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Ask Slashdot: Getting Hired As a Self-Taught Old Guy? 472 472

StonyCreekBare writes "How can an autodidact get past the jobs screening process? I have a long track record of success, despite limited formal education. Despite many accomplishments, published papers, and more, I cannot seem to get past the canned hiring process and actually get before a hiring manager. Traditional hiring processes seem to revolve around the education and degrees one holds, not one's track record and accomplishments. Now as an older tech-worker I seem to encounter a double barrier by being gray-haired as well. All prospective employers seem to see is a gray-haired old guy with no formal degrees. The jobs always seem to go to the younger guys with impressive degrees, despite a total lack of accomplishment. How can an accomplished, if gray-haired, self-educated techie get a foot in the door?"
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Ask Slashdot: Getting Hired As a Self-Taught Old Guy?

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  • Insufficient Data (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hondo77 (324058) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @07:26PM (#44107079) Homepage
    Maybe your resume sucks. Maybe you're asking for too much money. Maybe you smell bad. Maybe you don't know as much as a fresh college grad. It's hard to answer this without knowing more about you. Have you ever gotten feedback from headhunters when they review your resume?
  • by kermidge (2221646) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @07:43PM (#44107273) Journal

    AC's second sentence is on the mark. Work your contacts from previous jobs and tasks, so that you have someone in charge at a new place invite you in.

    Else, as has been suggested, either consult or start a business.

    Dyeing hair and eyebrows is not so far-fetched. About ten years back when a friend of mine quit his job with a state agency just several years shy of fully-vested retirement to open a consulting partnership with a friend of his, he dyed hair, brows, and mustache for the first four or five years. Once their client list and reputation were built up and they had more work than they could possibly handle, he stopped and let the grey appear, with no problems.

  • by mendax (114116) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @07:46PM (#44107321)

    I'm serious. I know a fellow who is not only 71 years old but a convicted felon who is still on federal supervised release and hasn't work in over ten years who recently got a job with the State of California doing some sort of IT work. The state hires older people. Hiring managers aren't blinded by the cost of older people's health insurance because it doesn't come out of their budget. I suspect it's the same with the Federal government.

  • Choose COBOL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BanteringCTO (584124) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @07:46PM (#44107329)
    Most of the younger developers want to work with the newer languages, and they want to create rather than maintain. Many companies struggle to find competent COBOL programers, largely for maintenance work. If you are as adept at self-learning as you imply, it should be an easy language to pick up. Check out this article currently posted on /.: http://developers.slashdot.org/story/13/06/25/1659247/join-cobols-next-generation [slashdot.org] Good luck!
  • Re:Start your own (Score:5, Interesting)

    by korgitser (1809018) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @09:43PM (#44108159)

    I'd go another route:
    Be willing to work for a little more than the going rate.
    Focus, yes, on the smaller companies, but shoot straight for senior/teamlead positions. Your track record should cover you there. Tell them, you want to gain a level in your career and that your age should help you there.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @04:07AM (#44109803)
    I'm doing a degree now for this exact reason. I'm coming up on 15 years in IT, but I'm still stuck at the bottom of the ladder because everywhere above where I am now wants a degree. They don't even bother saying "Thanks for applying" anymore.
  • Re: Start your own (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Immerman (2627577) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @10:55AM (#44112465)

    The arithmetic mean is certainly what is most commonly meant when referring to "the average" of a group of numbers, but "average" spans the works, including several other types of mean (harmonic, geometric, etc.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Average [wikipedia.org]

    As for an "average Joe" - in pretty much every context I've heard it used it's referring to a concept most analogous to the median - half the people are doing better than him, half are doing worse. Half are more interested in X, half less, etc. Precisely the population midpoint. Certainly if you have drastic things going on in the middle of your distribution it's prone to distortion, but that's rarely the case, and it's pretty much immune to distortions at the extremes, which is where they tend to occur. If you're talking about "most people" the midpoint is far more informative than the lives of the aristocrats or beggars. The arithmetic mean will almost always be skewed upwards in any non-gaussian distribution (such as income), and often quite dramatically. And the mode is rather useless for most layman' purposes, especially since its very heavily dependent on the particular binning limits selected, which speak far more strongly to the biases of the statistician than to the data itself.

"It might help if we ran the MBA's out of Washington." -- Admiral Grace Hopper

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