I have worked at two larger companies and two small startups (currently at one). I'm quite content with my current company and role, as I have ample opportunities for growth and a great work-life balance. However, the only factor that makes me contemplate leaving my current position is that I'm earning less than some of my peers. I'm not comparing myself to the exceptionally high-earning individuals; rather, I'm looking at other senior software engineers who are making around $400K in total compensation. Currently, I'm earning around $250K. It's important to note that I recognize my experience level is relatively young compared to those with 20-30 years of experience, as I have only 6 years of experience.
I want to think about the bigger picture and position myself in the best possible way for the future. When I discuss this with some of my peers, they suggest that I should work at a FAANG company at least once to attract recruiters from better companies. While I've always been drawn to roles with high visibility and a need for velocity, I've found that at larger companies, I tend to work at a slower pace with less visibility. However, if transitioning to a FAANG role is indeed the key to opening up new career opportunities, I'm willing to consider it.
Has anyone else faced a similar dilemma in their career? I would appreciate any insights or advice from individuals who have gone through a similar experience.
However, the only factor that makes me contemplate leaving my current position is that I'm earning less than some of my peers.
Compensation should never be your sole motivation for choosing a role unless you literally need the extra money to survive. Pay is important of course, but it's much healthier to treat it as a lagging indicator of your growth as I talk about here: "If my main goal is compensation, would it be wise to learn blockchain tech since it will potentially be the tech of the next couple decades?"
Here's the framework I follow with my career decisions:
What many people don't realize about #1 is that your awesome environment will always stop being awesome at some point, and it will happen sooner than you think. This can happen for so many reasons (most of which I have experienced):
This is actually what happened to me at my 2nd job Course Hero and how I ended up at Meta:
Here's another good discussion about this topic I highly recommend: "How much am I hurting my career by staying at a startup? (Pressure to work for big tech)"
Lastly, $250k TC is a lot for a startup (I assume you're counting equity as 0, so that's a very large salary + bonus). You're doing great 😉
What I will say though is that if you have never worked for a FAANG company before, it's probably worth trying. In general, treat the tech space as a buffet where each "dish" is a type of company (startup, scale-up, Big Tech, etc).
If you want to learn more about the difference between startups and Big Tech and how it affects your career:
I forgot to share this other discussion as well in my initial response: "How do I not compare myself to others in my career?"
If the only thing that you're not 100% happy with is compensation, I would strongly lean towards staying.
Switching companies whether it's FAANG or not is rolling the dice on all the other factors that come with the job. Ironically, the only guaranteed thing is the comp you sign on at. I tend to advocate for switching when a new role offers something materially different other than compensation.
As an example, here are two inflection points where switching made sense in my career:
All that being said, I think you should try a few things to increase compensation without switching jobs.
*The extra comp at FAANG has a good chance to eat up your work-life balance, so net you might not be gaining anything vs. the side gig route.
If you'd like to explore any of these paths further, feel free to DM me on Slack or LinkedIn. I'm happy to help you lay out a gameplan.