Strategic CIO // Team Building & Staffing
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7/7/2014
09:06 AM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
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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
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Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/21/2014 | 9:26:51 PM
Re: Age Discrimination?....You BET there is!!!
@ANON: I'm sorry for your experiences, what you went through is similar to stories I have heard from other workers "of a certain age."

I had a recruiter awhile back who was talking to me about a position for which my experiences and skills ticked all the right boxes but also made me "pricey"--truly astonishing to be told such a thing after you've invested so much in building your career and creating that valuable experience.

Did not know about the military service catch--that's pretty egregious as well.

the other missing bit in the stats is that they don't really account for those who have decided to leave the workforce. I would wager that many people 50+ just give up and either try to cobble together their own freelance/consulting gigs or are forced into retiring before they're ready. that's hard to prove, but anecdotally I've a feeling those numbers are fairly large.

 
ANON1242332365108
IW Pick
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ANON1242332365108,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/4/2014 | 10:38:53 AM
Age Discrimination?....You BET there is!!!
With all due respect, it is scenarios such as I am about to elaborate upon, that - in my humble opinion - is at the root of the problem.

In reference to a recent phone interview with an "IT Recruiter from a Top-Tier NYC-based Financial Firm", not only did this young lady state during the interview that I'd be "an expensive hire" (her precise and exact words) due to the breadth and depth of my responsibilities, she added insult to injury, expressing that she couldn't – and I repeat – SHE ..COULDN'T .."Google"... half the companies I worked for.

My point?

When your resume is being read by individuals whose career
basically began
whilst the individual the resume represents was
15 to 25 years into it,how - in good conscience - can a
"seasoned and experienced" (50+ yrs old) IT Professional
hope to get his/her foot back in the door?

Keep in mind, that, during the dot-com bust, 9/11, and the recent Recession, a significant majority of IT Professionals who were affected were close to 20 years into their careers, while those who are now reading their Resumes were either just clearing High School, or at the least, graduating from College.

Furthermore, the "sham" that has been perpretrated over the years to "re-tool" or - as the underlying phrase is expressed -"dumb-down" your Resume, such that you don't "intimidate" those who are reading it, goes back to my earlier point.

Here's the worst:

As a Veteran (USAF), I've notiiced when you file an application via ATS, and one of the options about "Military Service" indicates "Other Protected Veteran"; that field "relays" the following:

You were most likely NOT a Veteran from the present Conflict..
(avg. age 24-39, +/- 4 yrs), but,

You were most likely a Vietnam Veteran (disabled or not)
(avg. age 54-63, +/- 6 yrs)

With measures of this scope beiing exercised as of late, you begin to wonder why the ratio of "employed" to "unemployed" exists as it does for IT Pros that are 50+ .
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2014 | 2:08:31 PM
Re: Ageism in IT
@SunitaTO: "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."

This is an outsanding idea and truly would bring us back to remembering that business should function as a meritocracy, not some corporate version of Lord of the Flies.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2014 | 2:06:39 PM
Re: No retirees makes it hard to get promotions
@kstaron: That's grim. I hadn't considered that angle, and it defeinitely helps explain the pay plateau. So  many people of near retirement age had their investments hammered in the last recesssion. I have a friend in her 60s who says things are so bad, she is going to have to work from beyond the grave...
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2014 | 2:04:26 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@SaneIT: Yep, it's a real issue and the more I explore the topic the more intrigued I become at how these personality traits affect people's ability to collaborate in the workplace. The best case scenario has people of both types who understand and respect one other and can work in a way that is complementary instead of judgmental or combative.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2014 | 2:02:31 PM
Re: Know the Law
@Technocrati: It is a sobering reminder of how little control we really have when it comes to our own public profiles online. While it's also always been an issue that media will make headlines out of a lawsuit and then put the actual verdict way in the back in a tiny article, the amount of damage that can do to someone's reputation is just orders of magnitude greater.

I'm glad Europe is taking a stand...and I'm glad your boss's Google search of your name turned out to be worry free.

:)
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
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
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
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
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
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
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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.
Page 1 / 7   >   >>
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.
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