Julie Pagano

About that $700

In my job search retrospective, I mentioned that one of the companies I interviewed with earlier this year owed me $700. It was actually $748.50, but that doesn’t read quite as nicely. I am happy to provide an update about the situation.

Screenshot of bank transaction for $748.50 posted on August 31, 2015.

My blog post circulated in the Portland tech scene and eventually made its way to company #1’s human resources staff. They contacted me asking to chat. I provided additional details about the situation via email and strongly suggested they reimburse me. They agreed. About a week later, I received the full $748.50 they owed me.

Company #1 gets a few points for reimbursing me, but that’s it. You don’t get a gold star for doing the right thing four months late after being pressured by public criticism. I shouldn’t have been on the hook for that money in the first place. Their staff was aware of issues with the recruiter during my interview process, but did not contact me about it until I wrote that blog post.

You may be wondering why I didn’t press the issue harder with them four months ago. Four months ago, I still hadn’t found a new job, and there were other teams at the company that were hiring. I was concerned that making a fuss about the recruiter lying to me would eliminate other potential opportunities. Even as a more senior engineer with a strong resume, I felt like I had to play nice and eat that $700 if I wanted a job.

Thankfully, I had the privilege of having a Google engineer’s salary at the time, so losing $700 was not the end of the world. Imagine how this situation would have played out for someone else. Someone with less privilege than me — less money in the bank, perhaps less work experience, maybe a different skin color. Someone with a smaller professional network. They probably wouldn’t have gotten their money back even if they wrote a blog post. If they did write a blog post, it might have blown up in their faces instead of being rewarded.

I think a lot about how much I get away with because of my privilege. I think a lot about how much I am probably not getting away with. I got a lot of positive feedback about my retrospective and some high fives when I finally got that money back, but I wonder about the other side of it. How many people are getting screwed by companies and not getting their money back? How many companies will never even interview me in the future because I might call out their mistakes publicly? How many people are afraid to even talk about bad experiences because they’re desperate for work and are afraid to be seen as difficult? There are a lot of broken things here…

However, I want to leave this on a positive note! I assumed months ago that I would never see that money again. When I got reimbursed, I decided to pay most of it forward and just keep a little for myself. I donated the majority of the money to the awesome organizations below. If you have some extra money, I encourage you to share it with these groups. If you’re one of the companies I called out in my post, you should donate money to these organizations as penance.