Setting Up Clear Career Paths

Doug Daniels

VP Engineering at Datadog



"In the Fall of 2017, we decided that we should ensure that both our managers and our technical employees had a career path ahead of them that was satisfying for them, and was what they wanted to do. Traditionally, if you're an engineer you might get pushed into management. While for some people this is a great outcome, for others it doesn't fit their skills and career goals."

Actions taken

"We wanted to design a career ladder that was specific to us, rather than something that was just pulled off the shelf. We started with the idea that we wanted two distinct paths that were equivalent, in terms of respect and authority but also in terms of compensation, every step of the way. We were influenced by what Kickstarter and Box.com were doing, but took inspiration from a wide variety of companies. We decided what we liked and didn't like about how other companies had approached this issue and realized we needed to write our own, with input from other companies. I started writing the descriptions and detailed what we cared about at every level of the technical and managerial ladders. Once I felt comfortable with this, I shared it with our Engineering Leadership and the more senior developers in the team to get their feedback. I addressed this feedback individually and would get on a call with people who had provided a lot of feedback. Eventually, we came to a place where everybody felt comfortable that when they read it, it was succinct and that it expressed our values well."

Lessons learned

"All of the feedback I got about this was positive - developing clear career paths made people really happy. It did take a bit of time to roll out, as we needed to talk to everyone and work with them to set a path. There's also some work to organize job titles, which are usually quite idiosyncratic before you standardize them. Introducing the idea of a career path took about three months, but rolling it out took an additional three months on top of that."

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Doug Daniels

VP Engineering at Datadog

Engineering LeadershipLeadership DevelopmentEngineering ManagementTechnical ExpertiseTechnical SkillsCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionCareer LadderIndividual Contributor RolesStaff Engineer

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