back to article Having trouble finding a job in your 40s? Study shows some bosses like job applicants... up until they see dates of birth

Age discrimination is a top topic in Silicon Valley, and now there's more proof that age may hinder hiring chances. University of California-Irvine economics professor David Neumark has analyzed data from an age discrimination lawsuit, and found that older job applicants are provably hired less often when their ages were known …

  1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

    What jobs did they try to get?

    I am in the IT, and switched when I was 44. I am 45 now (46 next month). No problem at all. I could easily switch with 47 or 49 too, I'd say, experienced IT people with a broad knowledge are wanted, since they can spot things that go wrong much better. I can see that from Xing and LinkedIn, I get contacted often enough to know. And by the time I get beyond 50 I'd say: I could still easily switch, 'cause I see how those 50+ year old IT guys I know are still full in business and up to date.

    So what type of jobs were those "old" applying for to get that age discrimation? Low-end support hotline? Why not project management?

    Edit: Oh great, the study is behind a paywall.

    1. hitmouse

      Re: "Fall Creators Update"

      In Australia, the response is that you're either overqualified, or they can't afford you. As always they want above-market skills coupled with entry level wages. Hence employers lobby government for more imported labour while simultaneously denying opportunities to skilled workers on their doorstep.

      I was at a seminar two years ago where a young colleague reported that his father (not much older than I) had created all of the company's X system. The seminar moderator asked what he did now. "He drives an Uber as no one will give him a job."

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: HR is the problem

        Yup. Re both your points.

        The big problem is HR.

        I spent 3-4 years as a headhunter (Europe + UK, some USA + Asia)(soul-destroying job) and discovered a few things under-the-hood which are useful to pass on.

        1. important point: don't be unemployed. It was a PITA trying to get an interview for an unemployed person. Many HR groups flatly ban them; every HR will fight to keep an unemployed CV away from the managers. (Particularly surreal in jobs with 6mth notice periods...)

        2. key point: do NOT be outstanding at your job. World-stage Tier 1? Almost unemployable. I managed to get maybe half a dozen interviews for guys like that, and even got pushback from managers.

        3. critical point: NEVER, *NEVER*, develop more than one skillset type. You will never work again. End of. I never managed to get an interview for anyone like that, nor did I hear of any of my colleagues ever managing it.

        I know that several of my candidates in this category then, are homeless now.

        1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: HR is the problem

          This sounds familiar, thanks for sharing.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: HR is the problem

          I have multiple skill-sets, but I've always managed to get jobs.

          The being unemployed bit is true though. If you have a job, it is much easier to get another job. Once you are out of a job and have time to go to interviews and can start straight away, it is much more difficult to get an interview.

          I've been lucky, I've had 5 jobs and 7 offers since I was 40. But twice I was still looking for a new job when the old one (fixed term contract) ran out and the number of responses fell off. That said, I'd probably send out a dozen or so application per week.

        3. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: HR is the problem

          Yes, never make your interviewers feel you might be a threat to their jobs.

        4. phuzz Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: HR is the problem

          "NEVER, *NEVER*, develop more than one skillset type"

          Counterpoint: Develop as many skills as possible, but when you're applying for a job, tailor your CV to that job, only listing the relevant skills.

          Boast about the other ones when you get to interview.

          1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: HR is the problem

            Can confirm. The company that wants all the boxes checked is the company you don't want to work for.

            My current job (been here 15 years, hired at 50), I worked as a temp for 6 months before they made me an offer. My hiring manager is still here, as is one of the guys who was there when I was hired. Love the work (varied, client-facing, EE consulting) and the people.

            I did interview at other places but none of them liked me enough to hire me. I didn't bother to ask why,and they didn't bother to tell me.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: HR is the problem

            What makes that a little difficult is that the pimp takes the tailored CV & submits it for something entirely different instead of asking for a new one.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: HR is the problem

          while I hate HR as much as I hate bankers, politicians, etc., I would argue that HR are not the problem. They're "just following the orders", from above, to squeeze more, more, more, MORE profit. And the only way to do it in the HR walk of life is to find people, who'll do more, for less. Or claim to be able to do more or less. But, given that the business model these days is "shine today, shit tomorrow", short-term benefits are all that matters.

          1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: HR is the problem

            That's not the political pattern I've seen in any company. HR is off in its own little sheltered pocket. In MANY companies they are actually actively consulted by the CEO/C-suite/board directly for business & strategy advice! Utterly surreal but seen it too often. But even in the other companies, it's HR coming to Mgt telling them they need to do this that or the other policy, not the other way round.

            No, HR's motivation is their own status, with a strict focus on absolute non-responsibility.

        6. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: HR is the problem

          I've never worked anywhere where HR had any influence into the hiring process until after the job offer is made.

          Why you you let a separate department dictate who you're interviewing?

          1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

            Re: HR is the problem

            They certainly get the job of filtering many cvs.

          2. Dr Dan Holdsworth
            FAIL

            Re: HR is the problem

            They get the donkey work of filtering the hundred-odd CVs that most tech jobs attract to weed out the absolute no-hoper candidates. The problem is that HR, whilst trying their best, aren't much good at this and don't quite know how to tell the difference between a crap CV from a superstar and that of an idiot.

            The result is that to get to the hiring stage, you have to pass the not-very-good filter system.

            1. OGShakes

              Re: HR is the problem

              We have been looking for someone for a while and had said no to lots of people and in one case had someone not turn up to interview. A new HR person started and we got all those CV's sent to us again, including the no show.

              They dont know what is a good or bad IT CV, so I tailor the first page to them with a block that shows all the buzzwords and MS/ITIL/Cisco/etc logos, then page 2 is all my real experience examples for when the hiring manager looks.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: HR is the problem

                It makes you wonder if the no show was properly notified in the first place. Best practice is a human voice call with an email confirmation. Too many times I get people that say they've texted somebody and never heard back. I ask them if they know for certain that the person has text and if the telephone number they gave is a mobile or landline. Blind stare follows. Text is also not a very robust system so messages fall through the cracks all of the time.

          3. Persona Silver badge

            Re: HR is the problem

            Everywhere I have been you could only interview candidates once HR signed off there was a position to fill.

            Also you could only interview candidates put forward by agencies on HR's preferred services list. These were ones that had a contract in place and who's commission was within acceptable bounds. Some non preferred agencies would bombard hiring managers with CV's. If they persisted HR would get their email addresses blacklisted and their website blocked for access within the firm. Whilst this sounds extreme it was necessary to avoid the instances of an unscrupulous agency demanding payment on the grounds that they had forwarded a CV to a manager who ended up hiring that candidate even though the hiring process was through another agency.

        7. Persona Silver badge

          Re: HR is the problem

          I have to agree with you there.

          I once employed a chap that was unemployed, multi skilled and outstanding. He wasn't even being interviewed for the role I employed him for as he had already given up ever finding that type of job. The interviewing manager thought that I could make use him as he was too skilled for the first role. Fortunately I had 20 minutes spare for a quick chat.

          I'm ashamed to say I started that interview determined not to hire him, and only changed my mind when he gave great answers to my toughest questions. He was very lucky not to remain unemployed.

        8. eldakka Silver badge

          Re: HR is the problem

          3. critical point: NEVER, *NEVER*, develop more than one skillset type. You will never work again. End of. I never managed to get an interview for anyone like that, nor did I hear of any of my colleagues ever managing it.

          I have always customised my CV/Resume to the job specs, but for a different reason. I leave out (or underplay) skills that seem irrelevant for the job. I usually do this because from my perpspective, if they are willing to pay $x for skillset 1 and 2, why would I give them 'free' skillsets 3 and 4 over and beyond what they are paying me for? If they want access to 3 and 4 as well, they will have to pay more.

          But after hearing this story, it seems like this strategy has possibly had an additional benefit...

        9. dajames Silver badge

          HR is the problem

          The big problem is HR.

          It's not all HR ... some of it is "recruitment consultants" who have heard the buzz-words but don't know what they mean.

          Employers don't have time to read all the CVs, so they get the recruiters to filter the applicants, but the recruiters can only filter by ticking off the buzz-words until they find a match. Applicants who use the wrong term to describe a skill they have won't be put forward.

          1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: HR is the problem

            HR have created that problem too, I'm afraid.

            2 aspects: fee cutting, and blocking. The combination of both these aspects means headhunters are essentially dead, and recruiters are merely agents of HR policy.

            1. Fees: Ongoing push to drop %fee, so as to have a neat little metric for boasting about come KPI-review time. And since that push is not based on any actual P&L goal, but just "A Change", it has gone on and on and on. Down to about 15% for some extremes, 20% industry norm.

            Problem: if a recruiter likes eating and living in a house, s/he/it needs to jack up the #-of-jobs to get back to the same income. Which means less time doing any assessing, which means any actual judgement/ability can't be applied. Which means you might as well hire a drongo recruiter who just types keywords into a db-scan and presses Send on the results.

            2. Blocking: if a recruiter insists on sending CVs which HR does not approve of, they're out. Blocked. Complete termination of ALL income from that client.

        10. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: HR is the problem

          "3. critical point: NEVER, *NEVER*, develop more than one skillset type"

          It's useful to have many skills. The tactic is to create a resume that is specific to the job you are applying to get. The goal is to get to an interview with the department head or manager you would be working under before talking about any of those ancillary skills.

          HR is a huge problem. The first issue is they often have no clue about the job posting they are advertising. I've seen egregious spelling and grammar mistakes in the listings and qualifications that contradict themselves. If the posting asks if you are qualified with a certain piece of software and your experience is with one that is substantially similar, lie. The problem is HR is not going to know that the software you show you have well developed skills in is almost a clone. All they will see is you don't have that familiarity and your resume goes in the reject pile.

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: What jobs did they try to get?

      You kind of reinforced the stereotype in your own post.

      Why should a 50 not be able to go for a help desk role? Maybe they don't want to do project mismanagement.

      I'd wager a 50, 55 or even 60 year old is more likely to stick with the same company in that role longer than a 16 or 18 year old.

      And trust me LinkedIn is no example of hiring. I was offered a director role for a multi billion poubd chemical company. Why? Because I was a director of a 10 person charity.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

        Re: What jobs did they try to get?

        I am not saying they shouldn't go for the helldesk. Though I would never want to. My main point is that missing information on which jobs they checked. One can always generate a bias toward his point of view if he controls the source data or the questions asked and so on. While it is still right that older don't get some jobs younger do, is the percentage of that study really the average or did the simply pick to apply to jobs which are known to prefer younger ones just to make their point?

        The only way to tell: Get the source data. Oh, and enough time to go through it.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: What jobs did they try to get?

          They say what jobs they were talking about, and they never claimed that the percentage was representative of anything else, only that it was significant. All this says is that age discrimination happened in the dataset they used at a high enough level that it's worth considering doing something about it. It doesn't necessarily mean that it happens everywhere, but when you combine this research with the many other times age discrimination has come up with varying levels of proof, it seems pretty obvious that it's pervasive and needs extra looking into.

          1. AMBxx Silver badge

            Re: What jobs did they try to get?

            If you're still applying for entry level jobs at 40+, you've done something wrong somewhere.

            I'm 50 and freelance - my skills are more important than my age, so I do pretty well.

            One thing that seems to be missed is that post 50, you really can't work 80 hour weeks any more and the hunger for career advancement is waning.

            1. Scuby

              Re: What jobs did they try to get?

              What an utter BS comment. Maybe they decided to have a career change? Maybe they've left the Armed Services and are embarking on a career in Civi-street? Perhaps they were a stay-at-home parent or caregiver and are now looking to join he workforce. There are a 100 different reasons why someone may need to seek an entry-level position.

              1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

                Re: What jobs did they try to get?

                @Scuby: "Maybe they've left the Armed Services"

                Spot on, my father was in the Royal Airforce until 55, started in the Airforce Regiment at 17. So at 55, having known nothing else for his entire career, had to retrain and find a new role, and having been a Senior NCO, the status of his civilian role wan't going to match his military one (Where he was awarded an MBE for his service), it was going to be entry level.

                1. NeilPost Bronze badge

                  Re: What jobs did they try to get?

                  exactly.... and with that sort of attitude... anyone getting taxpayers money spent on retraining is basically wasting their time.

                  Most older workers are more invested in any job as they have bills to pay and won’t spaff all over an employer to get an extra £1/hour. They - on say a L1 Helpdesk - are also less likely to dick around or not come in after getting wankered the previous night.

                2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

                  Re: What jobs did they try to get?

                  People with decent forces training are often better served by going to Civvy companies that appreciate their skill set - some government agencies (for example) or aerospace industry (they need network managers too etc.)

                3. Omgwtfbbqtime

                  Re: What jobs did they try to get?

                  @GruntyMcPugh

                  MBE for services to sport... I mean the community?

                  I may know the gentleman in question.

              2. ibmalone Silver badge

                Re: What jobs did they try to get?

                I know of a London university which will not employ people with PhDs into grade 6 roles. When I suggested this may be an age discrimination issue I was asked exactly that question, why would they want to do that job? There are many possible reasons, academic contracts are often short term and fairly specialist, they may not be able to find a postdoc position that's suited to them, they might want to stay close to partner or family who are based in the area, they might be looking to gain skills in a slightly different area.

                1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

                  Re: What jobs did they try to get?

                  "why would they want to do that job?"

                  Being alive costs money.

                2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: What jobs did they try to get?

                  "they may not be able to find a postdoc position that's suited to them"

                  From the University's PoV they may not want to risk taking on someone who might promptly quit because the right post-doc job came along. The real problem, of course, is that research offers too many short-term jobs as opposed to permanent ones.

            2. Jason 24

              Re: What jobs did they try to get?

              I'd like to think that when I reach 50+ I may well apply for a hell desk role. Mortgage will be paid so I can pick hours that suit me meaning I can be at home/with the grand kids more often.

              I don't think I'll want to be traipsing up and down the country doing installs still.

              1. NeilPost Bronze badge

                Re: What jobs did they try to get?

                Avoid the aggro. Buy a van with your redundancy and become an Amazon delivery driver.

                If you want less responsibility still, became a Yodel box-flinger.

      2. James 139

        Re: What jobs did they try to get?

        I get the impression HR always believes that entry level positions, with entry level wages, are only wanted by those without experience, which they mostly view as the young.

        I mean, why would a 50+ year old want to work in a job that pays them £20k, or less, a year? Surely that is their choice.

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: What jobs did they try to get?

          Is that the same sort of HR that wants 5+ years of experience on some sexy tech that's only 1 year out of alpha/beta?

          1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

            Re: What jobs did they try to get?

            Don't blame HR for *all* of that -- I have met some really clueless hiring managers.

        2. NeilPost Bronze badge

          Re: What jobs did they try to get?

          Because they may have paid off their mortgage, kids may have left home and the don’t want to flog their guts out doing a job they may hate and perhaps most importantly .... want to live to see their retirement.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What jobs did they try to get?

          > Why would a 50+ year old want a job working for £20k

          Because they have no mortgage, no debt, children have left the nest...

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: What jobs did they try to get?

      My last 2 job changes were at 50+ and I have had 5 job changes since 40, along with 7 offers.

      But I don't work in a major IT hub, like Silicon Valley. It seems that over here experience still counts.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: What jobs did they try to get?

      I switched into IT in my 40s but that was a long time ago and having exactly the background, tech & otherwise that my employers thought they needed. ("Thought they needed" because they then moved me into a contract were the "otherwise" wasn't relevant.)

    5. Imhotep Silver badge

      Re: What jobs did they try to get?

      I agree that if your skills are in demand and hard to find, age probably won't be much of a factor.

      I just retired, but I started my last job at age 60, delayed retirement after a buy out when they offered a large pay increase, and again after they added a cash payment to stay on for some additional time.

      But if my particular area of expertise had given them a local pool of cheaper, younger people to choose from? That would have been a different story.

  2. oldtaku
    Meh

    Cost and Abusability

    Older workers generally have better job skills, better planning skills, and better personal skills (on average, there's always that guy) than younger workers, so this comes down to two things:

    - Cost: You can pay younger workers less

    - Abusability: Young workers are just willing to completely exploit themselves with crazy (usually unpaid) overtime for the supposed good of the company. Older workers have learned their lessons and are less likely to put up with that.

    At some point in the hiring process you're going to run into the first problem, if not the second. Though at the end it sounds like he's admitting this really only will work for low-skill fixed price positions.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Cost and Abusability

      Hiring veterans who may not want the high priced position does have benefits of stability, dependability, and experience. PFY might be cheap and abusable but they have no experience. One point about experience is one is likely how things developed and thus understand why X was done this way while the PFY has no clue.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cost and Abusability

        But the point is that what is called age discrimination is really a two-way street. If very experienced workers aren't agreeing the stupid demands of employers (e.g. working nights/weekends, low pay, etc.), that's not discrimation on the employer's part. The employer wants the young worker because they will, many times, agree to the stupid employment parameters.

        The employer discrimination comes in when they assume that an experienced worker won't agree, thereby removing them from the candidate list before really reviewing the worker's skills and fit. It's the assumption that's egregious, not setting parameters for employment.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Cost and Abusability

      "Young workers are just willing to completely exploit themselves"

      They also haven't had their manglement bull-shit filters trained so they're not going to laugh or worse at intelligence-insulting motivational* seminars.

      * Motivation as in "I'm motivated to get out of this place for good".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And yet people on Twitter have the nerve to cry about 'agism' against young people. Damn, I really do hate my generation with a passion.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      You can age discriminate either way. The article talks about discrimination against older people, which is certainly seen and quite a bit in tech specifically, but there are also examples of discrimination against young people, usually in different fields. It's often because the young are believed not to have sufficient experience or to be unreliable. Either way it's done, it's a very limited generalization. It's wrong to do, and it's usually not at all productive anyway.

      1. big_D Silver badge
        Facepalm

        I've worked with grads that come out of Uni and are surprised they aren't instantly earning 6 figures as a manager.

        What? I have to do programming? How much?! That isn't why I did my degree!

        Most are fine, but there are still a large minority who think they can jump straight into senior management.

        I even had one guy turn up, after 6 months, he still couldn't do a for-loop or a proper conditional statement. I took him aside and asked him why he was a programmer, after all, his degree was in marketing. His answer was, that grad programmers earned more and, although he wanted to work in marketing, the pay for junior grades was beneath him!

        1. Erik4872

          "Most are fine, but there are still a large minority who think they can jump straight into senior management."

          An MBA plus a stint at one of the management consultancies that runs on new MBAs' tears will get you to middle management, skipping the entire working phase of your career. I think the idea is similar to graduating from one of the service academies as an automatic commissioned officer. This, plus promoting a lot of good workers into management as their only career path choice, makes for a lot of bad management.

    2. Snorlax

      "And yet people on Twitter have the nerve to cry about 'agism' against young people"

      And yet 'Ok boomer' is a frequently-used insult directed at anybody over the age of 30 (ignoring the fact that boomers are 50-60+)

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        People using that comment in an online discussion is simply stating that they have run out of things to say in favour of their own stated position - it's just another way to shut down polite discourse and make a run for the lowest common denominator tactics.

        Of course, if they are using comments like that then they're not likely to realise what they are doing either (unless they're trolling).

        As the old saying goes - 'youth is wasted on the young' :)

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          As the old saying goes - 'youth is wasted on the young' :)

          Quite. I remember suggesting to my of the time that the rather lovely sports car my father (55 at the time - a long and successful professional career and with the bonus of having got rid of all of the kids) had acquired might be wasted on older people!

          We were all young and callous, not to mention very dense once upon a time.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            "We were all young and callous, not to mention very dense once upon a time."

            ^^This.

            When people make statements about others these days they tend to be absolutist, assuming that because they are acting like a twat that they will *always* act like a twat.

            The current trend in crucifying people for mistakes they made 10 years ago etc. doesn't allow for people to learn from their mistakes. That doesn't encourage people to be perfect from the outset, it encourages them to lie and hide the truth - hardly a recipe for success.

            When I look back to younger versions of me it boggles my mind, some of them are like different people in comparison. Long time in alpha, beta was turbulent. v1.0 was acceptable after a dozen hot-fixes etc.

            I think I must be on version 21 or something by now, and still adding revisions and bug-fixes. I can say that I'm definitely a lot more user friendly these days ;)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Yeah, well one slight problem there for me is that alpha was fairly weird, beta tended to normality then went weird, and now the current version has belatedly realised that it is weird in an autistic sort of way which explains all the other weirdness (or most of it).

              A bit of screening earlier on in a school career would have likely made some difference to me.

              1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

                I know exactly what you mean, I was diagnosed with severe ADHD only when I was 42 - it explained sooooo much :)

        2. squigbobble

          OK Boomer

          It started as a response to older people dishing out absurdly out of touch 'advice' over social media, people so out of touch that they think that most workers entering the workforce can get a job for life or that it's the norm for companies to reward loyalty. These kids have been on the internet for long enough to know that trying to change other people's minds, especially if they're coming from a viewpoint so far removed from their own, is a fool's errand as so many people are out to score 'wins'.

          But that's just my experience.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        I'm a millennial and I'm forty this year. Boomers are sixty years old and upwards.

        Age discrimination against both older and younger people? That shit is timeless.

        1. Trilkhai

          These days, actually, people born in roughly 1977-1983 are recognized as Xennials as we don't match either of the generations we used to be lumped in with.

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            I've heard the name " The Oragon Trail generation", which would fit, except that as a Brit I never played that game. Perhaps the "Grannies Garden Generation" for us Brits of a certain age?.

            It just exposes the limitations of trying to separate people by arbitrary generations. I have far more in common with someone born a few years earlier than me, who is technically 'Generation X', than I would with someone born almost twenty years later in the late 90's.

            Perhaps it's slightly better than just dividing everyone into "young whippersnappers" and "old farts".

            To quote Douglas Adams:

            “I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

            1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

            2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

            3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

      3. holmegm Bronze badge

        Yeah, that part really strikes me. Someone born in 1950 is 70 now.

        Saying "OK boomer" to someone who is 45 or 50 because they said something that you didn't want to hear is the equivalent of saying "I'm both stupid *and* innumerate."

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Saying "OK boomer" became utterly banal a long time ago.

        2. tim 13

          In the UK there were two baby booms, immediately post war and and another peaking in 1964. Thus a UK boomer could be early-mid 70s or mid 50s.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Boomers

            So UK 64 that explains the weird Boomer/GenX mix then!

        3. squigbobble

          Boomer is a state of mind

          ...was the saying at the time that this trend started. It's spawned a sub-trend of needlessly categorising people so there's Zoomers (Gen Z), Doomers a probably a few more -oomers besides.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I report "OK Boomer" posts as abuse. Fed up of it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I like to wave my stick and fist at them too.

        2. gotes

          I report "OK Boomer" posts as abuse. Fed up of it.

          Snowflake.

          I jest, please don't report me!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I prefer to hire older people, but...

    Where it is my decision to make, my personal preference is to pay more and hire older, more experienced staff. I generally find that they have a shorter learning curve and make fewer mistakes. However, the pay scale isn't always my decision to make.

    That said, my preference to hire older personnel can result in a long-term skills development problem i.e. by not allowing younger, inexperienced people opportunities for employment. Lets face it, we all needed our first "break" into the job market, didn't we?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: I prefer to hire older people, but...

      So you're suggesting some kind of balanced approach? Perhaps where the young pups can pick up some tricks from the old dogs as it were?

      HOW VERY DARE YOU!!

      1. MarkTriumphant

        Re: I prefer to hire older people, but...

        Or just as good - I'm older, and working with younger people who have different ideas. It is brilliant. I'm learning new stuff, and passing on some of my stuff at the same time.

  5. macjules Silver badge

    "ban-the-box" initiatives

    "ban-the-box" initiatives that limit when employers can ask whether job applicants have past criminal convictions

    In my experience in the UK BDS screening is almost a requirement for any job involving management responsibility or security matters. If you are applying for a job that requires you to have undergone criminal records checks and you have a record then perhaps you should not apply for the job?

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: "ban-the-box" initiatives

      @macjules

      Yeah, I've held four positions that had required various background checks, an audit at a bank that required Basic Disclosure, working in education which required an enhanced DBS (so even spent convictions can disbar qualifying for the role, up to 'Full SC' for a Govt Dept. Now I have work in local govt access to data that requires the enhanced DBS again. I'd struggle if I weren't squeaky clean.

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: "ban-the-box" initiatives

        Luckily I have Enhanced DV clearance, having worked in government, so I just have to renew it every few years with an interview and grant permission to access banks etc. From what I hear it is a real pain to undergo the process from scratch involving not just a 3 hour interview but also full criminal and credit checks and interviews with your GP, 5 years analysis of all your bank accounts and savings as well as DV checks on your wife and children.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "ban-the-box" initiatives

          Hmm - you seem to be getting off lightly on your DV vetting. I am well aware that in addition to bank accounts (and others) interviews for people I know are still carried out for my roles, and I am sure that other checks carry on as well. And that is a vetting that is originally 25 years old.

      2. big_D Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: "ban-the-box" initiatives

        It's who you know and what you tell them. ;-)

        Back at the dawn of time, I was working on a personnel system conversion for a Royal Naval dockyard. The vetting took around 6 weeks. I was given the forms on Friday and told to report to the 'yard on Monday...

        You got 3 daily passes and that was your lot!

        I rolled up on Thursday and the security guard tried to turn him away. I told him that I was working on transferring his personal data to the new system and if I didn't finish my work, there would be no payroll that month... I got a 3 month temporary pass!

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: "ban-the-box" initiatives

      Most positions I've worked in are more interested in if you are financially unstable than some misdemeanor from the distant past (assuming it wasn't something like fraud etc.) - but it's still important to check.

    3. Imhotep Silver badge

      Re: "ban-the-box" initiatives

      The one time I had to supply a background check, it ended up being one of my first duties as an employee - had to find and contact someone to perform the check, then pay them with company funds. I was relieved to find out I was clean.

  6. Mellipop

    age discrimination cannot be stopped

    It's impossible to stop because most hirers or their agents want (or pretend there is legislation that requires) proof of identity.

    My driving licence and passport both have my date of birth on them. Ironically my free senior bus pass doesn't have DoB.

    With age should come experience and as far as i am concerned the most important is the experience of failed projects. Actually, in IT, most people older than 25 will have plenty of those experiences. The older you get, the less you get fazed by crashes caused by off-by-one, OOB, uninitialized variables, permission errors. You will smell problems and you know KISS works.

    There are disadvantages to age, which can be compensated for by better use of practices and tools like...

    What was I talking about?

    1. Mr Humbug

      Re: age discrimination cannot be stopped

      > It's impossible to stop because most hirers or their agents want (or pretend there is legislation that requires) proof of identity.

      Your employer does have to have proof that you have the right to work in the UK. If it doesn't get that from you and it later turns out that are not allowed to work here then it is liable for up to £10,000 fine (per unlawfully working employee). If you are British the easisest way to establish that is either by seeing your passport or by seeing your birth certificate plus some other ID.

      However, they do not need this until they have made the decision to employ you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: age discrimination cannot be stopped

        You just contradicted yourself. An employee does not need proof. As you say the only case where it becomes a problem is if you do not have a right to work. If no check was carried out they get fined.

        The fine is for employing someone without the right to work. The fine isn’t for not carrying out a check.

        It is a question of risk, equality legislation complicating things making a blanket check everyone normally procedure, but not required.

        1. Mr Humbug

          Re: age discrimination cannot be stopped

          Yes, the fine is for employing someone unlawfully, but it is a defence to show that you checked. Therefore, the effect of the law is that employers are required to check. I could have put it better

    2. Snorlax

      Re: age discrimination cannot be stopped

      "It's impossible to stop because most hirers or their agents want (or pretend there is legislation that requires) proof of identity."

      I've never been asked for a copy of my passport/driving licence during the selection process.

      Always happens after accepting a job though...

      Asking for photo ID to determine an applicant's age probably isn't necessary anyway, Their work history should give a useful indication of age (if recruiters actually read CVs fully...)

  7. Sanguma Bronze badge

    Duno bout ewe but

    warning lights flsh whenever I see this sort of story. You see, I've had some education in the neuropsychology field, and the word/s that leap out at me from my educational background are "stereotypy", and "learned helplessness" and "perseveration". After all, didn't whosiewhatsit say that once you've boiled it all down, the truth is what remains, or words to that effect. (Some dude named Holmes, Lockjaw or something of the sort.)

    The terrible irony is that Human Resources is supposed to be one of the applications of psychology in the workplace. But you look at the employers screaming out for skilled employees, you look at the HR turning away all the skilled employees that they can, and you see this sort of mind-bogglingly stupid behaviour repeated without change, and if like me, you have some neuropsychological education, you immediately start wondering if HR and Management are neuropsychologically safe. Does being in Management or Human Resources damage you psychologically, that you repeat such self-damaging behaviours?

    In teresting question. One day I may get around to doing an MA/MSc or even a PhD on it.

  8. big_D Silver badge

    Lucky?

    I've swichted jobs 5 times since I was 40 and have had 7 job offers... One was for a young, open source startup, where I was the oldest employee. But not based in Silicon Valley...

  9. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    So how do you hide your age?

    When I took VR five years ago, the consultant peeps we got to help us find new work gave us the handy hint to not put our age on our CV, but my age is pretty easy to guesstimate given my education and job history, and words like 'VAX' rather give it away : -)

    1. Swiss Anton

      Re: So how do you hide your age?

      Lose the word VAX. My CV makes no mention of the time when I wrote software in C for a VAX. In-fact it doesn't refer to anything from more than ten years ago. I removed all the old jobs from it to get my CV down to two sides of A4. Reading it, you'd never guess that I've being doing this stuff for more than three decades. My CV doesn't even have my date of birth, or the dates of my education.

      Does it look suspicious if an employer can't guess my age from my CV?

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: So how do you hide your age?

        I've just realised that although I to pare down my CV to obfuscate my age a bit, I've also got a bit right at the top that says something like 'over 20 years experience in...".

        DOH!

        1. holmegm Bronze badge

          Re: So how do you hide your age?

          So say "over 10 years of experience in ... "

          It's still true ;)

    2. holmegm Bronze badge

      Re: So how do you hide your age?

      but my age is pretty easy to guesstimate given my education and job history, and words like 'VAX' rather give it away : -)

      So drop the oldest jobs from the CV, unless you are applying for running a VAX.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You only care if a sportsman scores goal or runs you probably don't care how old they are. Why is business or IT any different?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      How often do you see a 'new' sportsman at 40+?

      It surely happens, but certainly infrequently enough to be of note, so I don't think there are any areas where age-ism isn't applied to some degree.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Forget "new sportsmen". How many sportsmen are there at (or close to) 40? Raikkonen is 40, but he's losing his edge. Federer and Serena Williams are 38. Jimmy Anderson is 37. I think we might see it a bit more now we understand the human body better, but it's still going to be rare.

        1. ckm5

          Depends on the sport. Some do have people over forty like billiards, long distance sailing, shooting, etc.

          The winners of the Volvo Ocean Race are pretty much all over 40...

  11. Dolvaran

    This is hardly news. The situation has been the same for at least 2 decades. That's not to say that it's right, but then that's hardly new either.

    1. prinz

      Yes, that is true, but with prior generations it was not noticed as much because they were a much smaller group servicing technology that slowly faded with them while younger technologists took over the newer technologies that took center stage - so there wasn't as much competition from "young people" over the same work.

      But now - even with "The Cloud" and "functional programming" - a huge number of aging technologists have skills that are still needed widely across the market. Their technology is not fading away anytime soon and they would still like to compete...

    2. eldakka Silver badge

      This is hardly news.
      The news isn't there is age discrimination in employemnt.

      The news is that tthere is a new study that adds further corroboration to that.

      If you were not aware of this specific study before this story, then by definition it was news to you (it certainly was to me, I wasn't aware of this particular study).

    3. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      'This is not news!1111@322!!1'

      It's further evidence of it happening, rather than anecdotes and gripes.

      C.

  12. LucreLout Silver badge

    Ageism is the single most important discrimination...

    ...because as I've said before, even one legged black lesbians will get old eventually. We literally all have it in common.

    Simple legislation requiring employers to track age of applicants against role grades, with age of hires into those roles would reveal any hidden bias lurking. If millennial's don't deal with their ageism, they will come to a day when they will wish they had, and far quicker than they could ever believe right now.

    The state is going to struggle with asking us to work until we're 70 in IT if people are already struggling for work after 40. There's literally half a career left to go there. The easiest solution is going to be to allow people to withdraw funds at their marginal tax rate, from their private pension from any age they choose - at least middle aged devs with jobs will be able to over-fund their pot in anticipation of an ageist man-child that assumed because their non-technical parents can't program the TiVo, that anyone of similar age can't program anything at all. Alternatively you're going to have to support unemployed ex-devs on the state for 20 years when they could otherwise be supporting themselves.

    1. Erik4872

      Re: Ageism is the single most important discrimination...

      That's an interesting perspective, and I'm kind of in that "half a career left" boat too. Here in the US, you don't get Social Security until a minimum of 62 and you take a permanent hit on your monthly payment unless you wait until at least 67. For self-funded stuff (401K, IRA, etc.) you have to wait until you're 59.5. Anything you take out before that is taxed at your normal rate at the time, plus a 10% penalty to prevent not-smart uses of your retirement nest egg.

      I don't think it's a great solution, but let's assume hiring managers will continue to prefer young, abusable candidates over "experienced" ones. We'd end up having careers like professional athletes, where we had better put away everything we're making during the few years we can do it. Lowering the withdrawal age might tip some people who had early career success over to the early retirement side. People start having the most problems in their later 40s, so why not 49.5? It would reduce the number of people who are chronically unemployed and years away from being able to access their retirement money.

      There are plenty of older workers who want to continue working. They just might not want to spend 80 hours a week in a hipster office or take calls at 2 AM without compensation, simply because they've learned what that gets you in the long run.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    driving down costs

    Most of the problems in the IT industry vs age discrimination aren't anything to do with age as a number - its all to do with salary expectations.

    And those expectations aren't necessarily from the candidates demands, but a perception of what they are likely to be or that even if they hire you for 10 pound and hour you won't stay because as a "mature" person your capability to absorb a rubbish job for ten quid an hour is likely to be far less than a new graduate.

    In the UK onshore IT industry right now we face two problems with salaries:

    1) Offshore is cheaper

    2) The idea that anyone with whatever skill written on their CV is the same as anyone else with the same words.

    Of course if you are say a network engineer with 20 years experience you almost certainly have more capability than someone with 2 years experience. However you also have the cheek to have accrued pay rises over those 20 years and now are demanding 45k for a job that Johnny no-stars will do for 25k.

    This is both a problem with getting a new job and also hanging onto the one you already have - because the industry is trying very hard to push out these "expensive" resources and replace them with cheaper ones - either by offshoring or simply hiring in the noobs.

    As the age demographic continues to advance and final salary and even lowly state pensions become a thing of the past, this is a ticking time bomb that nobody seems to want to address or even speak about. We work until we die... the last twenty years being as a greeter in B&Q :-(

    For an example - one of our security guards (working for G4S) was an elderly gentleman who used to run a transport aviation company... now reduced to watching CCTV for a tenner an hour...

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: driving down costs

      My salary/rate expectations have nothing to do with my age, it has everything to do with my (proven) ability to add value to a company far in excess of what I can earn (such as saving millions, or helping develop systems that can generate millions etc.).

      However, I'm not about to go applying for a low level network engineering job and ask for a stupid salary - if the job doesn't require all my skills then I can hardly charge a client for things they don't need - no-one's that daft (quite).

      The art of getting work as you get older (imho) is to:

      1. Keep one eye over your shoulder. If the young-uns are catching you up a bit, time to get your skates on - no resting on laurels. Stay sharp and stay *interested* in what you are doing.

      2. Find jobs that require a broader range of skills, one's that companies struggle to full - they will be more likely to pay a premium if you can tick most of their boxes in one hit.

      2.1 Try and build a strong reputation so that jobs come to *you*.

      I'm sure there are other things, but they've slipped my mind and someone at work has the audacity to be calling me!

      Joking aside, one of the reasons contracting is so important to the IT industry in the UK is that it keeps you at the sharp end as you get older - no moldering away in a comfy job tied to a fat pension to make you lazy.

      All this IR35 bullshit is squarely aimed at the self-motivated, experienced IT worker. If it was (as they claim) just to catch out 'disguised employees' they wouldn't keep getting it wrong and updating it to catch out more people that aren't part of their originally stated target group. Again, just my opinion.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: driving down costs

      "Most of the problems in the IT industry vs age discrimination aren't anything to do with age as a number - its all to do with salary expectations."

      I expect to be paid a salary commensurate with the work I'm doing, not my age or experience. Why should a 50-year-old doing helpdesk work be paid more than a 20-year-old doing the exact identical helpdesk work? If anything it's the HR bots who are blinkered, "we can't take this 50-year-old for an entry-level job 'cos he'll be demanding senior-level wages". Don't be daft. An entry-level job pays entry-level wages, that's what you pay 'em.

      1. Snorlax

        Re: driving down costs

        "Why should a 50-year-old doing helpdesk work be paid more than a 20-year-old doing the exact identical helpdesk work?"

        What if he's closing twice the amount of tickets as his colleague? Getting better customer feedback? Less escalations? Better people skills? Better commercial awareness?

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: driving down costs

          Then he's not doing the exact same job. And put it the other way, if the 20-year-old is closing twice as many tickets as the 50-year-old, then yes, the 20-year-old should be being paid more than the 50-year-old.

          1. Snorlax

            Re: driving down costs

            ” Then he's not doing the exact same job.”

            Show me any helldesk where two people in the same role are paid the same, and have identical knowledge and productivity.

            To say someone’s not doing “the exact same job” is ridiculous as two individuals won’t approach an issue the same way unless they’re robots...

            1. YourNameHere

              Re: driving down costs

              If they are doing the exact same job they should be paid the same. This person seems to think that an older person should be paid more just because they have more experience? Just think of the ways this can be twisted. That must mean that I can go to the fast food restaurant and expect to be paid more since I have more "experience" Sure, just because I am some old bugger, I should be paid more...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: driving down costs

                Ok, so consider this:

                Helldesk person, starting salary 25k. Company pays a rise after each year if you hit your SLA's. Raise is 3% (just above average inflation, not unreasonable).

                Employee #1 - graduate, been in the job 6 months - number of raises received zero.

                Employee #2 - old timer, been in the same job for 20 years, quite happy to be performing his/her job to the required level, never wanted to move upwards or onwards - number of raises received twenty.

                Employee #2 earns 45k after twenty years.

                And that's the problem companies perceive, even if you stop giving raises, you have "oldies" who received them in the past and now earn more than someone else starting just now.

                That's how the big IT companies are looking at their employee base now.

                And that's before you start to consider Employee #2 is probably better at handling tickets than Employee #1.

                1. CaptainHook

                  Re: driving down costs

                  Stated like that, the solution would seem to be that the role should pay some base salary everyone doing that role gets and then a bonus each month/quarter/year to reward the performance of that employee in that role for the period in question.

                  Age becomes irrelevant, it is performance which matters.

                  Of course, there are a lot of issues with that approach.

                  1. companies just not giving that bonus out to save money (see the problems Oracle Sales Staff are having).

                  2. how do you divvie up the bonus pool among different roles within the company (do customer support and software dev have access to the same amounts of money?)

                  3. how do you measure performance (customer support has some simple metrics which could be used, software development doesn't).

                  4. employees gaming whatever metrics are used to track performance.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: driving down costs

          In that case he should be moving up the ranks PDQ. That assumes the employer recognises that there are such things and ranks and that they're important.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: driving down costs

            That presumes several things:

            1. There are ranks.

            2. The managers want to move this employee up the ranks.

            3. This employee wants to move up the ranks.

            However, in most cases, one or more of those things won't be true. For example, I don't want to move up the ranks of most employers, because my job is software development. Some places will have a "senior developer" role, which is effectively the same as my current position but they're paid more and have a bit more independence. Others don't bother with that; there is one rank and you just get pay raises if you've done well. Many of those places also have the concept of going up the ranks, and if you do so, you stop writing code all day and start managing others who do that. I don't want to manage, and therefore I don't want to go up.

            In this case, however, the problem is that the employer wouldn't want to move the employee up the ranks. Doing that wouldn't help them at all; they'd still be paid a higher amount, in fact they might deserve another raise which a discriminatory company wouldn't want to provide. In addition, a good helpdesk worker elevated to a new position wouldn't even be doing the helpdesk job they were so good at, and their superiors might now have to deal with their management, which is untested. Do you think a company that is already willing to discriminate based on age is going to take that risk, or will they try to get rid of the risk and hire a replacement at much less cost to them?

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: driving down costs

        Why should a 50-year-old doing helpdesk work be paid more than a 20-year-old doing the exact identical helpdesk work?

        They quite probably shouldn't be, however....

        I expect to be paid a salary commensurate with the work I'm doing, not my age or experience.

        Good luck with that.

        The age part is only relevant due to maximum years of gained experience, which is the valuable part of most employees. Someone with 5 years experience will make more mistakes, solve fewer problems, and deliver lower quality work than someone with 10 years experience, who compares similarly unfavorable with someone of 20 years, and so it goes, but as a generalization only. While you're young it's nice to pretend experience is irrelevant, but as you gain some, you'll see that it isn't - experience is just about the biggest value add you can bring.

        Its a proven fact that we learn new things in relation to the things we already know. Problem solving works the same way - we solve problems based on what we learned solving similar problems before.

        Its entirely possible to have 10 x 1 years experience, if you're not learning continually or are learning disparate things (1 year on Go, 1 on Java, 1 on C#, 1 on Python etc). So while you can have a 40 year old developer with poor coding skills, you can't have a 25 year old dev with ninja coding skills - they simply haven't lived enough days to earn the experience required.

        Everyone thinks they're "talented" in much the same way everyone thinks they're an above average driver. The average 30 something with 10 - 15 years coding experience is going to produce a lot more high quality output than the most talented 20 something with little to no experience.

  14. sum_of_squares
    Coat

    The reasoning behind this

    If you're young, finding a job is easy if you are OK with low-wage slaving. Not qualified for a position? Do junior position. Not qualified for a junior position? Do an internship.

    When you're older (and have some relevant work experience) you get more money, but it's generally harder to get a job in a certain position.

    Basically it's a psychological thing.

    You always need a lot of "ground crew" who brings all the coffee, does the donkeywork and admire the chieftains for their wisdom. But more chieftains, that know who they are and know they do a good job? No thanks.

    Also if you can do the work with 3 seasoned guys or 5 inexperienced guys, what would you chose? In most companies chieftains only care about how many people they lead, because "more people = more important". Yeah, it's stupid and wrong on so many levels, but that's how most companies look at it..

    tl,dr: young people are cheaper, easier to control and easier to replace, so bosses are prefer the zerg before the protoss

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The reasoning behind this

      in most companies chieftains only care about how many people they lead, because "more people = more important".

      This is an artefact of promotion policies. The policies are laid down by management types and that, by and large, is a criterion for managers. Obviously managers don't want a criterion such as "able to do the job well".

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There comes a time

    when pretty well all jobs become tedious and boring. Then it is usually time to start looking for pastures new.

    As you get older the time between starting the job and tedium sets in gets shorter.

    It happened to me then shortly after the SME that I was working for went TITSUP for good, I got the 'Big C'. Took me 18months to get myself together what with all the chemo etc.

    That made me think long and hard about what would happen if I could not get another job. 'Too risky from a health POV' was felt a few times when I explained my 18 month gap in my CV.

    I started making things from wood as therapy. Since I jacked in the IT world for good, I've gotten a pretty decent living as a furniture restorer and upholsterer after some excellent retraining. Now I'm my own boss. no greasy pole to climb, no timesheets to submit and no Reviews every few months and certainly no PHB messing things up. Bliss.

    I'd like to suggest that anyone in the IT world who is over 50 (and possibly 40) should think about a second career. One of my friends from the IT world has just had his third novel published. Like me, he does not get a huge income but it keeps the wolf from the door and is doing something that is really enjoyable.

    1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

      Re: There comes a time

      "I started making things from wood as therapy. Since I jacked in the IT world for good, I've gotten a pretty decent living as a furniture restorer and upholsterer after some excellent retraining."

      Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

      Joking apart, I enjoy woodworking and cabinetry as a hobby. If I could make a living off it, I would be super happy!

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: There comes a time

        I'm seriously thinking about designing level 10 puzzles as a backup career.

        Have a look at some of the John Ramsay (sp?) youtube videos on him solving puzzles - some of them are genuinely awesome.

    2. james_smith Silver badge

      Re: There comes a time

      My "backup" plan is electronics - specifically the repair and restoration of vintage music equipment and home computers. It's something I do as a hobby and out of necessity, since the good techs are few, backlogged with work and bloody expensive. It's something I can also do at home, cutting out commute time and cost.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: There comes a time

      "anyone in the IT world who is over 50 (and possibly 40) should think about a second career"

      IT was my second career. And after half a working lifetime in the scientific grades of the Civil Service I certainly needed the money.

  16. werdsmith Silver badge

    The most effective and productive IT and other organisations I've worked in employ a mixture of ages, family status and experience levels.

    The experienced ones mentor the inexperienced and the mix of ages and types leads to people getting along much better with less clashes.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Ages - 50 year range

      Our programmers

      Early 70s

      Mid 50s (Senior)

      Mid 20s (Team Leader)

      Early 20s (Apprentice)

      So the mid 20s organises what work the senior staff do while learning off them.

      OK I am bad at organising times but good at writing stuff. I still get paid more than the team leader.

  17. jason 7

    I gave up 10 years ago at 38!

    Just went round and round in circles. The other problem was (and maybe the main one) was that I didn't have a degree, just 20 years hard experience.

    I was of the age that we didn't have to go to Uni for 90% of jobs. But thanks to Blair's great idea that every kid should go to Uni to study Media Studies and contemporary dance...every job now requires a degree.

    Yayyyy!

    I was also told my customer centric stance (sit with the customer, find out and understand how they work, build a relationship, don't make assumptions, look them in the eye, no BS etc. etc.) scares the shit out of grey-haired dull little IT Managers that love to hide away. You know the type, the ones that think the business exists purely to support and enable the IT dept to exist not the other way around. Lot of them about.

    So I went self-employed. Life is good. I'll never be a millionaire but at least I don't loathe myself.

    1. james_smith Silver badge

      Re: I gave up 10 years ago at 38!

      I'm lucky in that I have a degree, but I don't put the subject down on my CV just the grade I got, since it's in a non-IT related subject. Thankfully recruiters and interviewers assume it's an IT related degree, and if they ever find out the subject it's after I've got the job.

      As an aside, the best programmer I've ever worked with had dropped out of a medical degree and quit university altogether. Like me, he learned to program on home computers in the 1980s.

      1. Portent

        Re: I gave up 10 years ago at 38!

        I'm 50 now and worked in IT since I left school. I didn't go to university and have luckily never found it held me back (it was a different world back then). Like you I learned on home computers in the 1980's and 1990's (VIC 20, C64, Amiga). The difference with people who learned during that era was that we did it because we LOVED it and not because of the money (the money definitely came later and was definitely good). I'm probably in the minority nowadays but when interviewing people I don't care about their level of education. I look for that genuine passion for the subject. I look for the person who is self taught because they want to be in IT. Sadly most people nowadays seem to get into IT because it's a well paid job. But I look for the real enthusiast who still teaches themselves new stuff as a hobby.

  18. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    How on earth do you make an application age-blind? The very application process itself reveals your age.

    * How many GCSEs do you have?

    # I don't, I did O levels.

    # I have 30 years experience of software development.

    * Ooooo, oldie!

    # I completed my degree in 1985.

    * OOooo!!! ANCIENT!!!

    1. Tomato42

      write "over 10 years of experience of software development"

      1. ckm5

        The current scam is to ask when you graduated from college. I always put that I'm expecting my masters some time in the future.... Which is totally true as I ran out of money doing my Masters in the mid-'90s and I may go back to it sometime in the future....

  19. msknight

    I'm in for an interesting time.

    I passed 50 last year and I'm just about to look for another Infrastructure job in Sussex. Just got my new interview suit and about to get my hair done. I've got experience and another 17 years to give an employer before I'm officially out to pasture.

    Guess I'm screwed then.

    1. jason 7

      Re: I'm in for an interesting time.

      Pretty much! Welcome to the self-employed/semi-retired club!

  20. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Provided that the candidate is basically ticking the right boxes in terms of technical competence then the single factor that influences my thinking over a hire/bin decision - by a country mile - is their previous pattern of employment.

    I have seen too many cases of people who have held a number of previous posts for a year or two each but who are fundamentally rubbish at what they claim to do. In a suitably large organisation one-to-two years is just about long enough to get away with not being found out to be an oxygen thief...stay any longer than that and you get found out.

    So option 1 - candidate in their late 20's with a few jobs at major employers under their belt, versus option 2 a 40-or-50-something guy who's been steadily employed by one or two organisations over the last decade or two

    Option 1 looks to have more years in them than option 2, but I'd seriously question whether they might be out of the door a lot sooner than that. Option 2 might not have any many years left in them, but they've shown they can hold down a job.

    Then it comes down to the final test of do I like them / do they seem like they'd be good company in the cafeteria / happy to get their round in on a team night out down the pub?

    1. jason 7

      I think your approach is on the right lines.

      However, many companies leave the initial CV vetting to the (let's not hold back here) total *uckwits in HR.

      If you can't do any job then get a job in HR.

      If the CV doesn't cover a couple of initial browsing criteria then in the bin it goes. Experience and job history rarely get a look in on that front.

      1. msknight

        I do wonder how much of a part the agency plays in this.

        There was a job near me that ticked most of the boxes... but it didn't even get to interview stage.

        The employer was actively inclusive/diversive and after researching them I was really interested in not only the job, but them as well... and I would have been a tick box for their diversity stats as well. But not even an interview.

        I do believe that there should be a legal requirement that there is confirmation as to whether the CV was actually put forward to the potential employer for their consideration in the first place. I'm blind beyond the agent, and that is a serious concern I have.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "I do wonder how much of a part the agency plays in this."

          I remember seeing a contract ad that specified someone with experience of the client's in-house bespoke system. The system which I started writing about 20 years earlier. The system I spent the next 10 years on and off - but mostly on - managing, migrating and enhancing. I suspect they were actually looking for me. Never heard anything more about it.

      2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        However, many companies leave the initial CV vetting to the (let's not hold back here) total *uckwits in HR.

        I'm lucky in that HR don't get involved in our selection process. The CVs I see come from a specialist recruitment agency who I trust to do a suitable initial filter.

        Interestingly in the context of the article under discussion, is that part of their service is to reformat all of the CVs into a common format/structure, including removal of date of birth. My company explicitly forbids interviewers from asking interviewees how old they are.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "part of their service is to reformat all of the CVs"

          You really need to trust the agency hen. From the applicants' PoV they don't trust agencies doing that.

    2. Xenobyte

      Well, the length of employment is not necessarily an indicator of anything besides the obvious - the length of employment.

      I'm going on 54 and I've had several jobs since I turned 50. Not once was I terminated due to lack of skills but for other reasons.

      Job 1: Quit. Job content changed from a developer-type job to a DBA-style job.

      Job 2: Headhunted. Terminated after 2½ years due to downsizing following a merger.

      Job 3: Headhunted. Fixed term contract

      Job 4: Headhunted. Terminated after 9 months due to downsizing for economic reasons.

      Job 5: Headhunted. Extremely high IQ, qualification and security requirements. Still here after 1 year.

    3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      The problem is, almost all work nowadays *is* bits and pieces and chopping and changing every few months.

      I'm doing Windows 7 roll-outs. In two months the job finishes. Previously I was doing new-user installations, a couple of days here, a couple of days there. Previously three bouts of Windows 7 roll-outs. The *reality* of today's employment environment destroys any possibility of accruing the "steady employment for few employers" schtick that HR demands. The very HR that refuses to provide the very "steady employment for few employers" that they themselves are demanding.

      1. jason 7

        That or the job description lists so many things you would have had to have been doing the job since the age of 5.

        I saw on a IT Manager role of £80000 a requirement for "Will be required to install and connect Ethernet cables when required" plus about 20 other such 'non-Manager' type requirements.

        Now I don't mind...but really...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Bits and pieces

          Most potential employers or agencies don't like it if your skillset is too wide. They tell you about being a "jack of all trades".... and then require their senior web developer candidate also knows how to trouble shoot Minolta photo copiers and deal with their PBX.

          It's a curious world...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Steady as she goes

        Oh and one minute they are saying "but you seem to have kept leaving jobs" and the next one says that "why did you stay for 10 years at your current employer? Are you institutionalised? Were you too lazy to leave?"

        There is no one right answer to these pr1cks.

    4. ckm5

      It depends on the geographic location. Where I am, anyone staying in a job for more than 2 years is viewed with suspicion....

  21. Joe Drunk

    One thing that seems to be missed is that post 50, you really can't work 80 hour weeks any more and the hunger for career advancement is waning.

    That pretty much sums up why I left the IT field. The last gig I had was IT Project Management in finance sector. Every job offer I had required me to make my cubicle my primary residence. That was the worst part - knowing that when you jumped ship (which I've done many times over the years) nothing was going to change other than the name of the company on your paycheck. I missed out on so much in life because my job became my life. I was pretty burned out. I don't miss it or the cancerous corporate culture in the least.

    1. jason 7

      Yeah I get asked a lot if I would go back to working for a corporation. My response is -

      "No! I would be calling out the first line of BS/arse-covering/buck-passing from any manager or co-worker within 5 minutes and maybe beating them to a pulp within 10!"

      Being my own boss, the buck stop s with me. I have to take full responsibility. I can't tolerate corporate types now. They seem too cowardly and up their own arses.

      Once you leave a corporation you realise that no-one outside that domain gives a single shit about you, your job or the project/product you are working on.

      You are not important.

      You are not irreplaceable.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm 45 and i wouldn't employ me... far too jaded and miserable.

  23. YourNameHere

    Not always incorrect

    With age, experience and baggage MAY come. There are just as many idiot grey haired engineers as young perky ones. This article makes it seem that older engineers are just better...NOT. The problem with older ones it their baggage can not be fixed where as a young idiot's can be fixed sometimes. Plus the young perky ones don't know all of the ways to play games to keep their jobs while doing a minimum of work if any. Plus, young engineers don't have a life yet, they will take work home, they are willing to learn, they are willing to take on tasks that everyone else has shunned because they don't know any better and , oh, by the way, they usually cost a lot less. You just need a few of the older ones to herd them.

  24. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Indirect age discrimination

    One other point is that many jobs these days will only consider applicants that have qualifications that didn't exist when we old-timers were starting out. Terms such as "I.T." and "LAN" etc. had not even been invented until I had been working in digital electronics and computer programming for over 20 years, and entire computer-related fields of study were unknown in the 1970's, so there was no chance of getting a qualification that is even remotely related to many that are demanded now, let alone equivalent.

    We old farts kept up with the technology as it developed by incremental self-learning while on the job - but that doesn't provide the necessary pieces of paper to allow us to qualify to even apply for many jobs that we could do in our sleep. I suppose Open University or similar would be an option, but most people would not think of getting a qualification in a field they have been happily working in for decades - until they lose their job and so need it - by which time it's too late to spend the necessary time & money on education.

    1. jason 7

      Re: Indirect age discrimination

      I did consider the Open University route however, the cost, the time involved plus most of the folks I know with computing/IT degrees...seem to know next to nothing of IT.

      Plus I didn't fancy spending all that time learning stuff that was 5 years+ out of date and would never apply in real life.

      Instead I got Prince2/ITIL etc. qualifications.

      Ahh well!

  25. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Dell, Limerick

    First time I encountered ageism at an interview:

    "You're 32. The average age here is 27. Do you really think you'd be able to fit in?"

    "Well the best places I've worked have had a wide age range from teenagers to sixty somethings because they bring different attributes."

    The gobshites didn't even pay my promised travel expenses. I told that to my later bosses who were all older than me and none of them ever bought Dell again.

    Don't put your age on your CV, dye your hair, leave your first ten years of work off. IT isn't the most ageist industry, that would be modelling or football, but we are up there.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Corp USA sucks balls

    So I'm in my mid-forties. I've been in IT for about 20 years. I dunno if this just applies to the good ol' US of A, but I've noticed HR evolve in their hiring practices.

    When I was in my 20s, I did get exploited and I was dumb. The hiring department (HR) at this time didn't really seem to care about anything other than my salary or wages when interviewing. In my 30s, it was kind of the same except there was more"check the box" stuff. Whatever. I was smarter, got a decent salary, and got a lot more wise about how the working class got exploited. So yes, I was therefore underpromising and underdelivering. Never got fired, kept my skills up to date, just did what I wanted walking a fine line of my job description and my LIFE. In my 40s, HR got sophisticated to the level of uncompromising dumbness. Every interview included a "cognitive exam" (to see if you know basic math and writing), a "personality test" (to see how submissive you are), and a comprehensive background check. Then came the physical interviews. I've got some wrinkles and spots of grey in my hair (probably from working 20 hours a day in my 20s), and yea, now it's a fucking battle. There's no doubt that age (plus these new "sophisticated" tests) judges the outcome.

    I can't wait until AI makes these "smart" decisions on behalf of HR and ensuing legal battles regarding "proprietary" AI hiring decision-making.

    ...Oops, now I'm late for work... fuck you, to my shit manager Anton.

    1. jason 7

      Re: Corp USA sucks balls

      I got asked to come along for an interview. I called up and asked what kind it was.

      When they told me, I said "Look sorry but I don't waste my time doing performing monkey interviews that last 5 hours!"

      She was speechless. Made me feel better.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Corp USA sucks balls

        I got an offer of an interview as a cyber security consultant for a large multinational auditing company...

        I got the details of the interview.... it was a whole day.

        I queried it with the agency and they told me it was a group interview where I'd have to role play and cooperate with other candidates. I might have to put on a play or sing a song or create something out of pieces of random sh1t.

        I pointed out that if I wanted that, I'd go on a TV reality show and that this was not how to recruit the highly experienced security professionals that they had asked for and f*ck you very much.

        FFS

        1. jason 7

          Re: Corp USA sucks balls

          Yep that was the deal I was given. No way.

          Playing party games and being watched.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Corp USA sucks balls

          I had that when being interviewed for what turned out to be a phone-jockey job for Additional-Fish-Gathering-Device. I went along with it just to get the tick on my JSA form, but was continuously wondering: I applied for a software engineering job, why are they interviewing me for a customer service job?

    2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Corp USA sucks balls

      > I can't wait until AI makes these "smart" decisions on behalf of HR

      Errr... they already are (have a look behind the ATSs/applicant tracking systems).

      Problem: who do you think is training the AIs?

      HR.

  27. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    Well I'm screwed then

    Having been at my present employer for around 15 years, turning 40 soon and have vast experience in 2 different but converging areas.

    To be blunt if the company I work for gets sold off and merged I will be out on my arse as they wouldn't want to pay for me.

    The only real prospect is getting a job with one of my current customers or suppliers, an option that I do not relish at all. OR as many at my age that were lucky enough to get on the housing masked are choosing, renting out property, buying a shitty flat to live in and scraping a living reselling Fracking Office 365 migrations and support meh.

  28. SVV Silver badge

    Age discrimination

    It's certainly a thing : The last time I went looking for a new job I encountered a number of interviews run by younger people than me who seemed only interested in people younger than me. I suspected that a lot of the reluctance came from not wanting to hire someone with more knowledge and experience than they had, as they thought that that might mean that I would get the more senior level work they were hoping to get themselves.

    However, you can't make CVs age blind, simply because they list all the places you've worked and stuff you've done, and if you're older there's quite a lot more stuff on them than if you're a whippersnapper.

  29. Nifty Silver badge

    I was doing a remortgage and found myself being quizzed for 20 mins by (I estimate) a 25 year old building society employee. He asked me outright how I could expect to continue working in IT till the end of the mortgage term (being middle aged now). I did feel under pressure and had to explain to him in baby steps how IT equipment just keeps improving and making my job easier. My monitors have got steadily larger...

    Personally I know that every year I add some 'life hacks' or software tools to my job tasks and just keep getting more productive. Not to mention that I'm also using BYOD phone and company tablet, that's all new in the last few years and really improved how flexibly I work while keeping stress in check. 25 yo mortgage advisors and recruiters, please take note!

  30. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Apart from being an issue for individuals this is a huge economic cost for the country. Freelance has been the way round this in the past. IR35 is just another of the levers governments are using to destroy the economy.

  31. scarper

    Things To Do

    I just retired, but here's what I did latterly:

    FIrst, drop the old stuff from the resume, and leave off the dates of any old stuff you can't bear to jettison.

    Second, look young. If you have some white hairs, well, fix it. Hair dye may strike you as vain, but that's better than unemployed.

    Third, keep learning. Try to pick up something, every year, that will be worth putting in the resume.

    Fourth, search for the new job while you still have the last one. I broke this rule once (I got fired) and wound up with a six month vacation.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ageism?

    I write enterprise software for IBM mainframes. Frankly, if you weren't in the game 30 years ago, you missed the boat. Completely free of young people (ie. under 50) who will never get the opportunity to have a proper play around with the brutes. Long may it continue.

  33. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Devil

    Oh look

    this story has popped up again... note the word again

    Cast your minds back 15-20 yrs... when a bored cockroach decided to do an OU degree in the vain hope of getting a better job (min wage stuff sucks)

    Cue much malarky with smalltalk, java , Borland C++ (remember that?) .. moving swiftly onto the joys of embedded systems (and an exam that relied for 15% of its marks on a page &1/2 topic hidden inside the 5 course books), finally falling out via concurrent systems design.

    Lets apply for jobs I thinks... with the ink still wet on the diploma

    nope

    nope

    nope

    nope

    Ok maybe leave my age off and only list the last 10yrs of jobs

    Oh an interview (nope)

    Another interview (I'm the oldest applicant ... by 15yrs)

    Pretty much every job wanted someone in the age range 22-30 with 15 yrs experience in tech that had only been out 6 months (not being prepared to work 160 hrs a week was also a big downer)

    And then the big realisation hit.... all the agencies were using 'buzz word' matching to send CVs on to clients.. if you didnt have the buzz word, the cv went in the bin.

    So for this poor min wage worker aged 40'ish wanting to change jobs... no chance... after all... why does someone aged 40 want an entry level job?

    Ah well enough with the glumness, and back to wrangling those robots making medical equipment.... and just maybe one of those recruiters who brutally rejected me 15 yrs ago will end up inplanted with the only scrap part to escape inspection this week. :)

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Oh look

      HR Tip re job-type changes :

      only ONE type of qualification will enable this: the MBA.

      HR just thinks it's special magic.

      Skill-specific quals.... nup. As you discovered. As many of my old candidates did. The only successes were by luck and/or contacts.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Oh look

      "So for this poor min wage worker aged 40'ish wanting to change jobs... no chance... after all... why does someone aged 40 want an entry level job?"

      The government ***INSISTS**** that people retrain two or three times in life and change careers, by definition that is entering entry level jobs past 40. They're insisting I work until 67 - not just retire at 67, but *WORK* all the way up to there as well, and my neices and nephews are being instructed to work until they are 75. How on earth is that going to work with employers refusing to employ people? It's as though employers *WANT* the economy to collapse and the population to starve.

      It's also working its way up the system, two years ago I applied to do a Masters' and was told I was too old.

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Oh look

        /sarcasm, poorly masking teeth-grinding

        :O

        I *do* hope you're not suggesting that there is perhaps a scintilla of hypocrisy and/or disregard-for-consequences in the pronouncements vs the policies of our self-appointed elites?

        > two years ago I applied to do a Masters' and was told I was too old

        This made my blood simultaneously boil and freeze.

  34. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

    I am in London. My last job change was when I was 50 (it was couple years ago).

    I got several job offers in a very short time choosing the one I liked at the end. But I am quite recent in terms of technical knowledge and latest technologies. It might be more difficult for someone with obsolete skills.

  35. Agincourt and Crecy!
    Facepalm

    Clueless agencies.

    I had one recruitment tell me it wasn’t worth putting my CV forward as older workers found it harder to pick up the skills new graduates have.

    I pointed him to the section of my CV that describes my part time role as a lecturer in a university teaching those new cutting edge technical skills to the next batch of new graduates.

    I then asked what was it that led him to the view that I might be able to teach something I wouldn’t be able to learn.

    What we have in recruitment is the hopelessly unqualified matching words on a CV with a list they’ve been given by a droid in HR and applying unconscious bias.

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