it’s your Friday good news

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

1. I’m so excited to have good news to report! I started job hunting FOUR YEARS ago to escape a manager who pushed MLMs, complained about her pay, and took her relationship issues out on her employees. In that time, I had some lowball offers and one good one, but passed to be eligible for FMLA for my pregnancy. At the beginning of quarantine, I threw out my resume and cover letter and used your advice to re-write them. I started lining up interviews almost immediately.

I got another lowball offer in August 2020 (a $15K cut from my current salary), but used your blog to push back. I countered $18K higher than their offer (which seemed crazy, but what did I have to lose?), and they came back $1,000 higher than I asked, which results in a 7.5% raise for me! AND this new position is in a higher-paying career path that I’ve been wanting to move into.

2. I’m a longtime reader of your blog and books, and I wanted to thank you for all the helpful advice you and yours readers have posted about asking for salary and job title increases. I started a new job a year and half ago with a very solid raise but a very junior title that did not reflect the job responsibilities, and even caused problems when I worked with other units because they would assume I was far, far less senior than I am – think administrative assistant level rather than assistant director level. After a year at the job I pushed hard for a title change, and got the assistant director title – and they even made retroactive so that my resume doesn’t look quite so strange.

And it gets better! I’m being given additional responsibilities and will be managing a new small team by the fall, and I’m back to negotiating salary, despite the pandemic – my part of our industry is one of the ones doing well in all this, and we’re growing extremely fast.

Thank you so much for all the helpful posts on salary and title negotiations, and all their various permutations. They’re so helpful!

3. After several years of knowing personally that I am nonbinary, I finally “came out” at my job. And… they were great! My supervisor was supportive and only one guy made a joke about our non-gendered bathroom (since we are all currently work-from-home, I joked back that I happen to have the same set up at my house, imagine that). I am sure there will be mess-ups with the “they” pronoun, and that at some point one of my clients might be intrusively inquisitive. But my co-workers just said “thanks for letting us know!” and then moved on to the next work item, which was exactly how I hoped they’d respond.

4. I found Ask A Manager when doing research for the cover letter portion of a course on business communications. I’m a bit of an advice column junkie, so I began reading AAM regularly for the stories of bad bosses and workplace shenanigans. After a while, I started reading all the posts, not just the stories. Finally, I went back to the beginning and read every post in order, because I’m a bit of a completionist.

I’ve been working in a public library for years, and have always thought that moving up from a front-desk position to a branch supervisor position was something I would not want to do. Through my AAM reading, I started to realize that management wasn’t as complicated and arcane as I thought, and might actually be something I’d be interested in doing after all. So when a term supervisory position was posted recently, I applied. I made liberal use of what I’ve learned from my AAM reading to put together my best possible resume and cover letter, as well as to prepare for the interview.

To my surprise, the interview was strangely enjoyable (a first for me), and I made the interviewers laugh a couple of times. Better yet, I got the position! So now I get to give managing a test run, and I can find out if it’s something I really want to do. Thank you for demystifying management; I hope to put all that good advice into practice – and avoid becoming fodder for one of your future bad-boss posts.

{ 53 comments… read them below }

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      And it occurs to me I have my own version of a Friday good news update. I feel that I have learned, after years of reading it here, how to get out the popcorn and watch the drama at work and I am much happier for it. I am also crocheting, partly inspired by Alison and the crochet contingent in the open threads and it makes me happy.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I need to learn how to sit back and watch, instead of being sucked in. Please, teach me your ways!

  1. irene adler*

    OP #1: You are my hero! Thanks for providing hope that there’s an awesome light at the end of the tunnel.

    1. Bostonian*

      I’m super happy for #1, but I’m a little concerned that the original offer was so much lower than what they were ultimately able/willing to pay for the position.

      1. RB*

        Yep, that makes me angry, that they offered $19K lower than they were prepared to pay. I guess they were hoping that people would be desperate enough or naïve enough to take them up on it. I think that says something really negative about their hiring tactics. And maybe about the company as a whole, but of course we don’t have enough information to make that kind of judgement.

      2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        That was my first thought as well. I tend to be very skeptical, but if I were OP I may keep that in the back of my mind. If they were willing to low ball someone by that much money, what else are they going to try and screw you out of? I just hope that they weren’t so eager to get away from their crappy boss that they overlooked something with the new place.

  2. MichaelBeeScott*

    I always find it a bit sad when people just hear about my gender identity and move on. Dont they realize how hard it is to tell people? I want them to realize all I’ve been through. It is not easy telling people, not like ordering takeaway! To just say thanks and move on? I want to be appreciated.

    1. Short Time Lurker Komo*

      This is an honest, non sarcastic question: How would you prefer coworkers to respond to a coming out statement? Does that change if it’s personal friends? How do you want your friends to respond?

      Asking for me! Thank you! <3

      1. CC*

        I can’t answer for MichaelBeeScott, but as a general rule of thumb I’d say: respond with a tone that matches well with the tone the person coming out used. If they’re super excited, you can be super excited with them! If they’re low key “it’s [name or pronoun], actually” then better to reply with a simple self-correction and move on. If they’re really obviously nervous, probably be more overtly supportive.

    2. it's me*

      At the same time, a lot of guidance instructs that people not make a “big deal” out of it, and therefore normalize it.

      1. Jayne*

        I was told that the no-reaction reaction was preferred at work so people don’t get embarrassed or think you are freaked out. For a friend, I would be more interested in their journey and how I could help. Beyond asking how you would like to be addressed, what else would be necessary at work?

        And I am echoing Short Time Lurker Komo, I am asking totally, non sarcastic. What would be the perfect reaction at work, from family and friends? Are they the same?

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I agree that the reaction people want is probably different depending on who you are talking to. But also as with any kind of information disclosure the ideal reaction even from friends/family, is going to be different from person to person. Some people might want the “Okay good to know, thanks for telling me.” reaction even from friends and family, other might want to talk about it more.

          As a cisgender person no one has explicitly come out to me (I am and have been around plenty of people who are “out”), but if anyone did I think my reaction would be “Good to know, thank you for telling me. Would you like to talk about it, what did you do this weekend?” I think this allows for someone to ask for more room to talk about it if they want, but also to avoid it if they would rather just proceed like normal.

          1. NeonFireworks*

            Yep, I usually take it in stride. Though I try to ask a) who else is aware and b) whether the person wants me to (gently!) speak up about it in front of others when they’re not around.

    3. cleo*

      This sort of reminds me of a conversation I had about coming out when I was in college (in the early 90s). Several of my friends and I ended up coming out around the same time. I remember vividly talking with one of them, a cis lesbian, she was surprised by how supportive and low key all of her friends were when she came out. She joked that she kept wanting to blurt out “why aren’t you appalled? I’M f*cking appalled! How come no one else is?!”

    4. foreign octopus*

      I think the reaction comes down to two things.

      1. They don’t want to make a big deal out of it because it’s a difficult and sensitive topic. Some people might appreciate questions, others might not.

      2. They don’t care.

      I know number two seems harsh but if this last year of my personal life has taught me anything, it’s that people really don’t expend a lot of thought on other people. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I find it quite freeing – but it does lead to situations like the one you’re describing. What is a huge, life-changing situation for you is just a passing interest for most – those you work with, acquaintances, etc. – and so beyond a quick acceptance, they most likely don’t think about it any more. They’re not going to think about how hard it’s been for you or the struggle to get there because it’s not directly affecting them.

      If it’s a close friend or family member then I think you have the standing to tell them that you were disappointed by their reaction but if it’s just a colleague or acquaintance then “okay, great, thanks for telling me” is the best case scenario here.

      1. Lady Meyneth*

        You’re spot on, and I’m a little bit of both. As long as people let me know which pronouns to use, I’m not likely to ask any more questions. For me, gender identiy is part is akin to skin color: just part of what somebody is, that unfortuately some people are prejudiced against. I wouldn’t suddenly ask transgender/non binary coworker about their discovery journey, just like wouldn’t ask a black coworker about heir life experiences.

        One other potential thing, specifically for religious people (like me). I want LGBT+ to know right away I’m not one of the crazies, so I tend to take care not to ask any questions initially even when it’s family, so people know it’s not a big deal for me.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        Yeah, most people tend to only be concerned if it somehow affects them. It’s not meant to be harsh or uncaring, it’s just I think a lot of these personal life things shouldn’t be made big deals of in the workplace. Even birthdays and such. But I don’t view work as a social place the way some do either.

        I feel much the same way about coming-outs and gender changes, as I do about baby announcements. I’m Happy you’re happy and all, but it’s not really my business unless we’re close enough friends to talk about it.

    5. Jack Be Nimble*

      I came out as trans at my old job about a year and change ago, and I came away with a really different perspective. I was very nervous about coming out. My old workplace, while not religiously affiliated, did work that many, many people approach from a faith-based perspective. For whatever reason, it tends to be appealing to people from conservative-leaning denominations that aren’t always particularly accepting of LGBTQ+ groups, so I was really unsure about the reception I’d receive.

      I wanted to set a pretty breezy tone, so I tried to approach coming out from the perspective of correcting misinformation, as if I’d realized my name had been spelled wrong somewhere — “I just realized that everyone has been assuming I was a girl, but I’m actually not, fyi!” I wanted to keep things light because I’m a pretty private person, and I wanted people to be casual about the whole thing.

      A lot of my coworkers had really strong, emotional reactions — I got a lot of weepy hugs from people I’d never spoken to before and a lot of kudos for my bravery. It put me in a really uncomfortable position, and after, my coworkers assumed a level of emotional intimacy with me that I just don’t want from coworkers.

      I wish we could have switched our coworker reactions! I would have SO preferred the “thanks and move on” response.

      1. Zelda*

        a level of emotional intimacy with me that I just don’t want from coworkers.

        This is the assumption I am working from as a cis person. I am not such a philistine as to deny anyone’s self-identification; the errors I’ve been told to be on guard against are 1) singling someone out as The Weird One Whose Gender Is a Big Deal, Unlike My Totally Normal Gender, or 2) making a big show of Look at Me, I Am So Awesome for Being Accepting.

        I would probably smile warmly, and my thanks for the information would be genuine, as I do understand it’s an act of trust. But what I know of to do to be worthy of the trust is call people by their right names and right pronouns and continue treat them in accordance with the relationship we already have, not assume I am entitled to grill them on their personal journeys.

    6. 10Isee*

      I feel bad now about my response when my boss came out as transgender. I just said, “Great! Have our clients already been notified?” (I needed to know because I was in charge of client communication and needed to know what name to use.) I never thought that might seem dismissive or belittling! I was genuinely trying to be supportive, but thought he’d prefer if I didn’t make a big deal of it since we weren’t particularly close. What would have been a better response?

      1. clara sparks*

        The one thing I appreciated is an occasional “Cool!” or “Congratulations!” in place of “Good to know.” You’re right not to make a big deal out of it in general, but … heck, coming out is kind of a major life event, and if someone seems like they’re delivering good news, it’s okay to be happy for/with them.
        Weepy hugs are inappropriate, and we’re all tired of hearing about our ~courage~ (ugh, I’m so sorry, Jack Be Nimble), but the kind of excitement you’d show if a coworker mentioned that they’d bought a house is usually okay. And then you can let them take the lead on whether or not they want to bond at the office over the finer points of homeownership. ;-)

    1. Alli525*

      Yep – very glad that I’m not the only one who discovered AAM several years into its existence and read the entire archive!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The archive is so huge these days (10,702 posts) that I am very impressed anyone manages to do that still!

        (Although I so know the joy of discovering a site you like with extensive archives to read.)

        1. Bob*

          I would love to read all the stories but i don’t have the time.
          But i do sometimes hit surprise me a few dozen times. Hopefully i’ve gotten most of the epic posts. Interestingly certain ones come up over and over again, so its not truly random.
          Also thanks for mentioning there are 10, 702 posts, i love numbers.

      2. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*

        *raises hand*

        I guess I’m five years in now? Six? But there was a pretty sizeable archive when I showed up and yes, I read it all. And I’ve never missed a single post since.

        So,

      3. Marthooh*

        Me too. And yes, I came for the “bad bosses and workplace shenanigans” stories, and stayed for the good advice.

  3. anonykins*

    Yay for OP1! I’m feeling pretty fucking awesome myself after having negotiated for a 17% pay increase upon return to my secondary gig. I’m so grateful to Alison fr helping to boost my confidence and giving tips on how to ask for more. They said yes almost immediately – it feels GOOD to be a bad boss bitch!

  4. Bookworm*

    Always great when I can end the week with some happy news. Always great to read nice updates from the LWs. Thanks!

  5. lapgiraffe*

    It’s been quite the week and I’ve been waiting for this post since Wednesday, I knew I needed some positivity in my life and the Friday Good News delivered! So happy for those who wrote in and sending good vibes to everyone out there getting discouraged in your job search, we’ll get through it one way or another :-)

    1. Gigi*

      Freaking same. So nice to hear about things that are joyful or even just don’t suck. Good for all of you!

  6. Steveo*

    A question or thoughts on #2. I’ve never let my official work title control my resume. Nobody has any clue what “SDE 3” means outside your company and people inside barely know the details either. I’ve always put things that match outside expectations – or have used qualifiers such as “Tech Lead” which aren’t in an HR system but do reflect the actual work. Do other people not do this? I get that there’s a distinction between claiming you are the CFO when you are an accountant, but there are no resume police – and I’m not even sure my current company would tell an outside other than “Steveo worked here from day X to day Y”.

    1. Steveo*

      To be fair – I do work in an industry where there is no standardization of titles (tech) and hence the need to say things like “Lead” on your resume.

      1. Taura*

        I think for the most part it’s people being concerned that what they put on their resume won’t match what the company will say if/when the interviewer calls to confirm their employment, since there’s no guarantee that the person who does the confirmation will know that they’ve actually been doing a different set of tasks than the one implied by their title. Obviously a reference check is different and probably no issue, but a mismatch like “oh, Jane? Yes, she works here, but her title is actually admin assistant” when her resume says “assistant director” would be a problem.

  7. Germank106*

    I have some good news of my own. A while back I wrote to Allison asking for advice how to explain to potential employers why I had to come out retirement to start working again. I quit working 4 years ago (at 55) to take care of my husband who is terminally ill. Going from a high stress, people oriented job to sitting at home all day doing not much of anything was driving me nuts.
    I recently was approached by someone to start a huge translation job. I had previously translated smaller items for them and they now found themselves in a bind to find someone reliable that can do the job on a tight deadline. There will be more work to come and the pay is good enough that I don’t have to dip into my retirement savings just yet. It’s mostly work from home but there are Zoom meetings and Chats. Just the fact that I can focus on something else besides doling out pills is good enough for me.
    The issue about my age and why I quit early never even came up.

    1. I'm just here for the comments*

      Congratulations! I’m glad you found something that works well for you and I’m wishing you all the best.

    2. allathian*

      Congrats on the job! I’m glad you can work from home in this situation. I wish you and your husband well.

  8. DiscoCat*

    Thanks to #4 for the word “completionist”. Now my thing for needing to finish and complete everything, even if it kills me, has a name.

  9. Completionist Wannabe*

    Congratulations everyone!!!

    Completionist – Now that’s what I want to be when I grow up.

  10. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 – Congratulations – BUT – going forward, be careful. If they forced you into playing hardball to get the offer you actually deserved, when it comes time for a substantial raise – or – a promotion – they may also force you to play hardball at that time.

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