Why You Need A Career Ladder


What should you focus on this year to get yourself to the next level? How do you help your team do the same? A career ladder is one effective tool to help answer those questions.

This is such a timely post for so many teams I know, very much including our own at Fishtown Analytics. Almost all data teams are started by a single smart generalist who then hires more humans around them as more work is needed. Maybe there are titles that correspond roughly to reality. But does everyone on the team know what their promotion pathway is? Do they know what pay grades are as they continue to get promoted? Are their both senior IC roles and people manager roles opportunities for the future?

Most data teams don't know these answers. Most data teams hire people for roles, and then try to convince those people to stay in those roles for as long as possible, and then experience a lot of turnover because team members look for their next opportunities elsewhere when internal opportunities don't materialize. The only teams where this doesn't seem to be the norm are larger and more established; teams like Spotify, Stitch Fix, etc.

I'm not sharing to this post because it has answers (Caitlin explicitly plans on following it up with more tactical advice in subsequent posts). I'm sharing it because 5-10 years into the evolution of the modern data team and there are a lot of resumes that don't have any items longer than two years on them. This is suboptimal for the teams, for the humans, and for the field; we need to figure out how to create career paths.

If this is top of mind for you, I'd love to chat.


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