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Big Tech Q&A and Videos

About Big Tech

Often refers to the "Big 5": Google, Meta, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. They have all broken the 1 trillion dollar mark at some point and are premier career destinations for software engineers.

Questions for Recruiter?

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Data Engineer at Financial Company

I had a round with a recruiter from a Big Tech company today. She reached out to me on LinkedIn, but it wasn't for a specific role, it was more of a call to determine what team would be best for me.

The call lasted about 25 minutes, where she asked about my background and explained the interview process. Then she asked me if I had any questions.

I felt constrained in asking questions because I felt like the questions I would ask a Hiring manager or member of the team to find out more about the team would not be questions the recruiter could answer. Also, she is recruiting for many teams, so how much can she really know about the team?

Should I have taken the opportunity to ask questions?

My usual go-to questions are:

  • What are the company’s/team’s greatest challenges right now?
  • What can you tell me about the team or group I’d be working with?
  • How has the company changed in the past year?
  • What are your favourite and least favourite things about working here?

The first 2 are team specific and are ones I felt the recruiter might not be able to answer so well. Indeed, when I asked what the company's biggest challenges were, she said that's very broad question, and I don't think she could answer for the team. She already told me basic info about the team, so I couldn't ask my 2nd question.

I could've asked the latter 2, but they feel kinda forced, especially during an intro call.

Should I have asked anything? I'd like to make a good impression on her, but I also don't know how important that is since she's going to take my profile back to the team and they'll determine if they want to proceed with me.

I've heard that a good question could be "How did you find me?" or "What made you interested in me?" since it forces them to come up with strong points about you and thus gives you a more positive image in their mind. Practically though, if I ask "how did you find me?", they might say "simple LinkedIn keyword search" rather than "I love your background using X, Y and Z tech!"


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Up Levelled FAANG Offer (Mid -> Senior)

Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Software Engineer at Taro Community

I've recently received an up levelled FAANG offer in the US. I originally applied for a mid level role (SDE II, E4, L4) etc. but was up levelled to a senior engineer in interviews.

I currently have ~3.5 years of engineering experience all at small unknown startups so I'm trying to decide whether to accept the offer or whether to ask for a down level.

I have several concerns about taking the senior offer, which I've listed below:

  • I have only 3.5 years experience in development and I'm simply worried I haven't written enough code as of yet to be a senior and I'm not actually technically strong.
  • My current experience has been in startups and I've never worked in the big tech environment. Currently we don't need to do things such as write design docs or seek approvals to write code. Additionally, we don't aggressively unit test and only have unit tests for key parts of the code.
  • During the interview process I studied super hard and ended up seeing a lot of the questions that were asked beforehand in both system design and coding rounds (I'm concerned I have somehow gamed the system).
  • I am worried that the fast ramp up time and expectations in big tech will end up seeing me setup for failure.

On the other side:

  • I'm a hard worker and have good soft skills so I wonder if this will be enough to aid me while I get up to speed.
  • I know that big tech companies spend a lot of time on their interview process and because of this I should probably trust their rating. They must have seen something if they gave me this offer.
  • Finally the senior role offers a lot more money and it might be a good opportunity to see whether I sink or swim. At worst case a highly paid learning opportunity.
  • If I could make it through as a senior engineer it could potentially save . 1 - 2 years career time.

Wondering if anyone has advice for this particular situation?

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What matters in the long term career marathon?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community

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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FAANG Contracting. Is it worth it?

Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community

Some context, last July after getting laid off I started searching for new work with a particular focus on FAANG.

I garner traction with a few companies but am elated when hear from a FAANG head hunter.

I passed the first interview. Scheduled the second and it wasn’t until the confirmation email of the second interview that I saw “Contract”. I was greatly disheartened though I figured I might as well go through the interview process and decide after I’ve lined up all my options. And after talking to the hiring manager I was promised a chance to convert the contract is up.

It was a hard decision, but ultimately I passed up on a well paying senior role at smaller company to take a stab at FAANG.

And I loved it. The engineers I work with are brilliant, the products impacting orders of magnitude more clients than I ever have before and I'm learning.

However, after shipping our first project, the hiring manager that brought me on board switched teams. The projects I've been reassigned to have been largely tech debt and non technical. I have had no direct manager for 4 months with no new one stepping in in the foreseeable future. While conversion is supposedly still on the table, there is no one tracking my contributions and there is a new stipulation of “if the market permits” tacked on top, meaning they have an excuse to prolong the contract rather than give a chance to convert.

The cherry on top of all this is, recruiters from this company have reached out multiple times over the past two weeks but pull out after I inform them that I'm currently contracting for them. This is due to the understandable “external” vs “internal” hiring conflicts.

So I guess the question is, should I quit and open up the chance to once again start applying externally? Or would it make more sense to stick around and try for the mythical conversion or even just maintain and study for the inevitable interviewing at the end of the contract? Maybe try being overemployed?

I have tried asking the stand in managers, but they have much bigger fish to fry than the ambitions of a contractor so I would really appreciate some opinions on how I might navigate this period of contracting.

Thanks for the read and your time,


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How to navigate career after layoffs

Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community

I recently got laid off working as a developer working within an agency. I currently have around 5 years of experience working in the agency setting utilizing React, Next js, Vue, Liquid, and the Shopify API to create custom eCommerce sites. During my time at these agencies, I also had the opportunity to act as a lead, interact with clients, set timelines, and cross collaborate with designers/projects managers to meet deadlines.

I have been looking for new opportunities since January and I've been able to secure a couple of interviews, technical challenges, and one onsite. Most of my interviews have been coming from agencies, but my preference is to join a tech startup or maybe more on the brand side of things within the Shopify niche. Below are a couple of questions:

  1. Will working at another agency hurt my career in the long run? My ultimate end goal is to work for a bigger tech company if possible.
  2. If an agency does want to hire me right now, should I take the job for now or just wait for one of my preferences?
  3. I notice a lot of developers within the agency space freelance after their 9-5. Does studying for interviews or future jobs provide a higher ROI instead of freelancing?
  4. Lastly, I just finished (super helpful!). It seems like the best course of action for me is to apply a lot, work on side projects instead of grinding leetcode, and study system design. Does this seem correct?

Thanks in advance!

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