Job Promotion Is a Trap

13 January 2019 · Vilnius, Lithuania · comments

We love job promotion. The promotion gives us a sense of career progress:

junior developer → developer → senior developer → principal developer → architect → senior architect → chief architect → CTO → CIO (Career Is Over).

With every unlocked achievement, we earn more $, and our social status grows. We are moving towards our dream. We are happy, and life is good.

But job promotion is a tool that employers use, to make us stay at the company longer.


To make you stay at the company, employers must give you what you need – recognition and a sense of progress.

To keep you happy, the promotion must be regular. Sooner or later, like in Mexico, all programmers in your company will become Señors. Reaching the highest rank is also not hard – you just have to stay in the company longer than others.

© Office Space (1999) by Mike Judge

Congratulations, you are Chief Software Architect. Your friends envy you, and your social status is high. To make things worse, the employer pays you 50% above the market average. Now you are happy to do tedious paperwork, attend meetings and draw boxes.

Now imagine that the company goes out of business. Or the company fires you.

You start attending job interviews. After a series of devastating rejections, you understand that you are not as good as you thought. You are nothing. The money and social status you had is gone. For a long time, you were living inside the bubble:

© The Truman Show (1998) by Peter Weir

Remember:

Your current job title means nothing.

The more the company needs you, the more it will do to keep you. The company will feed you with promises, loud job titles, and bonuses. But no one really cares about your career and safety. Job security is like Santa Claus – it does not exist. Your career and safety is your responsibility.

Validate your seniority.

Even if you have a good job, attend job interviews often. At least 3 times in a year. I also recommend setting up a reminder.

Try different companies located in different countries.

Getting a job in a small country is not the same as getting a good job in London or Silicon Valley. Try places with developed IT market and high competition. You will know how demanded you are on the global market.

Use companies in a different country as a testing environment. Your country of living is your production environment. You don’t have to relocate or travel. Change your LinkedIn location to London and buy a disposable mobile number. Voila! You are Londoner. There are thousands of companies looking for developers.

Interviews will reveal a lack of necessary technical, problem-solving or communication skills. With every interview, you will learn, improve and become better professional.

One day, getting a job in a highly-competitive Valley won’t be a problem. You will have many job opportunities and career options. Options equal freedom.

The only measure of seniority is freedom. Freedom to decide what to do, for how much money, for what company, and whether to do something at all.

Stop living in a bubble. Regular job interviews won’t let you get trapped in a bubble and will facilitate professional growth.

© The Truman Show (1998) by Peter Weir