Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

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anoop
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by anoop » Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:48 pm

HongKonger wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:44 pm
People still wear pleated pants :shock: I nearly spat my coffee through my nose.
The non-conformists. I happen to be one of them and proud to admit it!

bungalow10
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by bungalow10 » Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:51 pm

Slim cut clothing, minimalism style (try Everlane.com for clothes appropriate for all ages - high quality).

Update shoes. High quality leather loafers with white soles is a good look. Try a color like navy, dark gray, dark pine, or just go with brown. No black.

Watch. Doesn't have to be high end, but should be minimalist or techy.

Updated haircut, neat and clean facial hair (if male). Bleach teeth (not too much), wax or thread brows. No need to dye hair unless you feel it necessary, gray is okay. If balding, shave head.
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SrGrumpy
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by SrGrumpy » Thu Apr 12, 2018 3:08 pm

bungalow10 wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:51 pm
If balding, shave head.
+1. The ageless look. (But also drop a few pounds. Fat + bald = bad combo.)

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Thu Apr 12, 2018 4:57 pm

SrGrumpy wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 3:08 pm
bungalow10 wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:51 pm
If balding, shave head.
+1. The ageless look. (But also drop a few pounds. Fat + bald = bad combo.)
Getting skin cancer is even worse. Is wearing a hat to an interview acceptable?
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

SrGrumpy
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by SrGrumpy » Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:12 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 4:57 pm
SrGrumpy wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 3:08 pm
bungalow10 wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:51 pm
If balding, shave head.
+1. The ageless look. (But also drop a few pounds. Fat + bald = bad combo.)
Getting skin cancer is even worse. Is wearing a hat to an interview acceptable?
Hat and sunglasses. You'll either be hired on the spot, or escorted out.

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bligh
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by bligh » Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:25 pm

TN_Boy wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:54 pm

They will know about how old you are. OP, don't try and be a fake 25 year old. Any *smart* interviewer will notice this and be put off. Be a grownup 40's guy that has the skills for the role, enjoys working with younger people and knows how to get the job done.
+1

I agree with this sentiment. I would advise presenting yourself as sharp, experienced and battle tested. Dress well, be relaxed and confident. Also I'd advise you to look like you've had a successful career and done well for yourself.

Dont try to look younger, they will likely see through it and it might end up working against you.

WhiteMaxima
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by WhiteMaxima » Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:35 pm

Shave hair. Cool geek looking like Jeff Bezos. Can you still write code? If you can, you can still have a job. If not, sorry.

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samsoes
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by samsoes » Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:58 pm

Leave the flip-phone at home :D

Seriously, at my multi-continental Megacorp, oldsters are hired routinely. New hires truly need to "hit the ground running" or they're out (which can be soul-draining, especially with a hideous commute). We have no interns, no mentoring programs, etc. It's all about the culture of a corporation.

The local branch of my Megacorp shares a building with a young, trendy company. During the occasional fire drill, you can easily spot who works for which company while standing in the parking lot. At the trendy company, there's nobody old, fat, ugly, nor bald, and they all dress impeccably sharp. The women look like barbie dolls and the men look pre-pubescent. All of our folks are in flannel or t-shirts, jeans, sneakers, unshaven, and are old, fat, ugly, and/or bald.

If you're motivated, have a strong work ethic, can demonstrate that you can hit the ground running, and have a thick skin dealing with the youngsters who may interview you from time to time, you'll find the right place.

(OP, we have an office in the Silicon Valley area. PM me and I'll divulge Megacorp's true identity. You never know...)
"Happiness Is Not My Companion" - Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren. | (Avatar is the statue of Gen. Warren atop Little Round Top @ Gettysburg National Military Park.)

fnmix
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by fnmix » Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:41 pm

OP here again. More good input. Keep it coming.

Here are some more aggregated responses/comments/clarifications. Some of these will come off as funny or ridiculous. I am not aiming for either effect. Just looking to give some more detail so that I can act on responses (and hopefully help other posters in a similar situation). Apologies for the long post.
  • Role: I have a business role in the tech sector. I do a little scripting with a statistics tool when Excel is too cumbersome. But I am not a practicing coder. I do as much powerpoint as excel. (I was a coder in an earlier lifetime and have an engineering undergraduate degree. I also have graduate level business degree).
  • Technology: I keep up with technology news and try to understand why something is happening. I also have a network of people that are more technical than I am and I meet them every once a while to understand how things are changing.
  • How young to look: I am NOT trying to look 25. Goal is to look sharp and fit. I.e. looking to neutralize any conscious or unconscious bias against age.
  • Was the interview phone or video: It was a phone interview. I could guess based on the interviewers tone and experience (the portion that he chose to expose) that he was younger than me. That got me thinking that the interviewer knew a lot more about me than vice-versa and could easily be biased away from me (no way for me to prove though and not looking to prove. Simply looking to reduce age as an issue).
  • Why bother with the hair color: Well eventually I will have to interview at some of these shops in person. I do not want to come off as old or low-energy. Again looking to neutralize age as a factor in any conscious or un-conscious decision making. (see previous comments upthread from acquaintances). My wife tells me that if I am going to do it, I should use henna.
  • Going bald: I still have a decent head of hair. I don't know that I have the confidence to pull of a bald look. It would be cool to do it. I am just not there (yet).
  • Wedding ring: it is gone (with my wife's permission).
  • Linkedin: I have a solid presence there with a good photo (professionally taken 3 years ago so less gray hair). I have gotten (unsolicited) comments from some connections that I look good in the photo. I have Linkedin premium currently and have seen a few hits from recruiters and a follow-on phone conversation with one recruiter.
  • Competition: Yes, I understand there are others out there some of whom will be better than me. It is the differential between my "prep and take on the phone interview" and the "quick turn-down" that gets to me. It is not that I did not get an offer. It is that I did not get a second look (onsite interview). I am looking to improve so that I get second looks. And, I am looking to improve during the second look.
  • Adding an extra curricular section to me resume: I will. I run and I teach.
  • Flip phone: I don't have one. I use an iphone (although it is a 5s. hoping that it lasts a few more months).
  • Shoes: I'll get my wife to evaluate.
  • Watch: haven't worn one in years. Maybe it is a good idea to get one - so that I don't have to pull my old scratched-up iphone out to check time (not that I would do that during an in-person interview).
  • Pleated trousers: I have them but don't wear them (waiting for them to come back in style). I have a set of flat trousers that I use for work and informational interviews.
  • Suite: My suits came with pleated trousers (back in 2006). I know I should get these updated but I use the suits so rarely that I haven't gotten to it. If I wear a suit, I always wear a tie and the suit jacket hides the pleats.
  • Is ageism real: I think it is. I have seen it close-up at a mega-corp that I used to work at during a layoff. Ofcourse non-performing individual contributors were let go but so were some Directors with decent reputations. At the same megacorp, there was a layoff a few years earlier, right when I joined. Many directors were let go that time too and there was some head-scratching in the hallways. I did not get the significance then. I do now. Another company that I worked at had a mini-layoff. In one division all business people with experience (except for execs) were let go. The junior folks survived though.
  • Law suit: I am not planning to sue anybody for it (ageism), but I want to find a way around it to get to my goal (a bridge to when my wife can go back to work).
  • Why not stay at the current job: At this point, I don't think that my company will last 18 months. Or if it does, my job won't - I had a heavier load of work a few months ago. The projects have dried up. Now, I do what I am asked to do and am professional (I think) with any piece of work that I own. But I have decided to look outside with the remainder of my time.

jibantik
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by jibantik » Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:18 pm

Look the part, dress the part :D

Image

stan1
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by stan1 » Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:57 pm

Self awareness is important. I think you have it. I'd work your professional and social networks. Your reputation is a more valuable asset than your experience or physical appearance, but I wouldn't leave anything to chance.

joeblow
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by joeblow » Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:10 pm

Say "sick" and "like" like a lot. j/k

Confidence is key. Seems like you might have lost a little. Try to get it back.

mrsbetsy
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by mrsbetsy » Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:48 pm

Seven years ago, hubby was 50 when he left his last company (Silicon Valley medical device industry gobbled up by another) and decided to go into business for himself. He had definitely began to bald, but does not have a weight challenge. He can dress the part. I think sometimes there is a crossroad that has to be met and realized. He could have still kept the grind, but WHY? There was no why to be found. We were clearly FI and hopefully you are very very close and don't need to rely on a job/industry that isn't able or won't serve you.

1) He felt the industry changed and he could no longer stomach those changes. (less quality and more of a product to market mentality)

2) He definitely felt there was not an avenue for him. (he's not so good at beer pong)

3) He was very energetic to start something on his own and he did.

4) In the end...as owner of a company, his gray hair, balding head, and smile lines at his temples, give him a certain authority on the subject and respect. He doesn't *need* to work but I think there is a certain amount of self-esteem and self-respect that is wrapped up in men like him that is tied to a hard days work and a job well done.

Consider at some point crossing the bridge from employee to owner/entrepreneur. It might help you embrace your balding head and yellowing teeth...but never ever pleated pants!!!!

Cheers..Mrs. B

Mudpuppy
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by Mudpuppy » Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:56 pm

fnmix wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:16 am
Prepping better: The two things I did NOT do that could have helped: a mock interview with a friend and practicing voice delivery by using a voice recorder. I will be fixing this. The friend I have in mind (similar age as me) is also in the interview process, but for a technical manager role. So there is motivation on both sides to improve. Perhaps a third thing is revisiting the content of my answers and revamping the ones that don't have enough oomph.
This is a good avenue of self-improvement. Make sure your friend knows you want brutal honesty in assessing your mock interview.
iamlucky13 wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:14 am
I had that realization recently when reviewing an interview I did. I was feeling fairly good about it, until I remembered I was one of several dozen people with nearly identical skill sets to my own that had been laid off, and the interview was with one of largest companies hiring in our field. I was probably competing against multiple former coworkers, and I knew some of the others who got axed were sharper than I am.
This is something to consider as well. If the OP wants to stay in the same niche that the OP currently occupies, former co-workers who did get let go will now be the competition.
fnmix wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:41 pm
Role: I have a business role in the tech sector. I do a little scripting with a statistics tool when Excel is too cumbersome. But I am not a practicing coder. I do as much powerpoint as excel. (I was a coder in an earlier lifetime and have an engineering undergraduate degree. I also have graduate level business degree).
Have you considered leveraging this experience into a different sector?
Pajamas wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:25 am
Get new glasses but not ones with purple frames.
Amusing side anecdote related to purple frames: When I ordered my new glasses, they just had a burgundy and purple frame in stock, so I asked them to special-order the brown frame. When I went to pick them up, a set of purple and burgundy glasses awaited me.... I had to wait another week and a half for my basic brown frames.

MoneyMarathon
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by MoneyMarathon » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:29 pm

fnmix wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:06 pm
I am 46 and in a business (middle-management) role at micro-cap tech company in Silicon Valley
fnmix wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:16 am
If I can, I want one last swing at the cutting edge of the technology spectrum in a business role. I am ok with working hard and "keeping up appearances" for that duration.
fnmix wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:16 am
How do I know it was my age: I can't be sure ofcourse. But given past comments from other people, I know that appearing (no being) young of mind and looking/sounding it will help.
IMO, a disconnect in this thread has been the type of role being applied for.

When I read the title, by "in tech" I would assume that the question is about the engineering or research positions.

A lot of the advice given (hair, clothes, etc.) would ring very hollow, because people in these positions don't care about that. There's also a lot else to go on, which we actually do care about. A typical interview is simply walking through a particular coding problem, and as long as you're able to produce code and talk about it, that's all that really matters. (If the hiring there isn't dysfunctional somehow...)

Perhaps the biggest issue I've seen for engineering interviews would be that some people forget some of the academic knowledge that comes up during interviews. Unlike age, though, it's always possible to change that. Anyone can have that knowledge. The other issue is that some people create (sometimes unfair) elevated expectations for people with more years of experience. Those two issues are the real ones that I've actually seen over and over, and what they have in common is that they can be compensated for, without pretending to be younger. Practicing fundamental skills and doing side projects are the best interview prep that an engineer can do at any age. They do require more conscious effort as one progresses (new grad expectations are lower, and the education is recent), but getting declined as a result of falling behind on them usually isn't of the nature of something truly discriminatory.

But now I realize that none of this applies, since the OP is talking about a business role.

I honestly have no idea how people really get hired in business roles! What I do know is that they don't have the same structured interview format as the engineer roles.

It's always going to be subjective to get a "yes" or a "no" from a conversational interview. Unfortunately that also means that there may be biases at work, in a very significant way. It can be hard for people to compensate for their biases, even with real data to use. If there are no hard indicators, how do they know their biases are wrong? :(

When we do lunch interviews, with engineers, we usually decline to give any weight to our feedback. To us that sounds a bit crazy. :wink:

Good luck! :beer

mac808
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by mac808 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:15 am

WhiteMaxima wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:35 pm
Shave hair. Cool geek looking like Jeff Bezos. Can you still write code? If you can, you can still have a job. If not, sorry.
I'm surprised whenever I hear about coders wanting to move into management to combat age-ism. I always saw it the other way around. If you can code well, you will have more work than you can handle forever. The more removed you are from writing actual code, the more risk you take with job security (although sometimes that risk is well rewarded).

HornedToad
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by HornedToad » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:31 am

mac808 wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:15 am
WhiteMaxima wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:35 pm
Shave hair. Cool geek looking like Jeff Bezos. Can you still write code? If you can, you can still have a job. If not, sorry.
I'm surprised whenever I hear about coders wanting to move into management to combat age-ism. I always saw it the other way around. If you can code well, you will have more work than you can handle forever. The more removed you are from writing actual code, the more risk you take with job security (although sometimes that risk is well rewarded).
I think because over time you naturally do less coding and more architecture, leading projects and meetings as "Senior Engineers". So when looking to switch jobs, either have to dive back into coding and pick up what you remember from 5 years earlier to refresh coding/algorithm skills or full on make the jump to manager since halfway there already. I think there's a risk in either approach depending on what you like to do. Companies struggle to hire engineers who don't actively code because they still expect skills to be as fresh as when they were more junior engineers who were not inundated with meetings and design reviews.
Last edited by HornedToad on Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

harrychan
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by harrychan » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:36 am

Jags4186 wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:17 pm
Change up your resume a little. Take off the year you graduated college. Jobs you had over 15 years ago. Are you in good shape/do you "look" 46 years old? I find most older people in good shape can pass for anywhere between 30 and 50. Don't give meaningful details about your family.
Been reviewing a lot of resumes lately and this honestly peeves me. It seems as if you are trying to hide something beyond your age. If they do really intend to age discriminate, there is no way to hide it.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

Rick Rock
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by Rick Rock » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:11 am

fnmix wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:41 pm
OP here again. More good input. Keep it coming
[*] Wedding ring: it is gone (with my wife's permission).
[*] Flip phone: I don't have one. I use an iphone (although it is a 5s. hoping that it lasts a few more years.
[*] Watch: haven't worn one in years. Maybe it is a good idea to get one - so that I don't have to pull my old scratched-up iphone out to check time (not that I would do that during an in-person interview.
[/list]
I don't know man, I've read the whole thread and I'm more in the "be yourself" camp. Your graduate business degree is an asset at a megacorp and worth owning, along with your experience.

With that said, comments on the three points above because it seems like you're going all in on appearing younger, and there are all sorts of decent motivations for doing so...

- Keep your wedding ring. Don't completely sell yourself out. Young folks get married too.

- From reading the thread, the iPhone 5s is the most dated thing you own and the oldest thing you do. It came out an eternity ago and would likely draw comments in an in-person interview. I know, I used to carry two of them while an expat and always got a raft of shit for being behind the times... in 2016.

Millennials at tech cos value the latest and greatest phones, as do senior execs. Upgrade this (presumably you are due?!) to something like the iPhone X and it becomes a positive talking point and good signal that you're curious about new tech.

- Don't start wearing a watch. Too much potential to start totally unnecessary pissing contests. Put your watch money into your phone!

Rick Rock
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by Rick Rock » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:20 am

anoop wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:18 am
queso wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:11 am
mayday23 wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:10 am
fnmix wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:06 pm
Question: What can I do to come off as more "with it" and "not obviously old" - both on the phone and in-person. What have you done in the past that seems to have helped?
Show up 5 mins late to the interview
Complain about your parents
Immediately ask about work/life balance and if the company schedules meetings before 10a
Ask when a face to face interview is and if you'll need to wear a suit since you'll have to rent one. Be clear that your definition of a suit does not include a tie
lol.. also, check your phone multiple times during the interview and ask how many days a week you can work from home/remotely.
since we're derailing, here's some humor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uo0KjdDJr1c
Thank God this didn't get any replies. The video is older and drier than the people who find it funny, and that's saying something. You recognize how many millennial Bogleheads are crushing it, right?

JD2775
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by JD2775 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:07 am

You are going to dye your hair? To be honest unless that is done VERY well, it will look even "weirder" than the gray hair does. I'd keep the grays, own it, just get the hair cut

I agree with what someone else mentioned, maybe you are interviewing in the wrong places too? I'm 43, in tech, and I can't imagine interviewing at a startup at this point. Not my cup of tea. I don't have the energy for it :)

Good luck to you

Amphian
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by Amphian » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:08 am

fnmix wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:16 am
When I read the title, by "in tech" I would assume that the question is about the engineering or research positions.
...
But now I realize that none of this applies, since the OP is talking about a business role.
I had the same reaction. There have been a lot of threads on tech work lately, and I been in most of them. I keep clicking on this one, reading a post with some bafflement, and then remembering this isn't what I would think of as tech, but biz.
HornedToad wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:31 am
I think because over time you naturally do less coding and more architecture, leading projects and meetings as "Senior Engineers". So when looking to switch jobs, either have to dive back into coding and pick up what you remember from 5 years earlier to refresh coding/algorithm skills or full on make the jump to manager since halfway there already.
In my experience, you have to actively work at not getting moved into roles where you do no development. It helps if you have another person on the team on the business side who will do the biz parts of management - Gantt charts, powerpoint presentations to the stakeholders, setting up approvals and training, etc. so that you can manage only the tech parts of the project - picking tools and architecture, designing, assigning work, assisting those stuck on their task, etc.
harrychan wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:36 am
Jags4186 wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:17 pm
Change up your resume a little. Take off the year you graduated college. Jobs you had over 15 years ago.
Been reviewing a lot of resumes lately and this honestly peeves me. It seems as if you are trying to hide something beyond your age. If they do really intend to age discriminate, there is no way to hide it.
This is advice that everyone working with job candidates gives nowadays. I heard it from every source when I updated my resume. I actually like it - like the advice you don't need a physical address anymore. If I had a job 15 years ago where I worked on embedded systems for pacemakers for two years, but have done UI design on websites since then, and that's what you are hiring, you don't really care how long I did the first job - it's not related to what you want to hire me to do. I have all my degrees and professional jobs on the resume, I just pushed all jobs but the most recent two onto page two, wrote a one line summary for each, and left off the years. Less clutter on a resume is good. :)

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ClevrChico
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by ClevrChico » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:21 am

Lots of good comments here.

I'd add, lose any facial year to look younger. As mentioned before, make your resume age neutral. Keep it to one page and truncate all the legacy work off.

The best thing you can do is stay current. If you're up to date I don't think anyone would care too much. I also had better interviews when I dressed on the casual side of business casual.

Hanksmoney
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by Hanksmoney » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:31 am

fposte wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:28 am
davidsorensen32 wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:22 am
I’m in the same boat as you are and have realized that the ONLY solution to this problem is strict anti age discrimination legislation. Let me know if you want to start a crowdfunding page.
The OP is over 40 and thus is covered by age discrimination legislation already. Since he's in California, there are additional state protections that may be even more effective than the federal law.
That's nice but it honestly doesn't amount to squat. It's very hard to prove you weren't hired due to age - and then even if you did, what have you accomplished? Them begrudgingly being forced to hire you, despite them actually not thinking you were the best candidate b/c you do things like force your own hiring? Don't get me wrong - it's good that there is a law out there, but just saying it doesn't really help OP. The people hiring my not even be cognoscente of their inner prejudices.

The best way to combat that, is to prove your value. Not by coloring your hair, but that IS really funny. I'm just imagining shoe-polish black hair with a newly trimmed, yet unmatching salt and pepper, "hip" goatee. But seriously, you don't have to defraud them. I think you need to really get excited about your knowledge. Remember the passion you once had for this type of work and make sure that is fully alive and healthy.

I think taking on a youthful, active lifestyle, is good regardless. I'm not active, but it sure does seem like a good idea.

HongKonger
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by HongKonger » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:43 am

Henna - absolutely NOT! I can't stress that enough. You might as well wear a toupee for the result that will get you. Go to a hipster/retro barbers and get a consult.

winterfan
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by winterfan » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:44 am

I think it's difficult to pass as a younger person. Even if you dye your hair and whiten your teeth. Your face and neck change with gravity and age. I'm thinking of celebs your age like Jon Hamm, Mark Wahlberg, Keegan-Michael Key, Dwayne Johnson, etc. They are all handsome and in shape, but I don't think any of them can pass as younger than mid-40s. They have access to the best stylists too. I think you can make yourself look better, but not younger. I'd just embrace your age. If you have a few grays I wouldn't get my hair dyed. I would get a fresh haircut though.

dknightd
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by dknightd » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:57 am

To me mid 40's is prime, You are old enough to have proved what you can do.
Trying to pass off as "acceptably young" is insulting to you, and your potential employer.
You need to emphasize what you can bring to the table. If you have nothing to bring, then sorry for you.
You might be subconsciously letting the interviewer know you only plan to work for 18 months.
I would not hire anybody who only planned to work for 18 months, It is not worth the bother.
YMMV

fposte
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by fposte » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:57 am

Hanksmoney wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:31 am
fposte wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:28 am
davidsorensen32 wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:22 am
I’m in the same boat as you are and have realized that the ONLY solution to this problem is strict anti age discrimination legislation. Let me know if you want to start a crowdfunding page.
The OP is over 40 and thus is covered by age discrimination legislation already. Since he's in California, there are additional state protections that may be even more effective than the federal law.
That's nice but it honestly doesn't amount to squat. It's very hard to prove you weren't hired due to age - and then even if you did, what have you accomplished? Them begrudgingly being forced to hire you, despite them actually not thinking you were the best candidate b/c you do things like force your own hiring?
I don't necessarily disagree with that (discrimination cases are pretty tough generally)--I was just pointing out that the anti-discrimination laws the previous poster refers to exist already.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by willygreen » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:10 am

This is a good topic. I'm a 43 year old manager at a software company. We are focused on accounting software, so not as cool as other tech companies. But we persist through any downturn. I have about 100 people on my team from age 25 - 65. We have 60 year olds that act 40 and 60 year olds that act 75. It really is in the way that you carry yourself and the way that you work. Here are some things i have noticed in both appearance and behavior.

1. Some of the older people are obsessed with printing documents rather than reviewing them online. It is not an efficient way to work and the younger people make fun of them for this.
2. Some of the late career resources struggle with adopting new technology. I only know of one that uses a flip phone, but he can write code so no one cares.
3. Most of our sales people are 40+. Customer decision makers are older and they connect better with them.
4. Get yourself a sleek laptop or tablet\Surface - Apple is even better if you can get away with it. Having a big laptop makes you look old school.
5. Use a backpack or messenger bag instead of a briefcase or old school computer bag.
6. Be open to change and newer and better way of doing things. Don't hang on to old methods just because they have worked for you.
7. Try to keep yourself as healthy as possible through diet and exercise. Our older coders struggle with this, and we see it in how many sick days they take.
8. As a manager, I don't worry as much about office hours. Millenials might be a little lax on when they show up and leave, but tend to always be available on their phone. Older resources may show up and put in their office hours but then aren't flexible when needed.

If you know your stuff and can keep up with modern communication methods, you should be fine. It is all about adding value to the business. If they feel you can't keep up, or can't communicate effectively then it will be an uphill battle.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by rgs92 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:16 am

About the worst thing you can do is present yourself as a 40+ coder. If you are lucky enough even to get an interview, they look at you suspiciously for still doing hands on programming at that age. That's what I found in the telcom-systems arena.

And since I was in telcom, I could never, ever, even get an interview in another industry.
Hundreds of applications with relevant skills for the position never got me one interview in anywhere outside of telcom (Unix/C/C++/Oracle areas).

If I ever got any answer at all, it was: You don't have pharmaceutical/financial/educational/whatever-field experience.
In my 20's, nobody ever said that to me and I was very desirable.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by dknightd » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:20 am

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 4:57 pm

Getting skin cancer is even worse. Is wearing a hat to an interview acceptable?
Not if it inside

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by allones » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:34 am

Consider tech-related roles at non-technical companies. I'm 40 and have a suitable role in the IT department at a large commercial real estate company. This industry (or company?) seems to lean older - I'm one of the youngest people on my team.

rgs92
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by rgs92 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:37 am

A cap with the brim facing backwards should help.
Very common at my health club. (Indoors.)

rebellovw
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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by rebellovw » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:39 am

dknightd wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:20 am
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 4:57 pm

Getting skin cancer is even worse. Is wearing a hat to an interview acceptable?
Not if it inside
You lotion up your noggin with sunblock.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by Hyperborea » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:52 am

HornedToad wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:31 am
mac808 wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:15 am
WhiteMaxima wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:35 pm
Shave hair. Cool geek looking like Jeff Bezos. Can you still write code? If you can, you can still have a job. If not, sorry.
I'm surprised whenever I hear about coders wanting to move into management to combat age-ism. I always saw it the other way around. If you can code well, you will have more work than you can handle forever. The more removed you are from writing actual code, the more risk you take with job security (although sometimes that risk is well rewarded).
I think because over time you naturally do less coding and more architecture, leading projects and meetings as "Senior Engineers". So when looking to switch jobs, either have to dive back into coding and pick up what you remember from 5 years earlier to refresh coding/algorithm skills or full on make the jump to manager since halfway there already. I think there's a risk in either approach depending on what you like to do. Companies struggle to hire engineers who don't actively code because they still expect skills to be as fresh as when they were more junior engineers who were not inundated with meetings and design reviews.
I think the "secret" is to keep those coding skills up at all times. So, even if you are a senior engineer/tech lead/hands-on manager spending more time doing those other things, make sure that you slip some in to the schedule - some regular small stuff and occasional larger jobs. Depending on need and scheduling, I would take on some of the small, grungy jobs that would still let me get hands on with the newer tech. Or I would take the hairier debug items that the junior engineers couldn't handle. Twice over the last 10 years of my work life I took on complete replumbing of two very large libraries to fix a bad original design in one case and to add support for a new technology on a very old library in another case.

Even as a front line manager at many tech companies, if your team is small enough you are still expected to be technical and hands-on. I think the danger point for an engineer going in to management is that point where you stop being hands-on and haven't risen high enough in the management hierarchy. So, that's front line managers of large teams who aren't hands-on and maybe second line managers. If you rise to that point and stay for a while your tech skills will atrophy and you won't have any real clout as a manager to move to other companies so easily. The problem is that going from there to director level is another big jump and not everybody is cut out for the different kind of work involved or the personal sacrifices.
"Plans are worthless, but planning is everything." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by cherijoh » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:54 am

Mudpuppy wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:19 am
You've narrowed in on your age as an issue, but are you sure that's it? How are you keeping your skills up-to-date? Have you been going to relevant professional society meetings or social gatherings to network with people in your area of specialization and to stay up-to-date? Can you talk with passion about your specialization in tech and even your own personal tech projects (e.g. your home LAN)? Have you researched the major projects of the company that you're interviewing at? Can you name what their competitors are doing in those areas?

Showing a weakness in any of these areas are more likely to torpedo a job interview than your age. Mid-40s is not ancient, particularly not for a management role. But if you haven't researched the company and their competitors (asking me basic questions you could have discovered from the website is a red flag), if you can't talk about recent trends in your specialty (someone in hardware security better be able to talk about Spectre and Meltdown or it's a red flag), if you can't answer basic knowledge questions (I've had people interview for a senior Linux sys admin role who didn't know what inodes are... big red flag), and if you don't show some level of spark or passion for tech (someone applying for a network admin job let their ISP set up their home LAN... also a red flag), you're not going to do well at the interview. Hair dye and new clothes aren't going to solve any of these issues either.
Personally, I think dropping your graduation date and chopping off your early years of work experience will only help you to get to the point of a phone interview. Possibly necessary, but NOT sufficient.

After that I think Mudpuppy is on the right track. I was over 50 when I interviewed for the job from which I just retired. But I had gone back to school and gotten a Masters in a field closely associated with my new role a few years before. So I was up-to-date in my skill set and that also helped to mark me as a life-long learner. If you think that is an issue for you, consider signing up for a MOOC (massive open on-line course). I have taken classes through Coursera, but there are many other consolidators. There are tons of technical classes and they repeat every couple of months.

I have always looked a little younger than my age and I didn't reference anything age related, but it was obvious that I was older than my 20- and 30-something colleagues. But I'm pretty sure that when one of them made reference to going home for his Mom's 50th birthday he didn't realize that I was older than his mother! :shock: I ended up being a bit of a mentor to some of my younger colleagues but mostly because I came across as willing to share my expertise when they asked for specific help or a "can I bounce an idea off you" session. Make sure that you don't come across as being paternalistic, heavy-handed or a "know it all" - especially to a younger hiring manager.

I never had this issue since i have always been an individual contributor with zero interest in management, but some bosses feel threatened by older employees who might be viewed as after their jobs.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by 3CT_Paddler » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:01 pm

There is always the Creed Bratton approach to looking young (from The Office)...

Image

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by Amphian » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:03 pm

rgs92 wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:16 am
And since I was in telcom, I could never, ever, even get an interview in another industry.
Hundreds of applications with relevant skills for the position never got me one interview in anywhere outside of telcom (Unix/C/C++/Oracle areas).

If I ever got any answer at all, it was: You don't have pharmaceutical/financial/educational/whatever-field experience.
In my 20's, nobody ever said that to me and I was very desirable.
Telecom is sort of its own world from what I have seen, which heavily focuses on young, cheap, replaceable workers. (I know a couple people in it, and it's been getting worse as stuff consolidates to just a few companies.)

I have never worked two jobs in the same industry - utilities, retail, educational, real estate, and graphics (boxed software, back in the day). I've never had anyone care about industry, just relevant tech skills. I actually like the industry switching - it gives me something new to learn.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by LiterallyIronic » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:09 pm

rgs92 wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:16 am
About the worst thing you can do is present yourself as a 40+ coder. If you are lucky enough even to get an interview, they look at you suspiciously for still doing hands on programming at that age.
That's unfortunate. I only got my CS degree at age 33. I'd like my career as a coder to last longer than seven years before I have to change careers again.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by rebellovw » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:18 pm

LiterallyIronic wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:09 pm
rgs92 wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:16 am
About the worst thing you can do is present yourself as a 40+ coder. If you are lucky enough even to get an interview, they look at you suspiciously for still doing hands on programming at that age.
That's unfortunate. I only got my CS degree at age 33. I'd like my career as a coder to last longer than seven years before I have to change careers again.
This is the internet - someone will always spout nonsense. Nothing wrong with staying a technical coder, troubleshooter, tuner etc.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by dknightd » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:40 pm

LiterallyIronic wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:09 pm

That's unfortunate. I only got my CS degree at age 33. I'd like my career as a coder to last longer than seven years before I have to change careers again.
If you a good at what you do. and update skills as needed, you should be good to go

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by lotusflower » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:37 pm

A lot of good stuff in this thread but also a lot of people who don't understand how age bias works. Most of the time it's not a matter of "Gee John Q. Eighties really knows his stuff but no one over 50 is worth hiring. And frankly, graying temples just give me the creeps". That's just not what we're up against here.

It's more like, "Okay out of the five people we just interviewed, I really liked that guy Miles Lennial. He really brings a lot of knowledge from that startup that just crashed, and it turns out we both get our $4 toast at the same place. I think he'd really fit in with the culture around here."

A lot of the bias is unconscious, so if wearing slimmer clothing and a little hair modification put you more in line with expectations and help with a positive outcome, then it will be totally worth it.

Taking off your ring seems crazy. I considered a bit of hair dye last time but I would never take off the ring just to present differently. My marriage is just more important than that. Plus there's no need, tons of youngish people get married.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by downshiftme » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:26 pm

Role: I have a business role in the tech sector. I do a little scripting with a statistics tool when Excel is too cumbersome. But I am not a practicing coder. I do as much powerpoint as excel.
This is really not a tech role at all. At best this is an analyst role of some sort.

Your best angle is probably to emphasize your business and/or product definition role, or your statistics and analytics role. While you are working in the tech sector, you are not a tech specialist. Perhaps there are better opportunities for you outside the tech sector, where your tech sector history might be viewed as a plus.

Having a programming background but your career drifted into being an excel and stats tool user, is exactly what the young techies mean when they suggest that oldsters are not able to keep up with technology. Trying to fight that battle seems like it might be a lost cause. Better to focus on your strengths and your depth likely is on the business side and knowing how to employ statistical techniques to business issues, something the youngster techies are not likely to be strong at.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by psychoslowmatic » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:00 pm

rebellovw wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:39 am
dknightd wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:20 am
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 4:57 pm

Getting skin cancer is even worse. Is wearing a hat to an interview acceptable?
Not if it inside
You lotion up your noggin with sunblock.
Bald runner here. No. It runs into your eyes. Any hat from a golfing store should look classy but active, take it off when entering the lobby.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by fnmix » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:47 pm

OP here. Some more comments and clarifications. Great input btw.
  • Why only 18 mos: That's the minimum I want to spend in a place. If the role has more legs, I'll stay on and work with my wife to push out her return to teaching.
  • Drift: There is no drift in my case. I had a ~10 year tech career (mostly outside the bay area and mostly software development and system design for hardware appliances). I consciously used a master's business degree to switch to the business side of tech companies. This second career has lasted ~10 years.
  • Entrepreneurship: I want to make my next job, the last job on the corporate ladder. I won't be done working at that point - will launch a 3rd career, the details of which I am still figuring out, but that will likely involve entrepreneurship. The atleast-18-mos in the next job is so that I have a little more savings and as a family we are at a stage where my wife is comfortable taking over from me as the breadwinner (her going to work is a less comfortable option for us right now than me fighting for one more swing). [Working for non-profits or the local government are also under consideration for a 3rd career].
  • Shaved head: I am warming up to this, but still not there. I am a little scared to bring this up to my wife who wants me to keep my hair short but then leave it alone.
  • Video games: not my thing (prefer to read, hear podcasts, watch movies) but I did look up PUBG and Fortnite. Good to know what these are.
[Edited: Entrepreneurship bullet with a little more detail]
Last edited by fnmix on Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by sunny_socal » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:03 am

This thread is very relevant for me, same age and also facing cuts at my Megacorp. I'm looking for work to stay ahead of the inevitable cut. Don't know if it will affect me but I'll be leaving regardless.

I've done a few phone interviews and they seem to fall into the following categories. It helps to be prepared for anything:
1. You're talking to a peer. Conversation is effortless, you're just getting to know each other. Neither has a chip on his shoulder.
2. You're talking to a youngster. They're busy, they don't even want to do the interview. They have done no prep whatsoever, probably haven't bothered to read your resume. But they're smart and still relatively fresh out of school. Expect topics like "tell me about yourself", "why should we hire you over the other applicants" and pointed technical questions designed to make you stumble. Have small lists prepared for the general questions and highlight your best qualities. When you're presented with a trap, avoid saying "I don't know" or "I'm not sure", but rather ask further questions until the problem is manageable.

My prep
- I did remove my graduation dates and some old work experience from my resume and linkedin profile. This seems acceptable today and I'm happy to divulge the information if asked.
- I also removed the 'Manager' title from my profile. At my current employer it's merely indicative of higher rank and doesn't imply higher skill. Most positions I've applied for aren't looking for a manager and companies seem to promote from within.
- Bought some fresh shirts from "Un-Tuckit." The shirts are casual, wrinkle-free and have a great cut. The very opposite of frumpy!
- Bought some new jeans to fit my expanding waist (!) yet slim enough for my legs.
- Will get a haircut prior to the face-to-face interviews. I have a short beard, I'll dye it and see how it looks. Don't think I'll be shaving it, many people have facial hair these days.

I don't plan on changing anything that would be out of character for me. I'll keep my wedding ring. I wear a late model Rolex (SD43, baby!) and I wonder if it could possibly be "too much watch." However I think most people either won't notice or won't care. The companies I'm working with are filthy rich so money isn't an issue.

Too late for me to work out and get fit. I'm not obese but I'm a little soft around the middle. If it sit up straight and walk with poise it should be enough :wink:

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by epictetus » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:26 am

I would encourage you to focus on what you bring to the position.
Emphasize how your knowledge/experiences help the company achieve what they are trying to achieve.
You have something to offer them.

It seems like your focus is how can you can contort yourself to give them what you think they might want.
Versus focusing on what you have to offer and how it would benefit them for you to work for them.

I may be misreading it but the tone of your posts sounds like you have become desperate and demoralized.
That you are willing to do almost anything to fit in.
That vibe will be very stressful to you plus won't come across well to the people you are interacting with.

And I would suggest reading some Epictetus. Figuring out what you can control and focusing on that can be very helpful.

If you go to Amazon and search for "The Good Life Handbook" by Chuck Chakrapani you will find a free ebook of Epictetus' Handbook.

I wish you the best during a stressful time you are having.

Would encourage you not to lose yourself in the process.
Focus on what you can control

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by quantAndHold » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:45 am

Reading this whole thread just makes me cringe. As an “oldster” (50’s) who just left one of the FANGs, all this trying to appear younger than you are is useless and makes you appear desperate. Companies are looking for people who can help them make a profit, not go on a date. Most tech companies are also desperately looking for adult leadership. Junior coder might not be, but his boss’ boss definitely is. Stop trying to play games, and spend your time and effort figuring out how to sell yourself to them as a leader.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by fnmix » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:02 am

epictetus wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:26 am
I may be misreading it but the tone of your posts sounds like you have become desperate and demoralized.
That you are willing to do almost anything to fit in.
I think you are misreading the tone. Not demoralized and not desperate. Just evaluating and updating how I present myself and interview.

Thanks for the rest of your post. Some good points there.

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Re: Mid-40s in tech - how to pass off as acceptably young

Post by fnmix » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:06 am

quantAndHold wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:45 am
Stop trying to play games, and spend your time and effort figuring out how to sell yourself to them as a leader.
I think you misunderstand the intent of my original post. Lots of actionable input from many on this thread. Not just for me but for others as well. And I am using it "update and improve"

Further your perception above (of me) is inaccurate (relative to my goals/situation).

Nevertheless I wish you the best :sharebeer

[edited for clarity]
Last edited by fnmix on Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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