The not-so-secret dirty little secret.

Guess what? Tech companies don’t want to hire older people. Surprised?

I’m not.

An article today by Vivek Wadhwa revisits the idea:

They don’t prepare you for this in college or admit it in job interviews. The harsh reality is that if you are middle-aged, write computer code for a living, and earn a six-figure salary, you’re headed for the unemployment lines. Your market value declines as you age and it becomes harder and harder to get a job.

I know this post will provoke anger, outrage, and denial. But, sadly, this is the way things are in the tech world. It’s an “up or out” profession — like the military. And it’s as competitive as professional sports. Engineers need to be prepared.

I detest the word “revisit”, but in this case it makes good sense; this is certainly not a new topic – it’s discussed here and Google provides many more. But it is one that does need to be aired out.

Full disclosure: I’m 52 so I would clearly be affected by this. Yes, many older tech employees may have let the skills get old, and may not be easily employable in today’s world. But that’s not me. I stay on the bleeding edge of tech; if it’s happening I’m doing it. I was building Facebook apps before you probably heard of Facebook. I’ve been building mobile apps since before most people knew what a smartphone was.

And I’m certainly not the only person my age – or older – who is doing that. And I, like many others, don’t sleep that much and have no problem working around the clock on a project. I’m building a startup right now with a couple of partners. The iPhone app is almost complete, done in a very short time, and I’m now looking at the Android build. And that is only one of the may things I’m working on.

In my case, in addition to writing code, I’ve done sales, marketing, support, and I’m a fairly competent writer as well. Feel free to Google me and read some of my magazine articles or other writing. And I’ve been through all kinds of customer situations over 30 years or so, and I bring that experience as well.

If companies are looking to save money then, yes, hiring a young inexperienced engineer will achieve that goal. And they’ll make a bunch of mistakes learning what we already know, but they will get the job done. And once you train them, they’ll leave you for another company for more money and you’ll start all over again.

It just seems odd to me that you wouldn’t want to benefit from experience. That nobody seems to ascribe a value to all that was learned.

It’s ok though. The companies that I work with do benefit from the experience I bring, coupled with my constant need to learn new stuff. Some people, regardless of age, never lose that desire.

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  1. Pingback: Maturity is underrated.

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