A Letter to my Former Employer: I’m Number One

This is what I would very much like to say to former co-workers who had a part in my departure from this fast-food company I used to work for, either directly or indirectly. Maybe I’ll get the chance to say this one day. The company would actually be the perfect example of horrible business strategy: poor understanding of the target demographic, hostile work environment, poor work culture, sexism, racism, poor management, poor organization, frequent lawsuits from partners, crude training, no innovation, no to low standards, lack of collaboration, etc. I am trying so hard to think of one good thing about the company that it is giving me a headache, so I must stop.

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Dear All:

I want to thank you for letting me go. I had wanted to quit since after the first month, but I stayed for the money. I convinced myself to stay for just a few more months, just long enough to settle some debts and establish a solid savings. I then got the corporate card, and put off leaving until after the corporate card was paid because I was all to familiar with how well-organized the company is. Then I though it might be nice to have a corporate job on my resume for at least a year, and then that would coincide with bonus and the Olympics, so maybe I should stay a little longer for that whopping week vacation.

I had a friend looking for a job. I was honest with her and told her that I would only refer her so I would have company at work, but that I would not wish this experience on my worst enemy. From day one I felt like an outsider. From people name dropping universities, incorrectly, by putting a near by state school and MIT in the same breath not understanding that those who attend the latter have no idea what the former is, AT ALL. The way people looked at me as a minority female and really made me want to start swearing in the 5 languages I know, carry around my top tier diploma (top tier meaning “top ten of the ranked”, not just bragging about it being ranked), brag about my two degrees of separation from the president, Donald Trump, and even an MVP quarterback, and my one degree of separation from a Principal at McKinsey.

You told me the numbers were bad, the partners complained, my attendance was poor, and the little bimbo in HR dropped something about the company being “results-driven.” Where did she go to school again? While she was playing with finger puppets, I wrote a 60-page thesis, which later became a published book now available on Amazon. From what I could see, I had the best numbers period, not just for a female. As I understood the company more, I could see why that might be a problem.

The company value was falling, but that was going on prior to my arrival. I had looked at the financials hoping to talk about rapid growth, but was surprised to find none. With regards to the partners, one woman was mad that she did not get what she wanted and deleted emails to support her claim that she was being ignored. I had all the emails. Even while out for bereavement I responded, but I guess you must have believe the gossip that I was on vacation, hence “attendance issues”, despite the fact that I frequently stayed late too. The partners were frustrated in general because they were given the run-around and saw that internal communication was poor and I neither denied it or affirmed it. I tried to fix it, but as my colleagues spoke of things like “sink or swim” and “passing the hot potato” it appeared that the problems were just supposed to be swept under the rug while at the same time trying to find a scape goat. Que me.

I was your scape goat. I worked my ass off to be the best in the midst of poor organization and people running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to be the best and trying to be the elite when they can’t even distinguish up or down. You blamed me for issues with a large partner that wasn’t even mine to control. You all would have known that if you had bothered to be organized and have decent managers. Or maybe you did know. Now your rhetoric, the same one that includes “meritocracy” and “results-driven” has blown up in your face.

Before I left the bimbo from HR told me I would still have health insurance. I didn’t really believe her. I requested written confirmation and got no response. Once I needed the insurance I thought I’d call to see the status: inactive as of the end of my last month with the company. More rhetoric, but yet in the U.S. there is this thing called COBRA. Since I’m not the HR bimbo, I know what it is. Since I am not the HR bimbo, I can pull up my records where I reached out to her for confirmation of health insurance and she never responded. So I hope you enjoy the fine you will be receiving from the U.S. Department of Labor and thank you also for confirming that I was in fact surrounded by idiots while working for your company. Also, consider this payback for not paying the corporate card on time, but I will also be doing everything within my power to get you blackballed from recruiting on elite campuses, no that will not include that little state school you are so fond of.

And then there’s your little cult mantra that includes “meritocracy”. Typically companies with strong, positive cultures that are in fact meritocratic do not need to advertise this on every wall… I saw that my salary and bonus was used nicely to give raises, namely to those who didn’t ask questions and behaved like good drones sucking up to their male superiors and talking about how the little wife is at home wishing he would come home early from work because she’s been waiting for him all day to take her shopping.

Next, my favorite, “results-driven”. During my exit meeting I had nothing to say at that point because it didn’t register. It’s not that I needed time to process, my brain could not compute that NONSENSE.  That’s your company’s mantra and then you let me and countless others like me go, or they leave. It really seems like you and I were just playing a game of chicken. The bimbo tells me the reasons for letting me go was because the company is “results-driven” but yet I went to a top 10 private school, a top 10 university, a top 10 graduate school and have a résumé would confirm the fact that she was sitting in class playing with finger-puppets. Borrowing, and modifying a line from Captain Philips: I’m number one.

You all schemed, laid off, and spewed rhetoric to become number one, but I am number one. Thank you. I work for a billion dollar company. Your earnings only represent a tenth of ours. They give decent benefits and still have earnings that blow yours out of the water! Did I mention that my company is in fact number one? I don’t think I did. Just so we’re clear, this is what “results-driven” looks like, not whatever sham of a company you are running.

So, again, thank you. Thank you for helping me leave when I wouldn’t. Thank you for showing me what the bottom is and releasing me to be with my people, smart people, results-driven people.

Be sure to keep an eye out for that fine from the Department of Labor. I wouldn’t want you to miss it because they’ll probably charge interest, if they haven’t done so already. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Also, let me know if you want me to send you some postcards from my 3-week vacation in China. Oh, but they’ll be in Chinese. I hear Chinese is a hard language to learn. I wouldn’t really know though because I speak it 😉

 

Cheers,

WHL

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We Deserve More

Once I got this new job that I love, I thought I’d pay it forward by helping others who have also been struggle to find decent work. I put in a referral for an acquaintance of mine from college for a job on the opposite coast from where she was located. Yet, after about two weeks I saw that they declined to interview her. I was disappointed. She has much more experience in this field than I do, and is willing to take less money. Between the college she went to, her background, and the referral, she should have at least gotten an interview. Yeah, she applied to a job on the opposite coast, but she has family there and was more than willing to relocate. I mean, are recruiters that close-minded to think that people do not have connections in different cities and are not willing to relocate on their own dime? This seems to be the case in Florida, but I have lowered my expectations for Florida-based companies, but I expect more from the west coast and the mid/northeast.

So when my friend saw that she was not selected for an interview, she called to follow-up with me. She said exactly what I thought, that will all she had going for her, she should have at least gotten an interview. Why no interview? She had a few positions where she was only with a company for a few months, but she has only been out of college for 5 years. She also went to a top 10 school. There is no doubt in my mind that she excelled where she went and probably learned in a few months what it would take an average person to learn in a year. I found out later that the recruiter left the company kind of abruptly. Considering potential internal communication issues, I thought it possible that the application got lost in the shuffle, so I worked with her to help her reapply.

I say all this to explain why I am not only disappointed, but also frustrated and angry. She should have at least gotten an interview. That’s exactly how I felt after I applied for hundreds of jobs and received no response: I should’ve at least gotten an interview, especially in a state with generally low standards that they broadcast to the world.

There are intelligent people everywhere, at all types of schools who work hard and work smart, yes. They shouldn’t be excluded just because they did not go to a “top” school. However, at those “top” schools, the intelligence metric is skewed towards the higher end, so if the general market is saturated with mostly average applicants, the top candidates should get an interview. A nice rejection email will not even suffice. So why don’t we get the interview? Recruiters feel intimidated (especially with the female applicants or minority applicants), recruiters/employers are cheap and assume we’ll ask for a lot of money (I ask for more now because I had bills that are past-due and I’m a little bitter. Back when I was chasing non-profits, I would have been fine with mid 30ks – mid 40Ks.), or hiring is done internally. In Florida, another issue is that people do not understand the school rankings, most likely because most of the people recruiting are not from the U.S. and come from cultures where simply going to school in the U.S. gives high class status, and also for some very strange reason, Florida is regarded as some type of Mecca where everyone is flocking to: Latin Americans, yes, Americans, no.

Since moving to Florida… I have been told that I am under-qualified to be an Administrative Assistant by the same person who had trouble making an international phone call and was more interested in hearing about my program at an un-ranked Florida state school than my undergraduate degree, and recently when I mentioned wanting to get a Ph.D. at a private university here to someone who attended the undergraduate school, the guy said it was a good school at then dropped its ranking in an obvious attempt to solicit a reaction. When you round the number you get #50. My undergrad is ranked higher. I said nothing. What was I supposed to say? What was he assuming? I was just trying to talk about the program, not the ranking…

So suffice it to say, Florida is a very special case, a twilight zone. But, going back to my prior point, when you make certain achievements in life, you deserve to sit at the table, and in this case, be granted an interview.

In getting back to the title of this piece, for me, my disappointment, frustration, and anger begins with myself and my peers not getting and interview and ends with being lumped together alongside of and compared to those who by our standards do not have the same intellectual capacity or even the desire to acquire it. The last time I felt above average was in middle school and then I would go home and my parents would give me impossible problems to solve and I felt challenged. From high school to (most of) graduate school I didn’t feel unique, and then after graduating, I felt my brain was dying for the most part of the time. Now, I feel like I am being told to slow down so others can catch up… maybe they need to move a little faster…? I had a few classes in college where I was falling behind. It was frustrating, yes, but I learned from it, and certainly did not try to slow others down because of me, and the professor certainly did not slow down for us slower students either.

I feel that I am being told to slow down, and even indirectly being held back because they’re little for me to learn from those in my same role. In our initial training, we did some things in Excel (my mother does everything in Excel, so she made me learn it) and this one guy could not find the “sort” feature. Ok, maybe he did not learn it, but I consider that to be basic Excel/Office, and so did my brother who is an Excel pro and makes fun of my minimal knowledge (not in a mean way), which compared to the guy at the office is probably advanced… Anyways, there’s the issue of him not knowing where the “sort” feature was, not searching for it, and not asking someone, another Florida thing, with the machismo (“gag”). So, I know Macros/VBA because I went on YouTube. I did this lovely Microsoft Office test where I had to create a Macro, which I did, by following the directions. This other lady comes out and says it was asking me to do stuff I had never seen… Follow the DAMN directions!

My other colleagues do not appear to be familiar with checking email regularly… We get things through Outlook that they don’t see until late, I was scheduling the meetings, and then this other person just copied and pasted directly into the Macro and not the function bar, repeatedly. Do something once, or twice, okay, but then troubleshoot and do something differently. Ironically, the stuff that I know in Outlook is more in line with being an Administrative Assistant (you know, the thing I was under-qualified for), but somethings I just happened upon by being curious. In high school, when we first got our email accounts, we went over email etiquette. Until Facebook happened I was checking everything daily, and now I’ll look through it, but only my work emails usually get a response during the week, and then on the weekends, good luck.

So maybe they don’t know these things, but while they figure it out, I can be promoted and given more money, not told to slow down while people learn things that I learned years ago. And then the issue with troubleshooting. My high school, college, and parents taught me to be analytical, and I guess I was probably born inquisitive too. I cannot not be analytical, which is why my writing tends to go in multiple directions at a time because I see various topics that can be further explained or further analyzed. I cannot not ask questions. I cannot not solve problems (I love jigsaw puzzles by the way). I do not understand people who need constant instruction and cannot take the information given and run with it. I do not understand people who cannot isolate the variables to determine the cause either on their own or with others. It is basically a higher level of thinking that I was surrounded by that I need near me again so I can stop coming home and being shocked by how little people actually know how to do. Well, I guess this also speaks to the gap in education quality between institutions and regions, but that’s a separate topic.

Again, back to the point of this post. My job is amazing because of the company and the people I work with you are all very nice. I actually get along with the Managers and the people not on my team a bit better. The concept of networking seems to be lost on some… We had very comprehensive training and there is all sorts of information we can reference and people we can contact if we have any questions, but ultimately, we were given the tools and told to run with it. There was this new training recently that was more lecture-based, more European/Latin America style, so I am going to have to review the information on my own. There was no PowerPoint presentation. I feel like that really makes me sound like a spoiled, privileged American, but presentations should have PowerPoints with key takeaways. You doing something and me watching you is horrible for me and not the environment that I am used to, and arguably an environment that has proved to be the most successful.

So continuing on from that last point, I feel that it will be therapeutic for me to tell the recruiters who did not get back to me and my former employer who proved there is hell on earth exactly how I am feeling at my new billion dollar company that makes them look like fools playing in the dirt. My parents would advise against is, but the Scorpio in me is telling me I should do it. It would be smug, Bill Maher-style, but I will feel good once I write it. I did this 3 times already. One I actually regret, and another I really don’t. The third ons is not worth mentioning. For the one I regret, I misread the email… The recruiter was checking in with all applicants saying that they need more time to review the applications. I misread it, and said something like, “Thank you for letting me know and for helping me realize that now is the best time for me to move.” My moving deadline was either before or at the same time they intended to make their decision. For the other one, it was a top management company looking for bilingual Spanish speakers with Portuguese being a plus, for their Latin America team. They emphasized that the person must have a university degree from a top university. This is in Florida, and I am really sensing that here, “top university” is synonymous with Florida college/university. So, they sent me an email saying I wasn’t going further in the application, and I responded, in Portuguese, telling them they are going to have a hard time finding someone better. They’re still looking…

I most likely will write back to those recruiters who wasted my time asking for foolish things like a high school transcript. But in the next post, I will write what I want to say to the worst company/management I have every worked for. My intention is not to send it, but I make no promises.