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Tips to Bucking the Tide of Ageism in IT

As in many realms of professional endeavor, there's a bias against hiring (or retaining) seasoned, mature workers in IT. Being over 40 (or 50), however, doesn't mean that you have to settle for the status quo.

Seasoned IT pro at his desk in shirt and tieIf you're looking for work and you haven't considered the IT realm, then you're overlooking a reliable wellspring of employment opportunity. The advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud computing, Big Data and mobile devices continue to make the computer and tech arena a target-rich environment for job seekers.

 

What's more, the onslaught of opportunity in IT isn't likely to die down anytime soon. The occupational handbook of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that employment in the field will grow another 12 percent by 2024 — faster than the average for all occupations.

 

The number of positions needing to be filled also exceeds the number of qualified IT professionals. To better grasp the magnitude of the need, one need only execute a quick search of online employment listings, particularly those maintained by technology-specific sites like CrunchBoard.com and Dice.com. You will see literally thousands of positons advertised.

 

Unfortunately, while the field is sizzling hot, there seems to be a “best by” provision when it comes to the age of employable workers, particularly for those over the age of 50. These experienced (“older”) professionals are generally viewed as having out-of-date skills and less ability to adapt to new technologies than younger workers.

 

The entire industry seems standoffish when it comes to grey-haired professionals. The unwritten rule among tech venture capitalists, who make a living following the money, is, “Don’t fund anyone over 30.” Add in the ill-advised 2007 statement by Mark Zuckerberg that “Young people are just smarter,” and the bias becomes more evident.

 

Here is a chart to help you see how this bias against older workers is playing out:

 

Calvin H Figure 1 5 1 2017

 

Source: BI Graphics/Mike Nudelman via PayScale

 

In spite of what the numbers may say, the truth is that many older workers aren’t ready to be put out to pasture yet. We’ve got decades of experience under our belts, experience that can be helpful to employers. For one, we’re more loyal and less likely to job-hop than younger employees. We’ve learned that there are always aspects of a job or boss that aren’t fun or enjoyable and, as a result, we know how to take the bad with the good.

 

The formula for wisdom is “pain, time and sorrow” — all things with which older workers are well-acquainted. We’ve been through uncertainty, corporate belt-tightening and even layoffs. Our hard-earned wisdom helps us keep a level head when misfortune comes to call. We also have decades of professional connections to draw on to help solve problems.