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How real is age-ism in high tech ? If you are over 35 are you finished ?

Could people share stories, tips or advice on their experience with ageism ?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Jim G., gnat, nvoigt, scaaahu, Jenny D Dec 30 '18 at 9:41

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Well of course I have no evidence of this really... but my impression is that often it's the system, e.g. recruiters or certain job requirements, that may act as a barrier against older developers. I think many tech leads, are fine, maybe even glad, to have someone more mature working for them. – Chan-Ho Suh Dec 29 '18 at 3:03
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Personally, I landed the job I have now a month short of my 56th birthday, and got a nice promotion at 63. I was even fired from my previous job because I left sleep apnea untreated and nobody wanted the resulting zombie on their team. It took six months to find the new job. I'm a senior individual contributor, my self-confessed ADD would keep me from being a useful manager, and I've been turning down management jobs for literally decades. So, it's not absolutely systematic, and it's not always conscious when it does manifest. But I do work for one of the best outfits around, and there are lots of software jobs in the area. I'm also rather bright, have quite varied knowledge and experience, and I'm easy to work with. YMMV.

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My observation is there is quite an aggressive “filtering” process at work in Tech, which, depending on your perspective, could be interpreted as ageism. Bad developers tend not to have long careers.

The core expectation is that after 3-4 years a new developer will move from “Junior” to regular; that after a further 4-5 years a developer would move to “Senior”, and so on. It is assumed that any incoming candidate will have a salary expectation aligned with this, and so their interview is aligned to this.

In other words, a developer with 15 years experience will be interviewed as a “Senior”, whether they want to be or not. And if they are not good enough for that level / salary, they will simply not get any job. In this sense, the recruitment process is much simpler for younger / less experienced devs, as the expectations are much lower.

But good devs will always find work, regardless of age.

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This is company specific, some look for younger people, some look for more mature. Many places couldn't care less particularly if the human resources in the locale are scarce.

In general I haven't seen ageism as a big issue all else being equal. I'm old and unemployable locally because I'd cost too much, but if I would work for the same as other younger people I could get a job tomorrow (well, possibly tomorrow, even though it's Sunday, but definitely Monday).

Older people are expected to have more experience at both the work and fitting in, but the quality of the experience is a big factor. So I'd turn down someone with 2 decades in Govt for someone with 5 years in the private sector if everything else was equivalent.

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