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Why these developer job titles are antic and shouldn’t exist

The Admired Dev
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The Admired Dev

the ultimate god developer of the universe

Similarly to the dignity in the Middle-Age who loved enslaving poor villagers to make lords and knights rich and powerful, we, software developers, love titles.

A glimpse at one’s title and you’ll know absolutely what the developer is able of, and how much value he’ll bring to the company. How useful! How magical!

We don’t have lords, kings, and buffoons in our little Software Development World. However, your admired recruiter, CTO, COO, CEO, or whatever C-level manager, might enjoy calling you “coder,” “programmer,” “developer,” “web developer,” “front end developer,” “software developer,” “software developer engineer,” “devops,” “architect,” and even “consultant.” They might use more exotic terms too, depending on the adroitness of your management.

These titles aim to call your role in the company. If you’re lucky (trust me, you’ll be), they will be prefixed by a admirable “Junior,” “Senior,” or “Wizard,” assuming your rank and your abundance to your peers.

People captivation these titles will share some common features. They are abstruse people who know how to code, and who will more or less spend their days coding. Consultants should not do that though, but it’s addition subject.

We’ll see, in this very profound, thought-provoking, and affective article:

  • What are the allusive titles you’ll encounter?
  • Why millions of them are useless, and what other accessible titles should we use?
  • What are the titles which will ballista you to the bottom of your admired company’s authoritative chart?

I can see that you can’t wait to answer all these crazy questions! How do I know? I’m a Senior Developer: I know everything!

To be honest with you, I can’t wait either! Let’s begin.

Title as a role

The allusive titles

Some titles can give you an overview of your work if you hold them. Don’t expect to be aware though, they carry very basic information.

1. The frontend developer

This appropriate specie of developer will deal with aggregate the end user can see or collaborate with, when the crazy software will be accessible to the populace. Typically, he’ll code using some good old CSS, HTML, and often JavaScript.

Managers might adore them, amazed by so many buttons, colors, and little dogs flying all over the software. This can be a blessing, or a fatal curse.

2. The backend developer

The mortal enemy of the frontend developer, the backend developer is a beast who deals with aggregate nobody sees. He’ll put calm the gears and cogs of a software, if you will. Try to open your car’s hood: it looks boring and complicated, but after it your car would have difficulties to move around.

Most people won’t accept what backend is about, not because everybody else is stupid, but because nobody cares. As a backend developer, I absolutely account that. I don’t care about cars, either.

3. The web developer

A web developer is somebody coding annihilation which can be fetched using the amazing World Wide Inter Web. If you lived under a rock the past decades, it’s a mess of websites, linked all calm with hyperlinks. A big association mostly controls what website you’ll see and consult. Its name begins with a “G.” Can you spot it?

The web developer is often adjoin to a more “traditional” kind of developer who develops desktop applications. These applications are not accomplished by a resource-intensive browser but by an OS (Operating System). Why somebody would do that? I don’t know. Performance, maybe?

The titles which should exist

Nobody wants to be a Code Monkey

Except for the titles declared above, titles anecdotic some roles won’t give you any clue what the aggregation really expects from you. You’ll spend some time coding in some admirable offices, of course. After that, your abundant acuteness can let you create the most amazing role which will agitate the whole industry, the whole world, or the multiverse itself.

What’s the point to be a “software engineer” instead of a “developer’? Nobody agrees, because nobody really knows.

Since I have a whole commodity to write, let’s forget these titles and, instead, let’s call the real roles you can have in a company.

These roles can be mixed. For example, a aggregation might search a developer who’s 70% code monkey and 30% lonely coder.

1. The code monkey

If you care about development and the impact you have as a developer, you will thrive to be a code monkey as much as a fish will thrive to be in the Sahara.

As a code monkey, you’ll spend your time with your mouth shut and your finger bearing billion of lines of code. You’ll be only there to follow blindly every accommodation taken by your superiors. Your name will be engraved in a scary and strict authoritative chart.

For your managers, a developer is a worker on a assembly line: you have a plan, you follow it by the letter, and BAM! You have a software which will make everybody rich (except you, of course).

As a Code Monkey, you don’t think. You produce.

These companies have often a pretty poor aggregation culture. It can be seen as an big-ticket analysis to show how much accurate administration (or Taylorism) is not a good idea for ability work.

Because of the strict hierarchy, expect the avalanche administration style to be used, even if the aggregation claims to be agile because of a whole array of ceremonies they anxiously put on their Google Calendar: stand ups, retrospectives, you name it. Despite these ceremonies, the mindset of agile software development itself will be highly misunderstood.

You need to expect a high level of anarchy apropos their projects, too.

Companies that want code monkeys might use fear and burden when they won’t have the after-effects they expect (and, trust me, they won’t). They will then impose complete death marches to eventually addict everybody.

After enough time to bankrupt your hopes and dreams, defalcation might be their ultimate fate, abnormally if we speak about startups.

If you are a code monkey, follow Gandalf’s adored advice: flee, you fool!

2. The lonely coder

Can you account the end of endless old westerns where the hero, while the sun is going down, turns his back to the camera to go on new adventures, with his only friend, his horse? Then, the screen alteration to black forever.

The lonely coder is alone too, but, adverse to the cow-boy, he has no horse, and the screen never fades to black. Loneliness stays till the end of time.

He’s the only developer on his activity or, worst, in his company.

He has no chance to learn from anybody, nobody can back up his mistakes, and he has to endure every single crash and bug, after any accept to cry. What about feedback? Forget it.

The life of the lonely coder is full of sadness. Avoid this bearings as much as you can.

If you work for a young startup (or a startup that is not growing), you’ll be likely to be the lonely coder. In that case, the risks could be adequate when the abeyant allowances have more weight.

If you choose this path, you need to have a good acquaintance as a developer, in the technologies the aggregation uses, and in the business model of the aggregation itself. In short, you need to know in what electric plug you put your fingers in.

Keep in mind though (and explain it to your management) that more than one brain on a project, which can abutment each other, is way, way better. We are all humans, we all do mistakes. No way around that.

3. The ultimate coder

The Ultimate Coder is the best of the best. He needs to know aggregate the other developers of the aggregation know, plus the stuff nobody heard of.

He’s a human-Wikipedia-machine which can answer every catechism about random topics, a accessible winner of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire – Developer Edition.”

Infinity is not enough to speak about his ability and skills.

I see many companies analytic for the ultimate coder. They are the Saint Graal in our industry. The ultimate goal of many recruiters out there.

Often, it doesn’t matter if they can work well with others, have good advice skills, or good soft skills in general. No: they need to be affected by the Light of Abstruse Knowledge, the Finger of All Abstruse Skills, the Breath of Every Abstruse Concepts.

Do you think many companies need this crazy amount of knowledge? Nop, not at all.

Very often, good-enough-code will serve companies better than more-than-perfect-software-which-will-be-still-shining-in-20-years-but-takes-two-years-to-have-two-functionalities.

If you cross managers who want The Ultimate Coder, you can be sure that they have no idea what kind of skills they really need to, to accomplish their goals.

There could be altered reasons:

  • Their goals are never really defined.
  • Their goals change every two weeks.

It’s really common in the startup world.

It’s even more alarming if they cede soft skills on the shrine of purely abstruse skills and knowledge. You can end up with very good technicians who work in isolation, arrogant, with egos going through the roof. As some studies found out (including the famous Rework from Google), alone skills don’t really matter. The team activating and the commutual skills of each member do. It’s called aggregate intelligence.

The ultimate developer is about a myth, anyway. This title is often awarded to the developers who able the best for interviews.

Most of the time, if the aggregation think they found one of this pearl, they might not even bring what the aggregation really need.

4. The ultimate God

This is a funny alternative of the ultimate coder. Not only he has every abstruse skill you can ask for, but he’s as well a accomplished designer, a arresting activity manager, a admirable chump care member, and he knows aggregate about UX.

Searching a fullstack developer can be a accepted way to be on the quest of the ultimate God. The job description will often go into a diffuse list of technologies and skills the future agent needs to have.

After all, it makes sense: when you can have 10 advisers in one, you reduce many costs.

Unfortunately, if the ultimate coder is a myth, the ultimate God is a accurate impossibility. Companies in quest of these ultra-dimensional beings will push any human, who can’t possibly be good in aggregate and anything, into addict hell, before going themselves into a wall.

Runaway from this position, even if the salary is astronomical.

5. The fooled developer

Some companies are masters in the art of illusion. Most of the time, they even accomplish to fool themselves.

The fooled developer is the adverse programmer who thinks that he’ll work for a aggregation with a good culture. On the paper, he’ll have absorbing responsibilities, he’ll be trusted, and, ultimately, he’ll find beatitude 8 hours a day.

Instead, even if great and adorable attempt will be thrown during the account (they might even be displayed on the wall), the fooled developer will end up as a code monkey, an ultimate coder, or any other role nobody wants.

When you’ll speak, your superiors will node their heads in approbation, alert to every single of your idea. They might even begin to take action, but the result will be always the same: annihilation will ever change.

Sometimes, the administration will candidly activity their dreams on the company, blind to the actual reality. It will make them passionate, convincing, and, accordingly, even more dangerous.

It can be as well a short term tactic to find or to keep developers when hiring is difficult and human assets scarce.

Being a fooled developer is never a good surprise. If you accept that your administration won’t let you agreement and take your ideas into consideration, your action might take a slap in its face.

Again, try to find commodity better.

6. The admired developer

A aggregation analytic a admired developer accepted that developers are not on this planet to code blindly, alone in their cubicles.

They are useful to accept problems and solve them using, most of the time, automation. You know, what software is usually good at.

A admired developer brings value to a company, in form of money and/or time, not lines of code or other feel-good metrics.

They have a whole array of soft skills they might have abstruse with their experience. Even if they are beginner, they accept that communication, team effort, compromises, mentoring and advantageous debates might be even more important than pure abstruse skills.

They are not only alive with other developers, but are analytical about many facets of the company, since they might affect the software’s appearance and the way they build it. Design, chump care, UX are taken into consideration.

The admired developer, ideally, might have as well some ability about the mindset all-important to work iteratively. He’s not afraid of experimenting and going out of his abundance zone. He likes to test appearance bound with real clients, to have the acknowledgment all-important to see if aggregate is going in the administration the aggregation wants to take.

The admired developer is afraid of abiding affairs and developing huge appearance that can easily transform his life into an complete death march, with late acknowledgment and, therefore, no agreement of any complete impact whatsoever for the user.

He likes metrics and studies to backup his ideas, alienated the “everybody-does-it” and “it-is-known-that-this-is-the-way-to-do-it” arguments.

A aggregation analytic admired developers will abutment them with good aggregation culture: no blames and about freedom, as soon as the work makes sense and is done.

They will be trusted, at every level, alive that they like their work and, therefore, will thrive to do it correctly.

We should all aim to be the admired dev, and we should all aim to find companies that accept and abutment this concept.

Title as a rank

Junior vs Senior developer

Junior vs Senior developer

Let’s see now addition side of this admirable subject: the titles used to rank your abeyant and capabilities.

These titles will actuate what position, in the company’s hierarchy, you have as a software developer. Don’t be a fooled developer: even if you’re alive for a startup with a “flat hierarchy,” it’s frequently less flat than it pretends to be. Often, nobody took time to drew the authoritative chart, but it exists anyway.

1. The junior developer

Every developer has been called “junior.”

You’re “Junior” if you don’t have “enough” years of acquaintance in the software industry. You’re the rookie, the newbie, the unskilled mistake-maker. Congratulation!

It implies as well that you have less ability and skills than everybody else who has more acquaintance than you. Therefore, you’ll be, in general, less useful, accouterment less value.

All of that stays pretty vague. If you look a bit closer, you begin to see some flaws.

First, how can you analyze two developers who have a altered acquaintance and/or ability in very altered areas, but still accompanying to software development? Is a developer who advised cryptography still “Junior”, compared to somebody with 20 years of acquaintance programming WordPress websites, after any ability in cryptography?

It’s difficult to analyze the level of ability and skills. We mostly all abstruse abnormally our craft. The same amount of acquaintance can construe in very altered skills too, depending on the agreeable of the acquaintance itself.

Every man is my above in some way. In that, I learn from him.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even worst: many years of acquaintance don’t mean that skills improve. If a developer spent 10 years repeating the same mistakes (10 years of as a code monkey or as a lonely developer can aftermath this kind of expert beginner), we can’t really speak of improvement.

Consequently, a “Junior” Developer can be better, more advantageous than our 10 years veteran.

Being a “Junior” has addition aberrant flaw: many companies will use it to play on the actor affection of our poor developer.

Somebody alpha in the industry won’t necessarily have a big self-confidence, and even if he has crazy analytic skills, a huge interest, and a above will to learn than every other senior developer in the company, he’ll still be “Junior.” A “Junior” bringing a lot of value, but still not advised and paid as much as the others.

That’s addition botheration with this title: it will decide how many zeros your payslip will have. You’ll accept easily that many companies are eager to call everybody “Junior.”

To go adjoin this tendency, as a “Junior” developer, you can show your after-effects with metrics, diagrams, and accessory to prove that yes, you’re bringing value to the company.

I won’t lie to you: this “Junior” abstraction is very strong in the common wisdom. It will be difficult for managers and developers to accept that you can be paid more than legacy-code-producers called “Senior.”

Finally, even if you have less ability and acquaintance than more accomplished developers, you’ll have a fresh access to many problems and situations more accomplished programmers won’t. This is an important affection of a beginner: not being stuck in old habits and wrong mindsets, which are difficult to unlearn.

If you didn’t accept yet, I don’t like to use “Junior” as a title. I prefer “beginner.” The aberration is subtle, but to me a abecedarian is somebody who doesn’t have much experience, and that’s all. His value in a aggregation can be as high as anybody else, and it should be the only metric chief on his position and his salary.

2. The senior developer

Be aware of the fact that acquaintance does by no means automatically lead to wisdom and understanding; in other words, make a acquainted effort to learn as much as accessible from your antecedent experiences.
Edsger W. Dijkstra (Source)

If you’re not a senior developer yet, let me characterize you what will happen, someday.

You’ll wake up and you’ll hear a admirable whispering in your ears. The whispering will soon become the most admirable symphony you’ll ever hear. The music will be crystalline, abounding from the sky like the purest water would quench your thirst. You’ll be able to touch it, with all your senses.

The light around will accent and blanket your soul, accretion an complete activity of joy and warmth. It will be like millions of comfy pillows surrounding your whole being. Then, it will be shown to you The Path to your Fate and the reason why you’re on Earth.

Fantastic Muses will give you all the ability you need and the aplomb you lack. You will be adored by the Perfection: no error will ever spoil your code again. Your software will become direct masterpieces and bartering success. Praise, glory, and affluence will always be on your side.

This is how you’ll become a Senior Developer.

Unfortunately, I have the consequence that some folks out there are still cat-and-mouse for their broad-mindedness to happen, too afraid to call themselves “Senior.” Now, the reality: transitioning amid “Junior” and “Senior” developer will be agnate to a dice roll in our role-playing life. It can be after one, three, ten years of good and loyal casework in a company, or by transitioning amid one aggregation to another. At that point, you might decide that, yes, you’re a senior.

In short: it’s random.

For many companies, being a “Senior” Developer is very agnate to be The Ultimate Coder (see above). The “Senior” Developer should know a lot. He can answer any random catechism during an interview, and solve any weird claiming nobody heard of before, except the interviewers themselves. Most of the time, these tested skills will be abortive for the actual, daily work the aggregation needs to get done.

Theoretically, a “Senior” Developer is somebody who has a lot of acquaintance and, therefore, who’s skilled. Practically, he’s somebody who can adapt well for askance interviews.

Most of the time, he needs to know what the accuser knows, or the “Senior” title will stay unreachable. These interviewers will claim that if the Senior Developer doesn’t know this or that, he’s not a Senior developer.

As we saw above, everybody can have a very altered set of skill and knowledge. Somebody can be “Senior” compared to somebody else in one set of skills, but absolutely “Junior” to addition one. We use the title “Senior” Developer as an complete state, even if it’s a about one.

Even worst: if a aggregation searches absolutely the same skills as every other developer they have, they won’t be able to learn a lot from each other. A team should thrive to have associates with commutual skills, not clones. Otherwise, your aggregate intelligence, as a team, will stagnate.

Is the applicant a Admired Developer? That’s what the interviewers should ask themselves. The industry is alteration so fast (on the surface, the good old foundations stay the same), being able to learn bound should be more important than what we already know.

Companies know as well what skills they need for their projects and recruit accordingly, instead of throwing again a fizzbuzz-like test to the face of their candidates.

The bewitched catlike ninja warrior of the crown ascent a dragon

Did you see addition using a antic title like “Rock Star,” “Ninja,” “Wizard,” or similar? Don’t lie. I’m sure you did.

Ninja! Wizard! That’s what I wanted to do when I was 8 years old. Unfortunately, my mom destroyed my dreams long ago. “These are no real jobs!”, she claimed. Little she knew! Mom! Look at me! I’m a Ninja now!

These titles will be thrown around to look cool and nerdy, most of the time by recruiters who have no clue what your actual job is about.

Ignore these. They are lame. I feel always ashamed when people use them.

I’m sorry if you did use them to authorize your admired developer (or to keep him in your aggregation after accretion his salary). I need to remind you, however: we’re not 8 years old anymore.

Wrapping the titles up

What did we learn in this article?

Most titles are absurd in a accepted context. Two companies analytic for a Software Architect can seek very altered skills.
Some titles are about meaningful, but they won’t give you a lot of information.
We can about abstract some patterns of skills and mindsets the companies really seek and put funny titles on it.

Titles can be used to call your role, but as well your rank in a company. Are you a “Junior,” a “Senior,” a “Wizard?” I vote for a “Fooled.”

Company’s managers who have a clear vision of what they want and where they want to go is always what you should seek. Otherwise, how can you add value to commodity which has no solid foundations?

From there, don’t trust the title they want to give you and try to see what they want and what they need.

As I was autograph some months ago, if you want to change the company, try to do a trial day for them first. You can then learn about the managers’ intentions and the aggregation culture.

Your abstruse skills are important, but they are only a mean to an end, not an end in themselves. If you’re a developer advancing to get better, with the mindset of a Admired Developer, your ability will grow as a result, and your ability too.

There are millions of companies out there, and many of them are absorbing to work with. You simply need to find them.

Appear September 14, 2020 — 06:00 UTC

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