Story: Comment of the Day - November 7, 2005 - Expertise Not RecognizedTotal Replies: 3
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Nov 07, 2005
9:21 AM EDT
I agree whole heartily with you regarding age and experience discrimination in the job market. I have had to talk with people who have very little understanding of my skills, but who must make a decision about whether I should receive further consideration for the position. It can be most frustrating. The only way around the problem is to make good use of the people in your network of friends and colleagues, who may have more inside information about the available open positions and their specific requirements. Doing so, will allow you to submit a more relevant resume and cover letter that might make it pass human resources and into the hands of someone who can actual read and understand what is in the resume. It is a tough world out there for the older guy and gal.


Nov 07, 2005
9:42 AM EDT
Quoting: It is a tough world out there for the older guy and gal.

Yes, and complicating matters is that the would-be hiring manager wants the experience but not the age. Here's a really good tip: remove a lot of your older experience. It will get you noticed. If there's a date on your resume that alludes to your age (what year you graduated from high school, or got your degree, for example) -- remove it. Make them guess at your age. Leave the most current stuff at the top and make them think you're a twenty-something.

Don't say 20 years of experience with Blah application language -- say 5+ years (if you're comfortable with this concept). It's not dishonest, just an unfortunate side effect. Once you're on-site at the interview, they're gonna know you're a senior person. At least you get the experience of walking in the door, as opposed to being ruled out as "too senior".

One of my pet peeves is the keyword search. You get these people going (I kid you not) "Does Joe have IHS experience?" Me: yes, you need to look at Joe, he's a great guy, knows a lot about Apache. Them: "I don't see any IHS." Me: "It's there -- the guy knows apache and websphere." Them: "We're looking for someone who knows IHS though." (Me: explaining the relationship between IHS and Apache) Them: "Well, if you know of someone that has IHS experience, please send them along."

The same kind of crap goes on at a different level -- the company is looking for someone with all of the checkboxes: The candidate has 3 of the 4 checkboxes, with say postgress SQL instead of the requisite Oracle or whatever. They won't look at him. They say stuff like "This company really needs someone who knows Oracle". They can't judge the quality of the person by what he's done -- just "does he have these checkboxes?" I seriously don't see this changing anytime soon, unfortunately.

The reason all of this is so familiar is because I tend to refer people I know that are looking for work when they come calling for me. I'm kind of picky, and I'm pretty happy at the moment where I'm at -- also I know quite a few Linux people due to things like OLF, my user group and so on. You never know when you're going to need a change, and it helps if you've found someone a job. You get to know the lay of the land, headhunter-wise. Social networking is seriously your friend.

But the checbox mentality; It's mindless.

Nov 07, 2005
10:44 AM EDT
i agree strongly with the previous posts. Also include your own career education as part of it. Don't just do what is expected of you. Show interest in your career beyond what is expected. Stay current with the industry. Education is not just what others teach you but what you teach yourself. Specialists make more money in the short term but generalists are more able to deal with change.

Older workers have usually been around longer and work on longer term projects. When these projects are terminated so are the workers. Keeping yourself current enables you to deal with these circumstances. All employers will get rid of you sooner or later. Be ready for that day.

Nov 07, 2005
10:54 AM EDT
And it's usually the secretary who checks the box, so you never get to talk to anyone in authority. You could also have skills which the company is dying for, but if this is not on the check sheet, the secretary will quickly consign your form to file 13.

When I started my career, most engineering departments had a manager who was willing to make a decision based on his judgment. Nearly every job I gotten was because of a manager or even the company president making a decision to hire me. I don't think anyone was ever sorry that they made that decision. The stockholder driven business has sure changed that.

Because of the corporate involvement, few if any, managers will 'stick their neck out' without a committee of at least a dozen. As usually, the corporate spin is that this creates accountable, when what it actually does is to create the perfect cop out mechanism while eliminating experience and creativity.

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