it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I manage a technical group within a large academic medical center. We’ve been trying to fill several positions for a while. As is the case in a lot of university/research/public settings, our salaries are low relative to the private sector and our HR seems to believe that our benefits and reputation (aka privilege of working for a Big Name University) make up for that. In the past that did go a long way towards attracting qualified people who wanted to contribute to our mission. But now, especially with remote jobs being so prevalent, it’s much harder.

Today I had an initial phone screening with an enthusiastic and qualified candidate. She and I clicked pretty quickly and her interest in our work was clear. However the level/salary for our job was at least $15k under the low end of her desired range. I could tell she felt awkward giving her range (which was very reasonable for her experience and this field). In the past I might have tried to spin things to hype our benefits or, worse, hold out hope of finagling a higher salary/title with HR (that never works here). Instead I was very open that there was a pretty big gap between what I thought HR would offer and what she wanted, but said I would certainly proceed with the process if she was still interested. I was clear that I did not want her to feel undervalued or move forward if she wasn’t comfortable. She almost apologized for currently having a higher salary than I could match. I assured her that was nothing to feel bad about! She also brought up needing to pay off loans and “money not being the main factor except for my debt” and I again assured her that it was fine if money were a factor, that’s why most people work!

She was clearly appreciative of the transparency and of me NOT trying to get her to compromise or shaming her for expecting fair pay. I should say the other piece of this is she is in consideration for a different position in our broader group that’s at a higher level and pay grade. I can now tell that hiring manager for that job that I’d recommend her and hopefully something will work out there.

Part of me hated passing on someone qualified (especially a woman in tech) but I felt good reinforcing the idea that being asked to be paid your fair market value is nothing to feel bad about. And, hopefully, we can still bring her into the organization in a different capacity. So thanks AAM for helping me see things a bit differently and for giving me the words to express that paradigm shift!”

2.  “Back in fall of 2019, my director was helping to develop a career path for me and it was going well. Then March 2020 happened. It was announced that our small department will be closing and then the pandemic happened. It was a scramble to move our team to WFH. I had a heads up that this may happen due to two other related areas were closed and seeing certain things in my department, but in a way I was in denial. I was given retention bonuses to stay which were very generous. By February 2022, I knew my time to be laid off was coming and I was given a 65-day notice at end of March. My department has always been dysfunctional with a lot of micromanaging but company overall is awesome with great pay, benefits and ability to be promoted. My plan had been to retire from this company. Once I was given my layoff notice, my old company kept me on payroll to find another job for 65 days, provided HR support and coaching, outside career coach, great severance and set my end date so that my medical insurance carried to end of month. But I couldn’t find another position that really grabbed my interest. I ended up withdrawing consideration from couple of positions and took the severance. I had been interviewing with external recruiters for positions I was interested in but they would have required me to move so I ended up turning them down for various reasons.

Then I was contacted by a local company and all fell into place! I accepted their offer and they offered me a salary at top end of my range!  I was able to enjoy a life of leisure for last 2 weeks of June and start fresh. After a month at new job, my manager felt I was ready to start hybrid schedule so all this week I’ve been WFH. Our hybrid schedule is we alternate weeks, a week in office, then a week at home. I love it in that management treats us as professionals, doesn’t micromanage, and doesn’t question basic things. I’ve been a long-time reader and during the last 2 1/2 years I’ve been looking forward to this day to share my new journey and to let you (and commenters) know this was possible due to your column and your advice on cover letters, resume, and interviewing. Thank you!”

3.  “I’m about 10 years into my career and, in every professional job I’ve ever had, I’ve been told at some point that communication is an issue. It makes sense now — I’m neurodivergent and have a poorly calibrated sense of social norms so I overshare massively when I do communicate and retreat in shame when things aren’t going well. I know that about myself and I tend to bring it up as my weakness/area of improvement in interviews. It generally comes back up in a PIP or some other type of disciplinary or unpleasant manner.

I’ve been in my current job for about 11 months now and my supervisor routinely drops by my office or brings up in our 1:1 meetings recent examples and helps me work through what has gone well and what could be improved moving forward. It’s always casual and never punitive and has been a MASSIVE help. She’s provided yardsticks by which to measure the need for communication, the urgency of various situations, and general categories of things that do/do not need to be communicated to her and are/are not appropriate to communicate to clients. She’s also helped me learn when to pass things along to others (turns out not everything is mine to fix). Anyway, I had no idea that this type of support and feedback existed and had simply resigned myself to being a bad communicator forever (I’ve always been told what I’ve done wrong, but never how to improve and, inevitably, a situation will come along that is just similar enough that I relate it to the thing I was reprimanded for and then find out that I handled the new situation incorrectly as well). So just a note to everyone that good supervisors are out there and it is possible to learn and grow.”

4.  “I’m a long-time reader who has been half-heartedly looking for a new position since late 2021. I recently ramped up my search after my job duties and stress expanded dramatically with zero increase in pay. That was the last straw.

I went to work on updating my resume and cover letter using all the tips I’ve absorbed from your column over the years and within a very short time, I had two competing offers. Using advice from your column and for the first time in my life, I negotiated hard, letting both companies know that I had another offer on the table and making it clear I was willing to walk away. The final result was improved offers from both companies with an increase of several thousand dollars in base pay plus a hefty signing bonus. I start my new job, with my initial preferred target company, at the end of this month and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Thank you! I couldn’t have done it without your advice.”

5.  “I never thought I’d be writing in with good news of my own. But fate is weird and on May 20th, it weirded in the right direction!

I posted in the May 20th open thread about trying to transition out of the nonprofit field, but not knowing the equivalent for what I do in the for-profit world. Several people posted advice on what to look for. Shout out to Freelancer, who suggested “proposal writer” — I just signed my official acceptance letter for a proposal coordinator position, increasing my salary 30%, working remotely, with a $500 WFH stipend, and stock options and bonuses, for a company that does work in a field I’m passionate about. Thank you!

To all the other people who gave me advice—I got several interviews for each of the other positions mentioned as well, and found books and materials to sharpen my skills based on the advice. Thank you!

And thank you, Alison, for all the interview prep questions. The people who I spoke with mentioned to the HR manager that they were very impressed with my interview and were excited to have me. When I asked them why they liked working at the company, their faces lit up and they answered in all the ways I hoped they would. I’m excited to start my new job!”

{ 23 comments… read them below }

  1. Certaintroublemaker*

    LW1, you are awesome! I hope your candidate gets the higher level position, and you are able to advocate for pay band increases.

    I’m also working in tech at a big university, and hiring is so hard right now. Luckily we have an org that recognizes we need to be meet the market and is using consultants to get pay bands raised to competitive. (Managers have been artificially raising the title of what they need in order to be able to offer a decent pay band. We should be able to stop that now.) Org has also been great since the start of the pandemic to be flexible about work unless the job absolutely requires being in person, and is now making that a permanent rather than temporary policy. I don’t know why there are workplaces out there that aren’t smart and sane, but grateful I’m not at one.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      My last job in academia I took a $15K pay cut because of the benefits, and they still laid me off because of Covid. The university is in a high COL area, but their raises suck and the promised “bonus” never materialized. They also were very much about being in the (open plan) office pre-pandemic, and even required anyone who lived within 150 miles to show up in the office at least 3 times a week (a 150 mile commute in my area is well over 3 hours each way.) If you moved farther away or out of state you could work 100% remote.

      I’m glad your institution is revising its pay bands. I wish more would do the same.

      1. Certaintroublemaker*

        Ugh, that’s horrible! High COL is not why I moved out of CA, but it’s one of the reasons I won’t be moving back. Adding in no flexibility about work modalities is ridiculous.

    2. Cary*

      faculty and staff wages in academia are a tricky thing partly because of the wide range of industries covered. For example, a $60 starting wage for a tenure track teaching position might be low for a tech PhD, but rocking for an English lit PhD.

  2. cardigarden*

    LW1: “Privilege of working for a Big Name University” being enough to make up for low pay? Do we work at the same place?? I heard that from the PTB here last week.

    1. Charlotte*

      Our university union has “We Can’t Eat Prestige” posters!

      (However, due to the union our pay is actually good for the field…)

      1. 2 Cents*

        That is fantastic. My DH is a teacher, absolutely loves his job, but finds it ironic people think he should want to do it out of the goodness of his heart instead of in exchange for wages that would provide food and shelter in the communities near where he teaches.

        1. Happy Little Cog*

          I would go the extra mile for a student out of the goodness of my heart, but teachers require thriving wages. The grocery store will not take warm fuzzies in exchange for milk.

    2. Sara without an H*

      I used to work for one of these. It was in a high COL area, but with terrific weather and beautiful scenery, neither of which is accepted by mortgage lenders.

  3. Curmudgeon in California*

    #3, I’ve ended up in that position all too often myself, until I actually a) got some good mentoring about how to communicate and b) read some books of the subject as well (to figure out what is expected by NT individuals in a workplace setting.)

    Congratulations on getting the advice and coaching that you need for your success. I know it is a lifesaver.

    1. subrosa*

      #3 gives me such hope! A partner of mine is ND and has had a LOT of workplace struggles, and has recently finally settled into a remote position where he’s appreciated, respected, and is 100% remote and free of interoffice personal drama.

      I’m just so thrilled that there are some supervisors out there who understand that ND people can *thrive* in a work environment, given the right support.

  4. Generic+Name*

    I am so heartened to hear #3’s story! My son is autistic and he certainly needs to be told things explicitly as they happen rather than general feedback months later. I’m happy that there are workplaces out there willing to give coaching and helpful feedback.

  5. Peppermint Moksha*

    While I love seeing new job Friday Good News (Massive congrats to LW5!!), It’s also really nice to hear the kind of good news in the middle of someone’s job tenure, like LW1 and LW3. Kudos to you both!

  6. Academic MD*

    To LW1:
    Many employees of academic medical centers are eligible for student loan debt forgiveness, so if the woman you interviewed has significant student loan debt, you may be able to make up some (or all) of the salary difference between your job and a job in the private sector

  7. Purple Penguin*

    LW#3, thanks for giving an example of what good management looks like from the receiving end! I’m not likely to be a manager but I’m a team lead in a tech field that has its share of neurodivergent coworkers, who I want to help… but and it’s always been hard for me to come up with things I could do (or could suggest to our shared managers) that would be helpful instead of just complainy. Your story helps me think about that.

  8. Don’t Throw Staplers*

    LW 5 can you post the link to your original post? I’m in the same boat and would love to read the comments.

  9. Sara without an H*

    All of these posts are examples of how things should work in healthy organizations. It’s nice to see some good examples!

  10. Bookworm*

    It’s been another LOOOOOONG week so I appreciate seeing all these letters!! Thanks as always to the LWs and Alison!

Comments are closed.