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What role plays the age in IT ?

 
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Dear all,

Working in IT in two countries I've noticed interesting differences regarding the age of the employees. In one country the average age of the developers is much lower than in the other country. Have you got similar experiences ?
This observation prompts me to a question: what role does the age play in IT ? What is the "best age" to get good jobs and be appreciated as a developer ? What about a software architect ? Can you still get a good job as a developer after 40 years of age ? Or this is totally irrelevant ? What do you think ?

Greetings,
Sorin
 
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I think any projects or organizations need both. The experience and maturity of the senior professionals and the flexibility and adapatbility of the younger professionals. The way the techlogies are progressing, some of the older professionals need to unlearn a few things. At the same time, nothing can replace real experience and maturity.


Can you still get a good job as a developer after 40 years of age ?



IMHO, it depends on how one presents himself or herself in resume, interviews, etc. It also depends on one's preparedness to keep up with the technologies/frameworks, adaptability, and flexibility.



I also wonder who like to take on more challenges, the younger or the older professionals. I think it varies between idividuals.
 
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Sorin Alexandru wrote:
Working in IT in two countries I've noticed interesting differences regarding the age of the employees. In one country the average age of the developers is much lower than in the other country. Have you got similar experiences ?



I wonder about your methodology. Compared to the total workforce in the respective countries how many companies did you work at? how big were their labor forces? what technologies did the use? what industries were they in?

For example the demographics on software developers at an insurance firm in Nebraska that still has some vax systems is very different than Cambridge, MA based startup developed specialized scheduling algorithms. Neither is indicative of software developers overall in the US.

--Mark
 
Sorin Alexandru
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Mark Herschberg wrote:

Sorin Alexandru wrote:
Working in IT in two countries I've noticed interesting differences regarding the age of the employees. In one country the average age of the developers is much lower than in the other country. Have you got similar experiences ?



I wonder about your methodology. Compared to the total workforce in the respective countries how many companies did you work at? how big were their labor forces? what technologies did the use? what industries were they in?

For example the demographics on software developers at an insurance firm in Nebraska that still has some vax systems is very different than Cambridge, MA based startup developed specialized scheduling algorithms. Neither is indicative of software developers overall in the US.

--Mark



Hi Mark,

Sure, it's hard to compare and draw conclusions. Nevertheless, it's easy to notice that in Eastern European countries as well as in Southern Europe, people tend to do developer jobs when they are young (say below 35), after that pursuing careers in management/sales/marketing. Of course there are exceptions. In Northern Europe however, I know many developers above 35, including many above 50, which is almost unheard of in the regions I mentioned before.

Greetings,
Sorin





 
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In the Netherlands it's hard to get any job if you're over 50. Management thinks you're slow and worn out. The work culture does not appreciate experience very much. In IT it's even worse. So, there are a lot of programmers above 50, but many off them are also looking for a job, I fear. Off course since we have had this technology as an employer for quite some time now, you do see older programmers. Also the demografic pyramid of the Netherlands is quite different then from for example India. We have more older people. So yes there are older programmers, but they are not that wanted by employers. Of course you can try to get into management, but there is need for say fewer managers, then there are older programmers looking for a job.

Sorry to give negative news
 
Sorin Alexandru
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Marcel Wentink wrote:In the Netherlands it's hard to get any job if you're over 50. Management thinks you're slow and worn out. The work culture does not appreciate experience very much. In IT it's even worse. So, there are a lot of programmers above 50, but many off them are also looking for a job, I fear. Off course since we have had this technology as an employer for quite some time now, you do see older programmers. Also the demografic pyramid of the Netherlands is quite different then from for example India. We have more older people. So yes there are older programmers, but they are not that wanted by employers. Of course you can try to get into management, but there is need for say fewer managers, then there are older programmers looking for a job.

Sorry to give negative news



Hi,

Why is that negative news ? It is the way it is.
Interesting, I also work in the Netherlands and I have many colleagues over 50. This has to do with the reasons you mentioned: demography, work culture, mature technologies, etc. What do you think it's the average age in IT in the Netherlands among developers ?

In Romania I don't remember any developer above 38. I find it a pity, but again, it is the way it is.
I think the actual average age in IT is increasing, as the domain matures and the world population is aging pretty fast.

Greetings,
Sorin

 
Marcel Wentink
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This has to do with the reasons you mentioned: demography, work culture, mature technologies, etc.



You misunderstood the work culture thing I think. The work culture is very much against older people working. The other factors demography, mature technologies are just that dominant that you do see older programmers. Actually I am happy to have a job at 43, and I am doing very much to keep my knowledge up to date and I am looking of ways to do some management stuff. Frankly I do that because I would be dead scared to be unemployed when I would in say ten years, be 53. I do not have a very uptimistic view on my market position in ten years time. I'll be older, more work will be outsourced, and getting into management has not had much result. I'll tell it to you straight, if I was a student right now, I would not choose Information Science again. Not because I do not like the job as such though, but because of what I stated above.
 
Sorin Alexandru
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Marcel Wentink wrote:

This has to do with the reasons you mentioned: demography, work culture, mature technologies, etc.



You misunderstood the work culture thing I think. The work culture is very much against older people working. The other factors demography, mature technologies are just that dominant that you do see older programmers. Actually I am happy to have a job at 43, and I am doing very much to keep my knowledge up to date and I am looking of ways to do some management stuff. Frankly I do that because I would be dead scared to be unemployed when I would in say ten years, be 53. I do not have a very uptimistic view on my market position in ten years time. I'll be older, more work will be outsourced, and getting into management has not had much result. I'll tell it to you straight, if I was a student right now, I would not choose Information Science again. Not because I do not like the job as such though, but because of what I stated above.



No, I got your point about the work culture. I just have a different experience here at work, where I see several people in their 50s being hired as developers in spite of their age. I think that's good. So you think that above 40 is harder to get a job ?

The bottom line is: what can we do to preserve our flexibility in finding a decent job ?
- on one hand you'd like to stay technical, since this offers you the most of flexibility (as opposed to moving into management)
- on the other hand it's harder to get a job as you age
Any ideas ?

Sorin

 
Marcel Wentink
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Sorin Alexandru wrote:So you think that above 40 is harder to get a job ?



According to older programmers I know, very much so. That does not necesarrily mean that you cannot find a job at all and that there are no older programmers, but yes, quite a bit harder. There are a few things to do: specialize in some domain, specialize in some technique, try to get into project management, and keep your knowledge up to date compared with the new kids. And meanwhile do not get RSI. Nevertheless you have an easier job if you had studied something else then computer science, like laws or medicine. Well no use to keep on wining about it, it is as it is.

 
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Anyone who claims that age discrimination doesn't exist is either lying or just hasn't experienced it yet. It's almost impossible to prove during the hiring process, but it's very evident to the person on the receiving end.

It can be difficult to find companies that value experience and are willing to pay for it.

As one of those "older" developers at 51, I know. It's really really important to make sure that you've got a strong resume and some good "cred" under your belt. For me, writing books on modern technologies, and carefully picking jobs that keep me working in desirable technologies, has given me that cred. Otherwise, they just assume you're a doddering old COBOL programmer.
 
arulk pillai
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Bear Bibeault wrote:Anyone who claims that age discrimination doesn't exist is either lying or just hasn't experienced it yet. It's almost impossible to prove during the hiring process, but it's very evident to the person on the receiving end.

It can be difficult to find companies that value experience and are willing to pay for it.

As one of those "older" developers at 51, I know. It's really really important to make sure that you've got a strong resume and some good "cred" under your belt. For me, writing books on modern technologies, and carefully picking jobs that keep me working in desirable technologies, has given me that cred. Otherwise, they just assume you're a doddering old COBOL programmer.




Very true Bear. I think older programmers really have to standout to differentiate them from the younger ones. Networking (Who you know) can also play a part in addition to "What you know -- keeping the skills current and relevant" and "Who you are -- accomplished professional, author, etc".

From my observation, IT life cycle is quite different from other vocations like Engineering, Medicine, etc. You reach your peak in terms of earnings pretty quickly (28+) and start to stagnate for a long period and expire early . In Engineering, it takes a while to peak (35+ ). Most Engineers and doctors earn less than IT professionals in the first 3-5 years.
 
Marcel Wentink
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Another thing is that when you are older and have a familly you, at least I, do not have much desire to engage in company outings et cetera. I am a single father, I have an adolecent daughter, and kids that age just consume time. I do not want to go with the team mates to a drink in a bar every friday, I have stuff to do at home. Now some managers really cannot appreciate that. The latter job I had before my present, my manager was almost judging me on my present in outings and stuff. When I tried to tell him I had more things to do in my life then work, he responded by saying that that's why we have these social activities. When I told him I was a single dad and my daughter just takes my time now and then, he responded like he expected she had some terminal disease or something. I really disliked that man! Now the problem is, if you want a more management role, you have to drink with and slime up with the management just during these activities. If you don't show up, they, well some of them at the least, cannot imagine you have a bizzy life outsite their company. You do not show up, 'it just must be, everybody loves the outings of my unique company', because you have no social skills or something. Frustrating. I left that company after several discussion where the manager just had 'a piece of wood in front of his face', or how to say that in English.

 
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