I am a Software Engineer with a career plan. Its not a grand plan with big ideas. I just want to progress through some roles to hit every aspect of product development.
- Junior Software Engineer [check]
- Software Engineer [check]
- Senior Engineer
- Software Team Lead
- Systems Architect or equivalent
I cannot seem to make it to Step 3 of my plan with my current employer and I'm worried I am held back by age discrimination. The standard answer is obvious - 'find another job'. I've interviewed and been offered the salary I want, the title I want (Senior Engineer) and the pension I want but for whatever reason, its never worked out.
We have a serious period of hiring coming up and I want to position myself to take advantage of promotion opportunities. As the youngest I am concerned that this will not be possible.
Here are the facts:
- There are 7 software engineers in my team
- I am the youngest software engineer by at least 10 years but I am over 30
- I am the most junior member of the team - everyone else, even the software tester is a Senior Engineer
- I have been told by my manager that I am working at a senior level
- I earn the market rate for a senior engineer
- I design all of the high level views of our systems - desktop, cloud, embedded. -The design input from others engineers is very limited - this has been noted by management
- I maintain all of our development tool chains on my own
- All other software engineers have refused to do any overtime during business critical periods
- I have trained other engineers in my field (C#) to cross-train our small team
- I have mentored graduates and work placement students
- I have been in this role for 3 years and have survived 2 rounds of redundancy and 2 large departmental reorganisations.
All I'm after is that job title so that I can work with the authority of the role and legitimately train for the next.
At its bitterest, the pattern is very clear to me. I am the youngest and I am the most junior. This is expected. However, I am also performing the role that my seniors should be, but do/will not. There is no ego here. I know I am not a software messiah but I do my best.
Is this age discrimination or simply a bottleneck arising from an ageing population?
How can I position myself properly in this environment?
Clarification #1 - I have asked for the promotion and I received a good salary increase but not the title. While my manager was enthusiastic about my request (and I try and keep that conversation open in bi-annual reviews) the title was denied due to something behind the scenes that I do not understand.
Clarification #2 - This is not a source of unhappiness for me and I do feel highly valued by management. As some commenters have pointed out, the job title is only a personal goal and is not that important. I see it as another challenge to conquer. It is occasionally vexing, as at times I feel that I lack the authority to make positive changes. That may be unrelated but it feeds into my desire to establish what the culture is, and how to move within it.