Is age discrimination an issue for IT managers?

If you had asked me this a few years ago, I would have said, “probably”. The dot.com boom and the buzz about reengineering the corporation seemed to make senior executives believe that younger, entrepreneurial managers could make all their problems go away quickly and easily.

You know what, there aren’t too many shortcuts. Certainly there are things you can do to improve a business and if it’s in really bad shape, , , you can make big improvements fairly quickly, , , but ultimately, I don’t think there are any “silver bullets”.

All companies have challenges and always will. I have seen a few companies follow the lead of a “smooth talker” thinking that his/her ideas were innovative and that the company could take a major leap forward quickly by casting away all the “old ideas” that had been successful to that point but “slower than what we would like them to be”. We have all seen companies take this leap of faith and watch their stock price go from $50.00 per share to $2.00 because of the fall that occurs when reality sets in.

Since the dot.com blowout in 2000-2002 and this new depressed economy of the last couple of years, I would say that there is a renewed focus on company earnings. In many cases, companies are looking for the veteran CIO or IT Manager with solid credentials in managing IT initiatives cost effectively and a proven track record of achieving tangible results.

It’s now in fashion to have a credible track record and the “t-shirt” that says you have “been there and done that”.

I wouldn’t say there is not some prejudice against older managers but there is definitely more situations where a little gray hair is a benefit and not a liability.

The thing companies look for and need is someone who instills quick confidence and that they believe can come in and make a difference quickly. The better you are in articulating your capabilities and achievements that show you know how to align technology initiatives with business needs that are cost effective, the better your chances.

The real prejudice against an older manager is often that he or she normally costs more. That’s a legitimate concern. However, a solid manager of any age can be worth his weight in gold; and in most cases you get what you pay for.

How about the flip side, do you think there is age discrimination toward young managers? That’s a topic for a later day.

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