“The Web is New” syndrome

Following up to my last post about my job search, I’d like to touch on another interesting point I ran into during this round of job discussions.

I’m dubbing it: “The Web is New”

It’s hard to exactly put a finger on it, but basically, when looking for web work nowadays, there is this mentality that the Web is a new thing.  Invented just a few years ago.   Almost like the DotCom doom never happened and the web was invented since then.

This mentality doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a startup, or a big company.  The ‘Web Division’ has the same concept.

Not only is this somewhat shown in the topic of my previous post, where people are only looking to hire people with at most 5 years experience in the field.  But it goes deeper than that.  There’s essentially an assumption that everyone working on the web is a ‘young pup’, single, and always on the cutting edge of this ‘new thing’.

It can manifest in many ways, but often includes the idea of long hours, weekend work, low compensation, relocation not being a problem, etc.

It actually starts to make me feel out of place in this field almost.  I’ve been writing ‘Web Applications’ for 16 years, and people almost blink in disbelief when I mention that when discussion a job opportunity.   It seems to be, interestingly enough, that the ‘web’ industry never matured as it’s employees did the same.

I have to assume that most other ‘new industries’ had similar growing pains when they first existed, people just clamoring to be a part of it, and no one having experience in it, so everyone was on equal grounds.  But the industries then, 2 decades later, became more settled, more structured, more stable.

For some reason, this doesn’t seem to have happened on the Web.  Which leaves an interesting question.  Where are all the rest of the 16 year experience folks?  What are they doing?  Where have they vanished to, leaving all the young 20-somethings to fill the Web positions?

Why is, the Web still new?

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3 Responses to “The Web is New” syndrome

  1. afilina says:

    The Web industry has a large number of positions to fill, based on experience and expected salary.

    Straight out of college, companies don’t expect to pay much and plan for someone to hold you by the hand (in most cases).

    At 3-5 years, they’re still seeing a coder and a reasonable salary. They expect you to be quite autonomous.

    At 5-10 years, they want to fill management positions. At least a team lead to take the first 2 groups by the hand.

    Beyond 10 years, people scratch their heads if you’re not aiming for a CTO position.

    This is a generalized view based on personal observation and conversations with employers. This explains why, when looking for *coders*, they expect you to have no more than 5 years of experience and be young, single, available for overtime, etc. (college + 5 years, basically)

    • Eli says:

      Very good points Anna. However, I wasn’t actually looking for ‘coder’ positions. But leadership ones. Lead Dev, Architect, VP Development, CTO …

      Even then, the concept I’m describing existed.

      An interesting side point, from your own list of experience levels, is that I’d agree (partly) with your classifications, though I’d put a few more levels between ‘team lead’ and ‘CTO’.

      But that there is a catch-22 that begins to exist. Many companies, regardless of how many “Lead” positions that you’ve held, and regardless of your years of experience, don’t want to see you as high management (CTO) material.

      They see you were a coder (even if a Lead and doing less coding than idea-work and management), and want to slot you into a coding position. But then, the issues brought forward in my previous blog post come to bear. They slot you as a coder, but then decide they only wanted a 3-5 year experience coder.

      But in this case, the point of this article is that even where many of these companies are in fact looking for the high level management, and are interested in you. It immediately comes with the concepts of ‘relocate’, ‘work 20 hour days’, ‘work weekends’, ‘work for pennies’ — Assuming that since it’s web work, that you are a single unattached person willing to go where the wind blows.

      It’s an interesting phenomenon – it’s harder to find the companies that are truly family-friendly, and understand that while you love your work, that the work is there to support the life.

      Thanks for commenting Anna!

  2. pmjones says:

    It’s not that “the web is new.” It’s that “the web is easy.” We don’t need to hire anyone to help lead/manage *that*; it’s easy, I can do that myself! It’s a corollary of the client who says “Sure I have a spec written; just make it like Facebook. It’s already done, all you have to do it copy it.”

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