4

Two years ago I was working as a game developer in a relatively small company, which was acquired by one of the more big-name corporations. Needless to say this change of hands was followed by large layoff. It ended up affecting mostly older (late 20s) developers. One of which was me, naturally I ended up moving to freelancing which I enjoyed at first, because it allowed me to work from home, save up money and time on commuting, and provided some form of anonymity, the biggest benefit of my freelance career was the ability to hide my age from customers. Unfortunately after a series of major health issues which left me with hefty sum of debt I am no longer able to dwell on a relatively modest income. I think I must note that my official skills are fairly specific to and/or obsolete outside of gamedev industry, such as c/c++, assembly, low level networking, python/lua (mostly game specific scripting) and platforms such as unreal, unity and etc. While I've dealt with jobs outside of my competence, such as setting up small websites, making android apps, setting up various DBs and sometimes graphic/3d design, I do not possess official certificates and qualifications for these skills. Considering time and money it takes to refresh one's skills and gain certification (I will probably be well past the 30s by then) realistically what are my chances that I end up employed again? Should I spend more time on refreshing/diversifying my skills or seek to move away into different industry altogether?

Additionally, I think it's worth noting that where I live (unlike in US/Europe), the private employer has right to demand birth certificate/ID which obviously is rarely left unpracticed, also when applying to governmental jobs, which make up the majority, it is mandatory to present identity card, and certification rules are way more strict.

  • 4
    Where are you located? Not NA/Europe is not really enough for us to help you. – Matthew Gaiser Jul 27 at 16:42
  • Can you get a fake ID for this? – Anonymoot Jul 27 at 18:59
  • 4
    I feel really old now. – Peter M Jul 27 at 20:41
  • I work for a tech startup where I don't think anyone is under 30. Don't think up barriers where they don't exist. – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jul 27 at 22:37
  • 3
    Late 20's is 'older'? Don't be ageist. I didn't even work as a software developer until I was in my 30s. – Mark Rotteveel Jul 29 at 14:46
25

I think your view might be warped because of the places you worked (gaming industry). That industry is based on exploiting impressionable young software developers who want to create games and are willing to work long, long hours for peanuts in the gaming industry.

Once people grow up, so at the age of 30, they don't fall for that kind of BS anymore, and in the gaming industry they are not employable=exploitable anymore. Everywhere else, that age is no problem whatsoever. There are some ageist place obviously, like IBM, but in general it's no problem.

| improve this answer | |
  • What if I am willing to work long hours for less pay ? Im sure I still would not be able to become gamedev (im 28). Also hard work for less pay can be extremely rewarding if game becomes next AAA, a risk some people are more than willing to take regardless of their age. – Terry Glebnerr Aug 22 at 14:14
  • 2
    There is absolutely no need to work more hours for less pay. I never worked for "less pay" in my life. I've worked long hours until about 30 and stopped it. No problems in the last 30 years since then. – gnasher729 Aug 22 at 16:40
23

Late 20's? I didn't start in IT until my mid 30's. I started in COBOL and moved off the big-iron 6 years later. I was laid-off in late 2018 and found a new position in two weeks. I was 61 at the time. I'm Microsoft full-stack but this would apply with other skill-sets.

From your listed skills you can code. C++ and assembler are positives. What's not listed are things that businesses are looking for. Data (sql, etc), modern UI frameworks (Angular, nodeJs, MVC, etc). If I (as an ex COBOL/JCL programmer) can learn these then you will be OK.

Good luck!

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    Your personal anecdote is not so relevant here as the job market has changed since then. – guest Jul 27 at 16:40
  • 4
    Actually, it's perfectly in line with my experience moving from academia to industry in 2017. So while it's old, the content is pretty current, including frameworks. – Fábio Dias Jul 28 at 0:46
  • 2
    @FabioDias: I agree that the content is still the case. But it is a bad "proof" nontheless. – guest Jul 28 at 15:57
  • @guest If you want to do COBOL (which is a language for very heavy lifting) this is still very relevant. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Aug 22 at 14:53
  • @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen: It might be still relevant in COBOL or not, I cannot say, but the fact by its own that it was the case 30 years ago does not imply that it is the case today. – guest Aug 22 at 15:32
10

There is no problem with your age. You should focus on your experience and ensure that your skills are up to date.

If you do not have the certifications but done some training. Showcase your newly learned skills by creating a GitHub project.

We recently employed someone in her/his late 50's. So for certain recruiters age not an issue rather an advantage.

| improve this answer | |
3

I think many software professionals make the mistake of looking at the job market, things like TIOBE and the Stackoverflow survey to assess their "market value". They assume that to be valuable in the job market they need to possess the most popular skills of that market.

The problem is that's only true in a "macro" sense, and is geared towards the point of view of employers as a statistical whole. But for the individual looking to land a valuable job and only considering job market stats, they're facing an ocean of competition. If you limit yourself like that, then yes, you'll have a hard time competing against a horde of inexpensive 20-somethings for jobs that require mastery of last-week's javascript web-framework (exaggerating slightly).

There's another way to approach this. Instead of focusing on popular skill-sets, focus on narrow, lesser known skill sets. Leverage your previous experience and direct your job search by researching specific employers rather than "the job market". By definition, niche jobs are hard to fill because there's not a lot in the candidate pool, that makes them valuable and also, ironically, there's less competition.

As for age, the 30's is NOT old. Seriously. That's about the time that people start to reach their potential, regardless of profession.

| improve this answer | |
3

Forget trying to do the latest trendy stuff that you have little experience in anyway. Leave that to the youngsters who always have to do the latest thing.

Instead look at your experience, and look around the big established companies who would value that experience. Finance and defence would be two starting points. These companies are often supporting legacy systems using old languages and tools. Familiarity with heavy processes and lots of documents is also an advantage.

| improve this answer | |
  • Hate to say this, but i agree with this, older developer can do everything younger can do, but because of rampant ageism and stereotypes in tech they are forced either out of career, or into dead end niches. You can fight it but it is simply more convenient in short term to accept maintaining that C# project that will be replaced by 100-liner python on one blue day. Isn't it ? – Terry Glebnerr Aug 22 at 17:33
  • 1
    Closed/unlikely career paths translate to less incentive to learn new stuff which in turn means even more closed paths, then one day we end up laid off sending CVs with something oddly specific like "Backend with 15 years of C# and MySQL experience". My biggest fear is ending up in this boat, happened to friend of mine. – Terry Glebnerr Aug 22 at 17:54
  • Worst thing about relying on being legacy tech maintainer is that nothing stops next undergrad from learning COBOL. It is even riskier than working at startup at this point. – Terry Glebnerr Aug 22 at 18:01
  • "Forget trying to do the latest trendy stuff" this is how you commit career suicide in tech. – ImmortanJoe is censored and mu Aug 23 at 13:52
  • 1
    @ImmortanJoe It's worked for me for over 30 years now. It's only career suicide if your career is being cutting edge all the time. When you're adding new features to software that's 20 years old, you don't need to know the latest languages or frameworks. – Simon B Aug 23 at 19:52
0

My answer may be biased so take it with (iodised:) grain of salt. late 20s are not too old, but you are slowly getting there for sure. You may be almost as productive as fresh out of uni guy but does hiring department share your view ? I think no. When you are 30+ it will be harder and harder to find techical job, you will spend more time on job hunting, which translates to larger employment gap. And believe me having 2 year gap on your CV is going to rise questions. And unlike your younger peers you can't just say "I was back to education". This is purely political side of it, but when we plug in biology, stuff gets way uglier. To say softly our body changes with time, and after mid twenties, change is mostly negative. When I was younger my head was full of grandiose ideas, i wanted to develop MMORPG, wanted to start social network, wanted to make next viral app. But everything broke down, and took that youthful fire out. My body is not raging with hormones anymore, that boyish competitiveness I had, which pushed me up on career ladder is no more. At this point my 20 year old self would beat my current one in kendo, 100m sprint, starcraft, chess and creativity. With time it takes longer and linger for me to do same tasks that took minute when I was young. For example I spent good part of the day on ditching segfault in 1000 line code, it would take me couple of minutes when I was talented, quick and smart. Higher-ups know this and discriminate, they know because they were young too at some point after all, remember Mark Zuckerbergs quote, remember Paul Grahams quote. After certain age getting and staying employed becomes complicated, vicious cat and mouse game of hiding your flaws. Worst thing about aging in tech however is looks, aging shows on your face and thats when people start to avoid getting associated with you, at my previous job I've seen people tank their savings for facelifts, botox and collagen treatments. Best way to age gracefully in tech is to switch to management/paperwork type of job, it sounds bland and boring, but for sure it is better than chasing ephemeral goals at 35 and staying up all night, broadcasting your CV only to get junior position after being verbally abused by 10 interviewers decade younger than you.

Edit: I realise that this answer may not sound as good as others, and may even appear offensive but there are some hard truths in tech, which other answers do not reflect.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    I don't think your answer is offensive, but as a 50+ year old still working in tech, it does not reflect my experience in the UK or the US in any way. – Laconic Droid Aug 22 at 14:19
  • @Laconic Droid glad to hear that but there is big difference between keeping job, and starting from scrarch. Ask yourself : If I got laid off, how long it would take me to bounce back from it ? – Terry Glebnerr Aug 22 at 16:00
  • Last time I was laid off was in my late 40s. Took 3 weeks to find a new (tech) job. – Laconic Droid Aug 22 at 16:59
  • Thank you for the breaking news that we are all "slowly getting there" as in aging. 1 day at a time. – HenryM Aug 22 at 18:15
  • 3
    @Terry Glebnerr Are you ok ? – ImmortanJoe is censored and mu Aug 23 at 22:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .