When being bold pays off

Is it really true that you make your own luck in this life?  Maybe.  I just landed a job by using some initiative and making a bold move.  I have a very niche set of skills and experience which is under-valued in my present workplace, so for some time I’ve not felt as fulfilled as I could be professionally.  I’ve also been coasting on the same income for years, feeling that I should be earning more.  Had I hit some kind of career ceiling?  Was I the victim of prejudice?  No, I don’t think so.  In any case, I don’t believe that claiming victimhood is a good way of explaining a problem or a lack of progress.

I’ve been following Jordan Peterson and we have a copy of his book, 12 Rules for Life.  One thing he said about gender equality really struck a chord with me. To paraphrase, he suggests that women may be less successful in the workplace, or may not advance as far as men professionally, not because of any inherent sexism, but because they are too nice, too accepting, too reluctant to make a fuss. Ladies, could it be that we are just not assertive enough when it counts?

I took this idea on board, parked it, and got on with things. Then an ex-colleague got in touch and we met up for a drink.  He works in the exact niche field that I had to leave last year because my employer was in financial difficulty.  He said they really needed someone with my specific skills to take over some of the management and unite disparate teams.  If I applied to the MD, he said, they would employ me in a flash.  Well, that was overstating the case, but it got me thinking.  The more I considered it, the more I realised he was right.  In fact, my experience is so relevant to the product and the people that no-one would fit the role as well as me.  Sounds arrogant?  Maybe, but this is all about being bold.

The other thing in my favour was that I had actually met the MD before, at a trade show, where he was so impressed with my presentation that he expanded his range into the market as a result.  I also knew that there was a culture clash going on between departments and they needed someone with the calmness and maturity to diffuse it.  So I added ‘peacemaker’ to my CV, wrote an amazing covering letter, and sent it off.  No job was being advertised.  Bold move #1.

Then followed a couple of phone calls and an interview in the pub after work.  Soon after that, the question finally arose, what are your salary expectations?  This was a key moment, my chance to elevate myself after 25 years of continuous full-time employment and a stainless record.  I considered the salary I could reasonably be expected to be on (but wasn’t), and the salary I wanted, without being crazily out of the ball park.  And I asked for the salary I wanted.  Which is a heck of a lot more than the salary I am on now.  It was time to be bold.  I knew they wouldn’t just agree to it, they would negotiate and I’d end up somewhere in between.  Which is exactly what happened.  But it’s still a big step up for me, enough to make a huge difference to our household. And I’m going back to a sector where I’ve spent most of my career, where I have some great connections.

I start in 3 weeks.  Jordan, thank you for the inspiration.


Justice – at last!

It’s been a horrendously stressful few months but at last it feels like I’m turning a corner.

It all started last July when I fainted, fell over and broke my ankle. Then on the day I returned to work with leg brace and crutches, my employer told me I had to accept a pay cut of nearly 50% or be dismissed.  It seemed like a redundancy to me but she was very unclear about it and managed the whole process very badly. I claimed and got my 3 months’ notice period.

In August an attempt was made to constructively dismiss me by accusing me of stealing bubble wrap from the warehouse. I easily disproved this by naming the date the bubble wrap was used up, the customer order it was used for, and two witnesses who saw me use it. However, the insult, shock and outrage that this caused cannot be overestimated and the perilous nature of my position was suddenly very clear. I had worked at this company for 16 years and had thought there was a high level of trust, respect and friendship between us. Sadly, it was wiped out in a single, devastating blow.

The rest of my notice period was extremely difficult for me but at least it was finally agreed that I was being made redundant. A redundancy calculation was made, but would only be paid to me in tiny instalments over a period of years. Astonishingly, I was told that if I wanted the lump sum I would have to sue her for it in a tribunal court, and if I chose to do this she wouldn’t ‘take it personally’.

The court date was 11th April and in the meantime there was masses of preparation to do. I had to respond to the other party’s submissions, which were a depressing catalogue of half-truths and evasions. Yesterday in court was the most stressful day of my life. But the judge found in my favour and I was awarded compensation for unfair dismissal. My case was untypical and the legal arguments, lesser known precedents and technicalities were fascinating. I was utterly relieved when it was all over. As soon as I got home I necked a bottle of champagne.

Whilst all this was rumbling on, I was looking for a job but could only get temporary office work. So I set up my own art publishing company. It’s very early days, but I’ve really enjoyed the learning process and as a small business it’s got a lot of potential.

Even better, last month I was headhunted by the MD of a local bag printing company who had my CV on file from a previous application. The job seems great and I really like the people. It is only a 30-minute walk away so I’ll be leaving the car at home and saving a fortune in petrol. I might even drop a dress size!

Here’s hoping that this year pans out a bit better than the last!

Till next time,

L x