Career

Driving Clarity - Microsoft Levels

New / ProductiTri
Mar 14

I’ve always found levels at Microsoft as a very confusing to outsiders. So let me tell you one or two things. Don’t ever accept an L59 offer unless you’re a new college hire with no industry internship experience. It’s a scam. The expectations at L59 are can you clone a repo; can you check in code which doesn’t cause a service to go down. As a pm can you follow instructions and communicate things without sounding like a bumbling idiot.

Hiring folks with 2-3 years work experience at 59 is shameful and disgusting. Many returning interns come in at 60. Handful really amazing and incredible interns who have been at Microsoft for 2-3 summers come in at even L61.

Another point: you can get promoted every 6 months at Lower levels (below 63). If anyone tells you otherwise they’re lying. (I know folks who’ve done this.)

You can get promoted a level Year even at higher levels. People go from 65-68 in 3 years. Granted this is very very hard and you need to seek projects that have the scope. (I know folks who have done this.) I’m caving in and adding timelines of cases where it’s not 0.001%. Folks get to Partner in 12-15 years. (10 years is a very very rare). Folks spend 6-8 years trying to get from 65-68. (3 years is a point on the graph you’ll remove to get a curve). Now 6-8 years to L65 is not very unheard of. (Very few have done this in 4)

If you have worked at product firm anywhere in the world and someone tells you I don’t account for non usa work ex tell them to shove it. Really shameful and disgusting again. (Know folks who told them to shove it and came in at a level higher)

Feel free to ask me questions around leveling. Happy to help.

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  • Microsoft flying pi
    You are just confusing and disappointing new employees here by this baseless post. Everyone knows Microsoft hires industry people with 1-3 yoe at L60. Random Blind post will only dissuade people from taking up a great opportunity that will boost their careers.

    So, by your logic, everyone should be VP by 10 yoe. Am I right?
    Mar 142
    • Amazon Chinese
      By his logic, there is a possibility of someone becoming VP in 10 years. Not everyone.
      Mar 14
    • New / ProductiTri
      OP
      Everyone knows Microsoft hires folks with 1-3 yrs at 60. That is wrong. It’s unfair. I’m asking industry hires to push back against the company. I hate it. Coming in at 60 doesn’t boost your career.

      By my logic you can get to Partner in 8-10 years. I can quote 20-30 people who you can look up on dr whom and Linkedin to cross verify partner is possible fast despite the bullshit the company tries to sell you. It’s not easy but it’s simple.
      Mar 14
  • Facebook
    alt_qq

    Facebook

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    Microsoft
    alt_qqmore
    Keep in mind fast promotions are also contingent on having a supportive/good manager. There are plenty of shooting stars who makes lots of impact that get stuck advancing at a snail's pace due to manager politics/bureaucracy. There are plenty of managers who won't consider level bumps in under 1-1.5 years and plenty of other managers who ignore impact/peer input and just make arbitrary promotion/no promotion recommendations.

    Yes, you can grow quickly, but you need to be very good and very lucky.
    Mar 143
    • New / ProductiTri
      OP
      True, luck is definitely a part of the game. But I would say if you don't have a supportive manager, or chance to work on impactful projects of the right scope; move internally or move out. I would say 6 months is long enough to put up with slow pace or uninterested managers; then you interview and move on. You take a one year hit, but long term it's the right move.
      6d
    • Facebook
      alt_qq

      Facebook

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      Microsoft
      alt_qqmore
      Bad manager can sometimes stop you dead in your tracks really quickly at MS and make it so you can't change teams... Happened to me. New manager came in 2-3 months before connects/reward discussions, team got dissolved after a month (so my projects got cancelled) and then new manager said that anything I had done before she got there didn't count for performance... Then put me on IR, gave me ZR, and blocked me from transferring teams. Immediately left for FB as a result.

      But yeah generally bad managers can just be slowdowns if you are prepared to jump around teams.
      6d
    • New / ProductiTri
      OP
      That’s tough, but I guess you get paid way better for your efforts at Facebook! So keep killing it :)
      6d
  • Snapchat AlexHeath
    BS. A promo every 6 months is more of an exception, even at lower levels. Good people get promoted once at year, at best and the median is about 18 months between levels, upto 63. You need to be in the top 5% probably to get a promo in 6 months.
    Mar 148
    • Microsoft stva
      It’s not about being in the Top X% either. It’s hard to see the impact so fast, even at lower levels. Sometimes, people may have leadership skills that have a high impact on the business and the managers may say, “hey, looks like this person was underleveled on hire. Let’s get them to the next level”. At some point, it may even out with these high potentials reaching the level where “what got them here wont take them there”. This is a huge bucket where most people may just retire after reaching a terminal level with respect to growth. A few are so good with learning, acquiring new skills, forming and keeping relationships, course correcting their mistakes, seeking opportunities that challenge them and showing business impact, that they manage to keep growing all the way to the C-suite. In the times of entitlement, I wish the younger generation focuses more on learning skills and having the right business impact, before getting frustrated with career growth and jumping ship. Grass is only greener on the other side if the person identifies the blockers to their own growth.
      Mar 14
    • New / ProductiTri
      OP
      Agreed I’m not saying it’s the norm at all. I’m saying give people the top 5% as examples and tell them it’s possible. Show them examples of top performers and help them grow. Don’t say 12-18 months avg promo. Don’t promote mediocrity. No one strives to be average.
      Mar 14
    • New / ProductiTri
      OP
      @stva, great points. I believe it’s a managers responsibility to find opportunities or business problems that push them to grow. If they feel they don’t have business that provides the kind of scope they need to ask their employees to move teams to do that. I know truly invested managers in Microsoft who do this. The problem at lower level and not getting the right scope is managers not believing the employee can step up to the occasion. I challenge managers to take a leap of faith and not micro manage and give new hires tough problems to solve. You dont help people by coddling them. You throw them in the pool and they will swim.
      Mar 14
    • Snapchat AlexHeath
      There’s a lot more to life than a fast promo. It’s ok to be mediocre. When I evaluate a company, I always look at how they treat/reward employees at the median performance.
      Mar 14
    • New / ProductiTri
      OP
      Absolutely. But I’m saying give people an opportunity to pick between mediocrity and excellence at work. They can choose to focus on more important aspects of life than their work.
      Mar 14
    • Microsoft stva
      Fair ask that “if you dont get the opportunities, then how do you grow?”. I used to be like you btw, thinking it’s manager’s responsibility to help me and my career. What I learned is “I manage my career”. If you picked a couple of things you wanted to work on and asked your manager to assign them to you, would they not agree? Now, at lower levels, you may not have visibility into such projects to pick them in the first place. That’s where you need “friends” who are senior in the team to watch out for you and help you create that list of projects that may push you ahead.
      Mar 14
    • Microsoft stva
      Also, giving examples of Top X% wont help much anyway. Because, everyone wont grow at the same pace and may not have the same strengths/skills. Understand this: “Business only cares for business”. While you expect the managers to invest in you as a person, which a good manager should absolutely do- unless you prove yourself first, you wont get that next lucrative assignment. So give whatever you are working on your best shot, keep doing it repeatedly, manage your manager and see if things dont shift for you for better.
      Mar 14
    • New / ProductiTri
      OP
      Stva, those are perfect points and I couldn’t have articulated it better. You own your career 100%. And that’s exactly what you should do, say I want to do ‘X’, already pick it up do some work and show skin in the game; and your manager can then help. Also my only point is managers should initially have some faith in you; then you prove yourself..cascading effect. Also let’s say you have a bad manager own it and move around or manage them accordingly.
      7d
  • Cisco bitset
    I noticed a lot of companies simply downlevel or low ball just to check if you can walk away with counter offer. If you are, then you have multiple offers and deserve top compensation
    7d2
    • New / ProductiTri
      OP
      Yeah that’s a cheap negotiation tactic. It doesn’t have anything to do with the potential of the candidate. I’m ok paying lower and having candidates who the “market wants” being paid top dollar. But I think leveling based on “market want” is not a good practice.
      7d
    • Cisco bitset
      I think on hire stock vary significantly between levels in Microsoft/ other companies. So in order not to pay good comp, they go up whatever extent they can. So leveling too happens as part of game
      7d
  • Google RealThKu
    Promo in 6 months? Principal and Partner band promos in 3 yrs? Couldn’t be any further from truth
    Mar 142
    • Amazon Chinese
      Not a norm but there are examples were it happened
      Mar 14
    • New / ProductiTri
      OP
      I’m not saying it’s the norm. I can share names, you can look them up on LinkedIn. Feel free to DM me.
      Mar 14
  • Microsoft . . .
    Any concrete reasons people get underleveled/scammed?
    Mar 141
    • New / ProductiTri
      OP
      The reasons I hear are I don’t want them to come in at a higher level, not achieve the expected scope or impact and get managed out. It’s easy to get promoted soon or system will correct itself if you’re above the level.

      Which is fair, but I’d say push yourself to meet the level than come in at a point where you’re not challenged adequately. But it’s your choice ultimately.
      Mar 14
  • Microsoft ccmbrwater
    Level? TC?
    Mar 140
  • Amazon Chinese
    Gold
    Mar 140
  • Booz Allen Hamilton ukrW70
    Quick question, do you know how this works for PFEs? That’s what I’m coming in as and I do not know my level yet.
    7d1
    • New / ProductiTri
      OP
      Sorry I don’t.
      7d
  • VMware / Eng
    tyxS31

    VMwareEng

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    Microsoft, Hulu
    tyxS31more
    Actually I think 59 if most of your 2 years experience is not in the US is good, you will level up pretty quickly anyway, and you need the time to get used to the environment without too much pressure and high expectations up front.
    Mar 141
    • New / ProductiTri
      OP
      No. I don’t agree. If you’ve worked in industry you understand the expectations. Unless you want to coast, don’t have to come in at 59. I think anyone with intern industry experience coming in at 59 is taking a relaxed pace. If you want to do that; it’s perfectly alright. But you do not have to come in at 59 otherwise.

      Also you write code or pm or whatever in any country how does US or not matter. Are you telling me folks in microsoft in Netherlands or China or India or Israel are slackers and need time to get adjusted to the rigorous lifestyle at Redmond?
      Mar 14

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