it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I was previously published in AAM Friday Good News with the news that I had gone from a really toxic job to essentially my dream job with a 35% pay increase. Since then I’ve continued to enjoy my job a ton, my boss is wonderful, my team is super supportive and it has been a really great fit for me and my family.

My job is a very niche but essential position for a small corporation, and I work alongside another person who has basically the same position as I do. We had different titles, we cover different departments and work for different bosses, but our duties are exactly the same. He started at the company three years before I did, and we have a good working relationship. In conversation with this coworker last year, we disclosed our salaries to each other and I learned he was being paid 20% more per year than I was, and was hired on at a significantly higher salary than I was. He is also a white male and I am a woman of color; I cannot prove this was a factor in our pay disparity but it feels relevant to mention.

I went into my one-year review knowing I was going to ask for a raise based on the knowledge from my coworker. My boss gave me a very strong review and before I could say anything she openly shared that she felt I was undercompensated for my role and responsibilities. I took that opportunity to tell her about our pay disparity, and used the AAM guide to asking for a raise wording almost verbatim. She was shocked at the difference in our wages and told me that while it might not be immediate, she would work on it and see what she could do. She does not have final say on compensation; that approval has to come from higher up.

Six months passed without an update, so I sat down with her again at the beginning of this year to ask if there was any movement. She told me that because it had been a tough couple quarters for the company, the timing had been tough to bring it up, but gratefully she went directly to HR after that second meeting. About a month later I sat down with two reps from HR, and they quickly realized my job responsibilities had essentially doubled from my original job description in the time I had been with the company and I clearly needed to be reclassified. I am proud of how well I advocated for myself during that meeting and how directly I spoke about my disappointment about our pay disparity; it felt so scary to name but I am glad I did it. They were really responsive and helpful during this entire process.

It took almost two months for the reclassification and approval process, but I finally learned last week that I have been given a 20% raise to full parity with my coworker! I also got a title bump. I’ve been getting lots of congratulations from my coworkers on my promotion but really my company has finally given me the compensation and title that I have been performing for the past two years. I’m bummed I had to fight for it but I am so, so glad I had supportive women in my company who had my back, and I am incredibly grateful to my coworker for sharing his salary with me. Thanks Alison and the AAM community for continuing to be a resource for pay parity in the corporate world! And if you care about pay parity, share your salaries with your coworkers, especially your non-white, non-male coworkers!”

2.  “I struggled in school, did well in classes but floundered in praxis, choosing prestigious establishments and ignoring red flags for me. Reading your advice reinforced that I needed to be very clear about what I was looking for in a job. I’m neurodivergent and didn’t realize what was going on until the tail end of school. When I screwed up it wasn’t coming from a bad place, the set up put me in sensory overload and it takes me a longer time to process. So if the setting was off I was going to fail. When looking for jobs after school, I was very cognizant of that. First I had one job, it didn’t have a ton of hours but gave me training wheels to develop skills, eventually I was let go when there wasn’t enough work. Then I found another job, part time, flexible, good for my specific sensory needs, understanding/attuned managers, lots of time to slowly develop and recuperate. Now it’s been a year at the end of this month. They reached out to increase hours (said no) and I have had a bunch of recruiters reach out to me. I still see a therapist to process and try to be careful about my capacity.

If you’re neurodivergent, get to know your needs and supports well. Diagnosis is a starting point. Oftentimes we’re trying to fit into the world in the way we ‘should’ fit instead of finding places that play to our strengths and align with our needs. We can help people, get paid (helps if it’s an in demand job) and not feel awful all the time.”

3.  “I waited to send this until the slow HR department at my school district finalized more of the paperwork, but I’m so happy to have been hired as a teacher next year! I wanted to write a good news update because I think my version of one of your recommended interview questions made a HUGE difference in the success of my interviews. I asked, “In your experience, what differentiates a great teacher from a good teacher?” and I could see a positive shift in my interviewers’ demeanor when I asked that question. I also really enjoyed the responses I received to this question — it felt like a moment of career development in an interview!

I think the position I’ve accept is a really good fit (designed for first year teachers), and I take it as a good sign that this was the only school that did a proper phone screening before my next round interview. I really appreciate your blog as a model of rationality as I transition from the boundary-stomping mire of academia to the career I’ve been working towards for years.”

{ 43 comments… read them below }

  1. Congrats #1*

    That first bit of good news couldn’t have come at a better time, I’ve been stewing about how to ask for a raise a while now. The link to advice about how to plan it is very much appreciated!

    1. Wintertime*

      It’s so difficult. I, too, have been stewing. During my performance review, my supervisor mentioned that they were in the process of getting me a title change but that there wasn’t any extra money. I informed her that three of the main writers I work with in another, but similar, department are all making $10,000+ than me. It seemed to spark something, but I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting this conversation in the near future. Good luck getting a raise!

  2. Goldenrod*

    These are all beautiful updates. LW#1 is SUCH a good reminder that it’s not enough to do good work, it’s not even enough to be appreciated for your good work…you really do have to advocate for yourself to make sure you are fairly compensated! Well done!!

    Congrats to all of you!!

    1. EtTuBananas*

      And a great reminder that advocating for yourself often requires persistence! As frustrating as that is, changing these systems usually requires a few go-rounds.

      1. LW #1*

        Thank you!! It is absolutely not in my nature to have to repeatedly stand up for myself and ask for more so this was definitely the most challenging part of the process. I’m glad I stuck it out in the end and the patience and persistence paid off.

  3. MassMatt*

    #1 congratulations on getting the raise and title bump, but ouch it was frustrating to read how you needed multiple meetings with your boss and HR to get what was just handed to your (white, guy) coworker from the get-go.

    1. LW #1*

      Thanks! It was super frustrating during the process and while trying to remain patient, and it did really begin to impact my mental health working there and knowing I was being paid so much less. I’m glad I stuck it out to the end but I definitely feel like I shouldn’t have had to fight so hard.

  4. Nonprofit survivor*

    Wasn’t “Boundary Stomping Mire of Academia” a minor D.C.-area punk band of the late ’90s?

    1. Goldenrod*


      I do have a quick question – what does “praxis” mean in this context? I’ve never heard it used before…

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        It’s an odd usage, but I think it means “practical” as in not theoretical which I took to mean either an actual job or some sort of intership/co-op job. Opposite of classroom theoretical work.

  5. TootsNYC*

    I asked, “In your experience, what differentiates a great teacher from a good teacher?” and I could see a positive shift in my interviewers’ demeanor when I asked that question. I also really enjoyed the responses I received to this question — it felt like a moment of career development in an interview!

    This is such a wise insight.
    In any interview, you might not get the job. But you can walk away with more information about your industry, and about your career.

    1. foosball champ*

      I ask this in every teaching interview I’ve gone to, which is now quite a few. So not only is it not working in terms of conveying my interest in attaining professional excellence, it garners a rather wide range of responses. Nobody really knows what an excellent teacher is or does. It is truly subjective. So many people seem to struggle with that question that I wonder if I should continue to ask it. Perhaps it is making people uncomfortable?

      1. London Lass*

        I used a version of the question in interviews last year, but re-worded it a bit. I landed on something like “Obviously I have read the job description, but what would you particularly like the person in this role to do, to make the most impact?”

        It was a bit of an awkward wording, but I think it got across that I wanted to go beyond what was on paper, and the responses helped me to understand what my interviewers’ priorities really were, as well as which parts of the very generic JD (common to several locations across the organisation) were most relevant for the specific location and team I was applying to .

        Maybe if you adjust your wording a bit, people might find it easier to answer.

  6. Really Trying but Don't Know How*

    I’m really interested in what skills #2 is referring to. I work with a neurodivergent adult who seems to need a lot of handholding. Tasks, regardless of simplicity or complexity, don’t get completed in a timely fashion without me constantly reminding them.
    They don’t seem to have any mechanisms to help work around things. Plus there is a large lack of communication on their part.
    We’ve had discussions about what they do outside of the workplace to help keep them on track, but the only thing they can think of is to set a calendar reminder. Still calendar reminders I’ve set for them for recurring tasks are ignored.
    I’ve long assumed what their diagnosis is, but the higher ups recently confirmed it and had me read up on it. Still it doesn’t give me any info on how to work with them.
    I get that this is frustrating for them and I’m trying to be compassionate. However, as my workload increases, it’s becoming tougher for me to have to keep working as a micromanager and still get my tasks done.

    1. ferrina*

      ND folks aren’t a monolith- we all have our own unique skill sets and weaknesses (same as neurotypical folks).

      For your person, do they have accommodations in place? If not, the diagnosis is not yours to solve. You are not a trained expert in it, and even if you are, this person is not your client.

      If it’s a job expectation that they work with minimal guidance, then that’s a job expectation. You handle it the same way you handle any job expectation, and you talk to HR about them not meeting the expectation. HR can begin the process of getting them ADA accommodations (that don’t place undue hardship on the business, including you), or you can begin the process of managing them out. It may be that their skills just aren’t a fit for this role, or it could be that they’ve been leaning on their diagnosis as an excuse (ND people can be lazy, too. Plenty of us aren’t and there’s a harmful stereotype that we all are lazy, so definitely don’t assume your ND colleagues are being lazy. But ND people are still people, and a certain subset of people are lazy. You just can’t tell from the outside who is/isn’t, so don’t make assumptions one way or another). Either way, if they can’t fulfill the requirements, this may not be the job for them.

      1. Really Trying but Don't Know How*

        Thanks. it’s what I thought, but needed someone else to say it. My manager says I need to set deadlines, but it seems silly to set a deadline for something that I’m assigning now that should take only 15 minutes. I stopped assigning long term tasks because they never get completed without my intervention.
        I’ve seen this person get lost so many times and just stare at a screen and not moving…just trying to do the best I can to handle the situation.

        1. ADHD adult*

          I don’t mind saying here that I’m recently diagnosed at age 42 with ADHD. the final straw that drove me to get a diagnosis was this kind of disconnect and miscommunication with my manager.

          as an example, I was assigned tasks that were important and even essential but boring and prone to human error. in the hope of streamlining those tasks, I actually created a basic database to improve the speed and accuracy of the task. this was deemed great by my manager- but he also needed all the work I hadn’t completed while I was making the database. d’oh. that required… a lot of catch up and increased time management skills and communication and getting through a strong sense of shame and embarrassment and of course by that time my PIP had expired and i was lt go.

          your employee may have different skills and interests and strengths than their current position calls for – if they can use them, that’d be a win-win but of course the job tasks also need to be completed to expected quality and timeliness.

          I think it would be helpful for both of you to state your expectations for how long a project should take and what you mean by terms like “high-level” or “detailed”.

          Recently a manager asked me to budget a project that would start August 1 and go for the next 6 months. Well, manager just wanted “high level” 26 weeks x 5 days/week x 8 hours/day at our rates. Whereas i went through the calendar and figured out that we get Indigenous People’s Day/Columbus Day off but not Veteran’s Day but 2 days for Thanksgiving so the end date will be exactly MM/DD/YY not just August 1 + 26 weeks. Apparently this took too much time and was too much detail, a good reminder to me, and also I ‘fessed up immediately and saw the issue, showing real self-awareness and maturity and professional appropriateness.

          thanks, doctors and meds and therapy and, and, and….

          obviously this is just my story and may not be relevant to you or your employee but thanks for letting me post

          1. Really Trying but Don't Know How*

            Employee is related to someone in upper management. That manager is the one who told me about the diagnosis.

            After reading all of your comments plus the article the manager directed me to, I have a feeling that either this family member doesn’t understand the extent of how this affects the employee or there are other factors I’m not aware of.

            For example, I understand that it can be really hard for them to refocus once distracted. However it was the manager’s idea to assign employee the task of answering phones for the department. The manager will lightly reprimand me if I start to answer an incoming outside call telling me to let employee answer it.

            I appreciate everyone’s input here. it expanded on what I had already learned. I realize that there’s not much I can do about this.

    2. Nina*

      Neurodivergent, as the name implies, covers a lot of ground. (rhetorical question, please do not answer it) Is your coworker autistic, do they have ADHD, OCD, PTSD, schizophrenia, bipolar, DID, something else, some combination of the above…? the LW wasn’t specific but their advice seemed like something that would be solid for any of those.

      It sounds like you’ve been put in a tough position and I sympathize, but as ferrina said, we’re not a monolith.

  7. ferrina*

    If you’re neurodivergent, get to know your needs and supports well. Diagnosis is a starting point. Oftentimes we’re trying to fit into the world in the way we ‘should’ fit instead of finding places that play to our strengths and align with our needs.

    YES!! to all this! This hits my soul!

    I’m ADHD. I have different needs and working styles. If I try to use the conventional (i.e., neurotypical) styles, I flounder and struggle. When I tailor strategies for my brain, I thrive. I go from being barely functional to having people ask how it is I stay so organized (which is hilarious for my ADHD-self to hear). I’m extremely good at problem solving and seeing unique and totally doable solutions, then enacting those solutions. Because I constantly see things from multiple lenses, I’m extremely good at troubleshooting. My ADHD enthusiasm for All Teh Things is contagious, so I’m often tapped to get buy-in from reluctant partners. I’ve had jobs custom created for me at multiple employers.

    I went from being a student who never fit in and always struggled, to being a well-respected professional who is great at what I do. I don’t fit where people expect, but I fit what their business needs.

    1. BubbleTea*

      I need significantly more flexibility than most employers are willing or able to allow. I did have a golden egg of a job but things shifted until I spent too much of my time in waiting mode with nothing to do (nature of the role, and I was no longer doing two other roles alongside) and I couldn’t remain engaged enough to work when the work came in.

      Fortunately after four years of finally being successful professionally, I had the confidence to strike out on my own, and it turns out that running a business is exactly the amount of chaos and constant shifting priorities to keep my brain on board, with enough flexibility to allow for my fluctuating capacity. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to being employed full time.

    2. Good News #2*

      Yay! So happy this resonated. I’m The second letter writer and it was so confusing growing up contrasting how horrible school felt (because being locked in a room with many people is my version of hell) vs the fact that I love to learn. It takes a lot of work to continue going against the flow because the flow will result in failure.

      1. Good News #2*

        I never feel comfortable saying I’m really good or extremely effective because so much of life when I was going to the beat of my own drum other people were getting very angry with me for doing something “wrong.”

        HOWEVER with a sense of my strengths and needs there are a lot of places where I am effective and people do appreciate my work.

        Sometimes the things people dislike the most about us are also our strengths. For example I’m extremely tenacious and I look for gaps and advocate to fix them in ways that dont always feel good to people in the moment (because I’m not softening my message or focusing on their words or relationship building or access for access sake) instead I focus on the current situation and actions that have been taken. If the actions support policy I care about I cheer for them, if it doesn’t I point it out very clearly. A family friend says I’m the sand that creates the pearl. Furthermore I can’t focus on traditionally building relationships/socializing because a. I dont enjoy it and b. the amount of energy spent attempting to convey my thoughts in a neurotypical manner would take up all of the energy for having thoughts.

        To accommodate myself at work: I work less hours than most, in multiple locations which allows me independence, one on one away from sensory overwhelm, with downtime alone factored in to manage sensory overwhelm. I’m still not normal and am still learning to do my job as well as I can but it’s the best I’ve been able to do in my adult life.

    3. Job curious*

      What sort of work do you do? My ADHD mind is struggling with what could be other options for me.

  8. dryakumo*

    I’m so happy for you, LW #2! I’m finally exploring my neurodivergence in therapy after many years ignoring it. It’s definitely a struggle some days and I hope that I can find myself an environment that works well for me. Your story gives me hope!

    1. Good News #2*

      Figuring out the details of myself: Sensory issues, knowing how much down time I needs helps a lot. It’s still a pain but all of this time spent agonizing and being confused often comes down to 5-10 simple guidelines that would’ve made my life so much easier earleir. Also therapy helps so much, I like internal family systems therapy, it’s helping me sort out what’s hardware (autism) vs software (trauma, life experiences, culture etc).

      1. Straight Laced Sue*

        Very interesting comment about Internal Family Systems. I’m doing that too, and my therapist has just started to ask if we can look at one of my ADHD-ish characteristics as a “part”, and I don’t know how I feel about that yet! (The characteristic is that of becoming hyper focused on one task and finding it very difficult to change track even when I really should change track. I do view it simply as chemical, so seeing it as a part brings me into new territory.)

        1. Good News #2*

          With something like hyperfocus…be careful going there if it makes you feel bad. Either it’s just how you’re wired or you aren’t comfortable enough to look at it that way is how I feel. Take your time and the path you need. I’m pretty vocal about when something doesn’t work for me and have been really careful about being active in therapy and not taking just any suggestion. For example a lot of feeling things in my body while staying still doesn’t feel good because so much of the time people were frustrated with me for not staying in one spot. There are so many techniques. Therapy shouldn’t feel bad or scary (even if those feelings come up, there should be an amount of safety to process and release feeling and knowledge that you’re allowed to back off when you need to or go a different way). Maybe there are other people that need more of a push but that doesnt work for me.

  9. Bananaphone*

    I’m curious what the turnaround on good news email posts are. I sent one in a week or 2 ago.

    1. Y'all come back now, ya hear?*

      I sent one in mid June and Alison told me it will most likely run sometime in August

  10. Invisible fish*

    MODEL OF RATIONALITY!!! Band name! Called it!! (But I’m going to add it into my lexicon of work phrases, too …)

  11. Wombats and Tequila*

    #1 strikes me as mediocre news more than good news. While of course I congratulate OP on all the hard word and persistence they exerted in finally getting what they deserve, it makes me angry at how long they dragged their feet. it was especially insulting that their excuse for doing nothing for 6 months was because the company wasn’t doing that great, which I suppose was OP’s burden to take on, as opposed to the white coworker who was getting paid more all that time. If you multiply that 20% raise across all the time they should have been paid equally to the coworker, that’s quite a bit of lost income.

    1. LW #1*

      I totally hear you—most of my friends feel the same, they are glad I got the raise but angry on my behalf and feel I should be owed back pay. I don’t necessarily disagree but I knew it was unrealistic to expect that in addition to the raise so I have to let it go for my mental health. There are a lot of other factors at play—mostly that this job is not one that exists anywhere else in my city (I am very lucky it exists at all because my position is so niche) and we are not in a position to relocate so I am choosing to let go of any resentment I might feel about the situation. I appreciate the support nonetheless!

  12. Ticotac*

    I’m really glad LW#1 got the raise they were owed! However I am slightly confused- if they had doubled her job responsibilities to the point that they had to change her job titles, doesn’t that mean that she is doing MORE work than her coworker? If that’s so, shouldn’t they pay her MORE than her coworker, rather than match his pay? Like, isn’t she still being paid less than her role demands?

    1. Micah*

      That’s what I thought, too!
      “We had different titles, we cover different departments and work for different bosses, but our duties are exactly the same.”
      Does that mean that now they have the same titles and the same pay? Or does she have another different title? I suspect the different title thing also played a (minor) role in the mismatched pay.

      1. Micah*

        Also: yay you get a promotion and pay bump to match your colleage’s pay! You know the one who was doing the exact same job as you. “Was” being the key work here..

          1. LW #1*

            Sorry I wasn’t clear about this—when I was hired on, my job description was written a certain way to be much less responsibility than I currently have but within a matter of months I picked up a multitude of tasks out of necessity to the point where my tasks and my coworker’s tasks were the same. I think when they first hired for my position they envisioned me being a “Junior” version of my coworker but it wasn’t realistic because there was so much work that needed to be covered. My boss has also been great about allowing me full leeway to dictate my own responsibilities and to pick up any new projects I’d like to take on, but the flip side of that was that she didn’t fully understand how much more I was doing than originally expected until we sat down to talk about it at my one year review.

            1. Micah*

              Ah, that makes so much more sense! Sorry, I was snippy and confused. Congrats on what you did!

  13. Teach*

    Oooooof I have some bad news for that last LW who thinks they’re “transitioning from the boundary-stomping mire of academia” into teaching……..

  14. Carol*

    With regard to the first letter writer, I’m shocked that her boss didn’t know about the pay disparity between her position and her co-worker’s position. Isn’t pay, pay adjustments history, and bonus pay info commonly available to managers for each of their direct reports?

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