Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

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Pippen_001
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by Pippen_001 » Tue May 22, 2018 9:29 am

Have you given any thought on a career in Business Analysis?

I am a software engineer myself (15 years) and i'm aiming for a 50-50 engineering / BA role at my current employer.
For me it gives me a balance of working with people, getting to know business domains and also working on the technical parts of implementation.

Good luck with the path you choose.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Tue May 22, 2018 10:29 am

anoop wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 1:21 am
I don't know anyone that has unfortunately. Most that made the transition did so in their early-mid 30's. These mid 40's-50's folks are now doing random consulting gigs, often for companies in Asia. They are deeply unhappy but they don't see a way out.

I think it is possible to do it, but it requires tremendous focus because it involves facing one's ego -- that we picked the wrong career and we aren't as good as we thought we were.
When I picked this career, it seemed like the sky was the limit. This was during the .com boom. Of course, things have changed since then. Are we not as good as we thought we were? I don't know if it's that or if it's discovering that we're not on a level playing field. I have worked for managers that had no business being in the position they were in (including one manager who had a GED and no college who bragged about sniffing glue in high school, another manager who knew nothing about the industry but admitted he only has his position because he was related to someone higher up). Between that and the H1B thing, that limits opportunities for many bright people, including those mid 40s professionals that you are referring to who are sitting at home.

Not whining about it as I'm sure someone will say "you are responsible for your own career" and all that, which is true to a certain extent, but these are the realities of the modern economy in not just IT but many if not most other career fields. Perhaps some of us need to change our thinking to more of an entrepreneurial mindset (even though that isn't for everyone).

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Tue May 22, 2018 10:37 am

jharkin wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 6:02 am
The thing with tech, is that the advice is all over the map.

In this thread we have the folks saying that its a dead end post 40 and be ready for the poor house. In the parallel "lucrative careers" thread you have guys trying to convince me that I'm doing something wrong because I cant command a 250k salary with a phone call.

Somewhere in the middle you have Klangfool.

Then you have the folks insisting its all going to outsource... countered by the folks who say IT help desk will be immune ( My experience is similar to one guy above - all of help desk but local hardware support got sent overseas long ago). One thing not mentioned, that I think about, is the day when AI gets good enough that the code writes itself and development becomes more of a skilled union trade than a profession.

Then you have the folks saying get PMP, against the folks saying get CSM, against the folks saying both are bunk. My experience is that BOTH are useful, in certian specific circumstances. The CSM is easy and it teaches you the basics - but like people above said in big enterprises nobody does it by the book. Its almost impossible to do by the book. Most enterprise companies do some flavor of water-srum-fall... where you have scrum at the team level working stories but your planning pipeline and endgame are still heavily waterfall. And inviting recruiting and marketing to a daily standup? never heard of that....
Great post! This is EXACTLY what I was thinking. In other careers, there is more of a clear cut path. You know exactly what needs to be done. For example, someone who works in accounting and wants to become a CPA obtains a Bachelors degree in the field and then can work toward becoming a CPA. It's not an easy road but the path is clear. If you want to become a Finance manager or executive, get a degree in Finance followed by an MBA. IT is a total free for all. There are different types of degrees, and endless number of certifications, technologies that accomplish the same end goal, etc. Employers have a "tool-driven" mindset meaning that you need to be experts in the tools that they utilize (no two positions are the same). It has become a buzzword-driven industry.
jharkin wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 6:02 am
Similarly PMP is far from dead. Its just not useful at the single scrum team level... But for the scope of large enterprise releases and customer engagements, you better believe GANTT charts and RACI models are still alive and well :) If your interest is project or program management, PMP is useful but not required.

And program management is not a bad gig if you like looking at the big picture and have the knack for negotiating. I moved in that direction to keep my tech career moving in my 40s after my hard skills atrophied. Oh and I did it without a PMP.... in fact I manage PMP's ;)
Interesting. There are no program managers where I work, at least not at the local level. It's just Systems Engineer and management. Pretty much everything under the sun falls under Systems Engineer. I'm not sure the corporate office even has this position.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Tue May 22, 2018 10:42 am

Pippen_001 wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 9:29 am
Have you given any thought on a career in Business Analysis?

I am a software engineer myself (15 years) and i'm aiming for a 50-50 engineering / BA role at my current employer.
For me it gives me a balance of working with people, getting to know business domains and also working on the technical parts of implementation.

Good luck with the path you choose.
I believe that is part of my job now but is just one of my many responsibilities. When I'm working on a project, I talk to the managers/stakeholders and work with them as the project progresses. Perhaps I could leverage this experience this into a Business Analyst position down the line. Do you have a business degree or gain that experience OTJ? It doesn't seem like I have a full time job as much as it is several part jobs (developer, sysadmin, DBA, business analyst, etc) grouped into one position.

Dottie57
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by Dottie57 » Tue May 22, 2018 10:42 am

mrgeeze wrote:
Sun May 20, 2018 8:26 am
I worked as a free lance software developer for 15 years till I mostly retired 3 years ago at age 57.
Currently I do a little C# work for an engineering/manufacturing firm. Very part time.

I would suggest you really focus hard on the db/Sql arena.
Notwithstanding todays "flavor of the week" approach to databases, the relational database is by far the king where your work will come from.
Know it, respect it. SQL doesn't change all that much between the major platforms. You may have to learn a little PL/SQL to satisfy the Oracle crowd.
Learn just enough to gain their respect, then show them how domain logic does not belong in the data layer. Period.

As for a language C# has served me well. Its great for building exposable objects the UI people can use without harming the underlying Database.

Unfortunately many of those my age view software development as mostly a younger persons game.
As we age we often find we no longer wish to simply code & sleep like we did when we were younger.
70 hour work eeks really don't excite us anymore. At least not 12 of them in a row. Even when the money is good.

The sad truth is that as we age, a few mph comes off our fastball. This seems more noticeable in the IT world
Experience, cunning and guile often can help mitigate this.. to a point.

Experience, especially when used at reigning back the exuberance of non-developers (including management ) can sometimes be viewed as obstruction. Sometimes it is.
Finally, good skills cost $$$. As you gain experience you will want more for your $$$. Eventually you will put a target on your back as some (not all) will view you as high priced. I was once "replaced" on a project by 2 younger (cheaper) developers. I ended up billing over a thousand additional hours teaching the noobs how to write proper domain level objects. Both of them left for better paying jobs almost as soon as they became competent at the tasks.

Eventually you can make a six figure income, fully fund your pension and profit sharing, and enjoy a lot of living.
If you strike out on your own, you can find enough work so that 1000 hours a year (basically 20 hours a week) supports a decent lifestyle.
I did that from age 45-57.

Good luck
Great post. Data and how to use it was my favorable. PL/SQL It is just a procedural language combined with SQL. Databases will always be needed. Not everyone needs big data.

gotester2000
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by gotester2000 » Tue May 22, 2018 1:04 pm

anoop wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 1:21 am
CobraKai wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 12:40 am
anoop wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 4:36 pm
It's a dead end for a career in the US. May be a good idea if you're in Asia. We need shoes, but they come from Asia. Nobody is saying we won't need shoes in the future. Likewise, we will need technology, but it will come from Asia. It is already impossible to do high tech manufacturing in the US because the skills don't exist here anymore. If you want to build a custom chip today, where do you go? If you want to get an iPhone app built, where do you go? (Or where does the person you go to go to get it done...)

When I say insurance and real-estate I'm talking about the financial engineering that goes behind them. Knowing how to assess and price deals in a given economic and monetary environment. I know a lot of mid 40's engineers out of a job, and even more that are now working for Asian companies after being laid off (during an all time high in the stock market) by US companies.
That's a shame. Are those mid 40s engineers going to be able to pivot to Finance? Something tells me probably not.
I don't know anyone that has unfortunately. Most that made the transition did so in their early-mid 30's. These mid 40's-50's folks are now doing random consulting gigs, often for companies in Asia. They are deeply unhappy but they don't see a way out.

I think it is possible to do it, but it requires tremendous focus because it involves facing one's ego -- that we picked the wrong career and we aren't as good as we thought we were.
I dont think we picked the wrong career/were not good - times change and we need to adapt - we are hares in the Hare and Tortoise story. After being a Hare for a decent time there is no harm in becoming a Tortoise for the rest.
I am certainly rebooting myself and looking for different area of work. There will always be skills that I can take to whatever next work I do - in fact I am enthusiastic to move away from code and design. The important thing is I am not tied to the number on my last drawn salary.

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jharkin
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by jharkin » Tue May 22, 2018 3:15 pm

CobraKai wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 10:37 am

Great post! This is EXACTLY what I was thinking. In other careers, there is more of a clear cut path. You know exactly what needs to be done. For example, someone who works in accounting and wants to become a CPA obtains a Bachelors degree in the field and then can work toward becoming a CPA. It's not an easy road but the path is clear. If you want to become a Finance manager or executive, get a degree in Finance followed by an MBA. IT is a total free for all. There are different types of degrees, and endless number of certifications, technologies that accomplish the same end goal, etc. Employers have a "tool-driven" mindset meaning that you need to be experts in the tools that they utilize (no two positions are the same). It has become a buzzword-driven industry.
Absolutely. Im a perfect example, I dont even have a CS degree - my background is in the physical engineering sciences. I fell into software almost by accident by going to work for a specialized enterprise company that needed people to think with the mindset of their end users (engineers and scientists).... Heck it took me years, decades, to get over being annoyed by programmers calling themselves "engineers". :twisted:

Over the years I drifted and now Ive ended up where I am doing a lot of large project management and my core skillet is knowing the business processes. I realized at some point that to keep moving forward I had to leverage that and stop trying to keep up with the kids coming out of college and whatever the flavor of the month language is (last I checked we are onto Node.JS but I am sure there is something newer than that).

Like you mentioned in your post right above, I started during the dot com bubble... Had my first internship right as it really kicked into high gear and witnessed the pop from the inside. I remember the first rounds of layoffs starting in the summer of 2000, at the time we where terrified.... but had no idea how numb we would get to them after years and years. I managed to survive but well remember how painful those days where... Thinking about that is one reason I worry about some of those folks posting in the "lucrative careers" thread. If my suspicions are right that they are young professionals in their 20s that have never lived through a time when developers made less than 6 figures or had to worry about finding a job.... they are in for a rough wake up call when the current tech bubble inevitably bursts.

I never really considered myself (and still dont) a technical guru... but I always made it a point to network and make friends and stay in the loop on company gossip. I was able to survive may a re-org by reading the tea leaves and seeing it coming/making a preemptive change.

CobraKai wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 10:37 am
Interesting. There are no program managers where I work, at least not at the local level. It's just Systems Engineer and management. Pretty much everything under the sun falls under Systems Engineer. I'm not sure the corporate office even has this position.
Not every company has a true PMO. In my current job I do a lot of 'PM type' work but I'm in an operations team.

audioaxes
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by audioaxes » Tue May 22, 2018 4:31 pm

Im in my early 30s and in the IT field. I recognize a general pattern of older guys who stay in the development ranks tend to get pushed out and replaced with younger people and feel that for my own survival its best for me to keep pushing up the management ranks, even though thats not where my passion is.

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HomerJ
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by HomerJ » Tue May 22, 2018 5:48 pm

mrgeeze wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 8:47 am
One more thought.

Assuming your lifestyle will allow it,perrhaps you can get a security clearance beyond TS.
How does one get a security clearance anyway?
The J stands for Jay

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HomerJ
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by HomerJ » Tue May 22, 2018 5:52 pm

Plenty of local IT jobs, both coding and support, in my midwest city.

I laugh every time someone says "Everything is going to the cloud". Programmers aren't in the cloud, they use the cloud instead of local infrastructure, so coding jobs aren't going to go away because of the "cloud", and if datacenters start disappearing (I haven't seen this happen yet in the local Fortune 1000 companies), then they still need people to manage the stuff in the cloud, or one can work directly for the cloud providers.
The J stands for Jay

Amphian
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by Amphian » Tue May 22, 2018 11:15 pm

audioaxes wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 4:31 pm
Im in my early 30s and in the IT field. I recognize a general pattern of older guys who stay in the development ranks tend to get pushed out and replaced with younger people and feel that for my own survival its best for me to keep pushing up the management ranks, even though thats not where my passion is.
It depends on how current you keep your skills. Several of us got laid off in mid-January, all of us around 50. I was the only one in a development role, and I started a new job in mid-March. The project manager and my manager are still looking for work. The director (my managers' boss) gave up looking for management work and just took a development role again.

CobraKai
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 23, 2018 12:28 am

jharkin wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 3:15 pm
Over the years I drifted and now Ive ended up where I am doing a lot of large project management and my core skillet is knowing the business processes. I realized at some point that to keep moving forward I had to leverage that and stop trying to keep up with the kids coming out of college and whatever the flavor of the month language is (last I checked we are onto Node.JS but I am sure there is something newer than that).
That makes sense. In some companies (including the one I work for), it seem that coding is seen as an entry level skill. You don't see too many job ads for developers that are looking of someone with 10+ years of experience.
jharkin wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 3:15 pm
Like you mentioned in your post right above, I started during the dot com bubble... Had my first internship right as it really kicked into high gear and witnessed the pop from the inside. I remember the first rounds of layoffs starting in the summer of 2000, at the time we where terrified.... but had no idea how numb we would get to them after years and years. I managed to survive but well remember how painful those days where... Thinking about that is one reason I worry about some of those folks posting in the "lucrative careers" thread. If my suspicions are right that they are young professionals in their 20s that have never lived through a time when developers made less than 6 figures or had to worry about finding a job.... they are in for a rough wake up call when the current tech bubble inevitably bursts.

I never really considered myself (and still dont) a technical guru... but I always made it a point to network and make friends and stay in the loop on company gossip. I was able to survive may a re-org by reading the tea leaves and seeing it coming/making a preemptive change.
I'm the opposite and have been one of the most technically skilled people in most of the groups I have worked in. I usually avoid gossip and that sorta thing but that's just me. Maybe that is not such a good thing.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Wed May 23, 2018 12:37 am

Amphian wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 11:15 pm
audioaxes wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 4:31 pm
Im in my early 30s and in the IT field. I recognize a general pattern of older guys who stay in the development ranks tend to get pushed out and replaced with younger people and feel that for my own survival its best for me to keep pushing up the management ranks, even though thats not where my passion is.
It depends on how current you keep your skills. Several of us got laid off in mid-January, all of us around 50. I was the only one in a development role, and I started a new job in mid-March. The project manager and my manager are still looking for work. The director (my managers' boss) gave up looking for management work and just took a development role again.
I appreciate both of your contributions to the thread and you both mean well, but you're contradicting each other. I've seen similar messages on other boards. There are people who say that it is bad to be technical after 40 and one should absolutely be in management if at all possible. Others will say that seasoned management types have a more difficult time finding another job after being laid off and it is best to stay technical.

visualguy
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by visualguy » Wed May 23, 2018 1:29 am

CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 12:37 am
I appreciate both of your contributions to the thread and you both mean well, but you're contradicting each other. I've seen similar messages on other boards. There are people who say that it is bad to be technical after 40 and one should absolutely be in management if at all possible. Others will say that seasoned management types have a more difficult time finding another job after being laid off and it is best to stay technical.
What does technical mean in this context? Hands-on programming? Some of the strongest technical minds in tech don't do their own coding. They come up with new ideas, design solutions, and tell the hands-on engineers what to do... Is that management or technical? I would argue that it's both. My point is that things aren't that clear-cut...

In general, there's a shortage of good people in tech. If you have strong abilities in developing ideas and solutions, leading teams, or just implementing, you'll do fine, even if you're older. The problem is that it's very hard to keep a high level of engagement as the decades go by.

It's easy to lose interest, enthusiasm, and motivation to keep evolving with the industry and with the technology. Once you made some money, it's even harder to stay motivated, it's not just an age thing. When some health issues (even if minor) start popping up - again, there's an impact. It gets harder with time, but if you maintain focus and hard work, you can last in the industry, and be a "hot commodity" even in your later years. Whether you really want to keep doing (and are able to keep doing) what it takes beyond a certain point in your life is the real question.

gotester2000
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by gotester2000 » Wed May 23, 2018 3:56 am

visualguy wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 1:29 am
CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 12:37 am
I appreciate both of your contributions to the thread and you both mean well, but you're contradicting each other. I've seen similar messages on other boards. There are people who say that it is bad to be technical after 40 and one should absolutely be in management if at all possible. Others will say that seasoned management types have a more difficult time finding another job after being laid off and it is best to stay technical.
What does technical mean in this context? Hands-on programming? Some of the strongest technical minds in tech don't do their own coding. They come up with new ideas, design solutions, and tell the hands-on engineers what to do... Is that management or technical? I would argue that it's both. My point is that things aren't that clear-cut...

In general, there's a shortage of good people in tech. If you have strong abilities in developing ideas and solutions, leading teams, or just implementing, you'll do fine, even if you're older. The problem is that it's very hard to keep a high level of engagement as the decades go by.

It's easy to lose interest, enthusiasm, and motivation to keep evolving with the industry and with the technology. Once you made some money, it's even harder to stay motivated, it's not just an age thing. When some health issues (even if minor) start popping up - again, there's an impact. It gets harder with time, but if you maintain focus and hard work, you can last in the industry, and be a "hot commodity" even in your later years. Whether you really want to keep doing (and are able to keep doing) what it takes beyond a certain point in your life is the real question.
One of these roles is an Architect which I was into(not sure how good/bad I was). This means you are the go to guy - not only ideas and solutions, you have to actually show the team how to implement them and own them - which means you are all in one guy - hands on tech,leadership,management,presales(proposals),support et al. True,there is massive demand for this profile - but you get burnout due to stress and availability.And that is why there is a shortage of this profile. After a while you dont want to handle the stress and yearn for lesser roles.

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jharkin
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by jharkin » Wed May 23, 2018 6:03 am

CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 12:28 am

That makes sense. In some companies (including the one I work for), it seem that coding is seen as an entry level skill. You don't see too many job ads for developers that are looking of someone with 10+ years of experience.
I think like everything else we have discussed - it depends. I still work in enterprise engineering/science software companies. Building software is all we do - but unlike the FAANGs we sell mostly B2B, not B2C. So things move at a slightly different pace. We have lots of fresh grads but also a core of experienced people with 10,20, + years experience (some all at this company) who have deep knowledge of the codebase. Many of those long term developers move to management, but some stay in senior coding roles, often with a focus on architecture design, with titles like "technology fellow".

I have friends that do software at non software companies (i.e. one person I know works at Fidelity investments on their back end systems that run the website). For them software is not a core competency so the skills may indeed be seen as more entry level as you describe.

And yes there are a lot of people who struggle to find something in their 40s/50s, especially if they where too specialized in their early career, didn't stay current on trends, and/or dont have the aptitude for the jump to people management/project management. I am not try to argue its easy mid-career, just not impossible.

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ClevrChico
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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by ClevrChico » Wed May 23, 2018 9:01 pm

The simple answer is to stay current with technology. It's not easy. Twenty years goes by in a blink of eye, and you will wake up one day and see the world has changed. Tech changes are brutal because it's disruptive, not gradual.

At 40+ most people are very busy with their families, and it's hard to find the free time to learn new things. It's easy to be complacent when you're tired from working full-time on top of being Mom/Dad.

Keep learning and plan for early retirement is my best recommendation.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by go_mets » Wed May 23, 2018 9:43 pm

I have stayed current in my technical field though not IT nor software development per se.
All self-taught.

Yet the reality is that when you hit 50, they simply may not want you whatever you do to stay current.
There are youngsters graduating who "specialize" in whatever the hiring manager deems desirable.
I interviewed recently at a equipment manufacturer, and the hiring manager boasted about hiring his first PhD in Robotics.
That 20-something with the PhD is a "sexier" hire.

So now I am waiting for the occasional contract job as it seems being a W-2 employee seems out of reach.


.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by michaeljc70 » Wed May 23, 2018 10:19 pm

I'm 48 and worked mostly in software development as a contractor for the last 20+ years. I took a job with a former client as an employee 2 months ago for some stability, the health insurance and a more "clear" career path. It was announced this week the company is being bought and (not announced, but pretty clear) that everyone will lose their job or need to relocate to a city many wouldn't want to. Luckily, I've saved my money over the years and what happens happens. I would ideally like to work a couple more years.

One thing I've noticed with my "career" is that being a contractor, I've taken things with former clients because it was easy to get and/or paid well and I knew the people. The jobs and skill sets were not always beneficial to getting future gigs (and sometimes detrimental). Overall, I've done well and haven't worked all that hard though. When I look at job listings it seems that 5-10 years experience is sufficient for many things and they pay accordingly. They don't want to pay more for 10-20 years experience. I understand the rationale behind it. I've never had an interest in management which could be a good path for some. Though if you don't get past middle management the prospects of being laid off in your 50s aren't great either.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Thu May 24, 2018 12:03 am

visualguy wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 1:29 am
What does technical mean in this context? Hands-on programming? Some of the strongest technical minds in tech don't do their own coding. They come up with new ideas, design solutions, and tell the hands-on engineers what to do... Is that management or technical? I would argue that it's both. My point is that things aren't that clear-cut...

In general, there's a shortage of good people in tech. If you have strong abilities in developing ideas and solutions, leading teams, or just implementing, you'll do fine, even if you're older.
I do all of that with the exception of leading a team. Jack of all trades, master of none, so to speak. I am pigeonholed to a certain extent, yet I wear so many more hats than one would wear at a typical IT job. Not sure that is a good thing, however.
visualguy wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 1:29 am
The problem is that it's very hard to keep a high level of engagement as the decades go by.
That is true! It is easier to get burned out as well.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Thu May 24, 2018 12:11 am

jharkin wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 6:03 am
I think like everything else we have discussed - it depends. I still work in enterprise engineering/science software companies. Building software is all we do - but unlike the FAANGs we sell mostly B2B, not B2C. So things move at a slightly different pace. We have lots of fresh grads but also a core of experienced people with 10,20, + years experience (some all at this company) who have deep knowledge of the codebase. Many of those long term developers move to management, but some stay in senior coding roles, often with a focus on architecture design, with titles like "technology fellow".

I have friends that do software at non software companies (i.e. one person I know works at Fidelity investments on their back end systems that run the website). For them software is not a core competency so the skills may indeed be seen as more entry level as you describe.
Seems like software houses and non-technology companies aer two different worlds. If you fall into one category, it's difficult to pivot to the other side (especially going from non tech to software co).
jharkin wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 6:03 am
And yes there are a lot of people who struggle to find something in their 40s/50s, especially if they where too specialized in their early career, didn't stay current on trends, and/or dont have the aptitude for the jump to people management/project management. I am not try to argue its easy mid-career, just not impossible.
It seems that the decisions one makes early in their career really has a big impact on the rest of their career.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Thu May 24, 2018 12:18 am

ClevrChico wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:01 pm
The simple answer is to stay current with technology. It's not easy. Twenty years goes by in a blink of eye, and you will wake up one day and see the world has changed. Tech changes are brutal because it's disruptive, not gradual.
It's a rat race, for sure.
ClevrChico wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:01 pm
Keep learning and plan for early retirement is my best recommendation.
I would need to start making more money to retire early!

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Thu May 24, 2018 12:24 am

go_mets wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:43 pm
I have stayed current in my technical field though not IT nor software development per se.
All self-taught.

Yet the reality is that when you hit 50, they simply may not want you whatever you do to stay current.
There are youngsters graduating who "specialize" in whatever the hiring manager deems desirable.
It makes it difficult to plan for retirement when there's a good chance one will be unemployable after a certain age.
go_mets wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:43 pm
I interviewed recently at a equipment manufacturer, and the hiring manager boasted about hiring his first PhD in Robotics.
That 20-something with the PhD is a "sexier" hire.

So now I am waiting for the occasional contract job as it seems being a W-2 employee seems out of reach.
.
Ugh. Hopefully you are able to make more per hour as a contractor.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Thu May 24, 2018 12:26 am

michaeljc70 wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 10:19 pm
I'm 48 and worked mostly in software development as a contractor for the last 20+ years. I took a job with a former client as an employee 2 months ago for some stability, the health insurance and a more "clear" career path. It was announced this week the company is being bought and (not announced, but pretty clear) that everyone will lose their job or need to relocate to a city many wouldn't want to. Luckily, I've saved my money over the years and what happens happens. I would ideally like to work a couple more years.

One thing I've noticed with my "career" is that being a contractor, I've taken things with former clients because it was easy to get and/or paid well and I knew the people. The jobs and skill sets were not always beneficial to getting future gigs (and sometimes detrimental). Overall, I've done well and haven't worked all that hard though. When I look at job listings it seems that 5-10 years experience is sufficient for many things and they pay accordingly. They don't want to pay more for 10-20 years experience. I understand the rationale behind it. I've never had an interest in management which could be a good path for some. Though if you don't get past middle management the prospects of being laid off in your 50s aren't great either.
Sorry to hear. At least you were prepared. This is one field where experience beyond a certain level is seen as a detriment. It seems that a lot of people get into the field because they do NOT want to be in management or play the politics required to succeed in that arena.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by atlanta_dad » Thu May 24, 2018 9:17 am

I have been working in Java, web development old technologies for the last 18+ years and I'm at about 45 years age.
As everyone thinks, I too feel changing to next job is going to be difficult with the technologies I am working now.
It will take atleast 1+ years of training for me to update to the latest technologies in the areas I am working.
I am considering shifting into Information Security areas which seems to have huge demand now and into future. Same with the technologies like bigdata, aws etc.
If someone here is also in the same boat as looking into shift, please share your ideas.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu May 24, 2018 9:25 am

CobraKai wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 12:18 am
ClevrChico wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:01 pm
The simple answer is to stay current with technology. It's not easy. Twenty years goes by in a blink of eye, and you will wake up one day and see the world has changed. Tech changes are brutal because it's disruptive, not gradual.
It's a rat race, for sure.
ClevrChico wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:01 pm
Keep learning and plan for early retirement is my best recommendation.
I would need to start making more money to retire early!
You hear stay current all the time. The reality is most people won't hire you because you learned X on the weekend in your spare time. Most jobs need certain skills and you cannot just say we're going to do the next project in X so I can keep my skills up.

I've in fact seen many job postings list a certain version of a tool as required even though the changes were superficial between versions.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by go_mets » Thu May 24, 2018 2:48 pm

michaeljc70 wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 9:25 am

You hear stay current all the time. The reality is most people won't hire you because you learned X on the weekend in your spare time. Most jobs need certain skills and you cannot just say we're going to do the next project in X so I can keep my skills up.

I've in fact seen many job postings list a certain version of a tool as required even though the changes were superficial between versions.
Yep, staying current by learning on the weekends or after hours don't count.
You have to use the new whatever in your current job for it to to count.

So that translates into the advanced-beginner skills acquired from 5 years of work that most employers want.
Which means again 20-something is the target age.

They certainly don't want 20 years of experience. They don't want to pay for it.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by greg24 » Thu May 24, 2018 3:15 pm

jharkin wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 6:02 am
In this thread we have the folks saying that its a dead end post 40 and be ready for the poor house. In the parallel "lucrative careers" thread you have guys trying to convince me that I'm doing something wrong because I cant command a 250k salary with a phone call.
That just about sums it up! :sharebeer

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by ClevrChico » Thu May 24, 2018 6:38 pm

michaeljc70 wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 9:25 am
CobraKai wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 12:18 am
ClevrChico wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:01 pm
The simple answer is to stay current with technology. It's not easy. Twenty years goes by in a blink of eye, and you will wake up one day and see the world has changed. Tech changes are brutal because it's disruptive, not gradual.
It's a rat race, for sure.
ClevrChico wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:01 pm
Keep learning and plan for early retirement is my best recommendation.
I would need to start making more money to retire early!
You hear stay current all the time. The reality is most people won't hire you because you learned X on the weekend in your spare time. Most jobs need certain skills and you cannot just say we're going to do the next project in X so I can keep my skills up.

I've in fact seen many job postings list a certain version of a tool as required even though the changes were superficial between versions.
I agree with that. I'm starting a new tech role this year at 40+. It took general familiarity with the tech and networking to get it. Networking did most of it. I'm not sure another big change at 50+ will be possible or something I'd want to do.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by LadyGeek » Thu May 24, 2018 7:00 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (career advice).
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by Kenkat » Thu May 24, 2018 9:07 pm

gotester2000 wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 3:56 am
visualguy wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 1:29 am
CobraKai wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 12:37 am
I appreciate both of your contributions to the thread and you both mean well, but you're contradicting each other. I've seen similar messages on other boards. There are people who say that it is bad to be technical after 40 and one should absolutely be in management if at all possible. Others will say that seasoned management types have a more difficult time finding another job after being laid off and it is best to stay technical.
What does technical mean in this context? Hands-on programming? Some of the strongest technical minds in tech don't do their own coding. They come up with new ideas, design solutions, and tell the hands-on engineers what to do... Is that management or technical? I would argue that it's both. My point is that things aren't that clear-cut...

In general, there's a shortage of good people in tech. If you have strong abilities in developing ideas and solutions, leading teams, or just implementing, you'll do fine, even if you're older. The problem is that it's very hard to keep a high level of engagement as the decades go by.

It's easy to lose interest, enthusiasm, and motivation to keep evolving with the industry and with the technology. Once you made some money, it's even harder to stay motivated, it's not just an age thing. When some health issues (even if minor) start popping up - again, there's an impact. It gets harder with time, but if you maintain focus and hard work, you can last in the industry, and be a "hot commodity" even in your later years. Whether you really want to keep doing (and are able to keep doing) what it takes beyond a certain point in your life is the real question.
One of these roles is an Architect which I was into(not sure how good/bad I was). This means you are the go to guy - not only ideas and solutions, you have to actually show the team how to implement them and own them - which means you are all in one guy - hands on tech,leadership,management,presales(proposals),support et al. True,there is massive demand for this profile - but you get burnout due to stress and availability.And that is why there is a shortage of this profile. After a while you dont want to handle the stress and yearn for lesser roles.
Dang, you nailed my current job situation (IT Architect)...

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Fri May 25, 2018 12:47 am

michaeljc70 wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 9:25 am
You hear stay current all the time. The reality is most people won't hire you because you learned X on the weekend in your spare time. Most jobs need certain skills and you cannot just say we're going to do the next project in X so I can keep my skills up.
That is true! They demand OTJ experience in whatever technology stack they are looking for. It's not enough to be a quick learned, you are expected to be an expert right off the bat.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by CobraKai » Fri May 25, 2018 12:49 am

go_mets wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 2:48 pm
Yep, staying current by learning on the weekends or after hours don't count.
You have to use the new whatever in your current job for it to to count.

So that translates into the advanced-beginner skills acquired from 5 years of work that most employers want.
Which means again 20-something is the target age.

They certainly don't want 20 years of experience. They don't want to pay for it.
True. This thread is making me think that perhaps I should have chosen a different career! I was going to post "this thread is making me want to change careers" but changing careers as one gets older is an uphill battle.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by jharkin » Fri May 25, 2018 7:29 am

All I can say is try and stay positive folks. I was getting close to burnout and started seriously considering changing after 2+ decades in the same company.. and it was TERRIFYING.


But along the way I realized that to make it work I had to let go of trying to stay technology competitive and look at supporting roles htat leveraged my industry experience more than hard tech skills, and that worked. + a bit of working the 'ol linkedIn network to get personal referrals :) Right now I'm working out my notice period before I start a new gig - my first time ever switching and I'm 42.

It can be done. Think positive! :sharebeer

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by gotester2000 » Fri May 25, 2018 8:47 am

jharkin wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 7:29 am
All I can say is try and stay positive folks. I was getting close to burnout and started seriously considering changing after 2+ decades in the same company.. and it was TERRIFYING.


But along the way I realized that to make it work I had to let go of trying to stay technology competitive and look at supporting roles htat leveraged my industry experience more than hard tech skills, and that worked. + a bit of working the 'ol linkedIn network to get personal referrals :) Right now I'm working out my notice period before I start a new gig - my first time ever switching and I'm 42.

It can be done. Think positive! :sharebeer
What role are you switching into? I am about same age and profile and looking to fit into a non tech role.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by gotester2000 » Fri May 25, 2018 8:55 am

CobraKai wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:47 am
michaeljc70 wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 9:25 am
You hear stay current all the time. The reality is most people won't hire you because you learned X on the weekend in your spare time. Most jobs need certain skills and you cannot just say we're going to do the next project in X so I can keep my skills up.
That is true! They demand OTJ experience in whatever technology stack they are looking for. It's not enough to be a quick learned, you are expected to be an expert right off the bat.
It is not difficult to show OTJ experience in whatever new technology stack is in demand and to get past the interview - with 10-20 years experience you know what is expected of the role.

The question is do you want to continue on the same road and for how long? Once you have kids its difficult to juggle both - I know a few seniors who left were relieved that they dont have to do Agile standups across timezones.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by go_mets » Fri May 25, 2018 9:14 am

gotester2000 wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 8:55 am

It is not difficult to show OTJ experience in whatever new technology stack is in demand and to get past the interview - with 10-20 years experience you know what is expected of the role.
How exactly do you show on-the-job experience with X when you haven't worked with X on the job?

The challenge these days is to even get to the interview when resumes are submitted online and you have to get past the HR person.

Are you over 50 and actually have applied to a job these days? I have to wonder.

Knowing what is expected and having actually done it is not the same. And that is the attitude of most employers.

It's like a dentist who hasn't done implants.
They may know what is "expected", but I like most employers want someone who has done it.


.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by gotester2000 » Fri May 25, 2018 10:14 am

go_mets wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 9:14 am
gotester2000 wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 8:55 am

It is not difficult to show OTJ experience in whatever new technology stack is in demand and to get past the interview - with 10-20 years experience you know what is expected of the role.
How exactly do you show on-the-job experience with X when you haven't worked with X on the job?

The challenge these days is to even get to the interview when resumes are submitted online and you have to get past the HR person.

Are you over 50 and actually have applied to a job these days? I have to wonder.

Knowing what is expected and having actually done it is not the same. And that is the attitude of most employers.

It's like a dentist who hasn't done implants.
They may know what is "expected", but I like most employers want someone who has done it.


.
I am 43 and get shortlisted almost everywhere in my role. Please dont tell me that people dont tailor their CV to meet specific roles/skillsets . Is it difficult to say that your project/module has used X framework/tool/technology? Or a POC ? Or a migration project? It is chicken and egg problem - you will not get actual job tech exp. unless you work on it and you will not be allowed to work on it unless you have the tech exp.

Speaking to recruitment guys I found out quite earlier that they look for keywords while shortlisting - either manual/auto search - key tech skills which are required for the tech role - if you dont show them in CV you will not be shortlisted however good you maybe.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by jharkin » Fri May 25, 2018 10:25 am

gotester2000 wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 8:47 am

What role are you switching into? I am about same age and profile and looking to fit into a non tech role.
Program management. The last few years I had been in operations and mostly handling project management type work rather than hands on technical anyway so it was a transition that made sense for me.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by greg24 » Fri May 25, 2018 4:13 pm

go_mets wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 9:14 am
How exactly do you show on-the-job experience with X when you haven't worked with X on the job?
Find a way to use X in your current position. Perhaps this isn't an option if X is part of an entirely different technology stack, but then the hiring manager would be justified in questioning your chops in this entirely different technology stack.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by bling » Fri May 25, 2018 6:43 pm

the answer is simple. if you were the employer, would you hire yourself? how much would you pay for yourself compared to someone fresh out of college? someone with 3 years, 5 years, 10 years experience?

it all comes down to your value proposition. if you have skills in demand, you will find work -- age is mostly irrelevant.

your next question may be how does the employer know how good you really are? well, if you're 40 presumably you've had 15 years of experience in the industry. if you're competent at your job, that is a huge network of people who can refer you. the recommendation of switching jobs in tech every 3-5 years isn't just to keep your skills up to date, but to build your network.

finally, IMO switching to management is a dubious strategy. there's a saying -- those we can, do; those who can't, teach. i feel it's applicable here. if you're actually good at developing software, not only will you enjoy doing it, companies will pay top dollar to keep you coding. it's not uncommon to make more being an individual contributor than a manager. but instead, now an average software developer who isn't all the passionate about the role, switches into management, not because they enjoy it, but as a means to stay relevant....of course that's a recipe for disaster!

you're gambling that you'll actually be a good manager, instead of the more likely result of a mediocre one. when it comes find to finding a new job, you will have closed off the technical track because now your skills are many years out of date, competing against passionate managers that are good at their jobs. and of course it doesn't help that there are less openings for management...

the safest thing to do after 40 is to remain technical, simply because there are so many more jobs. for every 1 management job there will be 20 developer jobs.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat May 26, 2018 8:56 am

bling wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 6:43 pm
the answer is simple. if you were the employer, would you hire yourself? how much would you pay for yourself compared to someone fresh out of college? someone with 3 years, 5 years, 10 years experience?
The thing is, the employer doesn't know you. They know how your resume looks, how well you interview and not much more. I have had clients hire me over and over. They are obviously very happy with my work. Most companies don't keep contractors for 6 years. The focus of HR (who generally know zero about tech) is on how many years you did version X of tool/stack Y. They don't seem to concentrate on if you can solve problems, come up with creative solutions and work very efficiently. I find this somewhat unique to IT. Sometimes I think they'd rather hire a dummy because they worked with a technology a month longer than I did.

As to the point above about not getting too negative, I agree. I was making very good money at a young age. I've continue to do fine, but not at the same income trajectory. I think in many corporate America jobs, after 50 it will be tough to find a new job, it might just happen in IT a little sooner.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by bling » Sat May 26, 2018 9:52 am

michaeljc70 wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 8:56 am
bling wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 6:43 pm
the answer is simple. if you were the employer, would you hire yourself? how much would you pay for yourself compared to someone fresh out of college? someone with 3 years, 5 years, 10 years experience?
The thing is, the employer doesn't know you. They know how your resume looks, how well you interview and not much more. I have had clients hire me over and over. They are obviously very happy with my work. Most companies don't keep contractors for 6 years. The focus of HR (who generally know zero about tech) is on how many years you did version X of tool/stack Y. They don't seem to concentrate on if you can solve problems, come up with creative solutions and work very efficiently. I find this somewhat unique to IT. Sometimes I think they'd rather hire a dummy because they worked with a technology a month longer than I did.

As to the point above about not getting too negative, I agree. I was making very good money at a young age. I've continue to do fine, but not at the same income trajectory. I think in many corporate America jobs, after 50 it will be tough to find a new job, it might just happen in IT a little sooner.
why did you exclude my 2nd paragraph in my original post which directly addresses this concern? the fact of the matter is if your only option for a job is code-calling employers and giving them your resume at 40, you've really screwed up. most jobs are found with networking. if you are competent at your job it won't be recruiters on linkedin, but your ex-coworkers trying to convince you to join them at their new job.

i've worked with many 50 year olds. and do you know what's common with all of them? they are good at their jobs!!

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by visualguy » Sat May 26, 2018 10:07 am

Ex-coworkers may help, or they may see you as competition, hence a threat. Things are rarely simple with people.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat May 26, 2018 10:44 am

bling wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 9:52 am
michaeljc70 wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 8:56 am
bling wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 6:43 pm
the answer is simple. if you were the employer, would you hire yourself? how much would you pay for yourself compared to someone fresh out of college? someone with 3 years, 5 years, 10 years experience?
The thing is, the employer doesn't know you. They know how your resume looks, how well you interview and not much more. I have had clients hire me over and over. They are obviously very happy with my work. Most companies don't keep contractors for 6 years. The focus of HR (who generally know zero about tech) is on how many years you did version X of tool/stack Y. They don't seem to concentrate on if you can solve problems, come up with creative solutions and work very efficiently. I find this somewhat unique to IT. Sometimes I think they'd rather hire a dummy because they worked with a technology a month longer than I did.

As to the point above about not getting too negative, I agree. I was making very good money at a young age. I've continue to do fine, but not at the same income trajectory. I think in many corporate America jobs, after 50 it will be tough to find a new job, it might just happen in IT a little sooner.
why did you exclude my 2nd paragraph in my original post which directly addresses this concern? the fact of the matter is if your only option for a job is code-calling employers and giving them your resume at 40, you've really screwed up. most jobs are found with networking. if you are competent at your job it won't be recruiters on linkedin, but your ex-coworkers trying to convince you to join them at their new job.

i've worked with many 50 year olds. and do you know what's common with all of them? they are good at their jobs!!
If the answer is so simple you shouldn't need multiple paragraphs. :shock: Though I have worked for the same company with some of the same people my last 4 jobs, people tend to move around a lot and I don't find networking goes as far as it once did. They use different technologies, people change roles (no longer in development), and often their company isn't hiring someone with skillset XYZ at the exact moment you are looking for work. Or sometimes, they are working someplace you don't want to work or that they don't like themselves. If former co-workers are networking a lot they also might have amassed tons of contacts of which you are just one. That's not even getting into things like some companies only using preferred vendors if you do contract work.
Last edited by michaeljc70 on Sat May 26, 2018 11:16 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by bert09 » Sat May 26, 2018 11:04 am

It’s really interesting to me as someone who is younger see the different perspectives, but is also giving me mild apprehension about whether I will even last until my 40s/50s without getting burnt out enough to make a significant career change. I’m pretty focused on FIRE right now so that if I do have to switch career from burnout, or the “bubble bursts” and I have to take a big pay cut, it shouldn’t be a big deal.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by bling » Sat May 26, 2018 11:19 am

michaeljc70 wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 10:44 am
If the answer is so simple you shouldn't need multiple paragraphs. :shock:
touche.
michaeljc70 wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 10:44 am
Though I have worked for the same company with some of the same people my last 4 jobs, people tend to move around a lot and I don't find networking goes as far as it once did. They use different technologies, people change roles (no longer in development), and often their company isn't hiring someone with skillset XYZ at the exact moment you are looking for work. Or sometimes, they are working someplace you don't want to work or that they don't like themselves. If former co-workers are networking a lot they also might have amassed tons of contacts of which you are just one.
that all sounds like very useful information, even if it doesn't directly lead you to a job. it gives you insight about the industry as a whole, which allows you to make any changes as necessary. and while you may be one of many contacts, i assure you, if you're competent, they will remember you.

also, i've heard this i have skillset XYZ, but company isn't looking for XYZ comment multiple times in this thread.

for the younger readers, don't do this! ask yourself, which of the following candidates look better?

a) 15 years; enterprise java server developer
b) 3 years java/spring, 3 years SQL, 3 years javascript/react/angular, 3 years scala, 3 years rust.

you have one candidate who unquestionably is a guru on the server in java, vs someone else who's proven they can deliver using any language and/or platform thrown at them from the client all the way to the database.

how many jobs require deep-level expert knowledge of java vs jobs that need you to move data from point A to point B?

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by drk » Sat May 26, 2018 12:47 pm

bling wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 11:19 am
a) 15 years; enterprise java server developer
b) 3 years java/spring, 3 years SQL, 3 years javascript/react/angular, 3 years scala, 3 years rust.

you have one candidate who unquestionably is a guru on the server in java, vs someone else who's proven they can deliver using any language and/or platform thrown at them from the client all the way to the database.

how many jobs require deep-level expert knowledge of java vs jobs that need you to move data from point A to point B?
I would actually expect (b) to have a better (read: more holistic) understanding of modern Java than (a), thanks to the other experience.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat May 26, 2018 1:01 pm

I was trying to explain some of what I have seen looking at job listings or looking for a job to someone not in tech. They are a realtor. I said it would be like someone interviewing them to give them the listing to sell their house. They want you to have sold 2 other houses on the block within the last 2 years, they have to have been newer houses and they have to have been ranches. They don't care that if you sold a house in another part of the neighborhood, they don't care if selling a ranch and two story house is not much difference and they don't care if selling a new house vs an older house it not that much different. Essentially, they are unable to figure out what skills are transferable so they go with a very strict interpretation of what they need.

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Re: Career planning in IT/software development when over 40

Post by killjoy2012 » Sat May 26, 2018 1:44 pm

jharkin wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 6:02 am
The thing with tech, is that the advice is all over the map.
As someone with 20 years working in IT, non-tech company, all with Fortune 20 companies, focused in a hot subdomain, 2 CS degrees... I agree with your observations, but I think it all does kinda make sense. The variation comes with the differing geographies, industries, company types, company sizes, etc. Would you really expect the same software development role at a SV-based company like Facebook or Google to be identical to that at Walmart? Or the Walmart dev job compared to some local/regional non-tech small business? Or that job at a start up vs. a Fortune 100 company with 100k+ employees? Work environment, expectations, candidates will all vary accordingly.

e.g. $250k for an IC role is clearly a SV or NYC exception. Most experienced devs won't make half that elsewhere, but their COL is also significantly less.

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