it’s your Friday good news

This post, it’s your Friday good news , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time.

1. I read your recent “you need to ask for a raise” post and decided that you were absolutely right. I’ve been in my current position for 10 years and I’ve never asked for a raise. I’m a government contractor, so I have gotten slightly larger than cost-of-living annual raises, but never a raise to reflect the fact that the job I have today is substantially different from the one I started in.

I put together an email listing some of the work I do, including a recent big delivery that went very smoothly, and asked for a substantial raise. Much to my surprise, I got everything I asked for, even though I purposefully picked a slightly larger number than I thought they’d go for so I’d have room to negotiate. Yay!

Thank you for nudging me to ask. I’ve felt underpaid for a while now, but now I’m in a good place. And thank you for writing such a useful and insightful column. I recommend you to everyone I know with work-related questions.

2. I was working in an admin job at a research lab in an organization that was toxic to a lot of people and poorly run but was fairly OK for me since I was technically employed by another department and co-located rather than directly employed. This insulated me from a lot of the most toxic behavior and gave me enough influence to try and help some of the other employees.

I was sortof casually looking to either move on or relocate to the “main office” since there was no chance for advancement in my physical location. I’d (quietly) let my network know I was open to other positions and the wife of someone in my network called me with one of those “We have an opening that you’d be perfect for; tell me when you apply and list me as a reference” opportunities. It was a golden opportunity.. except it was located in the nearest Major Metropolitan City, with its associated higher cost of living.

Alison, I did my research and I knew what I needed to make the move work. It was more than I thought this organization usually paid but wasn’t out of line with industry standards. I had an interview which went great (Thank You!) and was invited over for a post-interview drink with the woman who’d suggested I apply. We rehashed the interview and I told her my concerns about the pay range, she wouldn’t tell me what they planned to pay but agreed that my number was higher than theirs. I stood my ground, explained my reasoning, and then let silence speak for itself. I didn’t get anything more from her than “I’ll pass it along” but when they called later that week to offer me the job the title had miraculously been changed to one that comes with a higher salary band and exactly matched my salary request!

I took the job, started 2 weeks later, and have had a great experience over the past year-and-a-bit. I have a great, supportive team, we’ve successfully adapted to pandemic reality, adapted our work and are doing well! My previous employer has not done nearly as well (I get “updates” on the dysfunction from the people who are still there) and I am so glad I got out. Thank you for your advice; I don’t know if I could have done it without you!

3. I lost my job in September and started a new one in February. I’m in tech, and not much happened until the new year. A lot of companies panicked, cut their budgets (hence my layoff) and they only started cautiously hiring again in January.

I kept a spreadsheet while job hunting: Applied to 250+ jobs, got a positive response from about 10%, and went through full rounds of interviews for about 5. I was close to two offers in early Feb, chose the one that came first (they tailored the job description to my skills after my first interview, so I think I impressed them), and I’m still getting rejection emails from jobs I applied to months ago.

My tips:
– Networking can be simple: connect with people you know on LinkedIn and Facebook, have a quick casual conversation and let them know what you are looking for. They may not be in a position to hire, but if they hear of somewhere else, you’ll be top of mind. Also a lot of people get referral bonuses if they recommend you and you get hired.
– Join Facebook and LinkedIn interest groups for your field or even general location. I joined Jobs for Queers in my city but really the positions are open to anyone who can do the job. I think FB may have replaced the old trope “80% of jobs are unlisted,” where 100% of jobs are posted (after going through budget and needs analysis) but may be promoted through different interest groups, networks and channels.
– Apply regularly, weekly usually. I found I got an immediate response when my resume caught the eye of a recruiter, and rejections came months later. I did not tailor my resume but I did focus it on my accomplishments and highlighted specific examples in my cover letter.

I found Ask a Manager gave sensible advice, and kept my spirits up and motivated, so thank you Alison and all regular commentators.

4. I found your blog years ago when I was a teacher looking to leave the classroom. In my following (spoiler: now-former!) role, I learned so much from your advice. I worked hard to build professional relationships and network in the ways you mentioned (largely, by keeping to my word, discussing issues openly when they arose, and delivering results reliably and consistently).

Since my husband and I met, I prosthelytized the word of the Alison to him and got him hooked on your site as well. During the pandemic, he was laid off. He spent a lot of time revamping his cover letter and resume, and was able to secure a new role within 10 weeks. The hiring manager and team all commented on how well-prepared and clear he was in his interviews.

On my end, I was fairly content in my role but knew there was no growth possible. My work was also going into a maintenance phase and I loved strategy and change management, so I knew my passion was waning. I talked to my professional contacts and found out about a role opening up at a company I had worked with professionally. I knew that I had a dynamite cover letter and resume due to constant revision from your blog, and with you interview tips was able to secure a fully-remote job with a 33% raise, share options, and much better benefits. And bonus – it is doing change management and strategy work!

I hope this news helps paint a picture for others that while the job market is different right now, there are still opportunities (particularly for teachers wanting to leave the classroom and go into digital Ed/EdTech!).

5. I first started reading Ask a Manager three years ago, when I had started a job that I quickly realized was a bad fit for me. I was really unhappy and actively job-hunting, and Ask a Manager was a great source of both entertainment and advice.

However, my good news doesn’t involve getting a new job. Instead, a number of things about my job have changed over time: I have gotten the chance to take on more substantive and interesting work; I’ve gotten large raises each year I’ve worked at my organization; and the head of my department, a big factor in how much I disliked my job, left, and was replaced with someone fantastic.

Throughout all these changes, your advice about not getting hung up on something being a “dream job” has been so helpful to me. The factors above obviously all helped me appreciate my job more, but I also had to change my perspective about what I valued at work. When I first started, a lot of my dissatisfaction with my job was that I didn’t feel connected to my organization’s mission. I’d previously worked at nonprofits that were “dream jobs” in terms of the content I worked on and how it aligned with my interests, but I was underpaid and undervalued. In contrast, my current job pays me fairly, gives me ongoing professional development opportunities, and allows me to have a great quality of life outside of work. I have deep respect for my manager, get along with my coworkers, and the organization has handled the pandemic in a very reasonable and responsible way.

I don’t identify with my job the way I used to when I worked at nonprofits, and that’s been an adjustment. I no longer spend much time talking about my job with friends. When they ask I say “Work’s good! No complaints.” Which is true. And while the place I work might not be a “dream job” that I’d have envisioned when I was in college, I’m really, really happy here.

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