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Which age makes an IT professional old?

Rogerio Kioshi
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Joined: Apr 12, 2005
Posts: 689
Hi,

I'd like to know if it exists an age when you can consider an IT professional old.
I mean, an age when you send your resumé and you are not called anymore by the companies.
Does it exist?


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Jeanne Boyarsky
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Joined: May 26, 2003
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156

Probably. I know my father had this problem. (he wasn't a programmer, but was in IT)

I don't know that there is a specific age. And it probably depends on what you do too. I have no doubt Bear gets called for interviews being an author and really good tecie and all.


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Jacquie Barker
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Joined: Dec 20, 2000
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One's chronological age doesn't matter -- what does matter is one's skills and one's enthusiasm!

There are ways to de-emphasize age on a resume -- for example, leave off some of the earlier jobs you've held; list your degrees, but omit the years in which you obtained them; etc.

I'm[/color] 53 [color=blue]and going strong as a techie!

Cheers,

Jacquie


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Vyas Sanzgiri
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Joined: Jun 16, 2007
Posts: 686

well..that is if they dont see you in person!


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Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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  67

Age discrimination is alive and well in IT. It's easy to detect when it's happening, but impossible to prove.

I don't think there's a particular age, but all too many employers think that they can get a bargain by hiring more junior (read: cheaper) employees for positions and responsibilities that require experience.

Luckily, I've been able to locate companies that are looking for experience over "value", but it does become more difficult.

And thanks for the vote of confidence Jeanne! Yeah, the big-name companies have called (Google, Amazon, YouTube, etc) but I'm not in a position to move to the left coast.

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arulk pillai
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Joined: May 31, 2007
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One's chronological age doesn't matter -- what does matter is one's skills and one's enthusiasm!


and networking.


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Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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  67

P.S. I'm 52
Vyas Sanzgiri
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Joined: Jun 16, 2007
Posts: 686

Bear Bibeault wrote:

I don't think there's a particular age, but all too many employers think that they can get a bargain by hiring more junior (read: cheaper) employees for positions and responsibilities that require experience.



Very much alive in my company. Experience person is replaced with junior
Nikes Shah
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Joined: Jul 18, 2007
Posts: 133
As our age increases we start taking new responsibilities and challenges.
So depending on age and skills we are eligible for opportunities.
Burk Hufnagel
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Joined: Oct 01, 2001
Posts: 814
    
    3
Rogerio Kioshi wrote:Hi,

I'd like to know if it exists an age when you can consider an IT professional old.
I mean, an age when you send your resumé and you are not called anymore by the companies.
Does it exist?


I think that it varies depending on what you are doing and whether you're keeping up with what's going on in the industry. When looking for Java developers, you could be 25 and if you haven't used anything newer than Java 1.2, never learned about Generics, or EJB/Hibernate, etc. you probably won't get called. Not because you are too old, but because your skills are.

Burk


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Vyas Sanzgiri
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Joined: Jun 16, 2007
Posts: 686

Burk Hufnagel wrote:
I think that it varies depending on what you are doing and whether you're keeping up with what's going on in the industry. When looking for Java developers, you could be 25 and if you haven't used anything newer than Java 1.2, never learned about Generics, or EJB/Hibernate, etc. you probably won't get called. Not because you are too old, but because your skills are.

Burk


I think they are not talking about technology but pure age. I understand that even the so called "old ppl" are active and good learners. Sometimes age brings other issues like experience and pay-scale which might not be in the best interest of a company
Burk Hufnagel
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Vyas Sanzgiri wrote:I think they are not talking about technology but pure age. I understand that even the so called "old ppl" are active and good learners. Sometimes age brings other issues like experience and pay-scale which might not be in the best interest of a company


Why hire someone with experience and have to pay more to do it, when you can hire twice as many newbies with no practical experience at half the cost. Is that what you're saying? Really?

How is that in the best interest of any company?
Vyas Sanzgiri
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Joined: Jun 16, 2007
Posts: 686

That is the practice following in the 3-4 companies I have worked. It all depends on the manager and my managers have been very smart to train juniors and get the best out of them.

Let us not take the topic out of context.
Burk Hufnagel
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Joined: Oct 01, 2001
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    3
Vyas Sanzgiri wrote:That is the practice following in the 3-4 companies I have worked. It all depends on the manager and my managers have been very smart to train juniors and get the best out of them.

Let us not take the topic out of context.


Vyas,
I understand that it happens, and I'd like to believe that businesses have a good reason for it. You said that "sometimes age brings other issues like experience and pay-scale which might not be in the best interest of a company" and I was asking what you meant by "best interest". Your reply dodges the question and then tries to change the subject.

So I ask again, what do you mean by best interest? I'd like to understand your position.

Burk
chris webster
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Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1772
    
  14

Well, I'd like to agree with all those who emphasise the importance of skills/experience over age, but I'm not sure that's how things really work, at least not from what I've seen.

Here in the UK, until recently, it was routine to see job adverts written in ways that made it clear they were only interested in younger (=cheaper) staff, usually under 30 - phrases like "up to 5 years' experience", "young, dynamic team" etc tended to be used as code for "nobody over 30". Talking to recruiters, it is often obvious that they often regard "older" workers as unemployable, regardless of skills. This is slightly less blatant now, thanks to recent legislation to try to prevent ageism, but the same attitudes are still all too prevalant among recruiters and even some employers.

In the current market many people are finding that their career in technical roles may be over after just 10-15 years. It's kind of like dogs - you have to measure our age in "Programmer Years" because our professional lives are so much shorter than the human norm!


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Burk Hufnagel
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chris webster wrote:In the current market many people are finding that their career in technical roles may be over after just 10-15 years. It's kind of like dogs - you have to measure our age in "Programmer Years" because our professional lives are so much shorter than the human norm!

Chris,
What are developers there doing after they pass the 10-15 year mark? Are they moving to a different career or finding other ways to stay in the tech industry? Over here, I know developers who have moved into QC (they're good at it because they've got a good feeling for the kind of places that are most likely to break) and into management. Some developers look at becoming software architects because they've got a wide background in tech and want to stay involved in the creative side of the business.
Burk
chris webster
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Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1772
    
  14


What are developers there doing after they pass the 10-15 year mark?


Hi Burk,

Well, I'm still hanging on in the development trenches at the age of 46, despite long periods out of work in recent years, and I'm keen to continue in technical roles.

My impression is that some experienced IT workers have done the things you mention - getting into testing or project management, but others have left or been forced out of the industry through a combination of factors: ageism, economic downturn, lack of investment in career development, massive outsourcing/offshoring of development roles, the increasing stranglehold on the industry of a small group of major consultancies who push most of their development work offshore, the dominance of the financial services sector in the UK which has been severely damaged in the current recession, the relative absence of an energetic and innovative IT-based technology "ecosystem" in the UK (unlike the USA for example), and so on. Some of these people have gone into careers like teaching, or trained as electricians, plumbers etc. Others have probably found themselves unable to break back into professional roles and are working in low-wage/low-skill jobs instead.

Personally, I really enjoy development and I'm good at it, whereas I probably don't have the people skills for management roles. I'd rather be a good developer than a poor project manager, and in any case, there are only so many PM jobs around, as you don't need so many managers on most projects (unless you're working for the government of course!). And I'm fairly cynical about the real value of some of the "architects" and "designers" I've encountered on recent projects, as I'm old enough to remember being able to produce working systems without so many inflated job titles clogging the development process. Maybe it's precisely this sometimes sceptical perspective of experienced IT workers, who've seen several waves of IT fashions come and go, that many employers/recruiters prefer to exclude from their recruitment!

As for me, I'm hoping to keep extending and updating my skills enough to stay ahead of the curve for a while longer, or maybe move into testing (which requires its own skillset of course). But to be honest, regardless of technical skills or breadth of experience, I see little future for older workers like me in development roles in the UK IT industry. And given the loss of so many entry-level roles that have gone offshore, and the general instability and poor long term career prospects, I certainly wouldn't advise any young person to get into IT in the UK these days.

I guess this sounds kind of downbeat, and I'm sure other UK-based developers may have very different experiences. But in an industry so dominated by hype and rapidly changing fashions, I think it's important to be honest about some of the downsides.

Cheers,
Chris
Burk Hufnagel
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Posts: 814
    
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Chris,
Ouch. That soundes kind of bleak.

Have you considered something like writing or speaking at conferences as a way of taking what you've learned and passing it on to the generations of developers following you? I've seen a number of people, including Jacquie now, who have spent a good bit of time in the industry and are using their experiences as a source for writing or speaking on the topic.

And, there's always the possibility of creating your own company with some friends and writing a killer app on your own...

Burk
chris webster
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Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1772
    
  14

Burk Hufnagel wrote:Chris,
Ouch. That soundes kind of bleak.

Have you considered something like writing or speaking at conferences as a way of taking what you've learned and passing it on to the generations of developers following you?
Burk


Not sure if there's a market for my brand of "bleak"!

But if people are interested, here's another great book on how to keep your career in IT going:

The Career Programmer by Chris Duncan

Now, back to that killer app....
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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  67

Anyone who claims that age discrimination doesn't exist just hasn't experienced it yet.
arulk pillai
Author
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Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3223
Could not agree more with you.
Burk Hufnagel
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Joined: Oct 01, 2001
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    3
I don't disagree, I'm just trying focus on how to get around it, minimize the impact, or find some way to avoid it - other than dying before I get much older.

Burk Hufnagel
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Joined: Oct 01, 2001
Posts: 814
    
    3
Here's an interesting article on programmers and aging: http://improvingsoftware.com/2009/05/19/programmers-before-you-turn-40-get-a-plan-b/
Vyas Sanzgiri
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Joined: Jun 16, 2007
Posts: 686

Bear Bibeault wrote:Anyone who claims that age discrimination doesn't exist just hasn't experienced it yet.


Absolutely. They will realize as they get "old"
Sheila Deskins
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Joined: Oct 26, 2009
Posts: 2
You become 'old' we you get stuck working on trailing edge technology.


Girls just want to have fun.
Jacquie Barker
author
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Joined: Dec 20, 2000
Posts: 201
Sheila Deskins wrote:You become 'old' we you get stuck working on trailing edge technology.


As I discuss in "Tidal Wave," even if you fear that you've fallen so far behind on the technology curve that you'll never catch up, you can! I am a perfect example: I went from being a hands-off manager whose IT skills were very stale to being a proficient Java developer. However, it's not unlike going from being a couch potato back to being an athlete: you have to sincerely want to do it. ;o)

Regards,

Jacquie
Leandro Coutinho
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Joined: Mar 04, 2009
Posts: 417
Ivar Jacobson has 70 years old and he still is active. =)
Burk Hufnagel
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    3
Leandro Coutinho wrote:Ivar Jacobson has 70 years old and he still is active. =)


He's a great example, but how I think it's reasonable to consider him an exception. Do you know if he's employed by a company, or is he self-employed? That may make a difference too.
arulk pillai
Author
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Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3223
Yes, there are some super star and high profile professionals who don't fall into this category. But, everyone can get closer to that through

1. Being good at what you do. Good technical skills complemented with right soft skills.
2. Building up your online persona.
3. Networking.
4. Improving your ability to market your experience, skills, abilities, etc.
5. Keeping your skills current and marketable.
6. Improving your job hunting skills.
7. There will be more ideas on Jacquie's book
zhang guoqiang
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 20, 2009
Posts: 4
In my country,some people think IT is only for young man,many company often said they want to get people between 25 to 35 in their employment. I think it's depend on yourself.
If somebody can improve his skills,he can do it.
Eric Bank
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 27, 2009
Posts: 4
I am absolutely ancient at 58, yet am enrolled in a Software Engineering MS program. While I always prefer programming to other jobs, I'm afraid that it is almost impossible for older individuals to land full-time jobs as programmers. A better route seems to be consulting, especially if you have a heavy technical skill in demand. Also, if you have worked in a particular industry, business analysis and/or systems analysis can be a good segue. Another key is the ability to relocate - if you are serious about working, you may have to move on short notice, and so you may not want to own your home. Wish I had sold mine 2 years ago! javascript:emoticon(''); Finally, if you have decent management skills, you should be thinking about project manager positions, where experience can be a positive.

I have lived through other boom and bust cycles, and its not surprising that employers are so picky right now. When, and if, unemployment drops below 8%, I think you'll see a somewhat more flexible attitude on the part of employers. Till then, flexibility and continuing education are the watchwords.
Joshua Mccartney
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Joined: Apr 25, 2012
Posts: 26
I don't think so. For me 50 above because they have some problems when it comes to their eyes and ears. They will have a poor eyesight because of the radiation coming from the computer.


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chris webster
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  14

Joshua Mccartney wrote:I don't think so. For me 50 above because they have some problems when it comes to their eyes and ears. They will have a poor eyesight because of the radiation coming from the computer.

I hope you're kidding there, Joshua!

Look around your office and count how many of your colleagues - of any age - already wear glasses. Thankfully the average IT professional no longer has to hunt across the sweeping plains of the Serengheti for his/her lunch, or be able to spot predators a mile off, so I reckon we old timers are probably OK even if we do need a different prescription in our glasses....

As for hearing, given how many of my younger colleagues spend all day with earphones blasting their Young Person's Music into their brains, I reckon they'll be going deaf before I do. I dunno. Young people today....

Actually, the biggest problem for old timers is probably reduced tolerance for all the BS that dominates so many workplaces (and I'd include ageism as "BS", same as any other dumb prejudice). After you've seen every mistake made a hundred times (and made plenty of them yourself), it can be hard to watch those same mistakes being made again, over and over...

Now, let me tell you about how we used to use punched cards for programming in the Olden Tymes....

Campbell Ritchie
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  28
chris webster wrote: . . . reduced tolerance for all the BS . . .
You mean those of us over the age of 18 can actually recognise BS when it is flung around! It is more a case of higher tolerance of rubbish in the young, surely.
Vishal Hegde
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Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Probably. I know my father had this problem. (he wasn't a programmer, but was in IT)



Programmers are not from IT?


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Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
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Vishal Hegde wrote:
Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Probably. I know my father had this problem. (he wasn't a programmer, but was in IT)



Programmers are not from IT?

Parsing error? IT (information technology) has a lot of professions - programming, networking, database, quality assurance, etc.
Luke Kolin
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Joined: Sep 04, 2002
Posts: 336
Vishal Hegde wrote:Programmers are not from IT?


Let me throw out an idea - it depends.

I'm starting to see more places where "IT" is considered more an internal function of keeping servers, development systems etc up and excluding software development processes not directly related to the former. For a company that creates software as its core business, software development is not part of IT but a separate group.

Cheers!

Luke
Bear Bibeault
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Joshua Mccartney wrote:I don't think so. For me 50 above because they have some problems when it comes to their eyes and ears. They will have a poor eyesight because of the radiation coming from the computer.

This is one of the silliest things I've seen posted in a long time. I'm almost 55. I have poor eyesight and even poorer hearing. Are you saying all my experience is irrelevant because of these mild disabilities? Really?

And I can assure you that my poor eyesight is not a factor of "radiation coming from the computer".
Jan de Boer
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    1
Jacquie Barker wrote:matter is one's skills and one's enthusiasm!




Skills yes, but enthusiasm? Why do we always have to be 'happy happy happy' according to the managers? I know you do not have to be in such a bad negative mood that it influences your environment, but this obliged enthusiasm always. What if you do the same quality and amount of work, but just do not have a painted smile on your face, 24 by 7? I know that it works for pleasing managers, yes, but I am a bit sick of it. Five years ago I had such a manager: always over enthusiastic 'stimulating' me. I smiled back but was only irritated.
chris webster
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  14

Jan de Boer wrote:Skills yes, but enthusiasm? Why do we always have to be 'happy happy happy' according to the managers?


I think this may be partly a cultural issue e.g. we grumpy/cynical Europeans are generally less inclined to believe in the benefits of a relentlessly positive attitude than some of our colleagues across the Atlantic, but these days our management cultures are often strongly influenced by fashions originating in the USA. Anyway, it's generally more fun to work in an environment that allows/encourages people to take some pleasure in their work, so long as this doesn't simply become another source of pressure on the employee. You can have fun at work doing your job well in a positive and supportive environment, although I have to say such environments are less common than we might wish.

Interestingly, I remember reading recently about some research that found sceptical attitudes can be helpful in preventing people from under-estimating potential problems - and in our industry there is so much techno-hype and marketing BS that this is probably very relevant. Of course, you don't want to go too far the other way, or you'll never achieve anything and everybody will feel they are wasting their lives in miserable futility. Actually, I've worked on some "death march projects" that were exactly like that, but that's another story...

As for "enthusiasm", I think you can be enthusiastic in wanting to do a job well and apply your skills creatively and intelligently, without having a perma-grin plastered across your face 24-7. But then I'm a cynical European and I work to live, not the other way around, so what do I know?
 
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