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Is it a bad time to have career a.k.a. promo conversations?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer [SDE 2] at Amazona year ago

Given all the layoffs happening all over tech industry.

This Amazon expert thinks so: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67SDQQipZJc#t=6m00s

Please assist with your advice.



  • 4

    I think it depends on where you are at with your promo. If all you want is to kick off the conversation with your manager and understand where you are at and trying to understand what to work on, perhaps you can read through the role guideline yourself and verify if you have work summaries, datapoints and feedback provider for each of the points in the role guideline. What the person is suggesting is to be safe and conservative.

    If you are already meeting > 80% of the role guideline for the next level, I think its still fine to have the conversation and push toward it. You could sync with SDE3 around you to understand what the scope creep may be and see if you would be able to adapt to it. SDE3 work can differ quite a bit between teams and orgs as the ratio of developers differ between teams.

  • 6
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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    I understand the argument around why a recessionary environment may not be the best time to ask for a promotion. However, I also feel like so much of this depends on your team, manager, your progress toward the next level, etc.

    Especially at a big company like Amazon, they have to keep promoting at least some % of people. Perhaps the % has gone down this year relative to the past, but they can't afford not to keep promoting their best employees.

    The way I'd frame this is to ask for a "date for a date" to get your manager's feedback on the idea of pushing for promo. Something like:

    Do you think that we could figure out a time in the next few weeks to chat specifically about promo? Anytime in the next few weeks would be great, I want to understand how the process has changed, and I'd love your candid feedback on how I can continue to optimize my chances.

  • 5
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    a year ago

    I understand not wanting to "rock the boat" during these times, but if you're working at an intense FAANG company like Amazon, I feel like avoiding this conversation entirely is overkill and doing yourself a disservice.

    Of course, if you just joined your team 3 months ago or something, it could be annoying to go charging into your manager 1 on 1 and demanding a path to SDE 3 promo. This is amplified by the fact that Amazon SDE 2's band is way too wide and there's always a mountain of SDE 2s looking for that promotion.

    But as others have mentioned, if you have made good progress towards SDE 3 (i.e. you've been on the team for 1+ years, are working multiplicatively, and have several high-impact shipped projects under your belt), I think you should sustain that momentum and keep that conversation going. Not doing so would be a waste.

    Another way to think about it is incentives: I'm sure every Amazon SDM would love to have another competent SDE 3 on their team. SDE 3s are far more autonomous and drive way more impact compared to an SDE 2 - This reflects way better on the SDM. When you run this conversation by your manager, frame it in a way where your motivation is to have more impact and uplift more engineers on the team. This shows that you're more interested in growth and helping the team succeed as opposed to just wanting the senior promotion. Of course, this works far better if you have been on the team for a while, have a stellar track record, and have built up a deep bench of strong relationships within your org.

    I recommend checking out these related resources as well: