I have reached a very peculiar point in my career, and I am struggling to find the path forward. I am a hands-on team lead with 20+ years of experience with 3 direct reports. I work for a large financial firm in New York City. My current company is undergoing a dramatic change in management and priorities, and I feel that it is time to move on elsewhere.
However, I have encountered some difficulties. It is quite hard to procure a job that would not be a step back for me in terms of career advancement and/or compensation. I want to continue to be a hands-on lead or, perhaps, an architect. I don't want to become a hands-off manager, and I don't want to go back to be an individual contributor. Unfortunately, almost all jobs that I receive through networking and via recruiters are individual contributor roles. Another snag is that after 13+ years in big financial firms in New York City I ended up getting paid really well. This prices me out of most senior developer jobs, and even of most architect/lead jobs.
I did manage to find a good lead, but these people were originally looking for an individual contributor, and promised to give me a team and a higher pay only as an exception. I definitely would not have gotten this special treatment if I did not have my current job. Incidentally, this is exactly how I found my current job: they wanted a good coder, but gave in to my demand to lead a team.
It seems that people are willing to pay good money for my services, but only big corporations can afford that, and even there I do not fit the regular salary structure, so I need to go through the process of lengthy negotiations, exceptions, and special favors.
Frankly, I find this situation alarming and unstable, and I want to do something about it. What is the best strategy to procure a hands-on team lead position? I see lots of openings for coders, some for hands-off managers, but very few, if any, for team leads.