Need advice to progress from a stagnating career

Booking.com  
Aug 23 165 Comments

Stuck with a developer role for the past 8 years. I'm in my current company for 5.5 years. My biggest mistake was probably not quitting this shit station early on and instead succumbing to workplace politics.

Most of my mates/ex-colleagues are now Principals, Sr. Managers or Directors. I have a strong interest towards a leadership role but the offers that I get from outside are only for a dev/sr dev role.

If I stay here I wouldn't see myself grow into a manager for at least another 2.5 years. How do I get out of this coder role and progress towards what I want to do in my life.

TC: €100k
Age: 31

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TOP 165 Comments
  • Facebook / Eng
    Gkurhhd

    Facebook Eng

    PRE
    Microsoft
    Gkurhhdmore
    No one will hire engineer without management experience into management role and promises from future employer about future progression, etc are mostly useless.

    Your only options for fast move to management are
    a) staying in current company, push for move into mavagement, stay 2-3 years in management role and then you may be able to move to different company as manager
    b) move as dev to fast growing company (>40% yoy growth) and convert there as growth creates opportunities
    Aug 23 4
    • Booking.com  
      OP
      So going with b) it would be an extremely early stage startup?

      On that note, would finding an own startup and running it for a few years be another option (just for the sake of experience) ? I have a bunch of niche ideas which I can easily demonstrate a growth up to a few hundred paying customers but don't know where to go from there.
      Aug 23
    • Zendesk / Eng greatfella
      An early stage startup should grow much more than 40% yty. Zendesk grows exactly that, and it’s been a public company for a few years.
      Aug 23
    • Fitbit lba575
      This is actually not true. Had a colleague nice to another company for the only reason they were willing to put him into a management track while current company was resisting
      Aug 23
    • Splunk / Eng ImaRainbow
      Splunk has grown 40% each year since it started 15 years ago. A handful of colleagues have made the jump from dev to mgmt track (though in SF Bay Area, mgmt is not more lucrative until you get above Director/M6 level). It’s not fast, not assured even in a fast-growing place. Once you get an HR department in place with enough clout to define roles and career tracks, it’s too late. That happened to Splunk at about the 3000 employee mark.

      Look for smaller companies but not necessarily so small that everything is chaos.
      Aug 23
  • Zendesk / Eng greatfella
    Following this, I’m in a similar situation myself.
    Aug 23 28
    • Tableau fragmented
      Thank you for sharing and what seems to me, for being vulnerable. It can't be easy.

      How many people does your direct boss manage? How often do you have a 1:1? How often do you speak about your career aspirations with your boss?

      If you feel that you are not on equal footing because of your immigration status, why is that?

      Have you spoken to your manager about how you feel with respect to their words of your ideas in front of a such a large audience?

      Chase is a very old company for the US. Which means they should have a well established HR department, training opportunities, mentors, sponsors, etc. But they're also a bank which is likely not as forward thinking or able to adapt as quickly, culturally, as a company that started in this century. Their philosophy may differ significantly from tech first companies. Which means finding many mentors and sponsors, within Chase is very important.

      As to the comment about sending people back to another country, I'm sorry to hear that was inferred let alone possibly said out loud. The climate as of late has meant less tolerance, which stinks. I cannot fathom that experience as I am a US citizen.

      I do not think you meant to push buttons. I read your words as one seeking advice and ensuring we had the context to offer it.

      Am I to understand that you've since left that job under that manager and are now unhappy in your current job? You are underpaid - what does that mean? Are you living comfortably but know you can make more? Or are you living paycheck to paycheck?

      BTW - I think many, at some point, leave a job they like, not of their own volition. Not a fun answer, but it's not rare.
      Aug 25
    • Chase / Eng Sha_
      No, it isn't easy to write something like this. It's very hard. People usually don't write this type of thing in public forums but I really think it's a high time for people to learn about different situations since the answers are always the same.

      HR sucks. Been there so many times. Nothing.... And 1:1 doesn't work.

      Parallel jumps within an org means you make the same amount of money but in a different team with different tech.
      Aug 26
    • Chase / Eng Sha_
      I'm removing some parts of it. But I hope you got the gist of it
      Aug 26
    • Tableau fragmented
      I did, I do. Sometimes it really is the people. And if there's a clash? I learned the hard way and hit a considerable low point a few years back. I have personal experience with it. And now I have personal experience of coming out on the other side. Life is not fair and wasn't to me (although I do know how live in a first world country so that statement is relative). And I had to make changes as a result.
      Aug 28
    • Chase / Eng Sha_
      For an immigrant the first generation has a hard time learning. Next generation learns more... First generation also have to deal with their previous gen which at an old age for majority won't be able to learn much. Hence first gen takes a step back to create a balance .
      Aug 29
  • New / Eng qwerty41+1
    You get out one step at a time. Go to interviews and ask how the future looks like in the position or what are the possibilities to grow.

    Be clear and be focused.
    Aug 23 0
  • Microsoft mSPq73
    I don't get it. Devs and managers make the same amount of money at the same level. If you are good at being a dev, why would you want to move to management? For the extra stress?
    Aug 23 18
    • Lyft / Eng
      skeucbqqq

      Lyft Eng

      PRE
      Facebook, Microsoft
      skeucbqqqmore
      If the guilt of letting someone down is what driving you, I’d say you get this life wrong.
      Aug 23
    • Splunk 73bfop
      If you think the act of making myself better to make my family and our beliefs have more influence is wrong, then I question your life choices as well, and we'll have to end this here my friend.

      I've been fortunate enough to live on both sides of the economic and education spectrums. There is very little difference between a rich and poor person besides what they were born into and what opportunities were afforded to them during their time here (and their ability to act on them). If anything, I wish I was able to revert to ignorance and go to a time where I thought the point of life was about getting wealthy enough to retire and drink margaritas all day.
      Aug 23
    • Lyft / Eng
      skeucbqqq

      Lyft Eng

      PRE
      Facebook, Microsoft
      skeucbqqqmore
      Spend more time with your family instead of aiming for a career, that would be my advice. Apologies, did not want to guilt or accuse anyone here 😀 Cheers!
      Aug 23
    • Splunk 73bfop
      Indeed
      Aug 23
    • Booking.com vdjd64688
      PResTiGe
      Aug 23
  • Amazon crushcandy
    I hired a career coach. Trust me it’s not about changing jobs. You’ll be right back at shit station before you know it. Stagnation isn’t about the job alone, its your actual fit, meaning values and passions that need exploration and clarity. Once you know more about those internal drivers, the right work/job starts to come into focus.
    Aug 23 7
    • Google dumbfcuk
      Wow a career coach! Where to find one?
      Aug 23
    • Google mfipa9
      +1, link?
      Aug 24
    • Accenture shortsell
      I have one too. Part psychologist-part coach. They have varying degrees of value but can be very expensive (I spend $450 a week, but I've doubled my income in the last year and I intend to double it every 2 years going forward), try searching LinkedIn. I got lucky I found mine via an intro from a friend but it's a small practice.
      Aug 24
    • Riot Games / Manufacturing EoH49
      Wow that sounds like a great investment!
      Aug 24
    • Accenture shortsell
      I don't have a "special talent" for management/leadership just been going out of my way to set intentions, build habits and routines, and putting my superiors on notice that I have ambitions on getting to the next level so if I'm not doing what I need to be doing to get there then they need to tell me.
      Aug 24
  • Microsoft / Product
    Brazuka

    Microsoft Product

    PRE
    Bain & Company
    Brazukamore
    Majority of 31yo are not principals nor managers.
    Aug 23 2
    • This
      Aug 23
    • Swallow your pride. You were nothing great. Just a stackoverflow tester
      Aug 23
  • LinkedIn bliz
    Just know when the next recession hits, looks like pretty soon with all the geo-political shit, the mid management ppl will be the ones to get axed first..

    Becoming manager is not career growth!! It is just moving to a different game.
    Aug 23 6
    • Ripple UoNS08
      directors often make more money than ICs of any level (if it's not Google). It's not necessarily true for engineering managers
      Aug 23
    • LinkedIn billz
      Mid-management is definitely not the first to get axed. The upper management cannot handle dozens of reports each.

      Whole orgs or companies might get cut, but they're not dropping managers first.
      Aug 23
    • Netflix login
      Why do you say mid management get axed? Usually it's an entire unit that doesn't produce anything worth while for the company, ie: research projects, silo teams, overly crowded org that need trimming.
      Aug 24
    • Amazon Shetty
      It’s not that manager get axed first, there will be an entire sub-group that get axed. The problem is it is much harder to find an opportunity as manager then as a dev. And this is true even when economy is doing good.
      Aug 24
    • Facebook / Eng
      dividebyz

      Facebook Eng

      PRE
      Facebook
      dividebyzmore
      Recruiters, program managers and non technical managers are usually the first to get axed. I've been part of lay off discussions. When shit hits the fan, everyone realizes what the real dead weight is.
      Aug 25
  • Yelp
    real_dick

    Yelp

    PRE
    Google
    real_dickmore
    Too low TC for that age. You must be really bad
    Aug 23 3
    • NewRelic / Eng grock
      He's not in the bay area, derpy
      Aug 23
    • Username lines up
      Aug 23
    • Microsoft / Product
      WishIWasXB

      Microsoft Product

      BIO
      High performing PM. Really wish I could find a good PM position in XBOX. PLEASE pm me with any decent positions in XBOX or VR.
      WishIWasXBmore
      Dude is in UK as well, so he's at $120k really. This jump to an assumption makes you sound really bad. ;)
      Aug 24
  • Oracle qawsedcxz
    To get into management you need 2 things. 1. You inherently have good management skills and can prove it. 2 is getting the opportunities to step into that role. I have known and groomed a number of people who are good at first part but #2 is very tough and is based on luck.
    And if it really takes 2.5 yrs for you to become a manager at current firm, i would say the probability is less than 25%. 2.5 years is long time and you could very well explore opportunities outside so that you get a chance at showing your leadership skills and climb up the ladder.
    Aug 23 4
    • NewRelic / Eng grock
      If one needed to be inherently good at management, then there would only be good managers. Three ways I know of:

      1. Your start-up that succeeds.
      2. Luck, and another manager wants you to manage.
      3. Your start-up fails, but you still had legit people management experience, building a team, having reports, and managing people.
      Aug 23
    • Chase / Eng Sha_
      The first line 👍
      Aug 24
    • Facebook / Eng
      dividebyz

      Facebook Eng

      PRE
      Facebook
      dividebyzmore
      I aspire to to be bad manager. This post convinced me that I have the skills.
      Aug 24
    • Chase / Eng Sha_
      I agree with newrelic
      Aug 24
  • Cognizant / Other randommmmm
    Management is a clerical job where you get paid for being blamed for other people's screw ups, to make other people work, and for lying your butt off to sell your team's " automation" or " innovation". Mgmt and esp people mgmt is not for everyone, and nowhere do mgrs these days get paid better than coders. Choose wisely.
    Aug 23 0
  • Kaspersky Lab / HR
    mayfair

    Kaspersky Lab HR

    PRE
    Heineken
    mayfairmore
    I know everyone here hates HR, but I will try and explain how things work.
    So, I had a coachee who wants to become a manager, and 6M after he got promoted we were building a plan for him to get back to development. So you need to figure out if that what’s you want. At my experience the worst coders are becoming best managers, no offense to managers here. If you really love coding you are gonna hate being manager.

    Now, if that’s what you want, your best shot is to get promoted from the inside, companies rarely hire ex-developers for managerial roles.

    To get promoted you need to do 2 things:
    1) Find very important project that nobody wants, take a lead and make it happen
    2) Tell your manager that you want to move into managerial role and ask for an advise.
    Aug 23 4
    • eBay ldrjf
      Agree with this 100%. Easiest way to move into a new role is to do it within the company you are at. Start telling people what you want. Find people who have the role you want in your company and ask them if you can help them with anything and tell them you are interested in having a role like theirs someday. Ask them to lunch. The more people you tell, the next time a role opens up, they will think of you.
      Aug 23
    • Kaspersky Lab / HR
      mayfair

      Kaspersky Lab HR

      PRE
      Heineken
      mayfairmore
      Also, don’t hesitate to apply for positions. General rule, if you’re a man and 60% qualified for the job, apply for sure. If you’re a woman apply too, but general chances of getting the job at 60% readiness are higher for men.
      Also, if you’re a woman, there is a specific way how to ask for a promotion.
      Aug 24
    • Tanium vpkf8y
      What specific way to ask if you’re a woman @mayfair?
      Aug 24
    • Kaspersky Lab / HR
      mayfair

      Kaspersky Lab HR

      PRE
      Heineken
      mayfairmore
      vpkf8y, what I often see is that women are going to ask for a promotion/salary raise with conflicting motivations. They want to be liked and respected in the process in the same time, which is not achievable. Their subconscious people pleaser is getting ahold of them and they do not deliver clear message.
      So first thing you should do is to check out your wish to be liked at the door.
      Then you need to come up with clear and concise arguments addressing 2 points:
      1) Why you think you deserve it and what are your ideas for the new role. Just good performance is not enough for promotion, it’s better if you can demonstrate that you exceeds.
      2) Why you can’t accept lower offer. Women often say ok to lowballing, or being to emotional about it. You should avoid being labeled as dramatic at all cost. So you need to have rehearsed arguments. I often recommend to read a book “Never Split the Difference” to line up your arguments on that one.

      Not all women are like that, but I find it very common as this reflects expectations society put on them through their life.

      I would recommend to be direct and ask for a feedback as well. Even if you don’t get the job, managers usually are happy to provide a feedback if you make them comfortable to do so.
      I find that both men and women managers expect women to be emotional when they get rejected, so you need to work through that bias, unfortunately.
      If you do they will remember that you want a promotion or raise, and that you asked for a feedback. So they will think of you when the next opportunity comes up. And they will be perceptive when you ask again.

      I hope it wasn’t too long and somewhat offensive.

      Also, you’re in cyber as I am. It not very well diverse industry. We will be having maybe 20% of women next year, and we were at only 11% 2 years ago. Men working here could be kinda subconsciously biased, so I would also recommend to connect to female leaders in Tanium and ask for a bit of mentorship, so you to have people fighting for you behind closed doors.
      Aug 25
  • Hotwire Victor333
    Go for MBA? Pay the price and get the degree?
    Aug 23 7
    • NewRelic / Eng grock
      A communications degree is a scam
      Aug 23
    • Charles Schwab zBot🤖
      Comms degree, why? You in employee communications?
      Aug 23
    • Hotwire Victor333
      People go for an MBA for growing in their career and moving into management. It may not be so useful or helpful for getting into engineering management but usually happens to be the entry point for Product Management. Once you get into Product Management, moving into program or engineering management might be much easier. I think MBA is still quite popular nowadays, although maybe more so for building networks and getting elite school names on your resume. Check out INSEAD. Getting in might not be as easy as you might expect for a useless degree.
      Aug 23
    • Hotwire Victor333
      Yeah, MBA seems more like a brand/network thing.
      Aug 23
    • Splunk / Eng ImaRainbow
      MBA programs are a lottery to get in. Odds are crazy-low unless you’re (a) 24 to 29, with (b) a couple years of work at a name-brand financial-consulting or VC company and (c) some sort of international background that makes you stand out. And each application is a lot of work. As noted, only top-20 schools have a brand that will make any difference if your TC is already $180K+.
      Aug 25
  • Lyft / Eng
    skeucbqqq

    Lyft Eng

    PRE
    Facebook, Microsoft
    skeucbqqqmore
    I’m never leaving development! So much money and opportunities for such a simple job :-)
    Aug 23 6
    • Lyft / Eng
      skeucbqqq

      Lyft Eng

      PRE
      Facebook, Microsoft
      skeucbqqqmore
      I’ll stay optimistic ✌️🌹
      Aug 23
    • Ripple UoNS08
      What are you doing to do when you're 50+? It'll be hard to compete with youngsters
      Aug 23
    • Lyft / Eng
      skeucbqqq

      Lyft Eng

      PRE
      Facebook, Microsoft
      skeucbqqqmore
      How about living somewhere warm and cheap? And don’t work.
      Aug 23
    • Ripple UoNS08
      Lyft, I like your plan in general but what about medical services quality? Usually if it's warm and cheap, they're not that good.
      Aug 24
    • Splunk / Eng ImaRainbow
      The FIRE amount required to GTFO is inversely proportional to your age. Health care is currently ~$10K/year for non-family coverage. If you’re paying that for 60 years, with inflation, that’s a much bigger amount than if you’re older and need only 20 years of banked funds to cover it. Likewise for every other future expense: meals, housing, cars, airline tickets, booze.

      Got $2 million plus a paid-off house, and you’re 60? Go for retirement. Got $7 million and you’re 30? Work several more years.
      Aug 25
  • Tesla / Eng bckstabd
    If you want to be a manager, start acting like one. Take on enough responsibility to justify hiring someone to help you. Sort through resumes, do the phone screens, etc.. do the training and onboarding when that person joins. Take ownership of projects and do what it takes for them to succeed. Try to think from the company's perspective.

    If you do all this, I'll be hard for your company but to recognize reality and give you the title. If they still didn't, you can at least cite your experience leading others on your next job interview for manager
    Aug 25 4
    • Google MakeMeL6
      Which world are you in? I never saw any manager doing these in my 10 years of experience.
      Aug 26
    • New / Mgmt
      griesrt1

      New Mgmt

      PRE
      Flipboard
      griesrt1more
      I’ve done exactly this and now I’m a principal software engineer with a team of three. I do regular 1-1s and lead other teams. I’ve been doing this for over a year and I’m still not being promoted to even “engineering manager”. I’m leaving now
      Aug 26
    • Tesla / Eng bckstabd
      @MakeMeL6 I do recognize different companies and teams are different. I'm describing the general flow here at Tesla.

      @griesrt1 sounds like you're ready for the tail-end of my advice: if the company doesn't recognize you're walking the walk, is time to walk. This time you'll have the actual management experience and perspective to help you land the title at the best company
      Aug 26
    • New / Mgmt
      griesrt1

      New Mgmt

      PRE
      Flipboard
      griesrt1more
      I hope so. I have around 1.5 years of management experience now and a good amount of architecture work.
      Aug 26
  • Facebook neco
    How did your ex colleagues get to be principals and directors?
    Aug 23 2
    • Booking.com hTd53d
      Mostly being in the right place at the right time, with the right friends.
      Aug 23
    • Salesforce shaman
      Especially at age 31, that sounds crazy
      Aug 23
  • Expedia Group / Finance !🥓🥓!
    Rise, by Patty Azzarello. She lays it all out - how to look at your career and how to succeed at it.
    Aug 24 1
    • Intel / Eng mr_pleb
      Thanks for sharing ! I went ahead and got the audio book and so far it's awesome. A much needed cold shower.
      Aug 28
  • Booking.com ugwU54
    Being from Booking myself, I know that they are looking for TLs big time. What you can do is ask to be Acting TL and taste the role. Being acting TL myself I can tell you that you have to be ready to drop most of your craft time, but I guess that’s what you want to go for.

    Otherwise, set becoming a manager as your development goal, use the opportunity of internal trainings that booking offers about becoming a manager and add them all to your Linekdin proving at least you have a theory if not a practice. Also use trainings that bookong pays for you on udemy, lynda, coursera etc and do those, add them to your Linekdin.

    And the last one, talk to your manager and ask to take over some managerial tasks as you want to progress towards a role.

    Once you are doing it, you’re first in a line to be offered TL role. Not sure why you think it would take another 2,5y. It’s a lateral move and does not require regular promotions process.

    Good luck!!!!
    Aug 23 3
    • Accenture Subtilis
      Sorry to go off track - interesting that Booking pays for professional development on Udemy, Lynda and Coursera.
      Aug 24
    • Booking.com ugwU54
      Yes, very nice perk indeed. We have an access to loads of courses on different websites and you can access them anytime from work or home and don’t need any manager approval. So all up to you if and what you want to learn
      Aug 24
    • Booking.com  
      OP
      Been trying for a TL role for 3 years now. My manager now is asking me to forget the TL path and go Engineering Manager.

      Since we both know it takes 2 EEs to become a Senior which therefore at least 12-18 months and then 12 months of further politics for EM role.
      Sep 4
  • NVIDIA gruse
    What are the advantages of manager roles over being an individual contributor?
    Aug 23 1
    • NewRelic / Eng grock
      Broader impact.
      Aug 23
  • Microsoft / Product
    WishIWasXB

    Microsoft Product

    BIO
    High performing PM. Really wish I could find a good PM position in XBOX. PLEASE pm me with any decent positions in XBOX or VR.
    WishIWasXBmore
    The red flag here is that you mention politics and don't mention what you've discussed with your manager or team's leadership. If you want to be a manager, set that expectation with yours and build a plan with them. If they can't work with you towards that career goal, it's time to find a manager who can, but you have to be the focused one driving that conversation.
    Aug 24 0
  • Microsoft NoDA57
    1) if you like programming why do you want to become a manager and 2) why do you think you will be a good manager? You are in a shitty job that made you lose your appetite to be a developer. I'm in the same position as you. It's matter of finding the right job. And regarding "broader impact' you can do a lot of impact as a developer. Bullshit political sharks make you believe you have to be them to have greater impact. But that's their way to leech out your work. Do you think Linus Torvalds put his code in 90% of all machines by being a manager? Or do you think being a developer he doesn't have impact? Value your work, leave the shitty company and sell yourself really expensive
    Aug 23 0