update: my position is being renewed, but my manager isn’t considering me for it

Remember the letter-writer in February whose year-long position was being renewed, but her boss was starting the hiring for it without considering her for it? (#5 at the link) Here’s the update.

I spent February trying to sort out my feelings around my manager telling me that I had done an exemplary job in my role, yet also wanting me to find my own replacement. I was also applying for other positions in town, one of which I was excited about – but mostly, I felt heartbroken to leave my position when it seemed like there could have been a chance for me to continue my work after all.

I interviewed with the organization I was excited about on a Friday, and had a one-on-one scheduled with my manager the following Tuesday. (It was going to be the first time I had seen her face-to-face since she had asked me to find my replacement, and the meeting was centered on how I would advertise the position.) Lo and behold – I checked my email five minutes before I walked into the meeting with my manager, and saw a form rejection from the organization I’d interviewed with on Friday.

I was so overwhelmed by the sudden rejection and my conflicted feelings about the upcoming meeting that I started feeling panicky and short of breath, so I went into the bathroom. I ended up crying, and as I was trying to get myself back under control, I realized I had exactly a minute before I was due in my manager’s office.

Here’s the weird part. All of a sudden, I had this strange, transcendental moment where I almost stepped outside of myself. I visualized taking all of the overwhelming emotions I was experiencing and putting them in a tight little knot in my chest, where I could ignore them for a few minutes. Then I thought about something you wrote on an Ask a Manger comment – something about how appearing “pleasantly detached” can help you to get through difficult situations. So I washed my face, took a few breaths, and channeled that pleasant detachment.

Strangely, as soon as I sat down in the meeting, I felt totally in control. I let my manager open the conversation about how I was going to start recruiting for a new person to take over my position. Then I told her, very calmly, that before she started looking at external candidates to take over my role, she should consider extending my contract. I highlighted some of the biggest achievements I’d made in the position, and told her that I thought I could add considerable value to the organization in the future and had room for more professional growth. I overviewed some of the things I hoped to accomplish if she would consider me. Then I just sat back and let her think it over.

I’m a 23-year-old professional (and a woman), and I’ve never felt powerful in a professional setting. I’ve never advocated for something I really wanted. But somehow, the pressure that morning helped me laser-focus, and I understood how incredible it feels to ask for what you want.

I ended up getting to keep my job for an additional year (with additional responsibilities!). Just this week, I had a fabulous annual review where my manager called my work “tremendous”. I’m going to get additional support in the next year to develop new hard skills, and my manager is going to use her network to see if I can volunteer on some boards and committees in town to develop my leadership abilities.

All in all, I wanted to say thank you for helping me, in many more ways than you knew, to advocate for myself professionally. It turns out standing up for yourself can feel really good…and it can get you what you want.

{ 98 comments… read them below }

  1. Anononon

    That is amazing! OP, you just developed skills that are going to get you amazingly far in your life.

  2. CM

    That is fantastic. I’m so glad to hear you asked for what you wanted, made your case, and it worked! Even if it didn’t work, this would be a great update. Congratulations.

  3. HS Teacher

    Now that’s a great update! Congratulations, and good on you for advocating for yourself! Sometimes we women really struggle with doing it.

  4. Gabriela

    What a wonderful update! Congratulations on advocating for yourself, especially under such stressful circumstances.

  5. Bea

    You’re on a great pathway and this has shown your true strength even when you’re overwhelmed and scared. I’m thrilled your boss extended your contract and is helping you build your career. You’ll do wonderful things.

    23 is exceptionally young to go to bat for yourself in the business world. That’s incredible and you’ll look back at this years from now as your turning point.

  6. TurquoiseCow

    OP, this is a great update, not just because of the job, but because you were able to make that step to say what you want and be listened to. I know a number of people who have a lot of trouble doing that, professionally and otherwise, (and not all of them are young women!) and it’s a great skill to have. Congratulations on another year in a great place.

  7. Murphy

    Did you ever find out why you weren’t being considered in the first place? Did she just assume that you had made other plans already? I’m really curious why that idea was never floated as a possibility.

  8. Ask a Manager Post author

    I forgot to add: I asked the OP if she ever figured out why her manager hadn’t approached her about the job in the first place. She said:

    Hah – good question. She said “I didn’t know you were interested in the position moving forwards”. (Of course I didn’t allow myself to seem interested in the position moving forwards – it wasn’t intended to exist past May 2018, and I felt it was unprofessional to act as if it might.) I think the real answer is that she doesn’t have a lot of empathy or emotional intelligence, and truly didn’t consider that a person might not like to feel like they’re being passed over for someone else.

    1. Bea

      This is what I had assumed. The manager had it in her head the OP was a year contract and had plans or wasn’t interested in staying. I don’t know that it’s a lack of empathy or intelligence because I’ve seen people simply use year contracts for just their intended purposes with full plans to do whatever else next. It’s simply a disconnect anyone can form for a multitude of reasonings.

      1. Amairch

        Yup! And sometimes we worry so much about seeming unprofessional that we overcorrect. In OP’s case, the fact that her boss started talking about hiring her replacement and she didn’t say anything would have reunforced the belief that she was ready to move on. I’m super glad OP was able to ask for what she wanted, but I think she initially made a mountain out of molehill by freaking out and not speaking up when it was first announced. I don’t think it’s lacking empathy to assume that someone who has shown no interest and seems actively involved in the process of finding a replacement doesn’t feel “passed over” but is in fact actively turning down the job.

        Either way, I’m super glad you’re in the job you love and that you’re thriving!

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        Eh, I kind of agree with the OP that the manager’s assumption that the OP would not be interested in staying was not great. Asking the question before moving into full ‘let’s find your replacement’ mode should have been a really obvious first step.

        1. Bea

          It wasn’t great, I def agree with you. I just think it’s off base to draw a conclusion about their ability to empathize and depth of emotional intelligence.

          In management you reel in your emotions to avoid massive conflicts. So it’s best to just speak up and say “am I eligible to extend my contract?” and the weight is suddenly lifted off both shoulders without any assumptions carried on.

          1. Fiennes

            I’m assuming OP has additional reasons for believing her boss has low “E.Q.”

            Regardless, way to go, OP!

          2. Someone else

            I assumed the comment about empathy was based on OP’s general knowledge of/interaction with the boss on the whole, not just their conduct in this particular situation.

    2. BRR

      Thanks for the follow up, that was my question as well.

      Congrats OP! Learning to advocate for yourself in this way is a great skill to have and it sounds like you handled this perfectly with an optimal outcome. It was great to read such an amazing update.

    3. CMDRBNA

      Getting insight into managers’ minds will never cease to amaze me – if I were hiring for a job and already had a temp or contract worker in that position who was doing a great job, OF COURSE I WOULD ASK THEM IF THEY WERE INTERESTED. Why wouldn’t I?

      1. Eye of Sauron

        It could have been a bit of a comedy of errors.

        OP thought there was no way to extend the contract so they seem uninterested in the future of the position and talks about future elsewhere or other jobs
        Manager hears OP talking about other jobs and assumes they aren’t interested in staying on
        OP hears manager talking about replacement doesn’t think they are wanted
        Manager talks about replacement with no indication from OP they want to stay

        I’ve seen stranger misunderstandings

        1. Jennifer Thneed

          Plus: Manager probably doesn’t remember what it’s like to be fresh out of college and happy to get any decent job, even if it’s only a year contract. So they may have interpreted OP’s acceptance of a contract job in the context of *their* professional peers, which is going to be different from OP’s context of “first job out of college”.

        2. Hey Nonnie

          What’s weird to me though, is that the manager had definitively stated that there would be no more funding at all, period, after May — which apparently wasn’t true. And if the manager had been misinformed initially, why wouldn’t she share that knowledge as soon as she learned that the funding could be renewable? I mean, if it were me, and I had an employee who was doing great work and I learned that I would be able to KEEP them, from a purely selfish perspective I’d be super excited and would ask said employee if they’d consider staying as soon as I found out.

          So… I really don’t get why that didn’t happen. It’s very weird to just assume that someone would leave anyway if they weren’t being terminated.

    4. Wirving

      I’m not sure if it’s really lacking empathy or emotional intelligence, only because I had something similar happen to me during a college internship. We had the option to continue on past the internship end date, but we told by the internship coordinators that we were NOT to ask the offices in which we worked to extend our internship – it was INAPPROPRIATE and NOT DONE (caps are their emphasis). I asked my supervisor anyway, and she was over the moon that I wanted to stay. She also was super angry at the internship coordinators because she never would have bothered to ask me since she assumed if I wanted to stay, I would have asked. So, it may very well be that she just assumed that if you wanted to extend your contract, you would have asked.

    5. Sketchee

      I like this part of the update the best. Managers can’t read minds, we have to tell them.
      Even the most emotional intelligent manager might have made this assumption if you’d never said otherwise.

      Even a passing mention of the temporary nature of the position could give the manager the idea that you’re okay with the set up. Or that you wanted only a one year role

      A great reminder for me to speak up for myself. Others have no idea what we want or why unless we “make the implicit explicit”

    6. jo

      Aw, OP, so glad for this update! You say you’re young and early in your career, so just FYI: Even if you know for a fact that a position has an expiration date, there’s nothing unprofessional about saying you wish that wasn’t the case. You can say along the way, “I’m really enjoying working here, and I’ll be sad to leave when my contract expires!” That’s a compliment to the manager, not entitled or unprofessional.

      You did a great job of reining in your emotions when it counted. It’s fine, though, to verbalize your positive feelings about work!

  9. Future Homesteader

    Whoooo congrats OP, this is a fantastic update. You clearly have a bright future ahead of you (and a pretty darn good present, thanks to your self-advocacy).

  10. Nonprofit Lady

    Man I loved this update! I’m only a little bit ahead of OP in my career but I can see so much of my younger self in her- I still get frustratingly emotional at work from time to time, but I’m learning to channel it into something positive. I’m glad you learned this lesson early OP, and I’m sure you’ll have a great, satisfying career as a result.

  11. Engineer Woman

    Excellent update – congrats to a job well done! Also points to advocating for oneself and not make assumptions as we simply cannot understand what people are thinking (manager just didn’t think to ask OP if she wanted to stay, not that manager really wanted OP to leave). Sometimes, you just need to ask.

  12. Cassandra

    OP, thank you for updating us. I absolutely adore “hey, I did the thing!” stories, and this is a lovely one.

    Best of luck to you as you continue your career!

    1. Mindovermoneychick

      I love this way of putting it for some reason. That phrase is inspiring me to try to create more “I did a thing” stories in my own life.

    2. Rainy

      Me too! I am really just so happy for the OP. It’s nice when those moments of Extreme Calm descend in the midst of a Feelings Hurricane and you can advocate for yourself!

  13. JS

    Big ups OP! Congrats! I am so happy you advocated for yourself and it all worked out great!

  14. Eye of Sauron

    “I’m a 23-year-old professional (and a woman), and I’ve never felt powerful in a professional setting. I’ve never advocated for something I really wanted. But somehow, the pressure that morning helped me laser-focus, and I understood how incredible it feels to ask for what you want.”

    Great comment! I’m very glad to hear that you advocated for yourself and got what you wanted.

    I’m going to go back to the earlier posted letter about the mug :) This is why people need to practice standing up for themselves with the small things because it will make the bigger things feel easier. Nobody is going to stand up for you so we all have to learn how to do it for ourselves.

  15. hayling

    Nice job, OP!

    One thing that I have learned from Alison is that if you are feeling awkward/emotional/uncomfortable about a conversation, it will go a *lot* better if you are able to act calm and collected and pretend that it’s not awkward/emotional/uncomfortable. The other person will take their cues from you. I did this recently and it totally worked. I’m not great at getting my emotions under control after being upset like you were, so I am so impressed that you were able to calm down have such a mature conversation.

  16. J.

    This is the best update, OP! I’m sorry you had to have a terrible day in the moment, but I’m glad it led to much better things.

  17. Thursday Next

    This is awesome! That centering, balancing moment of calm came at such an important time—and that’s not just luck, it’s a skill! Good for you for advocating for yourself, and congratulations on a great result.

  18. RVA Cat

    YESSSSSSSSSS!!!!!
    So many congrats to you. I’m almost twice your age but have maybe half your courage – which, after all, is not the absence of fear but powering through it.

  19. Scmill

    Great update – congratulations! And thanks for circling back to let us know how it turned out.

  20. D.W.

    That is beyond amazing, and it’s something I needed to read as I am struggling with advocating for myself in this next promotion cycle.

    Great job, OP and congratulations! You rocked it.

  21. thunderbird

    The timing of this post is too perfect. I have a meeting with my manager this afternoon to discuss my transition, as I was not successful in my interview to keep my current position (oh government). I feel dejected and a kick to my confidence, but hopefully they will support me in building my skills, this highly specific interview process, and connecting with other opportunities – I just have to ask!

  22. BeenThere

    Yay!! I’m saving this post for the future whenever I need to ask for something!!! OP today you are my hero :D

  23. Leela

    Major congrats! I hope this begins a lifelong trend of you standing up for your accomplishments and having amazing outcomes!

  24. Wendy Darling

    Oh yes, I know that place. I call it “the fuckits”. It’s where I go when I feel like I have nothing left to lose in a situation and it is AMAZING because there is no reason NOT to politely but firmly ask for what you want. The worst that can happen is the person is like “hahaha no way”, which leaves you… in exactly the position you’re in already. There is this incredible serenity in the knowledge that it’s as bad as it’s getting already.

    I’m trying to learn to harness its power voluntarily rather than only when I feel doomed.

  25. Allict

    Not to be like a party-pooper, but: what you’re describing feeling here is called dissociation, and it’s an extreme stress response that lets your brain handle a high-stakes situation and put off feeling the effects of it until later. It’s very common during trauma.

    OP, this may have been a one-off episode of your brain using a survival mechanism for its intended purpose, which is great! You can move forward happily. But if in the coming days, weeks, or months, you feel the stress hitting in a delayed way, OR you find these weird moments of detachment and clarity happening with more frequency, please be sure to take care of yourself, see a therapist, and work on positive coping mechanisms to teach your brain it doesn’t have to do this all the time.

    I wish you all the best. <3

    1. ArtsNerd

      Right. I’m so glad the OP got the outcome she wanted and needed, but found the dissociation part concerning. I think you hit the nail on the head with this post, Allict.

      OP: Congrats for doing a terrifying thing even while you were upset! With practice, this kind of convo gets less terrifying over time. In the meantime (and always), take care of yourself, and good luck with everything!

    2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather

      I didn’t know about the delayed effects of the stress at all. This is really important, thank you.

  26. Morag

    Congratulations on getting the job and for speaking up. Know that even if speaking up had not won you the position, it still would have been the right thing to do. Had it not worked out, it would have freed you to move on there without having to always wonder why you weren’t considered and if you should have done something. But I’m glad it did work out!

  27. Vickicutecow

    What if you were in this exact position- but your boss was coming to you with a newer better role, reporting to someone higher up with entirely different and higher level responsibilities- asking you to commit more time and brain power because they recognize your value- essentially a promotion- but no raise is mentioned and no opening for a negotiation is given. What would you do?

    1. zora

      What do you envision as an ‘opening’ for negotiation? Because I think if you are being asked to give a yes or no answer, that *is* your opening for negotiation.

      I would say “I am very interested in this position, but I would need a raise in order to take on additional responsibilities. Is that a possibility?” And think ahead of time about what I would want as a salary in order to accept the job, so that if they say, “We could do XX,XXX, ” I would be mentally prepared in the moment to say “I was thinking more like XY,YYY, can you do that?”

      It sounds like you are waiting for them to say something specific, but you don’t need an invitation to counteroffer, you can make your own offer at any time!

    2. lulu

      I would respond very enthusiastically and ask what would be the salary for the new role.

  28. Samata

    THIS! This is why sometimes you just have to set it all aside and go for it. Good for you OP! The way you handled this shows that you will be successful in many ways in the professional world.

  29. I Like Pie

    OP, this update made my day! I’m so proud of you! I am in a transition phase in my career life and had a sit down with my boss. I did the same thing, gave myself a moment to be nervous, took a deep breath & said to myself, “the worst thing he could do is fire me, which hurts him more than me. Cause I’ll land on my feet.” Went to the meeting and calmly explained why I had earned a raise. Didn’t get what I asked for, but had the answers I needed to be able to take my next steps. AAM really helped me – the men I’ve worked with have no problem advocating for themselves, why should it be an issue for me to do the same? :-)

    Congrats on the job – keep crushing it!

  30. Isobel

    What a fantastic update! Seems like you’re going to remember this as a major professional turning point. Congratulations~!

    1. ClaireClaire

      Soooo good! So happy for you! Best update I’ve read. I take it as an inspiration.
      And I really like the other comment about “a defense mechanism working as it is intended”.

  31. Discordia Angel Jones

    Late to the party but YES!! YES GO YOU OP!!!

    This makes me so so happy.

  32. Polaris

    Congratulations OP! I too have had that moment of “anxiety/anger/sadness solidifies into resolve” and it’s kind of amazing. I’m so glad you got to keep your position and that things are looking bright!

  33. Chalupa Batman

    OP, I’m mentally slow clapping you right now. Managing strong emotions in the moment and advocating for yourself effectively are both HARD, especially when you’re young (chronologically and professionally). I’ve got ten years on you in age and experience, and I’m still probably going to find myself channeling YOU someday.

  34. Church Lady

    Thank you for sharing this update, OP. You’re setting a very good example for me, a youngish Baby Boomer, to stay calm and advocate for myself despite strong feelings of disappointment and anxiety.

  35. Lady Ariel Ponyweather

    Amazing update! Thank you so much and congratulations on your success.

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