Forget the Ranking

Early on, it was very important for me to delineate myself between a Junior, Intermediate and Senior Developer – after all there is a certain cachet associated with being that “type” of developer.

I’m no longer a junior, those tasks should be handled by a junior, I’m and Intermediate now – give some meatier problems to solve.

The thing is – every problem is a junior problem if you don’t know anything about it, even to the most seasoned veteran.  Worked with databases all your life and now you’re having to build a Web UI?  Welcome to juniorsville.

I remember when my title was changed to Senior Developer, I actually freaked out and walked into HR to discuss the change and mix-up.  In my mind, the Senior resource had always been that guru of knowledge that you’d present something to and they would then spend the next 30 minutes poking holes in all that you had done.  I did not feel like that guy and like our example, in some areas I was yet in others I was not.

If you look at those words – Junior, Intermediate, Senior – if anything they are more a component of years of having done something, not necessarily having done something well and/or shipped x amount of products into production and/or only had y returns of failed bugs from QA.  No they are actually rooted within how long have you been doing something in that field.

A False Positive.

Now in most organizations, this gets tied to your salary, again as an indicator of your level of experience and not for how well you have been doing that position (after all, unless they go talk to your previous employer, it’s really going to be based on your years of experience right?).

Worse yet, how do you compare developers across different streams of work, someone who works on Database Development vs Platform Coding?  Are their Intermediate layers the same?  Is the “time” as an Intermediate the same across the different disciplines?

So, again I ask the question, what does this get you?  

  • It’s not about what you know, but how long you have been doing it.
  • It’s not about what you have delivered or what your contributions have been.
  • It’s not easily comparable to other positions in your field (after all when they ask for Senior, the first piece they put beside it is “how” many years you have in that position.

If you are doing it right, you are always a junior, always learning new things, always embracing that change.  Your shipping constantly, delivering value to your customers and clients.

Does it really matter then what rank you have in front of your job description?

Last time I checked, I didn’t go to see a Senior Dentist, but just my dentist.

 

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