it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time.

1. In November, I was laid off from my work where I had been happy and successful for eight years. As required by employment law in Germany, effective in three months. I was devastated. Luckily my boss allowed me to go home for the rest of the day.

After crying a little and reaching out for support from my TeamMe, I immediately found two job postings that sounded perfect for my qualifications. So I updated my resume and wrote smashing cover letters, following advice from AAM. Since I am not in the US but in Germany, I was a little worried that the style might violate application norms — especially listing accomplishments instead of responsibilities. However, within two weeks after sending in the application, I was invited to an interview, and two days after the interview I received the job offer.

Since March, I am working at a great organisation, have interesting work, a modest salary increase, a 30% shorter commute, and am not affected by the furloughs at my former employer.

This was an incredibly fast job search, and I believe that the resume and my enthusiasm for the position (which I let show clearly in the cover letter and in the interview) are the reason. Many thanks to Alison and the AAM commentariat!

My take-away lesson from this is that a seeming catastrophe can be the beginning for something extraordinarily wonderful.

2. I’ve been an avid AAM reader since college, and it’s helped me grow so much in my first job and my move into a managerial role. It really hit home recently when, after a few months from working from home, I began to realize that I wasn’t feeling the same passion for my current industry as I was several years ago. After doing some searching, I found a position in an entirely different industry (online education) and applied.

Thanks to your cover letter advice, I was able to get an interview and, as of yesterday, a conditional job offer! Not only have I nearly doubled my salary, I now have an amazing benefits package and I’ve positioned myself in a fairly safe industry given the current circumstances.

The biggest thing I’ve learned from this is that you don’t have to check every single box on a job description to be a good fit. I was worried that my technical skills wouldn’t be enough for the job, only to find out during the interview they were more interested in my ability to work in a team. I’m so excited to get started in this new job and it wouldn’t have been possible without all of y’all here at AAM. Thank you!

3. I started reading AAM last year after an abrupt change in supervisors turned a fantastic job into one that had me sobbing at the end of every day. Reading your advice helped me realize that my situation was not okay, was not my fault, and helped me leverage my talents into getting a new job in the middle of the pandemic. Even though I’m taking a pay cut, my new managers and coworkers are amazing and already supportive, and the job will give me the opportunity to develop new skills that I have been wanting for a while. They’re even making time for me to visit the physical work environment, so I know where I’ll be working when we eventually go back to in-person work (which this job most certainly will).

Here’s what I learned from your columns:

-A toxic work environment is NOT NORMAL. There should never be public shaming. Feedback should be constructive, not destructive, even when an employee is not meeting expectations. Managers should use professional language at all times. Any deviations from those expectations are not my fault.

-My mental health is worth more than my salary. Period.

Group interviews are demeaning. During my job search I ended up in a surprise group interview via Zoom, and thanks to your columns I had the confidence to exit immediately and express my willingness to participate in an individual interview. When I was told that “all the candidates are collaborating” in the group interview, I knew that wasn’t the right position for me, and withdrew my application.

-Interviews are as much about finding the right candidate as they are about finding the right job. I spent some time identifying where I thought my current position was problematic and crafted a few questions I could ask during interviews to probe for their approach. I thought about what I wanted a manager to say, and what would be red flags.

-I identified my non-negotiables before the job search, and advocated for them during interviews. I phrased it like this: “If you hire me, it will be to do [my specialty] not to do [a common function that I despise]. While I understand the needs of the company may mean I have to do [despised work] from time to time, what can we do to make sure that is minimized?” Absolutely none of my interviewers batted an eye at that statement, and the job I accepted even modified the job description to address my concerns. This was huge in my mind – any company that is willing to adjust a job to match the strengths of a candidate recognizes they’re hiring a person, not a machine. When difficult situations inevitably arise, I bet they’ll remember the humans involved, and deal with them in a positive manner.

-If possible, ask to speak to an employee who doesn’t have a stake in the hiring process. When I had an offer, I asked if there was another employee I could speak to about the work environment. Neither company had a problem with it, and I was able to ask some more specific questions that needed answers from a non-manager. It might not work in all industries, but I don’t have the benefit of Glassdoor for mine and didn’t have contacts at the specific departments I would work in. This was a great way to get the “inside scoop” on what the work environment was really like.

-Hold out for the right position – decline offers that aren’t the right fit even if you don’t have a better one. I had a gut-wrenching time when a job that I was iffy about made me an offer, and I felt so desperate I was almost ready to take it. But I slept on it, and realized I’d just be trading the devil I knew for the possible devil I didn’t. I waited two more weeks for other possibilities to come through and found a position that is a much better fit.

{ 68 comments… read them below }

  1. Temporary*

    “-A toxic work environment is NOT NORMAL. ”

    Of the 5 jobs I have had in a 20-year working life, 4 of them were toxic.

    1. Salamander Bob*

      Agreed. I think toxic work environments ARE normal, and that’s exactly the problem. The only non-toxic job environment I’ve ever had was working from home as a freelancer, and it’s still fraught and super complicated because most of my clients are companies.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        They are NOT normal. They are, however, TYPICAL. That’s the issue.

        No one should have to eat shit for a living.

        1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          Yes, they’re quite typical, and if you want to work, you’ll likely have to put up with some for awhile. Especially with the economy being terrible right now, you should NEVER think you are “too good” for a work environment, stay humble and grounded, and just quietly keep food on the table until you find something better.

          1. Cdn Acct*

            I have to push back on this. It’s not about thinking you’re “too good”, it’s about thinking that you’ll do better work in a better environment. And that a toxic workplace probably is not an efficient or well-run workplace.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah, it’s not about being too good! Of course people should prefer to work in a well-managed organization that treats them decently.

            2. Tau*


              Something I’ve learned through my adult life is that how well I function is extremely dependent on external factors. Work-wise, I can range anywhere from a great employee (past bosses have been very complimentary) to barely functioning just depending on the setup of the job, the office environment, how people collaborate, etc. When I was younger, I used to think I should just be able to willpower my way through a bad situation, but it turns out that’s not how it works. Avoiding certain environments – toxic absolutely included here, but also ones that are just not a good fit for how I function – isn’t about being “too good” for something, it’s about avoiding situations where I know I will be miserable, perform miserably and probably make the people around me miserable as well.

          2. Lexica*

            Considering the kind of long-term damage that can be done by trying to work in a toxic environment (thinking of how many years it took me to stop being twitchy after leaving my own Job From Hell), I think this is bad advice.

            “Don’t think you’re ‘too good’ for a work environment” means be willing to make your own copies or take a turn organizing department social events and things like that. Be willing to do the tedious and unglamorous tasks that need to be done if you’re the appropriate person to do them. It doesn’t mean that you should accept abuse as a precondition of going to work every day.

          3. biobotb*

            Every decent person is “too good” for a toxic work environment. Knowing you deserve to be treated well doesn’t mean you’re not humble and grounded, for Pete’s sake. If someone thought they deserved to be treated badly, what would be the impetus to find something better?

              1. PollyQ*

                If you truly can’t find something better, and you absolutely need the income, then yes, you may need to take a job like that. But that’s still not the same thing as thinking you’re “too good” for it. The only way to move away from workplaces like this is to start with the belief that no one deserves to be treated this way, and that everyone is “too good” for it.

    2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      That’s really too bad. I’ve had a few jobs that were bad but not toxic and one that is amazing, culturally at least.

      1. Beth*

        Exactly. Rape, murder, child abuse, domestic abuse, etc., are common and widespread, but that doesn’t make them normal. We owe it to ourselves not to “normalize” awful things, or participate in someone else’s attempt to normalize them.

    3. Dagny*

      Toxic work environments have much higher turnover. A toxic job might cycle five people through in five years, while its non-toxic counterpart has one person stay for the entire five years.

    4. Letter Writer #3*

      I think my overall point is that when you are working in a toxic environment it’s easy to normalize and think that things aren’t so bad. I started being overly critical of my work which I knew to be outstanding, and began internalizing the criticism as something wrong with me. Eventually I just thought that I had to figure out how to deal with the awfulness, that it was my fault, and if I only worked harder or did better things would get better. It just didn’t – no matter how hard I worked it was still going to be toxic.

      It’s just so easy to succumb to the fear that it is my fault, I really am crap, and I deserve this awfulness. Nobody should have to deal with that, and I wanted to encourage folks in similar situations to start looking for a better option.

      1. kms1025*

        change a few words and you’ve just described a classic example of an abusive relationship

      2. babblemouth*

        I appreciate that your letter highlighted how a nice environment can become toxic with just a change of managers. The fish rots from the head down – and the manager sets the tone for how everyone feels in a team. I’ve had jobs that were awful turn better with a change of manager and vice-versa.

    5. Ronin*

      Same here. Worked 8 jobs: 4 of them were highly toxic, 2 were toxic/mediocre, and only 2 were good/acceptable.

  2. Ash*

    Is AAM against group interviews? I find them to be such a huge timesaver, especially for entry-level positions that we typically get dozens (if not hundreds) of responses for. I do them for first-round only, and they literally cut my interviewing time by 75%.

    1. yup yup*

      Yeah, I raised my eyebrows at that as well. Not only do group interviews save time for the hiring company, they save time for the applicant. Who wants to go through seven interviews when you can just do two with a few people at a time?

      1. chorolet*

        People are using “group interview” here to mean several candidates at once. The linked post describes 300 candidates being interviewed simultaneously. It sounds like you’re thinking of a panel with 3 or 4 interviewers at once, which I think is more reasonable. (Although those can be intimidating.)

    2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Yes, AAM is against group interviews. She doesn’t believe the deliver good results because individuals have little opportunity to really shine or connect.

      1. Ash*

        Hmm interesting. I totally disagree. I got hired myself through a group interview, and I know what made me stand out is that I spoke up (politely) when a male candidate completely interrupted and steamrolled a female candidate. Seeing the group dynamics in a group interview has been so important for me. I have hired through typical one-on-one interviews too, and I have gotten the same quality of hires–most worked out great, some didn’t. It’s always a bit of a crapshoot.

        1. Aquawoman*

          This is a great example of why group interviews are bad. If there’s a bloviating egoist in the same group as someone who would be fantastic and also happens to be more methodical or deliberate in speaking up, fantastic candidate never gets a chance. Sure, people aren’t hiring the bloviating egotist, but they’re also not hiring the exceptional candidate.

          Also, I don’t know if you’re male or female, but often when women speak up, they get dinged, are considered troublemakers or oversensitive or shrill. There is also research to show that people consider women as having talked too much even when they spoke less than the men in the room.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There are a few exceptions — if you’re a retail store or another businesses that needs to hire a huge number of people at one time or hiring for a role where people skills are the #1 thing you’re looking for and you don’t care about experience, then sure, it can make sense.

      But otherwise, in a professional context, it’s generally a bad practice and disrespectful of candidates’ time. There’s a reason you don’t see it for most professional jobs. (And in those roles, it’s usually a bad sign for the candidate about how well the company hires/its professionalism in general. I’m sure there are exceptions, but that’s generally where I stand.)

      1. Ash*

        I work at a youth-serving non-profit, so people skills are #1! Like 90% of their job is running groups, so it makes sense for us. I think if I moved to a different company I would still continue to use them though, just for the time-saving aspect.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Please at least read up first on what most people think of them — if you’re hiring for a different type of role (and for nearly all non-entry-level professional roles), you will turn off your strongest candidates.

        2. hbc*

          Is this really the best way to assess how they run a group? Interview Me is miles different than “I’m In Charge of This Room” Me, and I’d be even more cautious about not taking over the room in an interview with a half dozen other candidates.

          I mean, I’m sure you’re screening out the complete wallflowers who won’t be able to function with anyone around, but taking turns answering questions and/or coordinating with your competitors doesn’t seem that relevant to leading a group of youngsters.

          1. Ash*

            We do the group interviews with multiple candidates in one room for the first-round only. Once we whittle it down to our 2-3 top candidates after the group interviews , we actually have them run a mock group with a group of youth. They pick a discussion topic or activity and then lead it. Afterwards, we ask the youth for feedback too after the candidates leave.

            1. Ash*

              Oh, and to clarify, the finalists run their mock group *by themselves*. Not with other candidates.

            2. hbc*

              So everyone is just sitting together, answering the same question in succession? How many do you interview first round?

              Obviously I don’t know the details, but sounds like the time you’re gaining is at the expense of candidates’ time. Most places would just interview fewer people and/or do a short phone screen.

              1. Ash*

                Usually we have 5-6 people in a group interview, and we do about 2 group interviews, 3 tops. It’s a large pool for first-round. Not every person answers every single question, and that’s ok. The interviews are never longer than an hour. Having been through it myself, it is a little strange–like you don’t want to be the first person to answer every question, and you don’t want to be the last person to answer every question either because then everything has been said. We just are looking to get an idea of their basic people skills and their basic knowledge of how to work with adolescents/the major issues adolescents deal with. I get why people don’t like them, but they work for us! It’s likely just due to our specific context in this case. If I were hiring a manager or supervisor, I wouldn’t use the group format.

        3. Mina*

          Time saving should really not be your priority in a hiring process. It’s worth investing the time to get the right hire. Group interviews are rarely appropriate and will lose you a lot of excellent candidates in any professional setting.

          1. Ash*

            We do these for entry-level positions only, so time-saving is a big issue. We’re not trying to find a unicorn perfect person. We’re trying to find someone who works reasonably well with the youth and with their coworkers. Typically people stay in these entry-level positions for 1-3 years before they are either promoted within the company or decide to go back to school or move on to a different company. I get that it won’t work for a lot of places, but it’s been working for my workplace for many years and personally for me as long as I have been here (5 years total, 4 of which I was in a hiring role).

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          Whether or not this works is really industry-, job-, and organization-specific. I also hire entry-level employees that typically stay with me from 1-3 years, but it’s a professional services office where a group interview would be a turn-off to the most desirable candidates and it would be seen as weird and inappropriate by the organization.

          My time-saving measure is that I don’t interview every single person who applies or even the majority of them. I am fortunate to have an amazing in-house recruiter who does initial cuts for me (and I’ve done it myself before and am deeply appreciative of having the help if a great recruiter). I have a set of skills that are important to the job, they’re stated in the job description; we bring in the people whose resumes and cover letters best address those requirements and go from there.

          Before you take this approach to a new organization, make sure it fits with their vision for how to present themselves to candidates and that it’s appropriate to the position, not just your perception that this is a huge time-saver for you. I think there is fairly narrow Venn overlap of the industries, organizations, and positions for which this can work successfully. Sounds like it works well in the current environment but may not translate to others.

        5. Nanani*

          Except the message “my time is worth more than yours” is a red flag to all the good candidates. That makes it a bad strategy.

      2. Ping*

        Yes. Most professional level jobs require people working independently. So group interviews are not going to expose independent thought and action.

      3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        99% of entry level positions in my field (Software Development) include a Group Interview for the first step. 80% of them were a horrible experience. There was at least someone who tried to steal the spotlight, one that insisted he was the best prepared because he graduated from an Important University… and me, the “diversity candidate” who never got a call back.

    4. Letter Writer #3*

      Yes, I was talking about a multiple-candidate interview, not a panel interview for one candidate.

      My specific situation is that I was invited for an interview, but wasn’t told it was a group interview. I am a mid-career professional, and I’ve NEVER had a group interview for my position, nor have I heard of one in my industry. It’s just not done. I think that place was adjusting poorly to the work from home situation, as this was early in the pandemic.

      I was also put off by the “the candidates are collaborating” comment, because it’s not collaboration, it’s competition! We’re competing for the SAME JOB! This wasn’t a situation where there were multiple jobs, it was a specific vacancy. When I joined the video conference 5 minutes early, two of the other candidates were already talking about why they were the best fit for the job. Plus, I really do need the entire 30 mins to myself in order to express who I am and my approach to the work, and the interviewer should need the same amount of time to figure out if I’m a good fit.

      I’ve had two situations where group interviews were done, and neither of them were surprises:
      1. When I applied to be a bank teller. Entry-level, rote skills, bank needed to hire a bunch at a time. Still, it was awkward. One of the questions was “On a scale of 1-10, how competitive are you?” The first person said “10.” I was the second, I said “9, because I’m competitive but I also want to get along with my coworkers, so there are definitely times when competition is less important.” After that every other candidate said the same thing. I’m sure some of the others would not have actually said what I did, so the interviewers aren’t actually getting the true answer from the others.

      2. When I applied to be a Foreign Service Officer. The final state is an in-person interview in DC, which is an all-day affair. The whole process is incredibly transparent, and there are a variety of resources to help you prepare for each section. Only 1 of 3 sections is done in a group, and it involves a decently real-life situation where everyone is assigned a policy to advocate for, and the group negotiates on what will be funded. I didn’t love this part, but it was only one of the parts of the interview and we all knew what was expected before we agreed to the interview.

      Both situations had multiple vacancies being filled through the interview, so it was a bit different.

      Professionals won’t be at all interested in multiple candidate interviews, even top entry-level candidates for professional fields will likely avoid them. As a candidate, I’m interviewing the company as well, so I’m not benefited by listening to the perspectives of other candidates that I won’t be working with. You can assess my people skills by how I interact with the interviewers, asking my approach to group work, and talking to my references. You could even ask me to do a performance task with one of your current employees if you wanted, but having me work with folks who are trying to get the same job I am isn’t going to get you the answers you want.

  3. Salamander Bob*

    While I appreciate the nature of these good news posts, I can’t help thinking how bad (or…rather, how dripping in privilege) the advice “hold out for the right position” is for most workers. For a lot of people, holding out means mountains of credit card debt or getting kicked off unemployment or getting in trouble with parole officers. As of the middle of May something like 36 million Americans are unemployed. Job searches are only going to become harder and more cut-throat, and it takes incredible economic, racial, and gender privilege to survive 6 month to 2+ year job searches if you’re not working in the mean time.

    1. Ping*

      I think you’re misinterpreting the advice. “Hold for the right position” means “don’t settle for the mediocre”. Continue to work the income generating awful job while continuing to look for the good job. Continue even if it means months of searching. Don’t give up.

    2. Lou*

      I think the OP’s advice was directed at those currently employed but looking to change positions, rather than being directed at those who are unemployed.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That advice (like all advice) is subject to your own situation. I’ve written a lot here about how you need to be realistic about your options. Sometimes you have to take a shitty job because you need it to pay your bills. But to the extent you do have options, use them.

    4. Bella*

      “dripping” with privilege is a bit mean, especially when I wouldn’t say the readership of this blog represents the statistically average worker, so it’s not really commentary aimed at 36 million+ Americans.

      It also sounds from the letter like they were job searching while employed, in which case what is even the problem? It’s privileged to keep working at your existing job? That’s not what ID-ing privilege addresses…

      1. Salamander Bob*

        I’ve spent the last couple weeks helping family members and friends tailor their CVs and cover letters because they’ve been laid off or had to make the incredibly financially impossible choice to quit because their jobs are opening up and won’t let them work from home but they’re related to people who are on immunosuppressants or elderly, and are facing months before they can access EI and incredible uncertainty about the future. Maybe that’s clouded my judgement, but I also think it’s worth noting that not all readers of AAM are part of the managerial/professional class and have the same privileges and economic access as you do. I was turned on to this blog this week because I wanted to make sure my cover letter writing help to my family was up-to-date and as sharp as possible. If you say that this blog is not aimed at all the million of Americans who have lost their jobs, fair enough. My intention wasn’t to be mean. My intention was to express the fact that one person’s good news and good advice is another person’s despair because of serious socioeconomic canyons between America’s poor and rich.

        1. Perpal*

          Sorry you are going through that.
          There is no one piece of advice that will work for everyone, all the time. I think this blog is directed at anyone who has questions about work; the job search questions may be more applicable to “white collar” type positions since those tend to be a little more complicated/detailed, though. Still if CVs and cover letters are being sent in, AAM is probably a good resource.
          Do be mindful that the people writing the letters might see your comment, though, and realize it’s perhaps unkind to criticize someone’s own understanding for not being applicable to other situations. I do think everyone can appreciate that sometimes, the money isn’t worth it, whatever “it” is (stress, time, shady behavior, etc)

        2. Maggie*

          Salamander Bob, just dropping in to say welcome! Good for you for seeking out information during an incredible stressful time!

        3. Letter Writer #3*

          I responded below, but I wanted to respond directly to you – I definitely don’t take offense to the “dripping with privilege” comment, because I can absolutely understand that I was in a decent financial situation – I had a paycheck, I was working from home, and I could take a little bit of time to find the right place.

          That said, I felt just as desperate as I imagine your unemployed friends and family currently do. A few months ago I landed in psychiatric urgent care due to the problems at my job, and it became clear that continuing to work in my job would result in deteriorating mental health. I was weighing whether to just quit and hope I could find another job before my savings ran out, or keep working and possibly end up having to leave anyway due to a mental breakdown. Thankfully I was able to use AAM to avoid both of those situations.

          I still think that the advice can work for non-professionals as well – there are many work environments that really are worse than being unemployed and those that ask you to sacrifice your health are right up there on that list. The key is to not let desperation cloud your judgment, and to be clear on what you’re willing to put up with, and for how long, in order to pay the bills.

    5. hbc*

      That part was talking about moving from a toxic environment to a new place. I’ve seen people with collars of all colors jump at the first opportunity and then come back pleading to return to the lesser of two evils. If anything, this applies best to people without a lot of privilege–better to be a fixture at a toxic place than the most recent hire at a toxic place if you’re counting on that income.

    6. Letter Writer #3*

      In my situation I had a job, but needed to GTFO as soon as possible. I recognize that not everyone can wait for the right position, but when you already have a job, you don’t want to just quickly jump ship at the first opportunity. If you can wait it out, do it. The point is that when you’re in a shitty situation, almost anything can look better.

      I wanted to find something that was not only not toxic, but developed some skills and added to my experience. The first offer I got would have been marginally better (I think), but didn’t add anything to my resume or develop new skills. Same job, just different place. Since we’re working at home, I don’t have to deal with the toxicity as much, so a quick exit was less important than an exit to the right place.

  4. Phony Genius*

    On #1, the writer suggests that the norms for resumes and cover letters are different in Germany. Can anybody here elaborate on that?

    1. GiantPanda*

      The first things that come to mind:
      – Your resume contains your address, a picture, date of birth, date of college degree. (Yes, -isms are a problem.)
      – It may include family situation, religion, nationality, a line about personal interests.
      – You are expected to give your complete educational and professional history, not only the last few years.
      – Including copies of degrees and professional certificates.
      – No unexplained gaps.
      – Listed references are unusual. Instead previous employers will give you a written statement (called Zeugnis) as reference what you and your work were like. The application should contain Zeugnisse from all your previous employers except the current one. These are incredibly important, there are a LOT of both legal and informal rules how a Zeugnis is written. It must be both benevolent and truthful.

      There are probably more differences but these are some of the big ones.

      1. Tau*

        This is basically what I can think of too. I had so many arguments with my mother, who is a hiring manager in Germany, when I was applying for jobs in the UK. No, mum, I don’t have to put a picture on my application. Promise. Really promise.

        The Zeugnisse thing also gets weird because the legal requirement that they can’t say anything negative has led to an unspoken code arising. Like, if they don’t say certain things, they’re implying you did those things badly. Or things like “improved the work environment through his friendliness and sociability” = goofed off work in order to chat with colleagues. Things like that. I had my UK job write me a reference when I moved back to Germany, and I was mildly terrified that they’d accidentally end up communicating “Tau is a terrible employee who was late every day, didn’t do any work and had a drinking problem. Do not hire.”

      2. Fried Eggs*

        The tone of cover letters can also be quite different. American-style cover letters can come across as being too full of yourself. German letters are much more toned down. They focus more on motivation and experience (versus accomplishment). Lots of writing about having gained insights and perspective and learned from past experiences. Less outlining how much you personally contributed to an organization’s success.

        I’ve read German articles on how to write American cover letters. They said the tone you’re going for in the US is “I’m great, and you want me,” which can be uncomfortable for people used to the more objective German style.

        Anecdotally: I showed my Alison-style cover letter to some Germans once and their (negative) feedback was: All you do is talk about why you’d be good at the job. Isn’t that the point?!

        As an American applying to jobs in Germany, I tend to mix the styles. I list accomplishments on my resume. My cover letters still mention ways I excel and stand out, but I keep it to a few sentences devote much more space to things like motivation and praising the company than I might in the US. In a recent letter I wrote in English I went through and toned down the enthusiasm language to sound more calm and professional. E.g. “thrilled” became “pleased,” etc.

        1. Tau*

          Actually, yeah, this is a really good point which I didn’t think about. There’s a general cultural difference in certain types of expressiveness and also self-affirmation like that which is going to impact application materials. In retrospect, I’m fairly sure I automatically toned down Alison’s resume and cover letter advice to what I was comfortable with (aka what was more within German norms) and would probably struggle to put together an application that’s… I don’t even know what adjective I’m looking for here, energetic? positive? self-assured? enough for the US market.

  5. Jedi Squirrel*

    The biggest thing I’ve learned from this is that you don’t have to check every single box on a job description to be a good fit.

    This x 100! You can only really fit so much into a job description. And some positions are much more about the intangibles to bring to a job as opposed to something you can fit in a single line.

    1. Letter Writer #3*

      This was totally true for me as well. The job I ended up taking had a slightly different title than I would normally be looking for, but I knew what they wanted in a candidate and I thought I was a great fit for other reasons. The job title they were advertising is adjacent to what I consider myself, so I figured there might be some wiggle room. I also addressed that directly in my application materials as well as in the interview. Turns out they wanted the right person, so we made some adjustments and it’s working out well.

      Having been on the other side as well, sometimes interviewers are just re-using old descriptions, or don’t even know what they’re actually looking for. There’s no reason to not apply – the worst they’ll say is no.’

  6. SunnySideUp*

    These letters restore some of my faith in humanity!

    Thanks be to AAM for positively impacting our work worlds in a million ways.

  7. school of hard knowcs*

    Loved ” My take-away lesson from this is that a seeming catastrophe can be the beginning for something extraordinarily wonderful.” This is a tough time covid is just the icing on the cake for me right now. I love to see people succeed and do well.

    1. Solana*

      It can be for sure. I lost a retail lead job I’d had for five years. Walked in and found out that the company had gotten rid of over a thousand people on the same day, no warning. (They are a two-name company famous for books.) A few months later, I broke into my field working with research animals after thirteen years of no luck with a union, much better salary, handling animals, and much, much better health insurance.

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