It’s not anything vicious. It’s a demographic reality:
Millennials have taken over the workforce.
And so the older you are, the more daunting it can feel to transition to any new job role. The HR team, hiring manager, and even senior executives may very well be decades younger than you.
In the tech sector, this demographic reality is exacerbated by the simple fact that the industry skews young.
Ageism in tech is very real.
A few years ago, market research firm Statista revealed that the median age of employees at leading online companies was just 28. Fourteen of the featured companies had median ages below 35. Since then, not much has changed.
At cash-rich companies like Facebook and Google, twenty-something programmers fresh out of college are commanding entry-level salaries in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But you can compete, overcoming ageism in tech is not impossible!
Why Does Overcoming Ageism In Tech Matter?
The tech industry is growing fast and offers an ever-expanding breadth of opportunities. But some hiring managers mistakenly believe that older candidates have less energy, less potential, or fewer relevant skills. Their careers have reached their limits, right?
No one has infinite energy. Plenty of potential goes unmet. And no one has every relevant skill.
Diverse workforces actually perform better.
Age is an important component of diversity.
Regardless of age, attrition rates in the tech sector are high. Workers don’t stay put. People hop between jobs. Institutional knowledge is lost, and past mistakes are repeated over and over again.
But data shows that attrition is actually lower for older workers. The median tenure of workers aged 55 to 64 is more than three times that of workers aged 25 to 34, according to the US Bureau of labor statistics.
So while we all learn and adapt, older workers are valuable reservoirs of information.
But many older job hunters believe that employers don’t value them. And this simply isn’t true.
What is true is that hiring practices have changed very dramatically. If you’ve been loyal to past employers for many years, your job hunting technique is probably out-of-date. It’s rare to compete for a job against a handful of other applicants. You’re probably competing against hundreds.
You need to stand out, or else decision-makers will fail to recognize the extremely valuable knowledge and skills that you can bring to the table.
Switching careers to tech is possible. According to a recent Harvey Nash technology survey, over one third of tech workers came from outside the industry. They were able to transition without perfectly-matching prior experience. And you can too.
There is a tremendous talent shortage in the tech sector. And younger workers often don’t have the experience and dedication that it takes to persevere in the face of countless obstacles.
Don’t let your age stop you from pursuing your goals. Maintain your focus and use these strategies to help you with overcoming ageism in tech recruitment:
1. Overcome Ageism By Updating Your Resume and Job Application Tactics
Give your resume a modern makeover. Update both your strategy and your design.
Today’s resumes are concise—often only one page. Focus on your relevant skills. Draw attention to the value that each of your past experiences brings to the new role.
At the same time, prioritize your recent experiences. It’s okay to mention a job from fifteen years ago. But be concise. Consider combining multiple jobs into a single experience, like “15 years in the logistics industry” or “a series of roles in HR.”
Stay connected to the relevant tools of your trade: Excellence in the Microsoft Office suite is meaningless when everyone is using Google Workspace. In the sales function, familiarize yourself with contemporary tools for prospecting, CRM, and order management.
Are you comfortable on video? What do you know about Salesforce?
When you find a job that interests you, research the company’s applicant tracking system (ATS) and management structure. Do they use Greenhouse? Lever? Workday? Can you find the hiring manager on LinkedIn? What does their Glassdoor say? How can all of this knowledge benefit you?
It’s okay if you’re not familiar with the different tech tools that are available, or don’t know where to get started on your job search. Growth is never easy. To get an inside edge, check if the ATS vendor provides free how-to guides or other training on the use of their products.
Are you stuck? Try our career search masterclass.
2. Overcome Ageism by Focusing Your Interview on the Future
You got an interview because they liked your resume. So when you meet with a hiring team, reinforce and expand on what makes you great.
Be confident — your age gives you credibility.
People might not be able to relate to the technology or processes of the past, but they understand stories. Talk about your experiences as a story with a beginning, middle, and end. The end should highlight what you learned, and how it applies to the job.
Understanding your strategy is more important than quantifying your ultimate results. It’s good to fail, if you learn from your mistakes. It shows emotional resiliency and the ability to adapt. These are extremely valuable professional traits, and will allow you to stand out in a tech environment.
Focus on how your experiences make you the right choice for the future. Don’t be nostalgic. Highlight how your skills and insights can solve today’s challenges.
These last two points can rub some the wrong way, but they are a reflection of a new standard of communication among business professionals.
You’ll need to watch out for patronizing language habits! You’ll look conceited if you thoughtlessly use expressions like “the good old days” and “you remind me of someone,” or even use simple interjections such as “actually.” They won’t win you any friends.
Similarly, while businesses have become a lot less formal, the manner in which you address your colleagues is still important. Never use condescending expressions like “dear” or “son.” And don’t make presumptions about peoples’ job roles—the person who answers the phone or greets you at the door could very well be the CEO!
3. Overcome Ageism With Continuous Learning
Tech moves fast. We’re all learning as we go.
The key to staying ahead in any profession, regardless of age, is to be a lifelong learner. And be able to show it!
Nearly 30 percent of the Harvey Nash Tech Survey 2020 respondents expected their skills to be irrelevant in three years. And in six years, this rises to 60 percent.
You don’t necessarily need to go back to school and get a new degree. Indeed, curricula at colleges and universities are typically unable to keep up with the rapid pace of change in industry.
Being a lifelong learner means being genuinely curious and committed to learning. There’s no shortage of available resources to help you stay up-to-date:
- YouTube: If you search for topics you’re interested in, the answers to your questions are probably out there.
- Hubspot Academy: From quick and practical courses to recognized certifications, Hubspot offers free professional skill development with a focus on the “business” side of digital businesses.
- LinkedIn Learning: A subscription-based learning resource (sort of like Netflix). The first month is free.
- Professional bootcamps like Uvaro: Brush up your credentials and expand your network by immersing yourself in digital sales (or another trade!).
Your network is more important than ever. It helps you solve problems, access opportunities, and open countless other doors. Find people whose stories you can relate to. Connect with them, and ask for advice. Most people are flattered just to be noticed!
If you use social media, identify brands that operate in your desired industry. Follow them!
Following relevant brands adds content into your feeds that you can consume in a natural way, when it doesn’t even feel like studying. It will also help you keep abreast of industry changes while learning the current jargon.
Plus, “What industry influencers do you follow, and why?” is a pretty common job interview question.
Pursue Your Career Passion
While ageism may persist, and certain myths perpetuate it, there are those who are committed to helping you with overcoming ageism in tech.
You are the direct descendant of billions of years of continuous survivors. You have knowledge, experience, and relevant skills. With the right approach and the right habits, you absolutely can overcome ageism in tech.
What do you want to do for the next five years?
It’s a serious question.
If you know the answer, pursue your passion! And if you don’t know, “now” is the best time to start exploring your options.
Learn More About Uvaro
Uvaro understands that past experience counts, but overcoming ageism in tech is hard! If you are having trouble breaking through, and need some help or guidance, we are happy to chat!
Our instructors and career coaches are all well equipped to help you tell your story and reposition you past soft skills to a role in remote tech sales. There’s never been a better time to get started!