Doing hard things, part 2: waiting

Last week I told you all how I’d asked for a raise and a title change for the first time ever in my life. And I also wrote about all the awful things my anxious brain has been thinking about in response. While this is still incredibly uncomfortable, I’m pleased to say that the title of that post is still accurate: nothing horrible has happened (yet)!

I was told it would be at least a week for the high-level conversations to happen, which would mean in theory they would happen by last Friday. I haven’t heard anything back yet about how that went. But I do have more to report.

That first post was about the first conversation I had with HR. The day I wrote it, I had a second conversation with HR.

The ask, round two

I’d been asked to do some higher-level work for someone and to have it to her by last Friday. As part of the conversations where my coworker told me to ask for a raise, she said I should send an email to the head of HR asking for advice about how to handle that work.

This was the kind of work I’ve done on many occasions in the past and hadn’t said anything about. Because yes, I’m a people-pleaser, and while my job (and therefore job description) doesn’t exist, why not do the work if someone asked me to do it? It’s not like I exactly have a leg to stand on with refusing to do assignments people ask me to complete for them; “no thanks, that sounds horrendously boring and tedious” isn’t really something you go around saying to people, at least if you want to keep your job.

But hey, while I’m doing this whole scary asking for a raise thing, I figured sending the email asking for advice couldn’t hurt. So I did exactly that, saying I was seeking advice because while I didn’t want to leave anyone in the lurch, I wanted to make sure I’d be compensated for that work since it was at a higher level than my position.

I didn’t hear anything in response until the end of the next day, when I spent the last half hour of the workday talking to HR (and I had no time to worry about how that was going to go because I got the email, which said “are you free now?”, and immediately went to go see them).

The meeting was a mixed bag.

“We’re sorry, there’s no room in the budget”

I got some bull about how I’m already being paid a bit higher than my job is rated for to cover the gap between the job description and some higher-level work that they figured I’d be doing. Don’t think I missed the opportunity to more or less point out that the higher-level work is literally not in my job description and I did not sign a contract saying “I acknowledge that I’m getting paid a bit more because that ‘other duties as assigned’ bit is definitely going to make an appearance often.”

You could maybe argue the work I was asked to do last week (and, for the record, did) is not actually out of scope because of that. But you most definitely cannot fit some of the other projects I’ve worked on and responsibilities I still have under “other duties as assigned” for an administrative assistant. I’m co-editor of our work blog, for one (and hey, for the most part I actually enjoy that responsibility!). That’s not an admin assistant’s job. So that part of the conversation isn’t over by any means.

And then came the part about salaries. And how we’re operating on a tight budget since we’re a non-profit that’s grown too quickly to keep up: we can afford to pay people instead of laying them off, but we can’t afford more than annual 2-3% raises right now.

(At least in my department’s case that’s a bit baffling since we’ve been so short-staffed for over a year: as people have left in many cases they haven’t been replaced. Because impending reorganization. But who am I to know the inner workings of the company’s budget? I’m just a lowly admin assistant 🤷‍♀️.)

So that’s disheartening. But I was also told by my coworker that when I asked for a raise the first answer would be no and to keep fighting. There are also other ways to get a raise that aren’t being paid more, specifically in the form of benefits. Am I going to ask for more vacation time if I’m told a raise isn’t possible? You bet I am.

Is there good news here?

Well, I know that the HR woman is in my corner and she wants to keep me here. She’s going to try to do everything she can to get me a raise, even though the odds aren’t great. She’s going to fight for a title change, even though the heads of the departments across the institution have to sign off on any title/rating/job description changes so it’s not really up to her.

I know for a fact the head of our company likes me and wants to keep me.

After having lunch with the coworker who’s leaving to discuss her job, I know I’d be first pick of any internal candidates to replace her.

If I do end up leaving, the HR woman said she’d help me find another position and to put her down as a reference. Obviously the coworker telling me to fight for a raise would be another reference.

I want to throw a tantrum at the thought of having to job search again, since it ranks very, very high on my list of things I cannot stand doing. I mean, I understand it’s not something anyone really likes to do. But two straight months of desperately applying to any and all jobs during my period of unemployment after college did absolutely nothing to make job searching palatable for me. But if that’s what I have to do, that’s what I’ll do.

Next steps

I’m at the fun part of this process where I just have to wait to hear how things went in those conversations I’m not privy to.

I hate just sitting and waiting. I have no control over this part and that makes me antsy. And gives my brain plenty of time for downward spirals of rumination, which is why I’ve still been studiously ignoring all of this.

I haven’t yet applied for the internal job because life has been crazy. But that’s on the very long list of things to do this week. It’s a good thing there’s a deadline attached to that because my life is going to continue to get even busier this week and it would be easy to push it aside otherwise, even though it’s one of the most important things happening this week. I will worry about whether I truly want that job or not after I apply for it.

And in the meantime, I wait.

12 Replies to “Doing hard things, part 2: waiting”

  1. Ugh… the waiting is the worst part… I would rather know one way or the other so that way I could fully commit to moving in one direction instead of the status being up in the air.

    Hang strong! Everything will work out the way it’s supposed to in the end 😄

    1. Yeah the indeterminate status of everything is killing me, even though my whole job has been of indeterminate status for an entire year already 🙃 Someone give me a yes or no so I can move on!

      Thanks, I suspect that’s right even if it’s hard to keep that in mind right now!

  2. Ugh, the classic “no budget” excuse. Your situation actually reminds me of my old coworker’s. She was also an “assistant” but was basically doing the same job as the rest of us who were two levels up. She was totally brilliant, and it was sad to see her skills go to waste. Anyway, she tried to get promoted and got denied. Someone from another department noticed her and told her to apply for a job in that department. So she did and got the offer. And yeah, she had to deal with political stuff like, letting HR know about the situation since it was two departments at the same company. Anyway, the original job all of a sudden had a budget increase and matched her new offer! But it was too late. They had a chance to promote her and give her a raise and failed, so she went with the new job. So the point is, nothing lights a fire under a company besides another job offer. I know it sounds heinous, because ewww, job hunting is the worst, but sometimes it’s the only way to get results!

    Apply to the other job ASAP. Sometimes the difference between getting a job or not is just pure timing.

    1. Ugh I know, I know. I need to start looking externally but I don’t wanna 😭

      Other job application is in, now I just have to do more waiting!

  3. Shoot – more vacation time is a totally fair trade instead of a raise if they can’t give it! At least in my opinion 😉 As you know, I’m solidly in the camp of make your current life as good as it can possibly get, while planning for the future. More time outside of work definitely falls into that category.

    1. ABSOLUTELY going to explore the more vacation time since I’ll be surprised if they give me any sort of raise at this point.

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