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    I’m a huge fan of Rachel’s writing and her courage; we need to see more of that in this industry.

    This is true. I can’t give my sources but I have friends who’ve made it into management positions at these companies and that’s exactly how it works, and “yellow” and “red” zones exist. It’s even harder than it sounds, because even if you are an objective X5, you have that much more negative inference to overcome if you’re a 37-month X4.

    A good manager will track you for advancement, fast enough that this yellow zone stuff is no problem; a bad one will leave you thinking everything’s OK until some [redacted]-sniper on a committee you’ve never heard of PIPs you in the face from 500 meters.

    Google (as of 2011, so take it with some salt) had a bicameral review system using managerial and peer feedback. You might think that’s a good thing, but it’s strictly evil, and here’s why: for promotion and transfer, it’s an AND-gate; for PIPs and firing, it’s an OR-gate. That is, you need both managerial support and peer recognizability to get anything good– even a lateral transfer– a fault in either one will end you.

    These companies are calibrated to keep the “Good Germans” happy with perks, but to curb dissent and rule by fear. Stack ranking doesn’t work, in terms of making a workforce more productive; it does remind the peasants that they’re peasants, thereby preventing executives from being challenged or risking loss of face.

    What these companies don’t talk about is that even Senior and Staff aren’t safe. A five-year Senior engineer isn’t going to be let go because he didn’t make Staff, but if the stock takes a hit and they need a cut list, he’s likely to be on it– and keep in mind that these companies never have an honest layoff; because tech companies are run by dishonest evil shits who’ll throw laid-off workers under the bus to preserve their own reputations, it’s a “low-performer initiative”. And, of course, once you’re 40 or so, no job title will protect you from the little spies who run around to make sure you aren’t “RIP” (retired in place).

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      I’ve had the theory that they get an excel spreadsheet with all employes sorted by salary, highest to lowest. Start at the top and if no one says “we need that guy” they get cut. That’s tracked with two layoffs now.

      And, of course, once you’re 40 or so, no job title will protect you from the little spies who run around to make sure you aren’t “RIP” (retired in place).

      So you’re saying someone 40+ and not productive, that is considered retired in place? I had not heard that before.

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      EDIT: @nebkor pointed out that I cannot read and the author explicitly says they are talking about large tech companies. IMO, the author is fear mongering a bit in this blog post, from people I know who have worked at the few large tech companies, they try very hard and provide a lot of support to help their employees grow.

      IME, the content of this blog post is much less applicable than the author makes it sound. Notice that she only gives examples from Google and Facebook. Most companies have no idea how to promote someone, give them a raise, or evaluate them in general. The author hints at this at the end but most companies are small and clueless.

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        Even people in the tech industry treat those as unlike the rest. The common acronym is FAMGA: Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. That they’re different is one of the reason so many flock to them. That means one shouldn’t generalize anything they’re doing to other large companies tech or otherwise unless they’ve confirmed the generalization with workers at the other companies.

        For instance, I had never heard the term SRE in the Mid-South at any point before it was popular with Google. Even still, I rarely hear any tech veteran say that title even when they have same job duties. Their companies use more traditional titles and career tracks.

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          Their companies use more traditional titles and career tracks

          Completely tangential comment unrelated to your larger point, which I agree with: a lot of places use terms like DevOps which is pretty new and sufficiently ambiguous that it doesn’t matter. One of my contracts used the term DevOps and they didn’t even operate any services (basically it was the term for people who knew how to write shell scripts). So what I’m, roundaboutly, saying is that I don’t think there are a lot of traditional titles in the tech world and people make stuff up as they want to but I agree that The Big Five, or FANG or FAGMA or whatever are doing their own thing.

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          The very first sentence is, “If you’re thinking about taking a job at a large tech company for the first time, you should remember to ask them how their ‘leveling’ works,” emphasis added.

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            You’re equating large, tech companies with Google and Facebook in that case given they’re what author talks about. You’d need evidence that most were like them. A nice hint is the sentence that says, “It’s probably being practiced in plenty of other places, too.” Author indicates she has no idea what’s being done in other places. Just assumes it’s all the same. Begins speculative recommendations from there which might apply to at least those two companies.

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              Note that this is very similar rhetoric to her other post which is a bunch of random things that may or may not affect your company and may or may not have meaning if it does. I believe these blog posts are something like: “I’ll say something that sounds meaningful but isn’t really”.

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                I was thinking of them more like she was just writing up her own personal experiences or feelings. When that’s tech, her articles are usually really good. When it’s business practices, the experiences are narrow with more speculation added. Result: I stay on the former, mostly ignore the latter.

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              You are correct, thank you for pointing that out.

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            To be a little more accurate, this is not specific to tech companies.

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              This up-or-out thing makes a bit of sense in an org that is growing rapidly but no sense in one that has matured. Google actually dropped the 4 -> 5 expectation recently after realizing this.