I am very much aligned and aware with needing to show impact or been seen as an SME to have visibility to move up to a staff level.
My question is one of logistics. How is this possible when you have more work to do than fits in 40 hours, let alone finding extra time to do these other things? For example if you have at least 30 hours of coding, 5 hours of code reviews or scoping documentation, 5 hours of meetings, an additional 5 hours of random things (CI broken, helping colleagues, ad hoc issues etc), where do you even begin to find time for these extra things? Especially when all of the above is barely considered meeting expectations?
I will also clarify that I don't want “get better at coding” as a valid answer. No matter how good you are, you still need to understand the many systems involved which can take a while and if you constantly have to tackle new areas, there's always discovery.
My question is more around how do you ask or “show” you should have time to work on other things. Whenever I would approach my manager with well thought out proposals, buy in, and even timelines the answer was always later.
At Robinhood, I serve as a SME for money movements and debit card products. How I got there was:
To extract some tangible advice from my experiences:
Hope this helps!
My immediate reaction is that 30 hours of coding is way too much for a senior engineer, especially one going to staff. My advice is to figure out how to scale yourself, particularly through mentorship and delegation. For your coding work, can you give most of it to junior and mid-level engineers on your team?
That's primarily how I found time to do the "other stuff" to show staff engineer signal. I delegated away the more straightforward coding work (it's a waste of my time to do it), so I only coded the hardest problems. At Meta and Robinhood, coding was usually just 5-10 hours per week for me.
If this angle is viable for you, I recommend these:
On top of the mentorship angle, there are 2 broad ways to have more productivity (both of which can and should be implemented in parallel):
Lastly, here's our senior -> staff playlist: [Taro Top 10] Senior Engineer To Staff Engineer (L5 To L6)