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In the beginning of the year I was looking for a job, and found this really cool company that had a 'Software Developer' position, which I applied for, but later on the interview process, they assessed me into a 'Junior Developer' position. I know I was somehow low-balled , but still, they were paying way more for the junior position than other companies would pay for a middle level developer (surprisingly, even for me) - and again, the company really fitted my values and it seemed to be a nice place to work, so I went for it.

By the end of the year, I will be having my first performance review, and I would like to know how to leverage my strong points in order to ask for a promotion to a middle developer position.

My justifications are:

  • taking care of major changes in the codebase (front and back-end)
  • keeping code standards high (TDD, clean code, design patterns, et cetera)
  • able to work without major supervision
  • Quick with solutions for most problems
  • Excellent soft skills good relationships on all levels (PMs, designers, QA teams)

The KPIs have been good, from the first performance review that I had (30 days), the feedback was excellent, to the comments from my coworkers on PRs (Pull Requests)

I was thinking about keeping a list of things that I've helped to improve or optimize, as well as the ones that I took ownership of.

How can I present these achievements to promote myself in the upcoming performance review in a way that might help with getting promoted to a position that reflects my actual level instead of "junior"

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You're approaching it from the wrong angle. Instead of saying "I've done x, y z, don't I deserve a better title", try "Here are my accomplishments. What are the requirements for a promotion to the next level?".

It may be that in going thru the requirements, your manager will realize that yes, you do deserve a promotion. Or he may list out some additional things you need to work on. Either way, it's not going to get into an argument, it will be a profitable discussion.

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    This is a good answer. The only change I suggest is to not ask for a "change in title" but ask for a "promotion to the next level". Asking for a change in title works against the OP in two ways - first, it might make it look like the OP is "status" obsessed, which can rub some the wrong way (or looking for a title upgrade before a job search) - second, it makes it easy for the company to upgrade the title only, when they might have been considering an actual promotion with a raise in pay and responsibilities – dan.m was user2321368 Aug 25 at 14:21
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    @dan.mwasuser2321368 good point, I edited that into my answer. – DaveG Aug 25 at 18:35
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The key is to outline your achievements in the form of CAR stories (Challenge, Action, Result).

We faced challenge "C", where I took "A" action, and the result was "R".

The book "Brag, how to toot your own horn without blowing it" is an excellent reference on just how to do it. I've used it, and it worked very well for me.

Since you already have more than adequate pay, you may want to stress the fact that you want a title change more than a pay increase.

From your tone, it seems that you want recognition more than anything else. So, I suggest this in your review.

Have a backup plan "B".

If it stalls, and you can't get the promotion or more pay, ask for more responsibilities, and then push on the next one.

Your instincts are good, document everything you are doing, and keep your managers aware of it. Promoting yourself should be constant, not just at performance review time so that your managers are not surprised at the amount of work you are doing, or its quality.

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    "Since you already have more than adequate pay, you may want to stress the fact that you want a title change more than a pay increase." - I think that's a very poor strategy. The company has a model for what they pay a developer at each level. Either they will evaluate the OP and consider him a junior, or they will realize that he is actually performing at a higher tier, and give a real promotion. By just asking for a title change, the OP is going to be very quickly the lowest paid developer at his level, and will be back on workplace.se with another question! – dan.m was user2321368 Aug 25 at 14:29
  • @dan.mwasuser2321368 I've taken this route personally, which is how I went from being unemployed/unemployable, to volunteer work, to retail, to data entry and back to programming after a stroke, so I know for a fact that this approach works. You get the title first, then worry about the pay if you're making enough. He may well start out as the lowest paid dev of his rank, but that's what puts him in the better position in his NEXT review. You need to play the game to get back in the action after being out of work – Old_Lamplighter Aug 25 at 14:40
  • The OP never mentioned anything about coming back to work after an extended absence. In that case, it might very well make sense to offer oneself " at a discount" to encourage someone to take a chance with them, but it isn't clear the OP is describing the same situation. – dan.m was user2321368 Aug 25 at 15:28
  • @dan.mwasuser2321368 The strategy works, regardless. I use myself as an extreme example, but it works in less extreme cases. OP is in a very good situation, he's making enough to live, more than he was, and can advance. No need to get greedy, and goodwill is marketable. – Old_Lamplighter Aug 25 at 15:45
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TL;DR: Don't wait for your annual review. Be proactive!

First things first: I have read many articles that claim that millennials (and now Gen Z) are overly obsessed with job titles. In particular, they do not like derogatory labels such as "junior", "associate", or "assistant". This dislike of derogatory labels attached to ones job title is not unique to your generation. My generation (boomer) also did not like such labels when we were young. I suspect the dislike goes way back for many generations.

I do not know the culture of your employer. They might be overly stodgy, in which case you might well be stuck with the "junior" classification for some time. But then again, you might not. The only way you can know which is the case is to discuss this with your supervisor(s).

I suggest you bring this up with your supervisor before your annual review. If your employer is anywhere close to open, you should be able to have a conversation with your supervisor at any time of the year rather than just at your annual review. Passively waiting until your annual review to bring up an issue that obviously bothers you is too late.

Ask for a brief discussion about your career with your supervisor. Tell your supervisor you don't want to wait until your annual review, that this is in prep for your review. When it comes time to have that conversation, ask for a minute or so to speak your mind. Very briefly state up front that you do not like the "junior" qualifier attached to your title. Then briefly mention some of the things that you have done that qualify as "above and beyond". Do not take long. This should again be brief. Finally, ask what else you need to do between now and your annual review so as to have that qualifier removed from your title.

In this conversation, you need to be prepared for the worst, which in this case is that you might be stuck with the "junior" moniker until you have at least two (or more) years of work experience. Some employers are stodgy with regard to job titles; most are not. Even if they are stodgy with regard to job titles, you need to ask yourself how much that matters. If they are equally stodgy with regard to roles, responsibilities, and compensation, it perhaps might be time to look elsewhere. But if the stodginess applies only to job title, does it really matter?

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