Strategic CIO // Team Building & Staffing
Commentary
7/7/2014
09:06 AM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
Commentary
50%
50%

Too Old To Earn Big In IT?

If you're feeling like your IT career has passed its 'sell by' date, you're not alone, according to the results of our latest flash poll.

The conventional wisdom is that the best way to increase your salary is to switch companies. In our survey, 4,946 (42%) of the 11,662 respondents say they're looking for a new job this year. Of those, 72% of staffers and 70% of managers cited a pay raise as their No. 1 reason.

Of course, that's not the only way to get a fatter IT paycheck. In the InformationWeek article IT Salary: 10 Ways To Get A Raise, Mark Berger, senior technical recruiter at Steven Douglas Associates, writes that while you may be tempted to jump ship for more pay, you should consider asking for a raise first. Berger says:

Have a conversation with your manager before you make a change. Employees sometimes don't see the value in their own work and think the only way to get an increase in pay is to look elsewhere.

Is Berger onto something here? Are older employees, in particular, not doing enough to show their value to their organizations?

Based on our Salary Survey results, you have a lot to offer. Not only do the respondents to our survey have a wide range of IT experience, more than half also have worked in non-IT related roles. About one fifth of IT staffers (21%) and IT managers (22%) have worked in sales and marketing. Nearly as many IT staffers (19%) and managers (22%) have worked in operations, supply chain, or manufacturing. Another 18% of IT staffers and 14% of IT managers have worked in non-IT support area, while 11% of staffers and 14% of managers have worked in non-IT finance roles.

Salary plateaus notwithstanding, the value of experience could be reflected in unemployment numbers reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From May 2013 to May 2014, the average US unemployment rate for all adults age 16 and over was 6.93%, compared with 5.33% for those age 45 to 54 and 4.96% for those age 55 and over. If we exclude those who are near college age or younger, those age 25 to 34 experienced the highest average rate of unemployment (7.1%) in that time frame. (Note: These figures don't reflect individuals in any age group who have stopped seeking employment.)

Let's not lose sight of the fact that you're bringing key skills to your organization. Our Salary Survey shows the following as the five most critical skills for IT staffers and managers:

  • Aligning business and technology goals
  • Analyzing data
  • Collaborating with internal stakeholders
  • Interacting with customers
  • Experimenting with cutting-edge technology

Those are high-value skills in any organization. Are they valued in yours? If your career has stalled, perhaps it has to do with how you're conducting yourself within your organization. Are you spending time getting to know your colleagues in other business departments? Our Salary Survey shows that an alarming 43% of IT staffers and 27% of IT managers don't spend time with peers in a business unit outside of IT. And for 20% of IT staffers and 33% of IT managers, spending time with peers in other units applies to less than half of their jobs. Only 30% of IT staffers and 40% of IT managers say 50% or more of their job involves spending time with colleagues in other business units.

Maybe it's time you invited a few non-IT colleagues out to lunch?

If this sounds like I'm blaming the victim, that's not my intention. Ageism is ugly, and it's part of many corporate cultures. If your experiences at your organization fit the EEOC definitions, I encourage you to seek professional advice.

If you're experiencing a career situation that falls into the multitude of shady areas not defined by law, then let's talk about it. What causes you to think you're a victim of ageism? Do you think you've been underpaid, unemployed, or underemployed ever since you reached a particular age range? How proactive are you about displaying your value to your organization? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.

Susan Nunziata works closely with the site's content team and contributors to guide topics, direct strategies, and pursue new ideas, all in the interest of sharing practicable insights with our community. Nunziata was most recently Director of Editorial for ... View Full Bio
Previous
2 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 6   >   >>
SunitaT0
50%
50%
SunitaT0,
User Rank: Moderator
7/29/2014 | 5:12:30 PM
Re: The age ceiling
@impactnow:  Some people have all the luck. This plateau you are talking about exists in the Silicon Valley and adjacent areas. But in other countries we see many benefits offered to the employee like increased retirement age, health benefits and right to sick leave. Do you think the same format of employee employer relationship must be adopted by Silicon Valley companies?
SunitaT0
50%
50%
SunitaT0,
User Rank: Moderator
7/29/2014 | 5:11:05 PM
Ageism in IT
This is a very serious problem for those IT staff that has to rely on a number of qualifications to be eligible for a high paying job as an IT staff. They qualify at around the age of 26 to 27 (with at least 2 years of work experience) and their salary median thins out just after the peak at 44 years, which is gravely unsatisfactory. Mark Zuckerberg earlier said that he prefers young coders as opposed to experienced programmers which makes us think that middle aged people with experience have no value in the IT industry, which is not the case. Skills increase with age and experience, and if there are regular exams conducted for such IT staff (around 40 years or older) to prove that they are above the IT staff of 25 years of age, then this problem won?t exist.
kstaron
50%
50%
kstaron,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/24/2014 | 1:43:43 PM
No retirees makes it hard to get promotions
One thing to consider in pay raise slow down is that the typical "big" raises come with promotions. And with the economic slowdown many baby boomers aren't retiring, so the 40 something's can't move up, resulting in a celing for promotions. I know of a manager that actually told one of their IT employees he might be able to get a pormotion after someone died, becasue no one was retiring.
SaneIT
50%
50%
SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/15/2014 | 4:55:19 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@Susan, that's a really good point, the extroverts do tend to be the ones who get the push to the top but I've seen lower key individuals make it too.  I've run into issues with people calling me unapproachable or scary because I'm not an extrovert but people assume I am so they put personality traits to my actions that don't mesh.
impactnow
50%
50%
impactnow,
User Rank: Strategist
7/12/2014 | 2:38:04 AM
The age ceiling

 

Susan you raise an interesting point regarding the natural career trajectory. I would love to compare the stats you provided with other functional areas in an organization, I suspect the results might appear similar. Ageism, is not exclusive to IT but has become part of the corporate culture for many organizations that career path employees to a certain age and then let them remain in that role or release them. I have known many associates who have seen their careers plateau at mid-forties age group and they are in many divergent functional areas. There seems to be that age ceiling where only lateral moves are available that no one wants to discuss.

Technocrati
50%
50%
Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
7/11/2014 | 10:27:51 PM
Re: Know the Law

@S,N,     Thank you for passing on that unbelievable ( believable ) account of what happened to a colleague of yours.    I had not even considered the implications that you mention, and it is sombering to think an allegation like this before even decided by a impartial third party would get out to the Net.  

 

That is really frightening.  I certainly feel for him and I am glad he was able to get back to his career.  It reminds me of the time I  once had a boss  who I was on friendly terms with, one day just out of the blue as we sat at our workstations talking, he just decide to drop my name in Google search to see what would come up.   Thankfully nothing did, but it is the fact that it is just that easy to have your entire career ruined over an plain lie.

Google needs to expand their efforts in this regard, they have lost in Europe over this I believe and it is high time this industry's leading search engine bear some responsibility ( especially in terms of Libel ) for the results it posts.

And I agree with your points about the reasons someone does or does not sue.  Word gets around quickly and if you are in a small industry, it could mean moving on.  A personal choice for each individual of course,  I have been faced with it a few times and I have been forced to be a pragmatist about the entire situation - in order to fight another day.

Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/11/2014 | 2:33:38 PM
Re: Know the Law
@Technocrati: Anyone who brings a lawsuit against their employer has to consider very carefully the impact it might have on their future employment prospects. It takes great courage to stand up and fight discrimination at the risk of harming one's own long term potential.

I suspect that a great many people put up with discrimination and harassment until they can find a new job rather than taking legal action simply out of fear.

Likewise, lawsuits can harm the innocent. A former colleague of mine was named in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former employee of that company, and the allegations against him were appalling and untrue. In the U.S., you can pretty much say anything in a lawsuit and it becomes a matter of public record. So my former colleague's name was all over the Internet as being accused of doing these awful things that he did not do.

Ultimately, a judge dismissed him by name from the law suit, and eventually the whole suite was thrown out.

But the news that his name was cleared never made it to the top of Google searches, so anytime he looked for a job the first 3 pages of Google talked about the horrible accusations. It took him about 3 years to find new fulltime emplyment.

 

 
Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/11/2014 | 2:27:02 PM
Re: Wisdom comes with time
@SusanF: Thank you for doing the additional research on this topic. While it's not specific to age, I found this to be really interesting as a highlighted difference between our hetergeneous corporate culture in the U.S. and the more homogenous corporate culture of Japan:

Basically a Japanese company is organized by Japanese.  Almost everyone has same background to realize the situation so some of the understanding is in unspoken words. This is one of the important communication skills in Japan.

I think in the U.S. we all too often miss, or misunderstand, what is being communicated by what the author calls unspoken words. Subtlety is definitely not a strong suit in U.S. corporate culture!
Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/11/2014 | 2:20:33 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@SaneIT: it's a tricky situation, because you'd like to make sure there's room for all personality types in any organization, that sort of diversity leads to better performance in my opinion. though the expectation in most businesses is that you need to be assertive to survive.

I'm reading a fantastic book called "Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking." The book's author discusses how most businsses favor the extrovert and overlook the value of the introvert. Her research shows that an organiztion that can accommodate both personality types is stronger for it.

Here's a link to the author's site, where you'll also find a video of her TED Talk on the topic:

http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/about-the-book/
Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/11/2014 | 2:11:10 PM
Re: Too Old To Earn BIg In IT
@vnewman2: True. Increased awareness of the issue cuts both ways. And older workers tend to not only have higher salary bases, they also tend to have more vacation time available to them, and may possibly be more of a burden on the employee healthcare plan, all of which are technically illegal reasons to dismiss someone but are probably taken into consideration when it's time for a company to do cost-cutting layoffs.

Not that anyone would ever admit to this, of course...and it's virtually impossible to prove, since most companies are careful to include enough people from all groups that they can't be subject to a class action suit.
Page 1 / 6   >   >>
2014 US Salary Survey: 10 Stats
2014 US Salary Survey: 10 Stats
InformationWeek surveyed 11,662 IT pros across 30 industries about their pay, benefits, job satisfaction, outsourcing, and more. Some of the results will surprise you.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - July 22, 2014
Sophisticated attacks demand real-time risk management and continuous monitoring. Here's how federal agencies are meeting that challenge.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.