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I'm overleveled in my position and I'm feeling overwhelmed.

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Senior Software Engineer at Startup Company2 years ago

It's just my first month and my manager said I had to improve a lot because his expectations for a senior engineer is much higher, not just technically but also behaviourally.

I'm feeling anxious because I was in a pretty laid back company before and the rapid pace of a startup took me off-guard. I'm trying to push through by working longer hours but I don't think I'd be able to reach my manager's expectations.

It's causing me anxiety just by thinking about my job. Is it ok to leave a job even if I don't have anything lined up yet? I'm trying to review to get a new job but the long hours are taking up my personal time. What could be my options?



  • 7
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago

    I'm really sorry to hear this - It's good getting honest feedback like this upfront, but it's some of the worst feedback you can hear.

    The first thing I'll say is that if this job is seriously affecting your mental health, just quit. No job is worth your sanity, and it's totally okay to have a resume gap. Of course, it's better to not have any resume gaps, but it can definitely be overcome and it's much better than the alternative of sticking to a job that is seriously damaging your well-being.

    With that out of the way, your 2 core options are:

    1. Stay and figure out how to make things work
    2. Leave and look for another job

    Side note: A Hail Mary option is to ask for a down-level and pay decrease to mid-level to have lower expectations. This is extremely rare, but it would allow you to stay at the company without all this pressure.

    The main decision point affecting #1 is how supportive is your manager in bridging the gap? Are they sharing clear examples of where you can improve and providing resources to help you get better in those areas? Or are they just telling you that you're not cutting it and letting you figure it out on your own? If it's the latter, then you should definitely leave.

    But let's say they're actually quite helpful giving concrete advice on how you can improve. Here's what you should do:

    1. Create a document that outlines all the areas you can improve (coding velocity, technical writing, etc).
    2. Fill it out with concrete milestones to show you have improved sufficiently in that area (e.g. "Ship project X and project Y by the end of the year").
    3. Pick 1 area at a time, go deep getting better at it for 3-4 weeks, and then move on to the next one.

    For the improvement, I recommend checking out this Q&A on how to write great code faster. For startups, code velocity is almost always the most important thing.

    In terms of behavioral gaps, if you can share with us what they are, I'm happy to provide additional resources. However, I actually wouldn't go too deep on those for now - You should focus on getting coding velocity up to par first.

    Lastly, if you have time to chat, please ping Rahul and I in the Taro Premium Slack - Happy to go through this situation with you more in-depth and figure things out more.

  • 5
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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    2 years ago

    My answer depends on how well-developed your network is, and your pedigree. If you don't know many people in tech, I'd focus on sticking it out at the company. Even if you don't end up succeeding, you can impress people with your work ethic, and that can set you up for success in finding a new role.

    If you have a great network and pedigree, you will likely be fine finding a new job on your own, relatively quickly. So then I'd recommend you to have less tolerance for a stressful situation at work (unless you can learn from it).