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What’s the Difference Between Senior & Lead Developers?

Contributed by Christy Divenere, Talent Acquisition Manager for Oracle and Industry Verticals at Perficient
ChristyOne of the questions I receive on a frequent basis is, “What are the primary differences between senior technical consultants and lead consultants?” While both roles require similar levels of technical aptitude, the soft skills and leadership ability requirements set them apart.
Many of the senior-level technical consultants we interview have excellent technical skills and multiple enterprise-level projects in their portfolios. They are very focused on the task at hand, have mastered many technologies, and can quickly adapt to modifications on a project. Their time tends to be heavily focused on their specific piece of the project (usually a rather substantial piece) and not focused on client interaction or mentorship of junior team members.
The consultants that tend to excel in a lead role, on the other hand, tend to take a big picture look at the project and manage resources and workflows. They focus on making sure the project is in a position to succeed and provide mentorship to junior team members. Lead consultants also have a high technical ability to solve complex problems and the interpersonal skills to interact with the client. Finally, they are able to explain technical concepts to individuals who don’t share their same level of technical aptitude.
For senior consultants who would like to move into a team lead role, I’d advise pursuing opportunities that will provide mentorship and client-facing opportunities. Even if you aren’t serving as an official “lead developer” on the project, being able to have examples of performing the same responsibilities as a lead developer should provide additional career opportunities.

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Eric Osterman

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