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Old 18th May 2018, 09:54   #61
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Default Re: The plight of IT professionals in their 40s

I'm from the 90's IT industry, and crossed 20 years now. So yes, I have weathered the y2k boom, the dotcom blast, the great recession, the start up dreams, the android boom and the "cloudy" environment.

What I see now is the dire need of the naughty forty guys to re skill not based on the hot tech out there, but based on the massive experience they amassed over the years.

Example: You were/are a hard core programmer and can literally type code with pinky fingers. Time to maybe re-skill to Security domain and write exploits or fix them or find them.

One more. You were/are a solid testing person and could find a flaw on a clean sheet of white paper. Re-skill into automation and help orgs automate such corner difficult tests.

The resume has to be marketable. Else you are under the sword of Damocles.
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Old 18th May 2018, 10:47   #62
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What a depressing thread! And unfortunately pointing towards the reality. And I would agree with the few here who said that this doesn't apply just to the IT.

Same applies to most of the sectors where technology, methods and models are moving fast. At the cost of disappointing some people reading this (honestly no offence to them actually meant); Govt. jobs, banking jobs etc are the ones which seem to remain the way they are for some more time to come when compared to private/ specialised jobs. The level of increasing competency, the cost-control, the drive to earn more profits at all costs by the corporates, the lack of support & control by the Government (except for tax collections), lack of internal support systems like 'real' HRD/employee unions- all this is taking a real toll.

The experience/ techniques that you learn in your career spanning 15-20 years can now be replaced with guidance from automated models, softwares & technology. And then you have no option other than to re-skill yourself all again but then it has 2 major issues- One, at that stage of life where you have a full-fledged family to look after, it is difficult to find time to learn completely new skills/ technology. Second, even if you do learn, there is no dearth of young guys already having those skills and willing to work at lower pay packages than you, since they have lesser responsibilities owing to their age and stage in life. Look at it in this way- the organisation would now rather want a team with 1 experienced guy with 3-4 freshers working under him rather than having a team of 3-4 experienced guys. This brings a huge reduction in cost with new skill sets.

AI, as per my understanding, is going to the last nail in the coffin. The next generation may suffer more ultimately.
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Old 18th May 2018, 10:53   #63
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True Story - 1

In the thick of the IT boom was waiting for the lift in a building in Bangalore and overheard this conversation. " I told the HR that if I don't get vada for teatime snacks I will leave the company." Sums up the warped employment priorities that were creeping into employee courtesy the employer and the HR dept. Don't know if that guy got his vada or he had to change his job. But it was the thought process of a guy who had been spoilt silly by HR. HR depts are single handedly responsible for most of the issues being faced by IT guys now - giving unreasonable hikes to retain them, giving substantial jumps to hire new staff and pampering employees beyond reason instead of giving them a kick up their a** at appropriate times which would have made them realise that contrary to what they thought, they weren't gods gift to mankind.

The guy who wanted vada's probably is 40 by now. I don't think anyone will be giving him vada's for teatime anymore.

True Story - 2

I was requested to see if I could take on a 50 year old software developer - an Indian working in the US. I was surprised that although the guy was an early adopter - being amongst the earliest software developers from India he stuck to being a software developer writing code all his life and made himself redundant although he obviously wasn't redundant in that small company he worked for in the US. Needless to add, I couldn't take him as he was way too expensive and would be out of sync with the rest of the coders who were just out of college. That was the only time I had a 50 year old apply for a coding job. (Not even a project manager!)

True Story - 3 (Happening now)

A large MNC IT company (not one of the home grown ones) is doing a project for one of the 3 German auto manufacturers. The project is handled by the IT MNC's Indian arm and it's German arm. The German arm realises that are there are lot of people in this project in Germany and India who aren't actually doing anything (This begs the question - why and how were these people assigned to this project in the first place?) so a lot of them are moved out. The project is then moved to a 45 year old Project manager from India who is receiving rave reviews from the German auto manufacturer. This project manager was earlier being stifled by the boss but is now being recognised and rewarded. The former boss has been moved aside.

On another note, the German auto manufacturer makes such a mess of everything one wonders how they build one of the most desirable cars in the world.

These three situations sort of sum up what's been happening in the IT industry.

The operative words to survival are mentioned in Samurai's earlier post:

Finance (if it's a medium to large sized company) / Sales (regardless of size) / Small company (for techies)

You just can't go wrong with that formula.
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Old 18th May 2018, 11:14   #64
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We may decide to counter it by increasing physical activity but then our immune system says it is time to take it slow. So, injuries start taking ages to heal. When injured, you can't work out so, see above!
Haha, I've found that the trick is to make physical exercise a part of the daily routine, rather than something that's 'done' like a task once or twice a week. Make it a fun thing, something that involves a group maybe, like playing a sport instead of going to the gym (which I personally find very boring). Eventually, it will become a part of you and you will miss the activity if you even skip a day.

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But it was the thought process of a guy who had been spoilt silly by HR. HR depts are single handedly responsible for most of the issues being faced by IT guys now
Yep, there was and still remains a high level of entitlement among us. But I don't think it's fair to blame HR, they had requirements, they had the budget back then and they did their job. And BTW, they were the first to get hit; much before the managers and techies started getting laid off, companies had started outsourcing their HR and payroll functions to vendors and contract employees. Now the financial dynamics have changed and they're doing their job again. If we didn't look ahead and realize that this model (constant cost increases without proportionate value adds that translate into sales or revenue) was unsustainable, then it's our fault for not saving for a rainy day.

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Old 18th May 2018, 11:19   #65
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Many of the challenges expressed by veterans of the IT service industry are the result of absolutely ineffective human resource development policies in many Indian corporates. It is true that a person should be self motivated to learn new skills and upgrade his or her capabilities. But isn't the HR team supposed to manage this learning process? So far, I've noticed that many HR managers think their role is to hire talent and get rid of non performers. What about the rest of the journey?

If we look at the employment scenario in the manufacturing or core engineering sector, it is actually worse than the service sector. You have people who graduated from great colleges being offered a pittance for working in harsh conditions, and most who take up these jobs go for an MBA after 2 years and try to break into a service/consulting company. The range of professions that offer a decent livelihood is so limited in our country! There might be some who'd say that this is a free market and supply demand rules apply. Not true. In any profession, there has to be a basic income for autonomous consumption. A person should be able to live in a decent house, eat decent food and get basic medical care. How can our society tolerate a doctor or a dentist being paid a 4 figure salary? Medicine is one of the toughest professions to get into. And after all the years of hard work, this is what they get? It is not that medical care is cheap. A root canal costs more than 20k easily. And the dentist, who spends at least 20 working hours on it gets less than 10k a month? Isn't that exploitation? The problem is that few value or understand excellence in this country. And 'freshers' are always available for exploitation. The first job is important for smoothening the transition from academia to industry.

While working in India, I genuinely felt many companies have a truly top heavy structure in terms of compensation. If this were related to performance, it would still be justifiable, because a part of those benefits would eventually reach those at the bottom of the pyramid. Sadly, it is not always performance driven. There are so many examples of companies where engineers, maintenance personnel and mid level managers are the first to be fired, and replaced by contractual staff. The top management rarely gets to take the brunt of a crisis, although their strategic indiscretion might be responsible for sealing the company's fate.
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Old 18th May 2018, 11:42   #66
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HR depts are single handedly responsible for most of the issues being faced by IT guys now - giving unreasonable hikes to retain them, giving substantial jumps to hire new staff and pampering employees beyond reason instead of giving them a kick up their a** at appropriate times which would have made them realise that contrary to what they thought, they weren't gods gift to mankind.
This is still the case for <5 years IT staff in many high demand but low tech IT services work. Notice I am saying low tech, because proper high tech work can't really be done by <5 years people, it requires intense domain knowledge. However, such high-tech work is done by less than 2-3% of the IT industry population.

Although, I wouldn't entirely blame the HR for this fiasco. High demand and cut-throat competition leads to desperate methods, and all the mature ideas gets dumped on the wayside. They really have no choice. Management says they gotta hire 1000 people badly and they can afford insane pay. HR has no choice but cater to it by making crazy offers. However, once they cross 5 years, they can be easily replaced by younger low tech workers for 1/3rd the cost. So the shelf life of these low tech IT services workers is limited, unless they pick up domain knowledge and move higher in the value chain, like business development or sales.

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Old 18th May 2018, 11:57   #67
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...move higher in the value chain, like business development or sales.
I know you're just stating the facts as they apply to the Indian IT scenario, but I wonder why moving up has to mean BD or sales. Why can't we stay techies and just become better techies. I see so many examples among my colleagues in the US, some of them have been at the same designation for literally a decade. The technology keeps changing and they switch to the new technologies but they bring such a depth of understanding of the domain, the product, and the customer that they keep delivering great value at the same role.

I hope we eventually get there. But again, as long as we continue to be the 'back-office' of the world, I don't think so. Ultimately, like a Flipkart, we need customers and significant revenue in the same geographic region to remain relevant.
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Old 18th May 2018, 11:57   #68
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But it was the thought process of a guy who had been spoilt silly by HR. HR depts are single handedly responsible for most of the issues being faced by IT guys now - giving unreasonable hikes to retain them, giving substantial jumps to hire new staff and pampering employees beyond reason instead of giving them a kick up their a** at appropriate times which would have made them realise that contrary to what they thought, they weren't gods gift to mankind.
Actually, people who milked the scenario that prevailed then are the ones who really succeeded in life. Those who haggled for their hikes, those who hopped jobs to get 100% raises, those who jumped at every onsite opportunity, are now sitting pretty, least worried about whether they would have a job in the future. Those who were complacent, acted nice, exhibited loyalty are now worried about the day the HR comes with his pink slip.
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Old 18th May 2018, 12:02   #69
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Actually, people who milked the scenario that prevailed then are the ones who really succeeded in life. Those who haggled for their hikes, those who hopped jobs to get 100% raises, those who jumped at every onsite opportunity, are now sitting pretty, least worried about whether they would have a job in the future. Those who were complacent, acted nice, exhibited loyalty are now worried about the day the HR comes with his pink slip.
+1 to this.

Irrespective of company - type, brand, size, pedigree, product/service, the one thing I have NEVER seen in the IT industry is loyalty being rewarded. Quite the opposite. Maintain good relationships with the people you've worked with, even after you leave, but don't expect the company as a whole- the higher-ups who crunch the numbers, to give two hoots about you when tough times come.

Last edited by am1m : 18th May 2018 at 12:04.
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Old 18th May 2018, 12:26   #70
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People often talk about re-skilling, as if they can change their profile like a costume. In my opinion, the most valuable asset a professional has is their domain knowledge. When doctors/lawyers work for 20+ years, what they gain is domain knowledge.
Even when you talk about a domain, the domains evolve -

eg - Telecom evolved from PSTN to a VoLTe - A person having domain knowledge in telecom needs to reskill himself for this shift in technology. Or, a doctor / surgeon to get abreast of the Robotic Assisted Surgery.

People with years of telecom were shown the doors by incumbents in India when times changed. Ofcourse that is a different topic for discussion. But - All I'm saying is - "perform or perish" is the mantra. One needs to be constantly updated and keep eyes and ears wide open to know what's happening around them in their organization as well as outside the organization. Having an ostrich mentality will have them buried live!
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Old 18th May 2018, 12:35   #71
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.

Although, I wouldn't entirely blame the HR for this fiasco. High demand and cut-throat competition leads to desperate methods, and all the mature ideas gets dumped on the wayside. They really have no choice. Management says they gotta hire 1000 people badly and they can afford insane pay. HR has no choice but cater to it by making crazy offers.
True. High pressure from management probably left them with no choice at times but give very high hikes to meet their targets but that also morphed into a habit where they gave hikes even during times when there was no pressure because they had become lazy to negotiate. I'm not referring to <5 years but the mid level lateral recruits who were hired at multiples of their salary not because they couldn't get them at lower levels but because they knew there no budgets and no restrictions as long as the guys came in.

The fact that all of this was killing the business as a whole was something a lot of people knew but most couldn't care less as long as they were on the gravy train.

There are still some IT companies making a lot of money and not in the least would they be effected for a very long time to come. But that is a story for another thread.
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Old 18th May 2018, 13:00   #72
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I know you're just stating the facts as they apply to the Indian IT scenario, but I wonder why moving up has to mean BD or sales. Why can't we stay techies and just become better techies.
Because you can't become high-tech worker, if you keep doing low-tech work. Companies that pay very high for low skilled work, don't ever take on high-tech work. Since attrition is high, it doesn't make sense spending money on training too much. IT services industry doesn't do high-end tech, so there are very few avenues to become better techies while staying there.

How do you recognize companies that do high-tech work? Easy, they will have >10 year experienced techies working as individual contributors in either part-time or full-time basis.

TCS was founded before I was born. Yet the TCS founder (F C Kohli) was still running the show when I joined TCS. He had a favorite statement, that all the technology work in TCS is done by trainee engineers. Old time TCSers may remember this statement. He set the tone for Indian IT industry. In fact, he is considered the father of Indian software industry.

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Actually, people who milked the scenario that prevailed then are the ones who really succeeded in life. Those who haggled for their hikes, those who hopped jobs to get 100% raises, those who jumped at every onsite opportunity, are now sitting pretty, least worried about whether they would have a job in the future.
They surely milked one of the craziest employment wave that lasted 25 years.

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Even when you talk about a domain, the domains evolve -

eg - Telecom evolved from PSTN to a VoLTe - A person having domain knowledge in telecom needs to reskill himself for this shift in technology.
Technology evolved, not the domain. It is lot easier for somebody with domain knowledge to learn as the technology kept changing. I moved across analog->TDM->VOIP/UC rather seamlessly. Thirty years ago, business requirements in enterprise telephony was B2C/C2B communication. That requirement remains the same, although enterprise telephony is now called universal communication, to allow for non-voice channels like chat/email/social-media.
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Old 18th May 2018, 13:45   #73
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Imagine driving a 6-litre, V12, 650 bhp car with rear wheel drive on a hilly terrain with lots of blind twists and turns. And driving at the car's top speed. And driving without traction control. Scary, isn't it?

This thread and the comments / posts / real life experiences are scarier than that.
(And I too have enough experience to write a post here. But will do in due course; not yet)
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Old 18th May 2018, 13:47   #74
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What a knowledgeable thread, and must admit, a tad depressing too!. It fits me apt - an "IT" professional, close to the mid 40s, in a "techno"-managerial role, in one of the big 5 IT Service providers. I have been applying to all those Senior Managerial level jobs in the job sites, but hardly land an interview. Am considering myself lucky that I don't have humongous EMIs to clear, and have lived conservatively, keeping a close tab on my expenses, still driving around in my 6 year old hatch back, and living in a 2 BHK. Trying to stay physically fit, reskill myself and keeping relevant, and considering myself lucky that I still have my job..
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Old 18th May 2018, 13:49   #75
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My two cents:
A lot of the people who are in trouble today actually never got into IT for the sheer passion of IT/Tech. It was more for the money, the way our society is structured with all the pressures of " family and relatives" etc. Same is the case with the airline industry. There are very few pilots in India who are nuts about planes, they got into it only for the money when there was a shortage of pilots.
Imagine this website full of people without passion for vehicles. It would die out soon Those with undying passion are seldom overcome no matter what field they are in. There are 60+ folks who are top programmers in the USA. They are in it for the sheer joy of it. Unless our education system overhauls and our society changes (which it is, slowly) we will be hitting newer and newer walls in the future...
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