During interviews with software engineers, they will sometimes ask whether the role is leadership / management or IC (Individual Contributor) only, which raises the question of what the &?!$ is an IC anyways? The implication is that the candidate will not manage others and will be expected to write code (not that the two are mutually exclusive), but I don’t think the term means much of anything. After all, isn’t every employee an individual who contributes?
When I was in the army, a senior officer visited our unit and asked each solider what their role was. When it was his turn, my friend responded that he was “only a simple soldier”. The officer emphatically pushed back, saying that there was no such thing because every solider matters. Calling someone an IC reminds me of the lack of self-appreciation my friend had for himself and his contribution as an individual, choosing to be defined more by what he wasn’t than by what he was.
We should find a better way to describe a candidate’s responsibilities and opportunites that doesn’t encourage them to limit the way they see themselves before they even start.