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Do I need to worry about mid level to senior promotion?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer [SDE 2] at Amazon2 months ago

Hello, I have 3 years of experience and I'm an SDE II at Amazon. The Q1 promotion results are out, and I'm surprised to see many fast-track SDE III promotions. It seems to me that when the time is right and stars align, SDE III promotion can be quick, and if you stay in one team long enough, it wouldn't be hard to get to SDE III.

80% of my team are SDE IIs, and I don't see my possibility of SDE III promotion in the next 2 years unless:

  1. I find some big opportunities that bring huge revenue to the organization
  2. There's a major reorg, and I'm assigned to a new team, and the new team expands
  3. My current team shrinks for some reason, I stay, and my team grows again. Interestingly, my team's senior manager and 2 senior engineers actually fall into the third bucket.

What do you think? Should I just relax, keep pace, and grow my skills, hoping for a promotion by job hopping when the market recovers?

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(4 comments)
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    I find some big opportunities that bring huge revenue to the organization

    I mean, you have to do this to get to senior at any top tech company like Amazon, especially if you work closely with revenue. On my journey from E4 -> E5, I identified and fixed a very tricky bug that saved Instagram over $1 million per year, and that was just one of the major projects on my senior promo packet.

    If you feel like you are learning on your team, I think you should stay, especially if you have a good manager and strong SDE 3 teammates who push you to be better. My overall career advice which I've given to countless engineers is to prioritize growth and treat level as a lagging indicator. If you are truly functioning as a high-performing senior engineer, you will eventually land a highly-paid role as a senior engineer. Conversely, if the growth has dried up, you should try to switch teams or companies.

    Lastly, people understand that the SDE 2/L5 band at Amazon is crazy wide. A lot of ultra-tenured Amazon SDE 2s end up at Meta as E5 (senior). During the crazy ZIRP days of 2021, an Amazon SDE 2 within the Taro community got into Meta as an E6 (Staff)!

    tldr; If you're genuinely becoming a much better engineer, I wouldn't worry too much about staying at SDE 2. You can almost certainly job hop to a senior title when the market improves.

    Amazon also just hit ATH with $185/share, so that's another reason you should stay haha. You gotta vest out those backloaded grants!

    • 0
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      Mid-Level Software Engineer [SDE 2] [OP]
      Amazon
      15 days ago

      I mean, you have to do this to get to senior at any top tech company like Amazon, especially if you work closely with revenue.

      Interestingly I just talked with my manager about this. My manager and 2 other senior engineers actually mostly did assigned projects. They of course needed to show leadership skill through those projects, but the project ideas are mostly from product and senior managers.

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      Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
      10 days ago

      I've also seen that happen, but it's generally pretty rare. FAANG promotions only get harder over time due to scope drying up. For Big Tech senior promotions, I would say that 80%-90% of engineers need to develop a serious scope creation muscle to get there.

  • 0
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    Eng @ Taro
    a month ago

    It sounds like there's only one option that's under your control:

    I find some big opportunities that bring huge revenue to the organization

    The other two are left out of your control, so they probably are not worth considering. I am in favor of putting in the initiative to find and execute on an impactful, revenue generating project. You'll be working the same number of hours (hopefully), so that time might as well go to something that can help to boost your promotion chances.

    I would make sure to align on the project expectations with your manager to validate that the project is promotion-worthy.

    What do you think? Should I just relax, keep pace, and grow my skills, hoping for a promotion by job hopping when the market recovers?

    You can also do interview prep in parallel so you are prepared if there is any opportunity that appears. You never know when you might get an opportunity from a friend or a recruiter. You'll have more time to prepare under less stress if you've been preparing in parallel. You might find an opportunity where you get an offer for a senior position where your current Amazon track to senior timeline is still ambiguous even after one year.

Amazon.com, Inc. is an American multinational technology company which focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, and much more. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, it has been referred to as "one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world".
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