it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “About 5 years ago, I got my first ‘real’ corporate job at a smallish company. At first, everything was great. Fast forward a few years to the first Red Flag. I found out our VP of 10+ years had been let go when her email bounced back. If that’s how the company treated loyal employees, how did they feel about low level staff like me?

After that, the work just started piling up. I realized later on that the company was eternally trapped in a startup mentality. No real plans, no systems, just a steady stream of firefighting. And I started making huge mistakes due to feeling so overwhelmed. I found myself in a painful meeting with my manager who read a damning performance review listing all my mistakes. I felt devastated.

I tried dipping my toe into the job market to escape – but how do you sell yourself to another company when you don’t believe in yourself? And then we got some ‘good’ news – our small company was being bought by a large corporation. Would they finally stop acting like a startup? Would I benefit from the stability of an established company with a solid understanding of running a business? Nope. The small company merged with the large one in a legal sense, not in a structural or cultural one.

As my mental state reached a new low, two pivotal things happened: 1) I listened to my partner validate my work misery (i.e. it’s not me, it’s them) and 2) I stumbled upon your blog. I rewrote my resume because it sucked. To find content, I scrolled through my Sent emails and wrote down everything in my notebook: frequent tasks, meetings I hosted and attended, any compliment I’ve ever received, cost savings tied to my actions (with $$$ amounts!). Whenever I felt depressed, I reread this line from the resume post I linked: If you’re having trouble thinking of your job in terms of accomplishments, imagine a really terrible temp filling in for you […]. What would go differently? What would fall to pieces?

My goal was to apply for so many positions that I wouldn’t be able to keep track, and hence not be disappointed if I was rejected. Thanks to your blog, my resume finally started yielding interviews. I received an offer from a major international corp and negotiated an 11k raise by using words from your blog verbatim. My new job is terrific: my manager truly manages both employees and workload. My co-workers couldn’t be kinder. I am so, so grateful for this blog. Fellow overworked readers: there are bright spots in this bleak world. Try not to give up!”

2.  “In early 2017 I left a high-paying but stressful job to start a startup with a friend, and after three years of never gaining profitability I went back to full-time employment. Unfortunately, my skillset is fairly niche, and so I compromised and took a job that was simply available to bide my time and rebuild my financial reserves. One week later the pandemic hit, that company turned out to be incredibly toxic, and 6 months later I left for another company. This next company had a much better corporate culture, but I was still not doing work that matched my skills or interests, but the company culture was good enough to make up for it. About a year later, the company ended up getting bought out by a large multinational megacorporation that made the friendly culture disappear practically overnight. So I reactivated my resumé on a job search site, and almost immediately got not one but two companies interested in me for my actual skillset!

Of the two companies, one of them moved very quickly and also clearly had an amazing culture (very similar to my current company’s when I started there), while the other one played mindgames with me (which I will likely write about in a separate letter to get your opinion about) and had a number of red flags throughout the recruiting process. Fortunately, I had a very good interview loop with the first one, and today just got notified that I will be getting an offer, and the ballpark figure (not yet formal) is even higher than the high-paying job I left back in 2017.”

3.  “I work in a notoriously underpaid profession, where passion is to some extent expected to drive people. I do love my job, but the pay was getting ridiculous and I had been planning to ask for at least a 10% increase when another job came up which would have been closer to a 20%. I used all your cover-letter and interviewing advice and got the job offer!I  took their offer back to my boss and told her she could keep me if she got me a raise. She came back within two days and offered me a 30% pay rise.

Thank you for your advice and I just wanted to share some encouragement with other readers. I have struggled for some time with mental health issues which made me second-guess and doubt my own worth at work, and I had let my long-running low pay get me down in a way I didn’t even realise had affected me so badly until I got my pay rise. So I just wanted to encourage people to know their worth, and know that your boss likely isn’t judging you as harshly as your own internal critic.”

4.  “I’ve been giggling internally for a week, so thought I’d share my good news: I’ve always slogged through looking for jobs, starting with part-time work in high school. So even though I’d been at my job post-PhD for several years, taking on new responsibilities, I was convinced I was “stuck”. Even as great people left and my boss revealed new levels of toxicity, I didn’t think I had the skills to hack it outside of my little pond of academia. But I was burnt out and knew I needed to leave FOR something, before I got to the point I would take anything, just to get out.

So I devoured your blog, which helped me establish boundaries at work as I made my plan, and helped me figure out what was really important to me in a new position, AND helped me realize that “telling my friends I was looking to make a change” counts as networking. And sure enough, a friend of mine knew somebody, so I did an informational interview, which led to another informational interview, which turned into an email of “I think we could work together and could you please apply for this position?”

Interviewing over the winter holiday season definitely extended the process, but I kept calm, maneuvered the recruiter into telling me the range of the position, and was upfront about my priorities. I was psyching myself up to negotiate when the offer came in: fully remote, at the top of the range they quoted me (more than I said I’d accept, and DOUBLE what I make now), and the company will sponsor my immigration visa. I asked tough questions during the interview, and actually believe my soon-to-be manager when she says that the job is 40 hours a week (my current manager “doesn’t believe in work-life balance”). I accepted the offer, put in 3 weeks notice at my current job, and am happily spending this week making a transition plan, documenting all my projects and processes. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to do this, or the skills to do it so well, if not for your advice. I send all my friends to your blog! Thank you.”

{ 26 comments… read them below }

  1. irritable vowel*

    For LW2, this may have just been unclear writing, but they should figure out if the ballpark offer they’ve received that’s “even higher than the high-paying job [they] left back in 2017” is actually a good salary in 2022, not just in comparison to what they were making 5 years ago.

    1. LW2*

      In my eagerness to write some good news, my writing became somewhat unclear. To clarify, I was vastly overpaid in 2017, and I am, as such, now still very-well-paid in 2022.

  2. Momma Bear*

    I love hearing people recognizing their own worth and making things happen for themselves. Good news all round!

  3. Artemesia*

    so they can’t afford to pay you, but can come up with a 30% raise when you threaten to leave? I’d have taken the new job offer.

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      She says the underpay is inherent to the industry (I immediately thought of teaching, but it could also be the nonprofit world) and that she had been planning on asking for a raise but hadn’t done so yet.

    2. JM in England*

      I would have taken the new offer too.

      Alison’s general advice has always been that it’s very risky on the employee’s part to accept a counter offer from their current employer.

    3. OP3*

      Well, similar situations have happened with others since, and Tey actually couldn’t counteroffer. So there is an element of truth to the “couldn’t afford to pay” part. But in reality pay is set by grandbosses, and unless you ask for a raise with your own manager to raise it with them, you’ll get only about a 5% annual raise. That was frozen by covid, so I had gone two years without the +5% by the time I was gearing up to ask for more – something which is hard for me to do since I have quite bad anxiety. The other job was a nice boost to my confidence and good leverage, but I would not have enjoyed the actual job as much as my current one.

  4. The Lexus Lawyer*

    OP3 – go back and read all of the posts about counteroffers.

    I would keep your resume updated and your LinkedIn set so recruiters can see you’re open to work.

    1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I was going to write: I guess OP#3 didn’t read the advice about not accepting counter-offers?

      1. JM in England*

        As was I. Accepting counter offers rarely turns out well. Could OP3 be one of these exceptions?

        1. OP3*

          I’m OP3 :)
          I know the advice is usually not to accept counteroffers, but when I said passion is a big part of why people do my job I meant I was passionate about it. A better paying job that I enjoyed less wasn’t what I wanted, but it did give me more confidence and leverage to ask for the counteroffer – and if there had been no counter, I would have had a year or two of better pay and worse work to figure out a new industry to jump into.

  5. TG*

    I am so thrilled for folks but feeling a little sorry for myself.
    I took a promotion and now am being told no raise for it by HR as I am “nee to this position”…but it was called a promotion and I’ve worked for my company for 5 years and my skills certainly transfer and I’ve already picked up new skills….any thought how I can push back?

      1. Retired (but not really)*

        Since it’s been awhile now it would certainly be advisable to ask again. If they say no, consider looking elsewhere for your possibilities.

    1. The Lexus Lawyer*

      Brush up your resume, update your LinkedIn, put feelers out through your networks

    2. Ariaflame*

      Does promotion mean ‘more/higher level work but we’re not actually going to pay you more for it so in effect you’re probably worse off’?

  6. Database Developer Dude*

    Manager doesn’t believe in work-life balance? What does that mean? That sounds ominous.

    1. OP4*

      It is certainly one of their more obvious red flags. They think the phrase is whiny/lazy. (insert my eyeroll here)

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