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What the Title “Senior Developer” Really Means

Interestingly enough, most of the 25 year old sincerely believe that they are seniors. No kidding.

When I post a job opening for a Senior Java Developer, people send me resumes, and their titles match my post title. But the meaning of the word “senior” varies depending on the geography. Here in the USA a 22-24y.o. person graduates from college and starts as an intern or a junior programmer working his way up the career ladder. By his 28th birthday or so, a hard working person may qualify for the title Senior Developer.  Having said this, I realize that there are prodigies who became seniors in elementary schools, but they never send me their resumes anyway.

In the countries that supply offshore developers it works differently. The amount of outsourced job available in India or  Russia is overwhelming, and any IT agency is willing to take just about anyone who has a Skype account, can speak some English, and has a vague understanding of what his future IT profession is about.  If you are a freshman in college majoring in any engineering profession, you can easily find a job in IT company.  A typical Junior Java Developer or a QA Engineer is 18 there. Senior in college means senior in software developer in their world.

A 35 year old person is considered brain dead, and I read all the time discussions in Russian programmers forums suggesting opening businesses by the time you’re THAT OLD. A typical resume starts from the date of birth screaming, “See, I’m young!”

Interestingly enough, most of the 25 year old sincerely believe that they are seniors. No kidding. They’ve been around for a while in this overheated market. As expected, 80% of these seniors can’t pass a technical interview with me. But, of course, there are talented and hard working people there, and your main goal during the hiring process is to weed out the fake from authentic seniors. Take it very seriously,  and you’ll be able to create a team of talented people working remotely from overseas.

More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a co-founder of two software companies: Farata Systems and SuranceBay. He authored several technical books and lots of articles on software development. Yakov is Java Champion (https://java-champions.java.net). He leads leads Princeton Java Users Group. Two of Yakov's books will go in print this year: "Enterprise Web Development" (O'Reilly) and "Java For Kids" (No Starch Press).

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