Saturday, January 19, 2008

Confused IT Engineers

I was reading this very nice article about this famous fable "Grass is always green on the other side of the fence". It reminded me of an conversation which i had with a IT Engineer some time back. He wanted to move from his present company due to few reasons which gives an insight into confused IT engineers mind. Somehow i feel like that the same confusing situation is present in every Software Engineer's mind or rather the phenomenon is more common in entry level candidates as they don't know what is that which they exactly wanted to do. Some get fascinated by the Higher salaries, some by onsite opportunities and some just want to jump without proper analysis about the type of work which the Organization where they are going to join will be offering them. I feel that this situation is more prevelant among the group of people who are in early Years of experience levels say people with 1-3 years experience. Here goes the conversation:

IT Engineer: What is the promotion cycle in Company X? Do they give any weightage to previous experience?
Madhukar: Since u have around 1.5 years exp only earlier hence u might get prmotion to senior software engineer at least after 2 years but that all always depends on your performance. It might happen earlier as well. If you had around 4 years to 5 years of prior exp then they would have taken you mostly as senior engineer, but not now.

IT Engineer: 2 years after I join them or of total experience?
Madhukar: 2 years after u join them would be an ideal time, however it might happen earlier as well.

IT Engineer: ok
IT Engineer: and do they have salary blocks for Engg and senior Engg?
Madhukar: no..average hike will be 10-15% or 12-16% every year like other companies normally give but this as well depends on the performance.

IT Engineer: ok and what is the componenet of there salary like basic pay, felxible benefits and Specail compensation plan etc.
Madhukar: lta, basic, bonus, gratuity etc.

IT Engineer now stops asking questions. I thought why not i ask him some questions just to know his opinions.

Madhukar: What difference does it makes if you are not hired as a Senior Software Engineer at Company X...?Means what is your take on this?
IT Engineer: Right now I am working as Senior Executive Quality and if I stay with this compnay longer I would become lead executive by end of this year so If I decide and go to Company X ... then I would have to start as fresher and then after minimum two years I will become what I am right now.

Madhukar: Ok why do you want to change your present job when u feel u have so much opportunities at the current company?
IT Engineer: tell you honestlyI was thinking of leaving my organisation 3-4 month back

Madhukar: hmm ok...

IT Engineer: and now this came to me like a surprise because i was not expecting anything like that now and here in my company in last 3- 4 month things have improved a lot.

Madhukar: So what are your priorities and long term goals?
IT Engineer: I learnt a lot in this company and still I am learning and if i stay here for another 3-4 months I would get the oppurtunuty to impement CMMi in my company.

Madhukar: What CMM level does Company X has?
IT Engineer: they dont go for CMMi, they say they have there own standards.

Madhukar: Then what is the compelling factor which says you to change since in this case you will be moving to a place where you will not be able to work on your interest area. Lets say a company Hires you as a Lead In qualtiy will you join that company? I mean to ask what do you look while making a change Designation, Money, type of work? what?

IT Engineer: right now I looking for more money because I took a home loan and want to repay that fast and I know that kind of profile I am looking for ... is always challenging
Madhukar: How will joining Company X help you in that? What is your total expenses at present location after spending on room rent, food, transport and all like going to your hometown once a month etc......If at Company X you have a higher take home salary then on the other hand you might also have higher expenses per month in the new city as well.

IT Engineer: thats what making me rethink each and everytime because my major concern is this only.
Madhukar: means i am interested to know how does joining Company X gaurantees you that you can repay home loan quickly.

IT Engineer: yes true
Madhukar: Hmm which means designation does not matters?

IT Engineer: it wont help me, Designation do matter to me.
Madhukar: How? Don't you feel that all these designations are the fancy names given to just seperate out people and make the people happy....Ok what are your responsibilities as a senior QA engineer at present role..and how do you gaurantee that being Senior QA at Company X also will give you same? Might be Company X's definiton of Senior QA and the roles and responsibilities is quite different than other companies.

Madhukar: In India if you are not promoted to a higher level by attaching a fancy tag to your
Visiting Card then people start to change the companies and thats the game companies play to lower down the attrition rate,....The Thumb rule in India is 0-2 Years Entry Level, 2-4 Years Senior Engineer, 4-6 Years Lead..., 6+ years Manager
IT Engineer: yeah you are absolutely correct as i told you that I was not at all expecting the call from Company X once i received a call I thought why not to give an interview and see where i stand in the market clearing the first round gave a confidence and then clearing a second round gave me more confidence

Madhukar: Ok, i was just asking the questions because of my curiosity.
IT Engineer: ok

Madhukar: It was not meant to demoralise you or stop you from taking any decision....I just wanted to know if you have thought from all angles and was just making you realize the impact which this decision can have at a later stage.

The discussion continued for a long time and i made few observations: Software Engineers in early career just dont realise the big picture and want to change companies because of money, better work, onsite and several other reasons. We should always see as to what extent we fit in the next company, what goals and benifits are fulfiled and finally we should not move by the feeling that better things exist on the other side. Better things do definitely exist however they needs to be explored properly.


Rajesh Kazhankodath said...

Very interesting post indeed. You have touched upon an interesting note that many engineers go behind fancy titles and marginal pay increments rather than working on areas that develop their skill sets.
I had recently come across the review of Chad Fowlers book "My Job Went to India" and its really an eye opener for everyone in our industry.
The problem of non clarity in growth path exists in many of the entry and mid level employees. Sadly HR and even immediate managers do provide enough mentoring to these employees resulting in many of these very talented engineers floating around in the industry as drift wood.

Madhukar Jain said...

HI Rajesh,

Looks like the book would definitely be very interesting to read. I will search if i can get a PDF version of this book somewhere.
Thanks for reading my blog and posting your views. If you have the PDF version then please do sent it at
Their is still a lot to be improved in the way we think and decide about our career paths.

tejasonnet said...

I just start to read your blog. I got the link on Shrini's Blog. Really nice and knowledgeable posts.
Please mail me the mentioned book PDF if you got. Please do sent it on
Tejas Shah


Interesting one.........I think that person was right? what you think Man?

Madhukar Jain said...

Hi Vishal,

when you say that person was right then please give some reasons as well to support your belief.
Without any reasons and comments it is difficult to say anything.



oh yaaa.....
Actually I read the comments of Mr. Rajesh K "many engineers go behind fancy titles and marginal pay increments rather than working on areas that develop their skill sets. ".

It may be true but i am not fully agree with this. actually if any company giving you fancy title and marginals means you deserve it. So why should we not go for that.I think without a good skill set it tough to meet this fancy title.

Its my personal view......i would like to take your suggestion and exp......

Madhukar Jain said...

"if any company giving you fancy title and marginals means you deserve it. So why should we not go for that.I think without a good skill set it tough to meet this fancy title."

How do you say that you deserve what the company is giving? Take an example where the company is giving you a Title Lead test engineer and in fact the role does not requires leadership skillset and experience. Its just a fancy Tag and Name attached to attract you to this company.Isn't it so?
On the other hand when you go for an interview and find that the company is offering you a Job Title Senior Test Engineer and you already are working as a Lead Test Engineer then is this also the case that you deserve Senior Engineer Title as per your views.


Not like that......You taken me wrong.

any way ..but why any company (in general)will give the role and money for which you don't deserve. Is the hiring concern is mad ?

Finally here My point is this ....if some one answer that he/she is changing comp due to good Hike as can't say that person is not looking for acquiring/improving skill(or engineers go behind fancy titles and marginal pay increments rather than working on areas that develop their skill sets. ).
I this both parallely matters for anyone.