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

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
User avatar
nedsaid
Posts: 9697
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:33 pm

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

Post by nedsaid » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:10 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.
Age discrimination is not easy to prove.
A fool and his money are good for business.

fnmix
Posts: 188
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:50 pm
Location: Northern California

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

Post by fnmix » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:13 am

sunny_socal wrote:
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.
Thanks for the "Real life" experience report. Several points there that I need to think about.

sambb
Posts: 2041
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:31 pm

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

Post by sambb » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:07 pm

Although age discrimination may hit you later, there is far more gender based and racial discrimination. Make sure there aren’t other factors happening if you are in any of these groups also.

I don’t have a solution except to get in shape and also look beyond these younger types of companies also.

This isn’t easy. Consider lowering expenses also.

fposte
Posts: 1169
Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:32 pm

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

Post by fposte » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:04 pm

nedsaid wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:10 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.
Age discrimination is not easy to prove.
No discrimination is easy to prove. I'm just saying that there doesn't seem to be much point in calling for legislation when it already exists.

Mudpuppy
Posts: 5889
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

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

Post by Mudpuppy » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:06 pm

sunny_socal wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:03 am
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.
Are you sure the younger interviewer is busy, doesn't want to be there, and hasn't prepped? By assigning such assumptions to someone simply based on them being younger than you, you're also falling into the trap of ageism. And if you have such a reaction to a younger interviewer, it can also negatively impact the interview. Subtle non-verbal communication cues (vocal tones, body language, microexpressions, etc.) can convey your assumptions to the interviewer, setting up a potentially hostile environment that can tank the interview.

Also, the HR people at my state agency require us to ask questions that boil down to "why here?", "why now?", and "why you over the other applicants?". They require it of every position from an administrative assistant all the way up to the CISO and CIO. You've assumed those types of questions come from the interviewer when they may be forced to ask them by HR, depending on the nature (and location) of the company.

Rather than make any assumptions based off of age, enter interviews with an open mind and a confident attitude about your fit for the position. This helps send appropriate non-verbal communication cues, setting up a more positive environment and interaction.
sambb wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:07 pm
Although age discrimination may hit you later, there is far more gender based and racial discrimination. Make sure there aren’t other factors happening if you are in any of these groups also.
That is also an important thing to note. If there is a group/panel interviewing you, make sure your general interactions are evenly distributed across all of the interview panel and that you answer questions directly to the person who has asked them. It's a bit hard to do, because some people will naturally be easier to make eye contact with than others, so you'll have a tendency to look in their direction, but you should make the effort to keep your interactions up with everyone in the panel. And always answer the questions asked to the person asking them.

And as a female in technology, I can also add that prepping myself with the confidence that I was a good fit for the role was important when I was interviewing for positions. There is a phenomenon called the "imposter syndrome" which people can fall victim to, particularly when their demographic (age, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, etc.) is not well-represented. Questioning your fit for the position internally can be broadcast externally through non-verbal communication cues, so giving yourself a pep talk before the interview is important to counteract that.

engin33r
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:45 pm
Location: North ATL

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

Post by engin33r » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:19 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:06 pm
sunny_socal wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:03 am
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.
Are you sure the younger interviewer is busy, doesn't want to be there, and hasn't prepped?
You can’t be sure, but you can guess with a likely high degree of accuracy. I’ve been in FAANG-type tech companies in silicon valley for 15 years and it’s been a consistent pattern that people would rather be doing anything else besides conducting an interview and for what it’s worth, I’ve never heard of an interviewer doing any kind of prep except a glance over the resume or linkedin page. I work in engineering. I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions but I do feel these assumptions are pretty safe.

Mudpuppy
Posts: 5889
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

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

Post by Mudpuppy » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:31 pm

engin33r wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:19 pm
Mudpuppy wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:06 pm
sunny_socal wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:03 am
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.
Are you sure the younger interviewer is busy, doesn't want to be there, and hasn't prepped?
You can’t be sure, but you can guess with a likely high degree of accuracy. I’ve been in FAANG-type tech companies in silicon valley for 15 years and it’s been a consistent pattern that people would rather be doing anything else besides conducting an interview and for what it’s worth, I’ve never heard of an interviewer doing any kind of prep except a glance over the resume or linkedin page. I work in engineering. I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions but I do feel these assumptions are pretty safe.
You missed my point, so let me repeat it with slightly different wording. If you make these assumptions instead of going in with an open mind, you can convey your negative assumptions to the interviewer through negative non-verbal communication cues. That can tank the interview, which essentially creates a self-fulfilling prophesy that can radiate out to future interviews.

Prepping yourself by keeping an open mind and reminding yourself of your fit for the advertised position can counteract this effect and present a more positive array of non-verbal communication cues.

mtbouchard
Posts: 96
Joined: Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:51 pm

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

Post by mtbouchard » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:21 pm

I'm also mid-40 in tech and find this interesting. Ive been a hiring manager at a big-tech, but now an IC at a FANG.

Firstly for the OP, this is an absolutely great time to be looking. You likely know that. Unemployment is at 40 year low and in SF Bay its crazy now. Thoughts on previous replies: Dont lose the wedding band; taking care of personal look is important, rather than its age; at 45, you dont need $1000 shoes...but you should by now have the ones you want, ideally not cheap loafers. Business people are held to a higher standard since they deal with clients (linkedIn photo should be in a suit).

Startups are a different thing...for whatever reason, they rationalise that only younger people have the knowledge for the "new tech" (whatever it is) and are in a hurry, and that a married guy(or woment) with 2-3 kids simply wont commit. From my perspective, the opposite is true at big-tech: successful/desirable people expect to be treated well, and while will push hard for deadlines simply will leave if they cannot take care of personal responsibilities. Dont try and look younger...but look your best (which may involve dying hair, moisturizing, paying more than the usual $25 for a haircut) ;)

Staying up on current tech (Python, R for even trivial data analysis) as well as process (what git is, scrum, Agile, Kanban, Jira) or whatever has happened in your field in the last 10 years is very important. I

Creating a coherent and interesting Narrative about how/why you ended up on the interview call will assuredly come up. Use your experience at a startup as a strength ("I wanted to get my hands dirty in learn more broad skills" or something) but tempered with the reason you want to leave "we just dont have the resources to do what we want"). You should confidently be able to cite an abbreviated story in less than 3-4 mins...each job should lead rationally to the next. Your resume should not be longer than 2 pages, and just omit anything less than a year. For kids out of school..the narrative is almost always simple and clean.

Lastly...its 10x easier to get a job while employed (many exceptions of course). If ageism is about anything, its about the perception of the loss of ambition....find a way to prove them wrong. Be excited. Energetic. Have hobbies. And find a company you truly want to stay at to make something amazing.

Matt

fnmix
Posts: 188
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:50 pm
Location: Northern California

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

Post by fnmix » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:37 pm

mtbouchard wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:21 pm
I'm also mid-40 in tech and find this interesting. Ive been a hiring manager at a big-tech, but now an IC at a FANG.
Another solid experience report. Thank you!

MathWizard
Posts: 2884
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:35 pm

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

Post by MathWizard » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:41 pm

Definitely contact a recruiter. They can give you better advice (and better leads) than we can.

zinders
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:31 am

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

Post by zinders » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:25 pm

Female pushing 50, editorial manager at a travel tech company. My age/experience has served me well here -- I was recently promoted into a big public facing job - but I am conscious that I'm the "old lady" of the team. I counter it by being myself, which is fairly active and actively engaging with new technology in a very public way. I was the first on the team to buy the iPhone X, for example, and I have awesome social media skills (and more followers than the young ones!) That attitude toward the change required by a tech company helps.

In terms of appearance, well, I'm fluffy and never going to beat the young ones on the appearance front. That being said, I do dye my hair and keep up with current makeup trends. I find a lot of older women give themselves away by their eyebrows - big thick eyebrows are in now, not the plucked ones from the 90s. I also go out of my way to buy trendier clothes and accessories, so I don't look mumsy. It's a little tough when you are plus size, but I knew I turned a corner when I started getting compliments from coworkers 20 years younger than me. Also, my 25-year-old report and I have the same winter coat. :happy

I also keep up, to a point, with pop culture. I'm never going to embrace younger music, necessarily, but I do keep an eye on the charts. I also read current books, see current movies, go to fun shows on Broadway. I would do that anyway, but find that it helps me with the office chatter.

dknightd
Posts: 547
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 11:57 am

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

Post by dknightd » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:50 pm

I'm pretty much convinced that if you are good at your job, you will always be able to find a new one.
My younger siblings have proved that over and over. They are mid 50's. So have many other people I know.
Age, and appearance, might not be the issue. It might be the skill set you are trying to sell.
Instead of trying to appear young you should emphasize your years of experience. I know more now than I did 20-40 years ago.
I suspect your issue might be you only want to do this for 18 months. Perhaps you are telegraphing that to your future employer?
Tech people are in high demand.

Post Reply