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IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
3/12/2013 | 4:21:50 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
Jonathan makes some good points, yet I suspect some of his advice may not be very soothing for people who have never worked in a smaller company, never mind a startup. Running your own company, or even working at a startup, is not a fit for every personality.

There is no shame in saying you don't want to run your own company but you do want to work with a smart team at a small or midsize company. But if that's where you are at, your personal network will be crucial.

Laurianne McLaughlin
InformationWeek
vbierschwale
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vbierschwale,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/12/2013 | 5:02:35 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
While I can't disagree with the technology portions, you still are missing the point.

When you have applied for all civil service jobs.
When you have applied for all private sector jobs.

And you can't buy a interview.

What do you suggest?

I ask because I believe the people that I hear from at Keep America at Work would like to know.
jfeldman
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jfeldman,
User Rank: Strategist
3/12/2013 | 9:46:28 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
It's a big long answer, but you'll find it in some of the books I recommend. Hang in there!
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
3/12/2013 | 5:24:27 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
Technology changes faster than corporations are willing to invest. Corporations are all grasshoppers not ants that prepare. When they decide its time to invest in new technology, most often their staff are NOT up to the task. Instead of investing in people, they'd rather raid overseas companies that do. Its very hard for the current staff to keep up to date on technology not used by the current employer and when the employer finally decides to upgrade there isn't enough time to retrain existing staff. They are disgraded for those that have the new technology skills.
$28018109
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$28018109,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/12/2013 | 7:13:17 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur

Over the years I have come to judge IT departmental management by the level of urgency - or lack of urgency - of their personnel needs as displayed in the job requirements submitted to their preferred vendors (personnel agencies). Requirements like ***HOT***!!! URGENT!! *IMMEDIATE* START!!! ... I know already that the management of the department is poor and does little to no planning. They've probably piled all the knowledge, work, and responsibility onto one person with a name - that name is leaving - and no system was ever in place to spread that knowledge beyond that one person. And if I submit my resume and get and take the assignment, I know that I will be walking into a Mess. At that point I have to think about the rate, the commute, and any other perks and decide if they are worth walking into the Mess.
This speaks to the plea we hear from the executives and lobbyists that the companies simply can't be bound to a process of having to look for American talent first before reaching for the phone and calling the H-1B visa mill, because they need people almost immediately due the exigencies of the tech business blah blah blah... I just call it poor planning.

Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
3/12/2013 | 5:49:48 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
For older IT people that keep their skills up to date and relevant, there seems to be no shortage of work, at least form what I am seeing. However, there does seem to be some expectation that if you are older, you probably haven't kept your skillset up to date.
Another thing that sags with age for too many people is the interest in the work, the excitement about it. Finding an older person who has kept current, and is still excited about cool new stuff is not so easy. I am one of them though, and have had no problem finding work. In fact, I have turned away more work in the last 2 or 3 years than ever.
I can't blame companies if my skills lag behind what they need, or I am not excited about my work.
Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/13/2013 | 3:21:38 AM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
I think part of the problem here, with an older IT person who has kept current and isn't excited about cool new stuff... technology has a cycle of "new ideas" that seem to be recycled from the old ones of yesteryear.

For example, the push to cloud computing - Great, you want to put all of your applications, data and computing power in a single location and access them remotely. Years ago, we called that mainframe computing. When you've been around long enough, you see all of the different trends ebb and flow. It's hard to get excited about something new when you remember seeing it peak, flourish and then die away to be replaced by something else.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
UberGoober
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UberGoober,
User Rank: Strategist
3/15/2013 | 5:00:30 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
Actually, Andrew, we called it a "service bureau" if we didn't own the computer and hired space on someone elses and accessed it remotely; this is exactly analogous to what we call 'cloud computing' today. If we did own the computer, it was the mainframe (or mini in smaller companies).
John80224
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John80224,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/12/2013 | 7:32:33 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
I've not yet read that far into your article, but to answer your first question:

Welcome to corporate America. It may be a distorted view, but we generally have three options: 1) work where a future exists, 2) work where a fabulous future might exist if the cards fall right or 3) work where there's no future but comfort. The last two are essentially the same--smallish companies. (2) is simply newer or still thinks they're destined for bigger things. The first then is the only established option--large corporations who treat employees like cattle, but where there's an infrastructure that retirement, movement, new initiatives and the annual reorg at least provide potential for growth. Also, just because the current management in your company may be stupid does not guarantee that the next reorg's will be.

Personally, I was recruited and ready to be a manager days before the layoffs started. It left me four years away from being in even a partially similar situation again.

And sometimes, not all of us get to have our dream job. I find it fairly cavalier possibly even naive to insinuate we should be happy to be tossed aside because of what we see as current poor management.
TreeInMyCube
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TreeInMyCube,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/12/2013 | 9:14:06 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
Good stuff, Jonathan. I appreciate the IEEE data sources and quotes from professors -- a welcome antidote from pontificating. I also agree with Somedude8 -- the enthusiasm level among 40-something and 50-something IT workers is often substantially different from that of 20-somethings. The desire for excellence remains, but the passion has become more nuanced. "I know what it feels like to push really hard, and not seem to make progress -- been there, did that. Give me some tough, technical problem to solve and get outta my way!" Another factor affecting passion/enthusiasm for older IT pros are those who have spent some time in supervision (like me). Are my technical chops current? Um, no. I had to invest some time and effort in improving my leadership and people skills. Will that help me get a job doing mobile app development or big data analytics? Nope. More importantly, how would I position those skills to distinguish me from the bazillion other IT supervisors who may also have been laid off in a recen re-org or outsourcing?
jfeldman
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jfeldman,
User Rank: Strategist
3/12/2013 | 9:45:03 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
Thanks "Tree!" Yeah, data is really important to me as well. I have to tell you, people who understand technology who ALSO understand leadership are in such short supply, I think you WILL be distinguished if and when the reorg / layoff happens. Another helpful thing to do is to participate in community forums (with your real name, LOL). I know some folks who DO NOT hire unless there's a significant "google track" for the candidate. I'm not necessarily a fan of that practice, but it's being done and folks need to be aware of it.
Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/13/2013 | 3:31:20 AM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
Jonathan - I've seen some wild and crazy stuff in my days, but one that really got to me regarding odd-ball layoffs and an extremely bad case of leadership happened as an organization that I'm familiar with had just completed it's second acquisition in less than 6 months. Things looked to be going very well - and then the wheels came off in VERY short order. Within 10 business days, 40% of the C-suites emptied (CFO and COO). Within the next 10 business days, an entire development team which had built a platform that handled upwards of 750 million web hits a day got laid off - every single person on the team. Within the next 20 business days, internal support started getting cut.

These were people that had been with the company since the day that the doors opened (12 years), all gone... because the second merger was done without management fully understanding the implications of what they were doing.

Leadership capabilities and positions, loyalty to the company... none of that matters in the market anymore, especially when you have top echelon management making very serious mistakes. At that point, all of the credentials and skillset in the world can't save people from being collateral damage.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
EVVJSK
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EVVJSK,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/13/2013 | 1:14:47 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
Sounds like a Private Equity Firm takeover or something similar. Slash and Burn now, rebuild later at lower cost with cheaper staff.
John80224
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John80224,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/12/2013 | 9:45:42 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
OK, I've read the rest. There's some solid advice, but I would suggest that it not just be left to, "Oh well, I got screwed. What's left?"

Absolutely, griping solely because you are mad solves very little beyond some initial cathartic sense. But working toward positive change, even if it does not directly undo the wrongs you perceived against you, does mitigate the chances it will happen again or to someone else.
dbell947
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dbell947,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/12/2013 | 10:30:27 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
Well I am a violator of the Under 40 times 2 Rule. I am I.T., I am over 40, and I make over 40k. If I work for a small start up there is the force of probabilities (80% or more AGAINST a start up succeeding). Maybe I can choose to simply deny the force of probabilities, but then I can deny gravity too. However, if I jump off a bridge, reality WILL hit me no matter how I personally "feel" about it via "positive thinking." So fortunately I had a plan B to I.T. I am also a licensed health professional, and my old job classification pays better than I.T., isn't age-ist, can't be outsourced, and PAYS for my CEUs so I can renew my license. Adios I.T. But consider this: what if medicine, research science, or other professions had the "Under 40 times 2 Rule" that dominates I.T.? What discoveries and information would be sacrificed? Einstein would have been thrown on the junk heap before expanding his theories, R. Oppenheimer would not have developed fission (he was over 40 and goodbye nuclear industry), Salk would have not developed his vaccine (he was over 40 when it was released and then hello polio). I.T., due to age-ism is truly no profession in which to spend much time, nor any profession in which to count on if you want to have a reasonably secure future. And despite the Horatio Alger, John Wayne, "free market" bravado, even big companies hate and fear competition. And they have far more resources and risk tolerance than most I.T. pros.
jfeldman
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jfeldman,
User Rank: Strategist
3/14/2013 | 8:41:13 PM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
There's a big myth about "startup failure." The definition of "failure" to a venture capitalist is VERY different than a "failure" to someone who is "just" trying to make a great salary and have a sustainable business. Read $100 Startup -- Chris has some great data in his book.
Faye Kane, homeless brain
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Faye Kane, homeless brain,
User Rank: Strategist
3/31/2013 | 8:13:47 AM
re: IT Age Discrimination: You're Not The Dinosaur
==--
If people treat you unfairly and illegally at work, start your own company? What kind of bull shee-yit advice is this?

That's like telling a black guy who was wrongly fired by a new racist boss to go back to Africa.

It's like telling someone who was turned down by an employer because he's gay to forget about it and move to Provincetown.

Your advice is basically "Got beat up and robbed on the street? Tough tiddies!"

Yeah, we all know that we're free to start our own company! So WHAT? We're also free to win the lottery or get a job throwing burgers at McDonald's. I could even work as a stripper.

But none of us cares about that because we want to be hired.
As an employee.
In a cubicle.
By an employer.
At a company.


We don't want to start a new company! We want to go to work every day like everyone else does and like we always have until we were treated with shocking disrespect by office politics, wrongly fired, and everyone said how shameful it was and looked the other way.

I was a purple squirrel at an AOL interview. There probably aren't but a dozen people in the country who had the exact obscure skills they needed, and I had truly astounding references. I even said I'd work for less than the going rate if that's what it took to work at my perfect job.

It was *OBVIOUS* that I didn't get hired because I'm 20 years older than the kid interviewing me, as well as everyone I passed in the hall there.

And that wasn't the first time; it was just the last straw. I ultimately gave up, abandoned "humanity", and moved into a cave in the woods where I steal electricity, have wireless net, and lay around naked all day reading math books and watching porn. (Yes really, google me.) But I'd much RATHER do the complex things I love, that I've won awards for doing, and do far better than anyone else.

Your article is useless. If you don't have a solution to this market failureGă÷and there is none save tearing down greed-based capitalism and replacing it with functional, integrated systems managementGă÷then just STFU and write an article about something else.

-- faye kane homeless brain
The sexiest astrophysicist you'll ever see naked


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