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How Long Should Junior Developers Introduce Themselves As "Junior Developers"?

rachelsoderberg profile image Rachel Soderberg ・2 min read

This is a little bit different than my normal weekly articles. Instead of giving you my own two cents, I'm looking for your opinions on a topic that came to mind recently as I made a few changes to my online presence.

A little background on myself: I just passed one year in my career as a full-time professional Software Developer (yay!) and although I would still consider myself to be a Junior Developer, I decided to remove the "Junior" portion from all of my career-based introductions and profiles and instead simply use ".NET Developer" or "Software Developer".

The reason I chose to make this change has to do with my worry about self-imposed limitations. I am getting more comfortable with much of the things required to be a decent developer - information gathering, product development (before writing code), writing code, refactoring in a pragmatic way, finding good edge cases, and running through a rigorous QA process before releasing to Production. I am certainly no expert, but I'm starting to feel the pieces coming together.

So my question to you, the reader, is:
How long should Junior Developers continue to advertise themselves to the world as a Junior Developer?

  • Would you consider there to be a particular 'rite of passage' that a developer should meet before they are not immediately considered a Junior?
  • As an interviewer, would you disqualify a developer who opted not to include Junior/Mid-Level/Senior in their own self-qualification, or would you interview them and come to your own conclusion?
  • How significant are these titles to others in the field?
  • I am not actively job seeking, but do you think I am false-advertising myself?
  • Anything else I didn't consider?

This is something I've been mulling over for the last week or so and I am excited to get a discussion going on this!

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rachelsoderberg profile

Rachel Soderberg

@rachelsoderberg

I'm a Software Developer who loves working with C#.NET and Salesforce. In my free time I lift weights, do martial arts, and play video games.

Discussion

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Never.

(But then I never had P plates on my car after passing my test)

Call yourself new on your first day or first week as an icebreaker to get to know people. Other than that, don't qualify it.

In most places titles are meaningless, focus on skills. Do you do data, JavaScript, advocacy, mentoring, leading, customer-facing support, operations?

Congratulations on being a paid developer for a year. No junior about it.

 

I can only answer for myself, but...

Would you consider there to be a particular 'rite of passage' that a developer should meet before they are not immediately considered a Junior?

Maybe having broken the production environment and taken ownership of that fact? It's going to happen eventually, so it might make a good rite of passage!

As an interviewer, would you disqualify a developer who opted not to include Junior/Mid-Level/Senior in their own self-qualification, or would you interview them and come to your own conclusion?

I would definitely want to talk to them either way. If they replied to the job posting, I assume they felt qualified!

do you think I am false-advertising myself?

Not at all. I feel like junior/mid-level/senior labels vary so much from place to place, anyway. If you honestly list your skills and accomplishments, people can draw their own conclusions from there.

Congrats on hitting the year mark. :)

 

Well, I have DEFINITELY broken production. I even deleted a production application once. Thankfully we got it restored from backup before the Sales team noticed their orders wouldn't go through. :)

Thanks for your insight, that makes me feel more sure about my decision!

 

Why would you ever be a junior developer? 🤔 Isn't just a way for companies to pay less?

 

Well, when you want to break in the industry, you first search for internships. After 2- 3 internships you start applying for junior positions.
But those positions usually ask for 2 years experience as a junior already :-)
It's how it goes, at least on all jobs boards.
Some even break junior position even further in entry level juniors, medium level juniors etc

 

I was one of those who managed to skip the internships and jump straight into Junior level positions, so that makes sense. I applied for a ton of internships alongside jobs, but they had a number of reasons why they declined me, mainly because I was already so close to done with school by the time I was searching.

I am in that position right now :-D Not exactly a student :-))
Well I guess you won't change your job too soon, this means even more experience and at this point it really wouldn't make any sense to keep the junior tag.

 

Yea it very well could be a way for them to pay less, when I was job searching I was probably denied some positions because my desired salary was "too high" - but really I was just asking entry level developer market price.

 

I wouldn't put a particular level, unless the job I was applying for required a specific level and I knew my current peers would consider me at or above that if asked for reference. At the end of the day we're all developers and every company's levels are based on different merits, show the best you at interview and they should be able to correctly work out your level based on their criteria.
However offical progression with a company tends to be a little slower than reputational progression but unless it means a difference in compensation (pay/benefits etc) then I wouldn't worry about offical levels

 

Most of the job descriptions for junior software developers require 2 years experience in a similar position, so I guess 2 years is reasonable enough.
Of course I've seen job descriptions that required more, but I guess more than 2 years is a bit stretched.

 

Congratulations on your anniversary! I have been in the industry for a while, and I understand hiring at junior, mid, and senior levels so that expectations are set appropriately, I don't think people should introduce themselves as those levels and just state what they do. Let other's decide what level they think you are and just focus on doing the best you can and progressing yourself at your pace. The rest will come.

 

Given how ridiculous and arbitrary this industry can be about titles, definitely not any point after you've been hired for your first position, at the latest.

 

You have a 45 year career in front of you. Say you see yourself as senior after 3 or 5 years. Most don't realize that you have just reached the pinnacle of your title career, any other title is just fluff to give you the impression you actually have a career path.

 

I'm studying Computer Science, and therefor I'm sure that I will be an own-employed Web Dev by more than 1 year (yeah, I make websites as a freelancer). So in my case I will be Junior Dev by more than 1 year. But if you already had your full-time job, forget about Junior, just tell people what you do, and fight for being recogniced. If you are good at it doesn't matter your seniority. If you have projects to backup your knowledge, that's it.

Here in Argentina seniority is pretty relative. Between 1 and 2 years of experience could be considerer a semi-senior level, sometimes not oficially, but in the cash... or some person with a degree may start as a Senior Dev, without previous full-time jobs.

How significant are this titles to others in the field? Well, that's pretty much on to you, if you tell every person your level, and you put the line between yourself and other... well that difference counts. But if you see every one else like a collegue, without feeling your self less or more than others, well that difference eventually will mean nothing.

You are not false-advertising yourself Rachel ;)

Greetings!

 

Thanks for the insight! I especially like how you said "just tell people what you do, and fight to be recognized." I'm still realizing that much of our qualifications are based on previous projects and recommendation by previous clients (in the case of freelancers).

 

One or two years max. Then you either become early-mid or you are marked as inadequate :P

 

I skipped Junior positions and jumped right into a senior one and have had five senior positions since.

 

Oh wow! How did you manage that?

 

Taught myself to code when I was 8, freelanced until I turned 16 then I was picked up by a company in Las Vegas and worked there for a year then started my own business that I still run. Then in April I was hired by Kayser-Roth where I work now.

 

I think you just don't say your one since I never like job titles as it never truly reflect on what you do.