There is, though, a growing recognition in the tech industry that older workers bring something valuable to the table. "People who have made the shift from, say, Cobol to C+ and then to Ruby and Java are very valuable," says Salesforce.com's Martin. "They have seen change and adapted to it."
Indeed, youth -- or at least the inexperience that comes with it -- can be a drawback, says David Bianco, a database analyst at entertainment ticket distributor TicketNetwork, who found that until he approached fours years of experience it was difficult to find work. "A lot of companies really want seven years or more," he adds.
Small companies often do not have the time to bring younger workers up to speed. "We want seasoned pros. There is no time for us to train," says Eric Hansen, CTO of FluxxLabs, a firm that's developing a platform to access business data in the cloud.
What do employers really want from tech employees? You've heard it all before, and InfoWorld heard it again as we interviewed employers about their needs and desires when hiring: They will tell you they want team players, self-starters, people with enthusiasm, and so on. Although those are all clichés, employers probably mean it, so don't think you'll cruise through the interview process simply on the strength of your schooling and your charm.
"Working on our engineering side means dealing with a high-pressure environment. We do want team players and self-directed people who can find solutions. We want a strong technical background. If you are working in the same market we are and have all of these, you can choose your job," says Akamai's Prokop.
How do you demonstrate all of these wonderful attributes? In part, use social media. Kaazing looks for people who show leadership on discussion boards and networking sites like LinkedIn, says Yuan Weigel, Kaazing's marketing vice president.
Other managers give similar advice and say job boards like Dice and Monster, although still important, are losing ground to social media. But Angel Chen, who heads HR for TicketNetwork, cautions job seekers to remember the basics: "We do look for a professional résumé. Formatting is important, and the cover letter shouldn't just regurgitate what's in the résumé," she says.
That may sound old school, but why not do your résumé right? Every edge you grab from the competition puts you closer to the job you desire. After all, tech jobs may be in abundance in certain areas, but that doesn't mean you're guaranteed to get the one you want.