it’s your Friday good news — Ask a Manager


It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “Your blog has truly been invaluable in shaping how I approached my recent job search as a recent college grad and leaving Old Job, which was toxic, even though I felt passionately about the mission.

There were a number of reasons to leave Old Job, but this one epitomizes it– they weren’t making my retirement contributions on time. In other words, retirement money was being taken out of my paycheck…and just sitting in Old Job’s coffers for MONTHS until I happened to one day check my retirement account and realize there was WAY less in there than there should have been.

When I initially raised this, my manager made a joke (“who knows where you’ll be in 40 years??”) and HR made an excuse (“it’s been a busy year.”) After I raised it again, they backfilled the contributions, but then forgot to deposit again the next month. Even after I escalated, letting them know that IRS guidelines mandate timely deposits, my manager eventually said to me that I wouldn’t be able to expect timely deposits. At some point, he even asked me not to follow up with HR until after a deadline they had together.

When I gave notice, Old Job offered to let me switch to a Dream Role in a different department. It was hard, but I still said no and accepted New Job. Nevertheless, the time before starting New Job was filled with regret. I loved Old Job’s mission and was kicking myself for not accepting Dream Role. I was starting to wonder if I should have just resigned myself to sending monthly reminders for HR to deposit my retirement contributions. Couldn’t I just do what other employees did, which was simply not use our retirement benefit because they didn’t trust HR?

When I left, HR gave me a $350 going-away present. My manager suspected it was out of guilt from not being able to make retirement deposits on time. Funny what an underresourced nonprofit can and can’t afford to do.

But now I’ve started New Job and I can’t believe how much I was starting to accept the unacceptable. There’s no way I should have been okay with irregular retirement deposits. And last week, I found out that Dream Role wouldn’t have been so Dreamy, because my would-be manager was fired after just a few months on the job. No regrets at all!

For any of you out there in a toxic workplace, leave before it starts to infect your soul. And definitely soak up all of Alison’s great advice on this site– I wouldn’t have been able to get out so quickly if not for her job search advice.

2.  “I work a series of jobs based on contracts that last anywhere from 1-5 years. Often while the job location will remain the same, the employer will change with each new contract. Last year, part way through one contract, I realized I was being significantly underpaid (both for my field and in comparison to my coworkers). That contract ended, however, while I was in the middle of discussing this with my then supervisor. By the time the new contract started and the new employer reached out, I had done my research and knew what salary range I was looking for. Initial conversations with the new employer were promising. When we discussed salary expectations, I followed Alison’s advice and talked about the salary range I was expecting instead of my previous salary. It sounded like we were on the same page but when the initial offer came through, though it was higher than my previous salary, it was still lower than what I was looking for. I wrote back explaining that, based on our previous conversations I was expecting an offer closer to $$ and asked if we could schedule a phone call to discuss. Not only did they respond right away, but they came back with an offer that was a little higher than what I was asking for! I’m now making 25% more than I did last year and finally feel like my salary adequately reflects my market value. I’d never tried to negotiate my salary before and I doubt I would have tried this time either if it wasn’t for this blog. Thank you!”

3.  “My government agency started promising me a promotion as a part of a reorganization in Summer 2019. Being the government, the plans moved slowly and then died a sudden death in early 2020 with the onset of the pandemic. We worked extremely hard throughout early covid as a healthcare related agency, being short staffed going in and a hiring freeze preventing us staffing up for over a year. I worked WAY TOO MUCH, but also had great opportunities to do really impactful work and got stellar feedback and was consistently being promised that the next available promotion was mine by multiple levels of leadership. When we started hiring again in Summer 2021, I was passed over for a promotion for an external candidate who was underqualified for the role (I’m biased in that assessment, obviously, but they also left in less than six months for a demotion, so…). My morale was already getting pretty low, but that was just rock bottom.

Now the good news! A role in the Secretary’s Office opened up (like cabinet secretary, not clerical staff), which was kind of my wildest dream next step. It’s a politically appointed position, so you can’t really apply, the best you can do is try to make sure the hiring manager knows you are interested. Well, I happen to know this hiring manager from some prior work we did together. I was so worried she would feel like I was taking advantage of that relationship, but scraped together all my courage and shot her a message saying as casually as possible, “no pressure, but putting it on your radar that I would be interested if you’re hiring”. She called me back, got my resume, “interviewed me”, and offered me the job all in the hour following my message! She was absolutely thrilled that I reached out and thrilled to hire me, which was a total boost to my waning confidence. My current job tried to counter offer me a promotion to stay, the same position they passed me over for a few months ago. But I’m heading for the secretary’s office in a few weeks and I’m just over the moon excited about the opportunity.”



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