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Ask Slashdot: How Do I Stay Employable?

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the drive-your-enemies-before-you dept.

Businesses 708

illcar writes "Hi, I am a 40-year-old working as a senior developer for one of the biggest investment banks. I have always worked as a full time employee in my career; however the last 5-6 years have been very tough for me because of office politics, outsourcing, and economic conditions. The financial industry is not doing well, and we may be at the brink of another round of layoffs. My family is growing, my spouse does not work, and I still don't own a house. I am worried regarding my job security & career growth. Considering Medicare does not kick in till 65, I am still looking at 25 long years of career. I am wondering what the best way would be for me to stay employable in the coming years?"illcar continues: "1. Should I stay technical, and be ready to work as consultant/contractor? How does medical insurance work in that case?
2. Should I capitalize on the domain knowledge, and move onto business/managerial side?
3. Will the MBA degree or alternate career help?
4. Any other suggestions?

Thanks."

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708 comments

Easy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523915)

put your dick away

Re:Easy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524183)

or tell her to get on the pill and/or exercise 'her body, her right'.

Here's the secret, bro... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523919)

Learn to suck like a champ.

Question: (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523927)

Why is your family growing if you are looking at possible layoff?

Re:Question: (4, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | about 2 years ago | (#40523945)

Because bank corporation people don't have wives who are probably also around 40, and don't have a life expectancy of 80 or so, and thus aren't the same as people people who eventually run out of the choice to have a family if they don't act on it.

Re:Question: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523969)

Thank science someone said it! No person should spawn more than two children anyway. This world is full enough!

Re:Question: (2)

Weaselmancer (533834) | about 2 years ago | (#40523989)

Because he's 40. How much longer should he wait? If you wait for the right moment, you'll never do it. Haven't you seen Idiocracy?

Re:Question: (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524135)

Why have kids at all? I know it's the social norm and there's some nagging instinct to procreate (Darwin practically insures it) but there are some serious draw backs.

* It's environmentally irresponsible at this point to have kids.
* Kids are expensive.
* Kids make things complicated when you finally wise up and dump the bitch.
* You can love a dog or cat just as much and spend next to nothing on them. (ok not a draw back.. draw sideways?)
* If you're not going to get Social Security what chance to your kids have of getting it?
* Kids are destructive. No really, you'll work 18 years to house break them and they'll still not be house broken by the time they move out.
* The status symbol of having a baby really only last about a month. After that you're just the average asshole again. Not learning your lesson, a few years later you'll be the junky after another hit. It's really hard to just have one.

Re:Question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524235)

Adults are basically grown up kids. Do us a favor an "no be".

That's a good start so that we can learn from you.

Re:Question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524287)

*citation needed
*Yes. Yes they are.
*Yes, they do. Of course, he's 40. Statistically speaking, he's not likely to "dump the bitch".
*No. No you cannot.
*Arf?
*Repeating that they are expensive.
*Status symbol? Pshaw. Unless you are a widower because the mother died in a fire in which you rescued the baby and were held back by firemen from trying to rescue the mother... as a dude, the baby does you NO GOOD as a status symbol. I only had one. It wasn't difficult at all.

Re:Question: (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#40524001)

Why is your family growing if you are looking at possible layoff?

Because maybe they decided to have another kid before he knew his job was in danger?

Don't be a dick. If all you can come up with to say to someone who's in a bad situation is, "Well, if you'd done this, that, and the other thing differently, you wouldn't be in this situation right now" then you should probably just keep your mouth shut. Really, it says a lot more about you than it does about the person you're talking to -- and none of what it says is good.

Re:Question: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524051)

As somebody who doesn't have kids, I think the goddamn breeders should either use birth control or make sure that they can afford goddamn babysitters before they go out, so their frazzled nagging asses and undisciplined shithead spawn don't ruin my otherwise peaceful dinner date or stimulating museum trip. Abortion as a last resort is reasonably acceptable these days, especially in the early stages of pregnancy.

Don't subject the rest of us to shit like

Skyler...STOP IT.

MoooAAAMMMAAA!

Skyler Thomas, stop it. STOP. STOP! *smack*

WAAAHHHHHHHH!

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Question: (4, Insightful)

PIBM (588930) | about 2 years ago | (#40524063)

Your parents should have used either of birth control of abortion from what I can see..

Re:Question: (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524229)

Instead they named him Skyler!

Re:Question: (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524089)

I completely agree. Your parents didn't get an abortion, and now I have to read your crap.

Re:Question: (5, Funny)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40524151)

or make sure that they can afford goddamn babysitters before they go out, so their frazzled nagging asses and undisciplined shithead spawn don't ruin my otherwise peaceful dinner date

I seriously have trouble believing that you've ever had a 'peaceful' dinner date

Re:Question: (3, Funny)

neonmonk (467567) | about 2 years ago | (#40524181)

If you count someone being bound & gagged as peaceful then that's the only type of dinner date he's had.

Re:Question: (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524219)

No, I have to agree with him. I see lots of people having kids like it was deciding to buy a Diet Coke. They don't get that is a *huge* responsibility that lasts at least 18 years, costs tons of money, time, etc. to properly raise kids. Having kids is easy, raising them properly is not. I'm not going to sit here and say "people shouldn't have kids", but it shouldn't be an automatic thing where everyone decides to pump out three kids "just because".

Of course the problem is that people who are smart enough to think about it might avoid having kids, and those who aren't "accidentally" have 3 or 4.

Re:Question: (2, Insightful)

krray (605395) | about 2 years ago | (#40524303)

Because maybe his job sucks and his wife is a little hottie and banging her is, well, FUN. It's called life... :)

Russian Mob? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523929)

In Soviet Russia, US banks work for you!

As a 45 year old working in the industry (5, Insightful)

jcoy42 (412359) | about 2 years ago | (#40523933)

As a 45 year old working in the industry, my first thought is find yourself a nice quiet place to cry.

But honestly if you can do it move to management. If you've got a proven track record in the field, you've got a good chance at being one of those magic managers who actually can manage programmers (it's like herding cats). They won't respect you of course, but at least you'll be able to communicate with them which is huge.

And the IT managers I know make decent money.

Personally, I'm too much of a BOFH to go that route.

Re:As a 45 year old working in the industry (-1)

pwngeek (2485940) | about 2 years ago | (#40523941)

Big Ol Fuckin Homo?

Re:As a 45 year old working in the industry (4, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 years ago | (#40524005)

BOFH is the tagline for a long-running series of humor articles on theregister.co.uk. It stands for "Bastard Operator From Hell". The series is about how an IT person makes his charges miserable. You will also see "PFY" reference, which is the BOFH's "Pretty Fucking Young" associate and protege.

Re:As a 45 year old working in the industry (5, Informative)

WormBytes (809856) | about 2 years ago | (#40524023)

PFY actually stands for Pimply Faced Youth.

Re:As a 45 year old working in the industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524191)

Mod parent up for correct acronym breakdown.

Re:As a 45 year old working in the industry (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524025)

PIMPLY FACED YOUTH, as has been used since sometime during the original run (it's possible this was changed after the first couple stories, since it's been a while since I reread from the beginning, but before the '2nd coming', it was definitely enshrined as 'Pimply Faced Youth'.)

Can someone in the nerd card club please remove his badge and escort him out front? His belongings will be waiting for him at terminal velocity when he exits the building.

Re:As a 45 year old working in the industry (3, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#40523951)

As someone who knows nothing about you or your life situation, and is way too young to be giving advice, maybe you should try it anyway? Some of the nicest, most easy-to-work-with people are self-tempered cynics.

Re:As a 45 year old working in the industry (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524017)

If you don't mind it ( as you won't develop anymore ) , management might be a good idea.
However, this requires people skills, which is why most developers don't like it ( we want to code :-) ). But you can work on that

The advantage you have is that you know what's important, due to your experience. Which is a big bonus over a lot of other managers.
It also means you will get shit from both upper management, and the people working for you.

So, in short : though job, but very exciting, and you will be able to achieve some great with your team.

If you don't want to become a manager, I would suggest you expand your knowledge set : learn new languages, technologies, etc...
That makes you more flexible, which increases your value.

medicare (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523943)

medicare kicks in from cradle to grave in canada, and with many other developed countries....
may your country develop your health care system to the level of those above..

stop doing grunt work (5, Insightful)

smash (1351) | about 2 years ago | (#40523949)

At this stage in your career you should be focusing on the bigger picture (in terms of projects) stuff. I know the word is tainted around here, but ... project management.

Grunt development work should be done by newer developers (who will work for less), you need to be more focused on managing a team, consulting, etc.

Don't sell yourself short. You've likely seen many projects succeed and fail, and should have learned lessons on how they could be better managed. Leave the grunt work to those developers who don't have that experience, and try to get into the position of managing them.

Knowing what can be done and how will make you a better manager - you don't need to be the one doing it.

Re:stop doing grunt work (3)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#40524081)

Project managers are the bottom of the manager totem pole. "Project" usually means stuff like getting everyone to use sharepoint against their will. This is different from product manager or team lead or something that is important.

Re:stop doing grunt work (1)

smash (1351) | about 2 years ago | (#40524163)

By project management i didn't necessarily mean for a single project. Maybe i should have said "team lead". I mean't project management as in for a regular task, not a title.

Re:stop doing grunt work (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524157)

Don't sell yourself short.

Hey. That gives me an idea.

The guy's in the financial industry. He already knows tech. With a year's education [cfainstitute.org] (and his employer may well cover the cost), he could do a hell of a lot better job than most sell-side analysts do.

Half the barrier to entry to finance is jargon. (Kinda like how they see tech, LOL.)

Anyone with a 4-year degree in CompSci can handle any of the math required for a CFA Level 1 (even if, at age 40, you'll need to dust off some stuff you haven't used since college). It's basically a 4th-year-college/1st-year-of-postgrad course.

Whether he uses the acquired knowledge to be more useful to his employer (in that he'll be able to understand the needs of the people his code supports), or to switch careers at his current employer (downside: wearing a suit, upside: possibility of membership in the 1%), or to jump ship and work for another employer, or even if he just wants a skill that can pay the bills outside of work (you don't need a job to have a trading account, and if the markets ever shut down for more than a few weeks, everyone's out of a job except for the survivalists), is up to him.

It's a lot easier to find a job... (5, Insightful)

xtrafe (1262576) | about 2 years ago | (#40523955)

...if you've already got one. If you really think you're a candidate to be laid off, get going while the going's good. Shoot for a more senior or mgmt position at a smaller firm, get some experience in that role, and then rise with the tide when / if it comes back in.

make sure your resume looks good (5, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40523957)

If you haven't looked for a job for the last several years, make sure you know how to make your resume look good. I've seen people with excellent skill who couldn't find a job, because they didn't know how to write a resume. I've also seen people who horrible, that had no problem finding a job, because they could make their resume look good. Finding a job is a skill like any other.

After that, you should decide what you want. If you want to become a contractor, focus on skills (and resume writing skills) that will help you get that. If you want to go into management, go for that. If you want to remain a programmer, then aim for that.

Realistically, there is enough demand in the market for any of those positions if you can do it reasonably well. If you aren't willing to relocate, that could possibly limit your options, though.

Re:make sure your resume looks good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524247)

related: a lot of schools have people who will help alumni with their resumes, even long after graduation.

Improve your English skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523965)

Improve your English skills

prepare for the worst (5, Informative)

pbjones (315127) | about 2 years ago | (#40523971)

It's a changing world, few people can expect a long career with the same company. prepare you yourself for the worst situation, live in a house that you can afford, not the house that you want. Give your kids a good education, not the best education. Be prepared to shift into a more stable job at the expense of salary. I'm 55, if I lose my job tomorrow then I'm out cutting lawns or doing part-time teaching(?). And if things don't go bad, then you are in a good position for retirement. Start planning for 65 now, not in 10 years time.

Re:prepare for the worst (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#40524011)

Be prepared to shift into a more stable job at the expense of salary.

Spot-on. Of course I'm biased, because I've tended to think that way all along.

Check out local universities - they don't pay nearly as well as the private sector, but generally they're lower stress positions with better benefits.

Solution #2 (5, Insightful)

Jahf (21968) | about 2 years ago | (#40523973)

-> 2. Should I capitalize on the domain knowledge, and move onto business/managerial side? -

This. I'm in the same boat as you without some of the office politics. However my manager is changing positions (and probably companies) soon. I managed to convince him to put the other person, far less senior, under me on the org chart. Very little actual management should be needed but it gives a bump to the resume' and a little bit of protection should the new boss want to do some house-cleaning.

If you have someone where you are now who will do that with you, go for it. If not, then start quietly looking around for a place looking for a senior developer who can manage a team. At this point in your career (like mine) it is probably more important to move up than to stay loyal. It gets progressively harder to show management -initiative- (which is what most people want in a development manager) as you get past 40. It seems like under-40 being a direct contributor is fine ... but post-40 the longer you take to make a move to management the less they feel you are able.

Also ... brush up on your PROJECT management skills if you aren't currently doing alot of it. Get Agile (scrum or similar). See if you can do scrum-master-like duties. Most development organizations will recognize that even if you don't have direct reports ... as a project leader you ARE managing not only people but also development.

Management isn't some wonderful panacea ... I don't particularly like it myself ... but especially with the huge influx of employable-but-new faces graduating that are very hungry for a job ... it is very hard to stay competitive. Like you said ... you have 25 years to go. If you don't want to manage people in the HR sense, you have options. If you don't want to be coding as much as time goes on, you have the larger group HR-ish options (but not so much until you've done a report or two for a bit).

Honestly? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523983)

Work on your grammar...

Re:Honestly? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524071)

It's you're, IDIOT!

Re:Honestly? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524283)

No, idiot, GP is right, it is 'your'. As in the possessive pronoun of 'you'. In other words, GP was telling illcar to work on his/her grammar.

Be your own boss. (1, Interesting)

eggstasy (458692) | about 2 years ago | (#40523985)

I have to ask myself what happened to the pioneering entrepreneurial spirit that made America into the most prosperous country in the world. You've already done the employment thing. You need to ask yourself what you really want to do with your life, rather than what you can do to "keep employable". You're not getting any younger. Surely you have some unfullfilled childhood dream. There's more to life than the rat race.
If you really do want to stay in the industry, I have found it a lot easier to get my foot inside their door as a business owner with a solid value proposition than as yet another resume in the stack.
Get into some entrepreneurial education program, learn how to do a business plan and where to find investors, or put something up on kickstarter, or just be a middleman for random freelancers on the internet. That's something you can do from any laptop at any gorgeous beach in any country. I did that for a few years and it was great. But ultimately I realized that herding cats and hunting down contracts was not my type of thing. I'd really just rather sit in a corner and be left alone.

Re:Be your own boss. (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 2 years ago | (#40524099)

I have tried that after being shown the door a few years ago.

It doesn't pay the bills and work is there sometimes. People want references and someone who can walk on water and can do no wrong. At 40+ I can imagine this guy will need health insurance too and it is will increasingly become expensive. I work maybe 50% of the time so I can not recommend it if his wife spends his money and makes him stay in that house that he has a 30 year mortgage on.

Sure you might be a millionaire, but the key is these guys invented something no one else thought of and made it to the market. Unless you have the next killer app or think of something cool that 5 billion people have not you will lose. No one will be willing to partner up as someone else is always prefered by customers who hate change.

Re:Be your own boss. (4, Insightful)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 years ago | (#40524251)

I have to ask myself what happened to the pioneering entrepreneurial spirit that made America into the most prosperous country in the world

Hard to say, although the problem is not Big Government, although it's somewhat of a factor. Most of the shit that businesses get comes from Small Government. You will spend a lot more time wrestling with local restrictions than the Feds. The Fed stuff is usually pretty cut and dry. State is harder, and cities can be truly obnoxious. In general, the smaller the government entity the more of a hassle it is to deal with, which is why I always find the complaints about Big Government ironic.

By the time you drill down to condo associations, it's truly a nightmare.

In general, the smaller the institution, the worse it is. The smallest government institution in our lives is marriage. It drives you crazy, and 50% of the time it ends in divorce. If the Federal Government tried to do half the things your spouse does, there'd be a revolution next Tuesday.

Re:Be your own boss. (4, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | about 2 years ago | (#40524273)

Get into some entrepreneurial education program, learn how to do a business plan and where to find investors, or put something up on kickstarter

And fail, like 95% of those projects do. Entrepreneuring is the game of either the young or the rich; the young don't have enough commitments to make the risk really hurt, and the rich have enough assets to absorb the shock. If you're middle-aged, with a mortgage, and high ongoing costs in regard to the maintenance of your family, the risk just isn't worth it.

Job Security here... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523987)

You are a Senior Developer for a Bank. By all accounts, you should have job security. Why? Because banks are notorious for having antiquated technology, particularly in-house code. As a Senior Developer, you are in a position to make yourself irreplaceable. Dig your self into the old code that no one wants to touch. Dig in like a tick. If a) you are the only one who knows the language and b) the only one who can understand the logic, then they will keep you. Don't push it, because if they know you are extorting them they will cut off their arm to spite you. Lay low and know where the skeletons are buried. You should have no problem cruising through til retirement.

Re:Job Security here... (2, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 2 years ago | (#40524109)

You are a Senior Developer for a Bank. By all accounts, you should have job security. Why? Because banks are notorious for having antiquated technology, particularly in-house code. As a Senior Developer, you are in a position to make yourself irreplaceable. Dig your self into the old code that no one wants to touch. Dig in like a tick. If a) you are the only one who knows the language and b) the only one who can understand the logic, then they will keep you. Don't push it, because if they know you are extorting them they will cut off their arm to spite you. Lay low and know where the skeletons are buried. You should have no problem cruising through til retirement.

Banks consider everyone cost centers except the mortgage salespeople and the traders. You think you are invaluable but IT is not as respected when shit hits the fan. It is easier to be dirt cheap and just never update when times get tough. The fact that XP is so popular still is proof of this concept

5-6 years in one role? Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523993)

That's your problem. Don't hide. Move around. I'm in the 40+ group and have thirty or so fortune 500's on my resume. Honestly, I believe now that it's all to do with employers thinking "Oh, he's worked for M$, IBM, ORACLE, GOOGLE, etc etc, he must know what he's doing". Which is rubbish. I just do short contracts for them. But it works.

Yes its frightening doing lots of interviews, but I interview ALL THE TIME. I have my resume out there ALL THE TIME, even if I like the job I'm in. I just ask for more $$$ than what I'm on in the current job. They can take it or leave it. I'm up to 200k p/a + doing that currently, and already have a few nibbles for an even higher paid position.

Actually. Stay where you are. I don't want the competition!. It's people hiding in a single job, being underpaid, that makes it great for me!

you haven't begun to see tough (4, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#40523999)

you won't own a house, forget about it. your spouse needs to get a job. education at your age is a scam, it won't help you as employers only care about your experience in what they are immediately using. be thankful you haven't been out of work for over a year like many.

Re:you haven't begun to see tough (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | about 2 years ago | (#40524061)

Unless you are getting a MBA or a PhD. Student loans are cheap anyway. In case you can't get rid of it after 25 years under income based repayment, the loan is forgiven.

Re:you haven't begun to see tough (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 2 years ago | (#40524075)

Yeah no shit. I wouldn't want to risk it on my worst enemy.

My advice was (I admit I am younger than this guy) was to leave for greener pastures as he can tell his industry is not doing well and it is always easier to get a job when you have one.

HR sees my gap and freaks out! Right now I applied for minimium wage jobs as I am desperate and my wife already left me. I have a grant to go back to school but it is too little and too late at this point. I am becoming a teacher as I have subbed in the past and enjoy chatting and can move to a place I want to live.

Adapt (1)

fadethepolice (689344) | about 2 years ago | (#40524003)

It's tough. I'm 39 and I've had to reinvent my skills completely 3 times in the last 6 years as technology has been phased out. I don't agree with the post doing grunt work comment. It's easy to cut a project manager, unless you are a truly skilled people person with the skills to market and bring in clients. What has allowed me to stay employable is finding what the market needs and learning it. I rode the housing bubble in the naughties, and now I work in the marcellus shale industry. Try looking for a job in the energy industry. Calgary is booming. GIS is hot. The entire GIS software ecosystem is switching from Vbasic to python. The ability to move where the work is is key. Consider the fact that not owning a house gives you the flexibility of going where the work is. Not everywhere is in recesssion. Calgary. Namibia. Perth Australia are all worth looking at. Alaska as well.

Re:Adapt (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524241)

(not trying to make this a religious thread). As a buddhist would say, "attachment causes suffering". Are you attached to your job? your position or status it seems to infer on you? The money? the lifestyle (and concurrent levels of debt) it seems to afford (today)? You've got choices to make, so make a plan and make the choices NOW, either try to ride out what seems to be the Titanic heading for an iceberg (if it hasn't yet hit it), or make plans.

To be honest, your current employer work won't miss you when you leave (if you leave soon, you'll turn into everyone's WTF guy in a week or two...), nor will HR have any reservations at all about throwing you under the bus to meet new headcounts or to protect someone's executive bonus or quarterly share targets if the shit really does start hitting the fan. You're not in the military, waiting to serve out an enlistment or officer obligation under penalty of law. You still have freedom of action, and you won't be acting out of desperation. If you owe them (e.g., company paid for college courses you haven't "worked" off yet), be prepared to pay them back. DO NOT LET stupid shit like that hold you back.

As others have said, it's easier to make changes to all of those things on your terms and timeline. Hopefully you've been saving up to weather a rough patch for a year or two. If not, start now. Trim back your lifestyle now while it's voluntary, and stock up cash and get rid of debt. Wife should probably get over being a prima donna stay-at-home mom if she's able to work (if you need the evangelical support for this, listen to Dave Ramsey). Kids tend to come out OK despite our best intentions, so don't let that affect things too much, either. But again, if you wait until it is a desperate situation... They need to learn that shit happens at some point, better to do it when things are sane and not desperate, and see that it's good to accept the situation, come up with new plans, and move on, not "OMG I got laid off. I'm on unemployment, we're buried by bills, and my wife thinks its all my fault!".

If you wait until the shit hits the fan, you do risk your family relationships going to shit and while you're still in shock moping around, with the world on your shoulders. Child support at this age will suck for you financially, especially since your wife won't have an income of her own to fall back on. Parenting by remote control sucks. Just sayin'.

Do you remember what it was like to be dumped? Did you also dump others? If so, remind yourself, callous as it is, which position was it better to be in? Only you will know when it's the right time to flee the ship, but if you wait until the stern of the boat is pointing up into the sky, it's probably too late, even if the band is still playing.

get out (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524021)

Get out while you can. National banks do not fall under state law. You are basically a federal employee. Get your money out too. Once again, nationally chartered banks don't have to follow state laws. Example: error on their part, an ATM doesn't dispense the money but debits your account: they have 2 weeks to do an "investigation", trust me they will use it, even when they have clear evidence, such as a camera(every ATM today), and the actual transaction record and money bin. They have after that 45 days to pay you the money they owe you. Even if you have an account with them, they only give a pretend balance, only to be truly deposited back into your account after 2 months total.

Imagine if it's an error on your entire bank balance.

Imagine if you have a diaper bill, rent, mortgage, child support, etc.

2 months until you can get your money back. No interest, no late payment penalties on their part.

Do not bank, or in your case work for a nationally chartered bank. Ever.

Emigrate (3, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#40524033)

then apply for an H1B visa to work in the US. I've heard employers prefer to keep indentured servants around rather than their 'valued employees'.

Preparation is Key (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524037)

You really have two options here, you can be proactive or you can be reactive...

If you decide to wait until something necessitates a move, then frankly you will lose. 45 is hardly over the hill, though in the tech sector there is an assumption that it is certainly pushing it.

So you should instead choose to be proactive... Pick a strategy and start to implement it. Perhaps this means you start with some formal education, though that would not be the route that I would go (your first degree should have generated substaintial returns before you think about spending significantly more money on another one). You need to decide if you _can_ manage people. It is a skill that needs to be learned. On the flip side you need to understand if you are of a mindset that you _can_ consult professionally. You obviously need to be technical, a very clear communicator, and even a little bit of a salesman. If you are not the last two then you are not talking about consulting you are talking about temp-ing, and that is not a game you want to be in long term.

As for medical insurance... In the US, someone has to buy medical insurance. Alot of times this is managed by your employer. So if you end up consulting as in self employed then you will bear 100% of the cost of this insurance. If you end up consulting at a reputable consulting firm, then realistically you will end up with either a kind of middle of the road plan or if it is a high-end consulting firm you will be very well taken care of in this perspective. If you are temping then you are either going to be on your own as if you were self employed or the company will _manage_ the plan but pass most if not all of the costs through to you. So research this before you end up in one of these situations. You will need to know the rate that you need.

And finally I know so many people who start to feel that tingle in their knee before a layoff happens that end up doing exactly the wrong thing (buying a house, a new car, whatever) don't do that. If things are not stable the use some duct tape and keep your life and stuff together until you are in a situation where you can afford the expense (either in cash or principal + interest).

Set for greener pastures (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 2 years ago | (#40524039)

You mentioned your whole industry and your company is not doing well. We have no idea how big that deck of cards with trading complex debt instruments are in Europe and you probably do not want to stick around and find out when countries start to default and pink slips go out.

So look elsewhere in a better industry? Construction is going up a little and internet .com, analytical marketing/big data, and cloud providers are the new growth markets right now. Apply to these companies? It is always better to have a job when you look for a job. Also it is best always to be a profit center, not a cost center. Banks see non traders as cost centers and do not value your time so you will be paid less and be let go first when there is a recession compared to the other industries I described above. In a .com you are a profit center and more alianged to the processes of your employer. This means you will be paid more and have more job security statistically. Go see the world and move somewhere else?

Another option is changing careers or getting a different education if you are worried that 40 is too old to code. Go get that MBA to move into management or a degree where you can combine your IT background in another profesison like marketing (big data analytics), or teaching.

  I am only 35 but hit snags in my employment and it is near impossible to get back in. HR sees the gap and runs screaming. WHat I am doing is going for a teaching credential and changing my career path. It might not pay well for 5 years but if you are worred about a layoff you can get that as a backup and your pension will be paid for in 25 years and you can get $60k a year for life. I also get to choose where I move when I graduate too. You can teach math, computer science, and even business courses in middle school and highschool. It may not pay as much but you can do IT support and teaching for additional income for districts. For example a had a recruiter call me for a teaching/computer support job in rural Alaska for 70k a year!

I am going to aim for Alaska because I liked to live there in the past and can enjoy the summers and do outdoor activities. But that is just me. If you do decide to keep programming another company might give you more avenues of going into other things such as IT sales.

Easy (5, Funny)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#40524045)

Create a program that shifts fractions of cents from your company and puts them in an account you have access to; Then, if anyone gets suspicious, burn down the building to cover your tracks.

Re:Easy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524189)

"Office Space" jokes aside, that's what grid hedging scalper robots do on the foreign exchange market... minus the burnt-down building.

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524255)

I like your premise. It would make a good movie.

Maybe it can involve a stapler to some extent. :)

Keep Up With Current Technology (5, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#40524049)

Or find a niche you can ride 'til you die. Unless you actually want to go it on your own, the contracting companies out there will whore you out to any job posting that's even remotely a match and provide most of the benefits you're used to. Just take whatever you're making now, convert it to an hourly number, add 30-40% because when you're paid by the hour you don't get paid for sick time or vacation. Upside is they won't ask you to work overtime unless they're really desperate. Then chuck that number out there and see if anyone bites. You might want to check salary surveys for your area, too.

Those contracting companies usually provide benefits (health care, 401K etc) for a price and do you a 1040 at the end of the year, just like you're used to now. If the company you're working for likes you, they'll usually do a full time convert or just keep extending your contract perpetually. If you know which way the wind is blowing, it's not so stressful. Sometimes I just shotgun my resume out there again anyway if they drag their feet on a renewal, just to see what's hot in an area.

It helps to keep a network of recruiters, too. I always try to help 'em out when they come looking, even if I'm not in the market. Currently most of my network of past co-workers is employed, though, so I haven't been very much help lately.

If the company you're currently working for is very sketchy, I'd farm out the resumes now and ride that job 'til you find a new one. If you get laid off before that, go for the unemployment. Whatever you do, don't let on to what you're up to until you're leaving and don't quit! One way or another you've got to ride that thing into the ground unless you find something else first.

You can go it on your own as a self-employed contractor, too, but that's really more work than I care to put into working. Sure you make HUGE briefcases full of cash that way, but you're doing all the admin and tax crap the 1040 contracting companies do for you. Some people love that. You might hear from a few of them in this story. I work to live and would rather do other things with my free time.

Re:Keep Up With Current Technology (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | about 2 years ago | (#40524077)

You probably want to say form 1099. 1040 is the return itself.

Re:Keep Up With Current Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524217)

You probably want to say form 1099. 1040 is the return itself.

...and no doubt you probably want to say Form W-2. You know, because the poster was referring to what a normal employee receives.

Unincorporated independent contractors get a 1099-MISC listing their nonemployee compensation.

Also, I really suggest doubling your current hourly wage/prorated salary when quoting an hourly rate, especially if you are getting 1099'd and/or have to acquire your own benefits. Otherwise, you may end up taking a pay cut despite having a significantly higher hourly rate.

Furthermore, discipline yourself to deal with "feast/famine" rather than a steady paycheck. Good luck: it can be interesting work if it fits your style.

Re:Keep Up With Current Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524171)

Ditto on "Keep Up With Current Technology".

Once you've been around a while, you realize that the industry reinvents itself every 5 years or so. It's really easy for older developers to 1) settle into a long-term maintenance role, and then 2) find they've missed out on the latest "wave" and their skillsets are obsolete. You have to figure out whats "hot" and have at least passing knowledge of it. Just because you did "X" in the past doesn't mean anyone believes you can do "Y"; a lot of hiring is still direct skillset related.

Second thing is, everyone keeps reinventing the same stuff; e.g. client-server, thin-clients, object stores, functional programming, TOD, whatever. DO NOT EVER talk about the old days and how you've seen it all before, and how you use to carry your punchcards five miles uphill in the snow. Your coworkers think this stuff is fresh brand new shit & your manager is getting a bonus for implementing it, so don't piss on them, instead learn the tech inside out and apply your accumulated wisdom from the inside.

spawn multiple paths (1)

dentext (117409) | about 2 years ago | (#40524067)

It's likely that you'll get canned there, sooner or later.
I'm in a similar situation, but temporarily sidelined caring for my folks (dementia). I recently had a boss who's been managing tech since '63. He started at 5am and finished around 7PM, every day.

Scenario out all the options. A non tech path. A tech/detail path, a management path. A path in a segment that doesn't exist yet. A path that's a total fresh start.
We tend to believe we're in control of more than we are. Whatever you do, it may not matter.
You're going to work past the current of Social Security, because it'll be a higher age by the time we get there.
Your work life will likely end about age 70-72.
Social demographers expect that you will have 2 or possibly 3 careers between now and then.
(and post in forums with a younger median age)

what if there's nothing you can do? (4, Insightful)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 2 years ago | (#40524087)

What if there's nothing you can do to stay employable? Then what? It's ugly out there. They will lay you off just for looking over 40 no matter how well you perform.

I'd shape up my finances as much as possible. Cut expenses to the bone. Trade in the gas guzzlers for gas sippers, set the thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter, use a clothesline (actually, an indoor rack works fairly well). Never go to the movies and cancel the cable TV subscription, etc. Use the Internet for that stuff. Pay off the credit cards. You know, all the stuff they advise people to do to improve their finances. As for buying a house, forget it, unless it's some foreclosure deal you can pick up super cheap. (I hear Detroit has houses for under $10k.) Keep renting, and live with the contempt and second class treatment that's routinely dished out to renters. All a house will do is tie you down, make it harder to move to a job.

With finances not hindering you, you have another option: consulting. Consultants must be set up to weather slow times.

Re:what if there's nothing you can do? (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 2 years ago | (#40524205)

I'll add to that: diversify your sources of income. The easiest way to do that is for the wife to work part time. Treat housing as an investment and only buy if it makes economic sense. Live below your means, and save for when a good opportunity comes along.

If you like the stability of big companies, put out feelers on consulting... Maintain your networks and watch where people go. If you are sick of it, look at smaller companies.

It seems like the only real path to financial stability is to have your own company, which is far from being risk-free.

Also understand where older workers succeed. It isn't in the production-type positions, sweatshops, or innovative startups. It seems to be more with roles where requirements are concrete, but ill defined.

Some advice (1)

st0nerhat (2540360) | about 2 years ago | (#40524091)

1. Contracting: Assuming you are in the states, be prepared to give 30-40% of your earnings back to the government. As a self-employed person, you get taxed twice, once as business income, and then again as personal income. This is why contractors typically charge $80-120/hr. They only take home $50-72. Also, don't expect our "business friendly" government to help you out in the insurance department either. If you can qualify, you may be looking at $1000+/mo to insure your family.

On top of all that nonsense, you still have to find work, and it's unlikely to be steady. You may have a huge flood of work, and have the opportunity to work 60-70/hr weeks and make a huge payday, or just as likely, you may have to float yourself for 3 months on what you've saved up. Your best bet here is to get into a software niche and build up a loyal staff. This will not only provide steadier income, but also allow you to hand pick people that you enjoy working with.

2. If you get along with people and have leadership skill, then yes. You should know by now whether people tend to take their lead from you or not.

3. An MBA is a great way to network with other people who are aiming towards executive-level positions. This will pay off in 3-5 years as some of those people land those positions and you can ride their coat-tails, or they can ride yours if you are the lucky one.

4. I'll let others take a crack at that.

Ass from your head (3, Interesting)

XenithOrb (649843) | about 2 years ago | (#40524105)

The only thing I've really gathered from this thread is that no one knows dick about what's going on and no one knows their ass from their head about what to do about it. It's simply amazing that there is no real guidance here and all views are diametrically opposing.

This tells me a few things:
1) No way's better than another, no method of thinking is better than someone elses; do your best.
2) Everyone is still fighting for the same slice of pie and it's only getting more random as to how that's done; competition is a bitch.

Hang in there & keep skilling up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524107)

I know exactly how you feel. Im a 40 year old programmer and I really enjoy it. I dont want to be a manager (I dont have the A-Hole gene). However I do often look around & see that most people around me are 25 to 35.How will things be when we are 55?
My skills are very broad, but today most young guns hyper-specialize in a specific skill that takes 1-2 years to pick up (eg WPF, WCF). When you parachute into a task as a jack of all trades, the 20 years of composite knowledge feels largely irrelevant for the specific task at hand.
Im trying to focus on non cookie-cutter skills - algorithms, 3D etc, but the software industry seems geared towards vanilla CRUD information systems - wash, rinse, repeat.
I've spent the last 20 years learning APIs in my spare time to broaden my knowledge - this is not such a healthy life balance. I've decided to do some exercise to feel better, and not look like, well a 40 year old programmer.
Otherwise, thats just life - do your best, what else can yo do?

Stay Hungry (4, Interesting)

hardgeus (6813) | about 2 years ago | (#40524121)

I am not in your specific field, but close. I am 36. My advice:

Stay hungry. Keep reading programming blogs. Work on hobby projects on weekends to keep your skills sharp. Write stupid games in languages you never use at work. Obsess over every little mistake in your code. Post ridiculous nuances of horrible PHP (fill in your language here) behavior.

When necessary, stay up till 4 AM writing code. Build a team of hungry programmers. Build a team of guys who code all day, and go home and code a little more when they're not playing Diablo or whatnot.

I hate to be an anus-hole, but your post sounds like the words of a tired burnt-out programmer. I wouldn't hire you. Medicare? Job Security and Office Politics? I didn't see anything in your post to indicate that you're still passionate about software development...And passion, IMHO, is the crux of staying employable in this field.

Become a freelance consultant (0)

Ranger (1783) | about 2 years ago | (#40524123)

And marry someone who has a steady job. You'll still be able to do the stuff you love, but the income will be spotty. Though you may get lucky and make enough to live off of.

Obama just handed you the golden egg! (1)

codepunk (167897) | about 2 years ago | (#40524141)

Look this healthcare bill just handed you a golden egg on the platter. Take advantage of it by opening your own outsourcing shop. Project manage the jobs and ensure the clients get a top quality product by vetting all code that goes through the door.

Either become the person outsourcing or be outsourced take your pick.

Two of my huge contracting clients just imposed a hiring freeze this week on all US Employee new hires, offshore and contractors are fine.

Apprentice to a plumber (5, Interesting)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 2 years ago | (#40524143)

It can't be outsourced, and have you ever heard of an unemployed plumber?

It's meaningful work, too, work which has saved more lives over the centuries than doctors have.

(Even I can't tell if I'm serious about this).

I know this will fly against conventional wisdom.. (4, Interesting)

pongo000 (97357) | about 2 years ago | (#40524159)

...but let's face it, some of us have no interest in management, or consulting. That's why, after a 15-year career in software development, I turned to teaching. And if you're laughing because I'm advocating teaching as an alternative career, you miss my point: Sometimes getting out of the field is a viable option. I grew tired of lining the pockets of CEOs and PHBs and gutless business owners who simply ran their businesses into the ground, businesses built partially on my hard work. Sometimes you have to take a step back and ask yourself "What exactly have I done for society these past years?" Chances are, if you're a software developer at a "large investment bank," not a hell of a lot.

Programmers that know their stuff are gold (4, Informative)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 years ago | (#40524161)

IT tends to throw out the old and import the young because the old hands don't keep up with the new technology. But if you have special skills that are vital to your industry they'll keep you around until you choose to retire or die of old age.

You will have to keep up on technologies as they come. Your company will tell you what skills they're looking for... Definitely keep training.

The suggestion to move to management also isn't bad.

Work on increasing your value and look at job openings that are close to your skill set. Ideally you don't want to care if you're fired because you're so valuable that you'll just get another job.

Go to a company that respects devs or go consult (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524175)

There's two types of companies out there: those that see the software you create as an asset and a source of revenue (directly or indirectly) to be managed, and those who see the software you create as an overhead cost to be minimized. These companies will treat you accordingly: in short, your salary is either part of a profit center, or part of a cost center. If you can help it, _NEVER_ work building software that is viewed as an expense. In all but the most spectacular, idealistic, privately held utopias of small companies you will be treated like vermin if what you build is an expense. When the software you build generates revenue and you work in concert with business, then you're respected and valued as a developer. You are not viewed as a "code producing resource" to be maximized and controlled.

A fun spin on this is to sell your experience as a consultant. BDC's (Big Dumb Companies) are full of projects in need of rescue or "quick turnaround" that the BDC will pay out a tasty premium for 6-9 months at over 2X what they pay their own coding slobs who are too dis-organized and balkanized by middle-management fiefdoms to get the chance of doing a project in the first place. When you do this, you're working in a profit center (for you consulting agency or perhaps yourself) _AND_ you get the advantage of exposure to a variety of tools and problem domains.

Oh. And for the record, don't buy a fucking house. Second worst decision I ever made, IMHO. The idea that it's the smart long term financial solution for everyone is total bullshit: http://genxfinance.com/your-home-is-not-an-investment-dont-treat-it-like-one/

Banks (5, Insightful)

br00tus (528477) | about 2 years ago | (#40524193)

I worked in IT at one of the larger investment banks for a bit.

At somewhere like Apple or Google, IT is everything. Or a lot. At an investment bank it is nothing - the investment bankers and sales people are the entire focus. You can argue about how important IT is there, but these are institutions with tons of money to burn, and if they make a mistake, the US taxpayer will always bail them out. That's the thing, they have a ton of money. I have seen insane things go on in terms of technical time bombs waiting to go off. But they have so much money, they can throw money at any problem and it will be fixed. IT is treated like garbage I would say. I think it's insane people would work there in IT over a long period of time. Where I worked, almost everyone who did not leave of their own accord was pushed out - they can people all the time, especially when the market dips. Then again, it is such a big industry, sometimes people find a good spot which seems like a sinecure, and it is not so bad. But some people who think they found a sinecure one day find out they were wrong. It can be a good experience to work at a place like this for a year or two, and it looks good on a resume, anyone who stays for a long time I think is crazy, and their personality always seems to me to change, they seem unhappy. Look how nervous you seem in your post, it does not seem the post of a content, happy person. You're at a company at the apex of world financial power, yet they make you feel insecure. You're one of the workers doing all the work that creates that wealth for them, but they seek to make you feel like a disposable peon. You are a disposable peon.

Anyhow, your age works against you. People are smart enough to not say any age discrimination stuff, but I've been forced to pass over extremely qualified candidates more or less because (unsaid) they were old, had a family they would have to spend time with, might stick up for themselves etc.

If you want to stay in finance, connections are everything. When the cuts come, and they always do, the managers will get together and decide who stays and who goes. Are any of the decision makers going to fight for you? Aside from this, keeping in touch with people when they move to other companies is important, especially when you're looking for work. The stupidest thing you can do is stick your head down and do a good job for sixty hours a week. No one gives a shit - at all. If you think the vultures running your company care, if you think your manager's manager cares, you are a complete fool. Politicking is everything in places like that. As far as consulting, usually these places want to deal with consulting companies, so you have to get to know the project managers and such at consulting companies. This is not hard to do - the project managers want to have a good relationship with hired staff at the company, they want their consultants supported and to get more business, they know you can always be the one who is bumped to team lead or manager.

Also, if you're not chasing the brass ring where you are there is NO reason for you to be there. Your goal should be to be either a managing director in IT (which there are very few of, because the bank considers IT a backroom joke) or in the elite architecture/engineering team. Why would someone kill themselves at these places otherwise, other than to get the experience and resume blurb for a year or two?

As far as getting a job, it is like this: there is a bell curve. Most people are in the middle. You are probably in the middle. Most interviews are looking for people on the right end of the curve. When you go on a technical interview, do you miss questions? I've interviewed dozens, maybe hundreds of people. People on the right side of the bell curve can answer mostly everything I throw at them - 99 out of 100 questions. A few people are on the left side and know very little. Most people are in the middle, you can tell they kind of know it, and could probably do the job, but you're not sure, and you just interviewed 10 people just like them. So being on the right side of that bell curve helps. Especially with hot skills. Stuff like mobile is hot right now, believe me, someone who is on the right side of the iOS knowledge bell curve, or even Android knowledge bell curve is NOT unemployed right now. On the contrary, companies are knocking down their door trying to hire them despite the economy or whatever. But does someone like you with a financial job which takes a lot of time, a family and so forth have the time to not only learn that stuff a little, but master it like some kid who was doing it through his college CS classes, and is now three years out of college writing iOS apps? Probably not. But people who really know their shit in other domains are being looked for as well - server side Java people etc.

Then there's side projects and income. Do you have your own web site or mobile app or whatever that brings in revenue? Do you do consulting on the side? Most of the smart people I know do. You might say you don't have the time. Well then - you're fucked. You have to sit in your current job and worry about whether you'll be canned or not as the economy gets worse. You'll then be a 40 year old with a family, in an economic recession which may hit finance hard, in an economic system where IT people are not wanted much past 40. Yes there's exceptions, but people on the right side of the needed skill curve are always an exception.

Look for stable areas in all the chaos. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524197)

The financial industry is not doing well...

Some parts of it aren't... but some parts are doing great. What's bad for the industry, is often great for the folks involved in making it crappy... I'm talking of course about increased regulation, risk management, and other get-in-the-way-of-business activities that are floureshing right now. If you have a financial background, try looking at jobs for SEC, compliance departments, risk management departments, auditing, etc., there's one in every major corporation---and they're often `safe' places in times of great industry calamity.

And yeah, keeping up with what's out there, and being flexible and indespensible (and moving to management, etc.,) are also great ideas.

Consulting (as many are suggesting) is great if you can make it work---but consultants are very often the first folks out of the door when cutting costs, and whenever there's a major screw up, there's great push to "blame the consultants" and get rid of them... lets full time managers save face. That's why they hired consultats to begin with... to be the fall guys.

My advice (5, Informative)

quietwalker (969769) | about 2 years ago | (#40524203)

I'm a big believer in the idea that social interactions are more important than job skills when it comes to getting or retaining a job. Just think : how many people have you worked with that seem to have no job skills whatsoever, but they often thrive in an office, undeservedly becoming manager when they don't know how to spell IBM?

Those people are either lucky, or more likely, they know how to manage the social game. With that in mind, here's my advice:

1) Learn to play office politics.
          I'm not talking about some sort of 80's and 90's era sabotage-the-other-guy or beat-them-with-a-better-pitch schtick. Just realize that the ability to socialize in a business setting is a valuable job skill. Make sure you know what's going on in the office, and at worst, offer to pitch in where you can, or act to perform introductions between those that need and those who can provide.

            This ability is especially rare among stereotype IT/developer types, so when it's recognized, it's usually well rewarded. If you're having problems in this area, I recommend joining a toastmasters group if simple social interaction is your issue, or asking a manager to mentor you ... which leads to my next item.

2) Keep climbing up.
          The standard business operates not based on income, but the rate at which their income is fluctuating. If it's not going forward, then there's something that needs to be 'fixed' - at least from a stock, investor, board standpoint. This feeling trickles down though. If you're happy doing the same job for years, then either there's something wrong with you, or the job - according to some managerial viewpoints. That's why they ask you stupid questions like, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years," in your interview/review. They're just checking that you're normal, according to their standards.

          The easiest path up is management. Ask to be mentored, indicate that you want to move into management. Leverage your technical seniority. You can go the project management route since there's an easy certification for that, if you're into certifications (some companies are, some aren't).

          Alternatively, court the architect position. If it doesn't exist at your company, request that it be created for you. You don't need more money (though you shouldn't ~say~ that), in fact, you might not even need new responsibilities. Just do it for the title. It's important. Maybe not to you, but when they make decisions at the top level, they know they can afford to get rid of developers - even a senior developer or two - but an 'architect' sounds invaluable.

3) Take ownership
          You've spent significant time at your company, and you have a good idea of the technical domain. You must have a million ideas about what can be done, and what can be done better. Find something you can care about and make it happen. That means drawing up a business plan, inserting yourself in manager's schedules, getting approval, learning .. ugh... powerpoint, drawing gant charts, whatever it is that will sell that idea to the business with YOU as the lead.
          It helps then, to be able to pull it off, but honestly it doesn't seem to be all that important.

4) Self-promote.
        Ugh. I hate this one, but it's necessary. The only people who may really know your value is your co-workers, and if you're on a small or isolated product, maybe not even them. Your manager ~may~ have a good idea of what you're worth, but let's guess that it's 50%. His manager only has about a 10% grasp, and the department manager with 300 people only knows you by job title and the section his direct report manages.

        If your manager isn't whooping up your name and your co-workers each time you reach a milestone or ship product/release/patch, or fix a bug - even when it's not because you went above and beyond - you'll need to do it. Send kudos emails around to co-workers and managers. Incur in them the feeling that they need to thank you back. Get your name out there, somehow, as a team player, as a valuable guy. .... yes, I know it sucks. It's just part of office politics. It's like a job interview. You know you're great, and you've got the skills, but they're meeting 30 other people today who are great and have the skills. Your biggest trick is just to get them to remember you from the masses. Same at work. It's not your manager that's making the decision to let you go (if that happens) - it's his manager, or his manager's manager. You have to shout your achievements loud enough that these folks hear.

5) Option the 5'th.

        Update your linkedin profile. You'll be surprised at how many unsolicited job offers you'll get if you have relevant skills. If you get no job offers, start honing your skills and getting them up there. Culture relationships with head hunters, find out what skills are hot on the market, what people are looking for. Rewrite your profile and resume to suit, etc.

        Of course, all this is assuming that you're going to leave soon. Still, you've been there that long - you should be able to read the signs. The best time to get a new job is when you still have one. Then you have the leverage, the negotiation power.

Be better than the rest (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524207)

I've interviewed tons of mediocre middle-aged developers, and I don't really have any advice for them other than go to short-term contracting. But if you are capable, be a *great* programmer. Know every aspect of your particular area - .Net, Java, whatever - and dont' expect to get paid more than everyone else. AND STAY ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT TECHNOLOGY! If that isn't your cup of tea or out of your grasp, try moving into management. It starts with being a lead developer, but instead of going into architecture, try to get the foot in the door of middle management. Bad part of this is that if layoffs happen at this point, you're likely to get the heave-ho; but if you make it to software manager or something above project management, you should have some decent longevity.

Biggest suggestion of all: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524213)

Get a vasectomy.

Having kids, especially a whole house of them, is career death unless your spouse is a master of organization and you inherited a lot of money. You didn't inherit that much money, you need time to freshen your skills and stay abreast of or ahead of your youngest peers. Figure each kid takes another few hours a week in just normal parent time: pretty soon you're burning the candle at both ends trying to be a father as well as an engineer, and you will burn out.

Besides that, look for projects in the company that bring in clear value and which your presence creates or enhances enough to justify your salary, and be ready to jump ship and take a hit in pay as your skills age out. Consider moving into management, if you've some skill at it: technical managers are invaluable and very much in demand right now.

Suck it up (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524233)

Actually, you should have sucked it up a long time ago. When I left the military, I got a job for 32K/year and my wife had no job and we had two kids. She had to get a night shift position at a convenience store for a while and eventually switched to a night shift job at a chip fab so we could make ends meet. We live a few hundred miles from the nearest relatives and paying for child care was not in the budget. We kept the debt low and cut back on spending. Eventually as our pays went and the kids got older, things got better and we bought a house.
13 years later, my kids are grown, I have 3 years left to pay off my house, we have ZERO debt (other than the house) and I still drive a 15 year old used car every day, she has a 7 year old used car, my kids could move out at any time, and we live in the same house even though we make over 100K+ more than we did back then. Save money early when you are making decent money, don't take on debt (cars, credit cards, car loans) and you will have many more options as you get older. We could both quit or get fired from our professional jobs and get jobs at Wal-Mart and we could easily make ends meet. If I moved into a house 3-5x the cost of mine with much higher recurring costs and always bought new cars, we would be in a situation similar to yours. We do spend and waste a lot of money now and we each have a lot of "toys" but these are not recurring costs and those expenses could be reduced to almost nothing tomorrow if we had to. An example is I maintain 2 cars I mainly race at the track but I could stop that hobby and the money they require immediately if I had to.

Keep it simple (3, Insightful)

Xacid (560407) | about 2 years ago | (#40524253)

Pure opinion here - if it was me in your shoes I'd have the wife getting into the job market (heck, what is she going to do at 40 if you get hit by a bus anyway?). At 40 if I was uneasy about my current job I'd start looking at sprucing up my resume and putting my name out there just to see how the market is biting. I'd like to think we're all fairly flexible in case of layoffs - I seem to always run into various people looking for all spectrums of folks in the IT world. The biggest thing is being willing to relocate. Beyond that all I can say is I hope you've made the most of your career thus far because that's what's going to keep you afloat.

Diversification and management (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524261)

I have two pieces of advice for you. One is for the short/medium term (keeping your job) and the other is long-term (making progress). I make assumptions with both of them, so take whatever applies to you and leave the rest.

For the short term, try to branch out as much as possible. Get involved with many projects -- within reason, of course -- and make yourself an asset in each one. Avoid coming across as arrogant, but don't be afraid to strut your stuff. Be sure that your employer (and coworkers, for that matter) are aware of and appreciate your years of experience and the wisdom you derive from them, and don't hesitate to go the extra mile when you can.

For the long term, you need to work on moving into management. You should already be there, really. If you are going to stick with your current employer, the MBA probably isn't necessary; just really work at climbing the ladder within the company. This means getting noticed by the higher-ups as being management material AND showing the initiative to work toward that end. Start trying to get yourself involved with the higher-level aspects of your work, rather than focusing on tasks and code-monkey work. If you're a coder, try to get more involved with design, and then work your way into overseeing a project. If you keep at it but get overlooked, don't be afraid to go to your boss and let him/her know that you're ready to tackle the bigger-picture stuff.

So to summarize: diversify, apply effort, and be more assertive.

Move where the cost of living is lower. (4, Interesting)

krick-zero (649744) | about 2 years ago | (#40524265)

I assume the reason that you haven't purchased a house is because you can't afford it where you currently live. If that's the case, you really need to move somewhere that has affordable housing. There's lots of places with affordable housing that have developer jobs. I recently moved from New Jersey, which is mostly horribly expensive, to Cary, North Carolina, which is a small town between Raleigh and Durham. I bought my first home at age 41 for $215K. It's an older home, but it's 2000 sqft, on 1/2 acre, with an in-ground pool. My property taxes are $1600 a year. A similar home in NJ would easily cost over twice as much and the taxes would likely be 8K or more per year if I was lucky. Here in the Raleigh/Durham/Cary "Research Triangle" area, you could probably find a job with Deutsche Bank or Credit Suisse if you really want to stay on the Financial/Banking career path.

Tell everyone you're illegal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524267)

Tell everyone you're an illegal alien. That will get you free healthcare, and Obama sure isn't going to kick you out. Plus, all of us liberals support you being here, so you can be guaranteed to get our tax money to help you out when you need it. Keep voting democrat, though. Also, have your wife say that she can't afford birth control, and talk about how awful your life will be for your many children if other people don't give you their money. And, if someone complains about all the assistance you're getting, call them a conservative racist homophobic bigot!

NoSQL and/or data mining and/or big data analytics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524271)

Fucking hell, learn Mongo, Cassandra, etc and keep your dumb-ass employed in NoSQL land.

If you rely on others to tell you wtf you need to learn, you're too lazy to be employed.

Start your own business (1)

sidevans (66118) | about 2 years ago | (#40524285)

Yes its hard work, and it has many ups and downs, however

- You choose your hours
- You choose who you work with
- You choose who you work for
- Don't need to apply for holidays
- Can be drunk at work
- When you abuse your boss, you enjoy it

Over the years I've done night/weekend jobs like washing dishes and pizza delivery to support myself, also made myself available for any small jobs from friends to keep me physically fit like gardening, rearranging furniture around houses, setting up complete offices instead of just the computers/network. Doing the shit jobs is priceless in the long term, if a friend wants their laptop fixed they know its going to cost them a bottle of whiskey and a home cooked meal before I even look at it :)

Its taken 15 years, but now I'm being paid to study Tourism (this is a big thing for me, I didn't even finish year 10), gave my mother a profitable and sustainable hosting company for her retirement and successfully found investors who want me to do project management for them.

Grow a pear and take the risks, you will never regret it.

Some suggestions to stay employable (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524295)

(1) Stay physically fit and active, and keep up your appearance. Nobody wants to hire a middle-aged slouch with a pot-belly, tattoos, and greasy hair. Your spouse will appreciate this too.

(2) Learn another human language. Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, etc.

(3) Participate actively and meaningfully in the open source projects of your choice, using your real name (not a goofy pseudonym) so that you will have examples of your work to show to potential employers.

(4) Participate in local charity and volunteer organizations. This will help improve your people skills.

(5) Turn off the TV and read books instead. Non-fiction is best, but even fiction is better than nothing. Keep improving your mind.

What worked for me (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524307)

I'm of retirement age; I'll tell you what worked for me. (Electronics Engineer)

Cultivate a very positive and optimistic attitude, regardless of the outlook.
Seek and accept the most challenging assignments. If the company will pay for any graduate degree, do it.
Maintain and expand your network with calls, letters, lunches, etc. Stay in touch with everybody.
About once a year, interview for a job whether you need to or not.
Represent your employer externally, if possible, at conferences, etc. Speak to groups. If not possible, join Toastmasters.

Best of luck!

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