Ageism in software engineering is still an issue


Meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace is not limited to race and gender. The tech industry has a reputation for ageism, which presents challenges for “older” professionals to get jobs or contracts, or even to be taken seriously.

Companies that sincerely embrace DEI also need to consider how they view age, and there are signs that this is starting to change. Many employers intentionally consider applicants who have been in the workforce longer than a recent college graduate.

Erin Brawley

“Companies pay attention to diversity, and that includes recruiting and promoting more experienced professionals,” said Erin Brawley, senior director of Pacific Northwest sales at Randstad Technologies, a staffing, outsourcing company. , consulting and workforce solutions based in Atlanta.

Be a continuous learner

Brawley encouraged seasoned candidates interviewing for new opportunities to highlight their relevant experience for the new role, and also to highlight their efforts to continually learn. new skills. “Explain what they want to accomplish in their career, then demonstrate their adaptability and that they are an ‘eternal learner’ who wants to learn new skills and new technology,” she said.

The same advice applies to resumes, Brawley said. A potential employer should easily discern why the candidate is a fit for the position, based on their experience and how they have added responsibilities throughout their career.

Kyle Elliott, a career coach based in San Francisco, has a clientele of holder frames in their 40s, 50s and 60s, and many are concerned about age discrimination. Often, however, this hiring bias doesn’t actually exist – but the candidate’s fear of it causes problems.

Kyle ElliotKyle Elliot

“They think they’re going to be discriminated against because of their age, so they take action to prevent that – and those actions hurt them,” he said. Resist the temptation to omit items from or complete the resume.

Sell ​​experience as an asset

Seasoned candidates should be upfront about their age, as the employer will find out anyway. “Adopt it with confidence and say, ‘What makes me fabulous and unique is my age, my years of experience and my knowledge,'” Elliott said.

In addition, seasoned professionals offer valuable expertise for both young startups and large innovation-driven companies. Elliott encouraged candidates to write a list of 10 reasons to hire them based on their years of experience, which will build confidence for interviews. (Communicate this also on resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles, he added.)

Then, during the interview, candidates must connect the dots for the recruiter or hiring manager on why they are a good fit for the team. Elliott suggested this talking point: “I recognize that your team has only been in the industry for five years. Here’s why you might want someone with 20 years of software development experience.”

Some organizations may be less open to hiring seasoned professionals. To understand if this is the case, contact current and former software developers who have worked for the company to get some insight into its corporate culture. “Companies can have a truly amazing employer brand [but] the internal culture doesn’t match that,” he said.

Brawley thinks many organizations are looking closely at diversifying their workforce, and that includes efforts to hire seasoned professionals. “We have a long way to go, but I’m encouraged to see programs being put in place,” she said.


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