• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
programming forums Java Mobile Certification Databases Caching Books Engineering Micro Controllers OS Languages Paradigms IDEs Build Tools Frameworks Application Servers Open Source This Site Careers Other all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
Marshals:
  • Campbell Ritchie
  • Bear Bibeault
  • Ron McLeod
  • Jeanne Boyarsky
  • Paul Clapham
Sheriffs:
  • Tim Cooke
  • Liutauras Vilda
  • Junilu Lacar
Saloon Keepers:
  • Tim Moores
  • Stephan van Hulst
  • Tim Holloway
  • fred rosenberger
  • salvin francis
Bartenders:
  • Piet Souris
  • Frits Walraven
  • Carey Brown

The Age Question?

 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 985
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello,

Why do so many posts, contain age questions such as the following?

a) under 30
b) 30 to 35
c) over 35

I am pretty sure that the answer(s) are / is obvious to many. Nevertheless, I need help with this topic. Does it mean that once a candidate is over 35, job prospects become bleak?

Thanks,
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 311
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One of the trade magazines did a survey of hiring managers. The question posed was something like - Are you interested in hiring a person with 20 years experience? Two percent of the hiring managers were interested.

As time goes by, IMO, the size of the projects and the employers keeps getting bigger. With my limited sample of what I have seen in the industry, these same employers mostly only hire people under 35. Oh there's exceptions. But there's the 80/20 rule too. Maybe it is 97/3.

Without forming unions, technical people have a limited career path.

a) good
b) borderline
c) poor

And of course these numbers shift with the available supply of labor in the market.
[ September 23, 2004: Message edited by: Homer Phillips ]
 
Jesse Torres
Ranch Hand
Posts: 985
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The natural question for me to ask is the following:
Once an IT professional becomes / reaches 35 yrs of age, will he / she experience difficulties in securing employment? What if the 35 year old (or older) individual is well versed in the latest technologies, will he / she still encounter difficulties securing employment?

Thanks,
 
Homer Phillips
Ranch Hand
Posts: 311
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As luck would have it, the system sort of works against you having the latest technology at 35. As you build up experience, at some point, management decides it would be more profitable to keep you working on yesterday's stuff.

You are already working long hours in the office, you have a long commute. There's a social life. The wife wants you to paint the nursery. Cutting to the chase, you don't have 20 hours a week to work on your own time keeping up with technology.

Even if you did, only experience obtained at work counts.

If you're really a good technical person, they hate to put you in management. Besides people who are great technically are not necesarily good at management. You might not be tall either.

Old time technical people often work in unions, they work for cradle to grave employers, or they work 80 hour weeks.

Your old boss took care of you, but a new broom sweep clean.

Your part of the product line is being discontinued and you are being downsized.

Go ahead, convince yourself that it's going to be different for you.
 
Greenhorn
Posts: 18
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with most of what Homer is saying, but not all. Anyone getting into any technical field today had better realize that if they want to stay in a technical capacity they will have to constantly be updating their job skills. This can include college coursework and possibly an advanced degree, or accumulating certifications and working open source, etc... The alternative to this is as Homer describes....become an expert in a product or field and hope to hell the maintenance will keep you employed.
A lot of senior technical people get comfy in their lifestyle and expect their experience is enough to carry them till retirement. I know I was fed that line in college. "Once you get your BSCS, you'll be set for life".
I believed it until I experienced a few rounds of downsizing, it's amazing how sobering it is to watch a good % of your co-workers get the boot.
I'm old enough to have used a slide rule in college, I'm in the finishing up stages for studying for the SCJP. Over the past few years I've taken college classes in OOAD, Web Design, and even Geographic Info Systems (Grad course). After writing C and using Oracle SQL for the past 10+ years
I now write JSPs, servlets,etc...So it's not all doom and gloom,but I have spent alot of time (often between 4-7AM)studying.

Of course the alternative is going into management, but thats a topic for another post.

Anyhow, I think age is a factor, but remember an employer is looking for the best candidate for them. If you can show your not living on past accomplishments and can bring something to the table being over 35 shouldn't be a problem...

Hope this helps.
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1479
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Homer Phillips:
As you build up experience, at some point, management decides it would be more profitable to keep you working on yesterday's stuff.



This is a key point. Top pay goes to people with a number of years of experience in a given technology. Not only does it make sense for management to keep you working with a technology you are skillfull at, but you also you tend to stay there for economic reasons yourself. Eventually you can find you have (and others) painted yourself into a corner where the technology is almost obsolete.

Let's suppose you try to get out of the corner by learning new technologies. Let's even suppose you luckily pick the right new technologies to learn (unlike OS/2, object oriented COBOL, etc). There's a good chance that when applying for a J2ME position your 20 years of prior experience will mean almost nothing. You'll be on a nearly equal basis with a recent college grad with 1 year of experince in J2ME. If you're prior 10, 15 or 20 years is not going to be considered relevant (and often its not), then its going to impact your salary. In few other professional fields is experience and knowledge rendered wothless so quickly.

So why even hire older candidates? HR knows they can more easily get others with same relevant skills cheaper more easily. Older people impact the health costs more. Older people that are used to a higher salary will jump ship sooner (so they often think). Older people are less likely to code 24 hours straight to meet a deadline. Much easier to hire young people, work them until they're pre-maturely gray, then boot them out or outsource them...

(You wouldn't believe all the positve thinking self help books I have)
[ September 24, 2004: Message edited by: herb slocomb ]
 
Homer Phillips
Ranch Hand
Posts: 311
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was not around in the real old days, but I suspect age discrimination was not a real big thing until one hit 50. Economist and the government recognized this and created the Age Discrimination Act of the late sixties.
This act gives a worker more proctection frm age discrimination when reaching age 40. Ten years ought to be enough.

Every measure has its counter-measure. To avoid the government the industry moved things up to 35. Five years ought to be enough.

As the previous poster mentioned health insurance premiums probably play a part. I suspect if one were to plot premium vs. age the line starts to rise sharply some where around 40.

Once again the humanity vs profits battle rears it's ugly head.

Today's Boston Globe has an article about outsourcing, but notice the age of the unemployed software engineer, 35.

Start-Ups Pushed to Outsource
 
Jesse Torres
Ranch Hand
Posts: 985
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello,

Thank you all, for your insightful contributions.

Is there anyone out there, who is 40 (or beyond), who can share his / her experiences? Please share your experiences, whether desolate or encouraging. Please tell us your experiences with keeping up or anything else, please share anything!

Thanks,
 
Saloon Keeper
Posts: 22267
151
Android Eclipse IDE Tomcat Server Redhat Java Linux
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can cite one former employer who made nasty references to my merely being over 30, and that was 10 years before dot-coms an VPs who bragged about having no one over that "untrustworthy" age (that's a 60's reference, BTW ).

I can't tell how much actual age discrimination I've encountered, since it's one of the more subtle practices. From what I saw, I spent no significantly greater time unemployed during the 2K2+/- job famine as anyone else. Which, alas, was all of it.
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1272
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have heard several reasons for hiring bias aganst older workers including higher benefit costs, higher salary expectations, more likely to leave when a higher salary is available, won't fit in with younger workers and managers, and likely to be unhappy in a less senior job.
The most interesting reason is that putting a manager into a worker or supervisor job "just doesn't work". I say interesting because a group of unemployed managers said it with full agreement despite the effect on their own careers.

It is against the law to discriminate aganst older workers, but there are ways around the law. For example, instead of asking your age, recruiters will ask the year you got your first (not your most recent and relevant) college degree. When challenged, recruiters say that if they don't do this screening, they'll lose thir client companies.

There are also statistical norms maintained by HR. There is a way around that too ... just redefine "applicant" so that older workers never actually "apply".

Submitting a resume to New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, Inc., or one of its affiliated companies, via the Internet is an indication that you are interested in a position, but does not imply that you are an applicant. Although it may differ throughout our various companies, you will typically not be considered an applicant until a Human Resources representative contacts you. Then, you may be asked to begin the designated application process, which may involve an interview and/or job-related testing. New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, Inc. and its affiliated companies is an Equal Opportunity Employer and supports workforce diversity.


[ September 25, 2004: Message edited by: Mike Gershman ]
 
blacksmith
Posts: 1332
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jesse Torres:

Is there anyone out there, who is 40 (or beyond), who can share his / her experiences? Please share your experiences, whether desolate or encouraging. Please tell us your experiences with keeping up or anything else, please share anything!

I'm 44. I don't hide it - my resume lists my undergraduate degree in 1981. I've never had any age related problems. I did have difficulty finding contracts for a year or two after the dot com bust, but so did everyone else in the area, of any age.

Two things may contribute to this:

- I take responsibility for keeping my resume current. I will take a slightly lower paying job that teaches me something I need to learn over a higher paying job that uses skills I already have. I spend off months working on open source projects using the latest technologies.

- I don't expect to make any more than someone who is ten or fifteen years younger but has the same amount of relevant experience. Inflation adjusted, I'm making about the same as a decade ago, maybe a bit less.

And as a contractor, I pay my own health care costs, so that's not an issue for employers either.
 
Jesse Torres
Ranch Hand
Posts: 985
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator




I'm 44. I don't hide it - my resume lists my undergraduate degree in 1981. I've never had any age related problems. I did have difficulty finding contracts for a year or two after the dot com bust, but so did everyone else in the area, of any age.



And as a contractor, I pay my own health care costs, so that's not an issue for employers either.[/QB]



That was my next question, do contractors experience age discrimination? Thanks for your input.

Thanks,
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 69
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As a contractor, I don't see much age discrimination. Clients consider you temporary and low maintenance; so they don't really care about your age -- just that you can get the job done.

Additionally, if you're a subcontractor the client will be dealing with an account manager who has already deemed you fit for the contract. Most clients assume that the account manager has done his job.
 
Warren Dew
blacksmith
Posts: 1332
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Robert Chisholm:

As a contractor, I don't see much age discrimination. Clients consider you temporary and low maintenance; so they don't really care about your age -- just that you can get the job done.

I would note that I have gotten one permanent position and had an interview for another since turning 40, and I didn't see any problems in those cases, either.

Mike Gershman:

The most interesting reason is that putting a manager into a worker or supervisor job "just doesn't work". I say interesting because a group of unemployed managers said it with full agreement despite the effect on their own careers.

I've been a manager, actually twice, and I transitioned back just fine. It's not even a money issue, since first line technical managers don't typically get paid more than engineers.

Some managers view management as escape from actually having to do the work, and the transition back might be unpalatable for those. Then again, those managers don't actually tend to be as good as managers who realize that being a good manager is a lot of work, too.
 
Robert Chisholm
Ranch Hand
Posts: 69
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Warren,

What is your job title?
 
scott dawson
Greenhorn
Posts: 18
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with the points made by Warren. In my case I have 2 yrs jsp/java. I would not think I should be paid more than someone with more/better experience than I with regard to the jsp/java realm.... I think if you can live with that, AND have realistic expectations about what your worth is to an employer, things you'll be ok if you are in the above 35 crowd. I am now in perm position.

I don't see age discrimination directly, but what I do see is education overloading....I mean I see jobs posted that desire an MSCS for something that should take a BS. I mean you shouldn't need an MS to be an applications programmer.

I know when I just got out of school 40 seemed ancient, I've kept in pretty good shape and now 45 just sort of seem like no big deal...except I a bunch of kids who rely on my income.
As an FYI, there's a guy where I work who is 75!!! He still does Cobol on a mainframe, but he knows his stuff.
 
Warren Dew
blacksmith
Posts: 1332
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Robert Chisholm:

Warren,

What is your job title?


Actually, I don't know! I even checked back through the description of the position I'm contracting at and there's no title mentioned. "Contractor", I guess.

Does it matter?
 
Jesse Torres
Ranch Hand
Posts: 985
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It is good to hear optimism, from those over 35 years of age. I guess age discrimination is more prevalent in permanent positions, and maybe not as common in contractual positions.
 
Robert Chisholm
Ranch Hand
Posts: 69
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Warren Dew:
Robert Chisholm:

Warren,

What is your job title?


Actually, I don't know! I even checked back through the description of the position I'm contracting at and there's no title mentioned. "Contractor", I guess.

Does it matter?



I guess not. My original contracting firm billed me out as a "Systems Consultant". How vague can you get...

My primary interest is in seeing whether contractors my age (36+) have stuck with pure development. I don't see many of them around. It seems many have either moved into programmer/analyst roles or programmer/analyst/architect roles.
 
Consider Paul's rocket mass heater.
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic