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Joeflash’s Enigmacopaedia » The Age Barrier Myth in The Flash Community

Joeflash’s Enigmacopaedia


The Age Barrier Myth in The Flash Community

Posted in Business, Inspirations, Employment, Flash Platform Community by Joeflash on the December 9th, 2009

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A very interesting question, or rather comment, was raised a few weeks ago in a LinkedIn discussion titled,

“Why Am I in Demand?” - Personal Branding for Mature Workers

The problem with this question, other than being a blatant grab for eyeballs, is that it’s not targeted in the least towards the Flash community. But it does underlie a perception I’ve noticed amongst some Flash designers & developers who may be just starting out, or are looking at stepping up their profile in the community and the job market.

I’ll save you the tedium of watching this video blog: according to the author, there are 5 questions you need to ask yourself:

1. What makes me tick?
2. What can I deliver?
3. How do I make my workplace better?
4. Why am I in demand?
5. Why should you hire me?

First, if you’re interested in becoming an office drone, with a job as exciting as the monotone delivery of the author’s video blog post, then by all means answer these questions. But if you want to have a kick ass job or a freelance business that you’ll love, ask yourself this:

1. How well do I communicate, verbally and on paper?
2. Do I have the chops to get the job I want, and if not how do I acquire them?
3. Do I care about sharing my discoveries and fostering a sense of community?

Second, the very idea that a person would be reading a blog dedicated to “Personal Branding for Mature Workers” is just wrong. I’ll tell you why:

It doesn’t matter how old you are in this industry. That’s a myth.

As long as you don’t look like some 60-year old ex-hippie, a bank manager or a lawyer (i.e. dress according to the relaxed culture, but not too relaxed) — you don’t need to talk like a 20-year old just to fit in. If you get social networking but aren’t a tweetard, if you have a passion for Flash, if you get design and/or coding, and you’re not afraid to approach someone you admire at a conference and strike a conversation with them, age doesn’t mean a thing, not anymore.

The age thing used to be true ten years ago when the Flash industry was in its infancy. But when all the hippest gals & dudes like Joshua Davis are pushing 40-something, and they’re cooler than ever, perceptions change.

It only means something if you make it mean something. If you come off all “I’m 45, so you better respect me”, you’re gonna be put in your place real fast, or worse, ignored.

What matters most is, do you got the chops? Do you share your discoveries with the community? Do you have a blog, and write interesting tech articles? What matters is your street cred, which can be improved in several ways, and your attitude. Do you have an insatiable thirst for learning? Do you get geek jokes? Are you good at putting people at ease, at communicating a concept?

Granted, some clueless HR people will look askance at an over-40-something Flash person, and maybe the “cool” agencies who are more concerned about having coquettish-looking interns manning their haute-couture workstations won’t look at you twice, but screw ‘em, you’re better than that. They don’t deserve you.

I’ve known some pretty cool 50-year old flash developers. They’re not afraid of admitting the limits of their experience, but they typically also bring some interesting and varied experience to the table that a 20/30-something developer doesn’t know about, which can be an unexpected boon to a project. And I know some pretty cool intermediate level Flash gals and dudes who are in their mid-40s, who get along just fine.

My advice: stop using your age as a barrier. Get off yer ass and show your peers what kick-ass stuff you can do. The jobs, and the contracts, will follow.

(Having said that, I better get back to this personal Flex project I’m working on, and maybe take the occasional break from writing Professional Flex 4 to put out a few blog posts myself. ;)

P.S.: No I’m not hiring, and I’m not a recruiter. I’m a Flex Developer looking a gig myself: move on, spammers. Anyone else, feel free to comment if you have any questions.

Update Dec.15/09: And just in case you were wondering from whence I derive such smug certainty in the meaninglessness of age in our industry, check out the
“Perceived Age Bias” results from The Survey For People Who Make Websites 2008 by A List Apart.

2 Responses to 'The Age Barrier Myth in The Flash Community'

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  1. john fraser said,

    on December 11th, 2009 at 12:33 am


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    two words….
    RIGHT……ON!!!!

    It’s imperative to read this…

    thanx

    @peace

    john
    toronto


  2. on December 24th, 2009 at 2:24 pm


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    You are absolutely right that age is not a barrier. I’m 46 and have been working with Flash for over a decade.

    The barrier that I’ve seen most often is ageless. It’s failing to keep up with the technologies that drive our professions. I’ve worked with 20/30/40/50 somethings that all reach a point where they get too comfortable with what they know and before long are no longer an asset to their team.

    Keeping up to speed with technology keeps you valuable no matter your age.

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