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Age discrimination is a pathetic excuse

> [no programmers over 40 find a job]

God, I can't tell you how angry this comment makes me every time I read it.    People who use that pathetic scapegoat of an excuse usually have outdated skills.  These are the same types of people who do nothing but blame everyone and everything else but themselves every time they are in a jam.  The bottom line, in this field, is that skills and work ethic talk. 

There is a reason SOME people over 40 can't find jobs.  SOME refuse to update their skills, SOME refuse to work overtime, SOME demand outrageous salaries, SOME don't open a technical manual on their own time for YEARS at  a time.  Yet they conveniently overlook all those facts when they can't find a job, and blame it on the fact that they have a few white hairs on their head.  Yea, thats it, the young 35 year old manager is jealous of you, or threatened by you.  Yea, you keep telling yourself that.  Look at the people who cry age discrimination.  Most are ADA or COBOL prorammers.  And of those who are not, well, there are loads of 25 year olds who can't find work either.  Understand when its overall market conditions and not age. 

Here is a simple test.  To anyone who claims to be discriminated agsinst due to age.  Were you unable to find work from 1996-2000?  If you were unemployed for those 5 years, then you MAY have a case, otherwise, your argument holds no water.  It's supply/demand, not age. 


Unless you have bleeding edge knowledge & experience and direct business area domain expertise, don't play the pathetic "age card" when you get rejected from a job., b/c chances are there is simply someone else who also interviewed who is harder working, more flexible more skilled, more current, more relevant, AND/OR lowest cost than you.  THAT is why you're don't get a job offer, and not your age. 

Like Occam says, the simplest explanation is usually the most accurate.

Bella
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

"Like Occam says, the simplest explanation is usually the most accurate."

You mean like the explanation that you're not really a developer and you just troll around here to get your adolescent kicks?

Tony Chang
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

When it was still allowed all job ads around here had age clauses in them in the style of "<35". This was partly in the period you referenced (1996-2000). I have been on hiring committees that rejected resumes based on age, regardless of the skills, just because the applicant would be more senior (age wise) than his direct manager. Bubble kiddy tech. managers can not cope with anyone over 5 years older than themselves.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

And I think you have to be over 40 to have any notion as to whether you're really discriminated on that basis or not.

As you've stated before that you're out of this trade, why are you bothering?

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

"The bottom line, in this field, is that skills and work ethic talk.  "

Maybe once you get a little older, you will realize how naive that statement is.  The bottom line is, in this field as in all others, office politics is what does the talking. 

sjsc
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

"Understand when its overall market conditions and not age."

Age discrimination laws were not passed because law makers could find nothing better to waste our money on.
http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/age.html

I'm going to guestimate and say you're probably around 30 years old.  So, let say you've got two guys come in for interviews, one is 60 and one is 32.  Assume their skillsets are exactly the same, to a T.  Same experience, etc.  Which one are you most likely to hire?  The younger guy - simply on the basis that you are more likely to form a rapport with him because he closer to your age.  People prefer surrrounding themselves with others that are similar to them.  I don't go to bars with 60 year olds.  Nor do I hang out with 15 year olds. 

"Like Occam says, the simplest explanation is usually the most accurate."

And judging by all of the posts I've ever seen from Bella and not to mention the title of this thread, he obviously has absolutely no respect for other people's opinions that are not in line with his own.  That is the simplest explanation right?

GiorgioG
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I think he likes to tink of himself has a hardass "tell-em-like-it-is" kind of guy. He does not mean harm, but is sometimes shortsighted (as we all are), but undoubtedly conviced he's right (as we all are ;-)).

Even so, I think his "I left the industry with a pile of dosh" story obviously bollocks. Let's face it. He realy does sound like a bitter company programmer that saw the goldrush pass by and now regrets chances not taken. Exactly the type he is so desparate to distance himself from.

But that is fine by me. He is often more right than some of the others on this board.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Regardless of what I think of Bella, he does have some valid points. However, I think he still misses the mark.

I've worked with some older programmers and the scenario Bella painted isn't far out of line with my experience. Some are great, others are almost exactly like he described. 9-5'ers who want six figures with outdated technical skills. They often brag about their "career experience", but their experience is frequently in skills that aren't needed anymore.

On the other hand...There is little doubt that many companies would hire a young 22 year old kid over a *qualified* 45 year old for the simple reason that the kid will work more hours for less money. To deny this is to deny a reality of the job market. Companies want younger people. Easier to mold, cheaper and often harder working.

Personally, I believe that if a company chooses to look over a solid, qualified 45 year old programmer for some inexperienced kid then they may do so at their own peril. Free markets work great. How many DotComs never made it out of the gate because their development staff consisted of a bunch of kids with little experience?

(FWIW, I'm 33..)

Mark Hoffman
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

It is possible to get a software development job when one is over 40.  A couple of years ago, as the dot-com/Internet bubble was starting to come apart I left my long time employer and found a new position.  And I am over 50.

But Bella's arguments are rather weak and it is not clear that it isn't harder for the over 40 developer to get a job.

There are several problems with the comparison to the 1996-2000 period.  The most obvious being that we were all younger then.  If there is any age discrimination, someone holding a job in 1996 might only now be feeling the effects.  Also, it is easier to keep a job than it is to get one.  In 1996 I had already been working for my employer for 12 years.  They were hiring as fast as they could and weren't letting go of anyone they already had.  By 2001 they were letting people go, like almost everyone else.  Someone now over 40, who had been employed during that period had to find a job in a very tight job market.  Employers could now be more selective, including practicing age discrimination if they felt like it.

Somewhere I have saved a couple of articles from publications like EETimes where an employer implicitly admits to age discrimination.  The statements are indirect.  That is, they don't say "we don't hire over 40 years old", instead they say "we don't hire with more than 10 years experience".

Anyone who is the least bit observant of human nature notices that there is a lot of age based bigotry in our society (at least US).  But you can't imagine how common and blatant some of it is until you get to be over 50.

mackinac
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Another broad swipe by Bella. I think the actual quote was later showed to be in error by PC [no programmers over 40 find a job]., who started programming after forty.

Bella, you would be the type to rant about people getting run over because they didn't run fast enough across the street and talk about survival of the fittest while doing so. I just labled you as an insensitive clod who sits in his parent's basement waxing philisophical on the current state of software development while writing your own "road ahead", ranting against everything that doesn't pertain to the bottom line. Not fun being on the end of a broad swipe like that is it?

Are you over forty? Have you been in their shoes? I doubt it. So how would you have any idea?

Ian Stallings
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

>>> There is little doubt that many companies would hire a young 22 year old kid over a *qualified* 45 year old for the simple reason that the kid will work more hours for less money.  <<<

If the 22 year old can do the job and will do it for less money, that's not age discrimination, that's price discrimination.  The problem is when the 45 year old will do at least as good a job and accept the same money, but is rejected based on some dislike of hiring anyone over 40.

mackinac
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

You don't have to put your age, or any hints of it, on your resume.
Just try not to look old.

PC
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

[Just try not to look old. ]

Will do. I just raided my daughter's room and got the latest Justin Timberlake CD, sponge bob back pack, and dress code tips from Teen Beat. Although I admit I did get side tracked by the "how to be popular" article I think I am ready to look younger.


Actually I've had the slacker GenX look down since birth.

Ian Stallings
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

> The bottom line is, in this field as in all others, office politics is what does the talking.

Frankly, people over 40 are usually much better at office politics than the 25 year old who is naive enough to simply focus on producing quality code.  So there goes that argument.

Bella
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

>  Bubble kiddy tech. managers can not cope with anyone over 5 years older than themselves.

First off, most people under 30 are not hiring managers.  And even if they were, reread my original post, there are a dozen quantifiable reasons why someone doesn't get a job, all of which are more plausible than this weak pathetic generalization of "kiddy tech. managers can not cope with anyone over 5 years older than themselves"  but keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better.

Bella
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Hey Bella,

Since you're the know-all, tell-all around here, why don't you post your resume somewhere.  You still haven't mentioned what your age is, experience, etc. in any posts I've seen from you.

GiorgioG
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

On "orifice" politics and age discrimination... I think that a lot of what externally looks like age discrimination is actually a deliberate effort to weed out "subversion" and subversive thought or tendencies. Occam's razor again.


IE: one important component of age discrimination that Bella alludes to is that older people are generally more attuned to politics and the meanings behind actions and words.  Now, this is NOT desirable to many technology departments and companies, which are often operated as "cargo cults", complete with priests, acolytes, true believers, and mindless supplicants.


In our industry, the work is supposed to be a "fun natural high" and 'extreme', and you're supposed to believe in the goal of the department or the company like it's your personal religion. Or at least appear that you think this.


This kind of thinking is often very natural for green and young programmers. As you age and are burnt by broken promises and hollow rah-rah,  you develop more of a "yeah, right" attitude. You just want to do your job and be left alone. But that's just not "good enough" for any cult once you're a member of it.


The "yeah, right" attitude, which is simply the product of experience, is NOT desirable to companies and groups that want ultra-committed , naive serfs.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Bored Bystander, that's quite an observant post!  I believe Bella either falls into the jaded "yeah, right" camp, or at least aspires to, and would therefore eventually suffer this kind of discrimination the older he gets, despite all his best efforts to upgrade his skills.

ODN
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I agree with bella.  How come everyone whines about not being able to get a job over 40.  What about me?  I'll bet half of you wouldn't hire me based on the fact that i'm 20, even though you would if I was 33 with the same skills and experience.  Do I complain?  No, I just try to take what I can.  I'm used to it, and i'm doing fine.

Vincent Marquez
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Because at 20 you probably don't have a wife, 3 kids, 2 car payments and a mortgage to pay ;-)

GiorgioG
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Any 20-25 year old that thinks writing code and working in an office environment is a good thing, is a drone, even before life begins.

I'm 43, and most 20+ year olds in the IT industry are so, so uncool and, largely, stupid.

Realist
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Nobody is going to explicitly admit to age discrimination, but some employers come close.  Here are a couple of excerpts from articles in EETimes where they are discussing current job availability.

March 19, 2001:  "... Ciena's sweet spot is engineers with two to five years of experience and those with double that amount.  The company has little use for people with more than a decade under their belts, Seidman said, because they're more likely to be removed from the latest technologies."

Getting more experience and getting older kind of go together. By age 40 most engineers are going to have over 10 years experience.  Ciena is one company that isn't even going to consider you.  It doesn't matter what you actually work on, or  much extra effort you put in to keeping up with technology.

June 19, 2000: [Interviewing Craig, a recruiter] "...'Most of my clients won't deal with any candidates with government experience.' Why? A couple of reasons... They also tend to be older and have more family responsibilities than their typical dot-com counterparts."

That one is rather blatant about it and didn't even use "too much experience" as a proxy for "too old".

mackinac
Thursday, February 20, 2003

wow, realist, you seem to have a very low opinion of young programmers. I think this is the second or third shot you've taken at me. 

"most 20+ year olds in the IT industry are so, so uncool and, largely, stupid" 

Thank you for elegantly explaining why we are so "uncool" and why your 43 year old mature self is so much better.  Maybe if your lucky you'll work for me (or prakash, or any other "uncool" 20something) and we'll be able to have a nice chat about these comments. 

Vincent Marquez
Thursday, February 20, 2003

Vincent,

at 20 you can grow towards 30, at 40 this is really more difficult.

Once more Bored Bystander hits a few nails on the head. Remember Conway's law: "In any organization, there will always be one person who knows what is going on. This person should be fired. "

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, February 20, 2003

Someone quoted the following:

"The company has little use for people with more than a decade under their belts," Seidman said, "because they're more likely to be removed from the latest technologies."

This seems like a simple cause-and-effect statement, doesn't it.
Except that it isn't.

In fact, it is more of a contradiction that a statistical probability.

Because "removed from the latest technologies" means, no experience. But the cause would be too much experience?

So they actually meant to say, "more than a decade of experience with old technology."
Of course that would be a valid selection criterium -- any experience with new technology, this is -- but then that would eliminate that nice-and-easy-no-effort-required-years-of-working-experience check.
And replace it with an actual, non-trivial effort.

And we would not want any of that, now would we :-)

Practical Geezer
Thursday, February 20, 2003

We older workers cannot wait for you younger workers to find yourselves out of work. Then let's see what excuses you have then for us. Only those that are over the age of 40 and out of work can understand others that are over the age of 40 and out of work. The US government  will never do anything to help solve this crises. I say let's burn down some buildings and riot until someone wants to hire us.

Mike Geroges
Friday, February 06, 2004

Reality check!

Hey Bella..not sure how old you are but by your writing you seem to think that you will never age. You need to pinch yourself unless you are from another planet.  Karma dude!

For the 20 something programmers, techies, etc. you guys seem to think that with your cute smile and holier than thou attitude will keep you on the bankroll..guess what. It gets old real fast.

I can't stand working with 20 somethings. They seem to  forget to leave the fraternities/sororities behind.

I hope that cleared it all up for ya guys.

TskTskTsk
Friday, February 20, 2004

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