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Ask Slashdot: Are We Older Experts Being Retired Too Early? 629

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-off-my-lawn dept.
caferace writes "I've been around the block. I'm a long-time worker in the tech industry (nearly 30 years), absolutely kickass SQA and Hardware person, networking, you name it. But I'm 50+ now, and finding new regular or contract work is a pain. And it shouldn't be. I have the skills and the aptitude to absorb and adapt to any new situations and languages way beyond what any of my college age brethren might have. But when I send out a perfectly good resume and use the more obvious resources there are still precious few bites for someone requiring to work remotely. Am I just whining, or is this common? Are we being put out to pasture far too early?"
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Ask Slashdot: Are We Older Experts Being Retired Too Early?

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  • Lie a little (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:13AM (#45536287)

    Don't put your age on the CV and knock off the first 10 years of experience. My father worked IT contract work till he retired at 64 by doing this.

    • Re:Lie a little (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SumDog (466607) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:23AM (#45536325) Homepage Journal

      Age on a C.V?! Who does that. No one.. (and you shouldn't. Employers can't ask if you are married or your number of kids either. That can get you sued in many places).

      We have a lot of older people where I work, some hired in. The trouble is we also get a lot of people who come through who've been in the same shop for 20 years and they think they know what they're doing, but when you ask them an SQL question they use a sequence of nested queries without any join statements. We get sysadmin who don't know how to map a network drive on the command line. We get people who want security jobs who can't answer, "What's the difference between a GET and a POST request?"

      Another issue is that maybe shops are only looking to employ 40+ people in management positions, being team leads and architects. Maybe you hate that stuff and are looking for dev jobs and people are reluctant to hire you for that. The problem here lies in that most IT departments only have a pathway up the chain via management. For a lot of devs and admins, this isn't too bad and they can manage people fine. But there are those that really don't want to manage people, who hate it and there isn't really a pathway for people who just want to stay coding.

      Finally, it could be that you're applying to all the wrong places where people do look down upon your for your age. They are probably shitty shops you didn't want to work for anyway. Are you willing to move? If not, you could also try short term contracts (3 ~ 8 months). There are a tons of those if you're willing to be away for a couple of months each year. You can also build up remote contracting opportunities this way too.

      So to recap, you might be stuck in a city of discriminatory employers and it's not you, or you're looking for dev positions because that's what you love but people want your age group for management or ... you're not as good as you think you are and are bombing interviews.

      • Re:Lie a little (Score:5, Insightful)

        by somersault (912633) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:28AM (#45536361) Homepage Journal

        But when I send out a perfectly good resume and use the more obvious resources there are still precious few bites for someone requiring to work remotely

        How come nobody has commented on this part? No matter what age you are, requiring that you work remotely is going to make things difficult, no matter your age.

        • Looks like I'm getting old.. repeating myself, and saying the same thing twice..

          • Getting old is learning not to care what people think of your opinion or whether they heard you the first time.

            The chances are... they don't (and shouldn't) care.

        • Re:Lie a little (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ray-auch (454705) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @06:07AM (#45536503)

          How come nobody has commented on this part? No matter what age you are, requiring that you work remotely is going to make things difficult, no matter your age.

          Seconded. Not just "would like to work from home" but "requiring" - from the outset. I scanned the question in less time than scanning a CV and those words ("requiring to work remotely") jumped out - CV in the round filing thing in based on that alone, didn't even register the age range being complained about.

          I've worked remotely in several jobs and contracts, but only after being on-site first and proving myself and establishing with the client / employer which parts of the work can be done remotely - and always being prepared to be on site when required. I am not even sure how you could work remotely doing hardware and networks - but certainly not going to find out by trialing someone who is not prepared to be on site.

          At the end of the day, you are selling yourself with your CV and if no one is buying then you are selling the wrong thing or at the wrong price - and IMO "remote working only" is the wrong thing (unless you are an awful lot cheaper - i.e. India rates - and then it's usually the wrong thing but some people do buy...)

          • I was thinking something similar. One of our new senior engineers wanted to work from home on Mondays and Fridays, but my employer agreed only on the condition that he work onsite full time for the first month to prove himself.

          • by pinguwin (807635)
            I agree with this. That's the first thing that jumped out at me. I often explain to people thta working from home doesn't work out quite the way that people see in a news story. In my experience, the people who work remotely have proven themselves over time and it comes to the point where they say after some years, "I'm moving with my family to X." and they don't want to lose them. I've been contracting going on twenty years and I have never had an opportunity to work remotely from the get-go. I've se
          • Agreed requiring remote in the CV is a bad idea. Your CV is about what you've done and what you bring to the table. Wait till they've narrowed down the pile and are drooling on themselves to get you to work for them the ... negotiate. You might have to take a salary hit, or maybe the understanding is if it doesn't work out you will have to start showing up at the office, or that occasionally their will be meetings you are required for and you'll get their on your own dime (whether it is down the street or a

        • Re:Lie a little (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @07:26AM (#45536821)

          Exactly. He isn't being passed over for younger engineers. He is being passed over for Indian engineers. If the employer wants a remote worker, then it doesn't matter much if the worker is the next town over or the other side of the world.

      • Finally, it could be that you're applying to all the wrong places where people do look down upon your for your age. They are probably shitty shops you didn't want to work for anyway.

        This.

        Hint, if at your interview or on a tour you pass a big room crammed with (inexpensive) youngin coders, all in lovely "open plan" office style, you're in the wrong place ...

      • by ruir (2709173)
        I dont get why sometimes linked.in contacts ask for the CV, since my experience is already there. But reading your post, I had an aha moment, and suspect is to find the extra tidbits, like my age, without asking for it directly.
        • Re:Lie a little (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ebno-10db (1459097) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @09:03AM (#45537491)

          Can you say "scumbags"? How about "illegally discriminating scumbags"? Good luck proving it though. And even if you have the evidence, it's not like anyone cares about enforcing labor laws anymore. That's been dead since Reagan took office.

          Back in the 60's my father had a wrongful termination suit that he pursued through the Dept. of Labor (no need to hire a lawyer, etc.). He won hands down. Think that happens today?

          I've always had mixed feelings about unions at best. I've never belonged to one and never wanted to. Back when they still had power though, they served a very good purpose for people in non-union shops - they made employers afraid of them. As a result, it was considered good business practice to treat employees well enough that they didn't want to unionize. Partly as a result of that fear, and the actual enforcement of labor laws, people my father worked with, including his immediate supervisor, had no qualms about testifying on his behalf. Think that would happen today?

      • > Age on a C.V?! Who does that

        This is one reason that they personnel departments ask for your college graduation date. Calculating age from that is pretty easy. Similar questions can be, and are, used to collect race, gender, religion, nationality, visa status, or medical issues that may affect your workplace behavior. This is true even in places that claim not to discriminate on these bases:, or where such discrimination is used illegally. Subconscious bias exists, even without directly citing it in th

        • Sweet, I'm set! I graduated from college much later then typical, so any employers will think I'm 10 years younger then I am!

      • Re:Lie a little (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @07:09AM (#45536745)

        they think they know what they're doing, but when you ask them an SQL question they use a sequence of nested queries without any join statements.

        And what exactly is wrong with that?

        Query optimizer will generally convert a nested query into a join when necessary. And for a non-correlated nested query (and possibly some particularly shaped indexes) nesting is probably a better answer to begin with.

        • Re:Lie a little (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Trailer Trash (60756) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @10:12AM (#45538303) Homepage

          they think they know what they're doing, but when you ask them an SQL question they use a sequence of nested queries without any join statements.

          And what exactly is wrong with that?

          Query optimizer will generally convert a nested query into a join when necessary. And for a non-correlated nested query (and possibly some particularly shaped indexes) nesting is probably a better answer to begin with.

          You speak the truth. Look at it this way:

          select something from table1 where id in (select table1_id from table2 where name ilike '%smith%');

          or

          select table1.something from table1 inner join table2 using table1.id=table2.table1_id where table2.name ilike '%smith%';

          They're equivalent, and if you're using a reasonable rdbms (I use PostgreSQL) they end up being optimized identically. IMHO, the first one is far easier to read and understand, particularly if you start adding even more and more tables and restrictions. Something I've picked up over the last 25 years of paid IT work is that maintainability trumps nearly everything else given the price disparity between hardware and human time. (obviously there are limits to that)

          In my company I maintain tons of code that I've written over the last 15 years. People call me up and expect for me to be able to look at code that I wrote 10 years ago and make changes. How about places where there's actual staff turnover? Writing readable and maintainable code is just better.

      • by morgauxo (974071)

        If I were job searching today I MIGHT consider putting that I am married and have a kid. Or.. at least try to mention it at some point.

        At my first full-time programming the boss (and owner) was a real d1ck. He thought we were some sort of silicon valley startup and pretty much expected us all to have no lives outside of work and spend huge hours there making it pretty much impossible to have a life outside of the place. He gave us big talk about how we would all be rich one day but the only one that app

    • by ATestR (1060586)

      It's not lying to omit older information on your resume. Typically, you only need to go back 10-15 years... unless there is something specific you want to reference from before that.

      What I find hard to conceal is my gray beard.

  • 30 years? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Max Threshold (540114)
    You've been in the biz thirty years and you're not retired retired? C'mon. I've been at it for one year, at two-thirds the average starting pay, and I'm looking at becoming an artist/gardener/eccentric recluse in three or four years. (Granted, I live in a $34,000 home in one of the lowest cost-of-living cities in the US... but that's all part of the plan.)
    • Re:30 years? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:23AM (#45536329)

      children?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You've been in the biz thirty years and you're not retired retired? C'mon. I've been at it for one year, at two-thirds the average starting pay, and I'm looking at becoming an artist/gardener/eccentric recluse in three or four years. (Granted, I live in a $34,000 home in one of the lowest cost-of-living cities in the US... but that's all part of the plan.)

      I see.

      I take it...no wait, this is Slashdot. I automatically assume all those usual expenses that befall other men that stem from having a girlfriend or wife you are devoid of.

      In case you hadn't noticed, women are the most expensive thing on the planet.

      • Re:30 years? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @06:56AM (#45536683) Journal

        In case you hadn't noticed, women are the most expensive thing on the planet.

        Who the fuck modded this shit insightful. My SO earns more than I do, so the net cost is negative. Try treating women as fellow people rather than whatever weirdass thing you've made them up to be in your mind.

        • Re:30 years? (Score:5, Informative)

          by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @07:45AM (#45536899) Homepage

          Thank you, whoever you are. Your response reminds me of a classic definition of feminism being the radical notion that women are people.

          Typically, when you get into a good committed relationship between capable people, then each helps support the other when they need it. Man or woman doesn't matter when the chips are down, love and committment do.

          Children, on the other hand, are way more expensive than a lot of would-be parents give them credit for. To age 18, it's about $400K. If you're helping with college expenses, tack on another $200K. The little rascals are also the greatest diminisher of marital happiness, according to serious studies on the subject. I'm sure being a parent is a wonderful experience (that I've never had), but be careful out there and don't end up a parent by accident.

  • But so are most industries. Few people want to work with someone much more experienced than them, unless they lack the competitive streak - no more so than IT, an industry full of insecure autodidacts who are often more mouth than trousers.

  • The American Dream (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ozoner (1406169) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:19AM (#45536313)

    Sadly your experience is common. The older you get, the harder it is to find work.

    So in your last decade or so, instead of saving for your retirement, you end up chewing through what little savings you have,

    It's called the "American Dream".

    • by Z00L00K (682162) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:45AM (#45536433) Homepage

      Employers are scared of hiring someone with more experience than they have themselves because they are afraid that you will take over the company.

      At the same time young employees keeps repeating mistakes made already by programmers that were around in the 70's, 80's and 90's.

      • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @10:28AM (#45538501)

        There are people who RUN businesses, and there are people who are EMPLOYED by businesses. If they haven't "taken over the company" by age 40, they almost certainly won't. If they've been an employee for 20-30 years, that's probably because that's their preference or where their strengths lie. They aren't going to take over anything.

        Of course, there's the rare case of someone has has run several businesses by age 40 taking non-executive employment for some reason, but that's not the usual case. I've run a few companies and I took an 8-5, but I think I'm the only one in a building with ~200 people. Nobody else here is going to take over squat because they'd rather show up at 8, leave at 5, and and collect their steady paycheck and benefits.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "George Carlin famously wrote the joke "it's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it".

      Carlin pointed to "the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions" as having a greater influence than an individual's choice."

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Dream [wikipedia.org]

  • They can get someone younger for much less pay.... and that's basically, it.

    You pay for experience, and employers don't want to pay for yours.

    • by myowntrueself (607117) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:25AM (#45536335)

      They can get someone younger for much less pay.... and that's basically, it.

      You pay for experience, and employers don't want to pay for yours.

      Exactly. Hire someone half your age, pay them half as much, make them work twice as hard until they are an age and have enough experience where they start expecting pay rises then fire them and hire youngsters again. Its almost a fiduciary responsibility.

      • Exactly. Hire someone half your age, pay them half as much, make them work twice as hard until they are an age and have enough experience where they start expecting pay rises then fire them and hire youngsters again. Its almost a fiduciary responsibility.

        And it's usually stupid ... when coders have no business knowledge, it takes at least twice as long in the end to get them to code the right stuff. So you don't save anything.

    • Re:FTFY (Score:5, Insightful)

      by scsirob (246572) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:31AM (#45536371)

      They *THINK* they can get someone younger for much less pay.
      And they *THINK* they will get all the experience from that younger person too.

      What sets us "old farts" apart from the younger folks is that when we started, computers, software and infrastructure weren't half as complex as they are today. And we have seen it all grow. With that, we still know what happens under the hood. We still recognize a failing harddisk, a bad memory problem, a network routing issue etc, when the young guys just see their mouse, tablet or app not doing what they expect. The young folks know where to look when things work. We know where to look when things fail. Employers do not recognize that until they are hit by disaster.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        They *THINK* they can get someone younger for much less pay. And they *THINK* they will get all the experience from that younger person too.

        What sets us "old farts" apart from the younger folks is that when we started, computers, software and infrastructure weren't half as complex as they are today. And we have seen it all grow. With that, we still know what happens under the hood. We still recognize a failing harddisk, a bad memory problem, a network routing issue etc, when the young guys just see their mouse, tablet or app not doing what they expect. The young folks know where to look when things work. We know where to look when things fail. Employers do not recognize that until they are hit by disaster.

        Interestingly we have a number of young-ish programmers who do get that ... and all of them come from Poland. They put it down to having to cobble together systems from whatever was available during their education!

        • by Splab (574204)

          The problem with Polish workforce is they are getting expensive, the new kids on the block are Romanian, Macedonian, Ukrainian. Although same applies - and on top of them being down right brilliant, they have a work mentality that trumps most westerners.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        They *THINK* they can get someone younger for much less pay.
        And they *THINK* they will get all the experience from that younger person too.

        That *IS* the problem, yes.

      • Re:FTFY (Score:5, Informative)

        by Cwix (1671282) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @07:06AM (#45536729)

        What a load of BS.

        As a 30 year old admin I can tell you right now that I can easily diag failing hard drives, memory sticks and yes even network issues..

        If you think that you need many many years of experience to do this you are not nearly as talented as you seem to want to make yourself out to be. Go look in the mirror, if your crowning achievement is being able to diag simple hardware problems, then maybe the issue with you getting hired has more to do with your inexperience and not your age.

        • Re:FTFY (Score:5, Interesting)

          by k8to (9046) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @10:54AM (#45538799) Homepage

          I'd expect a systems admin to be able to diagnose a problem like that -- not that ours can. But most programmers I meet can't. They'll be trying to fix their code all day long when their system has bad ram.

          Our customers have the same problem. They'll be asking why our software is slow on "just this one node". Telling us to "fix the bug".

          I have to look through system call timings, application logs, kernel messages, kernel dev tools blah blah to give them evidence of what I already know. "it's a hardware problem. It seems this is a known failure pattern in the linux kernel for cache coherency errors betwen SMP cpus".. or whatever. We're an application vendor. I guess these companies spend enough money with us that it's worth it to my employer for me to play tinker-toy remote systems admin for them via proxy of systems debugging.

          I get roped into these problems because no one else on my team can figure them out.

          It pays.

    • by Splab (574204)

      Half? Not even close. We are currently hiring, we prefer local work force, someone who shows up each day, someone we can talk to. Local salary is in the $80.000 range. However, if we are looking for someone working remotely, they are up against quite qualified eastern block workers, whom clock in at $12.000-15.000.

      If I have to deal with remote workers, I'd go for the cheaper option.

  • Aging workforce (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iLLucionist (956046) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:22AM (#45536319)
    As a I-O psychologist and researcher, this is fairly common. A lot of stereotypes are misattributed to the "older worker" and it happens a lot. In this world, organisations almost exclusively focus on attracting "young talent". Yet they fail to understand that older workers are far more experienced. Amongst misunderstandings is the notion that older workers would be (a) untrainable (b) too expensive (c) not creative, and (d) not flexible enough to adapt. This is all ruled out by research, but you know how it works with research. That's just "theory" and management wants "practice". So in short, you are not alone. As a matter of fact, there is a whole psychological discipline devoted towards this, called the "aging workforce".
    • Re:Aging workforce (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:33AM (#45536385)
      Actually, its as simple as no one wants to hire someone lder than themselves - they would feel uncomfortable giving orders

      combined with no one wants to hire someone that obviously knows more than they do.

      Yes I know its a recipe for a train wreck - have you not watched any large projects lately (cough @&#4care).

    • by Kneo24 (688412)

      Granted this is anecdotal evidence and could be more of a sign of our interviewing and hiring practices, but I often find for skilled positions the younger workers tend to typically be the better choice.

      Here's why:
      More often than not, the older works have the jargon, have the theory, and can talk your ear off about all day long. When it comes down to being motivated enough to apply it, they either can't or just don't care. Furthermore, when you do try to work with them to make things better, it's met wit

      • Re:Aging workforce (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Panaflex (13191) <convivialdingo AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @07:24AM (#45536815)

        I disagree. Having worked in everything from multinational companies to 3 man start-up companies I think I've seen quite a bit of the dev world.

        I think a well balanced team usually consists of older and younger developers myself.

        What you want to avoid as a manager is encouraging cliques and age-based group stratums. Socially people will naturally tend to separate by age somewhat, but by spreading your experienced devs in with the less experienced you create new niches and groups that center around productive aspects such as projects, platforms, and responsibilities.

        A few tricks I've used is allow developers to volunteer for project milestones. This gives you good cross-communication setup between project and age groups and allows devs to find their fit if you structure your projects right.

        Another trick is to encourage creativity and social rewards. Having code meetings where the entire crowd gets to work through some code together. Each meeting, a different person or team brings part of their project to present and explain their design choices and algorithms for the rest of the team. The team gets to learn a bit, and also can positively (or occasionally negatively) critique the code and look for problems. This can work across projects and departments as well.

        You need to encourage social activities across groups as well, but be careful not to cut into outside time too much. Older devs generally have lives outside of work. So limit your after-work socializing and instead encourage innovative activities with 15 minute coffee breaks together or an after-meeting walk.

        If you're having problems motivating older developers then it's quite likely that you're not building, managing and deploying your experience properly. You need to do more than toss them in a cube with a set of project milestones. Younger people will do better in that environment if only because they will have more time to sacrifice.

        Older people have already done their "lone wolf" time, and generally expect better management and organization. They expect resources to get the job done efficiently and want to be learning and mentoring, not just chugging out LOC. Most of them won't complain as devs tend to be introverts for the most part. If you want productive feedback then you need to empower groups with responsibilities beyond milestones. They need to have time to evaluate and analyze. They need to have time to go over designs and understand, give input, and have their input rewarded.

        The secret is to create balanced work environments that allow your workers to be both productive and growing. Having static organizational structures that boxes devs into platforms and languages for years creates experience lags and power bubbles. Having work/slave relationships creates revolving doors. Having loose organizations creates deadline creep and project failure.

        In the end, there are plenty of organizations successfully employing developers into retirement age. What you want is an organization that manages goals and expectations by delegating work to teams that are organized with mixed experience and socially rewarded for meeting deadlines. Management should be open to criticism and giving out criticism when necessary. Teams should as well.

        Lastly, realize that most developers aren't strictly motivated by dollars. Most people are far more motivated to work towards a goal when the reward is linked with their goals and creativity. Developers need to have the room to try things and fail at them, refine and build on those experiences. If you build that into your development process then you will reduce product and project failures enormously.

        Anyway, just my ramblings...

    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:55AM (#45536463) Homepage Journal
      As a I-O psychologist and researcher

      I am just imagining you sitting on a couch, talking to a hard disk:

      You: Well Mr. Hard Disk, how are you feeling?
      Hard disk:Doc, I tell you my head feels like its constantly spinning in circles, and I am afraid something might come unhinged and I'll crash!
    • by rmstar (114746)

      In this world, organisations almost exclusively focus on attracting "young talent". Yet they fail to understand that older workers are far more experienced. Amongst misunderstandings is the notion that older workers would be (a) untrainable (b) too expensive (c) not creative, and (d) not flexible enough to adapt. This is all ruled out by research, but you know how it works with research. That's just "theory" and management wants "practice".

      I hear that theory quite often, but I've been wondering why The Mark

    • Re:Aging workforce (Score:5, Informative)

      by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @08:07AM (#45537021) Homepage

      In the US, I should mention that there's another key dimension in play: Older workers bring with them more expensive health insurance costs. I just watched a major corporation end the career of a 25-year veteran of the company primarily because of that (it was a "layoff" that just happened to get rid of 22 workers who just happened to be the oldest workers who weren't chums with an executive).

  • Remote working (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bert64 (520050) <(bert) (at) (slashdot.firenzee.com)> on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:22AM (#45536321) Homepage

    Wanting to work remotely is probably putting potential employers off too... A lot of people can't understand how someone can work remotely, and just assume they're sitting around playing games all day. They would rather see you sitting at a desk so they think you're working, even if you might be sitting there using slashdot all day.

    • by rioki (1328185)

      "even if you might be sitting there using slashdot all day"

      That would be nice, but Slashdot unfortunately can not fill an entire work day...

  • Presenteeism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaptainOfSpray (1229754) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:26AM (#45536339)
    You require to work remotely? Most managers cannot stand that - if you aren't there in the office so they can see that you are working, you must be goofing off, you cannot possibly be working. Judge you by your results? They wouldn't know how to do that, and they are far too harrassed/unimaginative/untrained to work out a method of doing it.

    I've been in IT for more than 40 years, a contractor for the last twenty. In all that time, I have once had one contract that allowed me to work from home, and then it was just one day a week - and even then, in the middle of the contract, they tried to change it to all five days a week.
  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:27AM (#45536349)

    As an older engineer, I've found that helping out the youngsters with their freeware and bringing lesons learned decades ago is rewarding, and professionally helpful. I can name at least 3 freeware or open source projects that I've been involved with for more than 10 years that get me recruiting calls from other countries. Very very few people have that much experience with it, my name has been in the developer mailing lists for that long, and I've done it as a matter of technical interest. Put those on your CV.

    Also, companies that are migrating from older to newer platforms may welcome people who've worked extensively with both. As I've become older I've become the "local reference" for the older technologies. Simply having a hint of what the differences might be can same hundreds of man-hours of labor porting software or keeping the old system alive during the migration.

  • It's a sad truth... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ImOuttaHere (2996813) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @05:45AM (#45536431)

    After 30 years working in software engineering and program management, I was turfed. The company I worked for had been acquired by a huge rollup company. We all knew what we coming, and come it did.

    I survived eight layoffs and got caught in the ninth, four years after the takeover. This, even though I helped bring the kinds of technologies and software engineering talent that helped generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year in bottom line revenue.

    In my case, the company had decided to ship manufacturing (a common "given") and engineering (something that surprised many of us) to China. The only thing the new company was interested in was increasing the value of the "leadership's" stock options. They didn't care what they acquired, just so long as they could strip assets and downsize and ship jobs offshore to fatten the bottom line. They honestly believed that what few jobs that were left in the US could be picked up by young engineers coming out of college. Cheap labor, right? Wrong. Particularly when they don't yet know enough and have no experience in highly specialized electronics and software solutions.

    I wish I could find it, but I remember reading a German study that showed us old folks are more productive in a 24 hour work week than new or middle-aged workers working 35.5+hours a week. I know we older folks can really crank out the work, manage and maintain revenue generating business relationships, and can help the rich bastards make even more money than they already are if they'd keep us around, but...

    Trans-national corporations, banks, and businesses really don't care how they generate their money and no one, not one single organization is upholding labor law that might, just might, hold these rogues accountable.

    I've been looking for a job for over two years now. I can't believe the US job market is as tough as it has turned out to be. We hate to suffer like this, but I feel too old, that I know too much, and I'm too damned expensive for korporate Amerika. Too bad labor isn't organized and won't stand up for each other. It's every person for themselves, or so it seems to me.

  • With your level of expertise and experience, you should consider starting your own business. I realize it's not that simple: you have to have an idea for a business before you can start one, and that's difficult. I suggest regular brain storming sessions involving a notebook and a pin. You are at a point in your life where you may as well completely re-invent yourself.

    More to the point of your question: If you are leading off with telecommuting as a requirement, that's going to get your resume tossed more
    • by Ozoner (1406169)

      > With your level of expertise and experience, you should consider starting your own business.

      And you know what percentage of new business survive?

      This is part two of the "American Dream"

      • by wjcofkc (964165)
        Aren't you a wet blanket. Yes, it takes daring confidence to start your own business. While most new business fail, some don't. Some even go on to become large companies. The modern "American Dream" is not a freebie, and in general the idea of it never has been. It takes a sense of adventure and a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone. It sounds like your saying no one should take the risk of starting their own business. Where would we get new businesses and the innovation that follows?

        It sounds
        • by AuMatar (183847)

          And if he doesn't want to build his own company? Building your own company takes hard work and requires you to spend time doing a lot of things like marketing, sales, accounting, etc that most people don't want to do. If its not a driving goal of yours, attempting to do this will leave you miserable and broke. And guess what- only a tiny percentage of people want to do all that bullshit. If he isn't one of that tiny percentage, telling him to do it is horrible advice. And if he was part of it, well yo

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Tailoring, or trying to, your resume/cv to a particular job is a recipe for disaster.

      If you are not competent enough to write a document that sells you in the first page, and drives the deal home by the end of the second then you should consider going back to school, seriously.

      I recruit software engineers. Often we use more than one recruiter because there are several positions. If I receive two different resumes from the same person I immediately bin them because I know I can't trust that person to make an

  • I guess your problem is not your age but the fact that you want to work remotely only (if I understood you correctly).

    If it is indeed age, come to europe, especially germany. Good software engineers are seeked desperately.

  • by slim-t (578136) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @06:20AM (#45536541)
    Anytime you describe yourself as "kickass," you come off as a jerk. Then you demand to work remotely. Surely there are people out there with adequate skills, who aren't jerks and will show up at the office once in a while.
  • That is a tough one both for 20-ers and 50-ers or 60-ers. For the rest of TFA, you have a point. At some point in my career ( recently ), I simply decided to never retire. As a software engineer, I had the best idea of my career only last summer, and I am 46. Plenty of potential ahead.
  • Opinion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @06:42AM (#45536621)
    As a small business owner in IT managed services, age absolutely does NOT matter to me. I'm more interested in a person's willingness to continue to learn and not stay stagnant. If you are in your 80s and have continued to learn on your own and want to stay engaged, I can do the heavy lifting ... that's no problem, welcome aboard. Attitude, experience, and wisdom trump youth every time. My marketing director is 25 years older than I am and I can constantly learn from him because he stays on the cutting edge and subscribes to lifelong learning. My brother has a mechanical engineer on his payroll that is 92 years old and is an extremely talented and creative guy. He can design something on paper in a mere fraction of the time it would take a lesser experienced engineer to do. Don't ever make the mistake of judging someone on age - judge on attitudes.
  • by ledow (319597) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @06:44AM (#45536633) Homepage

    Why wouldn't I hire you?

    "absolutely kickass SQA and Hardware person, networking, you name it"

    "I have the skills and the aptitude to absorb and adapt to any new situations and languages way beyond what any of my college age brethren might have."

    "a perfectly good resume" (just sounds so snarky)

    and critically: "someone requiring to work remotely"

    Get off your high horse, write a plain CV/resume (omit your age if you really feel you need to) and apply for "normal" jobs, not telecommuting jobs.

    Who wants to hire a blow-his-own-trumpet, big-head, nearly-retired, remote worker? Nobody.

    That said, as you get older your skills mean less. If you have 20 years or 30 years experience, which is "better"? There's not much to choose between them. If you had nothing versus even 1 year's experience it makes a big difference. Hence as you age, your experience means less. It's almost a bell curve, in fact. After a while you "know" so much that you have to be retrained to do things "our" way.

    And the job market is tough no matter what your age or experience. Many places can't afford people at all, let alone top-end salary highly-experienced people. That said, I've never paid attention to "the market" and always just applied for things I like and never had a problem finding work (in fact, the opposite... I'm currently holding off applying for permanent jobs, after resigning from my job of 5 years, in order to be ready for a good place that are determined to hire me and have offers coming in from all sorts of places).

    Also, in my experience, if you're good the work finds you. I'm socially inept but this networking thing really gets you work like nothing else. I spent 10+ years just going from client to client based on word of mouth and NOTHING else. I'm not "the best", by far, but I'm good at what I do and learn quick on what I don't.

    You're willing to adapt and learn, so do so. With the recruitment process as well as the types of jobs you go for. Apply for damn near anything in your area of expertise and stop being so picky about YOUR requirements. If you were so good, the jobs would be finding you, not the other way around.

    Honestly, you're just like everyone else looking for work. You can either put in the graft and find the job you want by spending MONTHS looking for it, or you can drift from job to unemployment to job as and when something comes up that "suits" you.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      Many places can't afford people at all, let alone top-end salary highly-experienced people.

      That wouldn't be so bad if the same company couldn't easily find the money for as many project managers as programers, odd roles like "Human resources diversity manager", a "director's assistant PA" (as well as director's PA) and a chauffeur.

  • by TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @07:16AM (#45536773)

    Pushing 50 is an adventure. Find an entirely new direction, start a new life chapter.

    I am a 1970s-onward computer tech turned 1990s-onward BSD/Linux sysadmin who helped start a Freenet and two ISPs, the first back in the 'dark ages' before AOL got its first ip address. Then after a 8 year gap in my IT resume (I had rejoined a family business) I discovered not only do 40-somethings have difficulty competing for other new hires... in this brave new world you cannot even walk in and introduce yourself anymore, it's fill out this form on our website and we'll call you back.

    No one ever called back, not even for a boring graveyard shift telecom job. I now work fixing water main breaks and jetting sewers and doing light construction, I'm in better physical shape than I was at 18. The best part of it is when you clean sewers you're not expected to take your work home with you.

    The worst part is when your buddies bring you their old 512mb netbooks and ask you to load Windows 8 onto them. It hurts to say no and it's sometimes hard to explain why.

  • by Tim12s (209786) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @07:39AM (#45536873) Homepage

    The more I think of it, the more I am convinced that if you could unite a good portion of good older engineers, you'd have a consulting/engineering/system integration company to rival the big players in the market. Usually when people join they stop at 50-100 employees however you need to get to a massive size to compete with the bigger system integrators.

  • by jafiwam (310805) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @08:02AM (#45536983) Homepage Journal

    Sorry, you are competing with a bunch of young guys who while not nearly as good, nor efficient, but will show up in the town and then the office and be there for the management to see. They can do this because they rent, don't have entrenched families, and aren't tied to where they are.. and probably got there a year or two ago anyway.

    Management like to do stuff like walk around the building looking for who's there and who's not, and of who's there, who is working. Maybe not as enforcement, but as "gee I am a great manager look at all my guys working" type of thing.

    Remote workers often disappear to other companies because this entrenched commitment is not present. Remotely working lets them jump ship for fewer reasons faster. (The company I work for has been burned by this repeatedly.)

    Plus, getting someone involved in a complicated project remotely sucks ass, and is a drain on everybody else, having to produce a bunch more documentation that a conversation in a hallway could accomplish, remote desktop sharing sessions, etc. Sometimes I work on complicated stuff with others in my company, and it always sucks to have that one guy that can only see one computer screen and only hear what's going on. Unless it's pure program coding or graphics or something, they never pull their own weight.

    Start looking hard for LOCAL jobs where you don't have to be "remote". Use your experience to branch out into new areas that widens your skill set to the point you can find a local job. Or, move to where the jobs are temporarily. Just don't say "I will only work for you remotely" because companies do deliberately pass that up because they've already had bad experiences with that.

    One last point, the economy is still pretty bad. Nobody is getting a lot of jobs right now. The government is lying to you about it, or the job growth isn't in my state, NOBODY I know is doing "gosh I got this great new job" it's all "I haven't gotten a raise in 5 years and there are no worthwhile job prospects elsewhere". If there is a good economy, it's in China or something. You might consider lowering your expectations a bit. If you really want to work, you gotta compete with other guys that really need to work. From here, it sounds like you aren't on several levels.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @09:08AM (#45537531)

    I've never been turned down for a job after I've attended the itnerview. I'm better at interviewing than I am at my job. I've also participated in hiring people and been involved in interviewing them as well and I can tell you the mistakes I see in older people that causes them to fail the interview.

    1. Lie. Your application to a company is like a TV infomercial. Don't say you know C# when you've never touched it. But if say they want experience in MYSQL and you're proficient in DB2 or whatever... just lie. The hiring manager doesn't know the difference and you'll be able to figure it out quickly enough as long as you have google access. You'll have to make a judgement call here but keep in mind the hiring manage usually has no idea what he/she wants, just wrote some crap down on the application and may not even remember that you said yes to that particular part. I for example am fluent in 2 different CRM architectures. So could I admin Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics? Of course... but the hiring manager might not understand how easy the transition would be. So, I lie... I go download some demos and work in it over a weekend, then head into the interview proficient in both. The first week I can blaim my bumbling around on just getting used to things, but after 2 I should be good to go.
    2. Have a FIRM handshake when you walk in the room. If you don't know how to do it, ask a Marine. I'm not kidding, there are dozens of studies that show the way you shake hands with someone will often doom the relationship before you even talk to them. Learn how to do it correctly.
    3. Ware a suit. Always. Many if not most corporations these days have a form they fill out to hand into HR. Most of its very subjective, and the interviewer gets to enter what he wants. But if they have a question "Applicants appearance" and you're a man, a suit = 10 out of 10, and everything else is 10. It's just a fact. So ware a suit no matter what. Oh, and make sure it's not 20+ years old. You can pick up a new modern suit at JC Pennies for $100. Do it.
    4. For the love of God don't talk about "The old days" or "Back when I worked for IBM" I know you're trying to brag... but what it says to the interviewer is "here's a guy with a lot of entrenched methods and skills that we don't need. We're going to have to retrain all of that out of him!" Don't do it.
    Instead:
    5. Talk about relevant, exciting new technologies. If they're looking for a people soft person, read up on it... learn what's new, what's happening to the company. Get excited about interesting new features. You want to mention at least 5 things about the software package that's new and exciting to the interviewer. That way they are thinking "Not even my best guy told me about that!" Again, I know it sounds silly but don't let pride keep you from getting paid.
    6. Like someone else mentioned above, do not fill your resume with old, non-relevant things. If they need a C# dev and find out you worked as a DBA for 10 years... they then have to worry about you getting half way through a major project and then leave because you found a DBA job that pays more. If they're not looking for a DBA, don't mention that... or if they already know, play it down like that's not what you're interested in anymore. You really like coding and C#. etc...

    I hope that helps.

  • by Assmasher (456699) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @09:40AM (#45537923) Journal

    ...someone like you involved - but the problem is that your greatest value to me would likely be your actual presence at the company. The guy who stays calm in the face of adversity, who had seen it all, who would head off problematic decisions before they become canon, et cetera. All of that is awful hard to do when you're a remote worker.

    My point is that your greatest asset IS your experience, and that's difficult to share remotely (unless you're an architect or someone who works a bit more in isolation.)

    My $0.000002

  • by Ronin Developer (67677) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @01:05PM (#45540295)

    As someone who, at two months shy of turning 50, found himself unemployed as well as seeing how my brother, at 57, can't find anything other a retail job (he used to be an executive but was laid off), yes...it's real.

    Some companies recognize that the old folks possess knowledge and business skills that took years to acquire. Yet, as we age, we cost companies more in terms of benefits (i.e. medical). And, we are at the top of the salary ranges in most cases. Businesses that look only at the bottom line are quick to let us go. Some regret it.

    When I was last let go, there was a clause, in tiny and condensed print, that said to accept my severance (which sucked, btw), I couldn't sue under the Age Discrimination Act (which is supposed to protect those over 40). The also only let me go that day. Others, over the age of 40 have been let go...singly...so they don't have to report on the ages and positions of those let go. The average age at the company is now 36. The company has a 200 employees/consultants...a handful over the age of 45.

    Another company that let a division go listed all employees ages and titles and division to show that age discrimination was not a factor. They complied 100% and also did their best to help us get placed and provided a REAL severance package that showed how much they really cared about the employees they were letting go. It was a great company.

    I don't really want to be a manager...which is where most my age end up...I am a creative type. My resume shows my skills. But, I have been in the work force since 1979. It's not ethical to not list your previous employment if relevant. If you have gaps, you will probably be asked to explain them. So, it's hard to hide your likely age. They aren't stupid. And, some simply will bit bucket your CV as soon as they realize your age.

    In the US, there is a list of questions they can't ask. But, your CV gives you away. In my case, I was lucky that 2 days after getting laid off - I had a chance encounter with an individual who needed someone with exactly my skill set. Age wasn't an issue as my experience is what he needed. Coding is being done by remarkable people who are far younger than I. That's fine with me as I am a systems architect and engineer.

    Bottom line is you can't lie on your CV. A background check (which most employers do), will verify your CV. Most ask for references. They better be good ones. So, call the old employer and, if still on friendly terms with them, get their permission to use them as a reference. While HR can't ask certain questions....how the reference responds (like, hesitating or sounding bored or enthusiastic) makes a difference.

    If I get laid off again (knock on wood), I will likely be self-employed or doing contract work.

  • by Carol Anne Ogdin (3404765) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @01:31PM (#45540615)
    I love watching youthful ./ folk give advice on topics for which they have no credible experience.

    I'm 72 now, and still gainfully employed...just not by 35-year-old "managers" (or worse, "executives") who haven't got any substantive experience to evaluate competence. After a career consulting to IBM, Intel, HP, Amoco, DuPont (and lots more) at the CxO level on IT strategy, I semi-retired in 2001, to a small mountain town nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Up here, the body of "technical talent" is composed of self-taught "experts" who wouldn't know how to make changes to a registry, or whip up a quick script to solve a user's persistent problem.

    So, I reached out to local businesses with computers who experienced lots of "crashes" and "fatal errors" and had gaming computers when they needed a laptop ('cause that's what the local store wanted to sell). I have several clients who keep me busy, and who have learned to accept my counsel as focused on THEIR business needs, not what's convenient for me.

    The trick, for me, was to figure out what services to offer (hint: what they want, not what I want to do), and how to price my services; small businesses HATE to pay by the hour, because they understand that provides incentives to waste time in getting to the solution. I changed the model to a fixed monthly fee for most services, and a price schedule for extraordinary things (like properly configuring a new computer to add to the network). I make a comfortable living that supplements other family income, and keep my skills sharp.

    Find your own path and make it yours. Don't try to get hired by people who can't appreciate your value. That way lies madness. --cao

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