FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

ARE CONSULTATIONS IN PERSON OR VIA PHONE/INTERNET?

At this time, due to COVID-19, my preference is to meet over the phone or via Chime, Zoom, or other video conferencing solution.

DO YOU OFFER CAREER COACHING?

Yes, but I'd like to make it clear that I'm not a trained career coach. I have extensive expertise defining job level expectations for a variety of technical and non-technical roles. I understand the skills that need to be developed to progress to senior levels. I also developed several career development trainings for Amazon, specifically for software developers, technical program managers, product managers, and  their management. I am also an experienced mentor. If any of this experience or knowledge is useful for your career aspirations, then I might be a good fit.

WHY IS YOUR HOURLY RATE DIFFERENT FOR COMPANIES?

Professional skills coaching is specific to an individual, tailored to their needs and aspirations. The consulting I provide a company impacts their employee population (or a subset). That work is more complex and any proposals most likely require influencing their leadership. For this reason the company rate is higher.

DO I HAVE TO BUY A PACKAGE OF SESSIONS?

No. I dislike that type of requirement. With me, you book the time you want. If you only want 30 minutes, that's totally fine. I will make sure you get the most you can out of it.

ARE YOU STILL ABLE TO GIVE SDE CAREER TALKS?

Yes, but the talks I gave for Amazon are specific to their leveling expectations. I am happy to come to an Amazon location and give that training, but if it is for another company I would give a different talk. Specifically talking through some key transition points that occur in an SDE career, highlighting which shifts can feel like a crossroads (and give some advice on how to think through them). I would also dive into some things I learned about what it takes to be come a senior/principal engineer. Software design, leadership, and a track record of solving super hard problems are the obvious skills to develop. However there are others that are crucial to be successful at senior engineer levels that I think needs more discussion.

IS THE AMAZON-SPECIFIC PROFESSIONAL COACHING ONLY FOR AMAZON EMPLOYEES?

No. I'm happy to coach anyone  interested in learning more about Amazon culture. However this knowledge is especially useful for current employees and those seeking a job at Amazon.

DO YOU THINK OTHER COMPANIES WOULD BENEFIT FROM A VOICE OF THE DEVELOPER PROGRAM?

I do. Having someone dedicated to improving the developer work experience is extremely useful for company leaders, HR, and internal tool providers. When a company is small, they can easily assess the impact of issues, recommend productivity improvements, and help prioritize headcount allocation or corporate investment. When a company gets larger, they can either focus more narrowly on the developer tools and assist those teams or broaden their approach, working with HR and other partners. I made the decision to extend my advocacy beyond developers to all technical and science roles, but there is also value in keeping the focus just on development.

However, I think the biggest value VoD provided was to give the engineering population trust that the company cares about them. Engineering roles are critical. It's hard to hire the best and easy to lose them. Any type of program that supports them is beneficial.

COULD HR ADVOCATE FOR DEVELOPERS OR OTHER TYPES OF TECH EMPLOYEES?

Yes, and many HR partners do. It depends on the HR culture. But it's important to note that HR partners support all employee types and are often dedicated to a single organization. The ideal VoD program owner is a former engineer who effectively collaborates with HR and other corporate leadership to influence the needed changes to resolve problems. This ensures the person responsible has the bandwidth to focus on developer-specific tool, code/test environment, and operational support improvements.

YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT JOB LEVELING GUIDELINES, WHY?

Clear job level guidance is critical for fair hiring, compensation, performance management, and promotions. These types of guidelines are probably the most important mechanism to invest in for companies committed to a diverse employee population with a high skills bar. To understand why job level guidelines are important, consider the effect on employees when they are poorly defined:

  • Interviewers are unclear about the distinction between levels, causing some candidates to be hired in at a lower level then their skills warrant. This effects their compensation offer.

  • If the candidate rejects the offer, the company may get a false signal that their compensation is too low. Setting the level incorrectly contributes to wage inflation.

  • Once hired, unclear job level guidance can lead to managers expecting more or less from an employee in that role at that level. They may have expectations that are too high (actually align to a higher level), causing the employee to appear to be failing. This can result in their being placed on a performance improvement plan.

  • Worse, the employee may meet the higher level expectations and the manager may not recognize they are actually demonstrating the next level. Without the clarity, they fail to promote.

  • And much worse, without clear content, an employee may think they are demonstrating a higher level when they are not and believe (incorrectly) that they are being treated unfairly. This is hard on everyone.

There are more impacts, but hopefully I made my point :)

WOULD YOU COACH A COMPANY AFFINITY GROUP?

Yes, I would love to! I have extensive experience creating internal communities that support diversity. I've seen them fail and can advise on how to avoid those pitfalls. I also know firsthand what it takes to influence senior leaders to make changes or invest resources. If this type of coaching is desired, send me a message.

Leah Melvoin

PO Box 1272
Olympia, WA 98507

©2020 Voice of the Developer, LLC.