Sunday, August 29, 2010

Up anf Out in the Silicon Valley

Great piece in Tech Crunch tells you what you perhaps already suspected about the Silicon Valley--this is no country for old men:
Talk to those working at any Silicon Valley company, and they will tell you how hard it is to find qualified talent. But listen to the heart-wrenching stories of unemployed engineers, and you will realize that there are tens of thousands who can’t get jobs. What gives?

The harsh reality is that in the tech world, companies prefer to hire young, inexperienced, engineers.
And engineering is an “up or out” profession: you either move up the ladder or face unemployment. This is not something that tech executives publicly admit, because they fear being sued for age discrimination, but everyone knows that this is the way things are. Why would any company hire a computer programmer with the wrong skills for a salary of $150,000, when it can hire a fresh graduate—with no skills—for around $60,000?  Even if it spends a month training the younger worker, the company is still far ahead. The young understand new technologies better than the old do, and are like a clean slate: they will rapidly learn the latest coding methods and techniques, and they don’t carry any “technology baggage”.  As well, the older worker likely has a family and needs to leave by 6 pm, whereas the young can pull all-nighters.
Link, and I see that as of this writing, there are 256 comments, so it seems to have struck a nerve.  But I think you can perhaps broaden and deepen here.  Just in general, if I hire an old guy, I hire a guy with his mind fully formed and perhaps also with a web of distractions.  If I hire a kid, he is more gullible and malleable, more willing to pull all nighters not merely because he has the stamina but because he doesn't really have anything else in particular to do.   An older guy is just instinctively going to say "I'll be the judge of that," and as the boss, who wants all that judging?

1 comment:

Old Fart in Silicon Valley said...

One more tidbit of hearsay. It's been long rumored that Microsoft is eager to hire young bucks straight out of school rather than trying to retain their old experienced hands, which has two notable side effects.

1. With little or no experience, the young bucks tend to make the same silly-ass mistakes that old timers learned to avoid years ago. Which directly leads to...

2. The overall quality of Microsoft products is questionable at best, especially as perceived by the general public.