it’s your Friday good news

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

1. Four years ago, my colleague Cindy and I were both hired at Company because of our experience in Project X, a community outreach project that Company wanted to introduce.
Cindy had been hired as program director, but because we worked so well together, and had such similar previous experience, we effectively shared the role. Unfortunately, we soon realized that Company was not really interested in Project X, they just wanted the positive PR. Our efforts were regularly hijacked and sabotaged by senior management, and Cindy would then be harassed and berated for not meeting targets.

A year ago, Cindy escaped and accepted a position as managing director at a different company. A huge step up! It was widely assumed that I would take over the program director role when she left, but having seen how she had been treated I refused to apply.

Despite many strong applicants for the position, our new program director, Ted, has zero experience in any form of community outreach. I offered to support him the same way I had supported Cindy, but instead was frozen out of all Project X work. Not only that, but Ted has also given others at Company the impression that I HAD applied for the director role, but that he was the superior candidate. Project X is dying a slow death here, and I am miserable, but was hesitant to quit in the middle of a pandemic.

Now here comes the good news. Last month, Cindy called and offered me the role of program director at her new company. It’s a wonderful opportunity, a company that aligns with my values, a big step up in my career, and the chance to work with Cindy again. Even better, my salary will be DOUBLE what Old Company offered me for the same role. I’m thrilled for the opportunity, and so glad I followed my instincts. I’m not in the U.S., so if I had taken the job at Old Company, I would have signed a 2-year contract and wouldn’t have been able to accept Cindy’s incredible offer.

Thank you Alison for reminding us of our worth, and that hiring is a 2-way process. If I weren’t such an AAM fan, I suspect I would have felt pressured to take the job at Old Company. I’m so glad I held out for a role that’s such a perfect fit.

2. I’ve been following your advice for job applications and dealing with people in general for years while I worked my way through university. I’m about to graduate into the stressful world of COVID, but I’m not stressed at all! I used your tips to write a dynamite CV that highlighted all my best qualities and biggest successes, as well as a personal statement/statement of purpose that my advisor referred to as exemplary. I just accepted an offer from my dream graduate school to get a master’s in my field—with full funding and a teaching assistantship. Thank you SO much for being an amazing guide to the terrifying world of convincing people to give you money for your labor. (I even tried negotiating the package—they said there was no wiggle room, but congratulated me for making the effort! Thanks for giving me the confidence to try!) I’m excited for this chapter of my life, and I’ll be back to figure out how to turn it into employment in a couple of years.

3. I work in a male dominated industry and have had my fair share of bad bosses. Over the years I’ve become very wary of changing jobs, because it’s just so hard to tell whether the culture will be sexist from a few interviews.

But this company actually *showed* me how their culture would be different, and I am so happy to have accepted an offer with them today.

Things I didn’t know I was missing before this company:
– They never asked about my salary history, just what I wanted to make working for them.
– They actually offered me the base salary I asked for, which is extremely competitive for the area. For once, they didn’t try to convince me the target bonus and ESOP plan ‘counted’ toward my requested salary.
– The hiring manager stopped me halfway through the first interview question and said, “I know we are often conditioned to use the term ‘we’ when discussing team accomplishments, but I’d like to encourage you to retell this story and share what you, specifically, contributed.” He challenged me a few more times, “if that’s something you owned more than the rest of the team, make sure to tell me so.”
– All of my interviewers offered feedback on my interview as I went. One suggested a tweak to my resume to better showcase cost savings. One asked if I could think on a different example and email it to him later, and one said “wow, that was an excellent answer” and asked if I had any book recommendations on the subject.
– Without my asking, they set me up with a call with a future coworker. She explained that she works 6 hours from the office and 2 from home each day, so she can be home when her kids are home. She also said, “Whatever doesn’t get done in those 8 hours, waits for tomorrow” and described the process for reprioritizing work each week.
– They were up-front and communicative with me throughout the entire process, laying out specific next steps and timelines and then… Sticking to them!
– The nature of the job requires in-person work, but the company requires routine on-site COVID testing and hosts an onsite vaccine event every week.
– The company is a very active sponsor of a women’s shelter.

I just wanted to update you that I started the job and it has been fantastic so far! Everyone is friendly, helpful, and … refreshingly normal.

On the first day, my boss went over a list of expected outcomes and how my performance would be measured for the first month. This was accompanied by a full training plan and a schedule of informational interviews with representatives from all over the company.

Unfortunately, my second week on the job, a family member passed away unexpectedly. They encouraged me to take as much (paid) time as I needed, and I came back to a touching handwritten note from my new boss. He had even tweaked my training plan to a slower pace, saying he doesn’t want me to feel pressured to maintain normal work performance when my “real life” is anything but normal right now.

4. I have started reading your blog in earnest this year and it has given me lots of strength to combat imposter syndrome! I am a late 20s woman in an operations/management position that I never expected to find myself in but do enjoy (and great pay – yay!) Recently our HR rep was out sick and I stepped in and did a phone screening for a new assistant position (for my team). I have never done a phone screening before but I thought of you and your advice and just jumped in feet first before my anxiety could take over! The candidate isn’t one I’d move to the next round but I feel more confident about what I’m looking for and proud of myself for not shying away from managerial work.

5. I currently work at management level (no direct reports) doing several different job functions. I am primarily responsible for customer care (complaints, feedback, service, etc) but I also do various things like supporting other departments and helping manage projects. I recently started putting out feelers for other jobs, since I was concerned that my (fairly small) company had changed direction significantly since I started. I had concerns about senior management and the long-term stability of my employment. I was also pretty fed up with constant customer problems which are a direct result of products suffering from legacy issues (lack of design control, etc). My boss is great, though, and I hated the thought of leaving one of the best managers I’ve ever had.

I actually found another position (at a pay cut, but steady and reliable) and tried to resign. I say “tried to” because my current company immediately went into salvage mode and asked me what it would take to stay. My boss was fantastic and helped me come up with a list of things to mitigate my concerns, which includes a guaranteed severance package and also a retention bonus (!) and a title bump (!!). I was also given more information about upcoming changes to the company which should put us back on track to being the collaborative, innovative company I signed on with. I am beyond thrilled – it won’t eliminate the everyday stresses of the job, but it goes a LONG way toward repairing my confidence in the company, our products and its future. I know accepting a counteroffer is sometimes not a great idea, but in this case it worked out for the best for all parties involved.

Long story short – don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth!

{ 13 comments… read them below }

  1. drpuma*

    I know we are not supposed to guess posters’ companies or identities…. but I sure want to know where OP #3 works! It sounds amazing! Are they still hiring?

    1. Hanani*

      Seriously, I want to work where OP #3 does! It gives me hope that there are workplaces like that.

    2. OP #3*

      Haha thank you! I am so beyond excited to have found a company like this, too!
      All I can say is that it is an employee-owned schmedium business (200-500 employee range), which appears to be the sweeet spot for avoiding toxic small-business problems AND toxic giant-corporation problems.

  2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    Wow, LW3, those are some spectacular green flags!

    I’m glad everything is working out.

    1. Kes*

      Yeah, we hear so much about bad and toxic companies here, it’s so nice to hear about a really great company and the specific ways that they’re great, including things others could look out for in their job searches.

  3. mf*

    “I know we are often conditioned to use the term ‘we’ when discussing team accomplishments, but I’d like to encourage you to retell this story and share what you, specifically, contributed.” He challenged me a few more times, “if that’s something you owned more than the rest of the team, make sure to tell me so.” –> This guy gets it. Sounds like a fantastic manager.

  4. Kes*

    #1 is like a letter with refreshing update all in one. So glad you and Cindy were both able to get out of that situation and into a much better place!

    1. OP1*

      I am currently in my last week at old Company and cannot WAIT to get out! Trying to handover my projects, but no replacement coordinators have been hired, all my work is just being shifted to Ted (who is already not coping with his usual workload). I almost feel sorry for him…..Almost.

  5. Engineer*

    I know Allison likes to keep companies anonymous, but can we get a better hint at which company OP3 works for?! Holy crap, they sound amazing!

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