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Up Levelled FAANG Offer (Mid -> Senior)

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Software Engineer at Taro Communitya month ago

I've recently received an up levelled FAANG offer in the US. I originally applied for a mid level role (SDE II, E4, L4) etc. but was up levelled to a senior engineer in interviews.

I currently have ~3.5 years of engineering experience all at small unknown startups so I'm trying to decide whether to accept the offer or whether to ask for a down level.

I have several concerns about taking the senior offer, which I've listed below:

  • I have only 3.5 years experience in development and I'm simply worried I haven't written enough code as of yet to be a senior and I'm not actually technically strong.
  • My current experience has been in startups and I've never worked in the big tech environment. Currently we don't need to do things such as write design docs or seek approvals to write code. Additionally, we don't aggressively unit test and only have unit tests for key parts of the code.
  • During the interview process I studied super hard and ended up seeing a lot of the questions that were asked beforehand in both system design and coding rounds (I'm concerned I have somehow gamed the system).
  • I am worried that the fast ramp up time and expectations in big tech will end up seeing me setup for failure.

On the other side:

  • I'm a hard worker and have good soft skills so I wonder if this will be enough to aid me while I get up to speed.
  • I know that big tech companies spend a lot of time on their interview process and because of this I should probably trust their rating. They must have seen something if they gave me this offer.
  • Finally the senior role offers a lot more money and it might be a good opportunity to see whether I sink or swim. At worst case a highly paid learning opportunity.
  • If I could make it through as a senior engineer it could potentially save . 1 - 2 years career time.

Wondering if anyone has advice for this particular situation?

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Discussion

(5 comments)
  • 3
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    Oh wow, congrats! I'm 99% sure you should take the senior offer. The mid-level to senior promotion at FAANG is notoriously difficult, especially at Amazon. Getting the senior title now will indeed jump start your career trajectory by several years and will save you a lot of headache in the future. As you mentioned, these top companies spend a ton of time fine-tuning their interview process to level people properly, so I'm sure they saw lots of senior engineer behavior from you during the interview. Lastly, you have Taro on your side to ensure that you're a high performer 😉

    If you want more information on whether you should get a downlevel, check this out: "When should I down level myself on purpose at a new company?"

    To set yourself up for success at Big Tech, go through the resources here: "How to skillup to be ready for FAANG job?"

    • 1
      Profile picture
      Software Engineer [OP]
      Taro Community
      a month ago

      Yep, the relevant point from the other post to me is in the case for down levelling.

      Your current company isn't cutting-edge, and it's easy for engineers to get by there.

      Not sure if what role that should play here as it probably applies.

    • 0
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      Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
      a month ago

      You can still do good work in a less cutting-edge company. A lot of engineers have the skills to hang with the best at FAANG, but they haven't been given the proper environment to fully shine yet.

      I still think you should take the offer 😁. I believe in you!

  • 3
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    Eng @ Taro
    a month ago

    You should take the offer because there's much more you can gain than you can lose. If you come in as a mid-level engineer, you could perform as a senior engineer immediately, but it's not guaranteed that you will get a quick promotion.

    When you join as a new employee, people will have lower expectations for you, so you'll be able to use this time to adjust to the senior expectations.

    I'm a hard worker and have good soft skills so I wonder if this will be enough to aid me while I get up to speed.

    This will be your biggest attribute to your success in the role. The goal is to get as many quick feedback loops with your work so you and your manager can agree on whether you are hitting expectations.

  • 2
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    Staff Eng @ Google, Ex-Meta SWE, Ex-Amazon SDM/SDE
    a month ago

    It will save more than 1-2 years. Having gotten a senior offer, and coming in at mid-level and hoping for a fast promotion once you get comfortable is unrealistic. You’ve demonstrated your abilities in the interview, but that’s not how promotion goes. You have to be acting in your new level for some time (6-12+ months), you have to have collateral, support from senior+ engineers, a competent manager to help with your doc/portfolio, and so on. I can only speak to Amazon as it is where I managed people, but MANY first attempts at senior promotion fail, and while some managers are aggressive and try again in six months, filling some significant gap often comes up, so it’s another year.

    You are going to feel out of your depth whichever level you come in at. You will likely have access to senior+ onboarding buddies, mentors, etc if you come in at senior. You will likely have mid level folk helping if you are at mid level. This can have a major impact on your ramp up.

    At many of these companies, the first promo from entry level to mid level is expected in 12-18 months, and after that there is a literal clock in some cases. If we imagine it took you 12 months, then 2.5 years more may be aggressive for a senior promo, but definitely not unheard of. Yes, you got that experience elsewhere, but if you took on complex projects and were very self-driven, it is very possible you are at that level and just selling yourself short. I didn’t get to that level in my career for 15 years, and it was as a manager rather than engineer. Time doesn’t matter as much, and while you may have done interview prep, understand that every other candidate has, too, and they didn’t get upleveled.

    Further, upleveling is rare. These places downlevel all the time, reject tons of people on-level, make plenty of offers on-level, but to change course midstream, adapt the loop or have every person capture next level data, and be able to make a hiring decision is simply a tremendous anomaly. You didn’t trick them.

    You can take the offer and remain humble. You will have a lot to learn. Sure, you don’t want to accept it and get fired right away, but you should have faith in the interviewers, hiring committee, or whatever other process happens that you are capable.