Once you’ve developed the prerequisite skills to become a Staff Engineer, there is one last hurdle ahead of you: getting a company to actually grant you the Staff Engineering title. For some this process is a relative non-event, perhaps taking one or two cycles longer than anticipated but ultimately succeeding. Others find the process of getting a Staff-plus title somewhat sisyphean.
About two-thirds of the Staff Engineers I surveyed attained their title as a promotion at the company they were already working at, and the remaining third found that switching companies. This chapter will cover both.
We’ll begin by exploring the distinguishing factors of companies you ought to join whether you’re early in your career angling for the promotion seven or eight years down the road or hoping to attain the title in short order.
That exploration will be followed by explaining the process of getting a Staff promotion within your current company: the role of Staff Projects, creating your promotion packets, and most importantly finding your sponsor. The last sections will cover the decision to pursue the Staff title at a different company, including interviewing for these sorts of roles.
When you finish with this chapter, my hope is that you’ll understand which path you want to pursue towards a Staff title, along with a clear map to navigate that path successfully.