it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I’ve been an AAM reader since at least 2009. In the intervening years, I was laid off in the Great Recession, floundered in Unemployment Land for almost two years, took a series of low-wage jobs, went back to school, finished my bachelor’s and got a master’s, and embarked on a new career.

Thanks to the advice I’ve read on AAM over the years, I have learned that not only should I negotiate, but that I was expected to negotiate salary and benefits. I also learned that it was okay to apply for stretch roles, because that’s what men have been doing all along. And I internalized the concept that interviews are a two-way street; like, for real, I need to make sure that I’m a good fit or both the company and I will be miserable and disappointed.

Since I’ve graduated, I accepted three jobs, each one better than the previous one. The highest-paying one was a house full of evil bees, though, so I again got to practice everything I’ve learned on the site during the offer stage of the next job I took. I was able to increase my salary by $10,000. And, the following year, when I figured out that “merit” increases at the new company were really just [sub-par] COLAs, I negotiated for an extra week of PTO, something the company normally only awards after half a decade of employment.

Recently, that second job’s new CEO forced everyone back into the office Mon-Thu, and took away all flexibility in WFH, even flexibility in things that existed pre-pandemic like letting parents leave early to pick up their kids and then logging in from home to wrap up the last couple of hours of work. All authority regarding work location and hours was stripped from management and handed to HR.

So I started job searching, knowing I was interviewing from a position of strength: I’m damned good at what I do and I could take my time finding the right role. I may not have liked the new policies, but I still had a decent paycheck with good benefits.

In the end, I had two companies — one fully remote, one a 3/2 hybrid — bidding against each other (though they didn’t know that). I just kept pushing back on each thing they both presented to me in the offer stage. (“I’ve been interviewing for 100% remote roles that pay the same as what you’ve offered; I can’t see myself driving into an office three days a week for the same pay as staying at home.” … “I understand that you’re at the top of the pay band I’d be in, but surely there’s some other piece of the offer that can be adjusted?” … “Your benefits are more expensive than what I currently have and what I’ve seen from the other companies I’m interviewing with. We’ll need to come up in salary to bridge that gap.”)

I ended up getting the fully-remote company to go even higher in salary than the 3/2 hybrid company, giving me a 35% increase over what I was making at the company with the backwards-thinking CEO.

I just did the numbers and figured out that I’ve increased my pay by 66% since that first job at House of Evil Bees back in May of 2019. If I’d stayed there and had only received the typical corporate annual increase of 4%, I’d be making $87,000 now. Instead, my annual salary will be $125,000 when I start my new job. I realize that’s small potatoes for a lot of people, but it’s “OMG” money for me.”

2.  “I’m a long-time reader, and have always been jealous to see other people posting about finding a way out of their Hellmouth jobs.

I left my Hellmouth in December of 2019 for what appeared to be a better opportunity. The new company was toxic, to say the least, and nepotism was rampant. We all know what happened three months later, and who was one of the first people they laid off? The person who spearheaded all the onsite pandemic safety measures, while the higher ups worked from home.

I landed back on my feet a couple months later by taking a chance on a contract position, which quickly became a full-time hire. My new boss was awesome; the president of the company, not so much. Co-opted onto the leadership team six months later (after they fired the President), it quickly became apparent the company was in dire financial straits. I made it through four rounds of layoffs before my position was eliminated.

After job hunting for a month, it quickly became clear there were limited decent-paying positions in my field in my area. I ended up boomeranging back to Hellmouth, only to find all the assurances of how things had changed were untrue — they just got better at hiding it. After a year, I couldn’t stand it anymore and started looking again.

I was scrolling through job postings, and one caught my eye that was an interesting conjunction between my career and one of my research passions. I took a chance and applied. Three months later, and I will be putting in my notice at Hellmouth! My offer almost doubled my current salary, and I get to live somewhere I have always wanted to see. I would have never taken a chance on this if it hadn’t been for reading Ask A Manager and learning how to advocate for myself. I never thought I would ever be able to share some Friday Good News, but please know, those of you who are reading this, Hellmouth is not forever!”

3.  “Your advice saved me a lot of stress/embarrassment recently, and I am so grateful for that. I have been slightly considering leaving my current role, so when a fantastic old manager reached out with a good opportunity, I jumped on it. The job description was basically written for me. I was so excited!

The interview process went smoothly and very quickly, and I was just waiting on the offer before telling my boss. I felt terrible about not telling her, but I kept thinking of your warnings not to, that it was just business to not give more than two weeks, and stayed quiet.

Well, it turned out that the job fell through because of a frustrating reason I won’t get into, but it just wasn’t possible. My old manager tried to get me approved anyway but it wasn’t happening.

While I am disappointed, I do still like my current job well enough, and I’m so glad I listened to your advice and didn’t jump the gun. A sure thing really isn’t a sure thing until you have a concrete offer. Lesson confirmed!”

{ 38 comments… read them below }

  1. HailRobonia*

    My good news: I was offered (and accepted) a new job today. It’s still in the same department I’ve been in and essentially a lateral move, but with way more autonomy and room for growth than my previous role.

    Even though I was an internal candidate and was more or less a shoo-in for this job (I have been doing it unofficially – in addition to my old job – for the past two months), I want to thank Alison for all the excellent advice I’ve gathered from this site – such as making sure that when applying for this new role I demonstrated that I wasn’t just interested in it because it was there but was truly interested in the job and that I had ideas on how to grow it.

    My new role official starts on Jan 2, a great way to start a new year!

  2. Orv*

    #3 brings up something I’m curious about — how do you hide that you’re interviewing for NewJob from your manager at OldJob when NewJob wants to talk to your references?

    1. Ellis Chumsfanleigh*

      You give references other than your current manager.

      If you’ve only ever worked for one manager in your entire career, then you give peers as references (peers that you trust).

      1. Momma Bear*

        And or manager-level people you have worked with who will be discreet. While I might not give my direct manager as a reference, I might tap in another Project Manager who knows my work from whatever teapot painting thing we did once.

        1. Kyrielle*

          At least in the US, not at all – it’s expected. Because people don’t want to tell their managers they’re leaving, before they have an offer, that’s risky.

          You can end up in a position where it’s a problem – for example, I worked at one place for over 15 years and when I moved on I absolutely needed some references from my time there – fortunately some of my previous managers had moved on and I could use them.

  3. Resentful Oreos*

    LW1- a net of 60k puts one in the 1% for the planet, you are now double that so it’s definitely OMG money! Congratulations!

    1. User name lost in the mists of time*

      Yes, it’s definitely OMG money for the vast majority! According my quick Wikipedia check over 100k puts you in the top 7% in the US (I’m not in the US but guessing that over 100k would put you in the top 10% (at least) even in most comparatively wealthy countries)

    1. And thanks for the coffee*

      I await a comment from the LW, I googled Helmouth (and then Hellmouth because of comment by Ellis C below. Helmouth is in some game and Hellmouth is a band. Helmouth is something awful as you might expect, though it probably means more to those who play/use the game. I learn so much from AAM, not all of it as not useful to me as this. Reading the one about Helmouth, I thought-I wonder if there is a place called Helmouth.

      1. YNWA*

        It’s in reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and was the name of a prolific poster who chronicled their time at a Hellmouth job, hence becoming AAM lore.

  4. Momma Bear*

    Sorry to hear about the offer that fell through, OP3, but glad you’re still employed.

    OP1 and 2, congrats! And thank you for specific examples of what to say when you push back.

  5. Artemesia*

    Such a pleasure to read this — Congrats all

    I know several people who took wonderful new positions, moved and THEN within a few weeks had the new position eliminated. It was not a matter of them not cutting it — there were big re-orgs and whole departments got let go. My own husband who followed me to my first post PhD job was unemployed for most of that first year — he finally got two offers and took one with the AG rather than a corporate position even though it paid a big more. The person who got the corporate position was let go in a month when they moved their legal function to another city and eliminated the office in our city.

    1. Thinking*

      This is such a common and scary event nowadays. I think any employer who pulls this stunt should face consequences, but easier said than done.

  6. KatL*

    OP#1 $125k is not small potatoes. I make $50k a year and that’s actually decent considering I am single with no kids. $125k is higher than what most low/middle class families get in a year in a 2 income household. Don’t humble yourself that way: it’s disrespectful to yourself and to other people who make far less.

  7. Cute As Cymraeg*

    For WHOMST exactly is $125k ‘small potatoes’???

    I currently make about a third of that, and that is more money than anyone in my family has EVER earned…

    1. 2 Cents*

      Depends where in the US you are — VHCOL areas are no joke — and I’m not talking about a fancy lifestyle. A large pizza, a couple of garlic knots and slice of Sicilian pizza costs $40+ these days. My partner makes nearly $125k and with our small 3bd, 1ba house we bought 8 years ago before prices and interest rates skyrocketed, we can’t live on one salary.

      1. OP1*

        My father lives in the 2nd-highest COL area in the U.S. and when he told his friends about my new job, they all sympathized and said they hoped my career would take off soon. It was wild.

        I live in an area that is maybe the 3rd or 4th highest COL area. The people I work with and the new folks moving into my neighborhood (into homes that have been gutted and fully renovated) make 2-4 times what I make. So those are my comparisons.

        And, yeah, I was craving pizza yesterday and, even with doing carryout at my local Pizza Hut (no delivery fee, no tip), cheesy garlic bread and two medium pizzas would have been $50. I made spaghetti instead.

        1. 2 Cents*

          I hear you. If we made our salaries in another part of the U.S., we’d be way more comfortable. We’re here bc of job security (tenure), family, and other factors.

        2. SansSerif*

          I get it, living in an expensive area can totally change what you view as a good salary. I live in the Philly area – not the most expensive metro area but still more expensive than average. And I’m close to retirement and just broke $100,000 two years ago. I used to think omg if I ever made six figures … but now it just feels like a solid but not spectacular amount of money.

        3. Drunk Singers Woke Me Up*

          It feels impossible to try and compare these things, from country to country. But if I convert my current income to.dollars, it looks like I make 17,000 USD a year (I am part time, by necessity because of caring responsibilities). And I’ve just checked our pizza hut prices here, and the same order would also cost a lot – the equivalent of 40 USD – so I’m thinking that by that measure I’m living in a high cost of living situation. Not as high as 50 USD, but high.

          I’m aware I’m on a low income, but I don’t think I can accurately assess what life would be like for someone on 17,000 USD in various parts of the states. But I do want to post this here as a representative of someone on a much lower income than what’s being discussed. And even though my finances feel decidedly pinched, I am hugely privileged compared to many, in that I am confident I have enough for rent, food and heating, and dip into a very small savings pot for healthcare and clothes.

          Not to be snarky (I do understand that every community has its own levels of pay and COL, and life is hard no matter where you are on these scales, and different countries have different systemic equalities, and maybe what I earn would feel like almost nothing in a different country, and you just can’t compare – comparing doesn’t really work). But I’m posting this to represent a different financial situation that is very common.

  8. Thinking*

    What I really appreciate about LW#2 is that they left Hellmouth on good enough terms to boomerang back, when that was needed for financial reasons. A very good lesson in why you should do your best to avoid burning bridges, if at all possible.

  9. 2 Cents*

    OP #1, I’m saving your scripts for my own negotiations, as I’m interviewing (thanks, layoffs 2023!). I was wondering if you’d mind sharing how the 3/2 hybrid place reacted to your negotiating when you said totally remote places were offering the same salary? Was there balking? Did they counter with anything? Some places I’ve run into seem to think you should be grateful there is a job, even though there is some choice for certain skill sets (and certainly remote options for those same skill sets).

    1. OP1*

      They didn’t balk. They went back and figured out what else they could change. Since the pay band was non-negotiable, they bumped the annual bonus from the 3-5% range that staff usually get to the 10-13% range that is normally reserved for management.

      I also got them to agree to me taking long lunches, without making up the time, on the 3 days I would be in the office so I could come home and take care of my pet who has chronic illnesses and needs midday medication. Oh, and an extra week of PTO.

      I’m pretty sure they were willing to go to those lengths because I would have been a perfect fit. I meshed with the team really well and I was currently using (and had mastered) all of the software systems they were using (finance, ERP, procurement, etc.). I would have been literally a plug-n-play new hire with a really tiny learning curve.

      I honestly wished I could clone myself and take both jobs. Not for the two salaries, but because they both were awesome and I want to work at both places.

      1. 2 Cents*

        What a great situation to be in! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer. Those are things I wouldn’t have thought of—I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a bonus aside from COL increase. Now I know what to play hardball with LOL. Enjoy your new job!

  10. Bee*

    My good news: the company I’ve been working as a temp for just offered to bring me on as a permanent employee! This is a job I found almost a year ago after a rather miserable year of post-grad unemployment. The idea that I will have a stronger sense of job security is so exciting!
    Happy holidays, y’all :)

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