informative)

    by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:46PM (#41921889) Homepage Journal
    If you spent that much time in financial institutions, the think about Urbana, Maryland. Banner Life has a data center there, as well as Fannie Mae, and the Social Security Administration is moving a data center there. It's pretty good bucks, but far enough outside the DC metro area to be at least reasonable. Just an idea.
  • by M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:47PM (#41921911)

    Try to get some work on the several freelance boards over the internet, start with small jobs and build a reputation. Try to master one specific subject, dont go jack of all trades.

  • by BBF_BBF (812493) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:47PM (#41921919)
    IMHO certifications mean little once a person has >10 years of experience

    Leverage your experience for some contracting jobs.

    Since you worked in a high reliability/availability environment before, target similar areas like telecom, military, avionics, medical equipment.
    Also don't forget those industries also require competent Verification and Validation staff on contract. It may be a "step down" in a lot of peoples' opinions, but a job is a job, and it actually is really hard to find V&V people that have programming skills.
    • IMHO certifications mean little once a person has >10 years of experience

      Ah, a sane statement about certifications. However, this can be tempered by the age of the technology that the certification covers. For instance, a certification that covers virtualization shows you're experience isn't simply you riding a legacy tech that few support anymore. Experience and a continued ability to learn are valued commodities.

      • by lgw (121541)

        I first used virtualization in 1992, using a legacy tech that few support any more, and it was old then (simply called "VM", because there was no need to distinguish it from competing products). Kids these days; think they invented everything.

  • Walmart greeter was my retirement plan as well, but Walmart is phasing out their greeter position.

    • by bagboy (630125) <neo AT arctic DOT net> on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:52PM (#41922039)
      I don't know about that. I think they are outsourcing in my area. When I pull into the parking lot, there's always a homeless person with a sign welcoming me and asking for donations :\
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Walmart is phasing out their greeter position.

      I hadn't heard this, and it doesn't make sense. The greeter's real job is to stop people going out when the shoplifting tag sounds an alarm. I'm sure they saveWalMart far more than WalMart pays them.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:48PM (#41921943)

    IT skills is a dime a dozen. You need to sell yourself in IT in your particular skillset. Health Care, Manufacturing, Legal, Finance, Government... People don't want experienced IT workers. They want IT workers with experience with their business.

    • by bfandreas (603438)
      That's partly true when it comes to wanting to be hired by some corporate entity. But those tend to have an HR department that WON'T hire anybody past 40 when they can get 20somethings.

      Contracting is the better option.
  • by NEDHead (1651195) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:50PM (#41921967)

    Perfect position for trying out various "Hello world" options

  • Expectations (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Zarjazz (36278) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:50PM (#41921973)

    I have to ask what your expectations are and be realistic.

    As an employer actively recruiting IT staff at the moment, rare in the current job market I know, and I have a choice between a recent uni-graduate and someone with 15 yrs experience who I can hire for almost the same wages because so many skilled IT staff have been laid off and need to pay their mortgage. For me the choice is obvious, I don't care about the age factor.

    However I also interview many many people who think they deserve to get the same remuneration they got from their high-flying finance job and wonder why they are still jobless after two years.

    • Re:Expectations (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hubang (692671) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:15PM (#41922485)

      For me the choice is obvious, I don't care about the age factor.

      That philosophy is a-typical in hiring managers. I've seen too many hiring managers who want that recent college grad (specifically a 22 to 24 year old grad), since he/she will work 80 hours a week without complaining about it. The person with 15 years of experience wants more money and a more reasonable work environment (like spending time with his/her family).

      At my last job, they laid off my entire team, except for the guy who graduated 2 months before and lived for the job. No girlfriend. No hobbies.

      Also, 3 years out of the job market is considered to be your fault by hiring managers, no matter what. It doesn't matter that you couldn't find a job. And often, people are willing to make ridiculous compromises to get a job these days.

    • by Ryanrule (1657199)

      Man fuck off, everyone and their mother is hiring IT. You are NOT in the position of power here, you need to recognize that before you burn.

    • Most IT staff need a tech school / on the job training not college CS.

      Even more so IT admin / desktop / helpdesk / network work.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:51PM (#41921985) Homepage

    If you get your A+ then you will work at Best Buy for the geek Squad... And from What I have seen there, walmart greeter is a better job.

    With your experience why in the world would you even look at the gutter that is the world of A+? with your background in programming there is a lot of freelance stuff you could do. hell start trolling the freelancing boards and pick up jobs you can do from home. Although a lot of those are incredibly low pay. I know of several flash designers with 15 years experience that refuse to look at the freelancer boards...

    "wanted an entire website designed in flash with a SQL backend and capable of scalability. Expectedt o take 3-6 months. Willing to pay $250.00 total for the project."

    That kind of crap is rampant on the freelancing sites.

    Or find a small business that needs a senior programmer. You know more than the 20 somethings, so use your age and experience as a positive!

  • Teaching (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adekyn (2114976) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:51PM (#41922007)
    Have you considered obtaining a teaching "certificate" (not necessarily a teaching degree) and teaching kids how to code? Consult your local school system to see if your skills and experience can be used. If they don't have a programming course - offer to create one.
    • by i.r.id10t (595143)

      This. At a community college, where courses in IT typically don't transfer up to a 4 year school, the only requirements to teach are knowing the content and maintaining a heartbeat.

      Adjunct pay isn't fantastic (I get about $2k per semester for a 3 credit class, works out to about 25/hr for in class and grading/prep time) but it is income, and if you can land a full time position pay goes up dramatically.

    • Have you considered obtaining a teaching "certificate" (not necessarily a teaching degree) and teaching kids how to code? Consult your local school system to see if your skills and experience can be used.

      I wish we lived in a world where this would be a good option for an older person with a lot of experience.

      Yes, you might be able to get a job at a community college and get paid $1000 or $2000 per class per semester for a lot of prep, grading, etc. If you're smart enough to automate a lot of the grading, it might be worthwhile after the first iteration or two of the class, but the first time teaching will probably require you to be working for minimum wage in terms of your salary. And you won't be able

  • Write android apps. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:53PM (#41922041) Homepage

    If you can program Java really well then you are 90% there for android app writing, Make your living $0.99 at a time. There is a dearth of real business apps for Android.

  • And this, kids ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tgd (2822) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:53PM (#41922057)

    And this, kids, is precisely why you need to plan aggressively for retirement.

    (To the original poster, I don't really have any suggestions, but you're making an important point -- work hard, save hard, and "what can I do to find work" when you're 60 isn't a question you'll need to worry about...)

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      And this, kids, is precisely why you need to plan aggressively for retirement.

      (To the original poster, I don't really have any suggestions, but you're making an important point -- work hard, save hard, and "what can I do to find work" when you're 60 isn't a question you'll need to worry about...)

      More like, this kids is why you don't stay in the same field doing the same thing for 30 years. After 30 years doing *anything* (unless you are at or near the best in your field) your job is likely to be up for scrapping. This happens with every industry. Either get into management (and build transferable skills) or get into a new part of your field. I can't go ten minutes without seeing someone looking for good Java or dot net programmers. If the only languages you are experienced in are the same ones

      • by aclarke (307017)
        Good points, but you'll notice in the summary that this guy says he was doing Java and C# during the 16 years at his last job. So from what we know, he has been keeping more or less with the bulk of the job market.
    • by jittles (1613415)
      Agreed. I try to save for retirement like I was going to go into early retirement at 55. If all goes well with my investments, 50 might be achievable. Would I want to retire that early? No way. But when I get into my 50s I want to work because I love my job, and not because I need the paycheck.
  • by flurdy (301431) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:55PM (#41922085) Homepage

    I would recommend (not knowing if you already do this) becoming active with open source projects. I don't necessarily mean become an Apache commiter, but participate in projects in a minor way (bug testing, mailing lists, forums) , create some of your own pet projects however small they may be and share them on github/bitbucket, answer questions on Stack Overflow/Server Fault, etc. That way you establish an online portfolio of who and what you do.

    I often refer to people's online presence as a differentiator when I evaluate CVs and interviews. Someone with an active Github account would indicate someone willing to learn and share and would fit in very well in my team. Someone unknown online, would raise a few question marks, and with enough alternative CVs...

  • by godrik (1287354) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:55PM (#41922087)

    I think the question of whether you want to work for the money or you want to work for having a day-time occupation is important.

    If you are in for the money, I am sure there are plenty of opportunities in the consulting/freelance side that you can follow.

    If you are in for the occupation, there are plenty of places where you can do something interesting in an open source project, in an association or in a university. Universities are full of interesting software project that never get maintained or made production ready because a full time skilled engineer is too expensive. I am sure you can get some money out of it and work on fun problems.

  • iOS is an option (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nebulo (29412) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:56PM (#41922109)

    A 62-year old friend of mine took an iOS certification course at the University of Washington (Seattle) and promptly found a full-time position at one of the Big Four professional services firms, developing mobile applications for their clients. Prior to this job, he was a self-employed specialty developer, until his wife fell ill and he needed to procure full-time employment.

    So hope springs eternal - it's at least possible to get a job after being Of A Certain Age, if you have the right skills for the right field.

    nebulo

  • by Anonymous Codger (96717) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:58PM (#41922141)

    Make sure your skills are up-to-date, and structure your resume in such a way as to not reveal how old you really are. For example, no dates on your education and/or military service, leave off early jobs, etc. You might want to dye your hair if you're gray, although I wouldn't go that far.

    It's illegal to not hire you due to your age, but of course it's hard to win an age discrimination suit. So don't let it go there.

    Other people have mentioned govt. contracting. Some contracting firms like to hire older techies because they fit in well with the aging population of government workers.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:00PM (#41922171) Homepage Journal

    The problem you're going to experience is that; unless the headhunter knows you're brilliant with tons of experience and willing to do the job for the same pay as some wet-behind-the-ears kid who'll never cut the mustard, when you get to HR, the clueless twit who works there will look at you and show you the door because you're 60.

    Start making Android or iPhone apps. Make a name for yourself by consulting; get yourself going with a IT temp shop. Having A+ is like having a driver's license, it's not a path to anything.

    If you were with the financial industry and really understand the ins and outs of that, you should be able to get a job in the investment banking sector, as HFT is always looking for guys who are good, and don't make mistakes -- because as we've seen, mistakes can cost millions or even billions in HFT -- so they want really good people, not cheap people who will ultimately cost them even more.

  • I would not limit yourself so much, pure programmer jobs are considered low skill these days, particularly if you can't demonstrate skills beyond them. Pure programming jobs these days are easily outsourced to cheaper and younger labor overseas. It sucks to say that but it is the truth. Better to think a little outside your comfort zone. If you have speaking, writing, organizational skills, you should consider starting your own firm or working as a consultant. Consider looking into jobs that re
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:01PM (#41922199) Homepage

    Have you looked into consulting? Presumably, you have a rather large amount of industry experience and breadth of knowledge.

    Being a PM, working with companies on IT initiatives, that kind of thing?

    After I 'graduated' from my last programming job, I've been in consulting and not writing code. I've actually found it quite rewarding, and companies are looking for people with "big picture" kinds of skillsets and not just people who can work on the technical nuts and bolts.

    All of those soft-skills you've likely picked up, like being able to work in meetings, work to build consensus, scheduling and planning, estimating, overseeing .. these are all skillsets people will still be willing to pay for.

    There is life after code, and I definitely know people in their 50's and 60's who are still consultants and in demand.

    For some tasks, a little age and perspective is actually what is most needed -- it's like the old joke about the young bull wanting to run down and fuck one of the cows, and the old bull wanting to walk down and fuck them all. The stuff you've already done can be really valuable in helping organizations do new things. Sometimes, just having been there and done that gives you the perspective to see similarities in what's going on and understand where to go from there.

    But organizations probably aren't looking to hire you as a coder, but as someone who works at a slightly higher level. (And I'm not saying give up on your tech skills, just recognize the your experience might be more valuable than your ability to write code. If you can still wow the young punks with some coding wizardry, all the better.)

  • Should I get Certification "X"?

    You will always find naysayers about any certification, and these naysayers are often in positions that make it easy to ignore these certifications. I was hired at my current place of employment because of an A+ certification. Granted I was interviewing for a help desk position, but I've worked my way up over time. If you are planning to interview for a help desk position, a current A+ Cert can help push you above the other more ignorant or lazy applicants.

    It's worth also depends on your perspective. Are yo

  • by Xacid (560407) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:03PM (#41922241) Journal

    But when I interview I look for a few things: technical merit, reliable, personality, enthusiasm.

    It doesn't even cross my mind that an older candidate wouldn't be qualified. Often, I expect them to have a mountain of experience that could get absorbed into the company. What I've run into though is the older folks often don't have that "nerd enthusiasm", haven't kept their skills current, or are just stuffy with no sense of humor. Maybe it's a generational thing? But a young person with the same ailments wouldn't have a shot here either.

    • by miltonw (892065) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:18PM (#41922529)
      Having just gone through a job change and being ... older ... I'd say this is perhaps the best advice so far.

      Be enthusiastic about the work you will be doing. Be up to date, or close to it, on the skills that the work will require. Don't just talk about what you've done but talk about what you will do when you are hired.

      And remember that a smile takes years off of your face.
  • by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:04PM (#41922259)
    A+ means absolutely nothing. I took my A+ certification out of high school, got something like 99.9% on it with ever actually studying. The only real suggestion I have is to get it so you can take the second level certification test, MSCE, Linux+ etc.... Just load up with papers and then if nothing else you'll get hired to look good for the company. All of those certifications with the exception of CCNA, CCNP, CCIE and MSCE are all just laughable papers. They basically mean you found the power button and plugged the computer in. If your going to focus your time into a real certification CCNA is a good one which is a HARD path or your MSCE. Of course any of the computer networking certifications will at least help.
  • by A bsd fool (2667567) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:07PM (#41922301)
    There are a few things that may work in your favor though.

    - Certifications. Cross A+ off that list, and give a look at brainbench and some others. Most certs are not worth anything, but with your experience, you should be able to pull off quite a few of them at 'Master' level, which will demonstrate skills empirically. If those skills are in line with your experience, they will act as a "force multiplier" for that experience.

    - Experience. Did I mention this already? If you have kept current, this goes a looooooooong ways.

    - Stability. 16 years is a long time at one company, especially by the standards of the last decade or so. I started my IT career in the mid 90s and since then I have only had two jobs for longer than a year. It's similar for many people in the field. No hiring manager likes it, but they live with it.

    - Age discrimination...? They aren't even allowed to *ask* you how old you are, so don't give them many hints. If the experience/history on your resume goes back to the 1970s, scrub out the oldest stuff. Drop the years off your education, if you have it listed. Impress them with what you know to get you the interview before you drop any hints that may bias them.

    The toughest thing you have going against you is that every potential employer is going to be worried that they will spend time training you and bringing you up to speed on their systems and procedures just in time for you to retire when you were about to start really making (instead of costing) them money. It's not your age itself that is the problem, it's the fact that you will probably be retiring sooner than they would like. This means a lot of time and resources will be invested in you that they won't recoup when it comes to training "the next generation" of replacements and so on.

    You can mitigate a lot of that by sticking to your niche, even if that means moving where the work is. It'll be a lot easier for you to stick to the financial industry, where experience not directly skill related makes you more valuable. Of course you need to double-down on your pre-interview research too. Make sure that you tailor every resume you send out to the specific employer you are going to send it to, highlight the skills and experience that relate directly to their business.

  • Huge important place to be for the next ten years. If you can do any sort of database at all you can get a great job at Orbitz or any other type of shop that uses Hadoop.

    Go to machine learning meetups in your area, super smart people are in the data science community and they will help you get a job. Our Chicago Machine Learning group is super good for this!

  • Do contract work, move, consider lower paid jobs or whatever you can accept. But an A+ cert will make little to no difference.
  • by shdowhawk (940841) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:16PM (#41922501)

    Are you willing to move somewhere new? If not, consulting is the best route to go.

    Do you have your heart set on continuing to program? You mention PL/SQL - PostgreSQL experts are in great demand now and are replacing oracle jobs all over the place. Few people have a LOT of experience, so being able to just claim that you've installed it locally (hint: install it locally on a unix server), and being able to do PL/SQL, you have a good chance of getting SOMETHING in that field.

    Do you plan on working more of a "corporate" job - aka: Big company to move up in? In that sense, i can see why your age would be a problem. Instead, take up android development. If you can get ANYTHING published, you will be in extremely high demand all over the country for java based android developers. You would also have a much higher chance of being able to telecommute or work from home full time. Either way, having long time java skills will still give you a shoe in to many android shops.

    Final recommendation - if you want to continue writing code and can't find anything, I would recommend taking up javascript and HTML. You can always work from home, PHP/Python/Ruby are pretty easy to learn, BUT you can keep using c# and java as well. There are a LOT of web jobs available all over.

    As for a+ / network+ ... both are pretty useless in my opinion. Security+ i've seen a few people give a nod of acknowledgement, but that's pretty much it.

    As for WHERE to get jobs: www.dice.com and www.craigslist.com are my two recommendations for finding something. Otherwise register yourself with a tech recruiter like teksystems or accenture. They make money by finding you jobs, AND they will sometimes bypass the interview portion with the official company they are trying to place you in, or they might only do phone interviews - that should help keep your age a little more hush hush while going through the interview portion.

  • I'm not at all suggesting that the OP's contention that age may be working against him isn't true. However, I have often found that when people over 50 in IT "can't get hired" that what they are conveniently leaving out is the following - they live in some small town of 50,000 or fewer people and there simply aren't any more jobs available in that small town like what they used to do. They aren't willing to move because they have paid off a house or are close to paying it off, have kids in school and don'
  • Failure to launch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by holophrastic (221104) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:29PM (#41922683)

    If you haven't noticed, programming has changed since the '90s. It's now pretty well a blue-collar job -- under three levels of management. Even in small companies, it's heavily controlled, especially where version control comes into play.

    It's the perfect job for any 20-something.

    By the time 30 roles around, you'd better be the one determining what gets programmed. Whether or not you also do the programming is irrelevant.

    By 60, your value comes as proper experience. You shouldn't be looking for a programming job. You should be looking to manage a programming company, consult for a programming company, assess a programming company, or start your own programming company. Otherwise, you're a) not bringing any more skill than a 20-something and b) wasting a lot of the skill that you certainly have.

    I'm 35, have my own software company that's varied in size between 1 and 5 programmers -- including myself. And that's just the way I love it.

  • This is what I am looking into to make myself more marketable... http://www.scs.northwestern.edu/program-areas/graduate/predictive-analytics/ [northwestern.edu]

  • by evilviper (135110) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:42PM (#41922887) Journal

    At least in the California job market, there is a dearth of qualified applicants. I've been on both sides of the hiring equation for years. The idea that you can't get a job, with over a decade of PL/SQL, Java and other programming, is just laughable, and tells me we must be missing something, here.

    Are you missing all your teeth and refuse to get dentures? Are you only looking for jobs in a 10 mile radius of your house? Are you demanding an astronomical salary? Do you have obvious medical problems that make you incredibly unreliable from day-to-day? Are you just a mediocre programmer?

    Your age certainly isn't preventing you from landing a new job. That said, it's certainly possible whatever those issues are, they could be age-related or age-compounded.

    • Or it could just be an inefficient job market with too much friction in matching seekers with employers.

      Heck, just give the OP your company's contact info, and let him apply. That might not be a good general solution, but it could help fix this one particular situation.

  • by twasserman (878174) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:44PM (#41922923)
    I suggest that you think about how you could market yourself. What are your top three features that would make you particularly attractive to an employer? Are there specific application domains where your experience would make you more valuable than less chronologically advanced people? Make sure that you have taken all of the modern steps to create an online presence, e.g., LinkedIn. Unfortunately, for many people who have been out of work for a few years, and especially for older people, it's hard to build a strong case for yourself over someone who is willing to work > 60 hours/week and who is more current in terms of technical skills and job history.

    It's much easier to find a tech job with a government agency (local, state, or federal) than it is to find a job in industry. Government jobs are publicly posted, and governments are especially sensitive to various laws regarding equal employment opportunity; there's also a higher percentage of older employees in governments than you will find in most companies. There's something positive to be said for a steady 40-hour/week job. While I don't think much of certifications, some government job postings include them, in which case it would be worth pursuing that certification for a specific position.

    If you enjoy teaching, you should consider finding a way to teach at the college level. Community colleges and university extension programs often need instructors, and there are numerous for-profit institutions that don't require advanced degrees of their faculty. While teaching itself can be personally rewarding (not so much financially, though), many of your students will be working for companies that might be willing to hire you as a contractor or perhaps even as an instructor for the company's internal education programs.

    In summary, be realistic about what you can bring to the party, recognize that many companies simply find legal ways not to hire people over 40, and focus on those opportunities where you are on a relatively even playing field in seeking a job. Good luck.

  • Or should I being a greeter at Walmart?

    Get a job as an English teacher.

  • by davecb (6526) <davec-b@rogers.com> on Thursday November 08, 2012 @04:20PM (#41923473) Homepage Journal

    I know of at least two companies who have gone looking for people who are either retired or semi-retired for full-time positions. The companies aren't rich, and so can only pay normal wages, and so get turned down a lot and/or have terrible turnover as people in mid-career go looking for more money elsewhere.

    They find that older engineers more reliable, and that their depth of experience makes them as effective as more junior people, even where the juniors try to work too many hours. Sometimes because the juniors are working too many hours (:-))

    It's hard to find semi-retired people, though. The people I know about were found by the employer via word of mouth, but I suspect one can ask for 'enough experience that age and treachery beat youth and enthusiasm' in an ad without actually getting arrested...

    --dave

  • This clearly delineates the dichotomy that aging developers reach at some point. (I'm not even close to 50 yet, let alone 60, but I'm not 25 any more either...)

    When you're young, and not really at the top of your game, you can still fill a role. Some kinds of testing, lab rat, meeting coordinator, etc. (I'm kind of saying this tongue-in-cheek, but the bottom line is that when you're young and cheap, and perhaps a bit underpowered, well we always need someone to fill the snack room and keep the copier
  • by whitroth (9367) <whitroth@5MOSCOW-cent.us minus city> on Thursday November 08, 2012 @04:24PM (#41923519) Homepage

    Ignore the kiddies and libertarian suckers' comments (I mean, if they were making that much, they wouldn't be wasting time posting here during the work day).

    The real question is how long you have on your resume of you being out of work. The longer you're out, the less HR assholes want to talk to you. Back around '04 or '05, when I was *very* long "between positions", I applied for one that looked like it was written for me. Never heard anything, so I got annoyed enough to call the recruiter. She told me I "wasn't fresh".

    That *really* pissed me off, so I asked her that if she took a year off to have a kid, would she never be employable again, becuase *she* "wasn't fresh"?

    That took her back. She said she'd never thought of it that way, and actually put me in. Didn't get it, presumably because her opposite number thought the same way.

    I also wrote a couple of articles I managed to get published in a mag. More on the resume. Did some F/OSS software, set it up as a project on sourceforge, and *that* went on the resume... and it also gave prospective employers examples of what I could do.

    Anyway, one thing I did was to use some hair dye. Another thing was that a friend looked me up, told me he was starting a co, and had me do his co. website. I never got paid for that... but with his ok, the instant I made that website live, I had, on my resume, that I was "working" and the website as a bullet point. He was willing to answer calls that yes, I was working for him. Not that many months later, I finally started working again. Warning: you might have to work outside where you live, at least for a while (till you find something local), just so a) you can pay the bills, and b) have another point on the "yes, he's working now" check box.

    A+ is useless. My son got it six or eight years ago, and no one would hire him, anyway. He went back for his 4-yr.

    Best of luck.

                    mark

  • Forget the newfangled programming language of the day, forget hip and cool, go for the "boring", yet essential stuff that requires experience only older IT guys have. Stuff like, say, quality assurance (auditing software and business processes), penetration testing, ... heck, even Big Iron and Cobol are still in use. All these areas are in desperate need of skilled professionals, and can't find them in the the younger 20-35 age bracket. Or, alternatively, explore less popular areas, like, e.g. hardware/soft
  • It's a very "gray" industry. Most people there are older, still actively working some rather nasty engineering problems (e.g. drilling through 2 miles of water and two more miles of rock) and more likely to understand that your brain didn't turn off when you hit 60.

    Disclaimer: At 55, I've gotten heavily into programming powershell to control my little bevy of virtual machine servers and still write my network control software in either vb.net or C#, depending on which one makes my internal customers feel al

  • Perhaps career change into project management of software or engineering projects.

    Usually experience and older workers preferred for being responsible for keeping project managed and on track. ...just a thought.

  • My dad was laid of after many years as a developer/technical writer/manager at the same company when he was in his early 60s. After roughly a 6-month job search, he found a great position as an "automation engineer" (he basically wanders around looking at people's processes and then automates the boring parts for them). So hang in there, it can be done. If you just start from the assumption that you have to prove to them you've gotten wiser and smarter with age rather than getting "set in your ways", that c

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