4

I live in the US and I am currently a Senior Engineer at a large multinational firm, where I have been working for over 10 years. I feel that I outgrew my current position about 2 years ago, and that I really need to be doing more advanced, higher-level work in order to continue my professional development. What I really want is to be promoted to Principal Engineer, which is the next level Engineering position and I strongly believe I am ready for it. I have discussed the situation with my management during my last two annual reviews. I explained that I have outgrown my current position - that I am ready to take on more responsibility and I have the ability to be doing higher-level work. However, this seems to keep falling on deaf ears. I get fobbed off with things like: "Well, I don't know if you're quite ready for a promotion to that level yet. However, I think if you get a couple more years of experience under your belt, we will see what we can do."

The thing I find particularly frustrating though, is that when I ask them to be more specific about what I am lacking for a more senior role and what gaps I can fill, they don't come back with anything concrete. I have asked them, if I can't have the promotion at this time, then can they at least provide a clearer roadmap of what gaps I need to fill and what I can do to fill those gaps? However, again all I seem to get is crickets.

The impression I get is that they are putting me in something of a 'holding pattern'. The lower-level work that I am currently doing needs to be done and we lost several less senior Engineers over the past couple of years. So, I suspect that they know I am ready for a promotion, but they want to keep me in my current role, because otherwise there wouldn't be anybody to do the lower level work.

So, without wanting to ramble on, what can I do to help persuade my management to, if not give me the promotion I need, at least be more serious about identifying a roadmap and/or timeframe for me to achieve that promotion? I very much feel that staying in this same position for another 2-3 years is not going to be in the best interests of my career.

  • 1
    Is a promotion within your current company the only vertical move you will consider? – user25792 Sep 26 at 21:02
  • Is there an opening for a Principal Engineer at your current company? There often aren't many high level roles available at a company, so they might not see a need to train you and risk you leaving when you don't get promoted or get a pay raise. – Shadowzee Sep 27 at 1:08
  • @jww no, I would consider looking elsewhere, if necessary. – Time4Tea Sep 27 at 1:40
  • @Shadowzee a more senior Engineer left about 3 years ago and wasn't replaced. However, they appear to have been downsizing our team through attrition and don't seem to be in any hurry to backfill or replace anybody. – Time4Tea Sep 27 at 1:42
3

You might be right, and many companies have this practice, of not promoting the people which really deserve promotion.

Also, of course, the "easiest" way to get a position you want is to find one elsewhere, already available and advertised.


If you want to get the promotion at your current job, you need to plan it ahead, and be patient. I present below some things to take into consideration.

  • organize a face-to-face with your manager. Explain that you REALLY want to be promoted to that position, and even more, you REALLY want to get your skills developed more;
  • ask him about the company's / team's roadmap with regard to your interests; you might be able to get something else interesting, instead of this particular promotion;
  • ask him to work with you to create a clear roadmap to getting to your desired position;
  • study the company's rules, regulations, policies, etc. and get the expectations from somebody fitted for the position you want. You can create the roadmap by yourself, and give it to your boss for review / approval. Be ready to wait, as he might need to get other approvals as well. Since it is a big company, it is very likely that they already have the job descriptions of all roles they might eventually have - at least for those roles which already have a name;
  • are there colleagues already occupying that position? Talk to them off the records about their professional path to getting there.
  • work on improving your skills on your free time; if it is difficult to do it alone, you might want to contribute to an open-source project of your choice;
2

I feel that I outgrew my current position about 2 years ago, and that I really need to be doing more advanced, higher-level work in order to continue my professional development.

Given that you want to do exclusively high level work, but your team isn't big enough to warrant that sort of role, you're not likely to win that battle. And I would argue the appeal of an experienced engineer is that they can work on both high level and low work and mentor others to grow in their careers.

The thing I find particularly frustrating though, is that when I ask them to be more specific about what I am lacking for a more senior role and what gaps I can fill, they don't come back with anything concrete. I have asked them, if I can't have the promotion at this time, then can they at least provide a clearer roadmap of what gaps I need to fill and what I can do to fill those gaps? However, again all I seem to get is crickets.

The fact that you're not getting feedback about how you can improve to move up your career is problematic. At this point, I would recommend seriously considering switching teams or switching companies to move away from this situation. You could juggle both high level and low level projects to grow your own career and use that experience to convince another company to hire you.

  • It's not that I only want to be doing higher-level work, but I really need to be doing at least some of that, if I want to develop my skills further. Currently, I'm doing little to none and I feel like I'm stagnating. Yes, I'm getting the impression that the best thing might be to start looking around more seriously for other opportunities. – Time4Tea Sep 27 at 2:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.