Many professionals don’t consider retirement in their 30s or 40s, but studies show that’s around the time that ageism kicks in (at least in tech). Older tech pros can suffer the slings and arrows of ageism indirectly, too; there is data to show those over 50 suffer longer layoffs, and return to jobs with lower pay.
You can fight ageism, though. While we advocate for some résumé changes and a new perspective, you can also make sure you’re an invaluable piece of your company’s flow. “The retirement of Baby Boomers in an enterprise will have several different ripple effects on the enterprise,” said tech evangelist Terry Simpson of workflow automation firm Nintex. “Employees with a lot of experience tend to have great skills around the basics of blocking and tackling when it comes to running the business. When you have an employee who truly has a good grasp of the enterprise and understands the pulse of the organization, it is hard to fill that position when they are gone.”
You should also frame your age as experience. More directly, use your experience as a backstop to prevent snafus from the younger crowd. “Baby boomers tend to have a great focus on the core part of the business and the processes that are needed to meet the goal of the firm,” Simpson said. “Younger generations look to technology to solve process problems.”
Many times, those ‘new’ ideas on how things should work are non-starters – but the incoming crowd doesn’t know that, because they don’t have an older employee's depth of knowledge about the legacy tools already in use. If you fall into the category of 'older worker,' not only are you an oracle of sorts, but you can help make the right processes work moving forward.
Positioning yourself as an "elder" is also a significant move, because at some point, you’ll have to move on. Making yourself integral provides you with some control over when you leave. Your company is likely going to eye your exit, so get in front of it!
“Give others the ability to take leadership positions while being coached and mentored by the [older tech pros],” advises Simpson. “This type of planning and collaboration can have significant impact once retirement ultimately comes.”
It’s sage advice to weave the next generation into your retirement flow. Not only do you get to mentor your successor(s), you have the opportunity to choose who will sit in your chair once you’re gone. Planning your exit means you get to shape your team, department, or company for years after your departure. (The company may also choose to keep you as a contractor for those times problems arise and they need some legacy awareness on what may be going wrong; make sure to talk to your managers about that.)