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Have I been aged out of the industry? And where else can I go?

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I am 41 years old, with 10 years of industry experience. I was laid off three months ago, and am having severe difficulty getting even another interview, much less another job. I've been reading a couple posts on this board, and some have indicated that programmers are "aged out" of the industry as early as 32 years old. What are the chances of me being able to get a job in this industry? And where else can I get employment if I am being foisted out?

 

I am skilled in C/C++/C#, Python and Lua. I have some web knowledge (HTML/CSS/JavaScript) but don't know what to learn from there (outside of maybe JQuery) as there are too many "technologies" to count. I know a little SQL - I'm certain I can master that in no time if I can get a paycheck from it. I learned Java before it became popular but never used it because it wasn't popular when I learned it, so my knowledge is likely outdated by now. Is there any industry that can take advantage of my skills - and overlook the fact that I'm re-entering as an effective Junior at my "advanced" age?

 

P.S. is there a way to search these forums? I hope I haven't posted a question recently asked...

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What country are you in?

 

I've read a lot of anecdotal stuff about ageism in tech in the USA, but have never really seen it here in Australia.

I'm in my 30's and most of the best programmers I've worked with are in their 40's...

 

One explanation for ageism is that people in their 20's are more likely to put up with abusive working conditions, whereas older people want a normal job where they can actually go home and see their kids every day -- so stupid managers might think that it's better to hire a bunch of young fools  (neglecting the fact that 100 junior programmers still don't equal 1 senior programmer)... That's not really much of an issue here though because it's illegal to abuse employees, but I guess happens a lot under USA's laissez faire capitalism?

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The bit about 32 years old, I am not sure it is true, specially in the last decade, since game development industry matured. I had and currently am working with teams where average age is in mid 30's, and quite few people are 40's and even 50's. I am quite bit older they you, and last year I started looking for new job, and I did not come across issues with my age. On my current team, I am the second to oldest person, and the oldest is I think 56.

 

Getting a job requires many resumes send, networking, followup, etc, etc,etc. Any time I was looking for the job, when I lost my previous one, I treat that as full time job. It is allot of work to scower job boards/web, create personalized and per job cover letter, keep track of who you send, any contact info, and then followup on previous. And then you repeat that next day, thus doing this 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (Full time job). Good luck.

Edited by DoctorGlow

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Maybe its your resume?

 

Certainly you're experienced, but if you've had a long stretch without having to job-seek its possible your resume isn't in a contemporary style or doesn't use the right buzzwords, etc. Especially if you're looking at medium and large-sized studios the very first thing a resume has to do is get past the HR drones. Last month, after 5 years in my current position, I had to update my resume for a different role I was interested in inside the company -- It was a lot more work than I would have thought to bring my old resume 5 years forward all at once.

 

How are these companies that aren't interviewing you getting wind of your age anyways? If its in your resume or explicitly in any professional profiles you might consider removing or making that information less front-and-center. Hopefully I'm not out of step with the resume angle, its just the fact that they're apparently getting your age from it which gives me concern that it could be part of the issue.

 

Finally, some standard but seemingly-uncommon advice on job-seeking:

  • Use your contacts -- I've read that referred resumes are 20x as likely to land a follow-up (phone screen or interview).
  • Cover letters should always be customized to the position -- show interested in the company and position, and share why you think you'd be a great fit.
  • Remember that the purpose of a resume is not to get a job, the purpose of a resume is to get an interview (or whatever next steps are).
  • Stay positive -- If they're looking at your resume, they want to give you an interview; if they give you an interview, they want to hire you. its just the process of whittling down.
  • Be aware -- The biggest reason job-seekers are cut short of the position they want is not lack of knowlege, its risk. Be specific about what you know and have done, and don't do anything that puts doubt in the hiring manager's mind about what you're really capable of. I know of enough who've tried to appear more knowlegable than they were, and it wasn't the lack of knowledge that killed them, it was the the grandstanding that painted them as a risk.

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Ravyne just hit the ones I was thinking.

 

Unfortunately yes, age discrimination is rampant.  Some people interpret "culture fit" as "young white male", instead of "intelligent, creative, and passionate".

 

The good news for you is that studios with age discrimination also tend to be terrible places to work, with late hours, hard crunch, and poor work-life balance. Working at places where everyone has a spouse and children tends to mellow out the worst offenders, and encourage people to think about things like time off, insurance plans, retirement plans, and other benefits.

 

 

USE YOUR CONTACTS.  You've got 10 years in the industry so you know people. Hopefully you've taken the opportunity to grab email addresses, facebook contacts, linkedin recommendations, and more. Spam your facebook account, google groups, linkdin account, and any social networks where your former co-workers work. 

 

The number I've heard from recruiters, business web sites, and books like "What Color Is Your Parachute?" is that one hour of working your social network is worth about ten hours of spamming resumes and blind applications. That doesn't mean don't send in applications that way, but when you have a choice between the two prefer the more effective one.  You have a much higher chance of finding a job.  For me with a recent job change and far more than a decade of experience, I made a single facebook post with "Hey former game co-workers, I need a new job!" and within the day I had several interviews lined up.  This works best if you live in a game development hub.

 

Make your resume specific for the individual job, and let them know you are flexible.  If they're looking for a senior software engineer, adjust it for that.  If they're looking for a team lead, adjust it for that.  If they're looking for tools or gameplay, or build system, customize it.

 

The higher up you look, the smaller the pyramid. If you're focusing on senior positions and lead positions there will be fewer openings.  Consider taking a lower job, and trimming your resume accordingly.  Also, consider using recruiters.  

 

While some places in the world have a custom of including every job you ever had in your life, other places just look for relevant stuff.  Generally it is okay to let stuff drop off the end, and omit the graduation year if you want. Rename it to "relevant experience" if you wish.

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Hodgman: USA - and yes, the employer class loves their veal :( Unfortunately I can't relocate due to personal reasons, so I cannot take advantage of what better civilisations have to offer.

 

DoctorGlow: I definitely have been working overtime sending out resumes - if a game company doesn't have my resume, it's because they've already disposed of it, not that I haven't sent it to them. Do you know what the current retention period is? I thought it was six months, but if it's three, I have to resend them all again.

 

Ravyne: Data mining has been risen past an art-form into a true science - you cannot keep information about yourself away from companies who want to know it anymore. If they want to know your age, they will know your age. As for your other points:

 

Contacts: The few contacts I have are all job-hunting themselves - they're my most direct competition.

 

Cover letters: I've been customizing the CVs for the job, but I can't really fake interest specifically in the company (I cannot pass falsehood convincingly in any capacity) - the best I can do is match their needs with my skills.

 

Being Aware: I am a very humble person, humbled further by my past difficulties getting jobs, as well as past social difficulties in general. It won't be braggadocio losing me a job.

 

...

 

Frob: They may be horrible places to work, but they still give a paycheck, and I can't be too picky as to where I work.

 

Contacts: Actually, I don't know many people, and those I do know got laid off the same time I did, so they're directly competing against me.

 

Resume: Customized for each title, if not each job. Pity I can't write a script that will output in Word so I can automate that process...

 

Pyramid: I'm actively steering myself away from senior positions; they usually mean leading other people, and I'm terrible at that. And boy, do the recruiters know who I am...

 

Thank you for your input.

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Mr. Sloper: To be blunt, I'm interested in getting a paycheck in an environment where I won't be immediately ostracized. I'm somewhat mercenary that way. Due to other discriminatory issues I face, I cannot really be choosy where I work.

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Mr. Sloper: To be blunt, I'm interested in getting a paycheck in an environment where I won't be immediately ostracized. I'm somewhat mercenary that way. Due to other discriminatory issues I face, I cannot really be choosy where I work.


So, something I said, and something in FAQ 71, such as the link to http://notes.fundersandfounders.com/post/79875850310/late-start-quarter-and-middle-life-crisis,
indicated that you should get a paycheck in a necessarily ostracizing environment where you'll be
subject to other forms of discrimination besides ageism? I fail to follow.
But okay, staying in the game industry is hopeless for you, since you say so.
So, where do you want to go next, and why is that also out of the question?
None of us can tell you where you should go next. Edited by Tom Sloper

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I apologize - I accidentally mislead you.

 

Generally, I am ostracized from wherever I am - the games industry is one of the few places where that usually doesn't occur. Except now, it seems that ageism is becoming more relevant to my condition. 

 

What I was hoping for was that someone who had additionally more out-of-industry experience could tell me what area of the computer programming field in general my skills would fit best in if I needed to change direction, and what other skills I would need if I chose to follow that path.

 

You may not be able to tell me where I should go, buy maybe you can tell me where I can go, where my skills are most wanted - and then I can choose from there.

Edited by atari_eric

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