2. Buy the book “The Leadership Pipeline”, again be honest with yourself, and work on your management toolbelt progression. Level up within your company inside two years (an internal transfer can make this step easier).
3. After leveling up, and within the two years, accept a role for 20% to 40% higher comp at a new company, or the next leadership level up, or both. (Preferably both.)
- - - - - - - - -
* Simple doesn’t mean without deliberate attention or work.
** Keep LinkedIn updated with every title or responsibility growth (new role same employer), as well adding to the key valuable outcome you delivered in that role’s bullets, so (a) it’s apparent to recruiters and employers that you are seen as promotable, (b) you are not updating it only when looking for a job.
*** The Leadership Pipeline book implies it’s for a company. On the contrary, use the framework to work on yourself.
Not without intervention on what the community considers strong.
See another book, “The Mom Test”. Usually self-advertised “strong communities” are focused on being supportive or inclusive over honest, aka trying to be too nice to plainly tell you your shortcomings that need work.
This is strongly related to why so many people are shocked, shocked, to get let go after a string of positive performance reviews. Most companies gave up on honest reviews long ago, all reviews are glowing, so even terrible performance gets “good reviews”. But managers still may have to let go the bottom 10 or 20 and they know who they are when their arms are twisted.
Great coaches tell world class athletes what they can work to correct, just as great teams do in great retros, so the whole team levels up together.
Interesting! This reminds me of /r/cscareerquestions: both the good and the bad.
Good: you're trying to create a space where a lot of people have similar professional goals and can riff off each other.
Better: the two of you have a lot of content backed by your own, verifiable, professional experiences.
Bad: why would someone qualified to give advice want to join the community? What prevents your forums from devolving into the blind leading the blind?
Case in point: your video on "why you should start your career at a big tech co" is very clearly driven by your own personal experiences. At one point you allude to optimizing for compensation, but you don't discuss fintech options (Jane Street, Citadel, etc.). Skimming through some of your comments on other threads, I also just don't see a lot of respect for the nuances of different folks' individual circumstances: understandable given that you two are a finite resource, but you also need to attract users who can give that advice, and I don't see a carrot there for me.
Bad: why would someone qualified to give advice want to join the community? What prevents your forums from devolving into the blind leading the blind?
Yes, that's my experience with cscareerquestions, lots of questions about the big 4, doing leetcode to get into google, facebook, etc. A lot less about where most programmers are probably employed, small to medium businesses doing boring ETL, large companies in a enterprise environment using ITIL, doing lots of web development, and very little engineering.
The difficult thing is seeing the forest from the trees. It's great that some advice worked for a particular person in a particular situation. It's impossible to have principal component analysis of what really worked.
It's even more depressing to see what a large role that randomness plays in lives and careers. E.g., if Yahoo had bought out Larry & Sergey for a million, would their advice be worth more than now? If Steve Jobs never returned to Apple?
Appreciate the feedback! You're right that a lot of Taro is powered by our own experiences for now, which comes with any biases we have. For the video you mentioned in particular about starting in big tech, I believe that's only on my YouTube (not Taro), where I try to share stronger opinions to a larger audience.
For current Taro Premium members, a big part of the value prop is that we explicitly want to capture their nuances in Q&A, and provide relevant feedback for that situation.
To your point about attracting people to the community, the breakdown of our members is quite interesting. We have tons of engineers at top companies who have already "made it" -- from talking to dozens of them personally already, they have lots of insights which can meaningfully help others. Peer to peer learning can be very effective when people share their experiences openly and honestly.
Finally, we also have tech veterans join to share case studies and answer question. We want Taro to reflect a vibrant community with nuanced, smart discussions (growing beyond the 2 of us).
Excited to see Taro on the front page of HN. I’m just finishing up my first internship at a Big Tech Co and the advice and discussions I’ve seen from Rahul/Alex were extremely valuable in helping me perform well.
I feel somewhat connected to the product in a weird way in that I went through the non profit Codepaths interview prep summer course which is where I heard about Rahul and seems to solve a somewhat similar pain point in that outside of the interview prep piece it allowed me to make connections and receive mentorship from experienced engineers that was incredibly valuable
Another company that I love that scratched that same itch was Hackpack. They charge a monthly membership fee and it's centered around interview prep but the main value I got from being part of the program was deep connections and mentorship with experienced engineers.
I have some small user feedback with a sample size of 1. I love the content that you guys create and consume the majority of the blogs/youtube videos/linkedIn posts but don't use the app much. Content I consume on my phone is almost exclusively hackernews, reddit and youtube. I'm not sure what the blocker is but it is strange to me that given how much I enjoy the content that I don't use the app more.
Congrats on the launch post and wish you both the best!
Glad to hear that we were able to help during your internship! And very cool that you were part of Codepath -- it's been so much fun for me to help out over the years. In fact, my YouTube channel started largely because I learned about recording + video editing from Codepath.
Regarding using the app, totally understandable you don't use Taro much on mobile. As an upskilling product for software engineers, we expect most of the usage to be on desktop, which is why we just released the web app.
Thanks so much for the great feedback and consuming our content! The Taro app definitely has a long way to go, and we're also investing a lot into the web app right now as we know that a lot of folks prefer to consume professional content on their desktop.
Taro is very early, and we know that a lot of product right now sucks. If you or anyone else here has any feedback, we're all ears at firstname.lastname@example.org!
> The Taro app definitely has a long way to go, and we're also investing a lot into the web app right now as we know that a lot of folks prefer to consume professional content on their desktop.
I definitely find this discrepancy interesting, since I found the app to work much better than the web application! Although this was mostly a couple months ago, so I'll have to take a closer look at the web app these days.
That being said, I found the content super useful - although I found the ordering presenting in the free iOS app to be rather confusing, as I ended up jumping around a lot.
We had a landing page a few months ago (back when it was still Tech Career Growth), but this web app at app.jointaro.com just came out in the last 1.5 weeks! Try it out and I'm always open to feedback -- my direct email is email@example.com.
Maybe I'm being overly nostalgic but I miss the days when startups ruled and when it was all about building cool stuff. Nowadays tech feels so insanely corporate it's all about how to get a job at one of the biggest companies and how to play the corporate game to get more power and prestige.
I can see how it may appear that way. I view the non-coding skills within Taro to be less about power/prestige, and more about things that can genuinely help you become a better engineer.
One interesting trend is how Big Tech is becoming... bigger. This is certainly a new phenomenon in tech, to have a handful of companies (Google, Meta, Microsoft, Amazon) employing literally hundreds of thousands of engineers. Being able to succeed in these companies, along with many others with a similar culture), is increasingly important for software engineers today.
I don’t think this is a bad idea but promotions are often very circumstantial and cannot really be normalized across companies.
Meta promotions for instance generally happen faster than Google. This is to say nothing about the actual quality of the person being promoted.
Other companies promote strictly with tenure. Unfortunately promotions are generally zero sum. As a hypothetical if everyone who is in the industry used this the main effect would ironically be making it harder for some poor sap who isn’t using this to be promoted as the bar is raised.
This is a good idea but I’d probably still prefer to find trusted people within my org and outside my org who’ve been promoted once or twice and are one, at most two levels from me and solicit their advice.
I agree there are certainly differences across companies with career growth, but there are also best practices that are generally applicable. As a concrete example, as a manager at Meta, I had a report who did a poor job of talking about his work in self-review. Giving him some structure made his impact much more obvious, and it was easier to get him the rating he deserved. The ability to explain your work is critical regardless of company.
I also think that having multiple companies in the community makes it more valuable -- Taro can give you a valuable perspective from people at your company, along with a smart external perspective.
Curious what kind of advice would you be looking for from trusted people within your company?
do you ever wonder if similar to the college application process, trying to "gamify" the promotion process doesn't actually lead to a competitive company?
to be more clear, do you think that by training people to think of trying to get promoted as something they need to learn, rather than come by naturally, we're teaching people to follow XYZ funnel in order to attain ABC goal, at the expense of promoting people naturally?
the reason i mention the college application process is because it's clear that's what that accomplishes today, as someone who recently went through it. there's a set of predefined formulas that can get you into an elite school, and they become more and more limited in scope as you become more and more limited demographic-wise, so everyone "learns" from prep academies, consultantnts, etc., the _exact_ right way to structure your application to get in.
i still feel like i'm not clear, so i'll rephrase it as, do you think this sort of "teaching" leads to the right people getting promoted/accepted for the company/college (for long-term success)?
There are definitely more toxic ways to get promoted, "gamifying" the process like you said. The prime example is playing infamous corporate politics, providing the perception of doing great work without actually doing it. I hate those kinds of games (I saw it ruin various orgs I've been on across my ~8 years working in Silicon Valley), and because of that, Taro isn't a product to teach software engineers how to play politics and other tricks.
On the flip side, we really do believe that promotion, especially in the more innovative, modern tech companies, has many components stemming from actual growth. While Meta was far from perfect, I largely felt like promotion pushed me to develop skills that genuinely made me a better software engineer and person to work with. I learned to empathize with other parties, especially those who weren't in engineering, and factor in their perspectives when building alignment on projects. I learned to think proactively, clamping down risks early instead of letting them blow up the project and team later on down the road. I learned to work through others, mentoring more junior engineers, and taking on responsibility for their well-being. The even cooler thing is that I found myself applying those skills outside of work as well: I became a better listener and got better at hectic life activities like vacation planning.
Taro is a product meant to teach those kinds of aforementioned, more "wholesome" skills, and Rahul and I have historically found it hard to find guidance to learn those skills. I didn't start seriously building those deeper behaviors until I rolled some incredible managers ~5 years into my career. We believe that this kind of learning should be far more accessible, and by doing so, we can help empower a workforce that's far more productive and positive.
> We spent weeks talking to 100s of engineers and discovered that their career bottleneck was not coding ability, but all the other _stuff_ that is essential for software engineering.
At this point I've managed hundreds of software engineers and my assessment of the situation is in line with yours. So much so that I actually have a deck prepared for explaining this exact point to engineers.
What I've found is not that engineers need any one piece of advice. That would be different for different people (for the most part), it's that they need a framework to understand all the skills which are important to being an engineer and our industry has woefully underserved them when it comes to explaining things.
I'll share an anecdote here. I worked with an engineer at Meta who went from L3 (junior) to L6 (staff) in 2.5 years.
And he truly did operate at the staff level -- I know because eng levels at Meta are private. As he was climbing the ladder, people who worked with him assumed he was already a Staff Engineer, and were shocked when they realized he was 1 or 2 levels lower than that (this info would come out during perf review season).
Seniority is generally about how much people can trust you in the team, to identify blockers, provide feedback, or plan a roadmap. You can call it politics, but no one on the team would have denied that this engineer was hugely impactful. We're trying to capture these lessons + case studies in Taro.
How much of that is optimizing for appearance/behaviour (Either intentionally or unintentionally) and other people wrongly pattern-matching though?
When I joined a big tech company the hardest part of ramping up was learning how to operate in that environment. There are a lot of implicit behaviours a "good" engineer is supposed to that you mostly have to figure out by yourself. Some of them are genuinely useful, but I think a lot are basically a kind of filter: https://twitter.com/danluu/status/1555077502803947520.
From what I've seen, the main skill for promotion in my company isn't engineering a well designed system, it's being visible and finding/creating the right projects.
I completely believe that someone could figure out how to behave like a higher level engineer and even succeed in their team, then get put in a different environment and completely flounder because they were mostly just copying behaviours that worked in their current environment, not learning fundamentals.
I'd say they were somewhere between the Tech Lead and Solver archetype in the article you linked. BTW, we're big fans of staffeng, lots of good content there! One of the signs of promotion is that your behavior leads to having more impact (not just execution), so after a ramp-up period, I'd expect someone very senior to get back to that level of impact in a different team or even different domain.
You're right there is some element of pattern-matching that happens for a higher level engineer, but in my experience this has to be backed up with actually earning the trust of the broader team, and that requires strong fundamentals.
I mean, there’re brilliant individuals in any profession. I don’t see how that turns into a generalization. Most of engineers I’ve seen had to spend many years to become senior. Selling fast growth is denying the reality for most people.
The thing that a lot of people don't understand about SWE (and a lot of other 10x professions) is that years of experience has a very weak correlation with skill. A top tier junior engineer could easily become better than a 15 yoe senior engineer who's not so top tier.
If you work at a Fortune 500 and then jump to a FAANG, this difference is very obvious.
Jobs where the difference in output between the best and worst is 10x. Generally creative professions like movie director, writer/journalist, lawyer, etc. SWE tends to fall into this category because the difficulty of writing good code is in some respects like writing good prose: the space of "solutions" is vast and there are few well defined rules by which a "good" solution can be constructed. Not only that, but writing it quickly while maintaining quality is difficult as well.
The link provides empirical data backing up the idea of 10x, specifically in the context of the speed and quality with which students come up with solutions to a programming project. Quality is measured by correctness and speed by time spent.
It also provides data showing that speed and correctness are essentially uncorrelated between different people - i.e. just because two different people finish at different speeds, does not mean the faster person has a less correct solution, at least in this specific setting. If you assume that's true generally, that makes the idea that there is a large gap between F500 programmers and FAANG ones even more credible, since the best programmers both produce better solutions and produce them faster.
I've been working in the SW industry for around two decades now, and I see a distinct difference since the last 5 years, which is that everyone is optimizing all their actions towards their next promotion.
Prior to this time frame and more so in the last decade, there was a lot of focus on mastery of SW skills and even towards random exploration and learning, and all of that appears to have been lost. I personally felt all this has accelerated with the increase in big tech compensation, and levels.fyi and blind information.
The challenge with a greedy approach is that a career spans over multiple decades, and a lot of careers plateau over local minima and often one may have to down level or restart careers to find their true calling and excellence and the career growth that follows. This is better done at the beginning of the career when risks are lower than at a late career stage.
Deep software skills are critical for success. But we've found that many software engineers are surprised with how many other skills they need to build in order to advance in their career (and I'd argue these skills have always been important).
These companies have talented engineers, and Alex and I learned a lot from working with them. Our goal is to share these insights and create a supportive community to collect best practices -- we think there are many SWEs who could benefit.
We charge software engineers directly for access to the product, which includes the Q&A database, case studies, and member matching services. Hope you'll take a look at our content and track record to judge if it's valuable for you!
These companies filter employment based on leetcode ability and they also promote a workplace where you move up or out within 4 years. To tell employees to ignore leetcode means they are stuck at there current faang where getting promoted internally is much more difficult.
This service is really for current faang employees who need career advice because developers outside this bubble are dealing with other challenges.
I would make this a premium service and charge 1,000 per year because your target market is niche, uniquely rich and small. Developers outside of these bubbles are dealing with host of unique issue like startup problems, or government employees issues or issues working with large banks or freelancing. Developers want to know how to switch stacks after 10, 20 years while keeping same pay. Developers want to know how to create a part-time startup while working fulltime. These issue don't apply to your service.
I think this is a great idea and look forward to joining. I keep seeing others stumble on the "coding isn't all you need" kink in the carpet, and I'm personally trying to get all the help I can navigating a move to Big Tech Inc., where I'm having some challenges.
It seems like it will fill a niche that's left unfulfilled by communities like Blind which are... let's say "cynical".
Exactly -- that's actually the most common reason for people to join Taro today. There's a huge emphasis on interview questions (DSA) and building side projects to get into Big Tech, but these skills don't help you succeed in the job.
One way we think about Taro is a way to "fill in the gap" for what students don't learn in their CS degree or in a bootcamp.
The target user persona currently is an engineer in a medium/large tech company -- that's where we've seen the most impact for members, since there's more structure and predictability at these companies.
There's still value for someone looking to improve their management skills, in terms of getting feedback from ICs and answering their questions, but you'd be in the minority of members for now.
Good question, especially as Blind was a big "inspiration" for us (in that we wanted to build something explicitly not like Blind).
I think there are 2 things here:
1. The paywall creates a positive "walled garden" effect - Very few people are going to spend $50+ just to come in and be a jerk. The paywall alone should do a lot of work making sure that folks who come in are positive and non-toxic.
After looking through these comments and thinking through my own career to date in Big 3 automotive followed by AV work, I think I have to agree -- the lift to get from your Meta/Robinhood experience to information useful to the people in the other 80+% of the software industry, much less hardware/embedded/non-software-software companies is going to be enormous. I wish that there was a good solution for people who want to be Chief Engineer somewhere else, but it's about networking in your industry/company and not about lurking in leetcode forums.
I think for the highest levels (e.g. Chief Engineer as you mention), there's really no replacement to knowing the right people. You simply need a long enough relationship with someone that they trust you at that level.
However, for many other roles, there's still a ton of insights + best practices that can meaningfully help engineers achieve their career goal. Alex and I don't have all the answers, but as a community with ambitious people, there's a very good chance you can find what you need.
At first glance, I like the idea. But after thinking about it, there is something I really dislike. So much that it would make me want to lurk exclusively.
I will be paying you money for the privilege of posting questions (content) to your platform.
These questions will generate answers and discussions (more content). You now own this content, and it will be used to lure future customers by giving them an enticing preview, followed by a paywall. Once they are past the paywall, this content, that I helped create, and that you now own, will be something that adds value to your product.
I am assuming that the people providing advice during early stages are primarily paid seeders, and/or contributors with other incentives, such as shares in your company.
I assume that the long-term plan is that both sides will consist of paid subscribers.
I’m sure there are people who will pay to freely provide you with ownership of their advice for others. They might not even need the money. They will be content with receiving access to a community that is paywalled, unanonymous, and heavily moderated, in exchange for the subscription fee and their efforts.
But that’s not how I feel. So my question is, where’s my cut?
Thanks for sharing your perspective, no one has actually brought this up among the 100+ Taro Premium members we have.
I view our product as more than a Q&A database. Certainly getting questions answered is valuable part, and our goal is to make that interaction high-quality and easy (a coach can often be hundreds of dollars an hour). However, we also offer case studies from tech veterans and community features such as member matching.
We're focused on delivering as much career growth to members as possible. Working with this group of software engineers, the cost of upskilling pays for itself very, very quickly (we charge <0.1% of yearly comp for typical mid-level engineer in FAANG).
I know nobody wants to do the "software engineers vs engineers" debate again, but even if we are going come down on the "programmers are software engineers" side of that debate, a site which exclusively serves software engineers shouldn't advertise itself as for engineers generally. I was excited to see what EE's would be chit-chatting about. :(
As a suggestion -- it might make sense to put a link to your demo page right near the top of your main 'jointaro' site somewhere, it did a good job of showing what the value proposition is.
Yeah I agree. Even though I do work in software, when I read the post title I thought general engineering (civil, mechanical, electrical, etc.). In fact, I didn't even initially think software engineering at all.