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I'm the only embedded developer in a young startup. There are two other devs who do web/cloud stuff, and their work is mostly silo-ed from mine. I was hired as the company's first employee to do embedded-heavy miscellaneous tech stuff, with a very nondescript job title of Product Engineer.

I want to have a conversation with my boss soon about changing this job title - I believe it makes the position sound more like a technician than representing what I've actually done: spec, develop the entirety of firmware and prototype schematics for our first product from scratch, while also working closely with our CTO to continually translate our client needs into technical requirements, and packaging up some things to be sent off to be worked by contractors. The thing is, I have no idea how to translate that into an appropriate job title.

The more senior of the two cloud devs has the title of Lead Developer and in conversation while he was being recruited I kept hearing the "lead" being strongly associated with "leading a team of people he'd hire under him" so it clearly doesn't apply to me as I'm a sole developer. (It's also annoying how his title makes it sound like he's leading the development of the embedded bits too, which isn't the case). I also don't see how I could call myself a "senior" dev, because (a) I don't have any "juniors" below me, (b) I only have 3.5 years industry experience total.

Anyway, that's the situation. I'd expect any insight into what you think my job title approach should be here.

  • Does this answer your question? How do I choose an appropriate job title? – gnat Jul 26 at 10:28
  • junior/senior is not relational. It's your level of experience. Only lead is a relational title. Of course lead of a team of 1 is fine, if outside people need to know who is lead of development and who can make decisions about development. – gnasher729 Jul 26 at 10:51
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Senior Developer (or Senior Software Developer, or Senior Software Engineer, or whatever) sounds fine from what you describe. There's no requirement for a senior to have someone junior beneath them. Nor is there necessarily a time limit, within reason - 3.5 years means you're no spring chicken, and you're developing software products from scratch, which some people I know with 10+ years experience couldn't do.

But job titles don't really matter. There's no industry standard and people read into them what they want. If it bothers you out of professional pride or you think your current title misrepresents what you do, sure, have the conversation with your boss. It'll probably be an easier conversation than getting a pay rise, which is something with an actual tangible cost to the business. (I personally know someone who got his job title officially changed to "Emulation Ninja" and a set of business cards to go with it. I'd have rather had an extra 10% in salary, but to each their own). If your CV lists "built product X on technology stack Y using language Z", that's what hiring managers are going to be interested in, not whether the sub-section title above it says "Product Engineer" versus "Senior Software Engineer".

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