When hiring or speaking about our colleagues, we should strive to avoid calling someone “junior.” We should, instead, call them “less experienced.”
The term “junior” has the negative connotation of being incapable (even if temporarily so) of leading projects, architecting features, and dictating standards within a team. The term “junior” evokes a ceiling instead of a floor.
Calling someone “junior,” does not at all indicate what is necessary to achieve the next level of mastery. It’s a hard ceiling with no stairs. Calling them less experienced, however, hints at experience (years of working at something) being the key limitation.
I’m not sure how the term came about but it’s likely the industry that intentionally evokes the ceiling – possibly to anchor salary expectations and set up role boundaries. Kudos to companies that replace “junior” with “New Grad” or drop “junior” all together and substitute it with an expected number of years of experience. Though, a number of “years of experience” is a fairly weak metric and a rant for another time.