What 'The Old Guy' Brings To IT Teams - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // Team Building & Staffing
News
12/6/2013
11:06 AM

What 'The Old Guy' Brings To IT Teams

IT pros report that hiring managers often favor young hires in the name of "culture" or "fit." But this may throw your team's balance off.

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David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
12/6/2013 | 11:52:22 AM
Thanks for sticking up for old guys
The old guy brings the voice of experience, even when the young guy or gal doesn't want to hear it.

What else does the old guy bring to the table? What about the old broad (not to leave her out)?

 
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
12/6/2013 | 12:07:30 PM
Team with mix of skills, ages is more adaptable
Nature often punishes monocultures, and an all-young person team may be a kind of monoculture. The mature person knows where the pitfalls in the trail lie, having traversed it before. Language skills in particular can weigh in when an older language that's good for a particular function isn't found in the skill set of the Python, Ruby, Node.js crowd.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
12/6/2013 | 12:26:01 PM
Workforces need diversity
A mix is a necessary in the workforce: Younger ones bring a fresh sense of enthusiasm and ideas; older workers bring experience to execute, all of which are invaluable and keys to business success.
liverdonor
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liverdonor,
User Rank: Strategist
12/6/2013 | 12:49:12 PM
It's easy to categorize people...
...when you're looking for a reason to do so.

Most often (as a professed "old guy" myself), I've found the reasoning is financial. It's always easier to justfiy adding people to your team when they don't cost as much to hire.

Conversely, as this past five years has amply demonstrated, it's also easiest to cut whoever has the largest salary first whenever there's financial concern.

One of the strange fallouts of our "information economy" and society is that the managers of said information, the IT folks, engineers and technicians, are now seen in much the same light as factory workers were in the 20th century - as replaceable cogs in the greater machinery.

No wonder they're "hiring young." The hiring managers in these companies see us as outdated cogs who are increasingly expensive to maintain. I.e., if information is a commodity, then those who manipulate it are like assembly-line workers.

It's just kind of sad. And I don't really have a solution.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
12/6/2013 | 1:14:40 PM
Only an IT issue?
I know this is an IT oriented website but I don't see how this only a problem for IT jobs? Does HR, when trying to fill a position of any relevance, really want someone with only 10 or less years of time left?

The only exception I see is in management positions, where experience is a requirement. And, for the most part, these jobs don't require creative work using tools and technology, just managing people and doing budgets. You can be 90 and do that.

I'm sure that offends quite a few people in management ranks who don't feel they are the Pointy Haired Boss in Dilbert. But as the Peter Principle talked about many years ago, that is where people try to go as they age. For evidence, why do so many upper management positions get filled by people who were let go from those positions at another company? Because you are most qualified if you have done it before, age is irrelevant. Let's face it, has the art of managing people and doing budgets really changed in 30 years? 40 years?
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
12/6/2013 | 1:29:01 PM
Re: Thanks for sticking up for old guys
I did not mean to leave the women out of this discussion. The reality is age pops up in hiring for both men and women. I heard a female CIO make an argument for diversity (including gender diversity) on her team once by describing the need for "texture" during group discussions and group decisions. I liked how she put that. Age adds texture and perspective, whether you are male or female.
KevinRCasey
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KevinRCasey,
User Rank: Moderator
12/6/2013 | 2:02:18 PM
Re: Only an IT issue?
It's definitely not only an IT issue. That said, some of the folks I've spoken to on this topic, including an employment lawyer, suggest it's more prevalent in IT -- and especially in the developer/programmer community -- than in other fields.
Harold_the_Wolf
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Harold_the_Wolf,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/6/2013 | 2:35:00 PM
Grrenhorns and Warhorses
I wrote about a similar subject in an article for Application Development Trends in 2001.

It was called Greenhorns and Warhorses and you can read it here:

http://adtmag.com/articles/2001/05/29/greenhorns-and-warhorses.aspx

 
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
12/6/2013 | 2:58:33 PM
Re: Only an IT issue?
And that does make sense, Kevin. I can't think of anything that has changed as radically as programming. Old timers like me actually used punch cards in college and thought green screen interactive sessions with text editors were the pinnacle of modern creation.

Then you had the Object Oriented Programming and Client/Server days, bringing GUI into play. Then you had the first wave of internet web applications with CGI, now known as Web 1.0. Then you had the creation of Java type languages which work with web application servers, eliminating CGI. During that time, you got this explosion of server side scripting languages like PHP. Microsoft was moving from COM to ASP .NET.

Then you got the Web 2.0 movement with AJAX, XML, JSON, etc.

And now it is mobile small Touch screen development, which is a development paradigm all it's own.

What other profession has seen anything like that, in one employee's professional lifetime?
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
12/6/2013 | 3:30:33 PM
Re: Workforces need diversity
I agree with Kristin. Plus, work is much less fun when everyone's pretty much cut from the same cloth.
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