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What's a good trajectory to go from E4 to E5?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer [E4] at Meta2 years ago

I'm a new E4, so I obviously have promotion on my mind. I have a good amount of experience coming into Meta (~5 YOE), so I want to move more aggressively with this promotion. If I work 40-45 hours per work with very good work ethic, what's a reasonable target to hit for the E5 promo?

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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 years ago
    • Your life and career is not a race: Just grow at whatever pace you're comfortable with, especially with Meta's higher expectations and the more disconnected, covid, remote-work era.
    • In a vacuum, I would throw out 4 halves (i.e. 2 years). That's a good amount of time, and it's just on the earlier side of yellow zone.
    • I also don't recommend working 45+ hour weeks regularly. Here's why:
      • Succeeding at Meta at any level is difficult, but E5 is the level where a lot of engineers have serious trouble.
      • You don't want to get to E5 in a way where you have to work 45+ hours regularly in order to sustain an MA at that level. You don't know how long that is sustainable - There can be a life event that prevents you from working >40 hours a week. In this scenario, you could drop to an MM and that sucks for everyone.
      • Work 40 hours or less as often as you can (focus on developing deeper behaviors and learning to prioritize), so you can get to E5 in a comfortable way. You want to be in a scenario where you turn up the jets because you want to, not because you need to.
    • In this new "turning up the heat" era, I'm also really worried about what it would take to go on an above average path from E4 -> E5 (2-3 halves). I imagine it would require lots of burnout for most people. I think it's more important than ever to take your time where you can and work with your manager to set an ambitious but comfortable growth pace.

    Related resources:

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    Meta, Robinhood, Baidu
    2 years ago

    It really depends on how much you are into the Meta culture and mindset. You have to make E5 impact and demonstrate E5 behavior before you can get that promotion.

    Meta is not the place where you can count on your YOE and assume you can get a promotion by accumulating experience year over year. Meta doesn't recognize experiences and only recognizes impact. As the level number increases linearly impact is expected to scale exponentially. That means behavior changes and new skill adoption are needed for E5. The most important one is shifting from owning execution to owning result.

    Great E4: I wrote perfect code and shipped perfect projects that are pixel-perfect, performant, bug-free, scalable, extensible, etc. Unfortunately, our PM pointed us in the wrong direction. All the experimentations are neutral or negative. My work didn't move the needle.

    Bare minimum E5: I promised I could move this metric up by 5% in 3 months. By the end of the 3rd month, I delivered that 5%. (So many things went wrong in the process but I brought them back on track. PM picked the wrong idea and I pushed back to do the right thing. Another team promised to build the dependency we needed but failed to deliver so I hacked a temporary solution. Some experiments didn't deliver the expected outcome but I planned more experiments than merely 5% so the redundancy saved me.)

    As you can see, E5 requires a lot of soft skills while you scale your hard skills. The problem is you won't have the opportunities to practice those skills all lined up in front of you. Sometimes there's just no such opportunity near you. Without trial and error, you won't be learning that skill. This unpredictability is actually the most difficult (and sometimes most frustrating) part. But that's life, full of random events.

Meta Platforms, Inc. is an American multinational technology conglomerate based in Menlo Park, California. The company owns 3 of top 4 social networks in the world: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. More than 3.5 billion people use at least one of the company's core products every month.
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