updates: the horrible team lead, the bait and switch job offer, and more

Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. Our new team lead is horrible and keeps sharing private details about us with our colleagues

This has been the most chaotic 6 weeks of my life but I followed the readers advice and got a new job! The day my letter was posted I was invited to apply to a job at one of the top companies in my field. I applied thinking “what the heck I will probably never hear back.” Guys — they reached out to set up an interview 8 hours later and I had the offer in hand 4 days later. I was thrilled.

The way Stacey and Kate treated me after I told them about the offer solidified my decision to move on. I told Josh and Stacey about my offer and that I was taking it — Josh was thrilled for me, Stacey not so much. As a courtesy I allowed them to make a counter offer since Stacey was pushing hard for me to stay. A week later they came back with the offer — a one-time payment that was less then what I made in a week of bartending tips, and I will have to train the new hire since Kate had no idea how to. I politely declined.

Of course Kate found out about this and told the whole office. When I turned down the offer Stacey told me I needed to give them a full 2 weeks notice to “make things nice and end things on the right foot.” When I told her that she burned a week of my notice with that low counter offer, she and Kate promptly ignored me for the rest of my notice. Josh was kind and super excited for me ( its very common in my industry to take external promotions and he was very supportive and wanted all of us to thrive) , but that didn’t take the sting out of being ignored.

I am now 3 weeks into my new job and I love it. My teammates are super friendly and inclusive, my leadership team is amazing, and my clients are so welcoming. My boss is pulling out all the stops since he wanted me so badly- they are paying for my move and I get to be remote in my home state until the fall!

Thank you readers for your advice and kind words! In today’s market the employees have the power so don’t feel like you have to tough out a bad work situation!

2. Did I misunderstand my offer letter? (#4 at the link)

Here’s an update to my question regarding the bait-and-switch job offer. I was really grateful for the advice you gave and for the thoughtful questions that the readers asked. Talking it over with strangers was invaluable. People who don’t know the context or subtext — i.e., the commentariat — are people who can recognize flaws in structures that I viewed as ineluctable. The conversation helped me reorganize quite a few mental models. Thanks, commenters!

I did speak to the director, and while she was a good listener, she was not able to offer a) more money or b) more hours. I don’t blame her, per se, but I did need to make a decision. So, I gave notice for the end of the semester. It feels amazing.

My takeaways: Advocating for oneself is very hard. I am super burned out in this field, and had only accepted the position because the pay was high enough to make it worthwhile. When it turned out that the pay wasn’t at all high, I knew it was time to leave. And yet, it was still a difficult decision, because I am so conditioned to ‘make it work’ and not let anyone down.

I am pivoting totally to an area that I genuinely love, which is arts and movement. It is bittersweet to recognize that I have wasted years trying to make this field (education) “work.” It never did, because I was so tired of teaching (even though I do love it and am skilled at it).

So if there’s any takeaway, it’s that if you keep running into brick walls in your job(s), maybe it’s because you are not a good match for that field, and need to do something else that you actually enjoy. Easier said than done, I know.

But speaking for myself, I am beyond thrilled to realize that I can leave teaching and find a job in the actual field I love. I look forward to enjoying my days, as opposed to counting down the minutes in a dead-end position. It’s possible! And I’ll update again, once I get that miracle job, LOL.

3. How to set expectations in an interview process where I can be very picky (#3 at the link)

The employer offered the job the same day, spent almost 2 hours interviewing me in person and at the end went on for several minutes about how much he appreciated the confidence and transparency because it makes his job so much easier.

Advice to readers, always ask for what you truly want. It’s not necessary to play mind games and it really doesn’t benefit either side in the end. Because I established good boundaries with them up front, they have been fantastic through my whole onboarding process and honoring the work culture they told me they had and haven’t pushed me to go above or beyond what we agreed to.

{ 51 comments… read them below }

  1. Antilles*

    #1: You should be thrilled their counter offer was subpar enough that you weren’t tempted to stay.
    Based on their reactions, Stacey and Kate would probably have treated you poorly if you’d taken the counter offer. So even if the money had been really good, I’m guessing you would have been looking elsewhere soon anyways.

    1. Beth*

      Lawks, yes. Even if the counter-offer had been good, the LW would have ended up paying for it massively over the long term.

    2. pancakes*

      Yes, good point. What a terrible counter offer, jeez! To the point that I think it’s fair to be insulted by it, and/or find it hilarious. Congrats on the new job, #1!

    3. CoveredinBees*

      Even in more functional workplaces, people who accept counteroffers of more money can end up paying for it elsewhere. Either they miss out on promotions they’d otherwise get or they have more work heaped on them to balance out the increased salary.

    4. op #1*

      I was originally going to start job hunting in July , since that was my 1 year anniversary. I was laid off in 2020 due to Covid and my “band-aid job” only lasted 11 months before I had to quit. I didn’t want to look like a job hopper.

      Turns out that doesnt matter. f

      1. Selina Luna*

        I don’t know that job-hopping doesn’t matter, but any boss who calls any kind of job movement in the past 2 years “job hopping” is fooling themselves.

        1. Candi*

          Thanks to mental health problems, my younger kid was having trouble with school even before covid. We were in the process of shifting them to a specific program more tailored to their needs when covid hit. (Delaying it by over six months.)

          In the end, the kid wound up graduating almost a year late. But all people do is look at the date and go “oh, yep” and move on.

          That’s the attitude that should be default with job history since March 2020. If the candidate pops off other warning signs, take them into account, but default should be “yep” and move on.

  2. Allornone*

    I’m really happy #3 was so successful. It highlights the biggest takeaway I’ve ever gained from this site- the idea that the job and the employee should be the right fit for each other (knowing this steered me away from one-sided interviews). You can advocate for your wants in a respectful, transparent manner, and the right company will respond accordingly. Granted, it’s often hard finding that right company, and many cannot afford to be choosy, but if you can hold out, do so. It’s the best for everyone.

  3. A Simple Narwhal*

    #1 I’m so happy you stuck to your original departure date, (rightfully) pointing out that they burned a week of your notice cobbling together their counteroffer.

    Congrats on your new job, I hope it continues to be awesome!

    1. Candi*

      In my opinion, that it took them a week says everything OP dislikes about the company and their immediate management in a nutshell. Many of the commentators on here who have mentioned getting counteroffers usually get them the next working day, or at most the day after that.

      OP’s co. taking a week and then offering a counter so insultingly low smacks of offering a counter because they felt they had to, massive disorganization on at least some levels, or having so little respect for OP that actually thought they’d accept the smack in the face, when they were already on their way out the door.

      I hope Josh also gets out. He sounds like a decent chap.

  4. Goldenrod*

    Congrats to all of you! What awesome outcomes and takeaways!

    I especially relate to this:
    “In today’s market the employees have the power so don’t feel like you have to tough out a bad work situation!”

    That was my experience too, OP #1. I found that things had vastly changed from the last time I’d looked.

    I know that is not everyone’s experience, but it is worth considering; if you had a rough time finding a job LAST go round, try again….it could be very different now! Don’t feel locked into something bad, because you may have more options than you realize.

  5. Dotty*

    #2 – I’m a little disappointed in this outcome. With adjunct instruction positions this is some schools’ modus operandi: mislead the instructors to reel them in, then listen to their complaints but do nothing – so that they feel “heard” until past the middle of the semester and then probably will stick with their classes til the end of the semester, even though the pay terms don’t change, and then start with a fresh crop of underpaid adjuncts in the next semester.
    I believe the only way this will ever change is if the misled instructors start quitting on the spot. I understand the feeling of obligation to the students, but the only way to cause meaningful financial consequences to the perpetrating schools is for the underpaid instructors to walk out mid-semester, leading to vocal opposition and direct financial consequences from students and their parents making the decision to choose schools who treat their faculty well enough to stay.

    1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Yeah, I agree. I work education-adjacent and while I have a lot of empathy for the students that may be affected, it is not okay to treat instructors this way. I do wonder if you held your ground and said, “I’m sorry to hear that you won’t be able to pay me for the hours that were specified in my contract. As such, I won’t be able to continue” if they would have back-pedaled and paid you instead of forcing your classes to be without an instructor.

      1. THikl*

        Reality your full time faculty would do double load , so the students aren’t without an instructor. We work hard to retain our good adjuncts where I work. They stay for years.

    2. LW2*

      LW2 here. I agree with you, Dotty. I was in a good mood when I wrote Alison with the update, since I had decided to leave education and so felt great in general. But specifically to your point, yes, it’s bollocks. I wish I had stood my ground and make a clean break. Counting down the days is an understatement.

  6. Casper Lives*

    I love all of these updates! They’re positive outcomes. Even if advocating / job-searching was stressful, the LWs got into better positions.

  7. TootsNYC*

    people who can recognize flaws in structures that I viewed as ineluctable.

    O frabjous day! What a wonderful word, and how lovely to see it in use.

      1. Very Social*

        And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
        Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
        O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
        He chortled in his joy.

    1. LW2*

      Never realized until now that the Venn diagram of those who love Jabberwocky and those who love the word ‘ineluctable’ is a perfect circle. :) Callooh! Callay!

  8. WellRed*

    I won’t take away from the updates here but I read an eye popping article today in the NYT I think about adjuncts etc and UCLA actually posting a job with high level requirements and admitted in the ad the salary was $0.

    1. Jam on Toast*

      Most everyone who isn’t in higher ed imagines academia is some gentle retreat…bucolic, leafy campuses, endless sabbaticals, plummy, well-paid jobs.
      It is, almost without exception, insular, financially parsimonious and soul destroying, with little job security and continual encroachment and personal sacrifices as the norm. As someone I know said when the UCLA no-pay adjunct scandal blew up a few weeks ago, “I’m glad they’re paying attention to this, but what about the $400 ‘honorarium’ courses or the $1200/per course payments that work out to less than minimum wage.” It’s apocalyptic in higher ed right now. Not a word of a lie.

      1. Clorinda*

        I have two kids in college and a spouse in higher ed. The students pay more and more; the faculty get less and less. It’s a mystery.

        1. Meep*

          It all goes to making the University President and his posse feel special over here. My college building that the University did not pay for in ANY compacity (re: paid for exclusively by donors) but brings in the most amount of research monetary wise (re: top college in the country for this niche but growing field) is located right next to the football stadium so Uni Prez decides to “pre-game” on the 8th floor whenever there is a football game. We have actually received emails about how we should avoid going to classes those days to lessen foot traffic for those baffoons. Gobsmacked is the best word I can think of when I read one for the first time.

  9. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    “I told her that she burned a week of my notice with that low counter offer”
    That wasn’t the only thing burned…

      1. calonkat*

        Nameless, my guess is that OP #1 actually said something like “I gave 2 weeks notice, one week of it is gone already” After all, if you give notice that you’re going to quit, the employer can’t “reset” the timeline just by coming up with a counteroffer :)

        1. Random Bystander*

          Exactly–otherwise they could string that out forever (figuratively) … “we need more time to draft the counter-offer” and then like the SpongeBob memes “10 months later”, still haven’t come up with something “but we’re working really hard on it”.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            My response to that is = “and you are full of s**t. You can fix this with a phone call.”

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Not in those exact words, but “well, we’ll do the best we can with the week we have left.”

  10. Where's Norma Rae when you need her?*

    LW1: I will never again advise a friend to look for another job or leave a toxic work environment. I can’t wait for the opportunity to encourage someone to seek an external promotion though! Thanks for that phrase. Reading this blog I see so many people struggle with “leaving, quitting, letting someone down”. Even looking for a new job can sound full of intimidating change. Moving toward an external promotion seems like such a healthier way to frame it, adding just enough professional detachment to avoid prioritizing a company’s needs over one’s own.

    1. op #1*

      You’re welcome! It is really a great phrase, especially if your new job pays more, offers more responsibility, and better benefits!

    1. Very Social*

      There’s an update in the comments to the original letter where the OP describes what happened when they did just that. (It sounded promising!)

    2. op #1*

      I did. On my last day we had a talk about the unprofessional way I was treated. I doubt it will change the culture, but he did apologize for the cold shoulder. The rest of the department was so happy for me.

  11. Chelsea*

    It’s totally appropriate to decline to entertain a counter offer. If you know you’re going to leave no matter what, you can absolutely say, “No, thank you,” and move on. This employer is a great example of why. If you’re only looking for a new job for more money, then fine, stick around. But if you had other issues, they will come back, no matter how much money they give you.

  12. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    LW#1 – they probably extended you a counter-offer that they knew you wouldn’t accept. This covers THEIR rear ends, especially in a situation where you might have been underpaid for some time.

    LW#2 = in my long career, I never would deal with a bait-and-switch. I would get up and say “thank you for your time, but this is all going in the wrong direction.” And terminate the interview process.

  13. Meow*

    I had a boss do something similar – he promised me a full time position and then hired someone else, and as consolation, got me a temp position on another team that paid peanuts. When I quit a few weeks later he just pretended I didn’t exist for two weeks. It was so strange, but it’s clearly an issue of people like that not knowing how to handle conflict, nothing personal on you.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I would guess that a majority of the time, people leave a situation owing to managers’ decisions that negatively impact them. Making promises and breaking them, and also playing “the passover shuffle” on someone who believes he/she should have gotten the promotion – causes people to re-evaluate their situation.

      Being passed over – there may be disagreements on management’s call – but it’s still a problematic situation for management to handle. And as they used to say on the Mickey Mouse Club on Wednesdays – it’s “Anything Can Happen Day”.

  14. Hazel*

    RE: #3 Advice to readers, always ask for what you truly want.

    This made me think about my initial salary negotiation for my current job. I asked for $6k more than they offered, and it took them several days to get back to me. I was in a panic that they were offended, but
    I now think that’s unlikely. They said they couldn’t increase the offer for a couple of reasons that made sense to me, and my impression was that they were probably trying to see if they could make it work. Anyway, I accepted the job at the original salary (which was already $4k more than my last job). Imagine my surprise this year when my raise was a little more than $6k! Yahoo!

  15. anonymous73*

    “So if there’s any takeaway, it’s that if you keep running into brick walls in your job(s), maybe it’s because you are not a good match for that field, and need to do something else that you actually enjoy.”

    I’m not sure this is an accurate takeaway. Running into brick walls doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not a good match for the field, especially right now in education. Outside of education, it could mean that the company doesn’t treat their employees fairly (or a myriad of other reasons the company sucks), not that you’re not cut out for the field.

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