it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I’m a long-time reader of your site and wanted to thank you for your work. It has been a huge influence in my success as a manager.

I am a woman without a degree, working in a departmental leadership role in higher ed. My department has been good to me from the start. I was hired at a 40% pay bump from my previous role, and have received 10% annual pay increases in the last 2 years, on top of standard COL increases. I have always felt a bit of impostor syndrome, but nonetheless valued and well-compensated.

My institution recently went through a title and compensation review, retitling nearly every staff position to better align with market titles and basic job descriptions. The result of this exercise finally put a non-generic title to my role, and allowed everyone to see market-based salary data for our jobs. I recently had the time to examine my own salary in the published range, and discovered that I am paid 10-15% below my counterparts in the same title with similar experience. I took the data to my department head and shared my findings. He was shocked to learn that my salary was comparatively low, and immediately asked how to fix it. I connected him with HR and they are now working to finalize a 15% pay increase! I will be making more than I ever thought possible given my lack of degree.

I never would have had the courage to pursue such a massive increase without the guidance of your site. Thank you again for your efforts toward normalizing salary discussions and empowering workers to advocate for themselves!”

2.  “This time last year, I was the lowest I’d ever been. The organization I’d been working for shut down just pre the pandemic, and my planned 2 months off became, “I don’t know how I’m going to survive.” No one in my field was hiring, and as I had to shield, I was deeply limited in what I could do. I put together some freelancing and voluntary work to keep my CV from being bare, but it wasn’t a lot, and I was sinking into debt. After two years of this, my self confidence was shot — I couldn’t even read the good news posts! I was convinced that I wasn’t ever going find anything, and would have to take an entry level job.

When things started being advertised again, my brother was trying to convince me that I should be applying to head of IT jobs, which I thought was delusional, but he made a deal with me that if I applied for 4 and didn’t get interviews, he’d help me find something lower level. So I did some rereading of AAM, polished up my CV, wrote some good cover letters, and got interviews to all 4, and was in the final 2 for 2 of them, getting excellent feedback and losing out to far more senior internal candidates! All told, I ended up applying to 11 jobs, got interviews at all (in large part due to your advice) and was offered the two most senior roles.

I picked the one at an organization doing the type of work I’ve always wanted to support. I’ve been there 6 months and I’m doing great. My boss is incredibly supportive, trusts me to manage my teams, is super focused on me developing my career and getting exposure to the right people, told me I’m his best team member and I’ve had good feedback from everyone in the organisation, including the CEO and CFO. It’s not perfect — some of my team are awful at their jobs (I’m doing a lot performance management), I’ve been working way too many hours (not a culture thing, it turns out I have terrible work boundaries) and there’s been a serious lack of proper management in IT in the past, but it’s doing wonders for my career, reestablished me as a high flyer (I’m very young for my role, and a woman in a male-dominated industry), I’ve started the long process of crawling out of debt and I have self confidence again!

I could not have done it without you/this community. I poured over example interview questions, prepared answers, wrote down lists of questions to ask, and created a template for a follow up/thank you note, all from your advice.”

3.  “I’ve been at my current job for almost seven years. I started reading Ask A Manager just before finding this job and it has been vital to my learning more and more about how to navigate things at work. I’ve moved forward in the company even though I was originally told that there was no room for growth, I just kept finding places that I could grow into using your tips on communicating with management.

Something you’ve talked about a lot in your advice is on the value of having good capital at work, and that sometimes high-performing employees tend to be able to do things that someone newer to the role couldn’t. This has paid back now as I am currently pregnant and preparing for my maternity leave!

If I hadn’t been a high performer, my work might have just done the bare minimum to work with me on preparing for my leave and becoming a parent. I live 40 minutes away and briefly considered finding another job closer to home that would allow me to afford daycare. However, because I’m a high performer and have been at the company a long time, management is bending over backwards to keep me! I got an unsolicited raise, an immediate yes to using next year’s PTO for part of my leave pay, an insane amount of leeway on absences at work in the first trimester from being sick, a flexible schedule to help me get more sleep in the third trimester and they’re currently re-arranging my role so that it can be either hybrid or fully remote! They are doing this with enthusiasm and excitement, all while being so excited for my new baby boy coming into my life.

I don’t think I would have been able to be nearly as valuable to the company if it hadn’t been for all your advice over the years, and it’s paying off when I really need it. Thank you!”

4.  “Three years ago today, I was fired from my job in social services after fighting for and ultimately being denied disability accommodations. I was devastated, even more so because I found out the next day that our (mine and my spouse’s) health benefits ended the day of termination. I was scheduled for a surgery 2 weeks later that I had to cancel. Then the pandemic hit within a month and it got even harder to find a job and all the jobs I could get in my field in that region required in-person work, and they all had 60-90 day waiting periods for benefits when my spouse and I both had chronic conditions to manage.

I am happy to say that now, 3 years later, I am living across the country, working in a different branch of the social services field that is much lower stress for a significantly better company that is SO much better with DEI, cost of living increases, benefits, BONUSES even, etc. Even better: I’m about to get a promotion within my first 2 years of employment with them. I stressed for the first year over how to explain that termination during my job search and this company has never asked about it, for my original position or during the interview for the promotion. This company is also letting me branch out into doing some staff training, which is something I’ve been wanting to move into, and there is additional upward mobility available in the future.

My spouse got injured when we were without health insurance for most of that first year and ended up not being able to continue working in their trade field by the time we got to our new state, so they are now in college as a non-traditional student to get a degree in my field. We’re doing okay now as a single-income household, even in a HCOL area, because my spouse qualified for a great scholarship thanks to the state we moved to, and we qualified for decent affordable housing with a nonprofit agency on my original pay….which has since gone up while rent has not. So we’re overall in a much better place and heading for even better things!”

5.  “I’ve read your blog since I first started my career and was looking for resume help and I’ve used so many scripts you and your readers have provided over the years. I’ve negotiated raises and new titles (and sometimes teared up during these and used language from the blog to ask my managers to please disregard it). I’ve learned to ask for and give good feedback up and down the ladder. I’ve even started to sit on the other side of the interview table and have really appreciated your advice there.

Five years ago I entered the work world with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field and ZERO knowledge of workplace norms. In those five years, I went from making $24,000 a year in a role I didn’t like to making $118,000 a year plus some bonuses and company stock in a role I love. I’ve bought a house and I’m saving for retirement (options I didn’t think I would have!) Although I know privilege and luck have a role, there’s no way I would have gotten here without you and your readers. Thank you for giving me the tools to approach every work issue with confidence and nuance and for always encouraging your readers to research the market and negotiate anytime you can. My workplace doesn’t know this but you’ve improved the dynamic of every team I’ve been on by giving me the language to name and fix problems as they happen.”

{ 26 comments… read them below }

  1. Event coordinator?*

    I love that OP #1 is finally getting paid market rate but holy cow I could never imagine someone in a leadership role without at least a master’s degree at my institution. Some departments require master’s degrees for assistant directors – one rung up the ladder from an entry level position. Good on their HR department for being realistic!

    1. MCL*

      At my university (an R1) it would be possible, with someone’s experience and overall comportment coming into play, that they could be a leader on the admin end of a department (for example, managing all of the financial specialists/HR specialists, and other admin staff), or a manager/leader in campus service offices such as housing, food service, etc. But I also wonder if I work at the same place as OP1 – we recently concluded a years-long title and compensation survey that re-titled a lot of staff (me included). It definitely was helpful to look at what others in my role are making, and it leveraged me into a 15% raise. Transparency really helps! Congrats, OP1.

      1. OrigCassandra*

        Heh, I’m wondering the same thing for the same reason!

        The union where I am did yeoman’s work graphing up the data (we’re a public institution, so pay is public record), which I really appreciated. I discovered that I was a hair under the median for my title in my division… and I think my department discovered that too, because I got a big raise I didn’t have to ask for early this year.

        1. LegoGirl*

          And here I am, at an R1, with a masters degree in the second-lowest office support role that exists… great for LW but not representative of average education level for your university staff!

          1. MCL*

            Oh it’s not really a common thing! I’m just saying I could picture a scenario in which someone without a degree could still be in a leadership role. It’s definitely more common to have people with degrees (and sometimes multiple degrees) in staff positions, much less leadership ones.

        2. MCL*

          Yes, I definitely relied on the union’s giant spreadsheets to er, sift and winnow the data.

    2. Boof*

      I’m really glad to hear it – seems to me the degree is to help you do [the job] and if you are already doing [the job] well for years that says more about your ability to do [the job] than whether or not there’s a degree in the past.
      There are exceptions, certainly I’m in medicine and I think there’s an important broad base of knowledge you get in the degree training that is important for fundamental understanding / understanding exceptions and rare things and won’t necessarily get picked up on the job even if you learn the management of many things. So I don’t know the specific field and how important a masters is; my masters in biochemistry is nice in understanding research papers and the science behind the latest new advances, but I wouldn’t say it’s required to practice. The medical degree is pretty important though.
      Sorry, rambling about what I perceive as unnecessary degree creep in job fields – much congrats to LWs for their accomplishments and good news!

  2. Tinamedte*

    Love all of this! Thank you letter writers for sending me smiling into the weekend :-) Good job and best of luck to all of you going forward!

  3. Chilipepper Attitude*

    Amazing stories and such a testament to Alison, her advice, and the community she has built here!!

  4. basilplant*

    I am so happy for everyone here and yet find it dark that getting accommodated for a pregnancy can be contingent on high performance.

    1. Feminisnt*

      Yes to this! I’m obviously happy for LW3 but making a worker’s medical/life accommodation be conditional on work performance is some grim neoliberal/white feminism and hurts us all. I hope LW3 uses her capital at work to change that culture when/if she can.

    2. Rocky*

      Completely agree Basilplant. My very warm congratulations to LW3, I’m glad she’s getting what she needs. And yeah it’s also bittersweet that these accommodations aren’t standard.

  5. ItBetterNotBeACactus*

    Thank you to everyone sending in Good News Fridays! It’s helping me muster the energy to revamp my dismally out of date resume. I don’t know that I want a new job, but I know I’d feel better if I had my resume, job history, reference list, etc in good shape (they are essentially in no shape right now).

  6. Skippy*

    I loved reading LW#2’s good news. There are so many articles out there about how workers who are laid off or unemployed or have employment gaps are completely doomed, when the reality is that people with imperfect resumes get hired every single day. Yes, there are hiring managers who will hold an employment gap against you, but lots of other managers understand that the pandemic blew a hole in many people’s careers. Happy to hear you found a good match!

  7. Up and Away*

    These must be so rewarding for Alison to read…what a difference she’s made in so many peoples’ lives!

  8. MCMonkeyBean*

    OP2, your brother sounds like a good egg! That sounds like a really reasonable deal you guys made and it’s awesome to see it worked out so well for you!

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Yeah, we hear so much here about family members being overbearing and/or clueless — it’s really nice to hear about one who totally got it right and whose faith in the OP was vindicated.

    2. MEH Squared*

      I was thinking this as well. What a good brother he is, and I, too, am glad it spurred OP#2 to reach higher and succeed.

    3. LJ*

      Yeah! We joke and grumble about the old “gumption”, but I bet this is a situation where OP actually had (e.g.) a decade of management experience and just needed a bit of confidence boost.

  9. Oui oui all the way home*

    Congratulations to all!
    P.S. #4 it sounds like you moved to a blue state.

  10. State the State?*

    I am so curious what state LW4 lives in that has such great social safety net programs that actually seem to help people!

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