I am 45 years old and have just completed an Associate of Science Degree
in Computer Science at a local college. I also have a Bachelor of Science
Degree in Education, completed 20 years ago and a certificate in
Accounting/Finance. I had been employed in the banking and finance field
until I decided to go back to school, due to all the consolidation and
in the banking and finance area.
The original plan was to continue through and get either a BS degree in
Electrical/Computer Engineering or Computer Science. I have now completed
all the math, physics and science classes to transfer and have been
accepted at a university here. The problem is this: I have been told by many
people, directly and indirectly, that no one will hire me when I finish as
I am past that "preferred age envelope." I didn't take it too seriously
the past year, when I have run into several people I know who have
and CANNOT FIND WORK in spite of the famous "high-tech worker shortage."
To say this is very upsetting is quite mild.
I have built up considerable experience as a programmer, computer technician
and have limited experience as a network administrator. This I gained while
full- and part-time at various companies and state agencies while I have been
going to school. Concerned about this age thing and to test out the waters,
in the past two months I have sent out over 100 resumes and applications
seeking full-time employment. I have posted my resume on numerous Internet
job sites. I sit here in amazement and consternation, when I must tell you
that I have received nothing back, except for several "phone interviews."
My friends tell me "I told you so." They, and now I, believe that I am
to be too old or unpliable to fit into the 90's Technical Culture. I live
in a major metropolitan Northern California city by the way.
What should I do? I love what I do. Should I take the two years to finish
the engineering degree (not a very cheap or easy thing to do as you know)
or what? Try and find any low paying entry-level job to salvage some of
Maybe try the MCSE /Cisco certification route? There appear to be a lot of
guys like me in this situation.
If you read Nick's column regulary, you know that sending out 100 resumes
and Internet job sites are lousy ways to find employment. Try talking to
your college professors. At community colleges they are usually working
professionals. Ask their opinion. If you are really looking for a full-time
job, ask them for contacts in the industry. Ask if you can use them as
when you find a job you are interested in.
It is much easer to hire a person as opposed to a resume. If you have a way
to make personal contact with an employer you stand a much better chance,
no matter what your age.
A note from The Headhunter:
Don't let the succinctness of Ed's note fool you. (And don't think I'm
this to take a bow.) He is absolutely right. Your "insider" contacts will
count for more than 10,000 resumes and any number of online applications.
Age discrimination happens; I won't pretend it doesn't. But good people get
hired when they are referred through trusted colleagues. Your challenge is
to develop referrals through engineers you've met during the past couple
of years and these contacts might include your professors. Rather than
waste time with resumes and listening to naysayers, start expanding your
contacts and leveraging them.
You may have to start in an apprenticeship position, or you may get in the
door with a specific technical certification. Who said even young new grads
have it easy? (They don't.) But don't let that stop you from earning your
CS or EE degree, if a real engineering career is what you want. My two bits.
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