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Principal engineer in that kind of company does not at all mean the same thing as principal engineer at google, amazon, facebook, twitter, pinterest, airbnb, etc.. (and even those aren't equal).

The article is still good, but confusing names is a big problem for us engineers. "Senior", "staff", "principal" mean nothing if they don't mean the same thing cross-company

> "Senior", "staff", "principal" mean nothing if they don't mean the same thing cross-company

Exactly this. At least three times, I've had EMs or recruiters approach me and ask about the titles at a previous company. "We've got a candidate that's coming in as a senior staff engineer, but they seem pretty junior." I've been around for hirings of "senior" engineers that come in at a junior engineering level (salary, I don't know).

A lot of companies hand out promotions like candy to keep people around. Companies that don't need to hand out promotions have titles that actually mean something. But the companies where title means nothing muddy the water so much that it's unlikely that title at a previous job actually means anything when changing companies.

Yes I have seen Principal Engineers with <6 years and >20 years of experience. And no it is not a coincidence. Those who stay put tend to get promoted earlier because of tribal knowledge they have. They may be lacking in core tech skills but they are still more valuable for management than people hired from outside due to their insider knowledge esp. if the work is not that technically challenging (crud apps/some business logic)

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