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What matters in the long term career marathon?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya month ago

I am a senior software engineer at FAANG (not Meta), and have found myself in a difficult career dilemma.

I joined the company as a junior and made progress to senior in the same team (say A). The nature of the work was very unique. It was heavily focused on technical analysis of software as opposed to writing one yourself. A significant portion of it was cross functional collaboration across different orgs, probably the reason why I was able to get promoted fairly quickly. The coding part was maybe 30% (you were welcome to pursue more if you have the time). The culture overall was nice with good work life balance. Manager mostly supported things I wanted to pursue. Later, I switched teams (say B) and moved to the one with more focus on development of the software. I loved the technology, projects. However, the expectations were crazy high. I ended up getting a low performer rating, a year after I was promoted to senior in my previous team. The side effects were no bonus, refreshers, salary hike.

I have been working hard since then to manage the expectations. However, I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to exceed them and thereby pursue a career growth and the next title without throwing your life at work. I can get “meets expectation” for foreseeable future. We are also thinking of expanding our family next year.

I discussed with my previous manager who is willing to take me back. The work there has a high visibility, impact for the next year. I could build strong soft skills - leadership, driving things through others, collaboration there; but, not so much as to actually writing software.

My options -

  1. Stick through in my current team for few years because it lets me stay closer to software development and open up opportunities in the future for development roles. But that means financial stress, an impact on family goals. Added anxiety.
  2. Go back to previous team. Get that job stability, pursue family goals; but, might get rusted on software development skills. Maybe if I find some ways to keep honing them (also software design skills) then maybe there is that.
  3. Looking externally. This is my last resort; but, given the market conditions it does not look pretty. I also like my company in general and would hate to leave. Also not sure of the dynamics of going through pregnancy shortly after joining a new company.

What is the correct mindset I should have? How should I navigate this situation in short and long run.

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Discussion

(2 comments)
  • 2
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    This feels obvious (at least to me): Go back to your prior team.

    Even though so much of Taro is about career advancement, at the end of the day, I really just want you and everyone else in the community to be happy:

    • For many, that involves grinding interviews and promotions, working up the career ladder, and getting Exceed Expectations+ every cycle. That's the "standard" path and is obviously completely fine.
    • But for others, their goal is to just do well enough at their job to get by (while still doing their highest quality work and treating teammates with respect of course) because they have much bigger fish to fry outside of work. That's 100% okay too!

    Family comes first. If you're looking to grow yours, you should definitely prioritize work-life balance.

    My recommendation is to use Taro to learn how to get more from your time. This is important for getting promoted, but it's also important in your situation where you want to comfortably meet expectations with as little time investment as possible and plug the rest into what truly matters, your personal life. Check these out: [Taro Top 10] Work-Life Balance

    If you work at FAANG, I'm sure you'll be fine longer term. Do your 30% coding on your previous team, and you even mentioned that you can dial it up as well. Use light (and fun) side projects outside of work to further bolster your learning in a non-pressurized way.

    Here's another great discussion to check out: "How to achieve career longevity?"

  • 2
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    Eng @ Taro
    25 days ago

    I would favor option 2 in your situation for better work-life balance, because you have already built the trust on the team and you have the domain experience.

    Option 1:

    • You are fighting an uphill battle because the low performer rating has set your manager's expectations for you.
    • You will have to work harder to get a better performance rating, which will be even harder if you need to take time out in the middle of the day to address more important family priorities.

    Option 3:

    • You mention that you like your company. This is a very good thing, and it would be such a shame to abandon your company and risk going to a toxic team.
    • You're going to have to build up that trust when you join a new company, which is going to be difficult when you have to context switch between work and family during the day.

    might get rusted on software development skills

    I would say that this might not be as big of a concern as you think. There are very high-level and fundamental principles about every software project that don't involve getting immersed in the code that will help you guide projects to success.