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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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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...)

  • 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.

  • 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...

  • 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:A+ = F (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dizzy8578 (106660) * on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:56PM (#41922095)

    A+ is useless except for getting past those clueless 25 year old HR drones.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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 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 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.

  • 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

  • by whitroth (9367) <whitroth&5-cent,us> 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

  • by Safety Cap (253500) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @04:43PM (#41923841) Homepage Journal

    You will never be unemployed again, because you work for more than one person

    FIFY.

    When I am employed by a company, I have one "client". When that client lets me go (rif/outsource/fired/whatever), I have no other income.

    When I have 3-4 clients and one client lets me go (can't afford my rates/personality clash/they went crazy and I had to fire them/they hired someone fulltime/etc), I have other clients that keep some $$$ coming in.

    As long as I have n+1 clients (where n = sufficient income), then I'm doing well.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @05:16PM (#41924343)

    Evil fascist corporatist 1% pig man! You should pay 100% taxes because all you do is take money now and not work, making all of your slave labor wage workers, who you probably won't let unionize, do all of the stuff that really creates the money. Capitalist parasite! The only reason there are poor people is because people like you won't let them have your money, since you took the prosperity from other people by having a corporation.

    Oh, wait, is the election over? Are people allowed to talk rationally and admire guys who start businesses and employ people, now? Whew.

    Yes, it's over. Too bad no one suggested or is suggesting the rhetoric you think is funny sarcasm.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @06:06PM (#41924961)

    But it doesn't sound like you're 60, though. It's well known there is a huge amount of agism in the tech industry. Doesn't matter how not-idle the poster is. He could be incredibly skilled, but not actually get hired. I mean, look at his skills! Java and C# is maybe 75% of the programming market: he's correct that he would already be hired if he was only 40.

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