If you’re a tech geek and you’re looking for a promotion or a new job, here’s some unsettling news: It’s going to take more than a great education, glowing recommendations, and a solid work history to move up the ladder.
It’s a fact of life that technology is for the young, and the vast majority of tech companies are hiring young (sometimes very young) men at a much higher rate than older applicants or women. According to PayScale, the average age of tech workers is below 35.
This doesn’t mean you need to throw in the towel, change industries, or lie about your age. However, looking younger by fixing that grey hair or improving your complexion might just raise your odds of getting a job.
Face it, you’re going to be judged on everything, including your looks and perceived age. While the average age of all workers is 42.3 years old, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the oldest employee on PayScale’s list was just 41.
How tech companies stack up
The oldest employee at IBM was listed as 38, at Oracle it was also 38, Nokia had 37, Dell 37, and Sony 36. Of course, this doesn’t include top executive positions such as CEO, so that means you might be able to rise up through the ranks with grey hairs, and not worry about balding and other badges of earned wisdom.
But there are also some companies that report shockingly young employees in high-paying positions.
There are teenagers and kids dreaming up successful tech operations, and youth is now even more attractive than age (which used to mean experience and more professionalism). It’s no surprise that the older the company, the older the median age.
If you’re over the hill and want to be in good company, that may work in your favor. However, there’s no point in needlessly removing yourself from full competition.
Staying young in a stressful field
While hiding those grey hairs in your LinkedIn photo or addressing them permanently in real life can provide a confidence boost and may help you land that tech dream job, there are other ways to present yourself well in your industry. Proper nutrition, straight white teeth, and a good manicure are also associated in the average person’s mind with youth and success.
Also, ask yourself if you really want to join a company where you’ll be called Dad or Mom, and won’t have many colleagues in your age cohort to relate to. How attractive is an employer that’s shallow enough to choose workers based on looks? Is that a recipe for a happy career path?