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.

 

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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

Where have I been?

Oh dear. This has been the longest time between blog posts since I started this blog. I just got so damn busy recently. My temp job got extended for another month but won’t last much longer so I’ve been really pushing myself to apply for other jobs. I must say, the temp job is great but the uncertainty about what’s next is quite a worry.

The other day on the way back from work I stopped in Tesco’s car park and observed this glorious rainbow.

IMG_3022

It lit up a most humdrum scene of cars and shoppers. The photo hardly does it justice: it was a complete rainbow with both sides clear as anything, and it cheered my heart.

The weather has been very wet but mild and we still haven’t had any snow this winter. Now the crocuses are out and even my camellia is showing a bit of flower, so it looks like Spring could be here.  I remember the weeks of snow and ice last year – even on Mother’s day it was a whiteout with a good 10 inches of snow and I was relying on my snow grippers to get me out and about for weeks. How ironic that I didn’t fall over once in all that snow and ice, but instead I managed to fall over in July and break my ankle!  You just never know what’s coming.

All for now,
Til next time,
L x

A Basket for Lightning

This week I received an order for a medium cat basket via the January sale in Not On The High Street.

Larry gets comfortable

Larry is my model

The lucky recipient’s name was Lightning! What a wonderful cat name.  I can only imagine him (or her) whizzing around the house before flopping into the giant wool basket (hopefully) for a nap.

I had great fun printing the label.

Basket Label Lightning

 

If only I could actually knit the basket like lightning….

I had some good news this week. The people at my temporary workplace asked me to stay another month. They think I’m doing a good job for them. I enjoy being there. Thing is, I’m on a pretty lousy hourly rate via an agency. And the agency has messed up just about every aspect of the payments, timesheet, and client care. So I said I would like to stay, but only if I could make a direct arrangement with the company. That way I would be paid more, and the agency would be paid less. The company agreed. They were more than happy to dispense with the agency, having had such bad service from them.

However, it turns out that the company’s internal bureaucracy made it impossible for them to contract directly with me for only one month. The procedures were just too long-winded and complicated. This was very interesting to me. I have never worked in a big organisation before so have never come up against this sort of issue. But the nice people at the company came up with a compromise – to continue via the agency, but to up my hourly rate by quite a lot. Yay for me! Unfortunately it also means that the agency gets more money, not less. But there’s no way around that for the time being.

We went out to dinner to celebrate. There is a super new Sri Lankan restaurant up the road. They do cocktails! I ordered a Queen on the Bridge, which is Bombay Sapphire gin and champagne, with lime juice and fresh mint. Then a fab bottle of rioja. I got a little bit drunk. It was good!

Till next time,

L x

Office Politics

I am enjoying my temporary job at a large office complex in Chesterfield. I have never worked amongst so many people before. The place is a labyrinth. There is a beverage kitchen where, instead of a kettle, they have a hot water geyser – boiling water on tap – so you don’t have to wait around for a kettle. How modern!

Also in the kitchen is a fridge where the 20 or so workers in this corner of the rabbit warren keep their lunches, and milk for tea and coffee. Now, I drink black tea and cuppa soup, so I don’t need a milk supply. But sometimes in the mornings, if I’ve arrived especially early, I need the sort of caffeine shot you only get from a nice cup of milky coffee. There is an abandoned jar of powdered coffee creamer which I am welcome to use. But it’s not the same as proper milk, as we all know.

So I have become furtive. The fridge door is stuffed full of all kinds of milk, one pint, two pints, semi-skimmed, red top, blue top. All carefully marked with initials. I have no idea what the initials mean: a person? a department? But I nip into the kitchen when the coast is clear, open the fridge, scan the milk cartons, grab one that’s fairly full, and pour a drop into my cup.

That’s better!

Fingers crossed I don’t get caught in the act. The embarrassment would be huge.

Till next time,

L x

2013 in review

I just received my blog’s annual report and stats. It was fascinating reading!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

My no 1 commenter is the lovely Jengolightly, who I would like to thank very much! Hugs to you for your support!

Life changed a lot for me in 2013. I broke my ankle and was made redundant. Now I am self-employed and it feels very exciting. I hope I can keep motivated, organised and efficient. That almost sounds like a resolution doesn’t it?

Herbie is a distraction

Herbie is a distraction

Happy New Year to everyone!

Till next time,

L x

 

 

A Lady of Leisure

My job has ended. Although I am officially ‘on holiday’ until the end of next week, I am never going back. It is a very strange feeling, having worked full-time for 20 years, to now have no structure or routine other than what I decide to impose on myself.

So I have entered a phase of change and possibilities. Although the ending of my job was stressful and traumatic, and I still have to fight a legal case against my employer, I can now focus my attention on other things.

One positive is that I took some advice on my CV and job applications, and as a result I have just got an interview! I was told that the post attracted 800 applications, and I made it to the shortlist of 20. So I must have got something right, and I take great encouragement from that.

Fingers crossed! And with many other plans in the pipeline, things could start looking up!

Thank goodness I can airbrush in Photoshop

Thank goodness I can airbrush in Photoshop

Till next time,

L x