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Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry 370

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-off-my-lawn dept.
Presto Vivace writes: Fortune has an article about increasingly overt age discrimination in the tech industry. Quoting: "It's a widely accepted reality within the technology industry that youth rules. But at least part of the extreme age imbalance can be traced back to advertisements for open positions that government regulators say may illegally discriminate against older applicants. Many tech companies post openings exclusively for new or recent college graduates, a pool of candidates that is overwhelmingly in its early twenties. ... 'In our view, it's illegal,' Raymond Peeler, senior attorney advisor at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces workplace discrimination laws said about the use of 'new grad' and 'recent grad' in job notices. 'We think it deters older applicants from applying.'" Am I the only one who thinks many of the quality control issues and failed projects in the tech industry can be attributed to age discrimination?
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Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:25AM (#47292153)

    Older people have families, they come first. The young have very little in the way of responsibilities and have yet to learn their many extra hours working for someone else count for very little at the end of the day.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:49AM (#47292195)

      What? Group X deserves Y for any reason Z? How about: 'Fratboys with Ferraris have car manufacturers and dealers, they come first. All those people and jobs depending on them.'

      Nobody deserves anything, particularly not for the responsibilities they chose (hopefully) to make. The only person who "deserves" the job is the most capable person for it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @06:24AM (#47292271)

        In reality, neither - older people or the best for the job - get the job. Because if it were the most capable for the job, then new college grads would never get hired, would they?

        It takes a couple of years experience to become good and productive.

        The truth of the hiring in tech is that its capricious and based on fads - firms are lemmings.

        Some big currently successful corp starts basing its hiring on some metric someone pulls out of their ass, and then everyone does it in the hopes of aping the success of that firm.

        Google and Microsoft has fucked up hiring for everyone with their idiotic interview questions that they ended up getting rid of anyway [newyorker.com].

        See, the fact is companies have no clue how to get the best. They make metrics up, buy cute tests, hire consultants with their Ouija boards or whatever, and follow what currently successful companies are doing - who are also pulling shit out of their asses.

        The best way to hire? Get a development manager with a long contact list in his smart phone and have him start calling people he knows can deliver and throw money at them.

        Never fails.

        If you or your company can't get "qualified people", it's because YOU suck - pay too low, having HR recruit or just being lemmings and following the herd on how to hire.

        • by sdinfoserv (1793266) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @12:21PM (#47293463) Homepage
          100% accurate. I used to work at a company that had horrible time recruiting tech positions. The pay offered was 1/2 the going rate in the city. The company literally only wanted to hire interns and retain them for $15/hr or less after graduation. Of course word gets out and eventually nobody applies so we started distance recruiting. There was one instance where an individual applied who was (imho) clearly incapable yet HR wanted to 'fill the position' - a win for HR, complained to the VP that I wouldn't hire what they were delivering and it was an unspoken 'forced hire'... I left immediately, and the tool they hired lasted 6 months.
    • by overshoot (39700) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @07:16AM (#47292367)

      Older people have families, they come first.

      Interesting definition of "older." Rather revealing, in fact, that your horizon only extends to those of us with kids at home.

      Leaving aside the fact that not all of us ever had kids, the most discriminated-against group are those whose children have moved out. Who, unlike 20-somethings, don't spend their off-duty time trying to get families. Oh, yeah -- that.

    • by gatkinso (15975) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @07:47AM (#47292425)

      What you say is true. I have left work either on time or sometimes early to take care of my kids.

      But my younger colleagues often times show up late (or not at all) with hangovers, my piss will test 100% clean and many of theirs will not, and I spend my time at wok actually working as opposed to a lot of socializing and what not.

      So choose your poison.

    • by AchilleTalon (540925) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @10:31AM (#47292955) Homepage
      Very strange reasoning. Since I am one of these older people, I never had so much time to throw at my job. My kids are all working or completing graduate studies. You know, normally, you are young enough to reproduce when you have kids. I mean, usually the mother is less than 35 years old. It is very likely a newly hired young engineer will eventually have family and suddenly shorter nights and all that things which are well beyond for the older ones. Sad to say for you young guys, life doesn't end after 45.
  • by aepervius (535155) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:39AM (#47292179)
    They go hiring for unexperimented people. I saw a lot of project sink and get stopped, or cost far more than they should have at compeltion, because the "young" devs have no experience, suffer the NIH syndrom, get enthiusiastic doing new stuff rather than limit themselves to what should be done, if you got for service layer concept screw it up, costing you time to refactor.

    So yeah. Go ahead. Hire only youth. And lose money.
  • by Viol8 (599362) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:40AM (#47292181)

    ... I've encountered a tiny bit of what seemed like discrimination but then its hard to tell. Perhaps I just was just being a bit precious about it.

    But what I do know is its horses for courses - younger people are (generally) better at thinking up new ideas/paradigms and novel ways to do things , older people are (generally) better at the detailed implementation of a system as they'll have encountered a lot if not most of the problems before and have X number of years experience

    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:51AM (#47292201) Homepage Journal

      It really is best to have a mix of young and old. Youngsters come up with the new ideas, older people kick those ideas around, turn them upside down, examine them for flaws, toss them back to the kids. The kids then modify, improve, or even flush the idea down the toilet.

      I've never had a job in which youth and experience weren't both valuable.

      The manager who dismisses either youth, or experience, is setting himself up for failure.

      • by tigersha (151319)

        In my job the young one is arrogant, stuck in his ways. All his life sat in mom's basement hacking in C, and used to claim that he refused to program in C++ because it is too high-level for him.

        Now, because of management decree, he is in a Rails job. His first words when reporting was "I have never really developed in OO languages before". Hates Windows. Hates Adobe. Hates any Linux other than Gentoo. Hates PDF files (in the publishing industry). Hates mobile devices (but does web dev). Hates Wireless LAN.

        P

        • Sure there are extreme case but there are also young people that think if it's not built in JS and no SQL then it's lame old man's code. These guys usually grow up to be that old guy so that problem can be reduced by not hiring the young guy with his hipster blinders on.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Sunday June 22, 2014 @06:18AM (#47292257) Homepage

      It has nothing to do with the relative merits of experience or fresh ideas, it's just about wages. Older people demand higher wages to pay for their mortgages and families. Younger people will work stupid ours on unpaid overtime because they want to get to the same position as the older ones.

      Most companies don't value experience or things like code quality and architectural elegance. They just want some crapware churned out at the lowest possible cost.

      • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Sunday June 22, 2014 @07:53AM (#47292429) Homepage

        While wages I am sure do play a factor, as former a hiring manager I can tell you the GP is 100% correct. Older and younger programmers both have their pros and cons. Younger programmers are nearly always more up to date on the latest technologies and trends and have an innate ability to "churn out" fairly good quality code at a lightning fast rate. However, they are nearly always inexperienced compared to their more seasoned peers, and make a lot of what I would call "elementary mistakes" when it comes to architecture. They also have a tendency to *always* want to use the latest and greatest tech instead of the tried and true, which is not always a good thing.

        Older workers have the opposite pros and cons. They tend to take a bit longer to finish a project, but that project is usually of higher quality and better architecture because they have been around the block and know how to code for the long term. They also like to stick with the tried and true technology because they know it, and it works.

        Ideal teams have a healthy mix of both young fresh employees and older seasoned ones. A good manager knows how to create this team and get them to work together to bring out the best of the young and old, and how to get the seasoned professionals to help teach the young employees about enterprise architecture, while the young employees can help keep the older employees fresh and up to date on the latest technology trends.

      • all you said is true.

        it about wages, its about control, its about abuse, its about telling the kids to work longer and knowing they won't refuse.

        its never been about quality. the industry wants speed now, they don't care about quality.

        you can tell who is being honest and who is not. its like the openoffice concept; ceo's and hr's are saying that its 'to attract younger players' but in fact, its about cramming more people into the same space (saving money) and being able to 'watch' and micromanage them. i

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Ãyounger people are (generally) better at thinking up new ideas/paradigms and novel ways to do thingsÃ(TM)

      That hasn't been my experience. Sure, young people throw out lots of ideas, but most of those are bad ideas. If you need good ideas, you're better off hiring someone with a bit more experience and world wisdom.

      But the real reasons tech companies prefer young people haven't got anything to do with competence anyway. 1) Young people are cheaper. 2) Young people are more easily pressured into wor

      • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Sunday June 22, 2014 @07:58AM (#47292445)

        I'm young-ish (~30) myself and have also not seen a discernible creativity/novelty advantage among younger people. Among people I've worked with there's no clear trend with people in their 20s being more creative and coming up with more good new ideas than people in their 50s. A lot of great stuff comes from people who have enough background to actually spot an opportunity for innovation.

        You can see that even at big tech companies. New ideas coming out of Google largely come from their older staff. There are a ton of 20-somethings at Google, but the major projects tend to come from people like Rob Pike (age 58), Peter Norvig (58), Ken Thompson (age 71), Lars Bak (age 49), etc.

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @08:17AM (#47292495)

      "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience" -- Ronald Reagan

    • by mvdwege (243851)

      younger people are (generally) better at thinking up new ideas/paradigms and novel ways to do things

      As a guy with some experience, all I hear is "younger people blindly follow the newest fads". As it turns out, there have been very little new ideas in IT, and most of the New! Improved! ways promoted these days are merely restatements of old ideas, or old ideas that got discarded for being unpractical.

      But in an industry with an institutional memory of barely a decade, that sounds like innovation. And it's se

      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        Realize that the book Design Patterns [wikipedia.org] was published in '94. At that time I had been working for 7 years, and a lot of people in the software industry more than that.

        Before the publishing of that book design patterns were re-invented and modeled in a lot of esoteric ways, some bad, some good. ( Hopefully the good ones went into that book! :) ) And the design patterns did vary a lot from company to company so just because you knew one set of patterns it wasn't done that way when you came to another company.

        Ev

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can see where the problems occur between ageism vs new people. I'm not going to reveal who I am for fear of backlash, but if you're going to be an unimaginative little shit who thinks learning stops when you graduate college, then you're going to end up with a dead end job or even worse... out of a job for those young kids people keep complaining about.

    Let me tell you something, I hit six figures ages ago and keep thinking to myself what my goals are in life. At first my goal was 100k, then 200, etc etc.

  • You want to hire people that are between 30 and 40.
    They usually are young enough to be dynamic but old enough to be sufficiently experimented.

  • By severely limiting the type of candidate they are willing to consider, the companies are limiting themselves to a very strict model that will not allow for "star performers" to do well in that company. They will be limited to quickly going through new hires and only keeping the mediocre ones. The bad ones get fired and the good ones move on to greener pastures. This will make the whole group perform below average and recruiting costs will remain high. I don't see a need to regulate this, since the job mar
  • Am I the only one who thinks many of the quality control issues and failed projects in the tech industry can be attributed to age discrimination?

    I think those problems are due to poor management, but it could be said that filling a workplace exclusively with inexperienced people is a sign of poor management in itself. That can be seen especially where there is non-technical management and nobody with enough skills to advise them to put resources into quality checking or other items that are not immediately

  • I'm 63, I still work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hughbar (579555) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @06:44AM (#47292315) Homepage
    This seems to come up a great deal here.

    I'm from the UK which is probably [slightly] less dog-eat-dog than the USA also, I mainly work in a niche, [Perl] and I do contract work rather than permanent.

    However I'm still working about as much as I want. I blew an interview recently, but I'm OK with that, since I performed pretty badly in it. I try and keep up and still enjoy computers and computing. So for my younger friends, and they are nearly all younger now:
    • - It helps to enjoy computing, not be in it 'just' for the [increasing illusory] big money
    • - Flexibility helps, the UK has a smaller square area than the US though
    • - Soft skills help, I'm a pretty medium programmer but an approachable person
    • - Niche skills often make a difference, everyone [except me] is an 'OK' Java person, for example
    • - It helps to look ahead to up-curve trends [as long as not hypeware], I learnt a lot of Javascript/Jquery quite 'early' for example
    • - The soft skills will help with the next job too, many of my 'new' contracts involve people I know somewhat, at least

    That's my 2c of a euro, the html is badly formatted, but hey it's almost time for Sunday lunch.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @09:03AM (#47292637)

      The biggest problem I notice with older tech workers (IT in my case) is lack of flexibility and lack of knowledge of how things are done currently. I work for a university so we have a good mix of ages. We have student workers that are 18-22ish, we have staff that are in their 20s, 30s (I'm 34), 40s, 50s, 60, and even 70s. We have pretty good employment stability, being a state institution.

      Now you see good and bad workers in all age groups. It isn't like all the young people are good (we get some dopey students sometimes) and the old people are bad. However what I notice is that when an older employee is not as good as they should be, it is often related to being behind the times.

      We have a guy who's retiring, thankfully, that is like that. He's a good guy and he's not an idiot, but he's real stuck in his ways, and his ways are about 20 years out of date. He does not deal with new technology and methods very well. He wants to do everything how he did it in the 80s-90s, which just doesn't work so well now. I imagine he would have real trouble finding another job if he tried because of that.

      So staying up to date on new trends is a really valuable thing. Doesn't mean you need to jump in to everything with both feet right away, but be up on what is happening, and learn it/use it if it is in demand. If you have the attitude of "this is the way we've always done it and there's no reason to change," then it won't be surprising if you can't find many positions.

  • by rcharbon (123915) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @06:47AM (#47292321) Homepage
    ...it's about pay scales - employers figure recent grads will work for less.
  • Wheres my walker? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QA (146189) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @07:22AM (#47292375)

    Full disclosure: I am 56 years old.

    I've found over the years that a lot of smaller, family owned or privately run businesses will hire older personnel for the experience factor alone. Granted, I'm a Sysadmin, not a programmer.

    The larger companies are shackled by company policy (written or unwritten) HR, fixed pay scales and so on. I do believe money comes in to play as younger can mean considerably cheaper, but if that person takes 3X longer to accomplish the task, how much are you really saving in the long run?

    The company I've worked for the last 8 years has 50 employees, 11 servers, 65 workstations, laptops, phones, tablets, and so on. I'm also involved in special projects which I have time for because all our systems run smoothly. I can take time off without fear of something bad happening, barring hardware failure or user stupidity.

    I tried hiring an assistant, but didn't have much luck. Anyone who could actually help me, and was knowledgeable were few and far between. I got lots of kids who "played with computers" but had no clue on AD, Domains, and so on. I was willing to pay 50k to start by the way.

    Anyway, of course age discrimination exists, as does other forms of discrimination. It has simply moved below the surface whereas previously it was overt. I know many companies I have dealt with would hire me in an instant because they know my skill level, however I would have one Hell of a time on the open market at my age. I doubt I would make it past the HR drone.

    Pete

  • Am I the only one who thinks many of the quality control issues and failed projects in the tech industry can be attributed to age discrimination?

    So you follow up a story about age discrimination with a statement that is clearly discriminatory? lol

    I personally think there is a difference between people of different ages, and men and women for that matter. All this posturing trying to pretend the groups are the same is silly. In regards to old vrs young the laws may do some good though. I generally support the notion that Older tech workers 'don't know the new stuff' etc... but now I'm starting to think that may be the industries fault. If you only hi

  • But, as a 47-year-old Linux guy, with many different positions at companies large and small over the years, I've never *seen* it. Of course, anything I say is anecdotal; makes me wonder if some facet of my experience is keeping me from where it's practiced, e.g., I'm in the northeast; I'm a 100% Linux-head; I've been in senior positions for years, etc. Perhaps it's more prevalent in different locales, outside of the Linux community, or among mid/junior-grade positions?

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @07:45AM (#47292419)
    As someone with 45+ years of software experience I can personally verify that software development has not improved significantly over the last 25 years or so. The two most important changes are that there is much less assembly programming (outside of imbedded systems) and each hardware vendor does not have their own completely incompatible operating system. Most of the rest of the "improvements" are pretty much moot beyond that.

    OOP has never lived up to it's hype. No matter how "object oriented" a system is, it is still just as likely to be late and/or broken as in pre-OOP days. Development, maintenance and modification is not automatically better with OOP.

    The lessons of good language design might as well not exist. PHP is a cesspool of bad design and implementation. JavaScript, even though it has some nice features (closures) has an obscure object model that is difficult to understand and is a wreck just waiting to happen. (Any body can overwrite the basic implementation of built in functions. Really? ObjectHasOwnProperty. Really?) C++ finally got a reasonable memory management model after C++03 with RAII/smart pointers. What did that take, 30+ years? Python and Lua are reasonably good, but they seem to be niche players. Java isn't a programming language, it is a self contained universe. Like a black hole, once you go in you never come out. And even if it's OK now, the fact that Oracle in in charge means that it is like Middle Earth if Sauron won. (Yes. Ellison is that bad.)

    I can't be certain, but I strongly believe that one of the reason for the lack of progress is that there are not a lot of old programmers still in the profession. Unlike other engineering fields, say civil engineering, chemical engineering, etc careers tend to be short. There are not enough people around to say "we tried a version of that 15 year ago, and it had these pitfalls." The result is that the same mistakes keep getting made over and over again. This fits in with the observation that as a profession we have not improved much on estimating project requirements and being on time and on budget.

    That's one of the reasons I hate the term "Software Engineering". We are not real engineers because we can't deliver on time with predictable results and a predefined cost. It's not that this happens all the time in other engineering areas, it's just that it rarely happens with software.

    • by okoskimi (878708)

      Java isn't a programming language, it is a self contained universe. Like a black hole, once you go in you never come out. And even if it's OK now, the fact that Oracle in in charge means that it is like Middle Earth if Sauron won.

      Mod points! My (Minecraft) kingdom for mod points! Bravo, Sir. Bravo.

  • by gelfling (6534) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @08:01AM (#47292451) Homepage Journal

    This is the IT industry we're talking about. If we could hire illegal aliens with functional illiteracy in their OWN language let alone ours, we'd do it if we could get away with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They'll produce superior product, faster - Fact: Younger guys cost less & have LESS experience, thus will produce slower and inferior product.

    However - The REAL fact of the matter is payroll being easily controlled (since any business major can tell you that payroll is the single easiest cost-center to control, hence, why offshoring/outsourcing's so prevalent), just so mgt. can get more of a bonus in reality and so stockholders (with bogus common stock that yes, can vote (how many actually do?), but is

  • by mark_reh (2015546) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @08:09AM (#47292471) Journal

    HP, Fujitsu, and TI among others. When I turned 42 the pressure to move into marketing or management started. I was not interested in either, so I continued to do engineering. Then the layoffs started. With each layoff, the next job became harder to find and hold. After a couple years and three jobs/layoffs, I saw the writing on the wall and went back to school for 6 years.

    Now I am a dentist. My age and gray hair are appreciated as symbols of knowledge and experience by my patients (even though my experience doesn't match my appearance). Most of my patients thank me for the work I do, and I sleep well at night, secure in the knowledge that the work I did that day was valuable and helped someone to have a better life. This is the exact opposite of my engineering work- no thank yous, only the continual justifying of my job, fighting for vacation time, forget about the promised company-paid continuing education, and long hours of meaningless work on "important" projects that do things like let teen aged girls post selfies to Facebook.

    Now I work a 40 hour, 4 -day week, and never, ever take work home with me. I have two 3 day weekends per month and one 4 day weekend per month. That leaves me time to pursue my hobby- engineering, of course. Sure, there's some stress on the job, like when an extraction isn't going well, or when I have to work on little kids, but I am compensated for it and it is very short duration.

    Screw the high tech industry and the dopes who run it.

  • by gatkinso (15975) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @08:10AM (#47292475)

    Still on top of the coding game at my age. I went into management for about 5 years but that wasn't for me. I was good at it but I found it tedious and I find meetings to be insufferable.

    Will probably get out soon, have some other things I may want to pursue.

    It hasn't been easy: constantly learning new technology is becoming a PITA. The same old arguments with the youngsters: no - style doesn't matter as long as it is consistent, yes - this is the way we do it (was not even my second choice of style btw), no - we will not revamp the entire code base because you like tabs, thanks for an hour of useless back and forth.

    Also staying late at the end of sprints annoys the hell out of me... mainly because these late sprint spikes are rarely the result of my work (in fact, this has only happened once that I can recall and I told the rest of the team to go home while I fixed my own mess). So yeah, I am leaving now - to go see my kids not that it is any of your business as I don't question you when you show up late with a hangover... no, I am not going to stay late to fix your work yet again.

    But all of this is moot: the real issue is that I am not doing a better job than many devs with ~15 years of experience. But I probably make more money (not always tho! Some of these late 30's dev are making BANK). Being completely logical about the issue I would definitely get rid the higher pay guy first. It is that simple.

  • by overshoot (39700) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @08:11AM (#47292477)

    whatever it is that your developers are producing (other than warm chair seats) then you start talking like management: "Put X engineers on Project Y to get us to the Z man-months required within schedule."

    I'm retired now and have never worked for a middle or senior manager who has read Brooks. They live at the man-month metric, and base their hiring on the fact that you can get the man-months you need for less if you get them from fresh-out developers working from a remote site in Afghanistan.

    No joke. I've talked to the CEO of a $2B/year semiconductor company and that is precisely as deep as his plaanning goes.

  • Recently Google and Yahoo released their employee demographics. I found it quite interesting that they left out what the average ages were inside their companies. I can't help but wonder if it was left out by design.

  • I'm feeling this. I worked for Netscape back in the 90's. I'm considerig trimming that from my resume simply because it make me look too old-school. There is definite discrimination amongst up and coming companies. It's incredibly frustrating for me, a guy in his early 50's. I know a metric shit-ton of stuff, and especially the shortest path to get to the goal. Do I get hired, or even a reply on sending in a resume? No. My long work history stretching back to 1983 has me handcuffed.
    • Concentrate on your strong points. You've had experience since the 1980s? Maybe even in different companies in different fields? So you know how to talk with many different kinds of people from many different kinds of fields, you know their experiences, you know their expectations, you know their limitations. Not only from dealing with them but from BEING one of them. You know what they hope for, you know what they fear, you know what they would never tell you if you're their contractor. Because you WERE on

  • At some point, people have so much experience that they stop thinking and just start remembering the correct way to do things. Their minds become less processing centers and creative engines and more retrieval systems for past solutions.

    In some professions that's fine because things don't change in that profession and the remembered solution if things don't change is correct.

    However, in some businesses things change all the time and simply going to the remembered solution is counter productive.

    It is unfair

    • by BonThomme (239873)

      "At some point, people have so much experience that they stop thinking and just start remembering the correct way to do things."

      " we have older techs that we deal with all the time."

      I've found inflexibility to be a personality trait uncorrelated with age.

      • As have I, however it becomes less a personality quirk and more a reality of mental process as people grow old in my experience.

        Every discussion, every thought, everything becomes a retelling and a recalling of something in the past.

        I've seen old techs cling to databases they programmed in 1984. Systems so old they run in DOS... requiring them to be run in Windows XP... which I recently had to virtualize in VMware.

        This is one of the things I've been dealing with lately. I've tried to get my company to upgra

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @09:51AM (#47292789)

    I've had this issue myself here on /. a few times in the last 2-3 years.

    Here's my current take on it:
    People discriminate based on age, in any field or situation. That's simple psychology. You can tip the reactions in your favor, based on how you behave. I'm skinny, move a lot and wear a relatively up-to-date hipster / better-dressed nerd mix of clothing and my basic temper is sanguine, so people usually judge me roughly 6-8 years younger than I actually am. That does help me when trying to get a quick hire in the webshop next door, although that is getting more difficult in certain ways.
    In the field you're easier in for a cheap quick hire if you appear young and nimble. Emphasis on cheap and quick. Easy in, easy out, no hurt feelings on either side. At a first glance, getting such a gig is definitely more difficult if you have a deer-gut, are approaching your 50ies and looking it too.

    Then again, take that same deer gut 50ies body, dress it in a good suit and a well chosen shirt and tie combo, adjust your behavior and your speaking a little, perhaps take some training or stage classes, print some neat business cards with "Consultant" written on them and your salary instantly rises by 15K per year easily. Try that as a mid-twenties guy - it's going to be very difficult.
    This only starts to work in your favor once you've got wrinkles and gray hair to show. I call it the 'gray-hair-bonus'. You need one guy from that camp for every contract worth 100k and up. They are indispensable, especially if they can talk and have the decades of experience to back it up. I'm turning into that sort of guy and helping the transition with some extra 'finally-grow-up' efforts. It does magic to my rates. And it's simply that I look the age that make 50% of all that possible. I just have to get used to letting that fat student kid do the setup of the next server, even if he makes tons of mistakes ... after all, I'm there to help him out if he's in a jam. But forcing yourself to keep your hands off is a bit of a challenge, I do admit. :-)

    My 2 cents.

    • So if I dye my hair gray, would that be akin to "artificial competence"?

    • by laffer1 (701823)

      I've had age discrimination happen during interviews the other direction. I was told I looked too young at 21 and that clients wouldn't believe I had the skills. This was for a consulting company. I also had it happen with another company that was just simple web application programming.

  • Let's be honest here: Technological experience isn't that big an issue. Older people in IT don't know more about their technological crap than new graduates. Usually, at least. The technology moves so quickly that it doesn't really put you far ahead of your younger peers just 'cause you have 20 years more under your belt. 18 of those years are in technologies that don't matter.

    That's not your advantage if you're old. And you should not try to stress that in a job interview. It won't stick and (unless you're

    • by U8MyData (1281010)
      Well put and I shall put it to use. I am 40+ with 20 in the biz, have been unemployed for about a year, lost just about everything and am scratching my head. I think the title of this article is appropriate. It's all economics. There is nothing worse than seeing a manager with a smirk on his/her face low balling you simply because they can. Plus the external expectations that you will foot the expense to keep yourself up to date on technology is a bit much too. Which one, at what cost, and how far to
  • Google Interview (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tiger Smile (78220) <james@dornRABBITan.com minus herbivore> on Sunday June 22, 2014 @11:04AM (#47293105) Homepage

    I'm a normal looking guy, but older than most in the computer industry at ~46. I have some white hair, but otherwise look young for my age. During my Google interview it was clear that the people I was talking to were extremely surprised to meet me. I had to check to see if I had a potted plant on my head or a 3rd arm growing from my chest. I could tell it was the age that put them off. I did extremely well in the interview, but based on the reactions I got I did not expect to get the job, which I did not. No reason was given, but that is their normal policy.

    • by swillden (191260)

      I did not expect to get the job, which I did not.

      I should also mention that Google's interview process deliberately chooses to err on the side of rejecting qualified people in order to avoid hiring unqualified people. Since no one knows how to accurately discern between them, Google prefers to reject good people rather than risk hiring those who can't cut it. So the fact that you didn't get the offer doesn't mean you weren't qualified.

      It's generally accepted that if you took a successful Google engineer and ran him (or her, but it's usually him) through

  • I'm appalled by the fact that folks are somehow astonished by this. Older workers have much more experience and presumably wisdom. That may make them appear to be more difficult to manage and let's face it, no manager wants to have workers reporting to them with more experience. I don't care how good the management team is, if they know they feel threatened by experience they'll want it weeded out quickly rather than leveraging it.

    Older workers also have different salary requirements than say somebody ju

  • by DERoss (1919496) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @11:28AM (#47293245)

    When seeking employment, there are strategies that can be used to help defeat age discrimination.

    Remove the gray before an interview. Clairol and Clairol for Men (and other such products) can be your friend; alternatively, visit a good barber or hair salon. Pick a natural-looking color. Men should remember to color their beards and mustaches. This should be done several days in advance so that accidental coloring of adjacent skin can be washed away. DO NOT persist in coloring hair, however; this is suspected of increasing the risk of cancer. Do not wear false hair; it is too easily detected.

    When describing education, do not mention in what years your degrees were granted.

    When describing employment history, only go back 10 years.

    Do not mention spouse, children, and especially grand-children.

    Do not mention expertise in obsolete computer languages or hardware.

    If you are a victim of age discrimination, however, think very carefully about legal remedies even if you have solid proof. There is a U.S. Supreme Court justice who previously was the head of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While in that earlier post, he deliberately sat on over 20,000 age-discrimination complaints until the statute of limitations expired and prevented action. (Anita Hill was merely a side distraction.)

  • by Art3x (973401) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @03:33PM (#47294239)

    Years of experience, to me, is at least as important in programming as in any other field. Experience makes you better at your job, not just 25% better, several times better.

    Programming is designing. The hard things in programming are design choices, not learning some new syntax. Anyone can learn a language in a matter of weeks. But a designer can keep improving over the course of his whole life [paulgraham.com]. As Steve Jobs said, the difference between an average taxi driver and the best taxi driver in the world is maybe 10-30%. But between average software and the best, ten or a hundred times.

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