Stop worrying about age

Age isn't the thing that a lot of companies look at. I know TONNES of folks who are 40+ with amazing web development jobs. In fact, a mentor of mine who just reached her 40s recently changed jobs into a high profile company, and then got a promotion for being so awesome at her job.

Young vs older web developers

Everyone has skills and weaknesses. That's just part of being human. And the skills vary from person to person.

You folks have the benefit of being able to write code for 12 hours a day for years on end. They're probably pretty good at it. But everything in life is a trade off. If you do one thing, you aren't doing another. That's time scarcity at it's finest.

Young developers (and I would classify myself as young still, at the age of 31) are constantly trading learning to code with life experience. The younger you are, the less life matter, the more code quality matters (not if every case, but in most cases I've seen to date). As we get older, we start to value life and other values that life introduces to us.

Older web developers already have a lot of life experience. Things that simply cannot be taught at a job, such as:

  1. Patience with your peers,
  2. The ability to communicate clearly and well,
  3. The ability to speak up and voice an opinion (and to say no when no is the right answer)

That list goes on and on.

It's a trade off

When hiring young developers, it's almost like hiring them for their energy. We as younger folks aren't valued for our ability to communicate. And frankly, it's because we aren't very good at it until life hands us some hard lessons to learn. But we can code like crazy, pump out features quickly, and almost never say no to the bosses.

Compare that to older web developers who may not be able to work 12 hour days for months and months, but come with skills that fill the holes of younger developers such as the ability to communicate clearly and say no to the bosses when it's the right answer.

So you see... there's a trade off. And each generation fills in a skill gap.

You grow in reverse

If you're a young developer, you likely learned how to code recently and picked it up quickly, and as you get older you're learning life skills such as patience with your peers when you're under pressure from a tight deadline.

If you're an older developer, learning web development might take you a bit longer but you come with values that companies are looking for such as, again, communication.

One is learning soft skills, the other is learning technical skills.

There's nothing wrong with growing in either direction.

Coding alone vs. coding in a team

Regardless of age, one thing you'll need to learn is how to code in a team. Anybody can write code by themselves. But it takes a learned skill to code in a team.

This is where age plays a beneficial role.

Look, us younger people are often amazing developers. But truth be told (warning: truth bomb!) it takes a lot for us to learn how to work in a team. We're relatively new to life, and it's not something we've all learned how to do yet. This is where age is a benefit. Older folks have already learned how to work in teams, they just need to catch up on the technical skills, which are fairly easy to learn - even if it takes a little longer to learn.

Soft skills are incredibly important

You can be the best dang coder in the world. If you're an asshole, you're an asshole (pardon my tongue). And nobody will want to work with you. Simple as that!

If you're not very skilled, but have the desire to learn, the patience to work in a team, and the communication skills to help and be helped by coworkers, you're already ahead of the game.

If a company wanted to, they could just hire elite coders and achieve awesomeness quickly. But that burns people out, and they get a bad reputation that way. In 2021, reputation is everything to a company.

Instead, they look for a fine balance. If you're a little rough around the edges but you can code well, that's a win to them. If you're a great communicator and very personable, but you're skill is at an intern level, that's a win because your soft skills make up for the technical skills. Here's something to remember:

Anybody can learn technical skills (ie. coding). Companies can teach you how to code better. But they cannot teach you how to be a better person.

^ Please read that one more time because it's applicable to all ages.

This is the rule, but there are exceptions

I need to add a little asterisk to this article. Not all companies value soft skills or coding skills the same way. I've seen companies who want ultra elite coders, but can't grow very far because their turn over is so high and their team work falls apart. I've also seen the opposite, where companies hire "fit over skill" too much and never end up with awesome features or big clients.

Like all things in life... there's a balance.

There are also rules and exceptions. Maybe you are a great coder but don't get the job at a company you applied it. It could be a soft skill issue. The opposite may be true as well... you may be a great communicator, but your skill wasn't high enough. Every company is different.

Just because one doesn't work out, doesn't mean all of them are the same.

Ready for a truth bomb?

If you think age is the main reason you can't get a job as a web developer, it's likely something else preventing you from getting that job. And more often than not, it's one of these:

a) Lack of coding skill (or the ability to show it off)
b) Lack of soft skills (ie. ego gets in the way)
c) Lack of network/references/referrals

There are other reasons too, but these are likely to be the most common.

Learn more about job research and placement in The Ultimate Web Development Bootcamp.

In the last module of The Ultimate Web Development Bootcamp you'll learn all about job placement.

  • Who gets hired?
  • What skills do you need?
  • What do companies value most?
  • How do you maximize your potential to get a job as a web developer?

If you're a half decent coder, and a half decent communicator, you have nothing to worry about — age is just a number that most companies don't care about.