The first time I got the title of Senior, was roughly 3.5y after graduating. I knew my way around iOS. I had at that time more than 6 apps under my belt. I was confident about my skills. I have worked in Portugal, Switzerland and now in London. I was young and full of myself - of course.
If I am being honest, the moment I deserved to be called a senior was in my 2nd year at Babylon - roughly beginning of 2018. Give or take 7y after graduating. If I look at myself as if I was my own manager, I can’t conceive that I have had the title of senior so early in my career. I was technically decent, but I lacked a lot of other skills. Things like clear, concise communication (both written and spoken). Keeping stakeholders in the loop, pushing information to them, instead of them pulling it from me. But also being a team player.
The turning point in my career was when I received one of the worst reviews across the managers at Babylon. It made me reevaluate my posture and conduct. How to collaborate with others, and to think about the team first and myself later. I have no doubt that in 10 years when I look back at this post, I will have similar words. That I knew little and a lot of personal development was still ahead of me. I am certain of this, because I can see progress by just comparing myself to last year. But seniority is not bound to years of service. There’s a correlation, but you can find both situations: a junior with many years and a senior with few.
Today I find myself looking for a senior engineer. I have reviewed more than 80 cvs since November. Very few people, based on their cv, would fit this profile. I can empathise with everyone that applies. But the contrast between a “real” senior and an aspirant is considerable. The difference between the person that progressed the furthest, compared to the candidates that didn’t pass the first phone call is staggering. It’s not at all what’s on the paper, or even their technical ability. But how crystal clear they are when they express themselves. With eloquence, confidence and assertiveness. They know exactly what they want from the role and for themselves. You know the caliber of the candidate, just by the questions they ask. And how they see the interview as a two way process. Both parties need to put energy into it. Both parties need to want the same. The candidate evaluates the company as much as the company evaluates them. These are the best candidates - they know how good they are. If this doesn’t work, there are countless other companies that would be happy to have them.