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back to article Fifty, fired and fretful: Three chaps stare down CAREER MORTALITY

Donald* guessed what about to happen as soon as the meeting started, so he got in first with a question. “How much will my payout be?” And with that, a fifteen-year stint at a multinational vendor came to an end. Donald's on gardening leave. His employer was obliged to write him a handsome cheque, but his role had seen him …

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Unhappy

"Give us 15 yrs experience but only cost like someone with 1 year."

It's human nature to want a bargain.

But I really wonder how delusional managers are about this?

Then they b**ch about "Oh we can't find the skills."

It's like some moron who plays with a working chainsaw then wonders why they are falling over.

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Yag
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Trollface

"Oh we can't find the skills."

You forgot the next part :

"therefore, we need more cheap and easily pressured para-slaves skilled immigrant workers"

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Re: "Give us 15 yrs experience but only cost like someone with 1 year."

"But I really wonder how delusional managers are about this?"

Managers aren't delusional, they are playing the same game as everyone else.

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Unhappy

Re: "Oh we can't find the skills."

"You forgot the next part :

"therefore, we need more cheap and easily pressured para-slaves skilled immigrant workers""

I think the thing that p**ses me off the most is these types have no sense of cause and effect. It's never their fault or their problem.

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Meh

Re: "Give us 15 yrs experience but only cost like someone with 1 year."

What's to wonder?

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Too crap to keep, too expensive to sack

There's a certain "type" of individual - most often seen in ex-nationalised industries. They've been there since the year dot. Often it was their first, and only job. They started out as an apprentoid: 2 'O' levels and a budgerigar, and in the following decades rose up through the ranks to their current position: team member.

However, in their forty years of wearing a hole in the same chair, they have amassed one single, solitary, asset: their severance package. Based on years of employment and seniority for time served, even at the statutory minimum, they are hellishly expensive to get rid of. Given how much it would cost to axe one of these old-timers, you could reduce your headcount by four or five fresh-faced newbies.

And so they stay on. Not because they are actually any use, have any skills, or do any work. But because they are cheaper to continue paying than to fire - and salaries come from a different budget, too. They only occupy one desk (and can often be persuaded to "work" from home, so even that desk can be hot-desked to someone useful), keep their mouths shut during meetings and sometimes take the occasional phone message when you're unavailable.

So when companies make the calculation of how to achieve the maximum headcount reduction (i.e. ruin the greatest number of peoples' lives) for the minimum amount of money, these guys are untouchable. The moral of the story: being old isn't always the path to redundancy. If you can somehow survive and stay off HR's radar, you may, just, be able to live our your twilight years doing next to nothing, being paid for it and keeping your job security.

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Re: Too crap to keep, too expensive to sack

Or you could use the short version...

Wally from Dilbert...

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Re: Too crap to keep, too expensive to sack

> Wally from Dilbert

Good point. Though Wally appears to want to be kept on. He lies, cheats and deceives his incompetent boss. Whereas some TCTK-ers would quite like to be let-go (and apply for VR, but get turned down). They neither feel the need, nor have the motivation to give their bosses reasons to keep them on. Another way to look at it is that both sides (the employers and the employees) are trapped in a situation neither one wants: the company would like to get rid of the expensive but unproductive employees, the TCTK-ers would like to take early retirement or VR, but can't, or don't qualify, or get turned down - for whatever reason. Although some of the TCTK-ers realise that they are on the gravy train and quite like the prospect of doing almost nothing each day (just as if they were at home, retired) but still getting paid for it AND building up their pension pots, too.

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Byz
Go

Re: Too crap to keep, too expensive to sack

I found myself in the severance trap, too much to walk away, but a slow lingering de-skilling death if I stayed.

The best thing I did was get out when given the opportunity gave me a chance to re-skill.

What was great was that in my early 40's I thought I couldn't learn the new ways of programming, however I discovered that wasn't the case and in fact the the opposite was true (I can do things I used to find hard when I was 20), what was holding me back was the MS way of doing things (at the time) but learning Java opened the curtains.

Often it is fear and a decent salary that holds many capable people back, big companies tend to de-skill you.

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Big Brother

Re: Too crap to keep, too expensive to sack

Do you know where most of those "too expensive to sack" people work?

HR

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Re: HR

Not at the last place that riffed me. If you could have hung a generator of that spinning door it probably would have lit up the entire East Coast. We had fewer mail clerks come through the office.

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Bottom line? Pay fscking attention!

I'm a hair over fifty.

I completely divested my portfolio in mid-1998/mid-1999. It was obvious (to me, anyway) that the "portal" bubble was going to burst, and coupled with the Y2K paranoia, it seemed to be a good idea ...

Most of the cash went into no-load mutuals. The rest bought my retirement ...

Today, I'm the owner/operator of a horse ranch ... 24/7/365.25 of 0-dark-thirty to well-before-dawn, if that qualifies as "retirement" ...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bottom line? Keep your fscking story straight

Jeez you're full of it. What happened to the CEO peeking network admin ?

Too tragic for an icon ...

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Thumb Up

Re: Bottom line? Keep your fscking story straight

Agreed, jake could Smug for his country.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bottom line? Pay fscking attention!

Also, from a previous post ... "After forty+ years of legally driving public roads (two wheels, three wheels, four wheels & on up to the set of joints that I move hay, alfalfa & straw from our place in Nevada to here in Sonoma), I've never received a citation, not even a fix-it-ticket"

Apparently jake started legally driving before he was ten.

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Pint

Re: Bottom line? Pay fscking attention!

Good for you, it's good to see a nice story of success in life.

If I've learned one thing in life, nothing is certain. Life has more curved balls than a Yankees game. Balance is the key to life, save and invest, make a nest egg but not so much that you don't enjoy life and suffer in the hopes of reaching a goal that may never come. My Mum and Dad worked their arses off for years, got themselves some good pensions. My Mum retired when she was 60 and my Dad when we was 62. 18 months later my Mum tripped, broke her leg, blood clot to the brain and dead inside 12 hours. My Dad utterly devastated with the loss of my Mum, all the retirement plans gone in an instant, they had so little time to enjoy their retirement.

Life is like that...

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Anonymous Coward

'Life has more curved balls than'....

A well made understated point. There's many threads here talking about saving for retirement but the reality is not everyone will make it. There's risk at both ends of the spectrum. So its important to try and 'live' today too during your work years. That's easier said than done, but clearly debt is a limiting factor. In the US, I feel debt is a form of slavery. Particularly student debt as it can't be written off.

I have tried to live because my old man had a massive heart attack at fifty and even though he scraped to his late sixties he was never the same. He could never travel for instance. He had visit to doctors weekly with frequent invasive procedures interrupting his quality of life. He had a comfortable nest egg, but didn't get to enjoy it. My mum has the next egg now, but without my Dad there's no real enjoyment for her. What's that phrase, youth is wasted on the young, money wasted on the old....

Sometimes all you can do is learn from others. I took a page out of my dad's book by marrying travel with work. I'm probably at risk too. So I'm not waiting for that rainy day that might never arrive to do things like travelling the world. There's also plenty of lucrative Expat work if you can find it. which isn't easy by the way. But its there for all ages, because immersing yourself in different cultures and not being home sick takes a certain maturity and specific type of person. So that's an option if work in the domestic market is too tricky to come by.... This applies even if you're married because you may have to leave your family for 6 months every other year but it'll pay the bills all in one go!

Lastly be open to retiring to SE Asia or South America. Its nowhere near as scary as headlines suggest. In fact I think major US cities are the most dangerous right now. It can bring some wonderful adventures too. Moreover your pot of gold can be smaller, yet you can live very well....

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@Nicho (was: Re: Bottom line? Keep your fscking story straight)

"What happened to the CEO peeking network admin ?"

I'm a conslutant in the IT world ... Helps pay for new water trucks.

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@sabroni (was: Re: Bottom line? Keep your fscking story straight)

Smug? Nah. Just matter of fact.

On your part, ego problems? Buck up! If I can do it, you can too! :-)

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@AC 11:10 (was: Re: Bottom line? Pay fscking attention!)

I'm a "hair" over 50. For largish values of "hair". I got a farm ("hardship") drivers-license when I was 14. And I was driving mopeds & scooters on public roads (legally) long before that.

Nice to see that you're following me so closely, I'm glad I have such a positive impact on your life :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bottom line? Pay fscking attention!

> Apparently jake started legally driving before he was ten.

Was that before or after he taught Steve Jobs how to use a soldering iron?

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@AC 12:35 (was: Re: Bottom line? Pay fscking attention!)

Saint Steve was never any good at soldering ...

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Byz
Go

Like it or not the industry is changing

Those of us in our forties or above will remember the early 1990s when in offices we had a central server and PCs on our desks running VisiCalc or WordPerfect 5.1, within two years the whole landscape had changed.

We are again at the same crossroads Desktops are out and mobile is in, due to one large firm not distributing it's software products onto other peoples tablets and bringing out a rather lame tablet they've lost control of the market (not a bad thing).

Now you can either curse the darkness or light a candle.

Many of the over fifties have very good programming skills that they haven't utilised for a long time, however with some training they can take advantage of this sea change as there is a real lack of mobile device programmers out there.

Also you may feel that others have a head start, however having looked at the source code of many Apps written in the last few years they resemble the type of code seen in the late eighties (thrown together in a hurry), so the industry could benefit from the experience that the over fifties can bring. Remember that many of the young 20 somethings haven't learnt programming at school, they now learn what I did at O'level and A'level at university and even then it is in a very confined environment (I know as I did a degree recently).

Lastly the weak value of the pound has meant that offshoring is not as cheap as it was, so gather the rose buds while you may :)

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Flame

Re: Like it or not the industry is changing

Don't be so rational, we urgently need 22 year-old programmers fresh from uni and with zero life experience. Folks who don't know how to properly shave. Seasoned engineers, that so 20th-century, ya know.

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Re: Like it or not the industry is changing

>we urgently need 22 year-old programmers fresh from uni and with zero life experience. Folks who don't know how to properly shave.

That was us back in the 80's!

Certainly the company I joined just after Uni. had much in common with Data General as described by Tracey Kidder (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Soul_of_a_New_Machine ) and like the programmers at Data General, we matured into seasoned engineers and went on to do other things...

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"get serious about retirement savings plans"

In his 50s, he's leaving it late. If you haven't got a defined benefit pension, current annuity rates (50% survivor, RPI linked) are about 40:1. So a million quid pot will get you a pension of £25k - hardly the lap of luxury. And the brain-dead LibDems think there should be a wealth tax on assets over a million ...

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WTF?

Re: "get serious about retirement savings plans"

Surely that can't be right?

Assuming age 60 at retirement, better to just take £25k each year from the £1m for 40 years instead of buying an annuity? The growth in the remaining pot over the next 40 years should be enough to bring in a few more years should you live past 100, and to increase in line with RPI.

If that is the rate of annuities over the next 20 years count me out!

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Re: "get serious about retirement savings plans"

Sorry, but them's the rates (aged 60, as you say). You may be underestimating the effect of (say) 3% inflation, which is a doubling every 24 years. Putting it into shares may give you some capital growth (although that hasn't worked very well over the last couple of decades), but fixed interest is (of course) effectively non-existent at present. If interest rates go up, annuity rates will improve (and they get better as you age), but such a change would probably reflect an increase in inflation.

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Re: "get serious about retirement savings plans"

I make you right on this.

Unless you worked for a company with Britsih in the original title, and so get an index linked final salary, you need to get saving first day out of University. And spread your investments

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm!

I'm 48. Lost my job in April 2012 and haven't worked since. Have applied for (literally) hundreds of jobs. Have networked liked crazy. Have got down to the shortlist for a handful of jobs. Nothing. Savings are now dwindling fast. I reckon that I have three, maybe four months before the house will go on the market.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm!

I was just wondering if you've done the basics like changing your mortgage to interest only/contacted someone like http://www.stepchange.org/ (used to be the CCS) to make sure your only paying off debt that needs paying?

The guy who posted below you is right - apply for anything that keeps you going....

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Holmes

Forget getting a job...

become a contractor. Being an employee means that the company takes all the value from your work and pays you a pittance. Being a contractor means that the value of your work remains in your control for you to choose what to do with. You can build up a cushion to pay the bills with, so you sleep well at night. When it is your own company, it can buy you a stakeholder pension and deduct the cost.. You can take your income as salary or dividends, according to your tax situation. You decide how much holiday to take and pretty much when. Best of all, you can pick and choose who you work for. You can charge the d**kheads double rate, or refuse the gig, or give notice when they behave badly, confident that there'll be another gig along in a minute.

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Go

Re: Hmm!

If you can program in any major language, send your CV this way:

http://automotive.actia.com/en/

www.vacos.de

http://www.rohde-schwarz.de/

http://www.bertrandt.com/

These companies don't pay well as compared to the inflated wages of the London Casino, but they will at least assure you that your skills are still needed. If/when they have the Casino running again, you can always move back there.

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Re: Hmm!

>Savings are now dwindling fast. I reckon that I have three, maybe four months before the house will go on the market.

Given the current UK housing market I would be tempted to get the house on the market now, rather than in the autumn when the market normally slows down. Obviously if you get a job, you can always take it off the market.

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FAIL

Re: Hmm!

"have you done the basics like changing your mortgage to interest only"

If you're unemployed, then by definition you can't get an interest-only mortgage.

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Re: Hmm!

You may not be able to get a NEW mortgage, but your existing mortgage company should change you to interest only rather than repayment if you ask.

And after 3 months of signing on, the Jobcentre should pay at least a fair chunk of the mortgage interest.

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Meh

Re: Forget getting a job...

Most contractors I know are just barely paying the bills.

The rest are doing great, but they are the definate minority

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Re: Hmm!

>And after 3 months of signing on, the Jobcentre should pay at least a fair chunk of the mortgage interest.

Need to be careful here, as it may be more beneficial (both in terms of time and money) to claim tax credits. Basically, your best advisor is someone from the local 'sink' estate who knows their way around the system, they will also recommend you contacting the council to try and get your council tax reduced...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mortgage

They won't give you naff all towards housing costs until you've lost your home and are roughing it on the street.

I wrote to my MP about this and he just palmed me off with some form letter that didn't answer my questions.

All told it seems in the UK we're better off just not trying to improve our lots and instead just stay at home and make as many brats as possible. They'll give you a free house.

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Anonymous Coward

Options...

I found myself redundant in early 2010, aged 59, and spent the rest of that year in an increasingly desperate search for employment of the same sort, and at the same level.

What worked for me (I think) was my willingness to do something completely different (delivery driving) while continuing to job-hunt within IT. I eventually landed a contract role, and after a year or so an offer of a permanent one, at a lower level though still in the same discipline (security).

Not sure whether this approach would work for everyone, but it has to be worth a try.

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Thumb Up

Re: Options...

There always seem to be jobs for fork-lift drivers. The training is cheap, and it looks like fun...

Nearly went there when the contract market went a bit dry, once upon a time.

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Anonymous Coward

Fork-Lift Truck Driving

Ah, yes; the British twist on slave labour camps, where the long term unemployed are sent in order to receive below minimum wage benefits and only for periods short enough that employment benefits and rights don't kick in. Then it's on to another employer as staff are rotated to maximise their profits while keeping wages down. And, if you should refuse to play the game; it's no benefits at all for you, sunshine.

It's worth a try but you will probably find yourself out of pocket on training costs and unable to compete against the zero-cost labour the job centre provides.

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Anonymous Coward

I went through this in 1999

Got made redundant aged 49 7/8. Started contracting and got a decent amount of work. Paid myself a salary and lived off what was in the bank while I looked for a job.

now I'm back being a permie again just a few weeks short of my 60th birthday. I startled my boss in the interview by telling him that I really was not looking for any career progression. Then he thought about it and smiled.

I got the job. One of my colleagues is 66 and does not want to retire yet especially now that the law has changed.

Hopefully this is my last job before putting my feet up. If it isn't then so-be it.

I did plan for my retirement and put everything I could into a final salary pension inc AVC's in the good years.

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Anonymous Coward

The age-old issue of age

I'm early 50's and when I dropped the first 10 years of my career off the bottom of my CV so i appeared to be in my 40's I got approximately 3 times the interest. Even for contract positions age does seem to be a factor, with some employers thinking that anyone over 50 is just after an easy ride to retirement.

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Anonymous Coward

Times changing

I've been out of a job a couple of times, most recently age 49.

Was I "past it"? For UK recruiters I'd been 'past it' for at least 20 years: if you reach 30 without moving to a Suit you're obviously a Loser. Internet to the rescue: I can work from home for an employer in the US with a more open mind about who it employs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Times changing

"I can work from home for an employer in the US "

Telecommuting to the US....? If so, good for you!

What kind of work if you don't mind me asking?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Times changing

Why are we both anonymous cowards? ;)

Software development. Specifically, cloud infrastructure to secure web servers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Times changing

p.s. I used to work for Sun, telecommuting to Silicon Valley. It was the Oracle takeover that left me redundant at 49. No complaints at Oracle: they treated me a whole lot better than my experience of UK employers, too.

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