Huge down-level at Google

Microsoft dilemma!
Feb 15 53 Comments

I'm an SDE2 at Microsoft (L62) with 6.5 years of experience. I interviewed at Google for SWE-SRE and got an offer for Zurich but got down-levelled to L3 !

I'm located in India with a TC of 3.5 million INR (roughly 50k USD). The TC I'm being offered in Zurich is 230k USD so it's a huge TC bump for me.

Recruiter said I'm down-levelled because I don't have prior SRE experience, and HC decided I was a very strong L3 candidate instead.

I have the following questions -

1. Can I use the SWE-SRE offer and negotiate for an SWE team match?

2. Is it worth taking the offer given the down level? I'll save 5x more than I do in India but I'll start at a level that new hires start at.

3. If I interviewed at F/U/Apple after a few years, with total yoe as 10 but as L4 then at Google, will I be able to interview for E5/L5a/ICT4 ?

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TOP 53 Comments
  • Microsoft X9pl12
    You’re getting a huge pay increase and a level with lots of room to grow. I think you’re doing very well unless you just don’t want to be an SRE.
    Feb 15 0
  • Google DgUH12t
    You should focus on TC rather than level. US$230k is a very strong L3 offer, especially in Zurich. If you perform at L4, promo is a year or two away (though don't expect a big pay bump because your comp is on the very high end of L3). If you don't perform at L4, at least you're not being managed out.

    TLDR: For the same comp, you're better off at a lower level.
    Feb 15 2
    • Microsoft ramare
      Tldr - Are you serious? You get lesser refresher, lesser salary band. Only the initial grant saves you.
      And promo will take at least 2 years of sustained performance.
      Feb 15
    • Google DgUH12t
      It's not true that you'll get less refresher, everything else being equal. An L3 performing at L4 should expect "Strongly Exceeds Expectations" perf ratings which will lead to refreshers comparable to a CME L4, if not more. Google's comp as a function of performance curves are pretty steep.
      Feb 15
  • IBM / Data bbWI22
    How do you intend on saving 5X more?
    Feb 15 6
    • Google / Eng statusz
      BS calculator, seems to assume that you will spend all your money to buy local stuff and services and not save anything.

      Average salary in the population at large here is only 60-70k Fr and people live and breed perfectly fine on that with very high standard of living. University students even live^W survive on as little as 15-20k, housing included.

      Considering low taxes (about 20-25% in that bracket) OP's looking here at an opportunity to save north of 150k per year. Which is probably even more than 5x of what you'd save in India
      Feb 15
    • IBM / Data bbWI22
      The notion that one can save “150k” on a 230k income is delusional. OP is looking at paying over 50k in federal, cantonal, and communal income tax, and this doesn’t even include the various insurance deductions which can amount to an additional 15k. You’re suggesting that OP could find a room to rent, afford groceries, transportation, occasionally eating out, going out for fun on weekends on just 15k over the whole year which is ludicrous.

      OP’s quality of life will undoubtedly increase, as Switzerland enjoys the highest quality of life on the planet. But his savings - not so much, coming from a country where one can literally live like a king on an annual expenditure of under ₹10 lakhs (14k Fr).
      Feb 15
    • Google / Eng statusz
      You're the one being ridiculous. I saved much more than that on a lower TC (though, thanks in no small part to the bull market and assuming TC quoted at stock grant value)

      50k tax + room in a flatshare for 700-800 Fr + 1.1k/month official Zurich existence minimum figure covering everything necessary excl rent comes out to about 70k expenses per year. Food at Google on weekdays is free so your actual necessary spend will be even less. That leaves you then room to spend another whopping 600-700 Fr per month on bubblegum and still hit that 150k savings goal

      For bonus points, you can try fasting on weekends and cycling to work, it's healthy for you and your bank account
      Feb 15
    • IBM / Data bbWI22
      I forgot about the free food at Google. But would OP be exempt from the accident insurance, pension contributions, etc? I’m seeing 70k in taxes not 50.

      Also dude my main point is that the lifestyle you’re suggesting is extremely frugal, which is not what OP is likely used to in India. An annual income of ₹35 lakhs in India puts OP among the top 0.08% of Indians, which doesn’t scream live in a flatshare or spend literally the minimum amount per month required for subsistence.

      OP should accept the offer, keeping in mind the lifestyle changes he or she would be required to make in order to really save the magnitude of money he or she is hoping to save.
      Feb 15
    • Google / Eng statusz
      Accident insurance is 100% covered by Google. They also pay some extra on top of base salary for health insurance. As an SRE he probably also qualifies for a free corp phone and home internet reimbursement. Pension deduction is part of your savings, you cash it out when leaving the country paying only a tiny tax if done correctly (transfer the money to a fund in SZ before you go). Even AHV in some cases depending on your passport you can also largely take in cash when leaving, or else as a pension at 65+, it's not all wasted money.

      Yes, the lifestyle I'm suggesting is pretty frugal, but possible savings are substantial, you can retire to India and never work another day in your life after just 5-10 years of working here. It will be up to OP to find the right balance for himself between a) frugality, earlier FI/RE, higher disposable spend later and b) comfort and high spend now. The younger he is, the more sense it makes to be frugal IMHO, compounding returns is the key. I also think that quality of life living frugally in Switzerland beats frugal living in India in any case
      Feb 15
  • Google / Eng statusz
    You're getting paid like an L4. Perform as one and you'll get your promo in a year or so and a raise. Put your ego aside and take the money.
    Feb 15 4
    • Microsoft dilemma!
      OP
      Thanks. How plausible is it to expect to get promoted to L4 within 18 months in Zurich?
      Feb 15
    • Google / Eng statusz
      L3->L4 promo is easy, just keep your manager and TL happy, do what they say, shit out a ton of code, maybe some design doc occasionally and you'll have it in 2-3 cycles (12-18 months), sure thing. At least that's what you have to do as SWE, I don't know much about SRE track
      Feb 15
    • Any suggestion for moving from l4 to l5?
      Feb 16
    • Google / Eng statusz
      Shit out a ton of design docs
      Feb 16
  • Amazon amazoha
    What kind actions you got asked? Medium, hard? Graph/dp?
    Feb 15 6
    • Amazon zeff jezus
      Did you fully code optimal solutions?
      Feb 15
    • Microsoft dilemma!
      OP
      Yeah, pretty much. In the backtracking round I couldn't catch a small bug and the interviewer pointed it out and I fixed it. Other than that I think every round went really well.
      Feb 15
    • Amazon zeff jezus
      Congrats man! Can you share some info on your prep? How long did you prepare? How many hrs/week? Did you do leetcode only or any other source?
      Feb 15
    • Microsoft dilemma!
      OP
      Thank you zeff :)

      I did about 200 LC in two months. I wanted to get comfortable with every topic so I did topic wise then frequency wise.

      I've heard that Google doesn't ask leetcode questions verbatim so I tried to gain as much comfort as I could with every topic.
      Feb 15
    • Amazon zeff jezus
      Enjoy beautiful Zurich and I hope you get to L4 soon 😊
      Feb 15
  • Amazon / Eng
    ObongoAmnz

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    Microsoft
    ObongoAmnzmore
    Your level is your level. Do not take a downlevel. They are counting on you being blinded by the comp increase. Cost of living in India and other economic factors influence that low TC relative to Zurich. Get your deserved level and get paid what you are worth by Zurich standards.

    Now this all depends on your interview performance.
    Feb 15 4
    • Google / Eng statusz
      Zurich standard outside Google would be 40-50% lower TC, lol
      Feb 15
    • Amazon / Eng
      ObongoAmnz

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Microsoft
      ObongoAmnzmore
      What does that matter? If you’re at Google Mountain View does it matter what staples pays next door?
      Feb 15
    • Google / Eng statusz
      The difference between Mountain View and Zurich is that in MTV you can actually relatively easily find another job next door (or next town at most) that will match or beat your Google TC, especially with the cost cutting that's been going on recently. Not so in Zurich, I hate my project currently and would quit if I could but I'm gold handcuffed to it here ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Unemployment insurance would pay me more than any other firm around here. And I can't easily move to US
      Feb 15
    • Salesforce curious03
      Why can't u get a Google US offer ?
      Apr 8
  • Facebook public2
    Why would you even consider turning this down?
    Feb 15 0
  • Amazon / Eng Yolo!
    You’ll save 5X more just because your TC in an expensive western country with a high cost of living went up 5X of your Indian TC?

    I don’t mean to be funny, but for this alone I will say you are L3
    Feb 15 6
    • Amazon / Eng Yolo!
      So you’re saying I’m a smart ass, thanks! Lol. So basically you’ll pay rent and that’s all the expenses you expect? No bed to sleep or clothes? Not showering yourself with goodies to say well done? Come on bro!
      Feb 15
    • Microsoft dilemma!
      OP
      Here's a detailed breakdown?

      Rent is 1500 bucks. I'd be getting around 10000 CHF per month post tax. Surely rent is not the only thing I'm considering. The target performance bonus is 15%

      I took into account monthly health insurance pay, transport pass, groceries, clothing, utilities and on an average one visit to a country outside Switzerland per month.

      If you feel it's ridiculously high saving, it is. Google Zurich is probably the highest paying company in EU afaik.

      I started with a low ball offer of 145k and negotiated my way up. I had an E4 offer from Facebook, London and that helped. I'd not have been able to save half of this if I'd taken up the E4 offer though. So that's out of the question.
      Feb 15
    • Amazon / Eng Yolo!
      Sheesh dude, don’t take it so personally and seriously. I’m just trolling. Good for you!
      Feb 15
    • How did you calculate 10k per month after tax? Link to the tax calculator?
      Feb 16
    • Google / Eng statusz
      Comparis.ch has fairly accurate calculators. Use Quellensteuer calculator - it uses gross income as input and calculates what Google has to deduct from your paycheck for tax prepayment. Note however your final taxes will be different in any case, but those calculators need net income after all possible tax deductions. You don't have enough context to estimate those accurately, I suppose, so just stick with Quellensteuer as a first order approximation.
      Feb 16
  • Google VROC85
    Can you break down your comp in Zurich offer? 230k is unheard of for L3.
    Feb 15 4
    • Microsoft dilemma!
      OP
      145000 base
      275000 stocks / 4 years no cliff (~68000/year)
      15% target performance bonus (~20000)
      Base+stocks+perf = ~ 230000

      Sign on 20000
      Relocation 12000
      Feb 15
    • Google / Eng statusz
      There will be a cliff after 4 years though if you don't get promo. 68k refresher for L3 is unheard of here in ZRH
      Feb 15
    • Microsoft dilemma!
      OP
      That's a very good point. I'm hoping I'll get to L4 and the base pay raise plus increases refreshers will make it up for the cliff.

      My fiancee works for Microsoft and I'm hoping she'll get transferred to Msft Zurich as well and that should alleviate a bit of the load.

      What's the refresher for L3 and L4 look like?
      Feb 15
    • Google VROC85
      That's L4 comp in the Bay Area. I don't understand why they don't give you L4 at this comp. Promo L3 to L4 usually takes _at least_ a year.
      Feb 15
  • New Ksh93
    If you like to travel , there should be no doubt. Zurich is less than a few hours away from the whole of Europe
    Feb 15 1
    • Uber / Eng AreJay45
      I agree best reason is this!
      Feb 15
  • Axon / Eng
    yyyyyyyyyi

    Axon Eng

    PRE
    Axon, Uber, Facebook
    yyyyyyyyyimore
    230k for L3. Why guys?
    Feb 15 0
  • New Xobpord
    Take the offer. It is a huge pay bump. Interview bar after 10 yoe is going to be higher. You will need appropriate experience to come in at L5 or higher. Take the experience and jump to a different company later.
    Feb 15 0
  • Microsoft yayo
    Just go and live it up in Zurich! Your career is a marathon anyway
    Feb 15 0
  • Google / Eng
    howwzz

    Google Eng

    PRE
    Microsoft
    BIO
    12 yrs engineer in tech
    howwzzmore
    SREs also get on call bonus, that should be ~10-30% of your base pay.
    Feb 16 2
    • Do SWE get oncall bonuses?
      Feb 16
    • Google / Eng statusz
      Yes, but depends on how important your project is and expected response time. Lowest tier pays practically peanuts. Something a bit more important could get you a few extra thousand a year for your troubles
      Feb 17
  • Microsoft oXJQ15
    Tc?
    Sep 29 0
  • Bloomberg Stan Ford
    Bump: Talk about a glass half empty kind of attitude.
    Jul 24 0
  • Did you take the offer?
    Jul 8 0
  • Amazon nf404
    Did the recruiter ask you about your current TC and what was your response?
    Feb 17 0