Senior engineer (L5) is the first level that big tech recognizes as a “terminal” level. This means there is no pressure to continue to grow past this point. Aside from the fancy title and higher pay (extra ~$120k), you also get to take on more impactful work.
This is a great guide. Another small thing I would mention is that ideally your work fits into an easy to understand narrative, like “I helped reduce latency, resulting in cost savings for the org + higher retention for users” or “I increased scalability through automation of manual processes and automated monitoring/alerting of our data pipelines”
Thank you so much for a detailed guide, Ryan. This is super insightful!
Hey Ryan, when you say to “take on L(X) scope”, you mean that in FAANGs, different engineers may have the opportunity to switch projects/teams from time to time?
E.g. you join a team that takes care of system A and it ends up not being that impactful, then you switch to a team that has more impactful opportunities?
Great breakdown of what's required to get promoted to L5.
Having been in many promo committees, I'd like to add a small nuance to the "Uplift Your Teammates" section. Here any type of behavior that is helping others or providing guidance is very valued, not just within the context of mentorship relationships. So for folks reading, don't let not having a mentee hold you back from helping others.
Additionally, many companies also value citizenship, which is also a nice bonus to promo packets. Examples: interviewing, participation in ERGs or events, taking initiatives to solve a problem for more than just yourself etc.
Hope this helps!
Hi Ryan, thank you so much for the guidance. Can you please elaborate more on what you do mean by engineering craft?
Love this, especially the conciseness! At Google and Amazon, L4/ SDE2 is considered terminal now.