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Grow Your Tech Career at TikTok

TikTok, known in China as Douyin, is a short-form video hosting service owned by Chinese company ByteDance. It hosts a variety of short-form user videos with durations from 15 seconds to ten minutes

Improvements based on performance review - MLE

Mid-Level Software Engineer at TikTok profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer at TikTok

Feedback

I got feedback on the last two quarters since I joined the company on three things:

Impact - E; Teamwork - M+; Technical Skills - M

Except for that, something that I was lacking was leadership & ownership.

Current Level: Mid-level.

Question Focus

  • I wanted here to discuss my struggles in improving my technical skills & leadership. And what mindsets & behaviors I need adopt.

  • My focus is more about getting a good rating & having a good bonus. And less about promotion at the moment.

Discussion

  1. At the moment, I rely a lot of my lead to make decisions about things I work on & focus on. This is due to following aspects:
    1. I feel part of it is me not having confidence in myself to know what's right. Since my lead has much more experience in this area & I'm very new to it.
    2. The uneasiness of not knowing what's the right approach. It's easy to have another person look at it than dive deep into something you don't look of.
    3. Sometimes documentation is not in English at my company & that is a burden into looking at things deeply.
      1. It breaks my confidence at times & slows me compared to other people who know that language.
  2. New tools & languages
    1. C++: I haven't spent much time learning it since I focussed on moving fast & creating impact so far. So that hampered me in setting aside time to learn this language that's used a lot in backend code.
      1. And at times I ask people in help for navigating code than I should do myself.
    2. I'm also haven't worked much in the backend part before being a MLE but now we all have at my current company but I don't feel any new concepts here I need to know.
    3. Design patterns
      1. I see these patterns in the code-base. Like how they use configs & classes. I see some other people in my team figuring it out very seamlessly. But I don't know which pattern they are using.
      2. And I don't know how time I should spend on this. Since reading a whole book on design patterns would be a lot of time. But knowing them would be useful.
  3. Algorithms & ML
    1. A big part of my job or my main-job is improving the algorithms & ML models to make more revenue.
    2. A lot of times, I see my teammates reading similar approaches in the company & adopting them to our use-case. Sometimes doing so I find it hard. Since the docs of these approaches are not in english at times.
      1. So I have ask around some folks to translate things. This severely slows me down.
      2. The better way could be to read outside papers/approaches but that takes more time. And may not know if they fit so good to our use-case.

Would love feedback on

  • how I can work better on these things
  • what mindsets I can adopt here to make more progress.
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Risk of PIP!!! Performance Review: Sometimes Meets Expectations x2.

Mid-Level Software Engineer at TikTok profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer at TikTok

My Role is Senior SRE

I received my second performance review and it came in at a -M which means Sometimes meets expectations. This is my first year in big tech and I'm at a loss for words. I worked 12-hour days since I started. The first 6 months I just winged it and did not realize how strategic and crucial these performance reviews were.

So for my second 6 months, I aligned with my team lead and manager. I executed every project they asked me to and even created some projects to help the entire team. I was led to believe I was doing good work. However, this Tuesday I received the news that my rating is again a -M. They said that they did not put me on a PIP because they saw improvement from the last PR.

They told me the reason was that I am one of 3 Sr. Engineers and that two of them are performing more than I am. Since we are rated on a curve I am last. 9 out of my 10, 360 reviews were positive and an M or above. I have a follow-up meeting next week with my manager to discuss my improvement plan. I also set up a call with my manager's manager for a coaching/mentorship call.
Here are my questions.

  • I feel like my manager sees others as more proficient than me. Even though other colleagues tell me I am better than the other senior engineers how can I break out of this perception my manager has?
  • How can I avoid a PIP? Our next performance review is in 2-3 months due to some changes they made in the yearly PR schedule. I don't think I can make enough changes during that time.
  • What should my approach be towards my manager and his manager?
    • I want to be humble but also direct.
    • I feel I am not being treated fairly but I also think the system may be designed this way. I don't want to appear like I am a victim either.
  • I fear that I will get a PIP due to my manager's subjective opinion I will lose my job, my apartment, and I will have lost the last 2 years of working myself to the bone. How can I escape being in this state of survival?
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How to negotiate my offer with TikTok?

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

I made it through 3 technical rounds at TikTok (2 Coding, 1 System Design) and had my HR round recently. The HR round was a negotiation round. I don't know if I handled it well. I am hoping that Taro can give me some insights or advice. For leveling, I have a little under 2 YOE at Amazon but I got laid off in April.

Here is a summary of the HR meeting:

Question: What level are you expecting?

Answer: I am expecting mid-level because I have good experience at Amazon and I did well in the interviews. HR made some comments about why I am not a good fit for mid-level said but said that the leveling will be set after this meeting.

Question: What other interviews do you have?

Answer: I have 2 early stage interviews lined up next week at Big Tech. I declined to reveal the companies. I said that I would cancel the other interviews if I got a strong offer from TikTok. I mentioned one of the reasons that I want to work at TikTok was the scale. HR said that if the other companies are Big Tech they would have similar scale. I didn't know what to say to that. I have other reasons for wanting to join TikTok but I didn't mention them in the meeting.

Question: What compensation are you expecting?

Answer: I dodged the question and said "I will consider any strong offer from TikTok." The compensation discussion went on for a good 10 minutes and I kept dodging the question. HR got upset after a while because I didn't give any numbers. I said that maybe we can have the compensation discussion after the level is set and then we stopped talking about it.

Question: Asked about RTO, Visa status and when I can start.

HR said they will get back to me early next week.

Given the market conditions, I bet they have several other candidates lined up for this role. Maybe some of them made it to the HR round and they negotiated less than me (level, low-numbers) so maybe they will take them instead.

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