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Older IT Professionals Can Still Rock a Career in Tech

Older IT Professionals Can Still Rock a Career in TechBetween news from Silicon Valley, advertisements from all industries, and countless Hollywood movies, the media is brutal for portraying all successful IT professionals as young, hip (and sometimes irritating) geniuses. The fact is, like all industries, successful organizations are most prosperous when they have a diverse team, including representation from all generations.

If you’re an IT contractor on the other side of 40, you likely played a heavy role in implementing technologies that brought your organization to the next level. So why can it be so challenging to find a new IT job at an older age? According to a recent Dice article by Leslie Stevens-Huffman, there are various stereotypes that follow senior IT workers and some professionals sabotage their careers by displaying these characteristics to a hiring manager. For example, is it possible you’ve been displaying a sense of entitlement, asking for too much compensation, or just being a stick in the mud?

To help out, Stevens-Huffman observed the most successful IT workers in the upper generation and compiled 5 traits they all have in common. Next time you’re looking for a new gig — either full-time or contract — here’s what you may want to highlight to avoid being lumped into the stereotype:

  1. Continuing Desire to Grow and Learn — the hottest skillset today may be useless in a few years. Clients and employers want to know that you’re willing to change with the times.
  2. Energetic — Speaking in an upbeat manner or using shorter sentences or paragraphs while writing can all make you appear more upbeat and project more energy than your younger counterparts.
  3. Clear Goals and Objectives — Referencing career coach Donald Burns, the author of the Dice article points out that a clear roadmap will help you avoid the mid- or late-career job search all together.
  4. Willing to Take Direction from Younger Colleagues — As noticed in point #1, you need to be willing to learn and often the younger generation can help do that. Be open to a two-way mentoring relationship.
  5. Present Day View — Learning from the past and using it as a way to make corrections going forward is positive; however, being stuck in the past and suggesting older technologies makes you appear out-of-touch.

Senior IT professionals with 20+ or 30+ years of experience might become independent contractors and consultants, where others prefer the stability of a full-time job. Regardless of your situation, although your skills are in high-demand, you will hit situations when you compete for gigs against the younger generation. By taking these points into consideration, you will ensure a focus on your experience, and not your age.

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