it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I’ve written to you a couple of times (unpublished), usually in the depths of despair about my job. I’ve been doing between two to four full time positions at once due to horrific and chronic understaffing, I’m underpaid by 30% according to data on my position and location, and my managers are just plain mean. About a month ago, I had to BEG my manager to train me on something she had assigned me a year ago and, due to lack of training, kept messing up. It still took actual begging for actual months to get her to walk me through the process. I even had to take a week off this summer due to a series of burnout-related panic attacks.

All of that ends in two weeks, though, when I start my new job! I’m getting a 50% raise to work on projects I’m passionate about with an international firm (my best friend emigrated back to her hometown in France, and there’s an office near enough to spend a summer visiting! Near Paris!!!). I used all your advice on interviewing, and used your script as a template for my resignation letter. I am THRILLED and EXCITED to start my new job, and they seem equally as thrilled with me!

To the folks who have crappy jobs- you CAN get out. I felt so stuck at my former job. If I left, my projects would fall apart. I would be leaving my office in tatters as the admin with the longest tenure (at less than four years!) and only reliable staff. I stayed way too long out of a sense of loyalty and anxiety and, frankly, self doubt. If you feel the same, just know that if they really wanted you to stay, they would make your working conditions bearable. You aren’t stuck, and you aren’t obligated to anyone. Go find somewhere where you can thrive. I promise such a place exists.”

2.  “Background, I started working for my employer about 4/5 years ago, after a chain of retail/service/entry level office jobs (rural area, the job market for people with degrees not in medicine, law, or teaching tends to be thin, and business degree level work is challenging to find). I started entry level, got bumped up a few months in, and have been working in that same position since.

It’s been a great experience – I have a supportive manager, a supportive chain of command for the larger department I am a part of, and the pay and benefits have been the best I have encountered in the area. But I was starting to stagnate – my job, while more enjoyable than any of the previous decade, becomes rote very quickly, even with all the surprises and small fires that come up. It took me a while, but I got to the point that it was move up or move out, because I have no intention of remaining in a single position until retirement. So, after months working myself up to it, I asked several people I work with at different levels in the company what advice they could give me for continuing a career in this field. I got some good advice, and more. One of the people I contacted asked for my resume (which I keep updated), and upon receiving it passed it around to several others at their level (they are at a significantly higher position than I am). The end result is that they created a position for me, and after several months (corporate gears grind slowly, even when they really want to keep you), and a very awkward interview with people I have worked with on numerous projects over the past four years, I received a verbal offer a few days ago, and a written offer this morning for a hefty increase in salary, and a position that works to my strengths and will be a stretch for me in a few areas (which I love). It is mind boggling to me that this happened, and relatively quickly, and it just demonstrates that you don’t know who is in your corner until you ask.

To the readers: if, like me, you want to ask for advice but are unsure of the response (I don’t have social anxiety, but anxiety about using my small professional network to my benefit? Oh yeah, it’s weird, it’s there, and it’s kind of frustrating), take the leap. You might be surprised at where you land.”

3.  “When I started reading AAM, it was just to read the bonkers stories. I’m a writer and had no interest in managing a team. We’ve had a lot of turnover in my department—in fact I was the sole person in my department when I was hired. We hired a director and a few other staff and we chugging along when the director left after 9 months. Our director’s last day was the day after our most junior person started, and only a few weeks after another team member started. I (2 years at this job) and another team member (6 months in) decided we would do our best to mentor our other two team members, since I knew from experience they weren’t going to find another director for several months. Then my co-mentor left and we were a party of three. So reading AAM became a little more relevant.

We’ve managed to muddle through so far. But recently, the higher-ups determined that in addition to a department director, a growing workload would mean the need for another person in my role—and that managing that junior staff position would be part of my new job responsibilities. Today marks the end of the second week of me officially getting to use the ‘manager’ part of my title, and it’s thanks to AAM that I’ve been able to take this added responsibility in stride.”

4.  “I recently used what I learned here to negotiate a promotion. I recently went from, let’s say, Kitten Herder I to Kitten Herder II. It’s not a huge increase in title or pay, but it was a big deal since I’m a government employee and my agency had a hiring freeze at the time.

My responsibilities had grown a lot during the pandemic and my boss agreed I deserved the promotion, but he initially resisted recommending me for it because of the internal politics and hiring freeze. Fortunately I’d checked in with him about it 4 months before my annual review (the only time step/grade increases are handed out). At a 1:1 the next month, I showed him the agency’s org chart so he could see that giving me this title increase wouldn’t technically count as filling a new position, since I’d still be occupying the same spot on the chart. I also gave him the job description for Kitten Herder II where I’d highlighted the tasks I’m already doing…which was all but one item. Plus a note that I’d done that item in the past until management realized they legally couldn’t have a Kitten Herder I do it.

After seeing it spelled out, my boss said he’d go to bat for me. He said with this kind of documentation upper management would have no legitimate excuse to turn down the request. And it worked! As of this year I’m a Kitten Herder II, which means I’m finally being compensated for the extra work I’ve been doing.”

{ 16 comments… read them below }

  1. Momma Bear*

    These are great updates, especially 2 and 4. I’m so happy that you were able to negotiate the promotions you deserved.

    1. TinaTurner*

      Even 1.
      I think of awful jobs I’ve had just long enough to apply for a credit card. Or just long enough to apply for a mortgage. Or just a few months while job hunting.
      Sometimes you’re on your way to more. Or you get that cred. cd. out of a quick couple weeks at a weird job. Sometimes the timing works to get something from it.

  2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    Wonderful updates — it’s great to hear that there are organizations that recognize the need to promote people.

    (Kitten Herder sounds like way more fun than what I’m doing today.)

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Yeah, I want to be a Kitten Herder, and that would be my son’s career goals. Too bad it’s not real kittens.

      1. Kacihall*

        Some days I feel like that describes my job. Trying to get our clients to just READ anything we send them is just like herding cats.

    2. higeredadmin*

      I was just coming on here to say how much I want to be a real kitten herder (or even better a kitten herder II) and it looks like I’m not alone!

    3. Jackalope*

      My two older cats and I lived together just the three of us for many years and we were very close. I could herd cats really well; they’d follow me wherever I wanted them to go. Then I got married, got a bigger place, and we got two kittens. The affection is more dilute because there are more of us in the household, and the kittens fail to see why they should follow me. Cat herding has gotten MUCH harder now.

  3. Suzy Q*

    Good for you, #1! I know from experience that leaving a toxic workplace is the best. I sincerely hope you have taken at least one if not two weeks to decompress prior to starting your new job. Best of luck!

    1. Artemesia*

      And embodies the rule ‘never be more loyal to a job than they are to you’ — so glad you found something better.

  4. Chilipepper Attitude*

    I want to echo what the OPs said about going for it! I am in a wonderful job since late last fall and I could not be happier. I almost withdrew from consideration because I did not think I was good enough. I went from toxic to a place that treats people like they are people. I am so happy I tried! I hope everyone goes for it!

  5. Goldenrod*

    YAAAAAS, these are all great. Congrats, all!!

    I love this comment from OP 1:
    “I stayed way too long out of a sense of loyalty and anxiety and, frankly, self doubt. If you feel the same, know that if they really wanted you to stay, they would make your working conditions bearable. You aren’t stuck, and you aren’t obligated to anyone. Go find somewhere where you can thrive. I promise such a place exists.”

    Yes, yes, a million times yes to this.

  6. A Feast of Fools*

    OP4 – I love how you documented the reasoning for the title (and pay) bump. It was clean and clear, and left them with no other answer than, “You’re right. Congrats on your promotion.” :-)

    1. TrixM*

      I very much agree, but it’s a shame it was up to the employee to do all the research. I would expect the manager to have a greater understanding of how the role structures work in the org and the actual possibilities once the employee indicated they were ready for an incremental promotion (and the boss didn’t disagree).
      It’s great OP advocated for themselves twice over and demonstrated how the org structure could be wrangled, but I feel like they had shown their reasoning for the bump itself from the start.
      But I’m extremely glad they went that extra step for themselves. And I also hope the boss felt at least slightly chagrined at their own lack of awareness/effort – at least they pulled through in the end.
      I have been in a position where a boss said, “I don’t know if we can make XYZ work, but let’s try and figure it out,” as a suggestion we both brainstorm solutions, but that doesn’t quite sound like this situation.
      In any case, not sound like looking a gift horse in the mouth; all’s well that ends well.

  7. Full-Time Fabulous*

    Way to go LW #1! I got stuck in a toxic workplace too so I understand. I didn’t think I could leave because of loyalty but also being put down on a daily basis. I ended up getting fired so that my abusive former boss could promote her pet employees. My advice to anyone who feels stuck in a toxic or abusive workplace is to shut out the haters and focus on getting out ASAP!

  8. That One Over There*

    I know it’s a filler, but Kitten Herder sounds awesome!

    congrats to all. I love the Friday good news

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