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Last week my boss offered me a pay rise to my current salary for doing such a good job. Turns out he forgot how much I was paid. He did agree to give me a real rise after I pointed out his mistake.

I went home in a bad mood, so I looked for engineering manager roles in London, and stumbled across a post for "VP of Engineering" at a fintech startup. Like, a real one that has hundreds of millions in loans, my family know because it's appeared on the TV, and is 4 years old.

I mailed the CEO with a quick pitch why I would be good at the job, and he passed my name on to the recruiter, who offered to interview me over the phone. I work at a big company with 11k+ employees and made that very clear from the start. I explained that I have no direct reports, my job is pretty much laterally managing department managers to do things for me.

Cue the phone call, we go through a number of things, and after about ten minutes the recruiter cuts me off to say "look, we need somebody who has previous experience as VP in a startup, otherwise the VCs will lose confidence in us". I pushed a little bit, but my gut feeling was that it was a red line and I had no hope of going any further.

Should I take this as a sign I am capable of working at that level? Should I keep looking for similar jobs and apply to those? Or should I consider it a lucky fluke?

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    I'm not sure I understand. Why would the recruiter saying that you're not sufficiently experienced make you take it as a sign that you're capable of working at that level? – Alex Oct 22 '19 at 12:27
  • @Alex I got the interview. He said I wasn't what they needed at that stage, because the Venture Capitalists expected them to hire somebody with more experience. He said I could "probably" do the job at a more well-established company. – scc268 Oct 22 '19 at 12:46
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    @scc268 - I wouldn't consider a single data point sufficient to determine what level of work you are capable of. That said, I think you are reading this wrong - you reached out to the CEO, he passed your contact info on. The recruiter felt obligated to spend a few minutes on the phone with you (a 10 minute call doesn't qualify as an interview for this kind of position), quickly decided that you weren't qualified for the role, and gave you a rather kind reason as to why they weren't proceeding with you. While this does mean you are incapable of this work, he clearly doesn't think so. – dan.m was user2321368 Oct 22 '19 at 13:51
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Should I take this as a sign I am capable of working at that level? Should I keep looking for similar jobs and apply to those? Or should I consider it a lucky fluke?

A single phone call doesn't prove you are capable of working at that level. That's particularly true since the phone call didn't actually result in an offer. The only thing that would prove your capabilities would be actually working at that level.

You need to get over your "bad mood" and decide what you want here. If you want a new position, you should start applying. If you feel that you might be capable of filling a VP role, and if that's something you want to do, it probably makes sense to pursue such opportunities.

Eventually, you'll learn if the first opportunity was unique, or if other companies consider you to be VP material. Most VPs have Managers and/or Directors reporting to them. The fact that you don't have any direct reports and that you were seeking a manager role likely indicates that you don't think you are qualified to be a VP.

It's possible you are qualified, but there's only one way to find out.

  • I think I could fill the role. I already influence engineering managers and set strategic directions for equipment on plant. Thanks for the reply, it calcified what I was thinking. – scc268 Oct 22 '19 at 12:43

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