29
willcandy
42d

this is how I destroyed my career in IT and how I'm headed to a bleak future.

I've spent the last 10 years working at a small company developing a web platform. I was the first developer, I covered many roles.
I worked like crazy, often overtime. I hired junior dev, people left and came. We were a small team.
I was able to keep the boat afloat for many years, solving all the technical problems we had. I was adding value to the company, sure, but not to mine professional career.

There was a lot of pressure from young developers, from CEO, from investors. Latent disagreement between the COO and the CEO. I was in between.
Somehow, the trust I built in 10 years, helping people and working hard, was lost.

There was a merge, development was outsourced, the small team I hired was kept for maintenance and I was fired, without obvious explanations.Well, I was the oldest and the most expensive.

Now I'm 53, almost one year unemployed.
I'm a developer at heart, but obsolete. The thing we were doing,
were very naif. I tried to introduce many modern and more sophisticated software concepts. But basically it was still pure java with some jquery. No framework. No persistency layer, no api, no frontend framework. It just worked.

I moved everything to AWS in attempt to use more modern stack, and improving our deployment workflow.
Yes, but I'm no devop. While I know about CD/CI, I didn't set up one.

I know a lot of architectural concepts, but I'm not a solution architect.

I tried to explain to the team agile. But I'm not a scrum master.
I introduced backlog management, story mapping, etc. But I'm not a product manager.

And before that? I led a team once, for one year, part of a bigger project. I can create roadmap, presentations, planning, reports.
But I'm not a project manager.

I worked a lot freelancing.
Now I'll be useless at freelancing. Yes I understand Angular, react, Spring etc, I'm studying a lot. But 0 years of experience.
As a developer, I'm basically a junior developer.

I can't easily "downgrade" my career. I wish. I'll take a smaller salary. I'll be happy as junior dev, I've a lot to learn.
But they'll think I'm overqualified, that I'll leave, so they won't hire me even for senior dev. Or that I won't fit in a 25 y.o. team.

My leadership is more by "example", servant leader or something like that. I build trust when I work with somebody, not during a job interview.

On top of that, due to having worked in many foreign countries, and freelancing, my "pension plan" I won't be able to collect anything. I've just some money saved for one year or so.

I'm 53, unemployed. In few years time, if I don't find anything, it will be even harder to be employed.

I think I'm fucked

Comments
  • 5
    daaamn, that sucks!

    btw, your profile sounds like a full-stack developer. Maybe try that route? Could be promising and fun. You could use most of your skills and get a few more. And probably with a salary no lower than your last one :)
  • 3
    Damn reality kicks in. They fired you because you are old and expensive. An old high paid slave. The company wants young good cheap paid slaves.

    I'm worried too. Eventually I'll get old and they will eventually replace me with cheap good and young developers.

    I gotta plan my own business, youtube channel and retirement. Whew. I hope you'll do well.
  • 2
    Im surprised how they didnt try to hire you back. I just dont see young devs staying long if the tech stack is not attractive.
  • 1
    Well it was a very difficult year to be unemployed. You need to keep on applying, maybe you'll need 100+ applications before you land a role.

    You need to emphasise what you'll bring to a team, years of experience cannot be replaced by a 20 something with a couple of years angular experience.

    Look at contracting maybe, when you say some java with jquery, do you mean javascript? You can go for lower paid contract roles, where people with more up to date experience might not be competing. You'll be competing with young devs who don't have the breadth of experience, and the client doesn't want someone who will stick around forever.

    It won't be easy, but use the next role to build up relevant skills.

    I'm the same age as you (almost), but I've been fortunate (or careful) to build up in a demand skill set, I've never yet experienced a problem getting roles due to my age
  • 4
    I’m 7 years behind you. Not looking forward to trying to stay relevant in my last 19 years of work life. Companies that have interviewed me in the recent past are all about hiring “young and hungry” (i.e. inexperienced and manipulable) workers. I’m too old to play that game. I have a mortgage on a house and a powerful need to feed 5 other people in that house. I’m always developing some kind of Plan B, even if in my head, of an entrepreneurial venture I could fire up in case I’m ever fired. Have you considered striking out on your own as a company that provides dev services?
  • 3
    @netikras yes, my impression is that "full-stack" is loosing meaning nowadays.
    It's a too broad range of skills.
    15 years ago I was deploying a web site for desktop myself, with a custom made CMS.
    And the biggest problem was browser compatibility between 2 browsers.

    Now kids deploy a responsive website with wordpress. I'v seen it.

    I can maybe be fullstack on an existing project.
    I can't start a complex project alone.

    But basically yes, it's a path I'm exploring
  • 0
    @F1973 I blew up a Solution architect interview. I was asked to explain how to use Kafka to set up an integration system.

    I have an idea of wha Kafka is, but I never used it. and I was stupid, I didn't use the right language explaining. Or maybe out of practice interviewing.

    To be honest I also didn't agree completely to use Kafka as an enterprise service bus, and that what they were trying to do.

    But hey, the conversation didn't flow well with the technical guy, so I was basically rejected on the spot.

    As for the Tech Product manager, I would love it, but I've never really covered that role. In my former company I was actually advocating for the need of a Product Owner, backlog management, proper prioritization techniques, story mapping.
    And I read a lot of books and had ideas about how to apply it.

    But I was actively discouraged from doing it.
    So no "proven track record"...good will only...and a resume stretched for the occasion.

    No luck until now.
  • 1
    @WorstVarNames they outsourced the development to a bigger company that doesn't have problems with "replacement". The old code will be maintained by 2 guys I trained myself
  • 1
    @willcandy well, another option would be SRE. But that role might be too far away from dev (although it does involve some development), it's a role that does require a broad spectrum of skills.

    <sub><i>depends on a company/project</i> </sub>
  • 0
    @nibor which skill set did you build up, if I can ask?
    Competing with younger dev is fine with me, not with the recruiters or team leaders who will not see me as a fit in a very young team.

    It's very hard to persuade them. One guy explained to me very clearly: "this job it's very low level, if I give it to you, you will be bored soon and you will find very quickly something better, so I must re-hire again".

    I tried to insist, but of course, they don't want to believe me.

    Maybe I should reach a yet unknown level of desperation and start crying during the interview. I don't know
  • 0
    @nibor by the way, I'm over 150 job application sent in 6 months
  • 1
    @stackodev yes of course, I thought about starting dev services. But I have no contacts whatsoever.
    How do you start? a web site and google ads? well....

    As for your situation it looks like you are way more manipulable that young developers, or should I say "blackmailable".

    I didn't manage to keep developers in a small company with no growth possibility and obsolete technology.

    And I failed in persuading them or the Board to help me renovate the application. I tried desperately, and when I managed to pass all the knowledge, they basically said "nice, with the saving of your salary we will rebuild the thing with somebody else"
  • 2
    This rant is my worst fear. I'm well aware that we as developers have a short lifespan, and the older we get, the less attractive we are to companies hiring software devs.

    It sounds like years of experience are your best asset here. Try to enumerate all the lessons you've learned, best practices, etc., and how you would implement different systems using the technologies you're comfortable with.

    What you bring to the table is not only the ability to keep up with the younger devs technically, but also slow them down and make them think about maintainability/quality, and institute CI/CD processes for faster feature development.
  • 2
    @willcandy What they did was age discrimination, btw. But as far as developing contacts, join Meetup and attend stuff that is in your wheelhouse. Get on LinkedIn and start networking. Join LunchClub.com and make yourself available for their members to set up meetings with you. Join open source projects on GitHub. Just a few suggestions to oil the networking machine.
  • 1
    I read your whole post, hoping against hope that I could say SOMETHING that would drive you away from certain controlled crash into terrain.

    Then a thought occurred to me. My best way to express it to you is to quote something Janis Joplin wrote, "There's a fire inside of every one of us."

    Nobody, nothing , nowhere, and never will take that fire away. Maybe now that's all you have.

    I truly hope your situation improves.
  • 1
    I wish I could help you
  • 1
    Outdated skills but years in the industry? You're going to be a great manager.
  • 1
    @AlgoRythm well...not sure if I can apply for a "junior" project manager position at 53.
    No proven track record, except my word on working on a team of 4 developers in a company of 8.
    Many positions require certificates, like PMP. I applied to get one. I didn't manage start studying yet. Sending resume and studying tech things is already consuming 60-70 hours per week.
  • 0
    @bols59 thanks for the nice word. After all I feel motivated, the idea of changing job it's like fresh air. I hope also my story could help somebody to think, not only about their professional career but also of other colleagues
  • 0
    @stackodev I tried meetup, but everything is online. I find difficult to networking, don't know if it's possible.
    As for open source projects, I really would like to use better my time, but I don't know which one to pickup. it seems to me a daunting task.
    The projects I'm interested in, are probably too difficult to contribute. I struggle to find one with an interest, utility and level of entrance suitable for me in the forest of projects
  • 0
    @valkn0t the difficult thing for me is that I learned all those thing through my own mistakes.
    Sometimes, when I'm really down, I also think that my termination was my own fault, I was not able to coach people and to bring them to adopt best practices, CD/CI etc. I let the technical debt accumulate when I was working on emergency and the last C-X-O whim.

    Great lesson learned. fine. Hard to explain it like this in a job interview.
    I experience a huge loss of self confidence all of a sudden.
  • 1
    I know that you have tried and there's a reason why you situation sounds so negative. But I would still be hopeful. Instead of focusing on what you're not good at, focus on what you are good at. I would think there are still places where those are the most important skills. I hope you can figure it out.
  • 0
    @F1973 for a long time I thought that a "Product Manager" was something different than a technical guy. But I start to think that it's possible to "switch". I've seen many resume of people going from Technical Lead or Architect to Product manager/owner.

    And actually, if I think about my last years, I was the one that introduced backlog management and story mapping, I was prioritizing, I was deciding what to build, I was discussing and proposing mockups and features. I was also reading a lot about this role, as I thought that many technical problems had their origin and solution in product management.

    The only thing I miss probably is a specific domain of expertise. Rather my domain is "web applications" in general.

    I don't know whether it's just an illusion, a "fake it till you make it" or if I'll manage to persuade somebody I can fulfill the role. Any advice or experience welcome
  • 1
    First off... think of the positives. You're screwed if you tell yourself so. You got experience and will to work. Keep searching with your head high. Some firm out there desperately needs your skillset. Just keep on searching.
  • 0
    Try a consulting company. They are growing. You become a product and they bill for your time. That sounds bad, but I’ve been with two and they treat you very well. There are plenty of people 50+, 60+. I was 48 when they hired me. They were eager. I didn’t have to fight for it. Imagine a company whose goal is simply to grow by hiring and placing more developers.

    They also pay more. My current job blew my mind with their offer. I never thought anyone would pay me that much, and everything about the job is better.
  • 0
    @badwiring you mean like Accenture, Deloitte, McKinsey?
    I'll try...I don't know what you mean with "pay more" and mind blowing.
    I was making 115K$ per year.
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