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About two years ago, I didn't get a promotion to "senior engineer" that I thought I was going to, and I had a huge temper-tantrum to my boss about it as a result (I'm still surprised to this day that I didn't quit on the spot, to be honest).

I was upset, because people that seemed to be contributing less and were less-qualified (at least from my admittedly-biased perspective at the time) were promoted to a higher level than me, and I got a fairly form-letter-esque answer of "we don't have the budget to promote you this time".

The next cycle, they corrected it, and I was officially a "senior engineer" on paper, and I realized how silly my hissy-fit had been. Sure, I guess having a bit more money was nice, but it's not like it radically changed the quality of my life, it's not like having a fancy title changed how people really saw me, and I didn't even bother updating the title on LinkedIn.

I don't think I was "wrong" in what I said. I do think that I deserved the promotion over someone else, but at the same time, I also tarnished a relationship with my boss and coworkers, and I let it get me far more depressed than it should have.

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I guess if any "junior" engineers are reading this, try and remember that a title is simply that: a title. They don't matter a lot, try to not get too upset over them, and obsessing over something so nominal is a great way to build up anxiety.

EDIT: Just a note, I absolutely think you should call out a company if you feel like you're being taken for granted. I'm not advocating complacency, just make sure that your hatred is directed to the right places and try to avoid getting too depressed.






Nah, f that mess. If you find yourself in a place that promotes the weak because it's a buddy system, it's not a place to work long-term. It means your boss is in 'don't rock the boat mode' and that's going to hold you back long term. Your boss should be fighting for promotions for their best workers and enabling growth in responsibility as well.

Oh, in fairness to my boss, he did make a strong effort in the next promotion cycle to get me promoted, which in fairness was only 6 months later.

The issue was the they had a limited budget for promotions, and basically limited it to one person per team. This, by itself wouldn't have bothered me too much, since the person who deserved it most on my team (someone with more experience than me, and was definitely under-leveled) did get promoted that cycle.

What upset me most was that a person on another team (with 1/3 of my experience, with no increased education, and on a team that accomplished nothing (not just my opinion, that team was disbanded a year later)) got promoted to a level higher than me. My direct boss didn't have any control on that team.


Yeah, that clears things up. I think every organization has those dead-weight teams. As long as you put tons of points on your stories in Jira, you look super busy and management gets to see your pretty charts.

Remember: once you retire, no one cares if you were a director. When you are 60, you are just old. The people that do care, you probably don't want to be friends with them.

I'm currently wanting "senior" in my title because of a recurring issue with interviewing for new positions. I often get stuck at talking to HR because from my years of experience they assume I'm MUCH less expensive than I am. I could use the title so that I could stop running into this as much.

I've always found the obsession with titles somewhat strange in our business. In my 7-8 jobs since college, I've never really had a 'formal' title. It just seems like all 'developers' are thrown into the same bin, and the better ones are team leads who don't have any actual authority to do anything (e.g. order a new laptop or approve of a hire).

After about 10 years, I just started calling myself a 'senior software engineer' on my resume and nobody has ever called me out on it.

Must be a Silicon Valley thing tied to salary. But in the areas I've worked, titles don't seem to exist for non-management.


I think it's the same compulsion that makes many (though not all) people who get a PhD feel like they have to mention that fact everywhere (e.g. Dr. John Doe, Ph.D.).

My title is senior application engineer. I don't think I've ever actually said that out loud. I just tell people I'm a developer. Titles are meaningless beyond letting HR know what salary band I should be in.

Yeah, same here. I was excited to get the promotion, but when people ask what I do for a living, I typically say "eccentric" for a more casual conversation, and "software engineer" for something more serious. I realize now that if you have to rely on titles for people to take you seriously, you probably aren't making great points.

I recently changed job, and went from being a "principal engineer" to being an "engineer" (in a company that doesn't do titles). There's more to life.

Senior is as senior does.



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