it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I applied for and accepted a new position (a promotion/higher salary band) in my organization nearly 3 years ago, and almost immediately, like literally the first day, I realized I’d made a terrible mistake. My manager is a chronic oversharer, a micromanager, mostly incompetent and clueless, yet thinks she’s the best. I immediately started looking to get out. I should note, I’m also one of the unlucky ones who works for an org that limits how much of a raise one can get from an internal promotion, so I was severely underpaid for this position from the start after having had a couple internal job changes/promotions prior to this one..

After idly searching — and having a couple leads that didn’t pan out — for the first year or so, of course the pandemic hit. We got sent home and my boss’s anxiety and micromanaging tendencies got even worse. I started ramping up my search, but due to hiring freezes, in the early days of the pandemic, jobs in my field weren’t getting posted.

I also started reading Ask a Manager and really worked on internalizing the advice. I revamped my resume and cover letter, managing to force myself to make it much more personalized and less generic than I had previously been using. I made sure to revise it and personalize it for every position I applied to.

This spring, job postings in my field started springing up everywhere. I had a rule — every time my boss did something nuts or incredibly frustrating, I had to apply for a job. I started getting phone screens, then interviews right away. I had a couple near misses — including an in-person interview before it really felt safe where so many red flags popped up, I was actually relieved that they completely ghosted me after the interview — but just kept plugging away.

Well, I’m thrilled to say, all your tips and advice, especially about interview prep, really paid off, because after a fast, thorough interview process that I absolutely sailed through, my last day is Friday! The new position is exactly equivalent to my current position but pays 36% (!!) more, it is fully remote, so I will not have to move to a more expensive area of the country and will have no wardrobe or commuter costs (and I will not have to return to an office I don’t feel is safe yet), and the hiring manager was absolutely excellent. My only slight qualm was they’re also hiring the person who will be my supervisor right now as well, so I did not get to meet them. I asked a million questions of the hiring manager, who will be my grandboss, about what she’s looking for in that position and felt very satisfied that she absolutely will not be hiring a micromanager. I may even get to be involved in the hiring process for the supervisor after I join the team, if they’re still looking.

Anyways, for the first time in my career, I will be above the median salary for my profession, I will be working for a dynamic, well-respected organization that has a career ladder and promotes from within, AND I get to do it all in my soft pants.

2. “I never emailed you before with a question or anything, but I wanted to say thank you. I was stuck in a pretty low paying job (GS-5, federal service) and felt like I was trapped. By reading your site and the success stories of people on it, I gained the confidence and drive to push out of where I am at and advance. The resume writing tips and cover letter advice didn’t hurt either. I now find myself with an offer letter in hand for another job starting at a 56% raise, automatically going to a total of 69% above my current salary after one year. Still federal, but in a different branch of service, doing something that aligns with my skills and experience and is something I will enjoy rather than dread.”

3.  “After nearly a year of being Covidly-unemployed, while dealing with a handful of non-Covid health crises that kept me from an active, ongoing job search, I am now happily gainfully employed at an amazing organization in a role both well-suited for my current strengths, but offers an opportunities to learn and grow in my field.

It is kind of unusual how it happened. Over the summer, I had what I thought was an amazing virtual interview with a nonprofit organization that is small but does great work. When I didn’t hear back from them during their given timeframe, I was pretty bummed (and admittedly, too afraid to reach out in case I had been wildly off-base about my perceptions of the interview). While I never heard from them again, I did hear from the woman who actually got the job. She had been tasked to interview for her replacement at another highly-respected local nonprofit (an affiliate of a larger, national, and very well-known organization) and had asked her new boss (the lady I previously interviewed with) for other top candidates they had been considering before she ultimately got the role. Apparently, I was on that list. I virtually interviewed with my predecessor, who seems amazing and I completely understand why she got the original job, and then interviewed in person with the CFO and CEO. Two weeks of background and reference checks later, I was in my new office and this wonderful organization, with a larger paycheck than I’ve ever previously received.

A month in, and so far, it seems like all you could want from a nonprofit. The culture is welcoming and passionate about the work, the CEO is an absolute inspiration, the organization truly cares about inclusion and diversity (in a very money-where-your-mouth-is-way, not just lip service), and unlike some of my jobs in the past, they actually have their crap together. Also, my predecessor is so organized, that my transition into the role has been as seamless as possible. I know the words dream job are silly, but I feel this is exactly where I want to be right now. And Alison, without your advice and guidance through the years, I know this would not have happened. Thank you so much. Yay to another Friday.”

{ 41 comments… read them below }

  1. Allornone*

    My story is #3! So happy to be able to share my joy with the joys of others! Thank so much for everything, both Alison and the other posters. I’ve learned so much from you all over the years.

    1. not a doctor*

      That is SUCH a cool story. If I ever end up in your predecessor’s position, I’m going to do the same thing. (Or I’ll have forgotten by then, but this is the kind of thing that tends to stick with me!)

      1. Anonym*

        Yes, it’s a genius idea! At least when the roles are fairly similar. Hoping to remember and share this with others. Congrats, OP (all the OPs)!!

    2. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Congratulations — this is an AWESOME story!

      It just goes to show — sometimes when we don’t get a job, we internalize the narrative that we’ve done something wrong, when really, there may have been many fabulous candidates and we may have indeed impressed the heck out of the hiring committee, even if they didn’t hire us this time.

      Enjoy your well-earned new job!

  2. Anon for this*

    Op 1 sounds very like my former coworker. If this is you, grats and I’ll be joining you soon if all goes well.

  3. LW2*

    Once again, thank you. This site is not only entertaining, but full of amazing advice and a wonderful community. You all rock!

    1. Rena*

      Grats LW2! I’m really glad you were able to shift agencies into a higher grade. I started as a GS-5 and I don’t wish that on anyone, the salary isn’t anywhere near enough.

      1. LW2 (Bear)*

        Thank you. I ended up moving from the Department of Veterans Affairs over to the Department of the Army, going from payroll to IT. Which not only was a grade increase (5-6 to 7-9), but also moved from the standard GS pay scale to an alternate one at 33% higher than base – which was unexpected but very nice.

        Congratulations yourself on getting out of that GS-5 hole! It’s such a relief.

  4. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    I don’t understand organizations that cap raises (or use steps) and limit promotions, this forces people to look elsewhere and they loose the experience and institutional knowledge (as #1 showed).

    1. Formerly in HR*

      They might not do it formally. For example, where I work, there’s nothing really written down. But all throughout the years, between HR and hiring managers, it’s always been that any internal promotion goes to the minimum of the higher band (e.g. if moving from band 3 to 5, the new salary is the minimum of band 5). This is slightly different for unionised employees, but similar in gist. After almost 15 years in the company and three promotions (if the job change is to a similar role no pay increase is allowed), I still havent’t reached 1/3 of the band. In the meantime, external hires are brought in at between mid-point and 2/3 of the band.

      1. stefanielaine*

        I worked for a large national insurance company that had a formal, written policy limiting internal transfers/promotions to a 10% salary bump with no exceptions. As you would expect, everyone who was extremely talented left (mostly to work for competitors) within 3 years of their start date. SUCH a bizarre decision.

      2. OP #1*

        At the org I just left, the caps on promotion raises was very much formalized! It’s a 10% cap if you’re being promoted one step. I did manage to get 30% once when I was promoted AND changed bands, but it was all based on a really low starting salary and two previously capped raises, so…. it barely got me into the salary band for the new position.

    2. Very anon*

      Yeah, ours doesn’t say it caps raises, until you actually apply for a promotion and ask about it. Cue our department imploding the very first time someone applied for, and was given, an internal promotion. Someone is going to be extremely unhappy when all is said and done because every single person in the department is quietly job hunting while smiling and saying oh, what a shame, sorry they left…. each time someone else succeeds. No one wants to leave, but no one wants to stay in the toxic sludge that is the graveyard of our hopes and dreams.

    3. Anonym*

      Allison, is this something you would ever cover? I think many of us would be curious what the business rationale is for this approach and others (ahem… fixed pools of money available for promotions that force managers to choose between multiple employees who are promotion-ready rather than just promoting when it’s been earned…). And what would really be effective in different sizes of organizations (I assume it’s challenging at big orgs). Would love to hear your take.

  5. Miss Muffet*

    #3 – what a smart way for that person to hire her backfill! I would never have thought about that!

    1. Allornone*

      (I’m LW3). Me neither! From what I could tell of my predecessor, she really is on her game. I was really very impressed with her. I know she’s doing great at her new organization. Hopefully, I will follow in her shoes here. So far, they are giving me all the tools; I just need to rise to the occasion.

        1. Allornone*

          Yes. The nonprofit she was hired at is still pretty young and small, but growing rapidly. She would be the first to occupy the position and pretty much get to design the whole department and its strategies going forward. Basically, it’s a step up. Honestly, it might have been too big a step for me, but she seems more than capable. It occurred to me she might be hiding something about my organization, but I haven’t seen any signs of what it could be. And she was dedicated enough to stay on as a consultant for a bit to help with the transition. So I’m still optimistic.

          1. TimesChange*

            Some people also just like to move jobs — the current job is fine, they’re just ready to go somewhere else.

            This is a great example of “think of every bit as an interview” — they remembered you as only great and it got you a job!

        2. Allornone*

          Also, her new non-profit deals with a very serious issue that may one day make our local area (a huge tourist spot) all but uninhabitable in 50-100 years. While no shade to the mission of my current organization (we serve a very, very good cause), I could see her wanting to work to prevent that.

  6. Serin*

    “I had a rule — every time my boss did something nuts or incredibly frustrating, I had to apply for a job.”

    What a great idea!

    1. Wine Not Whine*

      Yes! I love it – both motivational, and feeling like a tiny strike back at the bozos who make work miserable. It’s definitely a tactic I’ll file away in case I’m ever in that kind of position.

  7. Tessie Mae*

    #1: “. . . AND I get to do it all in my soft pants.”

    I love all the Friday Good News, but this is sort of the icing on the cake. Made me smile.

  8. Goldenrod*

    OP #1, this is genius!:

    “I had a rule — every time my boss did something nuts or incredibly frustrating, I had to apply for a job.”

    Congrats to all of you!!! :)

    1. OP #1*

      Thank you! It really helped me feel better, both about whatever nutso thing she had done AND about my career prospects/life.

  9. Anonomatopoeia*

    So, I am puzzled by #3 because I feel like it would be weird to tell someone who they won out over for a job, and would be extremely weirded out to be contacted by the person who was hired instead of me. Is this just me?

    1. Allornone*

      (I am LW3) Yeah, I don’t know how she broached it with her new boss. I guess that could’ve been weird. But at first, I hadn’t realized she was interviewing her replacement (she just said she had been in contact with the first organization and had asked them for their top candidates- the non-profit world can be small, so that didn’t seem too strange). It only came out during my interview and by then, I had been impressed enough with her that I didn’t mind she got the job. I was actually a bit disappointed I wouldn’t be working with her. Besides, I had been out of work SO long and was just happy to have a good lead and the chance to express interest and interview before the job listing was even publically posted. And knowing I didn’t bomb that first interview, just that there was a more qualified candidate that I saw firsthand was more qualified, also helped.

    2. The Ginger Ginger*

      I think it’s kind of brilliant, and it shows that the person they actually hired is not one to let good resources pass them by. From the LWs perspective, I think it would feel a lot like a recruiter reaching out to you, with the added bump that someone who actually interviewed you recently thought you were an excellent candidate. There’s so much talent out there right now, that making hiring decisions can really come down to splitting hairs, so why let top tier talent that’s actively job seeking go to waste?

      I can see how it might be weird in an org that has poor hiring practices, but if the org has it together and really knows the candidates after they’ve completed their interview series and the new employee asking is competent and exemplary (which sounds like is the case), I’m not too bothered by it.

      As someone who recently made it through an entire interview process only to not be the selected candidate, I’d love to here from them telling me about a related opportunity I’d be a good fit for. I trust their judgment because their process was impeccable, and they know my candidacy really well.

  10. Isabel Archer*

    Seems like the Friday Good News reports, while always great to read, have gotten exponentially more inspiring in the past few weeks. So refreshing in these frustrating times.

  11. Vegetarian Raccoon*

    Kudos to LW #1 for not going absolutely bonkers over the course of those three years, and keeping up the productive job search. Like…I don’t know if I’d have the mental and emotional stamina.

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