I got this question a lot. People like to say that the Silicon Valley and high tech industry in general is young people’s game. This is a topic that I can write an entire book about. Today, I’m going to share with you the cliff note version of my take on this topic.
Age discrimination definitely exist in the tech industry. Unfortunately, life is not fair, and we have to deal with it.
Economics works against older workers — your compensation are higher than younger coworkers who can be as productive as you are. And you are more likely to have health issues than younger folks.
With that said, I have helped folks in their 50s and even 60s to land jobs at Amazon, Google, etc. Here is what they have in common:
1) Age is a just a number to them. They believe in their ability, skills, and what they have to offer. If you feel you’re too old, you already lose half of the battle.
2) They keep their skills very sharp. They have unique skill set that give them an edge in the job market.
3) They tend to work on B2B products/services. They have deep domain knowledge and they understand how enterprise customers work. Instead of competing against recent grads to land a job at Direct-to-Consumer company such as Facebook, they focus on complex, B2B products such as AWS, Google Cloud, ERP, CRM, etc.
4) They don’t stay at the same company for 15 or 20 years They move around every 3-5 years to gain new skills, and continue to grow their network.
5) They continue to invest in themselves. They hire personal trainers to stay fit and healthy. They work with Nutritionist to clean up their eating which makes a big difference. They work with executive coach like myself to sharpen their skills and address their weaknesses. They’re getting a little bit better everyday.
Finally, I’d like to share with you a quote from my hero Charlie Munger:
“I think the right strategy for the great mass of humanity is to specialize,” Munger said. “Nobody wants to go to a doctor that’s half proctologist and half dentist, you know? So, the ordinary way to succeed is to narrowly specialize.”
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