update: how important is it to answer every question perfectly during a job interview?

This is the last update in “where are you now?” month, where all December I’ve been running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Here’s a happy update from a letter-writer from four years ago!

I wrote in to ask an interview question back in July of 2014, and then again sent an update in December that same year. I wanted to write you now, four and a half years later, to give you a final update and tell you just how much your blog has changed my life. 

Back when I sent my initial question, I’d spent years flitting from one short-term contract job to another in a hard-to-break-into field (museum education). I’d never had a full-time, permanent job before, had been out of work for a long time and I wasn’t getting much interest from my resume and cover letter. Things started to turn around for me during those six months between my two letters, when I finally decided to change my career. In my update I mentioned that I’d gotten a 10 week contract job and was working hard on my own professional development. And that’s where I left it.

Well, things are so different for me now. That contract job didn’t work out. But I didn’t give up. I followed your resume and cover letter advice and the job interviews began rolling in. Finally, a few months later I received two full time job offers at major, global corporations. One of them was in my newly chosen career, instructional design.

I’ve worked at that job for nearly four years now and the experience I’ve had has been wonderful and difficult and immeasurable and so much more. Unfortunately, it came to an end this week, as I was laid off along with a couple thousand other employees. But I knew it was coming. So, I once again turned to your blog to reacquaint myself with those resume and cover letter writing skills and get prepared for the change. 

In the past few months, I’ve applied for only a handful of the right jobs. The ones that I wanted to move on to, not the ones that would just get me a paycheck. And I got interviews for every single one of them. One of the interviewers told me how impressed he was with my resume, not only because of my experience, but because in it, I showed how I solved problems and met goals. It really caught his attention.

The day I got laid off I woke up to a termination letter. Then eight hours later I got a job offer from that same manager who gushed about my resume. The new role is a management position and a huge bump up for me professionally. It honestly could not have worked out better. 

Of course, I couldn’t have done this had I not put my mind to it. It’s my hard work that got me here. But it was stumbling across your blog and the invaluable advice here, from you and your readers, that set me on the right path and has guided me through difficult work experiences all these years. Whenever I’m unsure how to handle something, I search your site. And I never would have realized how bad my resume and cover letters really were if not for you. I actually thought they were good! They weren’t, but now they are. 

Five years ago, I was flailing and barely making enough money to survive. Now I’m about to start a management position in my “new” profession and my salary has literally tripled. So, I just wanted to say thank you. And I will definitely be back looking at all the new manager advice I’m sure is already here for me to find.

{ 34 comments… read them below }

    1. Radio Girl*

      Agree! OP has done all the right things with the right attitude and hard work.

      Btw, “petty” editors are good editors!

  1. greenlimabean*

    I’m new to Ask A Manager – where do I look to find resume and cover letter advice? Thanks!

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Disclaimer: I am good at locating information online, but have never personally searched the AAM archives. So here are my thoughts:
      Check out Alison’s publications, both for-sale and free (downloadable PDF format).
      Search the archives using 2 methods, listed here in no particular order:
      1) Read titles and categories (and clicking on ones that look helpful)
      2) Go to the search engine and type in terms (either Alison’s, or your own)
      Also try that old standby, Google.
      Also keep an eye peeled in the comments. From time to time, people discuss how they found AAM help on such-and-such topic.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Gaah. Nothing like shooting off my mouth (keyboard) right before Alison herself responds. Oh well… Dusts self off, reminds self to stay cheerful/hopeful, and goes on with the day.

  2. Jean (just Jean)*

    OP, thank you. Like many who read AAM, I am an imperfect employee in an imperfect position. You give us hope that with hard work and determination we too can “bloom where we’re planted”… and also get better at advertising ourselves and connecting with future gardens.

  3. The Curator*

    Congratulations. This is why I keep coming back. Reading about the wrong turns, the no-okay circumstances, the self reflection and yes, determination.

    Greenlimabean- go to the archives at the top and type in your search term like “resume” ” cover letter” “interview”

    I also highly recommend AAM book

  4. MissDisplaced*

    Wow! That’s awesome
    Love hearing a negative about the layoff was turned into a positive, good for you!

  5. Mary Gillender*

    Thanks, Alison. AAM is always well worth a daily read, but these updates have been spectacular! I am now officially hooked.

  6. Lana Kane*

    Amazing update!

    I’ve been reading this site since well before I was promoted to my first management role in February. I honestly believe that the information I’ve gleaned from the site – both actively, about specific situations, and passively, where I learn things that ended up applying to me later – helped me position myself for that promotion. And now in my management role, it continually helps me in my development. I think you will find this to be a great resource in your new role. Congrats!

  7. LQ*

    I love these longer term updates too! They show how much growth can really happen and are so nice! Thank you to all the people from years gone by who wrote in.

  8. Agent J*

    Alison saved the best update for last. This is the best letter to read to close out 2018.

    Congrats OP on all your success!

    I’m a new reader/commenter here (just this month) but reading this letter has convinced me to buy Alison’s book and take another look at my resume and cover letter.

    Happy New Year, all!

  9. Stormfeather*

    Congratulations! Such a wonderful update. :)

    Although I admit I’m also saddened while reading it that it’s the last update, noooes!

    (Was hoping for one from the ghost reportings, but I realize Alison can’t exactly force people to send them in. ;) )

  10. pomme de terre*

    Congrats, OP! As someone who’s facing a likely layoff in the new year, it’s so heartening to hear your story. Maybe it won’t be so bad.

  11. LG*

    This is so lovely to read! Congratulations, Letter Writer, and Alison, what a great update to close out the year!

Comments are closed.