I'm a software engineer and have been stuck on one level since i joined the company. The career ladder is rigid and because i lack interest in the managerial path, and i work in isolation (no one to mentor) it's capping me at a certain level.

The ladder is biased towards the managerial path, (there's only one ladder) but there is a possibility of being on a different tangent the "individual contributor" technical path.

I feel that due to my unique role in the company i provide a lot of value to the company itself, more than i fit the framework of my particular organization within the company.

I was told that if i'm given the promotion while not satisfying all the parameters in the matrix, someone would complain.

This seems to imply only others in the same organization. At the same time, there are hires in other departments that have been promoted in a matter of months.

Does this put me in a similar position that my manager is trying to avoid, can i complain how others can move and i'm stuck?

Can i ask for my performance or contribution to be evaluated outside of just my department? We also are required to wear many other hats from the adjacent areas (i often deal with product and UX) but this has no bearing on the software engineer career ladder.

  • I believe you are getting down votes because this is a very long post without clearly describing it's path towards the problem you have. – Glen Pierce Sep 29 '18 at 20:47
  • I figured it's going to turn into an essay. If you have read it any advice on how to ask whatever it is that i'm asking here. This was my attempt to break a larger issue into a small one... – pailhead Sep 29 '18 at 20:52
  • Would removing the background and simpliying it to "one org holds me by rigid standards, other is more lax"? – pailhead Sep 29 '18 at 20:52
  • Let me start by asking, what do you want out of this promotion you're seeking? – Glen Pierce Sep 29 '18 at 20:56
  • I've started over, bottoms top :) I want more money and more equity within the framework of the company. If we have compensation packages that span a certain range i want to move higher within that bracket. I took my package at face value and hoped to prove how valuable i am. I got lost in the framework. I feel like i bear too much responsibility due to the isolation that i work in, and that i should be compensated more. At the same time i want to address the edge case of whatever framework we've got. Argue why the ladder is wrong, or i deserve different interpretation of it. – pailhead Sep 29 '18 at 21:03

What you're doing wrong is taking 'no' for an answer. If you do that then they can just continue saying 'no'.

So if you feel it justified, escalate, this implies that 'no' is unacceptable to you and you are probably contemplating leaving. If you're valued enough this will get the ball moving in your favour, if not your only realistic recourse is to move on or get used to hearing 'no'.

I've never cared what company policy, other people make or anything else when it comes to my pay. I either get a pay rise when I want it or I leave. Nothing is set in stone. If you're valuable enough you get your way, and if you're that valuable you can usually find someone else willing to pay you what you want.


It sounds like the argument against your promotion is limited to management stating that someone else will complain.

  1. Begin looking for a new position in a new firm that does not have such a ladder that is so tilted against you.

  2. After securing another offer from one if these firms, you should point out that you are now complaining and politely point out that if your skill set is not worth what you're asking for from the company, you'll have to consider other options. Ask for the promotion again.

  3. If they don't give it to, accept the new offer and move on.

  • But i'm specifically confused about who that "someone else" may be. Fine if it's another engineer, but can i overall make this same complaint not against a specific person but rather a whole different department. Ie. "our ladder IS rigid, look at them". – pailhead Sep 29 '18 at 21:15
  • Have seen it happening in other places, namely consulting firms. Often the technical people is looked down as a kind of "blue collar workers". While they might pretend otherwise, once you hit their arbritary glass ceiling of theirs for your position/department, the only way is out. – Rui F Ribeiro Nov 19 '18 at 11:52

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