back to article Survey: Tech workers are terrified they will be sacked for being too old

Almost half of tech workers in the US, like Hollywood stars, live in constant fear that age will end their careers, according to a new poll. Job website surveyed more than 1,000 employed tech workers and found that 43 per cent of respondents expressed concern about losing their job due to age. And 18 per cent said …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What companies forget... those boring oldies, with annoying families and mortgages are the least likely ones to piss off on the offer of a extra £1 a month.

    Unless of course you treat them like dirt, then they are likely to go...Oh fuck it, lets sell the house and piss off somewhere nice where we are appreciated.

    1. Halfmad

      Re: What companies forget...

      We're far more likely to know our rights though and hold employers to the wording in our contracts.

      Then again we're also far more likely to know about all the legacy cr*p the company refuses to replace due to costs..

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Vinod Khosla

      Vinod Khosla is proof positive that people over 45 basically die in terms of new ideas.

      Everyone in Silicon valley knows Vinny hasn't had an original thought in at least 20.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Vinod Khosla

        Most people in SV haven't had original thoughts. Rounded Corners is as good as it gets these days.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What it comes down to...

      ... is that older people have knowledge and experience counting against them.

      Tech veterans have many years more experience and this can make them expensive. Inexperienced newcomers look like they work twice as hard - and this often obscures that they often achieve half as much.

      People who have been working in the tech industry for 20+ years are less likely to entertain nonsense just because it is trendy, buzzword compliant and will impress investors, in large part because they know what the technology does and have been using it since decades before the newcomers are aware it even existed. Unfortunately, the primary objective of business is to make money, not produce a good product. The latter is more a coincidental means to an end.

      Put that together, and an experienced worker will appear to not be as productive due to not being an extra keen yes-person, while calling out the obvious insanity of decisions that will not end up being obvious to the inexperienced peers and management for months or years. In the world where the longest term plans are made to the quarterly finance reporting dates, the short termist myopia makes them look like bad hires.

      The modern tech industry is full of contradictions. Security is suddenly a buzzword, but only because business leaders have finally taken notice. Once upon a time, sysadmins used to care about it, but the brave new containerised world of curl | sudo bash agile devops utopia has pushed things hilariously past breaking points.

      AI is a resurgent buzzword despite the fact that no significant scientific discoveries in the field of machine learning have been made in 20 years, and as Dominic Connor astutely put it, all we have is massively parallel stupidity masquerading as artificial intelligence.

      Unfortunately, hiring managers don't want people who can see that something won't work. They want somebody who knows just enough to work hard on solving a problem that is doomed to fail, and keep the investor funding flowing as long as possible.

      1. rmullen0

        Re: What it comes down to...

        A+ on that comment AC.

  2. Bill M

    Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

    I am old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded.

    Didn't half shock some people that I took to VMware like a duck to water whilst others struggled. Maybe that was because a decade or two earlier I had been there done that and had pre-sussed all the virtualization concepts.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

      Exactly. Heck, I still remember George.

      1. Bill M

        Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded


        Is that King George the First you remember ?

        That would make you about 300 years old !!

      2. Alan J. Wylie

        Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

        Exactly. Heck, I still remember George

        Maximop too?

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

          Wow they had 1900 processors. Massively parallel!

          Think we had one of those at Uni - just enough power to light the 'HARDWARE FAULT' sign that kept me entertained for 1/2 my computing thesis.

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: Wow they had 1900 processors.

            Nah. VME were 2900 series.

        2. Loud Speaker

          Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

          And Minimop!

      3. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: I still remember George.

        Whippersnapper! *I* remember Automatic Operator!

        Well, I remember finding the manual for it amongst some old paper tape reels.

      4. Loud Speaker

        Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

        The one with virtualisation was George 3

        1. Steve Kerr

          Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

          From memory, you had the old George 3, the newer VME but they both ran under CME (Concurrent Machine Environment).

          ICL - the company that liked to move against trends in computers, like making them faster as the years went by.

          Bank I worked for, got rid of their old 2900's for some spanking new 3900's which were actually slower than their 20 year older counterparts!


        2. Martin Taylor 1

          Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

          @Loud Speaker: "The one with virtualisation was George 3"...

          George 4, I think you'll find.

        3. Chris Parsons

          Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

          Not really. It depends what you mean by virtualisation. G3 had the SWAP file which allowed 'virtualisation of memory' and G4 improved upon that by dividing memory into pages so that you didn't need to swap entire programs in and out of 'core', but really VME was the first ICL virtualisation product - it allowed you, eventually, to run native VME alongside legacy stuff in DME mode.

      5. Chris Parsons

        Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

        I'm old enough to have written some of George 3! Quite a lot of the SETPARAM code.

    2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

      Beta on VMware Workstation marked my third time through. First off was from the Masters of the time, IBM. I'd follow them around like a very young puppy. Second go was on mi Amiga on which I did hardware and/or software virtualization as well as emulating damn near everything around, microcontroller up through all the current microcomputers, most minis and some mainframes. And most of that was my efforts at the time being handy with a soldering iron, buckets of parts, and test equipment far too expensive for my tastes, but provided by the government, even if they didn't know.

      I do love to read engineering manuals and related books. What business managers don't get is that I've seen similar solutions found in any field of engineering, and having a dozen under my belt, it's damn likely I can translate from one to another field of engineering. If the hardware isn't available in this particular case, be damned if I can't do it in software. That's why you find the beating heart of a naval air station's financials is using predictive analysis/modeling seconded from a US Navy navigation set. Don't tell anyone.

      Did I tell you I'm a book junkie? Describe what you're looking for, I'll reach behind my head, pull the right book and open it to the rough whereabouts of the solution happens to be. [Annoyed the fuck out of my fellow graduate students when I stopped by the uni to top up some more skills.] So, refactor? Yep. If nope, re-engineer? Yep. If no, then get down to some serious algorithms and data structures analysis and invention. That's happened exactly once. Treat code as parts out of the bin, you'll make less, usually no, mistakes.

      Where it gets all kinds of fun, and this is where things go weird, is legacy to greenfield transitions. Creating the templates and the code to take one to the other is where detailed accuracy is a must. Used exactly once, has to be bullet-proof, especially from the managers wanting to change the requirements. I can serve as the lightning rod taking the heat from them as I'm not going to be there next week. 'Sides, I abuse as well as I get. Being blind to social shit is nice for this. Don't care how many stars you have on your collar or that you have a limo or private jet pick you up or drop you off.

      Anyway, I'm not looking for a permanent gig anywhere. The tumbleweed life suits me far better on both sides. That's about to end. Work from bed is staring me in the face. Age & disability {sigh}. Been fun. Guess I find out about that kind of work.

  3. Alan J. Wylie

    "experience and wisdom to share"

    Yesterday one of my cow-orkers was running vimdiff inside screen over ssh when it "hung". I went over, first tried ^L (as you do), but that didn't help. ^Q did, however. I then had to explain XON / XOFF. Coincidentally I'm just reading ESR's Things Every Hacker Once Knew.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: "experience and wisdom to share"

      Yes, it is the little things, like Alt+Space+V+any arrow key, then move the mouse (V is German "Verschieben" - o for mOve in English?) in Windows, when a window disappears off the screen.

      And having come from multi-user environments, where code had to be tight, it is often interesting to see how "young guns" code. They often have no appreciation for optimization, it runs fine with one user on their test rig, but load the code up onto a server and let several hundred customers use it at the same time and the whole thing grinds to a halt! 10 minutes pouring over the code later and I had re-written to queries to be SQL friendly, when not exactly human friendly, the result was the query dropped from over 60 seconds to under 0.03 seconds... That was on my second day as a temp at the company, but got me a full time contract.

      At the moment, I seem to spend half of my time doing my work and the other half correcting the mistakes of the millenials in the department...

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: "experience and wisdom to share"

        The closest I've seen to "young buck" optimization was a lad who didn't put any white space, line numbers, comments, etc. into his code as they slowed things down. I was just one long line... maybe 4 to 10 printed pages worth. Took about 3 days to prove to him that he was wrong and then another 6 months on how to optimize his code. <sigh> I don't miss coding these days except for personal use.

    2. sprograms

      Re: "experience and wisdom to share"

      "You can't just turn the thing off, then on, and expect it to work... unless you know what you're doing."

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "experience and wisdom to share"

        sprograms, I think you meant to type:

        A novice was trying to fix a broken Lisp machine by turning the power off and on. Knight, seeing what the student was doing spoke sternly: "You can not fix a machine by just power-cycling it with no understanding of what is going wrong." Knight turned the machine off and on. The machine worked.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Age is but a number.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      I am not a number, I am a free man!

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        I am not a number, I am a free man!

        Imagine my delight when I got home and saw that this had been given 6 up votes!

        And then someone spoiled it by adding a seventh a minute later. Pah! Have you no sense of history?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes, you are, Rich 11.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Reply Icon I am not a number, I am a free man!

        But your name is Rich 11?

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Reply Icon I am not a number, I am a free man!

          "But your name is Rich 11?"
          And yours is Etatdame? A likely story...

    2. Anonymous Coward

      "Age is but a number."

      Spoken like a true 1970's tv personality.

    3. Stevie Silver badge

      Age is but a number.

      Why can't young people understand that old people are just young people who are older in age?

      1. Pirate Dave

        Re: Age is but a number.

        "Why can't young people understand that old people are just young people who are older in age?"

        Because that would require the young people to think about someone besides themselves for a second or two, and most of them do not have that capability in their skillset. It isn't called the "Me" generation for nothing...

    4. jake Silver badge

      Age may very well be a number.

      Thankfully, mine's unlisted.

  5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge


    Avoiding arrogant pronouncements about people with experience may help too

    Quite true - experience can be of great value, but only when it is the right experience. Adolf had a lot of experience of running Germany by 1945.

    In terms of ageing coders, the useful experience is decades of thinking, analysing, checking and testing, testing, testing - the procedures and processes for successful software development. Sod the precise coding language, I've used dozens, - the principles are the same for a phone App, a website or a COBOL payroll system.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Experience?

      Exactly. I've used dozens of languages over the years.

      Heck, I got a job as a website developer on the basis of having done half an hour of cribbing on PHP the night before starting as a temp, then the next day sorting out a bottleneck that had been driving the company nuts for months.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Experience?

        My company had started seeing ghost digits on their multiplexed displays after updating to brighter displays. They tried all kinds of timing fixes that never worked, finally gave up.

        After I was hired I spotted this, asked, was told, and had it fixed in 10 minutes. They were simply leaving the segment drivers on between digits. Took one line of code.

        It wasn't visible on the dimmer displays so they assumed it was a problem with the newer ones. I walked in with a fresh viewpoint and, more importantly, more experience. I would never have made the mistake in the first place.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Experience?

          My company had started seeing ghost digits on their multiplexed displays ...

          Really, people haven't learned that on in the last ... ooh how many decades is it now ?

          Back in the 80s when I was just a junior myself, one of my colleagues was doing some code for a new display. He had digit shadows and just couldn't understand why. It had never occurred to turn off the segment drivers before switching on the next digit driver - until I suggested he tried it.

          And 7 segment LEDs weren't exactly new then.

      2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: Experience?

        Back when HTML was new and building the web pages new as well, knowing not a single bit about either, it fell to me to build the forum home pages for several fora on CompuServe. Hmmm... no one's put a stake through its heart yet. Anyhoo, you can blame me for the template and hierarchy that it evolved into, eventually.

        I'll crawl back under my rock. Nice thing, rocks. Especially if you are a Rock-troll.

      3. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Experience?

        I've used somewhere between 66 and 100 programming languages in my career, depending on how you count. In my early career I would often learn the language on the job, it doesn't take me long to become expert. A lot of those languages were "We got this ancient system written in an obscure language no one has ever heard of, point onefang at it, he'll sort it out". My party trick amongst geeks is to learn a programming language in an hour. Did that for an exam once, with the blessing of the IT department head, first cracked the textbook open an hour before the exam started, got top marks.

  6. Dissident Void

    Automation since the 50s

    Tech workers shouldn't be worrying, automation has be "taking our jobs" since the ability to automate came around. Since we have been working with the fear so long, we skill up and keep pace with progress.

    There is more of a treat to business leaders, things that gave them value, such as vendor relations, b2b business, resource(human/capital) management, is being automated now. Barrel coopers just turned into kitchen fitters. Its the businesses that collapsed.

    1. Anonymous IV

      Re: Automation since the 50s

      > Resource (human/capital) management, is being automated now.

      The progression is Personnel -> Human Resources -> Livestock Control...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Us old fogeys

    are clearly not wanted in 'modern IT'.

    despite the fact that we have the experience and the guts to say to the young upstarts,

    "sonny, that won't work. It didn't work in 19** and still won't now."

    Then we head off to pastures new (the pub around the corner, if it still exits that is) while the youngsters carry on regardless and discover that we were right.

    If we are lucky, we get brought back in to fix it. Sadly that is a rarity these days.

    After being made redundant last year, I went searching for a job. All I got were entry level positions at £25K if I was lucky. There was even the offer of work but on a zero hours contract. Not worth it really.

    Sad fact of life for us over 60's.

    Have to go now. I have some chickens that need clearing out and eggs to sort for market tomorrow.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Us old fogeys

      Too true, although sometimes it works out.

      When I first started, back at the end of the 80s, the company laid off a senior devops guy. He had been with the company 40 years and had a huge golden handshake... 3 weeks later the next month end came up and they realised that he was the only person in the company with any experience of nearly 40 different legacy systems.

      He came back as a contractor to train up a replacement for the next 18 months and could set his own rates.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Us old fogeys

      Contracting old chap. Late 50s and I don't put my age on my cv, or non IT qualifications, or dates for School or exam results (3 O levels was my lot). To be fair I look after myself and look 15 years younger, but my last four engagements were ten minute phone interview start in a week jobs.

      I've been a 'tractor for the last 20 years and nobody ever gave me a hard time for being a bit crinkly here and there. In fact the only time I got an ageist remark was when I dabbled with a permie role four years ago. I offered to discuss it with him in the car park, MMA, Karate or Queensbury Rules - his choice. Fucker had no balls!

    3. HereIAmJH

      Re: Us old fogeys

      And ironically today there is another article about the shortage of talented IT staff that is expected to get much worse. The company I work for is rumored to be talking merger, and many people I work with (including myself) are concerned that being in our 50s will make it difficult to find new IT jobs if we become redundant.

      1. Anonymous IV
        Thumb Up

        Re: Us old fogeys

        If you can afford it, do volunteer work IT for a local charity or three. They are crying out for people who have learnt over decades of experience that backup is a pretty neat idea (just one example)...

        1. MargaretBartley

          Re: Us old fogeys

          Plus, if you choose the org carefully, it can lead to good contacts, and a serious career boost.

        2. HereIAmJH

          Re: Us old fogeys

          Hmm, I am doing IT work for the charity I support. It doesn't pay anything, and I'm providing all the hardware. Plus custom software and possibly a website redesign. Not sure how that is going to put food on the table if I lose my job. And I have decades of experience already. Even so, I do recommend helping out local charities.

        3. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Us old fogeys

          If you can afford it, do volunteer work IT for a local charity or three."

          That's what I've been doing for the last year and a half. Ironically at a seniors place, where all the clients and half of the staff are older than me. Sometimes greybeard me is the youngest person in the building.

  8. Jim 59


    When Megacorps say "young", they mean "cheap". Cheap is what they want, not yoof. They love cheap. Shareholders love cheap. Cheap boosts short term profits by reducing the wage bill, by far the biggest expense any megacorp faces. If a 64 Python dev would work for the same wages as a 24 year old, the older chap would get the job every time. More euphamisms:

    "recent graduate" -> cheap

    "free of family commitments who can work long hours" - no, just cheap

    "digital native" -> cheap.

    On the subject of "digital native", any grad born after '66 has spent their whole career in the Internet age, but lacks a certain skill, ie the ability to work for a very small wage indeed.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Translation

      This ^^^

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: any grad born after '66

      Or possibly 1950

      But a pity I can only morally upvote once. So true.

      They want cheap "yes men".

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: any grad born after '66

        Anyone who thinks the term 'Digital Native' is in anyway a savvy term to use needs to have an effagy made of them and...oh crap.

        1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

          Re: any grad born after '66

          I'd channel my druidic ancestors and pull a "Green Man" on them. That way I can do a production line approach doing six or so at a time. There's rather a lot of them out there.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: any grad born after '66

        Cheap yes men that will do what management ask of them - even if its fucking stupid.

        1. onefang Silver badge

          Re: any grad born after '66

          "Cheap yes men that will do what management ask of them - even if its fucking stupid."

          Ah, that's what I'm doing wrong. Born in '61, but spent my entire career in computers, starting at school, I would class myself as a digital native. I'm dirt cheap. I'm no yes man though.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: any grad born after '66

        They want cheap "yes men".

        Don't forget the "yes" part. They don't want people who've been round the block a few times and really aren't going to be impressed by any manglement bullshit.

    3. tfewster Silver badge

      Re: Translation

      Cheap != Low wages

      Cheap = Good value for money...Relevant knowledge, experience, efficiency, reliability, loyalty...

      I make the same argument about outsourcing/offshoring. If you don't know what service you need, how can you assess its cost?

      I'm not a Grumpy Old Man, I'm a Disruptive VFM Resource

  9. Commswonk Silver badge

    This is worth waiting for...

    Recall back in 2007, at a Y Combinator Startup School event at Stanford University, then 22-year-old Mark Zuckerberg said, "Young people are just smarter."

    So when can we expect the arrogant tw*t to sack himself now that he is 10 years older?

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: This is worth waiting for...

      "So when can we expect the arrogant tw*t to sack himself now that he is 10 years older?"

      Zuckerberg is the modern version of the god Appollo. Forever beautiful, forever young, forever a complete sphincter.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is worth waiting for...

        "Zuckerberg is the modern version of the god Appollo."

        Wow. What did Apollo ever do to you?

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: This is worth waiting for...

          "Wow. What did Apollo ever do to you?"

          Dirty lyre.

          1. Commswonk Silver badge

            Re: This is worth waiting for...

            @ Voyna i Mor:

            Dirty lyre.

            Oh how utterly superb.

          2. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: This is worth waiting for...

            "Dirty lyre."
            You're just stringing us along...

            1. Commswonk Silver badge

              Re: This is worth waiting for...

              Oh for pluck's sake... TFIF and nearly time for some of these------>

              1. onefang Silver badge

                Re: This is worth waiting for...

                I'm in tune with this plucky series of puns. Chordn't of done it better myself.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This is worth waiting for...

          @Etatdame - from Wikipedia:

          yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague

            OK, put those on one side of the scale, Facebook and Zuckerberg Manifestos on the other. I dunno, you got anything else to put on the Apollo side? A nice Mass Extinction might make it balance.

  10. G0HJQ


    When ever you hear youngsters bosting how great life is now with PCs, the internet and mobile phones etc, just remind them that it was all invented years ago by wrinklies like ourselves.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Wrinklies

      Or in some cases Grandparents, great uncles, great aunts etc born in 1930s or earlier

      John von Neumann (Hungarian: Neumann János Lajos, December 28, 1903 – February 8, 1957)

      C. A. R. Hoare (born 1934), British computer scientist.

      Grace Hopper (Cobol) Grace Brewster Murray Hopper (née Murray; December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) computer scientist

      Edsger Wybe Dijkstra ( 11 May 1930 – 6 August 2002)

      Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie (September 9, 1941 – c. October 12, 2011 computer scientist.C programming language

      Niklaus Emil Wirth (born 15 February 1934) computer scientist. Pascal, Modula-2 and Lilith. Cause of Logitech selling mice.

      Donald Ervin Knuth born January 10, 1938, computer scientist. He is the author of the multi-volume work The Art of Computer Programming.

      David Neil "Dave" Cutler, Sr. (born March 13, 1942) software engineer, a designer, and a developer of several operating systems in the computer industry. These operating systems are Microsoft Windows NT, and Digital Equipment Corporation: RSX-11M, VAXELN, VMS (now OpenVMS).

      Gary Arlen Kildall (May 19, 1942 – July 11, 1994) computer scientist and microcomputer entrepreneur who created the CP/M operating system and founded Digital Research, Inc.

      Raymond "Ray" Kurzweil ( born February 12, 1948) computer scientist. Practically invented optical character recognition (OCR) and machine to read out loud printed books for Blind.

      Konrad Zuse (22 June 1910 – 18 December 1995) was a German civil engineer, inventor and computer pioneer. His greatest achievement was the world's first programmable computer; the functional program-controlled Turing-complete Z3 became operational in May 1941.

      CRT and radio are Victorian

      Batteries 1800 by Volta

      Fax 1851

      Many of the people that invented what we use are retired or dead.

      There are 1000s more people.

      Transistors envisaged in 1930s, 1948 was when Germanium was pure enough.

      Most of what we have is simply commercialisation, improvement and miniaturising what was known by 1950s, developed by people born 1850s to 1930s.

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: Wrinklies

        Missing someone on that Wall Of Fame there as any electrical and/or electronic engineer will tell you over beers. St. Nikola Tesla.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Wrinklies

          Missing all the top HW gurus, I was only listing SW/Computer people and it's a random list.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Wrinklies

        "Transistors envisaged in 1930s"

        The semi-conductor diode: C19th

  11. Nick Z

    Age bias tells young people that they have no future in the IT industry

    Everybody becomes an older worker eventually. Who wants to have a career that lasts only 10 or 15 years?

    Age-bias is discouraging even the younger people from going into the IT industry. Because it doesn't make sense for young people to invest a lot of time, money, and effort into a career that won't last.

    The way employers treat older workers shows younger workers how they will be treated, when they get older. Which means that age bias probably has a demoralizing effect on both older and younger workers.

    1. r_c_a_d_t

      Re: Age bias tells young people that they have no future in the IT industry

      Especially with the short lifespan of many jobs now; no more jobs for "life". I have had few problems with age bias once I was in a job. But having been made redundant 3 times now, it is getting harder and harder to find a good job as I age.

  12. Diogenes

    Our generation

    Wasnt it our generation thatsaid 'dont trust anybodyover40' ?

    Qoute attributed to Beatles. And i am closer to 60 than 55

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: Our generation


      You look good for a 75yo

    2. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Our generation

      "Wasnt it our generation thatsaid 'dont trust anybodyover40' ?"

      It was "Don't trust anyone over 30" and it was Jack Weinberg.

      Don't trust anyone over 30, unless it's Jack Weinberg

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Our generation

        It become a catch cry for hippies during the '60s. The ironic thing is that any that survived are now well over 30, and a lot of them seem to be trying to fulfill that prophecy.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Our generation

      Maybe, but we probably also said "Hope I die before I get old" !

  13. David Lewis 2

    And in other news ...

    "You can't find tech staff – wah, wah, wah. Start with your ridiculous job spec"

    1. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: And in other news ...

      Start with those annoying recruiters that can't tell the difference between Java and JavaScript.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile, here in a "grey-area" job in NHS lab computing.... lab is shit-scared that I'm going to retire, but can't be arsed to do any succession training...

  15. mmccul

    Employee when just starting, consultant when mature

    What I've seen in Silicon Valley is that those who are younger tend to be employees of the various companies. When the person gets to have outside obligations such as family, they become consultants. So it isn't that those over 28 aren't working in IT. They're there. The younger generation, comes in and makes the same mistakes that were made ten years ago. Then the consultants who have more than ten years experience step in and clean up, but charge consultant rates to do so.

    Outside Silicon Valley, you're "too young to get a good rating" until you're at least 30.

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: Employee when just starting, consultant when mature

      I live in Fresno, California, here in the USA. It and Clovis have an army of Silicon Valley soldiers in our bedroom communities. The kind that are married and quite often a young child or on the way, too. The kind that dutifully commute to San Jose to and from here. The kind that would jump at a IT job that pays well and doesn't have the hours commute involved.

      Of course, IT firms don't set up where their potential employees live. That would be too idiotic. [There's likely a blessing from CalTrans engineers. That traffic is their featuring nightmare every day.]

  16. Triumphantape

    It's valid

    In an interview a few years back the person behind the desk stated "Aren't you a little old for this?".

    I hadn't prepared for that question.

  17. Stevie Silver badge


    Once or twice?

    The foetuses in this place gave me nil respect until I stopped introducing myself at vendor presentations with a couple of brief statements and made them listen to five minutes of detailed backstory, dropping all the Big Names I'd worked for along the way.

    Not sure whether it was respect for my years of extremely varied tek nollige or fear of having to listen to it all again that made them stop dissing me as a casual thing.

    They seem to think that something changed in the way computers work sometime around 1986.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      "They seem to think that something changed in the way computers work sometime around 1986."

      1986? When they were 14 (rolling date).

  18. steelpillow Silver badge

    Back when if you were there you don't remember

    "I may be old now in your eyes,

    But all my years have made me wise.

    You don't see where the danger lies,

    Oh call me back, call me back..."

    — Al Stewart, 1973

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Back when if you were there you don't remember

      Oi! Who are you calling an Old Admiral, matey?


  19. Alistair Silver badge

    Yeah -- us old foks ain't worth it no more.

    Until of course the fecal matter hits the high speed rotary device and scares the crap outta the punks. I still get hauled into Sev1s and Sev2s that have nothing to do with me these days, "Cause, well, you know how to fix things......" (Yeaaaah, I've had a SenDir say that in the call).

    Like I keep telling my kids, you get what you pay for. Shop at walmart and that shirt will last 3 months. Go somewhere they know how to make shirts and pay a good bit more, that shirt will last years. Experience pays and all that crap. I've been at this now for Th*cough* years. If I'm older than your parents you just might want to listen a bit.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Yeah -- us old foks ain't worth it no more.

      Real Old Farts don't speak in hipster concatenated three-letter quasi-milspec jargon, Alistair, no matter how many young things are looking on and listening in.

      We are the generation who owned dictionaries and occasionally opened them. We are the Thesaurus Generation, not afraid of words with letters and phrases with spaces in them.

      We are, in short, the Rolls Royce generation, the generation that Harrods would sell one. What more can I say?

      (Except that we cost a billion pounds and no-one can afford us).

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: Yeah -- us old foks ain't worth it no more.

        This old fart grew up speaking milspec jargon, growing up as I did with a US Navy dad & a former US Navy mom. In a few cases, I invented the term that was repurposed in the process. Shame I never got an opportunity to meet Grace Hopper. Never learned COBOL but then again, I didn't need to learn it. It's verbosity was a God send.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Yeah -- us old foks ain't worth it no more.

          "Never learned COBOL but then again, I didn't need to learn it. It's verbosity was a God send."

          Oh man, I made a very good living for years out of people coding under that misconception. Money for old rope. But then, I knew what I was doing and (more importantly) what the computers would do to f*ck over people who Fake-Booked their way through Cobol.

  20. Charles Smith

    Disability overcome

    I was turfed out of permanent employment in the Financial Sector IT world in London as a consequence of grey hair disability at the grand old age of 52. The message from the recruitment agencies was "don't bother trying for a new job. You are too old.". So I set up my own company and within six months was charging the financial businesses twice as much per hour as they used to pay me in permanent employment, plus there were no on-call responsibilities. "You need me to work extra hours to meet a dumb deadline date? No problem. Sign here..."

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Disability overcome

      Nice one Charles. eBeer for you.

    2. herman Silver badge

      Re: Disability overcome

      That is Capitalism 101. Older people are supposed to start businesses and provide jobs to the young'uns. Getting fired for being too old is simple the kick in the pants to go do what you were supposed to have done ten years ago already.

  21. Bucky 2

    What companies say about valuing older employees and how they actually behave are two different things.

    "Wisdom to share" doesn't mean they'll keep you for it (they will have your replacement call you, though, to get it for free).

    A "diverse employee base" means hiring off-shore talent. Even if it didn't, I'd be humiliated to be hired as a charity case for the sake of "diversity."

    Finally, after having watching people come and go for a while, we know that the office will be instructed to be hush-hush about our pending replacement. The second we learn of it is the second we'll be out of work. There will be no "two week notice" for us.

    That's why we worry all the time.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "they will have your replacement call you, though, to get it for free"

      Whoa there. Do not proceed beyond the comma.

  22. Stevie Silver badge


    If you want to frighten the youngsters right back just answer any query with "it's in my documentation on the server/ on the intranet/ on sharepoint".

    The aforementioned documentation, naturally and without malice aforethought, discusses the product itself in all it's technical splendour notwithstanding a comprehensive and exhaustive treatment of bugs, faults, poor design choices and so forth all gathered in appendices a through f, all properly indexed and referenced repeatedly with endnotes, footnotes, sidebars and other properly literate methods of communicating, and of course including an extensive foreword in which terms are properly and rigorously defined (with much referencing of appendices a through f, various sidebars, footnote and endnotes and so on.

    Then refuse any ploy to make you sit down and explain in an ad-hoc, round-table gathering without several printed and bound copies of the said documentation, to which you should of course make frequent reference, leaping on to the next point as soon as the fastest person has found whatever it was you just referenced in some appendix (a through f), footnote or endnote. If anyone comes close to sorting it all out over the years, publish an addendum and errata, then call a meeting to go over it using slides and an epidiascope.

    If that doesn't stop the rot, start binding in ISO9000 stuff.

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      That works, after a fashion. It was IBM system engineers that "I should read the manuals and keep the wholly." Well, it used to, as there is much that exists without any rigorous documentation in F/OSS and proprietary. As a Microsoft Partner, the job involved figuring out the parts that weren't in the manual and how to search Microsoft's online documentation with Google rather than their site's search engine or later Bing.

      1. Anonymous IV

        Re: Bah!

        > "I should read the manuals and keep the wholly."

        OK, not even Google knows what "keep the wholly" means.

        Can anyone enlighten me, please?

        I presume it has nothing to do with "keeping holy the Sabbath Day"...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New kid never argues

    I've seen a fear of senior candidates because they call bullshit on bad ideas. They've seen it before and they care exactly zero about getting fired. It destroys the egos of bored but moderately skilled Engineering Managers looking to get notoriety by plugging together open source projects in a creative new way.

    - Grumpy guy who calls BS on boss's plan to use a Kafka queue and a write-ahead log to perform web-scale fault-tolerant exactly-once asynchronous distributed processing of simple addition and subtraction.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    In December 2008, at age 57, I was let go after our company was bought out. It was decided IT would be contracted out. No complaints: I had hoped to retire from there, but the severance package and my stock in the company left me better off financially than before.

    After three years of working at a much lower salary, I got my present job and guess what?

    Company was just bought out and the deal just finalized. Again, no complaints: they've treated me very well, and no one is being let go for the first year.

    I'm 66 now, and I really doubt that any one will hire me if I'm let go. That won't be a financial hardship - I can retire now if I want. But I really do love my work, the people I work for and the people I work with - I'd hate to leave that behind.

    I guess I have been very, very fortunate, especially when you read of all the people in their 40s and 50s who haven't been able to find work.

  25. gommerthus

    Well the old fogies have things that the youngsters won't have. Who in this day and age can code in COBOL or FORTRAN(yes there are systems out there, still running on that)? How many kids can code in assembly language? The old fogies can, and did it in their sleep.

    IT in this day and age is about continually upgrading your skills, but if you can't or don't want to do that - then there needs to be something about you that either nigh irreplaceable, or extremely difficult or expensive to find. Otherwise then yes - you have reason to be afraid.

    You can't have just the same skill-set at 50-60, that a 20-year old does. He'll not move faster, and think faster, but he'll also learn new concepts much faster.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "You can't have just the same skill-set at 50-60, that a 20-year old does. He'll not move faster, and think faster, but he'll also learn new concepts much faster."

      New concepts? All too often old ones with a new terminology. And when they're not retreads they're often things along the lines of "I could have done with that 5 years ago" and grabbed with both hands because you understand why.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We Retired Early

    Didn't we? ... Thanks to all the glorious booms... The roaring stock-market Startup successes... The lucrative early insider jobs.... Basically, right after the IPO we all moved to the Caribbean permanently... Wonder what percentage of IT workers did actually get to do this though?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Young people are just smarter' / 'People over 45 die'

    All those smarts, all that money... But where are the anti-grav hover cars Tech-Titans? Your visions are all about inward looking or tracking and spying... Zuk isn't a smart programmer he's an 'Ad man'... Vampire Peter Thiel? One day he'll be 'Charles-Bronson' in 'The Simpsons' 'Deathwish 99' scene, groaning: 'Oye I wish I were dead!'... Tech only heralds a future of Dystopian Hell. This 99-year-old says... Fuck-Big-Tech - Fuck-them-all!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'Where are the anti-grav hover cars Tech-Titans?'

      We have to clean our house especially the toilet, and cook and washup and and fix holes in the roof at 3am manually without AI or Bots to help. Whatever the tech world has invented it sure isn't the Jetsons lifestyle they pat themselves on the back for.

      But I guess when you're a billionaire you get all that for free from human slaves!!! How many dishes and dirty shorts do you think Zuk ever washed in his life? Daddy and mommy almost surely saved Zuk from that, even before paying for Harvard!

  28. jMcPhee

    It continues to amaze me...

    ... that all these kids continue with crap IT implementations. I just had someone proudly show me a latest-and-uptodatest web based data acquisition program which was almost as good as what HP-Inform did - in 1988. 30 years later and all they could do was set filters on a web page.

    No wonder older IT staff are not in demand. They're not afraid to call out the stupid in middle IT management.

  29. rtb61

    Lead suck it up over 45s because you did.

    There is a problem with plus 45, even if many of you refuse to admit it. Lead in fuels, yep, suck it up, the generation prior to us, fucked our brains up with lead, reducing out intellectual capability. Not criminal idiots certainly, well, only the ones already at the lower end of the IQ spread but there is a price to pay for say 10 to 30 lost IQ points you can thank you grandparents for and that is, yep, the millennial generation are smarter. Not so much in the US where lead water pipes are still a thing and firing lead bullets at rifle ranges, mainlining lead, had a very, very deleterious impact, surely everyone should have noticed by now (gun nuts are nuts for a reason, think mad hatter and mercury, just the exhaust of firing a lead bullet, down a rifled extreme friction inducing barrel, with very hot lead melting gases).

    So more a US thing, than a thing in the rest of the world because they got the worst of lead poisoning as reflected in their crime rate versus the rest of the worlds crime rate.

    Why deny it, you should be seriously pissed off about, bloody previous generation stole 20 of your IQ points and most of you are still smart enough to realise what was stolen from you and how important it is to you.

  30. Winkypop Silver badge

    The old devil is in the detail

    14 months out from retirement. *

    I find that the more I know and the more detail I retain, the more people rely on me.

    The young-uns just don't seem to be able to cope with complexity and accuracy.

    My boss has 'forbidden' me from retirement.

    * Yes, I am counting.

  31. Jim 59


    Don't you just hate those posts where commentards bore you with obscure computers they once used. Well stop reading. I won't have a bad word said against Apollo. Ah yes, and the sublime Domain/OS. If the Ubuntu/Gnome crowd want to see how a graphical shell is really done, go forth to Ebay, where you can buy a nifty DN3500 for only....

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Apollo

      Blimey, I'd almost forgotten about my short time using those - and the fun you could have with crp and things like screen melt and push :D My first experience of a Unix(like) OS, and virtually transparent networking as a core part of the OS.

  32. AbeSapian


    What Zuk et. al. fail to realize is that they too are inexorably heading towards old stale fartdom themselves.

    1. onefang Silver badge

      Re: Inexorable

      Ah, but by the time Zuk is a stale old fart, he'll be so rich he can buy people to freshen up his farts for him. I don't think he cares.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Big company kills last retirement plan

    I work for a big IT company who has eliminated its only retirement-assistance plan - a medical plan to assist those who are retiring before age 65. I'm surprised that a company who is lauded in the industry as the best place to work, and has excellent programs for younger workers, seems to have forgotten those of us who have put in many years to make the company as successful as it has been.

    I will admit that the company has a generous 401K match plan, but little for those of us nearing retirement.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Older workers are harder to sweat.

    Seriously, who's easier to con into doing 60- or 70-hour workweeks with no overtime pay, in exchange for vague, vaporware intimations of career success, bonuses, and fabulous stock-option payoffs? Fresh-faced, wide-eyed, wet-behind-the-ears twenty- and young thirty-somethings with something to prove? Or workers who've been around the block and have families and lives outside the company?

    Implement mandatory overtime pay for all workers except for owners with a major stake (>10%?), and I predict that high-tech employers will suddenly discover that the experience and wisdom of older workers are worth something. Side Benefit: younger workers will very likely have more time for personal lives of their own when their every last waking hour is no longer free to the employer.

  35. MargaretBartley

    Older employees up the average age, and thus the insurance cost for the whole company.

    It's not only the wages that make older workers more valuable, in the US, health insurance is a huge tax on jobs, and the employers' insurance rates are tied to the age of their work force. It may be thousands of dollars a year more for every employee, not just the older ones.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Older employees up the average age, and thus the insurance cost for the whole company.

      As an employer, I'd much rather pay the insurance for a seasoned veteran who will do the job right the first time than a wet behind the ears kid who'll cock it up and force me to pay the bills more than once!

      I hire millennials as apprentices and interns at minimum to zero pay. They aren't worth more until they have street smarts ... and frankly, I won't invest in any company who does it differently. Hiring kids to make mistakes is throwing money away; I'm not operating a charity.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really, the problem I've seen is...

    I am a 65 year old (senior) developer who is constantly amused that the senior executives around him are usually young enough to be his children (and much of the development staff his grandchildren). In my experience, the thing the younglings do not like most is being told "I've seen this done before, and it didn't work for these reasons..." and having you turn out right (and thus blow their creativity all to hell). Most of them simply ignore you, and then act surprised when things go awry - and forget that you've told them what would go wrong 6 months before.

    And besides, how creative was facebook anyway, except as a way to monetize our personal information?

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