it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I stayed at my first job at a small company for a year before learning that I was getting paid $15,000 less than the person who had my role before me, basically because the boss wanted to pay as little as possible. (I did try to negotiate for more during the hiring process, but was told it was a hard no and the number couldn’t budge at all.) As soon as I learned the truth, I started applying to other jobs — I don’t want to work for someone who is willing to treat their employees like that.

I moved to a medium-sized company in January 2020 with the same salary but a role more aligned with my interests, and I loved it there. As an essential service, I was able to keep working through Covid and the work was incredibly meaningful. I was also reading your website and book at that point, and learning a lot about how to set myself up for success. Happy to report that I thrived there, exceeded all of my benchmarks, and my boss constantly had positive feedback for my work — saying how lucky they were to have me, I was a key part of the organization, etc. When it came time for my yearly review, my grandboss reached out to me directly to tell me that while the organization was doing really well financially and I was a big part of that, money was still tight and I wouldn’t be eligible for a raise of any kind, not even COL. I brought up a raise with my manager anyway. Was told no. I knew I was getting underpaid from the start, and my spouse lost their job during Covid so I really needed to look for something that paid more.

Using your book and the information on your site about cover letters and interviews, I took my time and eventually got a job offer for the same role at a great organization that would come with a 44% salary increase! Obviously a huge help when my spouse was still out of work. When I told my company I was taking the job, grandboss called me in and said they’d match it. So obviously they had the money after all! Again, I didn’t want to work for someone who was willing to underpay their employees, especially when knowing that finances were so tight at home, so I took the new job and never looked back.

Great organization came with a great boss who trusted and advocated for the team, encouraged putting work away at the end of the day, and pushed for everyone to make use of professional development opportunities to get better at what we all do. It was wonderful, and then unfortunately it wasn’t: great boss had to permanently leave for health reasons, and new boss micromanaged, undermined, and made it clear that we were expected to work nights and weekends (even when unnecessary, to put in the face time and show commitment). It became really stressful for everyone, and turnover became a huge issue – no surprise there. When team members raised concerns with upper management, upper management doubled down on their commitment to this new boss.

Using your book and website for guidance again, I started applying for jobs just to see what else was available. I knew from reading other letters that it was a messed up, unhealthy dynamic and there were better workplaces out there! This January, I started working (same role) at a great, well-respected, nationally-known organization that also came with a 24% raise!

My spouse is still having issues finding full-time work, so the salary increases that I’ve been able to make over the past few years have been a godsend. I know money isn’t everything, but there were times when going to the grocery store, picking up medications, and paying rent — knowing I’d have to pay any amount at all, because my small salary had to pay for EVERYTHING — would make me feel sick and want to cry because I knew we just didn’t have enough. I’m so happy that I don’t feel that dread anymore, and I’m so happy that I didn’t settle for workplaces that clearly didn’t respect their employees, whether that was shown through compensation or everyday treatment and expectations.

After years of moving from job to job, I hope to stay at this one for a long time. Everyone is professional and kind, compensation is great, and I’m so grateful to be where I am. I hope everyone gets to feel this way at work. Thank you Alison and everyone who contributes via letters or comments to AAM — you helped me to see that I deserved better and showed me how to make it happen.”

2.  “I just got a job offer (in part thanks to your blog), and I have decided to turn it down. There were many red flags, the biggest of all being that I was told I could expect to hate my first year. Normally I would have leapt at the opportunity this provided but I decided to decline as I don’t wish for that level of drama in my life.

For me this is good news and I will keep looking. Many thanks!”

3.  “Three years ago, my wife and I moved cross-country for new jobs for both of us. I work in the nonprofit sector, and the hiring team that interviewed me seemed over the moon about me and my arrival. However, the rest of the organization wasn’t, and to make a long story short, I resigned after just 18 months when repeated bullying, harassment, and demeaning comments about my ethnicity resulted in me burning out spectacularly and suffering my first panic attack in many years.

Despite the ‘nobody wants to work’ mantra I kept hearing, my job search was unsuccessful, resulting in only a few interviews and no offers, and I took a retail position to pay the bills, regroup, and figure out what I was doing wrong. The store I worked at had an excellent reputation in the community, but the owner turned out to be a toxic personality who routinely yelled and cursed at us yet wanted us to show her unwavering loyalty and appreciation.

Things at the store came to a head after I had been there about six months and the owner eliminated some of our fringe benefits over WhatsApp rather than tell us to our faces at the all-hands staff meeting earlier that week. Later that month, the owner posted a six-minute voice recording in the WhatsApp thread trashing me to the entire staff, and for the second time in less than a year, I found myself giving notice without another job offer in hand.

But those several months gave me the time I needed to recalibrate my job search, and reading the tips on your website, I learned how I could much more effectively communicate the skills and experience I could offer to potential employers. The day after I gave notice at the store, I scored an initial interview with my now-current employer. I have been back in nonprofit work — albeit in a very different role and setting than before — for a few months now, and I feel like I am once again making a positive difference in people’s lives while earning a fair wage for my skills. My peers are extremely supportive of one another and our supervisor trusts us to do our jobs well. This has been such a positive change that I’ve had to mentally and emotionally adjust to being treated respectfully and decently after spending much of the past three years being yelled at and demeaned. I hope to be at this job for years to come, and I am very grateful for the ways in which you and your website have improved my job searching skills — the outcome has been literally life-changing for me.”

{ 38 comments… read them below }

    1. English Rose*

      I know. Being told you’ll hate the first year is… and interesting recruitment tactic!

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Right? How nice (and bananas) of them to tell you this before you started working there so you could nope out before making the mistake of accepting the job!

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I was thinking of the “surprise Pikachu face” of the hiring committee when OP turned them down.

          1. OP#2*

            @Tom that’s exactly how it went. They responded by saying that “I had seemed so excited” and “why could I not?” I’ve never run faster from an offer!

        2. Random Dice*

          I once had a consulting client who insisted on interviewing me before adding me to the contract, which was deeply unusual. (Not like it’s hard to get a contractor removed from a contract for any reason at all.)

          During that interview, the nightmare client proceeded to brag about his deeply terrible behavior toward my predecessor, including telling inappropriate and offensive jokes, and getting her fired for getting stuck on a bridge by an accident (despite the fact that she called him immediately, and hadn’t had a lateness problem before).

          Thanks for being so honest about being a nightmare, bad sir!

      2. OP#2*

        The best part is it was IN recruitment. She also used key phrases like “We’re a family here!” and offered me on the spot. I opted to take a lower-paying, less stressful job working four days a week remote to repair my resume, and have decided to transition into HR. :)

  1. Random Dice*

    #1 I’m so glad that you were able to transition out, get better pay, and feel more appreciated. That’s a wonderful thing to learn. Ask A Manager really makes a difference in our lives.

  2. SS*

    I love LW 1’s journey – just because something starts off positive, doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Don’t cling to the past, and unapologetically put yourself first (because your company sure won’t). Kudos!

    1. Artemesia*

      That whole saga speaks of courage and the willingness to do the hard thing and not accept being abused. We don’t always have that chance but it is heartening to see someone recognize they are being badly treated and do something about it. I have observed this pattern constantly over the years ‘Money is tight; no way we can do anything about a raise’ — then ‘oh you are leaving, we can match their offer.’ OR worse yet, they hire some new bright eyed guy right out of school for 30% more than the old hand (women) is making and whom they have no money to pay because ‘well that is what it took to get him.’ A great story. Kudos.

  3. CommanderBanana*

    Ahhh yes, the old “we don’t have money for raises oh wait you are leaving actually we do” maneuver. Tale as old as time.

    1. 2 Cents*

      One of my old workplaces did that to me. I’d been asking for a raise for 4 years (yes, I stayed too long, but it was during the 2008 recession), and when I finally got something new, boss said, “Is it just the money?” Well, no, but that’s a major reason! Ugh, the audacity.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        People who say “just” the money are walking red flags. Yes, I “just” need to buy food and pay bills, I’m so shallow.

  4. Falling Diphthong*

    … Kudos to the company in 2 for screening for those who love pathos and want a way to squeeze more of it into their lives?

    No, typing that I realize they’re trying to screen for try-hards, who hear that most people can’t hack this job and think “I’ll show them!” Rather than “Probably a good reason most people quit.”

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Oh yes, like people who find partners they want to save!
      the badboy/girl with a heart of gold that you just know you can save if you love hard enough.

  5. English Rose*

    Enjoyed these as always. Common ‘journey’ thread to #1 and #3, #2 avoiding a bad journey by the sound of it. Well done to all.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Another common thread: when I was a kid I could not imagine that adults behaved like children and bullies. My parents did not prepare me for this reality of adult life at all!

      Honestly, it was AAM commenters and Alison that prepared me (and I’m old!). My parents definitely made me think: 1. this stuff does not happen and 2. when it does, you can calmly explain things and everyone will go, “oh, I misunderstood, you do x and think you deserve a raise, why yes, you do!”

      1. Lurker*

        Oh my gosh, do I hear this. I was probably 35-40 years old before I accepted that many adults are unrelentingly childish. I spent so much time in my teens and early 20s looking forward to leaving bullies behind and living a grown-up life with other adults in an atmosphere of mutual respect and goodwill. It was a bitter disappointment when that didn’t happen.

      2. misspiggy*

        That’s so true. This site has a wealth of information on adult bullying and ways to handle it. The only comparable source I can think of is Captain Awkward, for non-work situations.

  6. Lisa*

    LW1, congrats on your career journey. It sounds like your spouse should start reading and applying AAM advice too.

  7. Kevin Sours*

    I’ve never really understood the “oh we’ll match your new salary”. No, my dude, I went out and put an offer on the table. Auctions do not work by matching the previous bid.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Yup. And they’ve already told you something about themselves by the action: they WON’T give you the money you are worth just because you are worth it. Only when they’re facing your imminent departure. That’s never a healthy environment, and while I know of no good way to screen for the next job being similar in that regard, at least you’re starting out there with more money AND without knowing for sure that they’ll pull that sort of garbage.

      1. Goldenrod*

        “And they’ve already told you something about themselves by the action: they WON’T give you the money you are worth just because you are worth it.”


        And once you’ve gone to all the trouble of getting an offer from a company that actually values you, why on earth would you want to stay with the dirtbags who refused to compensate you fairly, until you twisted their arm??

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Auctions do not work by matching the previous bid.
      “Oh you will work for $X?
      No, I will work for them. They happen to be paying me $X.
      “We can pay you $X.”
      Can you be them and not you?

  8. Bookworm*

    Thanks to all the LWs for sharing their good news!! It’s been another long and tough week so this was appreciated.

  9. Goldenrod*

    LW#1: “When I told my company I was taking the job, grandboss called me in and said they’d match it. So obviously they had the money after all!”

    Well, well, well, isn’t THAT interesting! Good for you for seeing right through that shiz. This is why Alison was sooooooooo right when she said that you should never work somewhere that requires for a counter offer before they will give you a raise. Because what kind of nonsense is that??

    And a BIG CONGRATS to all of you!! Well done!

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I love OP walking away the longer I think about it.
      “I am resigning effective two weeks from today.”
      “What are they paying you? We will match it.”
      Funny, when OP had a number, that was impossible. But now that there’s an offer, they aren’t concerned with details like numbers.

  10. Split Infinitive*

    #3 – Love your story about taking a “bridge” retail job and allowing yourself to pay bills, regroup and rethink. Sometimes, you need to do something different to gain perspective. Congrats on your new nonprofit job!

    1. LW #3*

      Thanks! It was a tough several months, but the retail job did exactly what I needed it to do–I went from getting interview requests only occasionally to getting multiple interview invites pretty much as soon as I resumed my job search. I learned that once I had found something to keep my finances afloat, it really was okay for me to take a break from the job search instead of just putting my head down and trying to suffer through the mounting rejections.

  11. ItsTheFinalCountdown*

    Woohoo #2!!! Good job asking the right questions to get that info! I also once received an offer where I was told by the hiring manager that they hadn’t had work/life balance in many months and I shouldn’t expect it either for the next 6 months or more. For awhile I felt guilty about turning it down but I’m glad I trusted my gut because their company has done several rounds of layoffs and surely I’d have been both burnt out and jobless in the end. Wishing you all the best on your next steps!

  12. DJ*

    Glad to see so many jobseeking for new work when treated badly by their current job. It’s unfortunately the only way some workplace learn – by high staff turnover

    1. Esprit de l'escalier*

      If only they _did_ learn from that, but apparently they often don’t. As reading AAM reminds us every day, some people are not rational actors, and if the top tier in the company are some people, they won’t grok “Oh, we’re doing it wrong!” from all the turnover. They’ll just blame their ungrateful employees.

      1. LW #3*

        The store I worked at has had 100% turnover in the past year, and the owner genuinely saw us as ungrateful for the opportunity to work for her for peanuts–a direct quote from her was, “It’s not selfish (of me) to expect appreciation and gratitude (from you).”

        What I shared in my letter was truly just the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

  13. TG*

    Thrilled for all LWs – LW #1 should have the spouse use this site because years without a job is strange to me.

  14. no name*

    Such great letters! Amazing outcomes for all.

    But, with letter #1, why oh why do employers always do this? “When team members raised concerns with upper management, upper management doubled down on their commitment to this new boss.”

    Seriously, WHY?! Why do employers keep supporting and protecting bad managers? This happened at my last job: the entire team of 22 people left less than 4 months after new upper management came in. Apparently, all 22 of us were wrong, despite being the actual specialists. A previous job saw 250% turnover in a 12-member team in less than 12 months. But, again, it apparently wasn’t the manager’s fault.

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