Episode 402: It's all on fire and title inflation

Soft Skills Engineering

Apr 1 2024 • 32 mins

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Happy Birthday Dave and congrats on the 400 episode milestone!

    Last year I was recruited away from my cushy Sr Dev role at Chill MegaCorp to an exciting technical leadership role at Fast-Paced MegaCorp. It felt like a huge level up since I had always wanted to pick up some of the softer communication and leadership skills to add to my arsenal while still working on technical problems. The 30% pay raise sealed the deal. Fast-foreward one year and I am burnt out, feeling disengaged and thinking about quitting.

    Compared to my previous role, everything here is urgent and high priority. There is little structure on my team, no planning or intake, and we just react to emails and pings from other teams about things not working. Our Sr Dev is very knowledgable but often gets short and impatient with me. My Sr Manager has said things like “sleep is for the weak” and frequently sends emails in the middle of the night. We have weekly evening releases that have gone till 4am. We are expected to always be around in case of a production incident – which happen very frequently because of the sheer complexity of everything and high dependency between internal services.

    I have considered moving to another team, but unfortunately this seems to be a company wide culture. I am considering cutting my losses with this company and moving back to an IC role with better work-life-balance. I am grateful for all the leadership skills I have picked up this past year and learned a ton in such a fast paced environment, but its been a whole year and I still haven’t gotten used to the “always on” culture and overall chaos.

    Is it normal form someone to shift between management and IC like this? What do you guys recommend?

  2. Hi Dave and Jamison, thank you for the show. It is the engineering podcast I look forward to most every week.

    I work at a company that, maybe like many others, has lots of title inflation. As a result, my title is much higher than it would be at a larger (and public) tech company. For example, “senior” may be one or two levels below senior elsewhere, and “staff” would be “senior” elsewhere. We also have “senior staff”, which might be “staff” elsewhere, but more likely that might just be a more senior “senior” engineer, too.

    My question is: How should I consider approaching a job search where I am knowingly (and reasonably) down-leveling myself in title? Should I include the relative level on my resume (for example, “L5”)? Should I not address it unless a recruiter or interviewer asks about it? Briefly mention the seeming down-level in a cover letter as comparable responsibilities and scope as my current role?

    I have worked hard for my promotions, because salary bands required the title change for the money I wanted, but now I am worried it will complicate applying to other companies.

    (Thank you for selecting my question!)

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