For those with over 10 yoe, think again if you consider accepting L5 position at Amazon.

Amazon / Eng lifeisbear
Jul 8 54 Comments

If you had over 10+ yoe, tech lead or senior role at the current company, and you got a L5 offer from Amazon. Recruiter said "Dont worry, you will get promoted to L6 very quickly if you prove your ability". Better money, better fame, potention to work as senior, why not? It sounds not too bad doesnt it?

Think again before accepting it. You will need to be prepared to be stuck in SDEII for two or even more years (or until you leave Amazon) competing with smart junior SDEIIs over the less challenging with relatively small impact projects. There will be new hire SDEIIIs who may have less experience and knowledge than you and all the SDEIIs will listen up to him but you because you are just a SDEII. Most of the SDEI get promoted to SDEII in 2 years at most, and they will think you are not that different to them. Of course after one or two years you will be reconized as a senior SDEII and people will come to you to ask questions. That's it, while the new hire SDEIIIs will automatically get involved in more interesting projects and leading role, mentoring the other SDEs and more chance to talk to principal engineers and the senior managers.

There is a process that you have to take to get promoted to L6 promotion, and that usually can take years of hard work with proven record with multiple review reports from the other senior sdes and sdms, and majority of SDEIIs fail to achieve that and leave. I am also in that situation and I am pretty sure many others are.

Think again seriously before joining as SDEII just for money and the name value if you are a +10yoe senior/principal or tech lead now. I did that, and it is really not fun.

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TOP 54 Comments
  • Oracle alwzangry
    This. Never join ANY company at a lower grade, even for higher compensation. Promotions aren't guaranteed, and it is harder to perform at a lower level which you may have outgrown. Don't let recruiters and hiring committees determine your career based on their convenience and judgment.
    Jul 8 7
    • Amazon / Eng lifeisbear
      OP
      Better described as a trap. I came from Cisco and I am seriously considering going back for getting back my ego :)
      Jul 8
    • Comcast dontdie
      Why not for higher comp? If a hedge fund offers me 400k cash TC with the title “ultra junior code monkey”, I’ll take it
      Jul 8
    • Oracle alwzangry
      dontdie: I'm telling you from experience that it's a trap. If things suck, and you look to quit, guess what level will your next job be - without the money. The corporate world is filled with incompetent people in positions of influence. Smarter people do a disservice to everyone by shutting themselves out of the spheres of influence.
      Jul 8
    • Comcast dontdie
      Titles are conjured out of thin air, specially for ICs. Money is real. As for your next hop - How is the recruiter going to find out your current title? Put whatever you can pull off on your resume, they can’t find out. No need to tell current salary either. In CA they legally cannot ask.
      Jul 8
    • Oracle alwzangry
      dontdie: Your background check will reveal what your last title was. If you think all ICs (why, are you one?) are same and titles are invented, I suspect you are still quite young in the corporate world. I shared what I have seen for a number of years. You want to experience it yourself? If the titles are invented, you should also be able to negotiate the higher title instead of fudging on your resume. You're not going to change my views on this. I advise this to anyone who asks my opinion on this topic. YMMV.
      Jul 8
  • Google Blame Ruth
    This is a standard recruiter lie. Google recruiters do it too.
    Jul 8 7
    • Google Blame Ruth
      That said, promotion to L4/L5 is handled by a lighter-weight process than in the past, and is probably easier than what you're describing. So much depends on your team and manager though. I definitely wouldn't trust any promises made by Google recruiters though.
      Jul 8
    • Amazon / Eng lifeisbear
      OP
      @Blame Ruth thanks for your comments. I was wondering if Google also offers L4 position to the senior engineers and letting them to
      Jul 8
    • Amazon / Eng lifeisbear
      OP
      (cont'd) compete like crazy, or would never offer lower position for the senior engineers. I think it is mostly about how the company respects the engineers and cares their career.
      Jul 8
    • Google Blame Ruth
      The quality of Google recruiters is incredibly inconsistent since many of them are on temporary 1-2 year contracts.

      Does it happen sometimes? Absolutely. Does it happen every time? Probably not. It's hard to say what the mix is.

      In general though, a verbal assertion from a recruiter is worth the paper it's printed on. Make your choices based on what the written offer says, not what some recruiter promises.

      Another thing about Google leveling: Google pays higher for the same named position than many other companies (not all, but levels.fyi can help you compare). Frequently, someone's current comp rather than past experience is used to choose the offer level. If you're doing L5-looking work but your comp looks like a Google L4, you'll probably get an offer at the higher end of the L4 salary band rather than the low end of the L5 salary band.

      Having counter offers helps, of course.
      Jul 8
    • Amazon / Eng lifeisbear
      OP
      Appreciate your input. It will be good thing to know when the time comes. I had no luck with Google, applied once before, never heard back.
      Jul 8
  • Twitch d mifflin
    Yeah. It’s the same technique recruiters use over and over. This and also, “yeah there’s going to be rapid growth on this team and you’ll have ppl to manage”
    Jul 8 4
    • Amazon / Eng lifeisbear
      OP
      I know. But I knew what they do so In dont want to blame those guys. Just wanted to point out that Amazon's SDEII position can be harmful for those who want to continue the senior role in dev.
      Jul 8
    • Microsoft hshdkdhbe
      I got the same situation... And its a catch.....
      Jul 8
    • Amazon / Eng lifeisbear
      OP
      So probably I should start blaming the recruiters 🤣 although the real problem is the hiring managers. I feel it is like sacrificing someone else's career for their success.
      Jul 8
    • Microsoft hshdkdhbe
      Sometimes having a counter offer can change it.
      Jul 8
  • VMware herathakur
    Having just more experience doesn't mean one should be promoted. You have to prove yourself. In my team there are people with 25 year experience but only senior software engineer and people with 10 year experience who are senior staff. Usually people who are staff have proven themselves by leading a project or they are famous as maintainer of open source projects. Have you thought you need to work on some areas, like playing politics, depending upon your team culture.

    I think that's one of the reasons companies don't like to hire someone from outside at very senior role because there is no way to judge if they will perform better at leadership roles.
    Jul 8 3
    • Oracle alwzangry
      This is bollocks, but yes, this is how most people think. It's the reality. In hierarchies, people's abilities show only as much as the opportunities that their hierarchy provides. Once you're locked in to a job, and wait for a year for internal transfer, people ask what you did for the previous 6 months. Good luck talking about past experience or showing your worth when you were hired for building someone else's empire, and not for any challenging projects!

      When you need to learn politics, you know it's rotten, and it has nothing to do with your experience. Get buddies with the top bosses to make progress and pretend to be cool and wise.
      Jul 8
    • Amazon / Eng lifeisbear
      OP
      @VMware I am not saying I should be promoted nor that's not my point.
      Jul 8
    • Amazon / Eng lifeisbear
      OP
      (Post button should be moved away) I am sharing my experience with the other guys who has simliar situation like me. If you are not, you probably wouldnt find it useful.
      Jul 8
  • New SgJq15
    oh boy, what a fucking complainer. so let me get this straight, amazon reached out, paid you more and now you’re complaining that you didn’t ask for more or what are you exactly talking about? your talent is being wasted? brother, if you’ve over 10 YOE and make less than $500k you are not that talented. wake up from the wet dream
    Jul 8 3
    • Amazon blackbelt2
      Oh fuck.. I have 12 yoe and get 380k.
      Before your post, I was thinking that I am talented. Now I need to seek a new beginning
      Jul 8
    • Amazon / Eng lifeisbear
      OP
      You probably are right. I am not talented but probably there are many other people like me that would make the same mistake that I did, so I wanted to let them think about the dark side.
      Jul 8
    • New SgJq15
      what exactly is the mistake? you having to prove your worth is normal. should you have negotiated higher or prepared better, yes. there is not much to see here. what is stopping you from achieving your goals? i have a feeling you are stopping yourself.
      Jul 8
  • Amazon blackbelt2
    Agreed but from my experience people who joined at sde2 at > 10 yoe didn't have better option in hand. Other options were offering significantly lower TC and/or brand value.
    Many of them feared that by rejecting amazon offer they might land in mediocre non FAANG jobs (I don't have any intention to say that Amazon job is not mediocre)
    Jul 8 2
    • Amazon / Eng lifeisbear
      OP
      You are right. I didnt have any other options when I joined, as I wasnt vigorously looking for a new role. Just wanted a new challenge, Amazon contacted me, offered a position so I accepted it naively hoping Amazon would not waste my knowledge and experience:) I didn't fully understand SDEII role could be a career position and the promotion was very limited to a tiny percentage. I am actually considering moving to non FANG companies or returning to start up.
      Jul 8
    • Percolate / Eng SkLB71
      I hear FANGs like facebook and uber will fast track you to the next level
      Jul 8
  • Comcast dontdie
    TC?
    Jul 8 0
  • OCHIN #IAmGary
    Just get hired in as L6. Problem solved.
    Jul 8 1
    • Amazon / Eng lifeisbear
      OP
      Probably I am not good enough for that now. My option could be leaving and coming back as SDEIII or staying out of FANG for better control and ownership of the projects.
      Jul 8
  • Salesforce snwlwo
    What a great post. Thanks op
    Jul 13 1
    • Amazon / Eng
      lifeisbear

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Cisco
      lifeisbearmore
      OP
      Thanks :)
      Jul 13
  • Oracle qawsedrft
    I also made the mistake, got in at lower level, but $ was good. However I got a promo in 1.5 yrs, which resulted in even higher $. However considering how things went, I would also advice to not take a lower level unless one does not have other options.
    Jul 8 10
    • VMware herathakur
      MS
      Jul 8
    • Amazon blackbelt2
      Please refer me too in MS
      Jul 8
    • VMware herathakur
      @blackbelt2, I haven't joined yet. Waiting for H1B transfer. BTW why want to join MS. As per my knowledge Amazon pay better. I am not getting a huge raise, but I am hoping I will be able to save more in Washington because of low tax and a bit cheaper rent than Bay Area. IMO Bay Area is not a great place to raise family so moving out.
      Jul 8
    • Amazon blackbelt2
      Great, I m not keen on moving out immediately.
      Jul 8
    • Oracle alwzangry
      Sometimes same level is also a compromise if you were overdue a promotion. Can't help it.
      Jul 8
  • Cloudera whoami82
    Are you working in AWS? I have L5 offer from AWS and trying to figure out if i should accept the offer
    Jul 8 4
    • Amazon blackbelt2
      TC and yoe?
      Jul 8
    • Oracle qawsedrft
      If the recruiter said you will get promoted to l6 in 6 months - 1 yr, that’s bs.
      Jul 8
    • Cloudera whoami82
      300k/9 year
      Jul 8
    • Cloudera whoami82
      The recruiter did not promise any specific timeline for promotion
      Jul 8
  • What's your TC currently?
    3d 0