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Veteran tech workers see themselves locked out of job market

Grant Gross | May 7, 2013
IT workers with 15 or more years of experience say they're passed over for employment

Dewing, 61, moved to New York City to take a project, then was laid off and replaced by a foreign worker, she said. She has relocated 14 times for jobs, she said.

Many Indian recruiters Dewing has talked to recently start the conversation by low-balling an hourly rate, she said. "I personally find it insulting to be treated like a commodity," she said. "The assumption seems to be, get your rate low enough and you'll be hired."

Dewing has two friends over age 50 who also cannot find work in IT, she said.

One former IT employee "works as a dog walker and one lives on recycling cans and bottles, which she fishes out of trash cans," she said.

Greg Steshenko, who immigrated to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union in 1987, said he hasn't worked steadily since 2002. The resident of Silicon Valley has a master's degree in electrical engineering, a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, and he received a second bachelor's in biochemistry and molecular biology in 2010.

Steshenko, 51, has worked as a nanotechnology engineer, a software engineer and a digital hardware design engineer. "I'm unemployed, on welfare," he said in an email. "Since 2002, I had just very brief periods of temporary employment as an engineer-consultant, hotel clerk and a Home Depot associate."

He's taken college courses throughout his years of unemployment, he said. "I'm over-educated and over-experienced," he added. "The depth and breadth of my education and experience could hardly be matched. I am able to perform any job in electronics, programming and biomedical industry, and I'd be able to come up to speed within a week or two. Still, [there's] no job for me in this country."

Asked if he's keeping his skill set current, Steshenko said it's difficult to guess what hiring companies want, when technology is constantly changing.

If a developer has experience in Android 2.0, "the company would be hiring only someone who had at least 6 months of the 4.0 experience," he said. "And you cannot get that experience unless you are hired. And you cannot get hired unless you provably have that experience. It is the chicken-and-the-egg situation. "


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