Age Discrimination on LinkedIn Hitting ever Younger Ages?

Even early Millennials?! Um, the algos did it.

Thankfully, I have a job, more of a job than I have time to handle, there being only 24 hours in a day. Running my vast WOLF STREET media mogul empire keeps me busy, so I’m not looking for another job. I’m not even on LinkedIn. People can just Google me. I’m all over the internet with articles, books, and this vast media mogul empire website. But LinkedIn, being such a hot topic these days, gets my attention.

A few days before Microsoft’s announced that it would buy the money-losing company dogged by revenues that are threatening to flatten out, for a breathtaking $27.2 billion, the third most expensive tech deal in history, and surely one of the most overpriced deals ever – “surely” meaning I have zero facts to support that claim – well just days before that historic moment, I’d written an article about how job postings on LinkedIn had plunged.

With hindsight, it looks like Microsoft’s acquisition gurus didn’t read that article.

Now I’ve come across a fascinating piece on MarketWatch, an article on what to do to get into the cross hairs of a recruiter whose algos are combing through millions of profiles on LinkedIn.

No recruiter in his right might is personally clicking through LinkedIn profiles. They’re all scanned by algos by the millions in nanoseconds. And so the trick is structuring your profile to get the algos to pay attention. This isn’t a human-to-human scenario, but a human-to-algo scenario. You’re trying to second-guess an algo that’s going to decide your future.

While I was scanning the article in milliseconds with my own algo that I came with off the production line, I stumbled across something that caused the human part of my brain to suddenly pay attention.

Age discrimination had spilled all over this piece, blatantly, in full detail, and was being rationalized with impeccable logic. I don’t blame the article. It just described how it is. But it’s nevertheless stunning.

I always thought that a college degree from 20 or 25 years ago was something to hide. No dates. No details. Especially no details that might give away your age. For crying out loud, when describing the computer program you wrote, do NOT mention punch cards.

I get that.

But apparently the lifespan of a degree has been shortened from 20 or 25 years to just 10 years! Then it rots, and it has to be swept under the rug. The article put it this way (emphasis added):

Older job-seekers….

I mean, I’m already seething.

Older job-seekers need to walk a fine line. Unless you made the cover of “Time” or discovered a solar galaxy, experience has a shelf life on LinkedIn, says Scott Dobroski, career trends analyst at Glassdoor. There’s no need to wax lyrical about a job that’s more than 10 years old, he says. And those who graduated from college a decade ago may want to exclude the date they graduated. “Your college graduation date will age you,” he says, “and although ageism is illegal, it’s happening all the time.” On the other hand, if you’re applying for a job as CEO of a Fortune 500 company and you graduated in 1986, it’s okay to leave the date, Dobroski says.

Note the word “older job seekers” in connection with a college degree from 10 years ago. Those older job seekers are early Millennials!

So if you graduated from college just before the Financial Crisis at the tender age of 25, you’re now among the “older job seekers,” at 35, who have to start concealing their age. Is this how algos are running the show?

Oh dear readers, friends, gladiators … I’m stunned. Not in the America I know! In Europe, in the olden days of lifetime employment, at age 40, you hit the borderline for applying for a job, I get that. And 45 was “surely” over the limit. And there were no laws at the time against age discrimination. At 65, you were forced out. Period.

But not in America, the land of unlimited opportunities, where age discrimination has been illegal for decades.

Has this been the case for a long time – that at 35, you’re considered an “older job seeker” who has to delete dates and downplay jobs? What have I been missing?

Many of you have degrees from more than 10 years ago. Have you run into this problem? I understand that looking for a job at 55, certainly in tech, feels like beating your head against a wall. But at age 35? Let us know in the comment section below.

We already know that on LinkedIn, in order to get a job, you have to have a job. That has been spelled out with perfect clarity by a startup CEO girl. But has LinkedIn also turned into the most sophisticated and perfectly legal employment discrimination tool ever?

If you’re recruiter or work in HR, share your thoughts on this. If you’re an early millennial, are you already hiding graduation dates and first jobs out of college? If you’re an attorney with experience in labor cases or work for an agency that deals with employment discrimination cases, chime in.

And how is it that algos that decide your future can practice blatant and explicit age discrimination against people who’re 35, or any age – or discrimination of any kind – in front of the entire world, with utter impunity, simply because they’re not human and can’t be sued, fined, fired, or jailed?

This job market has been tough enough on its own. Discrimination isn’t really needed to have a hard time. But is even the job market for professionals now unraveling? Read… LinkedIn Job Postings Plunge, “by far the Worst Month since January 2009”

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  103 comments for “Age Discrimination on LinkedIn Hitting ever Younger Ages?

  1. Guido says:

    Who are hiring managers at these firms that think 10 years is a lifetime? Millenials who are in their 30s, that’s who. This is in fact a statement from them about their self-worth.

    It obviously cannot be a person who is in his 40s or 50s because a] these people would have a lot to lose by setting up these barriers and b] they have worked with millenials and 35 is practically the same thing as 30 or 27, so I doubt if they care much about the age.

    So my money is on the fact that (lotus eating/idle) millenials set up these rules.

    I don’t think we need to shed tears for these attitudes. When the tech crash finally happens, it will be these middle managers making these rules that will out of a job. The guy who still digs the ditches will be still needed. The guy standing on the side lines judging the digger, not so much.

    • Jack Carpenter,Ph.D says:

      Your association with money, key people and success as spelled out in wealth are required to get any attention in the flesh markets. If you have those things you are wanted for a host of games. Promoters ride successful people like a pony in the race of the day. Recent work with successful legal clients, or having regulatory agencies as clients is pure magic and tells you a lot about the quality of the inquiry. My IMF association has been mind bending. Just be careful, it is not discrimination, but avoidance of being used to mislead or committing fraud on third parties. Today the corner cutters are willing to use anybody to get what they want. Think about start-ups and opportunities instead of degrees and age. The nature of opportunity is shifting radically and success is always possible.

  2. I’m still waiting for the 3rd and last book from the Wolf Street Media Mogul Empire!!

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Unfortunately, the Wolf Street Media Mogul Empire keeps me so busy that I don’t have time to finish book 3, which has been “almost finished” for five years (one final go-through plus self-publishing it). Nor do I have the time to work on the others that are part of the series and have been in progress for a decade.

  3. Mike G says:

    Part of the diminishing of possibilities in this country has been the sad ossifying of the job market into Old Europe-style credentialism and micro-specialization with risk-averse HR departments using mindless algorithms and never, ever sticking their neck out. There’s little room anymore for the talented self-taught person or quick learner, and MBA micromanagement means almost nobody has the latitude to take a chance on a non-conventional candidate. If you don’t have formal credentials and experience you rarely make it through the first cut.

    • nick kelly says:

      For tech- and especially anything resembling writing code- I would have thought an MBA was the kiss-of death.

      • BradK says:

        Technology is increasingly dominated by those who manage — and profit from — that which they do not understand.

    • Bill Reynolds says:

      Yes. Also the Generalist (for I regard myself as such) has for several decades been as employable as a cooper, thanks to those damned algorithms. They are designed to find keys who fit precise locks. No human ever sees a CV that doesn’t pass that test.

  4. night-train says:

    As a living fossil, my perspective on time is becoming compressed. But, it doesn’t seem that long ago that “thinking outside the box” was all the rage. Now it seems that staying dead center in the box is all that matters. If you are in the sweet spot in the box, staying there is the Prime Directive. That means no chance taking and, ultimately no innovation. Or, only the innovations developed by the privileged few.

    We are made of better stuff and humanity is coming to a cross-roads. Will we choose to be the masters of technology, or slaves to it and its controllers? There is some deciding to be done.

  5. No Trump or Congress will solve it says:

    Cost, cost, cost. Hire young pay less. Implement share buy-back. Show profit. Hardly a shock here in this article. Thanks – Fed, Republicans, short sighted overpaid executive management, offshoring whores of manufacturing and our tea fed petty Congress…oh yea owned and managed by Republicans. Im sensing a trend of biz friendliness in Congress but what would I know as a Congressional intern who is not a Republican.

    Its not a function of Millennial at all. Its good ole Corporate Greed among and excess of labor mixed with short term governance.

    We need more UNIONS. We need more social policy and less FINANCIAL engineering. China is not the problem. We enabled them directly. Every trade deal approved in Congress has brought us lower and lower. End every trade deal. Every single one. They have not proven at all in the aggregate to have improved anyone’s day to day life at all. Those are a myth bought and paid for by Corporate America in Congress. Dems are not much better, but given the other side of the aisle, obsessed with guns, religion and abortion we dont have much choice.

    I know more and more people my age simply staying out of the job market and looking to actually emigrate out of the US. Its not the greatest country in the world. Its a country in the world and its devoid of any soul. Funk the constitution and the so called slave owning founding fathers. How long will we worship these agrarian Deists(not christian) and face up to the fact that the country as is, is nothing they could ever envision.

    Thankfully Canada is close by. My wife is Canadian. Perfect it is not. Rational it is compared to the MURICA that is now just a running joke of hypocrisy and pettiness.

    If you are not making a min of 250k a year in the US. You do not matter. AT all. You do not matter. You have no voice or hope of a voice. You cannot afford college unless you go in debt for your children and forget med coverage. Forget it. Trump’s greatest is his hair LOL and his bankruptcy record. IT AINT AMERICA under his watch potentially.

    • Nicko says:

      My sister has a government job in merry old Canada, recently had her first baby, got a year off work, all very civilized. Their family own several properties, and all assorted toys, yearly trips to Mexico, Vegas, and own a cabin in the mountains, a Canadian success story.

    • Mary says:

      Perhaps that explains why Canada has no si valley, no wall Street, no JP Morgan, Amazon Google or apple. It really sends me into a laughing fit when someone poses a primitive, resources and agriculture driven economy such as Canada, as any model for the US to follow.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        “Primitive”???? Ever been to Canada?

        • Mary says:

          Yes, Mr. Wolf, I have been. While I agree ‘primitive’ is a strong word and Canada is not Brazil or Vietnam, it is indeed not a model for the US either. I am not saying the US economy is absolutely perfect, but whatever deficiency it has, they are not because the US is not-like-Canada.

          In short, I just laugh when progressives portray Canada as something the US should follow. I am actually more awed at the start-up and dynamism in places like Hong Kong to Singapore, Seoul, Beijing, Shenzhen. Maybe my view is biased after spending quite some time in Asia and seeing these up close.

          By the way, sorry for appearing confrontational. I absolutely admire the work you do in pointing out so many things the mainstream does not want to hear or say. Keep it up.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          I just stumbled over “primitive,” that’s all.

          If I remember right from BOC data, the resource sector in Canada is about 10% or 12% of GDP, so far bigger than it is in the US, but it’s still not that huge.

          I think real estate, housing, and construction sectors are far larger and far more leveraged – and in an insane bubble (particularly in Vancouver and Toronto). That’s the thing I’m most worried about.

        • Thomas Malthus says:

          Hmmm… I grew up in Canada but left for Asia at 25…

          I went to school near the border — we used to cross over to buy cheap gas and vodka…

          I was always amazed by the state of the infrastructure in the US — the crumbling bridges… the potholed highways…

          It was like entering an empire on its last legs …. it felt rather depressing .. I was always felt better when I crossed back into civilization …

          Other than the bastions of prosperity in the US — is it still like that?

      • Jack says:

        Mary, any sort of meaningful private-sector employment comes from US-based companies. Anybody with any brains has left here and made it big in the USA.

        • Mary says:

          I think I can agree although I have not looked up any statistics about it. So
          1. Do you have any credible data to prove it?
          2. If what you say is true, what does it say about the progressives’ worship of Canadian economy?

        • Thomas Malthus says:

          I understand that the Kanata area outside of Ottawa is Canada’s silicon valley

      • Just Me says:

        Mary, you’re full of shit. Canada has quite a few successful high-tech firms and some super talented people. They just don’t make a big deal about it. As far as why they don’t have Amazon, Google, Wall Street, etc., did you maybe think that Canadians aren’t as willing to exploit their fellow Canadians for their own financial gain?

        The Republicans are busily turning the US into a third-world country where most of the people in IT are essentially indentured servants from India, and you’re talking about CANADA’s being primitive?

        • Jack says:

          Mary, (you first), re: your “Do you have any credible data to prove it?”

          Ans: I just know anecdotally that many a brilliant Canuck has left here and made it big elsewhere–namely, the USA. Most recently, after all my years of study, I just learned that Brian Kernighan, one of the developers of Unix and the C programming language is from Toronto!

          Then there’s Elon Musk who came to Canada from S. Africa as teenager, became a Cdn citizen, enrolled in Queen’s University and then transferred to U. of Penn., and the rest is history.

          And now I heard recently on the radio that 350,000 Cdns are working in S.V. alone. That can’t be right I thought–they must’ve meant 35,000, right? No! It’s 350,000 alright. Here’s an older article but it’s still true: (

          Then your second question, “…what does it say about the progressives’ worship of Canadian economy?” That’s all government propaganda up here. Those progressives are “worshiping” the Cdn economy because they are public service workers or are very much dependent on some form of gov’t subsidy. You can earn a six-figure income for writing parking tickets or driving a streetcar in Toronto–no exaggeration.

          We had real high-tech up here at one time (Mitel, Newbridge Networks, Nortel, RIM, Ballard Power Systems, etc.) that have all gone the way of the Dodo bird, much like Bre-X.

          There is an auto industry here in Ontario but only because the provincial and fed gov’ts keep bribing them to stay. Last week the province “gave” (not loaned), but gave, Fiat-Chrysler C$80 million just to stay here. Our province pays out C$11.2 billion per year in interest alone on our accumulated provincial debt! Future generations are going to pay for that.

          Margaret Thatcher was absolutely right when she said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

          In response to “Just Me,”

          You should reconsider your stance (and leave if you can) for all the reasons I just stated above. If you’re a millennial, I feel so sorry for your and future generations–you’re all bankrupt and you don’t even know it. Some of us Baby Boomers wanted to maintain economic prudence but we were out-voted by the potheads and the unions.

        • Mary says:

          I hoped any reader of this site would have better sense than calling strangers on the internet as shit, but whatever on that.

          Since according to Statistics Canada, more than a million Canadians live in the US, and as another Canadian says, a huge part of their employment and GDP come from American companies, I guess the Canadians are more than happy to be “exploited”? But “exploited” is a senseless weasel word anyway, devoid of any meaning.

          And the way you throw around terms like “third world”, “indentured servants” etc. just makes you post even more meaningless.

    • Norma says:

      I work at a company that has been around since 1882. Most of the new hires are older people who have a work ethic and don’t spend the day on their phones or the internet. They are very generous and contribute 20% of your salary yearly into a 401K. I’m very fortunate to work there and everyone who works there feels the same way. BTW this is an LDS business and although I am not LDS as many of my coworkers are not we all respect each other and do an honest day’s work.

  6. Thomas Malthus says:

    excellent article

    • jack says:

      Thomas Malthus, re: your earlier comment, “I understand that the Kanata area outside of Ottawa is Canada’s silicon valley” yes, that’s what the talking heads in the media used to say, but I’ve lost touch with that area so it could still be. Last time I checked, however, many of those companies were gov’t-driven companies, particularly defense, such as it is.

      The Kitchener-Waterloo area around U. of Waterloo is an interesting area for high-tech development still (this where RIM started). I think B.C. is better established as a high-tech area in the Vancouver area but living there is out of the question–way too expensive.

      In Montreal, they’re doing some pretty good work especially in digital animation (but you gotta “Parlez-Vous Français”–it’s the provincial law)

  7. mike says:

    In IT, the job specifications are so detailed, it is ridiculous. You must have experience with a dozen pieces of software all at certain version levels and using certain features. I suspect these ads are just to justify hiring h1.

    I do get robomail from people using linkedin for stuff i did 25 years ago. If I go to interview, they then say I am not current. Never mind that I have worked on hundreds of different hardware and software combinations and figured out how to optimize them quickly and that we now have the interweb where you can learn about anything in a couple days.

    Most of the linkedin job mail I get comes from headhunters that just throw my resume into a response for a corporate job hoping to get a cut if I go there. I guess that works often enough for them to keep doing it or maybe its like driving for uber where new suckers keep coming in to try it.

  8. rhcaldwell says:

    At age 61, I’m in the midst of finding out if there is such an “iron law” of age discrimination that will keep me from being considered for the Operations Executive jobs I’m applying for. I even have all of my jobs listed at Linkedin, all the way back to the Mesozoic period of 1976… Hell, I admit I programmed in PL-1 on Hollerith cards and built my first computer from almost scratch, so I’m definitely a career dinosaur. But I’m still programming, now in JS, HTML, and CSS.

    So far, every application I’ve made has disappeared without a single follow up, so what you report may be true. Or maybe I’m just unqualified and need to consider Walmart greeter as a more fitting next step in my career path due to my decrepitude? To be determined empirically going forward. Thanks for the interesting post.

    • illumined says:

      Visiting your LinkedIn site I mostly see marketing and sales stuff, not much programming. Maybe I missed something, I was a bit rushed. Anyway, wish you luck.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

    • tcubed_bus says:

      Yes, I couldn’t find any programming experience either. Is there another rhcaldwell? Certainly there is ambiguity, enough to explain the lack of callbacks.

    • Ludwig Fischer says:

      Don’t bother with Walmart. I have a similar history to you and have been turned down by McDonalds. :)

  9. Victor says:

    The quality of this blog is pretty high. Keep up the good work.

    There is math and statistics in this comment. Careful reading is required.

    There is a massive age discrimination problem (especially) in US tech industry and the industry is completely out of control.

    Hopefully the readers immediately realize that it is a statistical outlier and a mathematical absurdity to have “an entire industry” with worker median age 8 to 10 years less than the US median worker age. US median worker age is around 43.

    In fact, this is “mathematically impossible” to achieve in any society. So how can this math exist?

    This impossible math is achieved through H-1B, L-1, B-1 visas absurd math in legislature.

    Every year ENTIRE US population increases only by 1.4 million.

    But the math geniuses in legislature give out a minimum of 250K H-1B, L-1, B-1 visas EVERY year for the last 25 years non-stop “just for the tech industry which employs less than 3% of total US workforce (including all STEM fields)” (all H-1B, L-1, B-1 are between 23 to 35 years age).

    So how can a really small “Tech/STEM” industry absorb so many workers? It can’t, so the following happens.

    So if you are an employer (especially tech employer), it would be absolutely foolish to recruit older more expensive workers or even bother training workers. Why bother and increase expenses in the income statement and reduce EPS (which is a serious impediment to stock options casino)?

    Even worse, for last 2 decades US economy has been churning out low quality work McJobs (since all manufacturing and tech work has been offshored due to absurd trade policies and only FIRE is creating repeated booms and busts giving out subprime loans (student, auto and housing) ).

    To understand why no one in executive branch cares, see this

    To see why no one in legislature cares, see the book “Sold Out” by Michelle Malkin.
    (I haven’t read it).

    The problem (massive labor force drop out, massive labor slack, low productivity, complete collapse of velocity of money, student loan delinquencies, foreclosures, subprime auto loans, collapse of worker share of wages as a % of GDP etc.,) can be boiled down to absurd trade, immigration (H-1B, L-1, B-1 is not even good immigration, it is indentured labor system and an offshoring model specifically setup by (and for) the billionaires) policy choices over last 2 decades.

    • ERG says:

      I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. What you’re describing for IT/SW/Tech has been going on for decades! Technical specialties have ALWAYS been swamped by foreign workers in the US. Anyone here old enough with an engineering/science degree will remember what things looked like in the 80s/90s.

      What’s different now is that IT/SW/Tech is just about the only game in town for growth and good jobs, so when the foreign worker bait-and-switch takes place it is a lot more noticeable.

      • Victor says:

        There will be no problem with a small amount of top foreign students/workers (proportional to the actual workers employed in the industry). But H-1B, L-1, B-1 math is absurd and will not work in any country or even between states. Please go through the population increase math in the US and the number of visas I have mentioned above very carefully.

        Every year 20% of ENTIRE US population growth is given out as H-1B, L-1, B-1 visas just for one Tech/STEM industry in the US. This means the legislature assumes that MORE THAN 20% of workers in the US will enter the Tech/STEM field EVERY YEAR. This assumption is complete insanity.

        Further, there are more advanced math problems such as gender skew (since Tech/STEM itself is gender skewed), assortative mating (rich marrying rich, graduates marrying graduates etc.,) which will double the above number to 40% (Nature balances gender ratio at birth, but absurd H-1B, L-1, B-1 doesn’t balance the gender ratio and there are no “extra 20% opposite gender” available in the US and they have to come from other countries also i.e., more immigration and more labor supply added).

        H-1B, L-1, B-1 is absolute math mess and is creating absurd unemployment problems in the US. The biggest problem US legislators have is that “US population is only 5% of the world population”, but they want to give out excessive amount of visas without understanding basic math.

        A small reasonable amount of visas every year will not be a problem (other than to reduce the wages slightly for the local population). For example, ENTIRE US economy has been generating 2M jobs/year, but legislature gives out 250K H-1B,L-1,B-1 visas/year for “just one Tech/STEM industry” which is one of the smallest industries in the US. Every year, the Tech/STEM industry generates 100K jobs/year only :) The legislature gives out 250% of new tech/STEM jobs created every year. Absolutely horrendous math.

        In my opinion, there is one continuous economic collapse starting around 1998 and it is mainly due to H-1B, L-1, B-1 absurd math. For a few years (2001 to 2007), people just adjusted by using debt instead of income and that crazy scheme collapsed in 2008 also.

        This H-1B, L-1, B-1 mess started in early 1990s and (between 1995 to 2002 it was total insanity and it went to even 500K or more per year during that time) gotten totally out of control. The bought out legislature is trying to push 750,000 H-1B visas per year now (S.744, , S.169, H.R. 2131, H.R. 459 (all in 113th Congress)).

        These bills are so mathematically absurd it will be impossible to believe that the legislature is capable of actually reading and understanding the legislation that are under discussion (I sincerely doubt it). I think the text and the numbers for almost all bills come directly from the lobbying firms and the legislature just bargains on the donations based on number/text to put in bill.

        For example, 750,000 H-1B visas will net $75M donation from tech billionaires,
        500,000 visas will net $50M doantion from tech billionaires etc.,

        I suspect this was the reason the book “Sold Out” book was written to describe how the legislature systematically sells out the US middle class and pockets the donation and cashes out by setting up revolving door for their extended family.

        You can try the following for math exercises (BTW, this is one of the main reasons for Brexit, Britain is a fairly large and populated country (around 80M population and fairly large “within Europe”) but it absurd for UK to absorb people from all poor countries in the Eurozone in its labor market. UK has been doing this for many years, but it has gotten out of control as more and more poor(er) Euro countries join the Eurozone):

        1. What will happen if Switzerland has a H-1B, L-1, B-1 visa policy with US? (Switzerland population = 10M, 70% labor force participation = 7M workers, Per capita GDP = 1.5 to 2 times the US, Wages = 1.5 to 2 times the US wages
        But US has 130M workers! Native Swiss born people will have 100% unemployment in a few years since businesses will recruit US workers in Switzerland and pay them less(er) than Swiss workers. Same thing with H-1B, L-1, B-1 visas (i.e, labor arbitrage).

        2. What will happen if California and Connecticut were the only two states in US (with current populations of 40M and 4M people respectively), but California is extremely poor and Connecticut as rich as it is currently?

        Ans: No native born Connecticut person will have job, since the employers will replace all local Connecticut workers with workers from California. Further, they will never ever run out of workers since California is so large relative to Connecticut. Further, the median age of workers will also keep going down (as they keep relacing older workers with younger workers continuously without running out of workers ever) and more people will be in permanent unemployment in Connecticut. Same thing with H-1B, L-1, B-1.

        H-1B, L-1, B-1 is just absurd math and it has been let loose in a tiny industry in the US for 25 years by the legislature. Further, since the tech jobs have job multiplier (i.e, one tech worker can support 3 lower paid workers), this has been acting in reverse (when US tech worker loses job, 3 lower paid workers lose their jobs) and the employment collapse is also more severe.

  10. nhz says:

    I’m from the generation that started with punch cards (barely, and only because my study required it) and have a PhD in biochemistry. I never seriously looked for a job because there were no jobs when I graduated so I became self-employed in the developing computer / imaging industry. On top of that I have a strong disinterest for social media in general so I would never look for a job or post one on Linkedin etc.

    That being said, having many friends who work or formerly worked in high tech (and are now out of a job because they are ‘too old’), I can see the point of the ‘outdated’ graduations from the shortsighted point of view of a HRM manager. If I were to apply for a job now I’m pretty sure I would not even be invited for a job interview despite 20 years of experience (over 45 of so, no chance …). As mike mentions above, job specs are ridiculously detailed and all about the latest craze or programming hype. Of course, almost nobody is hired nowadays for a career at the company, at best for next years project ;-(

    Older people like me are often not the best for a job that is all about using the latest technologies, but I have no doubt ‘we’ have experience that is extremely valuable for companies especially in the long run (like recognizing all the latest hypes for what they really are, preventing loads of malinvestment, and knowing from experience how projects can run of the rails and what to do about it). But those things are hard to express in a few one-liners and even if possible, the 20-something HRM recruiters probably would not understand it.

    I see the same in biochemistry as in the computer industry: I don’t have all the latest DNA sequencing/programming experience etc. but I do have a much broader perspective than the young people coming straight from university who IMHO know very little of real value and have no idea how the ‘industry’ works.

    BTW, forced out in Europe at age 65?? That really shows your age ;-)
    Higher level government workers here still retire at 55 or so with golden parachutes, only to be hired again through the backdoor for another ten years at 3x their original salary because they are all ‘indispensable’ :-(
    I have to admit the last part might be true, because only a real government worker knows how to idle the whole day without anybody noticing, and that must be a big part of the job description (I wonder how the Linkedin algo’s handle that).

    • MrEd says:

      nhz, “only a real government worker knows how to idle the whole day without anybody noticing” you got that right. Tell whatever lie, do whatever it takes to get a gov’t job and you’re set for life!–that is the future. Linkedin was a good source for phisherman when I tried it briefly, years ago, long after I threw away my old stash of punch cards.

  11. Silly Me says:

    The perfect slave is constantly afraid, doesn’t believe in anything anymore, and has no dignity.

    Seems to apply more and more to younger generations.

  12. ERG says:

    The job market these days is driven by one and only one thing: low price. That means the younger the better, particularly when it comes to IT and software related skills. I’ve seen it in my own company where, over the course of four or five years, the average age of an employee must have dropped by nearly three decades. We were transformed from a nursing home into a middle school.

    What’s most interesting is that change has not really helped us at all, though that result was entirely predictable.

  13. Meme Imfurst says:

    When you exhaust the hunt for ‘qualified’ personnel in the USA, I believe the law is six weeks, you open the door to hire anyone you want. That door has h1 printed on it.

    This trick is being used all the way down to brick and mortar retail. I see it over and over in my town. Suddenly the help wanted sign is down and a person who can’t speak English is behind the counter. Makes no sense you say. Well, who said the employer was paying the clerk. I hear numbers as high as 50,000, but on average 10,000 paid to have that job. Getting a Green Card is so much easier when you have a ‘job’ offer.

    Microsoft buys LinkedIn? Since when has Microsoft done anything that worked. To me it is another example of tech lost in the woods and ideas that can’t even get to first base.

    Soon the algos will replace the HR department. After that the algos will replace the CEO. Then age won’t matter unless that algo has code for ‘the desktop’….then out the door it goes.

    • ERG says:

      “After that the algos will replace the CEO.”

      We can only HOPE!

      Seriously, this is all a symptom and not a cause. The cause is we are in a terrible, stagnated, debt-ridden and over-regulated economy with no new jobs being created.

  14. Ptb says:

    I started with IBM in the 1980s. Lots of employees over the age of 40. Then I went to HP. Fewer employees over the age of 40. Then I went to software start ups where only the exec level people were over 40.
    Having spent most of my remaining career in start ups, I can say that the smaller the company, the younger the age range. In general. But when management wants people to work 60 hour weeks and know the latest technology, not complain, etc…they know they need young employees and h1b employees are right in their wheel house for this type of person..

    • Larry Dallas says:

      And as Zuckerberg said, “young people are just plain smarter than those over 30”.

      • Mike G says:

        Something an arrogant and/or stupid person would say. Zuckerberg was both smart and very lucky at one endeavor, that doesn’t make him a genius at everything.

        • nick kelly says:

          And the co-founders of FB (listed on header page) had to sue after he took their idea and ran with it.

        • Thomas Malthus says:


          One must remember that up until the Great Heist his claim to fame was a hot or not hot website for harvard.

          One can see that he was destined for greatness.

          Imagine being Zuckerberg — you would know that you are at best mediocre — by rights you should be locked in a closet grinding out mundane code and making maybe 7k per year….

          But instead — you ripped off an idea from two guys who trusted you — and it’s worth tens of billions of dollars.

          I wonder if he feels like someone who has fixed the lottery and won the grand prize.

          I do hope he makes significant charity donations….

  15. Paulo says:

    Great article. Sad portrait of our times. This app is for a financialized and over-managed Society. I am 60, have been retired for 3.5 years, and could work every day if I wanted. The hitch? I could work as a carpenter. Or, I could weld on the side. If you have practical and timeless skills you will always have work. The only work I do now is for myself or what I volunteer to do in our community.

    Get out of debt and readers will discover that ‘no debt living’ requires far less money than the treadmill. Linkedin? WTF? Who Cares? Who wants to be linked in, anyway?

    I like this Empire, Wolf. You have created a great source for us ‘truth seekers’. Thank you for your time.

  16. Designer says:

    My department with close to 70 direct employees rarely hires. Perhaps 3 to 5 new grads even 10 to 15 years. However, we scale our capacity via outsourcing and sub contracting. That’s where you find the seniors club. Often, they are retired former directs. These guys dont need linkedin.

    I just saw one while shopping recently. He told me he had to stop sub contracting because he was earning too much when added to his pension and social security income.

    The industry is mechanical design engineering.

    We also have direct mechanical engineers located in Mexico and India. All are younger than 30. I’ve encountered 1 or 2 that are really sharp. Most are average or below. They have some fundamental knowledge but struggle with application.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Interesting. Farming engineering work out to Mexico is something we (I) don’t hear much about. I do know a couple of Mexican engineers, and they’re busy in Mexico.

      I know an American mechanical engineer (30s) who switched to selling multi-level marketing products (and tried to rope me in) because mechanical engineering in the US is “dead,” as he put it, which surprised me, and I still don’t know if he’s right or if he just ran into some specific personal roadblock. Or maybe he’s making more money in MLM.

      • Lee says:

        Mechanical engineering in Oz is also going down the tubes.

        Automobile companies are ending production here over the next year or so and the future is bleak for related companies as well.

        Even the academics are hurting. One ME Phd position at a university had over 390 applications.

        Of course the government here is going to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at the people working for the auto companies in order to retrain them.

        Wonder why people in other industries don’t get the same deal when they get into trouble…………

    • Mike G says:

      I’ve worked with Indian IT and most are technically pretty poor, even before you address the difficulty of understanding their accented English (and I’ve lived in the US, Australia and New Zealand so I’m used to a wider variety of accents than my co-workers).
      My impression is the big-name multinationals get the talented IT people in India, and by the time you get to sub-sub-contracted phone support people you’re down to the dodgy degree-mill bottom of the barrel types.

      • Petunia says:

        The reason the Indian workers aren’t that good is because they come here with a diploma from an Indian diploma mill. If you are lucky they have actually read at least one programming text book cover to cover. Most are not even worth the discounted H1B salaries they get.

        • JerryBear says:

          I have dealt with Indians on discussion boards dealing with theoretical physics and mathematics and their level of competence tends to be just abysmal, woefully ignorant of even the most basic knowledge, They tend though, have all of the false confidence of the classic crackpot that they know what they are talking about. I try to help them out if they can reason. On the other hand, I will join up with the others to run a genuine wackadoodle off the board. It is a waste of time attempting to reason with a crank. They are incapable of thinking straight.

  17. Petunia says:

    The real issue with the Linkedin deal is that Microsoft couldn’t grow the company even with an extra 26B to spend. That’s a failure of management, plain and simple. To pay 26B for a website full of employment data is criminal. They could have purchased all the data commercially for pennies a record. I believe they still have the ability to create a web site. So, what the hell are they buying?

    The deal stinks, and I would be looking at who owns the Linkedin shares that are being purchased.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      I think it is a reasonably safe bet it will become a new set of features in Office. If that’s the case, then MS is the logical purchaser.

  18. Silly Me says:

    F* Zuckerberg.

    I came to this country from Hungary in 1988, because I had won THE biannual national academic contest in Linguistics with a computable style identification system that nobody understood in this country. The closest to mine I encountered only in 2009, but my old system was still better. By then, in 2005, I had written up the prolegomena for all communication systems between humans and machines in natural languages, but even until now, only two Hungarian mathematicians have been able to understand the five-page-long equation with multiple recursive planes that combine parallel and linear processing. I guess, someone will rediscover something similar in 10-15 years from now.

    In the US, while I was teaching at college, I had to start each of my semesters with the question,

    “If you don’t understand something, how do you know who is stupid, you or I?”

    The zuckerbergs of this world couldn’t answer that simple question.

    • ERG says:

      You have just become one of my favorite posters on this site!

      • Silly Me says:

        Thank you. However, I just wish I hadn’t felt it was necessary to say it. :)

      • Silly Me says:

        Actually, you corrected my previous comment without even linking it to your correction. :)

    • Tim says:

      Another way to phrase it, as a prof used to say in one of my classes, is “I can’t learn it for you.”

    • chris Hauser says:

      “If you don’t understand something, how do you know who is stupid, you or I?”

      i like that. it deserves a prominent place in my head.

      i left Facebook because of my dislike for mr zuckerberg. i don’t want him as my friend. period.

      and as to the linked in purchase, it will be written down by half within two years. but that’s high finance.

      • Silly Me says:

        I use FB and quite a few other sites that collect info on people for spreading disinformation about me; you need that sort of thing in today’s world, because in that case, nobody knows what is true and what is not. This is a lot cheaper strategy than trying to hide. In fact, if you try to hide, that only raises a red flag. Overwhelm them with BS and let them spend our taxpayer’s money…

  19. BenjiHawk says:

    Yeah the problem is Greed… this companies want you to work 10-12 hour days and most Americans don’t want to:
    a) have a family to go to
    b) want to go to Tommy’s soccer game
    c) has to pick up the children from daycare
    d) needs to take dog to the vet.

    This H1Bs Indians and Romanians or whatever… rent a house a live 8-10 in it. 500×10 = 5000 for a rental in Bay Area. Most are single and young… work, work and work late… none of i have to live early to make it to may daughter’s performance… unfortunately the 80’s and 90’s are over for that kind of standard of living…

    I am a millennial (M33)… recently married and wife prego , no student debt, employed in the Bay Area making 90K and paying 2K+ rent, and high food, and high health care… and SCARED “Shitless” for the future…

    It’s looking better and better to save good money and leave the old USA to a developing country: Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay… and start any biz or work remotely… Unless you work for the .gov and get pension… the older we get the worse it is. I got college friends unemployed and some working contract jobs in this recovery!!!

    • Silly Me says:

      Yup, governments need a few loyal morons, but one must be careful not to do anything.

    • JerryBear says:

      The only kind of employee these companies really want is a chattel slave. Read about how slaves on big plantations in the Old South were treated to get an idea on the kind of HR model they are working towards.

  20. VegasBob says:

    I think one’s suitability for a job depends a lot on one’s field. Age probably matters much less in a highly specialized field. For example, writing up accounting reports for submission to the SEC is fairly specialized, so age is not that big a consideration. General ledger accounting, on the other hand, is not particularly specialized, so companies prefer younger types who have some advancement potential.

    In my case, I retired from Fortune 500 corporate America in 2007 at the age of 55. Over the years I received several inquiries per year from recruiters based on my Linkedin profile. Earlier this year I finally deleted my Linkedin profile, and of course, the inquiries stopped.

    At this point, my work skills have dissipated for the most part. So if I ever had to go back to work, I’m not sure I would even be suitable for employment as a Walmart greeter.

  21. David says:

    I spent about 6 years working in Silicon Valley for a large software company and after getting laid off started my own business which was quite successful. Looking for perhaps a new chapter in my life, I took a year off recently and spent it in the Bay Area looking to get “back in.”

    After about 9 months of beating my head against the wall, I soon realized from my experience and the experience of many of my former colleagues that if you are over 40, you are looked over.

    Luckily I could return and pick my business up and just considered the year off as just that. However, the feedback I’m getting from the folks still hanging on is one of total fear and dread of if and when they get the pink slip. Consistent theme is they see older employees being pushed out and when they are pushed out they have a very difficult time getting back into anything.

    Why? My own experience was that when you did get interviews you had a run a gauntlet of interviews with 20 somethings which if even one objected, you were out of the selection process. Where are the demands to companies like Facebook, Google, etc. on what their age diversity is? I imagine if they were to release it, we’d see documented what we already know.

    Interestingly enough, I’m now hearing this problem from friends in fields other than tech. It seems to be spreading through lots of industries and fields.

    Where are the class action lawsuits about age diversity?

    • Ancient One says:

      America will never return to its glory. The Post WWII folks and immigrants wanted a chance at an opportunity. Companies and employees shared a mutual loyalty. Today is all about the C-level getting ridiculous amount of money for screwing up companies and being handsomely rewarded while the lesser cringe in fear. Politicians, via special interests, are in their hip pocket, so don’t expect any justice.

      • Silly Me says:

        Yup, you can make a lot more money by screwing up a few of your companies than by accomplishing anything. It’s a bankers’ world.

    • Vespa P200E says:

      Good points.

      I once worked for the once “largest” software company not located in SillyCON valley as PM 16 yrs ago in my late 30’s. I learned a lot and 1 of the best company I worked for and many folks in my age bracket were leaving or retiring early. I cannot fathom still being in the high tech and especially software industry as 50-something with blatant and worse subtle and strong bias.

      I took a detour from device/pharma industry to tiptoe into the high tech then came back and glad I did as pharma industry still require years of experience and director level are usually folks in the 40’s to 50’s. Nevertheless my pay range is at the high side and I know when it comes time to RIF older folks like me will walk around with a target on our back. Many of us who are displaced often return as contractor for much less pay or go from 1 consulting gig to another. No wonder the unemployment #s report millions of older workers who dropped out of the work force…

  22. Julian the Apostate says:

    What a romp! Zuckerburg thinks people over 30 are stupid? I remember the Hippies saying never trust anyone over 30! Wonder how many of them feel that way NOW. I’ve never even written a resume let alone bothered to be LinkedIn. You walk into the personnel office (yes I’m that old) dressed for work and plant yourself in front of the guy or gal doing the hiring and tell them you’re here to go to work. Then nag them all til somebody gives in! I’ve collected exactly one week of unemployment insurance because I was injured in an accident and had gotten burned and spent two weeks in the burn unit when I was 19. Keep up the great work Wolf I haven’t laughed so hard in ages!

    • Harold says:

      Things are different now. There are no more “personnel” offices. They are now called People Depts and hiring is outsourced to other companies ACS, IBM, etc.

    • Jerry Rubin was the one who said “Don’t trust anyone over thirty”. What he forgot to say is: Don’t trust anyone under thirty either.

    • Thomas Malthus says:

      Considering Zuckerberg committed the biggest heist in the history of the world…. that is quite a statement.

  23. ML says:

    Here in UK, this week for my blog that I write on a site, not my own, that attracts 1.5M visitors a year, i wrote about Brexit. In it I said I had in 1975 voted to leave the Common Market as it then was. I said that anyone younger than 43 has not known what is has been like for the UK not to have been in the EU.
    So having given my age away, I guess that by modern standards I rule myself out of the jobs market.

    Fortunately when as I do you run your own business you don’t care about what everyone might think of your credentials and attitude, only about what those from whom you want to attract work. Which comes to me regulsrly because in my being older and more experienced means I can charge less than the youngsters.

    For all their bravado, the younger generation – gosh I must be getting old to write that – are quick to ask for our money.

    • chris hauser says:

      are quick to ask for our money.

      that’s why they think bernie is so great.

      class enemy, sez i.

  24. ML says:

    And another thing. Employers do not want to hire older people because of the risk older people would want to tell them how to run the company and/or older people are more likely to be stuck in their ways. Also older people may not the stamina for working long hours day after day consistently.

    Generally it is better to train a raw recruit. It is also cheaper to employ someone with little or no experience. Qualifications are derived from up-to-date knowledge.

    If older people were to address those concerns then older people could rid the jobs market of youngsters.

    But in a global market employers seek out the best value for money.

    • Just Me says:

      ML, I am 59 and I will be glad to compare my energy level and my “up-to-date” knowledge to anyone 30 years younger. Like you, I’m also glad to work for quite a bit less money than many people 30 years younger because I have run into such terrible age discrimination that I’m grateful to simply have a job at all. I don’t have an attitude of entitlement like younger people so often do.

      I have recent, direct experience with this. I worked side-by-side with someone 30 years younger than me, doing the same contract programming job, getting paid the same hourly wage. Even though it was discouraged, she was allowed to work from home 2 days/week, and she called in sick about a quarter of the time when she was supposed to be in the office. Somehow she was too sick to work but well enough to work out every day and party with her boyfriend every weekend.

      As you might imagine, months went by with her accomplishing essentially nothing while I’m working 12-hour days, 5 days/week and churning out excellent work. Then she was let go, and she was so pissed off she wiped the computer the company had loaned her (because her own computer was in such bad condition that it was essentially unusable) and deleted everything she had done (or, as I suspect, was supposed to have but had NOT done) in the previous 4-5 months.

      I am excellent value for the money, far better than most people 30 years younger. But most employers can’t seem to get past my age, even though they don’t know how old I am – even after meeting me F2F – until they demand my college graduation dates “to verify [my] degrees”. Luckily my current manager – who is 22 years younger – recognizes my value, isn’t at all threatened and welcomes my experience and advice.

      Age discrimination is real and rampant and ILLEGAL, but somehow nobody in the US government cares. Employers are overlooking superb workers and cheating older workers out of their livelihoods. The ability of employers to import indentured H-1B servants (who are almost uniformly male, under 35, and from India) makes this blatant, ILLEGAL discrimination on the basis of age possible.

      • Silly Me says:

        Yup, you need to hide most of what you know in order not to be considered a threat.

        I remember my first IT job for UMASS in 1997. It took me two days and I got $4,500. The next lowest bet was $30k. They wanted to hire me right away, because they said I didn’t complain, solved the problem, and was easy to work with. (Well, I am, as long as they leave me alone.)

        Today, by observing a system for 3-12 weeks, I can still come up with stuff that is worth millions, but I gave up on selling my knowledge in 2005, because it is too far ahead of its time and it would empower certain interest groups over others simply because they have the money to pay for it. Happily, I managed to stay unnoticed. I know, that sounds a bit strong, but don’t forget, I am a Hungarian; in Los Alamos, there were three castes of physicists: Hungarians, Nobel Prize winners, and the rest. :)

        Why all these people in their 50s here don’t start up a company? It looks like there is plenty of unused talent here.

    • Lee says:

      “Also older people may not the stamina for working long hours day after day consistently. ”

      You think so?

      Total BS.

      • ML says:

        I didn’t say we don’t have the stamina. I suggested that could be the perception.

    • Silly Me says:

      Moron. Older people can do the job in 10 minutes instead of 48 hours.

  25. Bobcat says:

    There’s nothing new about age discrimination in technical work. Twenty years ago, Norm Matloff wrote a paper debunking the myth of high tech labor shortages, which were then used to justify the H1-B program. He pointed out that age discrimination was rampant then. Another magazine article titled, “Finished at Forty”, was published about the same time. More recently, I saw another article titled, “You get about 15 years”, which made about the same point as finished at forty. Back in the 80s, an older engineer told me to find a home by the time I was forty. He knew, as I later realized, that once you turn 40, the headhunters stop calling.

    So now 35 is the new 40. So you spend 5 years or more working your tail off in engineering school, followed by a low paid (or unpaid) internship for a year or so. Then if they hire you, 5 years of so-so pay as an associate engineer, followed by 5 more years at decent pay as a full fledged member of technical staff. And then, right after you’ve had your first child, you’re done. It’s little wonder STEM is becoming such a hard sell that the local cable channel runs segments on it and CEOs regularly talk up STEM careers at high schools and colleges.

    Age discrimination laws have never really been enforced. Who benefits? Companies who want to keep wages low.

    I have survived in tech work for 35 years through a combination of smarts, hard work and luck. I will quickly acknowledge that I have been extraordinarily lucky. Few of the people I started out with are still employed in tech work. I have had 2 careers, analog circuit designer and software developer. I seriously doubt I could successfully change careers again. That took a lot out of me and now I’m older. Once this job ends, I’m done. My colleagues are 20 somethings and I am older than their parents. Even though I’m pushing 60, I can still bench 365 and I’m the size of a linebacker. So they scratch their heads about me. My grandparents, who were born in the late 1800s, raised me and so I talk more like they do which really perplexes the youngins. Zuckerberg is wrong to discount the life experiences of older people, if he himself really believes the claptrap he’s been peddling. I think his rhetoric is self serving.

  26. Silly Me says:

    Apparently, now we have trolls attacking each other. One of them is playing at least two roles, sometimes forgetting which is which. :)

    It is likely to be a single person who is stupid to do anything else.

    Let’s feel sorry for him/her.

  27. chris from dallas says:

    The writing has been on the wall in the tech sector for age-discrimination and ruthless outsourcing at least since the 90s. So work your a** off to transition to SOMETHING ELSE and stop moaning and acting like this is a new thing.

    If you are working in IT or STEM you obviously have BRAINS, you just need to get entrepreneurial. But do it in a field that cannot be outsourced and that you will be WILLING _AND_ ABLE to work at forever.

    DO NOT GET GREEDY AND TRY TO MAKE A KILLING FOLLOWING THE “START-UP FABLE”. Find something you like doing as a hobby and figure out a way to moonlight at it. REINVEST YOUR PROFITS. Let your day job cover your basic expenses, housing, healthcare, etc. If you cannot make ends meet, then DOWNSIZE, get older cars, cut your cellphone and TV/Internet plans to the minimum, stop eating out, take a lunch to work, and do the hundreds of other things that our parents generation did to build the lives everyone is now so envious of.

    For my wife and I this was slowly building a rental house portfolio to replace her net take-home pay so she could stay home with our then-young boys. We bought a fixer-upper and worked on it together in the evenings and weekends. The next year we bought another, then 2 the following year, and then were able to start outsourcing the work. Over time the monthly profits and equity grow substantially and we can easily manage this for as long as we remain lucid. Even physical disability won’t stop us since we now hire out all repair work.

    A friend turned a hobby in handwriting analysis into a great consulting gig. She started 14 years ago to help make ends meet. Now she has a wide clientele, regularly gives expert testimony in court cases, and has more work than she wants. She bills at $100-$250/hour. Do you think anyone cares how old she is?

    Another friend with a supply chain IT business milked it so he could turn his hobby restoring classic BMWs into a business. He was able to buy a building with owner-financing 3 doors down from Gas Monkey Garage and now employs 6 people. As we like to joke… he is getting rich slowly… In 7 years (by the time he is 65) he will have both his house and his business real estate totally paid off.

    A HUGE BENEFIT to these kinds of endeavors is that you can share them with your spouse and children. Try doing that as a lawyer, programmer, or office drone. But if you have a small business (even if it is a sideline) your kids can work in it for summer jobs and spending money, and they will learn a lot more about life and business than flipping burgers, waiting tables, or selling clothes in a mall store.

    • Thomas Malthus says:

      How about becoming a plumber. Can’t outsource that job – and a robot won’t be able to replace you :)

  28. ML says:

    “And as Zuckerberg said, “young people are just plain smarter than those over 30”.”

    I wonder if he had in mind the age of his advertisers? A comment like that sounds like he has become bored of FB.

  29. reality says:

    Everything Microsoft touches turns to shit.

    Nokia anyone?

    I hated Microsoft 20 years ago and that hatred never went away, they cant program, they cant market but they were good at destroying competition, just like IBM and that went well for them in the long run didnt it.

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