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Ask Slashdot: Re-Entering the Job Market As a Software Engineer?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the hope-springs-eternal dept.

Software 435

First time accepted submitter martypantsROK writes "It's been over 15 years since my main job was a software engineer. Since then I have held positions as a Sales Engineer, then spent a few years actually doing sales as a sales rep (and found I hated it) and then got into teaching. I am still a teacher but I want to really get back into writing code for a living. In the past couple of years I've done a great deal of Javascript, PHP, Ajax, and Java, including some Android apps. So here's the question: How likely would I be to actually get a job writing code? Is continual experience in the field a must, or can a job candidate demonstrate enough current relevance and experience (minus an actual job) with a multi-year hiatus from software development jobs? I'll add, if you haven't already done the math, that I'm over 50 years old."

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Good Luck (5, Informative)

najay (733875) | more than 2 years ago | (#38558890)

As someone who just went through this, it is going to be tough

Re:Good Luck (4, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559054)

Forget it. The idiots in H.R. won't even consider you.

Stick with what you have and retire, then start your own business.

Go With Current Technologies (2, Interesting)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559072)

Train in the latest and greatest technologies offering the newest advantages, where the labor/skills pool has not fully developed yet, and you will find yourself in greater demand. People won't care so much about how old you are, as long as you can show you can do the job.
In IT, the old guy is the one with the old obsolete skills - which sometimes correlates with him being an older person, but not necessarily. Conversely, if they find your skills have gone obsolete and are no longer useful, they will throw you away like old trash, regardless of how old or young you are.

Re:Good Luck (3, Interesting)

macs4all (973270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559126)

As someone who just went through this, it is going to be tough

I will second that. If I hadn't gotten a job from a former employer (who already knew my bona fides), I'd still be unemployed.

HR will never pass your résumé up to the person who can actually appreciate your experience and knowledge.

Don't tell them your age on your resume (5, Informative)

honestmonkey (819408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559278)

I went through this as well, and as macs4all above mentioned, if it hadn't been for a job offer at a place I used to work, where the people knew me and trusted I could do the job (as I'd already had), I'd still be out of work. Don't put your age down on your resume, that might help. I stopped putting my graduation date, and only put jobs 10 years old or newer. Before that, I lumped everything together, if I put it down at all.

Of course, it didn't really work for me, so who knows if it's even good advice.

Re:Good Luck (3, Insightful)

Gorobei (127755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559296)

HR will never pass your résumé up to the person who can actually appreciate your experience and knowledge.

Any shop that has let HR insert themselves into the hiring process like that is pretty much doomed. Avoid at all costs.

Re:Good Luck (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559352)

Any shop that has let HR insert themselves into the hiring process like that is pretty much doomed

You might have noticed bankruptsies are running at a high level at the moment.

Re:Good Luck (5, Interesting)

macs4all (973270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559432)

HR will never pass your résumé up to the person who can actually appreciate your experience and knowledge.

Any shop that has let HR insert themselves into the hiring process like that is pretty much doomed. Avoid at all costs.

Well, when the company gets beyond about 50 employees, that "Just happens". It sucks big time; but every Head Hunter I have spoken with has lamented the "Checklist" type of HR résumé-culling.

It's almost enough to make you want to stuff your résumé full of impossible experience, like many of the résumés of particularly Chinese "engineers", where it seems like the vast majority will list 30 years-worth of experience on every high-level engineering project in China they can find a reference to on the internet, and then being of an age where they would have started to work 10 years before they were born, knowing full well that there is absolutely no way to verify any of their claims. I don't want to sound racist (I most assuredly am not!); but I have seen some pretty laughable engineering-candidate résumés come across my desk, and it seems like Chinese engineering candidates seem particularly inclined to "pad" their experience (and I would suspect their schooling in some cases, too).

So, you might give that a shot, just to get past the HR gatekeeper. Then, when you get to actually talk with the person who will be your new boss, be prepared to SHOW them what you can do, and get off the subject of specifics in your résumé.

I aced an embedded developer interview a few years ago by taking out a sample of a particularly compact and component-dense product I designed the hardware and software for, and tossing it on my (future boss') desk, and saying, literally "Any Questions?"

The moral of the story is, if you can get past the HR droids, you can usually demonstrate that you have the skills. It's just getting to that point that is soooooo difficult!

Re:Good Luck (4, Insightful)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559514)

There is a good reason for HR to be involved. Large companies nowadays get head-hunters that submit every wannabe for a job regardless of their qualifications. I just went through a hiring process where even after the cull by HR the amount of people being submitted for jobs they were completely unqualified for was horrendeous, I hate to think of how bad the resume's of the ones that HR culled were. HR being in the culling process is a necessary evil nowadays.

Re:Good Luck (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559528)

HR will never pass your résumé up to the person who can actually appreciate your experience and knowledge.

Any shop that has let HR insert themselves into the hiring process like that is pretty much doomed. Avoid at all costs.

Isn't that the definition of an HR department?

Re:Good Luck (1, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559386)

I don't know about someone your age, but I can't imagine not being able to get a job very quickly in my situation (I'm 27 fwiw). I'd imagine a headhunter could help get your foot in the door in a few shops, and once your at the interview process it's usually a matter of just showing skill.

I'd also imagine that the poster has at least a few connections that he can exploit to get back into the game. A lot of people also value university skills and experience very highly (unfortunately not in the php world for the most part). With so many advantages and the job market as strong as it is for programmers right now, I'd think he could get a job quite easily.

However, as I said, I'm under 30, so there's every possibility that I'm underestimating the bias.

Re:Good Luck (2)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559390)

Not sure I agree. If he can demonstrate that he's smart, has the requisite basics covered via his education, can show that he's competent with some current skills, and is willing to accept pay equivalent to what someone might learn who's just coming out of college, then I don't see the problem. Especially if he wants to get into a "niche" like Android development.

Ever seen 'Old Yeller'? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38558894)

It didn't work out so well for the dog.

Umm srsly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38558898)

There are hundreds of new Android Dev jobs on indeed.com every day. Easy. Go git 'er!

Try non-profits (4, Interesting)

emkyooess (1551693) | more than 2 years ago | (#38558900)

My university employer tends to hire older people for development (especially DBAs). They often do a lot of interfacing with external vendors in terms of customizing canned solutions... with sales experience, they might see that as a bonus. Try them.

By some friends' words, you'll have a much tougher time in the private sector.

Old Timers (4, Insightful)

Nittle (1356899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38558906)

I've been doing a lot of interviews lately, and as long as you can demonstrate you have the skills necessary to complete the work in the job, I could care less how long since you've had an "actual job." Though, I'm not sure how much HR screening goes on before I see any resumes. The hard part is just coming up with a good way to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills. The last applicant we hired brought a laptop with him and was showing us parts of a cool project he'd been working on, there isn't a much better way to show of your skills than to talk intelligently, then just show off what you can do. Good luck!

You COULD care less? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38558924)

how much less could you care?

Or do you mean that you couldn't care less?

Re:You COULD care less? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559012)

Don't you mean that you could suck a dick?

Re:You COULD care less? (-1, Flamebait)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559040)

"I could care less" means the same as "I couldn't care less". Language isn't always logically defined, unfortunately.

Re:You COULD care less? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559074)

And even "I could care less" can be logical. "I care so little, that I feel I could care even more less".

Re:You COULD care less? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559108)

You'd like to think it means the same but unfortunately it means you're a fool.

Re:You COULD care less? (0)

SlowGenius (231663) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559136)

or not a pedantic asshole

Re:You COULD care less? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559174)

Dear Sir

I hereby revoke your licence to use the English Language.

Sincerely

The Queen of England

Re:You COULD care less? (1)

Nittle (1356899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559232)

I try to avoid absolutes. Even when you think you've got it all, there's still some left.

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/could-care-less-versus-couldnt-care-less/ [dailywritingtips.com]

Re:You COULD care less? (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559498)

I try to avoid absolutes.

People who use absolutes are horrible - I hate them all.

Re:Old Timers (5, Interesting)

Hatfield56 (2543518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559118)

I was in IT for 24 years, starting in 1985; worked for a lot of large companies and was highly sought after. Following a typical vector, asm, C, C++, VB. .NET, T-SQL, PL/SQL, JSP; managed some sizeable projects for many years, never stopped coding. Actually I think I'm an excellent coder. Reliable. Then, job was outsourced in mid-2009 and I, stupidly, partly because I had hardly ever looked for work (always came to me), just took some time off; first big vaca in decades. Error! Well, that was it. Lots of bites on Monster, etc., but between not currently employed and as soon as they did some math, no call backs. Oh yeah, one, I was yelled at. I'm > 60. So, now I have to change my field to paralegal. Hopefully, that will be a bit better; who knows. All I can say is, give a job hunt a whirl but after 6+ months of rejections, start rethinking. Grim news. (and of course 50 is not >60; >60 is the kiss of death, at least for me.

Re:Old Timers (3, Interesting)

haruchai (17472) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559248)

With your experience, try technical project management, maybe in something related to healthcare.
No luck with any of the big consultancy firms, like Cap Gemini?

Re:Old Timers (5, Interesting)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559180)

The best DBA I know was a fellow from Florida named Keith Grey who STARTED his tech career when he was in his fourties. He learned a little database and supported it for a small company, learned Oracle, enhanced the prototypes I'd written for them using Oracle a year earlier, and just kept going from there.

He's now one of the most experienced and skilled DBAs I know, riding herd over a clustered Oracle RAC installation with multiple data warehouses hanging from the main systems.

In other words, it's never too late to start a new career, much less resume an old one. The question is whether you have the skills, the dedication, and the willingness to learn it'll take to succeed. Personally, I'd much rather recommend someone with the "right attitude" and a background in business for a tech job than any of the impatient, inexperienced hot-shot kids whose resumes crossed my table over the past few years.

Ah ! The old US of A (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559266)

In the UK (and most places in the EU I guess ) asking your age is illegal, and screening old timers out would be suicide.

To top it all, you can request to see in which basis they didn't give you a job.

I know, I know, evil socialist Europe.

Re:Ah ! The old US of A (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559364)

It's illegal at both the federal and state level in the US to ask about age, race, ethnicity, or color, gender or sex, country of national origin or birth place, religion, disability, marital or family status or pregnancy. That doesn't mean that some hiring manager won't ask, either from ignorance or just general douche-baggery, , but it is illegal.

Re:Ah ! The old US of A (4, Insightful)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559366)

you can request to see in which basis they didn't give you a job.

Just dont espect to get an honest answer.

Try the maketing sector (1)

F69631 (2421974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559524)

There are plenty of companies that don't specialize in software but still need software developers. I've worked in three or four such places in the digital marketing business. In other words, companies that sell online advertisement, websites, facebook apps, smartphone apps, etc... I honestly think that if you interview well, your experience might be quite a benefit: We're talking about small-ish companies (like 5-30 people) where developers often communicate directly with the client, etc. so OP's experience in sales could be a great thing to have.

So, I think that kind of work would fit the OP's skills well and be relatively easy re-entry method. The difficult part is finding the correct companies (Many might be interested though they wouldn't even know it yet: Marketing company might buy the "If you hire me and give me about this much time, I can create application like that... which is another thing you can sell your customers!" even if they haven't given it too much consideration earlier and haven't posted an ad). So... As someone who works in companies like this, I'd say that's one option.

You said you've worked as a teacher? Now is pretty good time to think whether you've networked with any students who are now in the industry. I have hard time imagining any better recommendation than "He taught me and was one of the competent teachers (tm)".

Of course, whatever you do, you probably need to be able to show something you've done. If it's in the marketing sector, a few interesting websites and/or smartphone apps is a nice set of reference works. In the large software companies I guess they'll just have some other developer interview you and see what you know anyways...

Sell Android apps on the side (4, Interesting)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 2 years ago | (#38558910)

you should continue teaching and sell your apps on the side. It isn't worth the headache of getting back into a field dominated by a bunch of 20 somethings who think they know everything there is to know about writing "good" software.

Re:Sell Android apps on the side (4, Funny)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559286)

Or switch to iPhone development and earn enough that you don't need to work for someone else.

Awesome watered down title there (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38558912)

A sales "engineer"? Much like a "sanitation engineer"?

Save the engineering titles for people that actually do engineering. You were a glorified sales rep-- that's it.

Re:Awesome watered down title there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38558946)

Amen. Even software "engineer" is pushing it in the majority of cases.

Re:Awesome watered down title there (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559006)

the sales engineers I know actually do engineering while the sales rep just sells clients on an idea. For example, i worked at a place that sold custom power switchgear, the sales engineers were EE who designed solutions.

Re:Awesome watered down title there (3, Insightful)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559144)

the sales engineers I know actually do engineering while the sales rep just sells clients on an idea. For example, i worked at a place that sold custom power switchgear, the sales engineers were EE who designed solutions.

The sales engineers I know spend most of their time trying to figure out how they are actually going to do what the sales rep just sold to the client.

Re:Awesome watered down title there (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559168)

yes. that's often what we do.

Re:Awesome watered down title there (4, Informative)

macs4all (973270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559170)

A sales "engineer"? Much like a "sanitation engineer"?

Save the engineering titles for people that actually do engineering. You were a glorified sales rep-- that's it.

There are sales positions that require enough specific knowledge of the systems involved that they actually do require a person with an engineering degree and/or experience.

Get over yourself.

Re:Awesome watered down title there (1)

martypantsROK (1413651) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559298)

actually, having been a sales engineer, I can say I've seen both types - those are are glorified sales reps and those that actually engineer a solution when oob isn't enough.

Forget it. (1, Funny)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38558914)

Coding is for the young. It's way to stressful. Design is better done by us "superannuated" types.

Age can not be un-done.

Re:Forget it. (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38558974)

Spoken like a true quitter.

I could not disagree with you more.

Huh? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38558984)

I'm 63, I still love to code and am quite good at it, and I just got hired away from my current company at a significant pay increase. If coding is stressful, then you're probably not cut out for it or you're doing it wrong. Coding should be fun.

Re:Forget it. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559070)

What? Being a good programmer means finding ways to be lazy. You're doing it wrong.

Re:Forget it. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559154)

What? Coding is the opposite of stressful. I'm 45 and it gets less stressful every year... Working with noobs? Yes, that's stressful.

Re:Forget it. (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559508)

Coding is for the young. It's way to stressful.

What about grammar?

Have you considered coding malware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38558920)

If the 'established' avenues don't work out, you might have to try something a little more unorthodox. Hey, if they won't hire you, at least you can write code that abuses their products and makes some money for you at the same time.

Well... (5, Interesting)

BrownLeopard (876112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38558936)

At 34 I've re-entered the job market myself after giving my own business a shot and I landed a job as CTO of a start-up game company. We're developing a couple of games now (one while will be in beta tomorrow) and when I look for programmers, I could care less about a space in employment as long as they can demonstrate the skills needed for the job.

Re:Well... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559000)

"Could care less..." Hmm, you may want to check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om7O0MFkmpw

Re:Well... (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559334)

So, he does care just a little, little bit. What is the problem with that.

do it (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38558940)

honestly our young software engineers are uninspiring, we give them lots of opportunities but they don't seem to have the work ethic of the more mature and experienced engineers, they make a lot of mistakes and won't work very much (if any) overtime without complaining. On my project we have about 8 software engineers, only one of them is under 30, the rest are all late 30's to early 50's.

Double do it (3, Interesting)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559030)

You'll find no end of people who will tell you that you can't do it, you're too old, blah, blah, blah. Forget those people. What is it you WANT to do?

I'm telling you that it is possible to do what you want. I went back to school at age 43 and got my masters in computer science. I was lucky enough to land an internship at a NASA center and I managed to turn that into a full time position. I'm sure some degree of timing luck was involved but at the same time I'm a hard worker, conscientious and reasonably smart. I work with plenty of 20-somethings and I can tell you that they're not automatically brilliant and they don't necessarily always have great work ethics. You can do it if you want to.
 

Re:Double do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559222)

You know what you are doing.

For the OP, what I might recommend would be looking at something like law school instead. In the development market, coding is commoditized. Only thing that matters is price.

Instead, get your J. D., pass the bar exam, and you have a whole world of things you can do. Every business needs legal council, as well as any individuals. "IAAL" is the root password for very good jobs, and jobs where one can set their own hours. In some cases, just make sure you have some place downtown nearish the county courthouse.

People can argue that law doesn't produce anything. However, do you want to talk about production, or do you want food on the table and a retirement? Come your 60s, stuff starts failing and your health turns to shit. Do you want to have to keep staring at a screen through thicker and thicker glasses in your 70s and 80s banging code and trying to keep cheaper than the massive coding houses from India, or do you want to have a suitable retirement?

If going back to school, consider law school. CS is pretty much a dead field in the US due to patent and other legal woes, so might as well move to where you can eke out a niche.

The only caveat: An attorney will always have a job waiting. People expect that they will become a senior partner with Dewey Cheatem & Howe when they get their bar membership. Instead, the trick is go to a small town and join Ben Dover & C. Howlett Fields, where the money is about as good, but there isn't a massive glut like there is in NYC.

There is no such thing as an unemployed lawyer.

Re:Double do it (2, Informative)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559270)

This is amazingly bad advice.

There is a national glut of shysters right now.

Parent is attempting to grief the OP.

Re:Double do it (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559370)

A Lawyer always has a job waiting? tell that to all the unemployed law school graduates I know.

Find a small company (4, Insightful)

candeoastrum (1262256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38558954)

I would advise you to find a small company that doesn't specialize in web/software development. If they don't specialize in web/software development their standards won't be too high and the pressure will not be there because they don't have an understanding of how things normally work. Most likely though you will have to take a lower salary than the industry standard and you will probably be doing techie work also because to smaller companies anyone who knows anything about computers knows everything. Two years of this and you should be good to step it up to another company.

Re:Find a small company (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559282)

you mean: ".....their standards won't be too LOW.....".

Re:Find a small company (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559480)

Hmm, I was going to say, look into government contractors. A lot of the posts here are saying HR will screen out older applicants. HR in government and government contractors know that age discrimination is a big no-no.

Freelance (2)

kcwhitta (232438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38558958)

I actually worked at Microsoft awhile, quit for a couple of years, and then decided to freelance. You've just got to be stubborn and have a lot of passion. It can be done.

An employer I've woked withas no problems with age (2)

davecb (6526) | more than 2 years ago | (#38558972)

We have three people who are have been at least semi-retired, now working full time and one on contract... --dave

Start your own company. (-1, Troll)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38558980)

Nobody is going to hire you. You're "old people". No matter what you say or do no manager is going to believe that you know anything but FORTRAN and COBOL.

Re:Start your own company. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559028)

Which, at his age, he should be an expert at. I am 40 and accidentally landed a job doing COBOL development. It pays much much more, is more challenging (the earliest comments in my code base are from the 1970's) and you will ALWAYS have a job. COBOL programs are never finished, usually because they are constantly adapting to changing business rules and business relationships. It is almost impossible to realistically migrate to a new system, so its just perpetual coding. I love it, brings me back to my childhood when code was complex, languages were primitive, and you could still get great results.

Re:Start your own company. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559158)

I can understand why you posted as AC.

I also once coded COBOL. Nobody knows. The shame just won't wash off.

Re:Start your own company. (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559532)

Where are these mythical COBOL jobs? They dried up just after Y2K and never came back.

Starting over... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38558992)

Don't expect to get a job as a senior developer, but yeah... If you've got relevant code samples, you're better off than most applicants. It should at least get you an interview, which is where you need to show them you can do the job, and that you actually care. That you want to be a programmer because you like to program, not because you need income.

I won't lie, though. The fact that you're over 50 is probably going to count against you... Not for your skillset, but for your ability to fit in with the team. It's an important part of a team, and the jobs that pay well take it seriously. (And do you really want a job that doesn't pay well?)

Re:Starting over... (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559260)

"Don't expect to get a job as a senior developer..."

I guess that depends on how you define senior developer. ;-)

Been there (5, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559002)

It's pretty much an uphill slog. What's totally frustrating is then reading about those same companies complaining in the press they can't find qualified applicants and need more H-1B visas.

When I was CIO I never had trouble finding qualified people. I did have trouble finding qualified people willing to work 70 hours a week for $35,000 a year, which is what I think most companies really mean when they say they can't find qualified applicants.

Submission: how to re-enter the job market as a so (2)

bwanagary (522899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559008)

If you know either Java or .NET you can easily find a job making good money coding today. I am always hiring top talent and right now for the .NET and Java skill set there are currently FOUR jobs to every ONE candidate looking for work. My company has four openings right now in Orlando, FL.. Sell what people want to buy - right now that's .NET, Java, SQL, Oracle. You'll be fine - I know plenty of software developers over 50 and none of them is currently unemployed. After a decade of managment I recently re-entered the software developer market. I quickly found work with C/C++, and learned Python and Ruby in a couple of weeks. Go for it!

My god, why? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559018)

Get a few properties, rent them out. Live simple. You're old now, the pace of technology is way beyond what you can handle now. We chose not to investigate anti-aging technologies, well here we are.

Practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559020)

I had a two-plus year hiatus from s/w eng. in the tech recession ~10 years ago, when offshoring really took off. I was on the verge of starting out in a new field, when I finally landed an engineering job. What kept me sane and in practice was designing and implementing an original project, using current technologies, and subsequently patenting the system behind it. It kept my head in the flow and discipline of software, and I was able to claim it in my CV as a substantial body of original work. Consider building out an original idea, or extending an open-source project that you find interesting, while you search for the job.

Presentation... (1)

MrBandersnatch (544818) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559024)

I will advise ensuring that your appearance is top-notch. A loooooong time ago when hiring I interviewed a lot of older candidates (40-60s.....I was in my 20s at the time) since I was determined not to be biased; however the barrier was less the skill set than the general presentation level. Suit REQUIRED, tie REQUIRED, teeth REQUIRED (sorry), male grooming REQUIRED....male/female hygiene REQUIRED!!!

As geeks there is a classical mindset that we can get away with those things and the late tween/twenties probably still can but with age comes the requirements for the complete package to be there (especially the hygiene). I was really saddened to have to reject an older candidate who had skills in spades because he had failed on....well all the above requirements. Others didn't pass the business development side...

Sorry, rambling. Yes its harder..older coders who made that management jump know that the faculties decline (sorry but we do get slower) but the trade off is in code quality and risk aversion which have value in their own rights. Sell the package and you should have no problems.

these generalizations do not apply to me (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559122)

I don't even own a suit and I've been selected over others in competitive positions on several occasions. Sometimes I work for start-ups which don't last long, hence so many positions. But I have worked for a few big companies as well and had no problem qualifying for a position with little more than a quick shave. The only time I don't wear blue jeans to an interview is when I'm representing a consulting company.

I think your assumptions as to how to get hired are not universally true. I'm not sure where you get this idea where older geeks need to dress up and clean themselves (you're repeating the hygiene issue). I have interviewed several old timers (50s and 60s) that came in with shorts and sandals. Guys in their 30s and 40s tend to show up in khakis and a dress shirt tucked in properly.

I think that people should dress in whatever way they are comfortable and gives them confidence in an interview. Second, if the company has a dress code, try to follow it when you show up for an interview. Having someone say "you're hired, but please don't wear X anymore" would be embarrassing. In this area and industry the dress code is extremely lax, it a non-issue. (I'm not talking about some hipster web start-up. I work for fabless chip companies and enterprise networking equipment companies)

prove you can code (4, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559026)

write some open source wares that do something useful. nothing like a project on the top of your resume. worked for me....

Don't Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559052)

A software engineer does not code. You design and manage the whole software production. If you're 50 and you don't have the software engineering skill then, you better start your company and code everything yourself.

Re:Don't Code (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559152)

They do where I work.

As a hiring manager... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559076)

If you have time, build the portfolio of things you've done recently. Build something, whether open source or otherwise probono, and reference it directly on your resume. Show the skills you want to be paid for.

Stick with teaching (2)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559084)

Wont matter how good you might be, you are far too old to come back into a 'young persons' world after that long of a hiatus.

And no, not casting stones, i wouldn't try it either and im not quite as old.

...and then got into teaching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559098)

...and then got into teaching... English in China?

Another good reason (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559102)

...not to accept a non-engineering position. There is always demand for people who can make and fix things.

i don't see why not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559112)

if you can prove your worth I see no reason why you should have trouble finding a job as a developer. Create a portfolio of recent projects ie) your Android apps. Maybe throw them on a blog and it to your resume. I graduated from college with a Mass Communication degree but am a self-taught developer. The projects on my blog got me hired as an enterprise java dev. good luck!

Craigslist. (3, Interesting)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559138)

Seriously. I've also had a non-traditional career trajectory vis-a-vis programming, though I still enjoy doing it here and there and like to stay current with my skills. (I'm also a lawyer, and I deal a lot with "software law," so one helps the other.) I wrote a quick-and-dirty Perl script that polls the local Craigslist every few hours and shoots me the more interesting leads; I pick one or two a month (time permitting) and I've had about a 50% success rate in landing the positions. Everything from BlackBerry GPS development to some embedded code that went up in a recent rocket (one of the CALVEIN launches, nothing too exciting). Build a résumé of smaller projects while you're teaching... Get back into the game that way. In 6 months to a year you'll have the 'current cred' to interview seriously for like positions that are on longer term projects or permanent-hire...

Re:Craigslist. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559338)

Google Reader does this without having to write your own solution. When I was job-seeking, I had it looking at the local software/qa/dba and sysadmin Craigslist entries. I also use it to find music equipment I'm interested in - Hammond/Leslie/Rhodes/Clavinet. Google Reader also has a handy Android app so you don't have to be sitting at your desk to receive timely notifications.

I'm 55 and like me you are dead meat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559142)

I'm 55 and like me you are dead meat. I too have tons of experience but they only look at your last two years or so. Morons. My advice is build your own apps on the side. Good luck.

Get a PMP, earn 2x the money (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559146)

Seriously, get your certification as a Project Management Professional from pmi.org and start pimping yourself out at $150/hr+ doing contract work. Much easier than writing code, and your age/experience will actually be viewed as an asset.

Go small (2)

ghostdoc (1235612) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559150)

Small companies and start-ups care less about immaculate CV's and care more about actual ability and really value being able to fill more than one role, so look for a small company that will love a sales-experienced coder.

Your sales experience will be an advantage for some roles (for example pre-sales support building demos) and it's very rare for someone to have both sales and coding experience, so you just need to find the organisation who needs that.

Of course, as it's so rare you won't find many organisations advertising for the role, and smaller organisations tend not to advertise or go through formal recruiting processes anyway, it tends to be more word-of-mouth and friend-of-friend, so get networking!

Troolko8e (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559176)

decli8ed in mark3t Again. There are series of debates

Ageism (1)

Mannfred (2543170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559188)

An ugly reality about IT is that there are managers who believe old people can't code (given your post, you probably suspect as much), so your odds are not necessarily as good as for someone in their late 20s or 30s. You can probably get an idea about a company's bias by the age of its oldest developers. Be prepared for some unfair rejections, be prepared to prove your skills, and if possible figure out which companies/departments are hiring older developers in your area (do you know any older programmers who work in the area?). FWIW I've hired developers your age and they have worked out great.

You will do great (4, Insightful)

spatley (191233) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559246)

PHP, Ajax, Java, apps? You are on the subjects that are hot hot hot in most tech segments. Your experience with customers and the business side of things is a real asset and will be considered a major plus for any reasonable employer. You will not be suited for all possible coding jobs, but nobody is. Age is only considered a determent because people think that you will be stuck up and set in your ways. Show that you are flexible and hungry for new challenges. If you are looking in Seattle, SF, New York or other comparable market you will find a home. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon enough. Concentrate on your strengths, be awesome, be passionate and the world is your oyster.

Buy a whiteboard and google for interview questions and write code in dry-erase every day. Once you get in the interview chair you will be ready.
And best of luck to you.

Re:You will do great (1)

martypantsROK (1413651) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559330)

that's an awesome suggestion....dry erase code from interview questions.....

Focus on mobile (1)

bobetov (448774) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559254)

If you have non-trivial Android experience, you will be hire-able, full stop. I can't count the number of recruiter calls I get due to having a single Android line-item in my resume. There aren't enough developers to do the work that the market demands - polish up your work in this area, and target it as your application focus, and you should have no trouble.

YMMV and all that, but it's the reality on the ground here in North Carolina at least...

Consider relocation (1)

Aunt E Virus (2542600) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559342)

to Bangalore. Otherwise, consider some other career arc.

stay in teaching (1)

pbjones (315127) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559358)

Teaching pays the bills, it's hard to swap around when you are as old as me. So work hard and look forward to retirement.

You can get back to biz anytime here : (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559382)

elance.com

but youll need to build reputation for a few jobs. then you can work your way up from there. your age does not matter zit.

older developers (1)

cthlptlk (210435) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559396)

I am pushing 50 myself, and still getting gigs and know other, older folks who do as well. Most HR people and managers recognize that older developers can have the same chops as young guys, with the added benefit of not being prima donnas. I suspect older guys are also slightly less terrible at estimating time, but maybe that only applies to people who have experience with projects. (It's important to have skills that are current, too, but if you have done mobile stuff, you should be OK.)

I think one important reason that dev ages skew a little young is older folks who have kids are not so interested in crunches/death marches. Work is just not worth missing time with children, and so many people often move into other kinds of jobs as they get older. If that is an issue for you, you might want to look at basement-of-the-bank kind of gigs, rather than startup or game stuff.

Javascript, PHP, Ajax, and Java (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559444)

You'll be competing with a whole lot of college students willing to work for next to nothing, that's for sure.

You're screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559454)

I'm in the same boat as you (I'm 44), started a coding gig a couple of months ago, my coworkers are all no older than 32, most are under 27. I report to a 30 year old kid. It's kind of humiliating but he's nice about it, still it "hangs in the air". His boss is younger than me too, and his boss is a little older than me.

But I had no choice, needed the money, couldn't wait to find that "perfect job" any longer and this is the only thing I know how to do that will pay my mortgage. I'm doing ok there but I'm plain exhausted, I need the whole weekend to sleep, the wife is also exhausted on the weekend so our kids don't get much in the way of outings and all.

Good luck.

Re:You're screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38559526)

Wonderful society we've created for ourselves, eh? All this technology making us so "productive", eh? How come we need to work so much? What are we producing, and for who? And why?

easy peasy (4, Insightful)

jakethesnake (52875) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559476)

In the NY area, provided you'd settle for a job in the 90-120k band, there's shortage of capable developers -especially with good communications skills. Don't mention your age on your resume and play up your ability to work as a team player. Seriously.

ngmoco:) (2)

fbartho (840012) | more than 2 years ago | (#38559550)

If you are looking in SF or the bay area, you'll definitely find a job. Be sure to specify what you actually want to do. Be honest about your transition, and explain your desires. That way, you shouldn't have people trying to force you into the activities you're no longer interested in.

My company is hiring: http://www.ngmoco.com/careers/positions/engineering [ngmoco.com] and on my team we've recently had other engineers transition back from more marketing-focused jobs into day-to-day coding.

Contact me if you want to chat.

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