Seniority, are you up to it?


In the IT world you have a lot of people with loads of work experience and knowledge where most people would dream of.

At the companies where I worked in the last decade I’ve seen people become senior just by the fact that they worked in the company for a longer period of time or because they had a lot of knowledge in a specific part of their work. Another company “sold” their employees to customers as senior when they had a certain amount of certifications. Of course this is ridiculous and lots of times people got shot down because reading books and doing exams doesn’t make you a senior.

But what is a senior and when can you call yourself a senior. If I look at all the job descriptions that are made for a Senior DBA they all come done to the amount of work experience in a specific field and the size of the  databases they worked with.

Is that all a Senior DBA needs to be? Or any senior in that matter?

My description of a senior is somebody that has a good grasp of the product and a good amount of experience in their field.
But that’s not where is stops!

A senior is somebody that also knows what lies beyond his/her field. A senior is able to communicate with the business and lead a group of people in a project and get it done.

What separates the wheat from the chaff is when you accelerate in understanding the greater picture. People like to be placed in a box where they only have to do their job and at the end of the day go home to wives and children (if they have any). This is not what makes you a good senior and will not make you a rock star.

I read two articles by Brent Ozar, “So You Wanne Be A Rock Star” and “So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star, Part 2“,  about this but I want to take it a little further.
Here are my thoughts on how to become a  great senior:

Expand your knowledge

Expanding your knowledge doesn’t stop about the amount of books you read and the amount of certifications you have.
Go to free webinars, go to seminars, talk to other people in- and outside your field.

Know your business

Sit down with the managers of the business and talk ask them how the process works. Where are the caveats and what could be fixed.
Expand your knowledge about he business process and try to find a way to get yourself noticed by understanding what it’s all about.

Get involved in the community

One way to get a good grasp to be a senior is helping the community. If you’re active within the community people are more likely to look at you as a senior.
Join groups and forums on the internet which are highly used in your field.

Teach others

One way to create self confidence is to teach others. When you teach you learn.
This might sound weird but when you teach others you have to take a good look at yourself before you can teach other how to do it.
You start asking yourself the questions: Am I doing it right? Is this the way to do it? How can I teach this person to understand what I’m trying to say.

At the end it all comes down  tothe amount of effort that you want to put in your career. Not everybody is made to be a senior but if you have the drive and the skill, go for it!

It will take time and you’ll think at some point, “Why am I doing this”, but in the end it will pay off.



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