Please stop calling yourself a junior developer

I never carry business cards anymore. Yet I still enjoy when other people give me theirs and I always keep them. Somehow I know they’ve spent too much time thinking about how their essence can be captured on a 5x9cm card.  But then there are the ones with the titles that infuriate me:

Junior Web Developer

Junior Creative Front-End Designer

Software Developer In The Making

It’s not just the business cards. I see it on CVs I review too. I want to scream. Junior developer is just a role: some say it means 0 experience, others ask for 1-3 years. The only thing that they agree on is that they will pay you less than all their other developers. Labelling yourself ‘junior’ is a sure way to undersell yourself and sabotage your negotiating powers before you even start.

The titles above happen to all be from women. But before you do bad data science let me tell you this is not a women problem, it’s an imposter syndrome problem. And imposter syndrome is something women-in-tech are more likely to suffer from because everyone keeps telling them they’re wrong all the time.

The thing is, if I was in the same position: just having completed a tech bootcamp, getting into a new field, I would probably do the same. I called myself the co-founder of the company I launched by myself (I told myself it sounded bigger & better that I worked with others to launch it). My interns kept calling me CEO before I would accept it was ok to call myself that (I told myself CEOs are too close to psychopaths, I shouldn’t label myself as such).

In my recent job hunt I had an offer I loved with a title I hated. I was fortunate enough to have Dawn Foster give me some straightforward advice: ‘Push for the director title’. I did and I got it. And I was so glad a thousand times before I even started the job. Titles shouldn’t matter so much but they do.

At first I hated that I needed to be told to do this. Now I see it is what it is – maybe I’ll figure it out one day, but in the meantime I’ll get faster at getting the right people to tell me how to see myself. And if you’re anything like me and need someone to tell you this, then here it is: ‘Drop the junior from your title’. You’re already there even if you don’t know it yet.

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