it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time.

1. I’ve been working at an organization whose mission I really love for 3 years. When I was originally hired, I knew that I was accepting a position where I was grossly underpaid compared to other people with my fairly standardized job title (not compared to other people in my organization – I am support staff, like HR or accounting, in a nonprofit type industry), but I was okay with that since it was a newly created position with opportunities for growth, my first full-time job with benefits, and I did not have a degree or traditional qualifications for the job (I did have the skills!).

Since the pandemic, the scope and complexity of my role have both expanded significantly within my organization, and I began to feel overworked and even more underpaid. I’d been casually job searching since my area is highly in demand right now, but my colleagues encouraged me to advocate for myself and ask for more compensation. With your advice on how to ask for a raise, I researched appropriate local compensation for my job duties and wrote up bullet points on how my role has changed and expanded since being hired and how I’ve gotten very good performance reviews. I also emphasized how essential my role is to this organization currently, and my immediate supervisor was able to support me in saying that the organization would not be able to hire a good employee for less than what I was asking for.

Well… the meeting went well and I got almost a 30% increase in compensation! It wasn’t all about performance – like I said, I was vastly underpaid before, and now my salary is slightly above average for my job title. But, I’m glad that my organization is invested in keeping me and while I’m still overwhelmed by the scope of request for my role right now, my mindset towards the work has totally changed for the better.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. I direct a small, grant-funded research unit at a university. For the past two years, our group has had a terrific student worker, “Deirdre,” who is smart, responsible, and gets things done. She handled a variety of administrative and data management tasks and helped with data analysis when she had time. When the pandemic struck, she, like us, transitioned to working from home while finishing her last semester of coursework.

In March we were in the process of hiring a full-time staff research assistant. I had invited Deirdre to apply, but she chose not to; she had plans to move and pursue her goal to attend graduate school in a different field, so I didn’t push. We were narrowing our applicant list for interviews and figuring out how the heck to onboard someone with campus closed for the pandemic, when a chance conversation made me realize how worried Deirdre was about getting a job and moving during the pandemic. It had suddenly become a rather scarier world for a new graduate.

I realized I could solve both her problem and mine if I could hire her for the staff job. “Make a play for her,” urged a colleague. “She’s a free agent!” So I did: I sent Deirdre an email explaining the work, the salary and benefits, and making a case for staying on with us a while even if it wasn’t her long-term goal. I looked up local rents to make sure the pay was enough that she didn’t have to move. She verbally accepted within hours; I was able to hire her as an internal promotion and close the other search. Because we are grant-funded, we are not under the current hiring freeze on state-funded employees, and it sailed through the extra layers of approval because she was a known quantity.

Not surprisingly, she got a fast start and is now working on some more complex data analysis than she could manage while in school. She’ll deepen her skills and co-author some publications, which can’t hurt her longer trajectory. We saved time in hiring, our onboarding problem was solved, and everyone on the team is thrilled she’s still with us. I wrote to all the applicants explaining why we were closing the search and even got some nice notes back appreciating our humane choice in tough times. I’ve learned a lot from this site and think it’s made me a better manager– in this case, straightforward communication and being willing to put together a good pitch for an employee I wanted to retain.

3. I’m thrilled to write in to share that I just accepted an offer for a full-time job after following your advice from the AAM blog! After obtaining my degree, I stayed home with my kids for several years and had difficulty re-entering the workforce. I worked a couple of seasonal jobs, freelanced, was laid off from a start-up, and have been working part-time for the last couple of years at a small nonprofit but none of them have paid well or offered benefits and I had started to give up on ever being offered a full-time position someplace. Most of my job applications went nowhere… until I started poring over the articles on AAM and retooling my resume and cover letters to follow your advice. Although I’ve never worked in this field before, I was able to point out how my skill set would be an asset to the company, and they evidently agreed!

This will be the first time in my working life where I make enough money to completely financially support myself and my children, and I can’t even tell you how much that means to me and my future. I will finally be able to leave the toxic relationship I’ve been trapped in for the last several years as well as save up enough money to buy my very first house. Alison, you and your blog have literally changed my life, and I just can’t thank you enough.

4. After having to leave my last job for medical reasons, right before COVID hit, I got a job offer this week! I was elated, but it’s $5k below what I was making before, and their health insurance wouldn’t kick in for 90 days, which doesn’t feel great during a pandemic. I was scared being entry level in my field, I wouldn’t have much room to negotiate, but I steeled myself and made the call, and I was able to get a signing bonus that will comfortably cover the cost of getting my own insurance! They wouldn’t move on starting salary, but assured me that they evaluate quarterly, and that past recent hires at my level have gotten multiple raises within a year. They’ll have me do some training 1-on-1 in the office, but are committed to getting me remote as soon as possible for the duration of the pandemic. I’m excited to start!

{ 29 comments… read them below }

  1. Alexander Graham Yell*

    I really hope the LW who felt like she was being held hostage by her employee’s request for a raise sees the first letter – it’s such a great way to demonstrate the positive mental shift that can come from the kind of acknowledgement her employee was seeking. Suddenly a challenge becomes something positive when you feel like you’re valued, and growth within a role can necessitate a title change/pay bump.

    Love this week’s good news roundup, thanks Alison!

    1. charo*

      One idea that comes to mind is that each person has other things besides MONEY that would “sweeten” their job. So it’s not just a raise. I would always ask if there’s something else.

      For some it might be adjusting their schedule. Or some other modification that costs nothing.

      I would ASK them. Especially if I couldn’t give them a great raise.

  2. I edit everything*

    Anyone else see #1 and instantly think about Sara from the letter earlier this week, the employee whose duties have expanded and who wants her pay to reflect those changes?

  3. Blisskrieg*

    Lovely success story from an employer’s perspective, on problem-solving the open position. Great win-win!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP2 if you see this… save the names of the applicants who were pleased that you took care of an existing staff member even if it meant their own application was rejected.
      What a phenomenally good attitude they demonstrated!

      1. charo*

        Yes. This was a win-win now but she still might move on later. I think it makes sense to keep names after good interviews; you’ve invested that much energy into it, why not?

  4. NeonFireworks*

    Such wonderful news all around.

    About a decade ago, I had an employer fight for me as per #2. Absolutely changed my life: immediately steered things in an overwhelmingly positive direction after a period when I was adrift and afraid (it was 2009, enough said). Things got back on track for me after that, and 11 years later everyone has moved around a bit but I’ve ended up working with the same amazing boss again!

    1. Escape Velocity!!!!!!!!!!*

      Ditto! LW3, I teared up a little. I am especially rooting for you and I am so happy for you. I send you all the strength and positive vibes!!!!!

  5. 30 Years in the Biz*

    Always wonderful to have these uplifting stories each Friday – to be able to start the day with positive, life-changing stories is a gift! I love seeing the mention of AAM as resource for getting a desired position, learning to advocate for yourself, and working around the general challenges of the work world – especially during the pandemic. Congratulations to all and extra prayers being sent to LW3 as she moves forward.

  6. TimeTravlR*

    OP3 sure had a wild twist at the end! I am so glad that you could use these tools for not only a better job but to escape that relationship. Best of luck to you!

  7. A.N.*

    So I used your interview skills and did well and got the offer yay. I was recruited for the job and the recruiter stated that the salary would be $85k-$95k. The range of glassdoor for a this position is pretty variable. Anywhere from $50k to $120k with most falling around $85k. The offer came for $85k and I asked them for $95k. They came back with a counter offer of $91k. Given that this is a reasonable offer and within the range do I stop negotiating? Or do I ask again to get the top range.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Same here re OP #3 and also OP #2. Did ragweed season come early?
      So good to hear about people advocating successfully for themselves and others.

  8. Chaordic One*

    I’m very impressed with you, OP #2. You demonstrated an unusual perceptiveness in your observations of Deidre. Then you followed the wise suggestion of your colleague and, with a wonderful display of initiative in researching rents in your area to make sure Deidre could afford to live there, then reached out to Deidre and make a great case to her. It really does sound like a “win-win” situation.

    I’m tempted to say that you displayed “gumption.” (The good kind, though. Not the kind of lame “gumption” that we, unfortunately, so often read about on this site.) It’s a good feeling when you can contribute to launching what sounds like it could be a very promising career for Deidre.

    1. Finland*

      Yes, the part about researching rents was extraordinary. It might be the first time I’ve ever heard of an employer actually making an effort like that. Raised the bar for sure!

      1. charo*

        Doing the research was great, and also, how many bosses KNOW what things cost? They don’t know the “math” involved.

  9. Karen*

    I am so happy for both LW2 and LW3 – but wow LW3, what a transformation for you. You are strong and capable and powerful, and I wish you only the best.

  10. New Senior Mgr*

    Wishing all the LWs all the best going forward. This news has made me so happy today. A day late… but definitely worth waiting for.

  11. danr*

    OP #4. There is good chance that your new firm will give you a bunch of good raises in your first year if they like the work you do. That is what happened at my last firm. I was changing industries and coming in at entry level, again. I knew I would get a six month evaluation at the end of my probation period. However, I started in September and was evaluated with a small raise with the rest of the professionals at year end. In March, I came off probation with a permanent slot and a raise. In June, everyone in my area got a bump in base pay. September brought another raise for my one year anniversary and January brought the regular end of year evaluation and a raise.

  12. Anonymous Introvert*

    When I graduated college, my supervisor did something a little similar to LW#2. I was about to graduate with no job lined up despite searching for months, and then about two weeks before graduation I found out that my supervisor at one of my two campus jobs petitioned to keep me as a wage employee on a temporary, project-specific basis with the ability to pick up hours doing a related function. The pay and hours were not great (flexible, but very part-time, and a paperwork snafu meant I actually made .10c an hour less than as a student!) but having that job lined up made my last week of college finals that much less stressful. I went to work as a non-student employee two days after graduation and they’ve kept me employed for almost two years since graduation in successive positions. While I may not be quite where I want to be, professionally, I truly can’t argue with being steadily employed right now.

    I cried in the library when I got the email and while my supervisor has since moved on to a new position, she’s still the best boss I’ve ever had. On behalf of the soon-to-be-unemployed student employees everywhere, thank you for being so amazing, LW#2!

Comments are closed.