A tech firm's call to hire 'old people' highlights a troubling trend in Silicon Valley

·3 min read
Person on desktop computer
Tetra Images/Getty Images
  • A job listing that says "we hire old people" revived conversations about ageism in the tech industry.

  • Going viral online, the posting has thrown a spotlight on issues within Silicon Valley's hiring practices.

  • As of March 2021, there are about 37 million older Americans in the workforce.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A job posting for a software developer stating "we hire old people" has sparked renewed attention to ageism in the tech industry.

"Unlike Silicon Valley, we do not discriminate based on age," reads the job listing for a senior software developer by Chicago-based startup RelevantDB. "Experience matters. We hire old people. (And young people, too.)"

Fast Company was first to report on the ad.

The job posting has since gone viral on Hacker News, a forum focusing on computer science and entrepreneurship, and sparked larger conversations on ageism in the technology industry.

"I'm to the point that I'm going to create an alternate resume that only lists experience of less than 8 years, instead of 30+, and use a very old photo of myself on socials," one user commented.

Others shared similar experiences, explaining how they doctor their resumes and appearances to look younger during the interview process-- if they even make it that far.

Ageism is well-documented in the tech industry. A recent study by the University of Gothenburg found that tech workers over 35-years-old are considered old by the industry, while young workers are considered to be up to about 30 years of age.

Workers over the age of 35 are expected to be "less interested in technology and more interested in management," creating a stigma that older workers would not be "up to date with the latest technology and its potential," the study found.

There is also a perception that older people have a strong focus on family life outside of the workplace, making them less valuable to employers who want their workers available all the time, the study states.

Ageism was the subject of 226 official complaints filed against Silicon Valley's biggest tech companies between 2008 and 2015, and the problem is still ongoing, according to data from Bloomberg.

The average tech worker is 38-years-old, compared to 43-years-old for non-tech workers, according to analytics company Visier.

Chris Cleveland, who posted the ad for RelevantDB, is nearing 60-years-old.

"I've attempted to interview for developer jobs over the last year, Cleveland wrote on Hacker News. "Got nowhere despite 40 years of experience. Getting really, really tired of this industry's attitude toward people like me."

After getting rejected from a developer position at Facebook earlier this year, Cleveland started RelevantDB and believes the firm is "going to generate a lot more money than any work at Facebook ever would."

Cleveland did not respond to Insider's request for comment.

Ageism also negatively impacts the wider economy, data has found. Lost economic activity from older Americans not being able to find work, change careers, or earn promotions because of age discrimination cost the US economy $850 billion in lost gross domestic product in 2018, according to a study from AARP.

The population of older Americans is projected to grow more quickly than the population as a whole, according to data from the Census Bureau, Insider reported. It is estimated that about 36% of the US population was 50 or older in 2020, and that share is projected to grow to about 40% by 2050.

Americans aged 55 and older working or actively looking for work have increased significantly since the 1990s. As of March 2021, there are about 37 million older Americans in the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting