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How can I work better with my manager to get to staff? (10 years work ex/ ex-FAANG)

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Senior Software Engineer at Intuita year ago

Hey,

I have 10 years work experience, and I have previously worked at a FAANG that had no levels (big clue here!). So regardless of the scope of work, we were Senior. That kinda played at a disadvantage to me when I found my self looking for a job due to a layoff and visa issues.

I believe I am working at staff capacity, leading 5 folks, driving initiative. But I feel like I am unable to "show" Impact. We have metrics at each level. I have addressed the same with my manager, went over the metrics and identified gaps and took action.

I got lukewarm response, at best from other staff engineers and management. No idea if at all I will be considered for promo, and I get no response besides stating, it is a lagging promo.

Right now, I have no visa issues, so I can hop around other companies, I want to move back to a FAANG+ company because of higher pay.

Question is :

How do I ascertain my promotion?

and which of the following is a good bet:

  1. Move to staff at Intuit -> Move to (Meta / Google/ Netflix) as L6
  2. Move to (Meta / Google/ Netflix) as L5 -> work towards L6
  3. Move to staff at Intuit -> Move to (Meta / Google/ Netflix) as L5 (as they down-level, at this point might as well move now)
  4. Move directly to (Meta / Google/ Netflix) as L6 ( Highly optimistic, almost delusional )
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Discussion

(3 comments)
  • 6
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    First, I recommend these 2 excellent resources we have around working more effectively and transparently with your manager to clarify expectations around growth:

    I believe I am working at staff capacity, leading 5 folks, driving initiative.

    The expectation behind levels varies a lot based on company as there is no standard, but from my experience at Meta and knowing many Staff Engineers at Google, Uber, and others, this feels around L5 scope to me for a FAANG/FAANG-equivalent Big Tech company.

    If I were to put a number on what L6 means, the scope is leading at least 8-12 engineers. This is because FAANG levels generally work like this:

    • M1 - "Mid-level"/average front-line engineering manager. 8-12 engineering reports.
    • L6 - The equivalent IC level to M1. This means that their scope in terms of leadership should be similar. Hence the 8-12.

    L5 is more around 4-7, which is either a pod within a broader team or a smaller team in general (maybe reporting to an M0 [Junior Engineering Manager]).

    Something I recommend in a vacuum is to just look at other Staff Engineers within Intuit and observe their behavior:

    • What kind of scope do they have?
    • How big are the meetings they lead?
    • How many systems do their projects stretch across?

    I talk in-depth about more senior engineer observation here: Properly Learning From Software Engineers More Senior Than You

  • 7
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    In general, here are some of the high-level gaps I've seen engineers run into when progressing from senior -> staff:

    1. Not enough XFN - L5s will lead 1-2 teams, but L6 should be leading 3-5 teams regularly. L6 projects will generally be on the director's radar.
    2. Not creating scope - L5s will generally work within a semi-defined product space, leading projects end-to-end across a 3 to 6 month span. L6s will create entire workstreams (i.e. a collection of several projects) that can span anywhere from 6-18 months.
    3. Lack of technical depth - L6s will regularly solve extremely gnarly, often multi-system bugs that leave all the L3s/L4s/L5s on the team scratching their heads.

    95%+ of engineers hit a wall going from L5 -> L6. It's an extremely tough promotion and the expectations for an L6 engineer at a Google/Meta-level company will be sky-high. There's nothing wrong with taking your time to get there, and it's important to have some degree of patience as every person's path to Staff is different.

    All that being said, here are some of the great Staff Engineer case studies we have on Taro:

    On top of those, I recommend these other explainers which go much more in-depth about everything I just covered:

  • 4
    Profile picture
    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    and which of the following is a good bet:

    1. Move to staff at Intuit -> Move to (Meta / Google/ Netflix) as L6
    2. Move to (Meta / Google/ Netflix) as L5 -> work towards L6
    3. Move to staff at Intuit -> Move to (Meta / Google/ Netflix) as L5 (as they down-level, at this point might as well move now)
    4. Move directly to (Meta / Google/ Netflix) as L6 ( Highly optimistic, almost delusional )

    In this economy, #1 is the probably best bet due to all the FAANG hiring freezes. But hey, there's nothing stopping you from trying 2 - 4! 😀 People can learn very quickly when under pressure. If you join a new company as L6 and it turns out you are indeed over-leveled, Taro is here to help you ramp up fast and earn that level.

    Intuit is a very good tech company. If you like your manager and team, it's a perfectly fine career path to continue thriving and growing within your organization. After the economic slowdown subsides, then you can reevaluate your new career direction (hopefully with a higher level in your hand!).

    Zooming out, it might be worth stepping back and figuring out what your priorities are. This will better inform your decision around what company you want to work for and at what level. I recommend this masterclass if you haven't already seen it: [Masterclass] How To Choose A Good Company And Team As A Software Engineer

    Here's a good discussion around up-level/down-level too: "When should I down level myself on purpose at a new company?"

Intuit Inc. is an American business software company that specializes in financial software. Intuit's products include TurboTax, Mint, QuickBooks, Credit Karma, and Mailchimp.
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