it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1. I’ve been following your site for a few years now and I don’t think I’d be where I am now otherwise! I worked for the same toxic employer for almost 10 years and I wouldn’t have realized exactly how bad it was without reading your website. Looking for a new job made me so incredibly anxious, but I used your advice to completely rewrite my resume and tried to focus on the fact that I was interviewing them too!

My old boss was the poster person for “monitoring is not managing,” and I spent too many years watching my employer pay contractors over twice my salary to do the exact same job I was doing. Last week I started a new, fully remote, full-time job that includes a 25% raise! Covid managed to make it so I don’t have to choose between traveling or working for the only other employer in my area who does what I do! Plus, I don’t have to figure out a new role instead of the very niche work I do that I really love!! It’s the first time I’ve ever started a job that I already know how to do!

I can’t thank you enough for all you do and for giving me the confidence that I could really do this! I’m so much happier already!

2. My husband and I were both in pretty toxic jobs. His had only 5 pto days a year – that were hard to take – no paid holidays, they cut his pay when we moved due to “cost of living being lower,” calling in sick got you an “occurrence”… it was a mess. Then they told him his entire division was being eliminated and he would be moved to a much less desirable position. My company was sexist from the top down, with women who had been there decades and overseeing entire departments fighting to get the title Manager while men with no direct reports who were just hired had the title “Director.” I was also underutilized in my position and it was leading to some apathy on my part, which isn’t how I want to be at work.

We both used your resources to update our resumes and prepare for interviews. We each got interviews at companies we were excited about. After each of our interviews, we were told how well put together our resumes were (they loved the focus on results) and were told how great the questions we asked in our interviews were. We both got offers from the companies we were hoping for and ended up starting our new jobs (at separate companies, in case that isn’t clear) on the same day earlier in June. Higher pay, better benefits, better culture… just all around better situations for us both. Couldn’t have done it without AAM!

3. This past year in the pandemic was very hard on people in public service roles. I’m a supervisor and have been largely working from home, but also about 20% working on site. Our team brought five new services up and running during the last eighteen months, including an hours expansion pre-pandemic. Needless to say, we were exhausted, and I hit a wall with toxic management and pressure to implement more programs that would stretch our workgroup even thinner. I just couldn’t do it any more and my work engagement dropped precipitously as I entered a new low of depression and anxiety.

Encouraged by my spouse, your site, and fellow readers, I took the time to explore my EAP and health benefits options. My particular health care provider offered a “work health program” that is screened by therapists for admission. Over a four-week period, folks who qualify attend significant online group therapy sessions, 1:1 counseling sessions, and have physician-approved disability/FMLA leave to unplug from their difficult or untenable work situations to evaluate their options and begin to heal. Your site helped me immeasurably in figuring out the ins-and-outs of how to approach my leave, including drawing hard boundaries in talking about why I was out and sharing only what the HR/benefits/payroll office needed to know. My boss? They were not entitled to that information, and I held that line on my privacy very strictly, as they were known to take mental health/illness and hold it against people later. I shared it with two people who were close to me who could keep my confidence, and they helped to protect my privacy while I was away.

Immediately before I started my leave period, I found several different job openings and put in my applications. About two weeks into the program, I started to feel like myself again, which was good timing because I started to get interview requests! I accepted a job – a promotion, even! – just one week after returning to work from my leave. I also negotiated for a higher salary using tips from the site. (Note to others: in some states, it is illegal for a prospective employer to ask about your previous salary. Don’t volunteer that information, especially if you are underpaid like I was!) I’m now well into my new role at a new workplace. My colleagues are wonderful, as is my new boss. My spouse and I relocated and can’t believe our good fortune.

Take the time you need to get healthy and find a better job. Use your benefits, including when they help you to leave the place that provides them! I can’t say enough good things about the work health therapy program. I am excited for the future for the first time in a long time, even as we are navigating our mid-COVID reality. Thanks to everyone, and especially to you, Alison!

4. The Friday Good News has been a lifeline for me. I’ve spent the last 3.5 years at a company I like, but in a role I don’t love. My boss didn’t value my skill set, but she loved to use me as a utility player in my department, jamming me into roles where people needed help. This resulted in me working on a ton of things that were outside my area of expertise and doing a lot of the ‘garbage’ work no one else wanted to do, often administrative stuff. So I was thrilled when my department mentor connected me to someone in the department who she knew was an expert in my skill set, and he said I was perfect for his team. I was thrilled for all of a day, until my boss told him that I was too valuable in my current role and couldn’t be moved. Feeling stuck, I brushed up on my skills, learned some new things that might be useful in any data driven role, and watched internal and external job boards. I’m thrilled to say I accepted an internal role two levels up in a different department,where my boss had no influence and couldn’t turn down the transfer. I’ll finally be doing influential work I’m passionate about, with people who understand work/life balance and having a family. My new boss put me at the top of the salary band because she valued me and is actually excited to work with me– and they don’t care how often I’m remote post-pandemic! A large part of my success came from prepping aggressively with your interview guide– I can’t thank you enough!

5. I am overeducated, live in a tiny town (after relocation 13 years ago), and started working in the public school system as a substitute and then an aide three years ago. The pay is abysmal, the respect (no matter if you are an aide with 40 years experience or a young, energetic aide; I am neither) is nonexistent. I was fortunate to work for people who were really grateful and appreciative of my efforts and skills, as I was of theirs. But public school administration – I will just not comment. The students suffer, and I love kids.

Throughout this time, I freelanced for the local paper. It is small. I have ALL of my professional experience in magazine/newspaper writing, editing, college English instruction (adjunct), and professional bookselling and publishing. I wrote because I love the region and the editor is cool, and I can’t NOT write.

Well, one of the talented young reporters on the paper left for bigger pastures and I was really scared to apply for the job. No idea how much it paid, if the editor wanted a younger person (I am early 50s, she is mid-50s), wondering if I am involved in too many community things to prevent conflict of interests. My editor said, “I am so excited you want this. Come in and we’ll talk.”

I start Monday. It is everything I love. The work, which I’ve done before, most importantly! But also DOUBLE the pay from public school, with benefits, PTO, etc. (I did not have this before). This is the first week in three years I am looking forward to going to work. I also negotiated a higher salary — thanks, Alison!

Please don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. All of us have lots to offer and we shouldn’t be afraid.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 60 comments… read them below }

  1. ecnaseener*

    Yay everyone!

    Re #1, contractors being paid double what the employees are paid — I thought that was pretty standard because of payroll taxes and whatnot?

    1. OP 1*

      It was really more like 3x my salary, realistically. And in my searching, I did look at similar contracts, many of which do offer W2 instead of 1099 work. Many are long-term contracts because of how niche the role is, but I decided to go for an FTE position for the security. And the culture is very different in a place that actually looks to grow and support their employees.

      1. Boof*

        Ah, got it. At first I was thinking “Well 2x your salary for a contractor probably ends up being equivalent pay overall” but 3x would be a bit much unless you have really fabulous benefits

        1. A Genuine Scientician*

          FWIW, I have 0 days of discretionary PTO in a job that requires a STEM PhD.

          I do have paid holidays, so it’s nowhere near as bad as what the OP had, but there are certainly sectors (cough higher ed cough) that do not play by the typical norms.

        2. OP 2*

          You had to request PTO several weeks in advance, but couldn’t ask too soon, and they were often denied, and anything that was sick was not only not paid, it was an “occurrence” and you couldn’t have more than a certain amount of occurrences in a month or rolling 90 day period.

          They did offer overtime pay on holidays even if you weren’t over 40 hours for that day, but that doesn’t make up for having to work Thanksgiving and Christmas and everything else every single year.

          It is a customer service job too, so it is dealing with people who treat you TERRIBLY.

          He got a new customer service job, but at a company that respects the employees and treats them well. He has paid holidays, PTO, benefits and isn’t treated like he should feel lucky he has a job. It is also B2B, so the people he is helping are generally better behaved. It’s great.

      1. OP 2*

        They don’t! And say it is because of the type of people they attract. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. They don’t offer it because they don’t think the employees work hard enough to deserve it, but the employees don’t work hard or stay because they are treated so poorly. They expected employees to be EXCITED to work there and give their all while giving them barely any benefits. And cutting pay when we moved 30 minutes away!

        1. Boof*

          Somehow I am most flabbergasted at them cutting your pay because you moved. I mean, how did they even notice this; did you just file for an address change and wham, here’s your paycut??

          1. OP 2*

            Yeah, he put in the change of address because he needed new equipment and when they noticed, they cut his pay by a dollar an hour because we “now lived in a lower cost of living area” (30 min away from our previous address). I am honestly shocked he didn’t leave then. It all worked out in the end though – his new job is great!

    1. Kaiko*

      I hate to be the “is this legal?” person, but…is this legal? In America? To not have vacation days or pay?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        No law in the U.S. requires vacation days, paid or otherwise. It’s still very unusual not to have them at a full-time job though; the market means most employers couldn’t hire people without offering them.

        1. OP 2*

          It’s entry level, so they get away with it, I think, because people don’t know better. And once the employees get some experience under their belt, they move on to jobs that will treat them well. There was a lot of turnover, which I am sure no one is surprised about.

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      15-ish years ago, a week’s paid vacation time and one (!) paid sick day were all I was entitled to my first year of employment at a prior job.

      I was granted a second week of vacation per their policy due to the fact that my husband had insurance and I didn’t have to go on the company insurance.

      There was an attempt made by someone in beancounting to say that I had 40 hours of vacation, but as my salaried work week was 45, well, my vacation paychecks would be short by my missing five hours. They were missing because she decided that vacation days were only 8 hours, not by any company policy.

      My husband then switched jobs in the first calendar year of employment (meaning that we suddenly needed my healthcare and his not having access was considered a qualifying event), and FIVE vacation days were DEDUCTED from my bank (again, see beancounter) which left me in the negative?

      As soon as it was possible to jump to a less bee-hive infested branch of the company, I did.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Back when I was a teacher I didn’t get any vacation days at all, and only five sick days per school year.

        Oh, and while I had the summers off, the district I was in didn’t pay you at all during the summers…..

        And people wonder why teachers burn out and leave the field, causing shortages that leave only the kids suffering.

        1. Redd*

          As an aide I had two (unpaid) sick days. If I took more time off than that I was out of a job. My main teacher eventually went to bat for me the day I came in with a concussion because I’d already exhausted my two sick days staying home with pinkeye (which I got from a student) and stomach flu (which I got from a student). The concussion was also from a student. That teacher was amazing and basically marched into the principal’s office and said, “We don’t pay aides well enough for the basics, we’re certainly not paying her enough to die for this job! LET HER GO HOME!”

          1. PT*

            Ugh I worked at a swim school with a similar policy. The place was a disgusting petri dish and I quit almost as soon as I started because I’d worked there for 10 weeks and been healthy for two days of those 10 weeks.

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Yup – I taught kindergarten and prekindergarten (so definitely Petri dish environments), and there were days I had to just come in sick because I had no other option as well. I burned out, and have since left, and behind honest the low salaries and abysmal sick day policies were a huge part of why.

            1. Where's the Orchestra?*

              sorry – that last line should have read “and being honest”

              now its time to make the coffee.

  2. EPLawyer*

    Yaaaay to all 5.

    But especially 3. THANK YOU for promoting the need for good mental health in your good news. Burn out is real folks. If you don’t care of yourself, you can’t do anything.

    1. OP 3*

      Thank you! I can’t say enough good things about using your health benefits and really, really pushing to learn if there is a program like this in your area. I nearly lost everything that truly matters to me. Being called off of work for four weeks of disability leave – I could NOT do my job, I wasn’t caring for my health, I couldn’t sustain my marriage properly, I had dropped off the map with my friends, all because of my toxic work environment – it changed my life.
      If you can quit a toxic job, do it. Even if I hadn’t landed a new position, I was quitting effective 7/5 no matter what (extending that health coverage one more month).

  3. WellRed*

    Oh man. If a local paper pays double what you made in the school system that’s frightening. OP I’m excited for you in this next chapter.

    1. Krabby*

      I was going to say that as well! So excited for OP5, but dang… The poor students in that school district.

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Can verify that preschool and kindergarten aides in my district are paid $9.78 USD/Hour for both 17.5 hour and 35 hour week positions. Parapros with a teaching certificate, $12.74/hour. Long term subject specific middle school subs, $150 USD/day (with relevant state teaching certificate, or a ridiculous list of alternatives that drop it to $125/day).

      Hell, our district has a posting for a school-district wide head nurse position (BSN minimum, 15 years clinical experience required, a few other requirements that are not clear to my non-medical-background-self) and they’re offering a whopping $35K per year for a full-time position.

      1. PO5!*

        OP5 here! Yes, this. I was making $13.75/hour, no benefits, on a 31-hour week (I only made this rate, the highest, because of the union — they pay based on education. If you have a BA or just a high school degree, the rate is adjusted downward).

        If there was a holiday or snow day, no pay at all. I worked summer school this year at the same rate, but was only paid, of course, for days worked. It’s exactly like part-time retail. My 23 year old works at entry level at a big-city zoo and makes more than this.

        I’m now making more than double. Our little paper is owned by a corp that owns about 30 papers in the midwest and northeast.

        And if anyone is wondering, things have been going wonderfully. It’s a stretch to learn new design programs, etc. (I can do the writing in my sleep) but it feels so good. Thank you to everyone in this community — as we all know, this site and Alison are invaluable.

    3. AnonForThis - Details!*

      Classified staff, especially paraprofessionals, usually make zilch and they’re often part-time. Certified staff (people with licenses) usually make more. I made more using my license in K-12 than I did using my license in a tenure-track teaching position in higher ed, and I had better hours and more “vacation” days PLUS sick time and paid time off in K-12. There’s just no money in being a para, and the turnover is incredibly high…look at any district’s board minutes.

        1. AnonForThis - Details!*

          I worked with AMAZING paraprofessionals who completely turned troubled kids around and made nothing for it. Relationships and consistency is everything. I’ll add that my district had some poor administrators but also some incredible administrators, and the difference palpably affected building cultures, staff, and results. It’s very hit and miss….and so terribly underfunded. Thanks for your work in K-12. :)

          1. PO5!*

            It’s so nice to hear someone who appreciates paras. They are amazing. They do it for love of kids and helping people – they are the social workers of the public school system. Several of my ex-coworkers live in trailers, are older, are single parents, etc. They come in every day and rock it.

  4. Timesink*

    How badly was #5 being paid if she *doubled* her pay by going to a small local newspaper??? Signed, former reporter.

    1. Rah*

      Same. I worked for a local paper 2014-2017 and loved it but it was definitely pocket money on top of my regular (also low-wage) service job

    2. EPLawyer*

      I just found out the kindergarten teacher salary in my area. I was all “I knew teacher salaries were low but WOW.”

    3. PO5!*

      See my reply above! (Below?). Yes, it criminal and hideous in the public schools. Most support staff are very experienced, kind, and invaluable. My two peers in our classroom had a combined experience of about 70 years. They probably made $16/hour after being there for 20 years each. I’ve never worked with more committed people. It’s terribly sad. And these were special education kids, who can be tough!

  5. Neon Dreams*

    3 and 5 speak to me so much.

    3)I’m using my EAP benefits as well, including a career coach and counseling. I hadn’t thought about using FMLA for leave due to mental health. I am burnt out to a crisp about my current job but still feel really powerless in some ways.
    5) Good for you, I hope you love the newspaper position! I graduated with a journalism degree and got a small newspaper job. It didn’t work out. I’d love to get back into writing, but my most recent samples are 8 years old.

    1. PO5!*

      OP5 here! Yes, it’s working out very well. I freelanced for this editor for years, so at least we were known quantities to each other :)

    2. OP 3*

      Good for you! Take that time and get out. My FMLA leave kicked in because it was a medically-covered program. See if there is something available. I was covered by Kaiser Permanente in the Southern California region and the particular sub-group had this program. Life affirming.

  6. Rarely Post on Chats*

    “Please don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. All of us have lots to offer and we shouldn’t be afraid.”
    Well said, OP #5. I discovered this statement to be solid gold when in my mid-thirties. Took me awhile to realise the high value of my skill-set (I’m in the scientific field) and myself as a person and what I brought to a new employer. I went out on a limb back then, doing some hard negotiating on a job offer that wasn’t what I thought it was worth. They countered with a great offer and that job springboarded my career to new heights.

    Working at that job gave my resume a big boost but more importantly, did the same to my self-confidence in my knowledge base. Since then and because of working there, I moved into much more senior roles and much higher pay grades. I am now close to retirement, but still see that moment where I was brave enough to tell an employer that I wouldn’t accept a position because the pay didn’t value my skill-set enough, as the pivotal moment in both my life and my career. That self-confidence carrys over into your personal life, too.

    Great advice, OP #5!

    1. PO5!*

      Good for you, Rarely! You inspire me, even at age 52!
      In our small town, age inspires confidence, lol, so maybe it’s a plus.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I call it the standing outside the fire approach to life (why yes the radio has been playing a lot of older Garth Brooks today). Okay the logic is if you don’t tempt the fire you never get burned, but you also never really live either.

      Standing outside the fire
      Life is not tried, it is merely survived
      If you’re standing outside the fire

      Amazing how much wisdom can be found in old songs.

  7. A Genuine Scientician*

    I am just so relieved today.

    Yesterday was the last day of a coworker who felt they should be managing a few of us — despite being told explicitly, repeatedly, by our mutual boss that they were not our manager and to not do that. Essentially, that role is in charge of a thing we do, but is not in charge of any of the employees who participate in it. So while it is completely appropriate for them to make decisions on how the thing would be done even if the rest of us disagreed, it was a problem when they would assign “personal and professional development goals” to colleagues they weren’t supposed to be managing, for example.

    Those of us left, our mutual boss, and the new hire had a meeting to discuss how several things will play out over the next few months. A couple of changes that I had advocated for but were shot down by the person who left have now all been approved. I’ve also been given considerably more autonomy in my role, which I’m told I should have already had. The new hire was the unanimous choice from our applicant pool, and is taking the stance of mostly learning how things operate for the next 4 months before trying to change anything, which is a welcome relief.

    1. Marthooh*

      Congratulations, and I humbly pray that I may so live my life, that my last day at a job is not considered a day of celebration by my coworkers.

      1. Where's the Orchestra?*

        Have to say, the team that I work on now celebrated the departure of a few of our former members (including a manager who probably shouldn’t have been managing) with group choruses of “Ding Dong, the witch is dead” on teams.

        We will miss the current manager though. She just announced yesterday (Friday) that she was accepting a big promotion to a division in another state. She’s been awesome, and heres hoping the next manager is just as good.

        1. A Genuine Scientician*

          I want to be clear that I like my *actual* boss. And there are several colleagues I would not have minded being my manager. I just disliked this particular one, and part of why I disliked them was that they decided to act as if they were my manager after being told explicitly by our mutual boss that they were not.

          I don’t mind not being in charge of things. I do mind people who are not in charge of me acting as if they are, despite being told that they are not by their and my actual boss. Or hearing both that I “need to take ownership of X” when I phrased suggestions like “I advocate we do A and B”, but then when I just go ahead and do X without checking having everything reverted to the old way and being told that was not my decision to make. It felt like with that person, literally whatever I did would be declared wrong, as would both asking for more clarification about what they wanted, and not asking but just doing.

  8. Seeking Second Childhood*

    OP5, If I were your editor, I would be so excited to have someone with direct experience in the community. You’ll be able to cover the school beat with so much more background detail then a newcomer to hasn’t worked there. Congratulations and good luck!

    1. PO5!*

      Hi Seeking! I always love your comments, so I’m pleased to tell you that our horrid Vice Principal (omg, don’t get me started) and I run unfortunately in the same social circle, and I’ve seen him while covering events the past two weeks. He neither acknowledged my resignation (formal letter, it’s a must in the school system) or said hello at anything.

      He won’t come near me when I sit with mutual friends. He elects to sit alone. He either hates me or (I think this is it) is Scared of Me.

  9. Ace Reporter*

    OP 5, I moved back to my hometown with my husband after 25 years in larger cities. My background was similar to yours. I took a reporting job and loved it. It bolstered my confidence in a way no other job has ever done.

  10. Boof*

    LW2 GRRR! I know this is only one of multiple bad things, but I think employers need to base pay on the value of work, NOT on how much their workers “need” the money. I know it’s tempting to do otherwise in both directions (either to squeeze as much as possible – bad! – or to try to help someone out – seems nice but can rapidly lead to inequity) but it should be up to the employee to decide if the pay is within their means or not! SO none of this “I’m going to adjust your salary to match your expenses!” business

  11. GlamorousNonprofiteer*

    My Friday good news is that after 3 years working as the number two in a nonprofit organization where the CEO who hired me was ousted by a rogue board chair who wanted the job, presumably to manifest their destiny as a sociopath, I am now taking over a nonprofit organization as the incoming ED. I was so broken after moving halfway across the country for this job and then working for such a terrible human. It took therapy, this site and some amazing friends who helped me get myself to the place where I was the finalist in three searches. I was relaxed, I asked great questions and I am confident that I will be a better leader after all that I’ve been through. Thanks, AAM!

    1. Artemesia*

      So glad. 40 years ago I dodged a bullet when my spidey sense told me the foundation job I was offered to run a major project was just somehow not right. There were pert charts on the walls; there was the big sell on the mission. They were working in the community and had lined up people in schools to participate in implementation yadda yadda. It would have meant uprooting the family and moving and I just backed away.

      A good colleague took the job after I turned it down. He discovered the CEO had his hand in the till, that the community leaders and teachers who had been promised jobs on the project (and in some cases quit jobs to join) had been left hanging and so the community needed to make the project work was hostile. He luckily was newly divorced and could do a year and get out with less disruption than I would have faced.

      A sociopath in charge is not always easy to spot — glad you got loose.

  12. Sariel*

    The Friday good news is what has gotten me through days where I’m bummed out about my job, and given me courage to pursue new opportunities. Thanks to everyone who shares their stories!!

  13. TG*

    Friday good news just makes my day – so happy for all of you.
    Doesn’t it just show that staying in toxic jobs gets us all nowhere? I’m thrilled to read when people find jobs where they are valued and respected and find their passions again – it transforms not just work life but life in general!

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