it’s your Friday good news

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

1. I have been job searching since January after a move. COVID made things much more difficult. I was in a new city without connections. I had also been a stay at home parent for several years, though I completed a lot of training and volunteer work during that time. It is also unavoidably clear from the locations on my resume that I am a military spouse, and that makes me much less likely to be interviewed in the first place. I was starting to despair of even getting a chance anywhere.

Then this week, through work with a mentoring program for vets and spouses and through continuous applying to positions I thought I could qualify for, I received two offers! Both are temporary, but they offer remote, flexible work, decent pay and a step forward in my level of responsibility.

Thank you for all your tips and insights which helped me feel confident interviewing, and I hope this is encouragement for other people whose careers have had to take a backseat due to family responsibilities. There are people out there who will give us a shot, even in these awful times.

2. This past February, I narrowly missed out on a promotion I’d been working towards for a while. It really stung to have what I thought was my best chance to move into a director role end up just out of reach, and it really shook my confidence in myself and my career trajectory. At the time, I was really questioning if the senior director who passed me over was serious when she said she was committed to helping me continue to grow at the company.

And then world-closing COVID-19 happened, and all of a sudden I’m working at home with my spouse and two kids (4 and 9) with no clear end date in sight. At first it all seemed temporary, so we coped like a lot of working parents are – excessive screen time, trading off, low-level bickering, lost sleep, and all that. I’ve been struggling with being on video calls 5-7 hours a day to manage my team and my projects, and it was really taking a toll. I took some time off to recharge, and coming back online the following Monday was the sort of soul-shifting wake-up call I needed: I had to radically rethink my career and ramp back. WAY back.

Thankfully, I had years of reading your advice to guide me on what to do next. I went into my next one-on-one with my boss and had a direct conversation about my situation. I was really blunt – continuing as a frontline manager of 12 people alongside parenting and teaching wasn’t sustainable, so I either needed to quit entirely or shift to a part-time role without direct reports. He quickly pulled in his boss, who happens to be the senior director who didn’t hire me back in February. She sprang into action and within 48 hours had verbal approval from our division head to create a new half-time role for me, complete with benefits continuation and some really interesting projects to work on.

While taking a 50% pay cut isn’t normally a success story, it’s lifted a massive burden off my shoulders. As scary as it was to say out loud “I can’t do this,” I’m so glad I did. Someone has to be the first to break the trail, and I hope that my doing it makes it easier for others behind me to ask for and get what they need to weather this pandemic.

3. This feels like one of those classic, “I never thought it would happen to me,” letters, but I just got a call yesterday offering me a job I was edged out for about four months ago, right after the shutdown orders came in.

I had been 99% certain that I would get the job, having used all of the tools I’ve learned here, and having really enjoyed the interview process, and not getting it and only getting an impersonal email from the HR person rather than from the hiring manager made it even worse. I may have spent a week moping and eating family-size bags of Doritos. Then I realized how happy I was to have my current job and how fortunate, especially in my colleagues, and settled in to enjoy being home and working hard. I really could have used the money – the new job would have paid about 30% more than my current one, and there was no way in the current climate that any kind of reclassification would be possible, but I made some other plans and moved forward.

And I really am fortunate, my job is not very demanding, and my bosses and colleagues are fantastic. I had hoped, however, to move up and responsibility and interest. Mostly my job was pretty boring. I had just come to the conclusion a couple of days ago that I needed to pull up my socks and email the hiring manager and ask for feedback on my interview so that I could move forward with more information for any upcoming positions.

It is only a verbal offer so far, and the story is that the person that they hired declined to take the job because they were concerned about job security and that their current position paid more than what the other position was offering. In addition, there was a hiring freeze imposed university-wide. The new job has known since April that they wanted me, but had to fight through the hiring freeze in order to get special permission to fill the position that is open. It’s a standard FTE position, not some kind of special line or a contract position. In addition, there was a hiring freeze imposed university wide. In the conversation, I specifically cited job security as a concern of mine. While my job isn’t delightful, it is very stable. The new job is in a department literally down the hall from mine. I was reassured that, much like my current position, the new department is incredibly stable, and that they weren’t worried.

I am waiting on a final conversation with the head of the department, and I did ask if they had any flexibility on salary, but it’s already about as I said a 30% raise. I’m excited about the new opportunity, feeling a little shaky about my qualifications – imposter syndrome syndrome is real – and looking forward to a new chapter.

Update to this letter:

I wanted to update this good news with more good news. I spoke with the manager of the new department via Zoom and asked her my questions about job security, which she was able to answer well enough for me, then said, using a mix of your scripts and my knowledge of our institution, “I know this is a bad time, given the uncertainties of the pandemic, but we know women generally don’t ask up front – is there any way you can come up on the offer amount?” and then I was quiet. And she said, essentially, “You’re right! Women don’t, and that’s a shame, and I can probably find some more – not a lot, I’ll warn you, but at least some.”

Since I would have taken it anyhow, that was a nice sort of “cherry on top” thing. I’m very very excited.

{ 29 comments… read them below }

  1. Ai*

    When I was searching I got rejected from a job for being a military spouse after telling them several times that my location was permanent for the foreseeable future (my husband and I are living apart for now). The struggle is real. Then dependents, women particularly, are stereotyped as lazy and unwilling to work.

    1. OP 1*

      I feel you. Hang in there and if you can take advantage of any of the mentoring and training programs offered for vets and spouses, I definitely recommend it. It is so hard and can really wear down your sense of worth sometimes.

    2. TimeTravl_R*

      Fed jobs will often give you preference and you can sometimes move into another fed job more easily when you do have to transfer. A lot of our jobs are becoming a lot more remote too, so as this crazy season of COVID progresses and maximum telework becomes more normal, it might be even easier for you!

  2. SBH*

    #2 here shows the sort of thought leadership and initiative that’s invaluable in my current bubble. Unavoidable impact? Voiced clearly, to people that can action on it? Provided them with solutions to choose from? Legendary. I wish I had more colleagues able to reach this level of radical honesty and I’m really happy to read that it worked out.

    1. Jill of All Trades*

      I would give so much to have an employer like theirs as well.

      I was in a similar position recently (though for different reasons) as a high performer at my employer of ~5ish years. I spoke to my manager in a very similar way about my limitations and what I needed. She then called me derogatory names and said I was too inexperienced to judge her management style. Shortly before that conversation, she called my teammate stupid during a team meeting.

      COVID or not, I left. I can’t imagine what my life would look like now if she had handled it reasonably.

  3. mako*

    #2 – Thanks for this. I really needed to read this today.

    Due to everything going on right now I’m also struggling – with balancing job, kids, mental health etc – and trying to really figure out what life decisions need be made. While I haven’t had blunt conversation with my own manager yet, mostly because I really don’t know what my bottom line would be, it’s so encouraging to hear your story.

  4. Artemesia*

    I am happy for #2 that the organization worked to accommodate her need, but it is a sketch of what is befalling women in the workplace all over America during this pandemic. Having mismanaged the pandemic we now have many mothers in a place where they need to quit or go part time to manage child care. I know women who have had to do this. A lot of careers are being damaged and it doesn’t fall randomly or equally across the workforce; women are bearing most of the brunt.

    1. Ali G*

      It’s really an extension of the wage disparity between men and women. If the woman in the relationship makes significantly less than the man, it makes “sense” for the mother to take a step back or quit. My husband makes 2x what I do (we are in very different fields and he has 5 years more experience), so if we had to choose, it’s be me too.

      1. Sammy*

        It’s not even just the wage disparity. There was a blood boiling article making the social media rounds a few months back about breadwinning women entrepreneurs shuttering their businesses to parent their children full time, including one woman whose partner made it about 48 hours and was like nope.

    2. NW Mossy*

      I’m #2, and yes, yes, yes, to all of that. The radical feminist in me is definitely screaming, but sometimes lingeringly sexist structures call for lingeringly sexist solutions.

      And when I get frustrated about the career hit I’m taking, I sing a few particularly resonant lines of Hamilton: “I’m not falling behind or running late, I’m not standing still, I’m lying in wait.” This mama bear is just hibernating with her cubs for a while!

      1. feministbookworm*

        A few years ago, a Hamilton casting call for Aaron Burr and George Washington was accidentally open to women, which set off a lot of discussion about how these roles might register differently with a female performer. Burr in particular is fascinating to think about this way, since so much of his dialogue and the dialogue about him is so similar to stereotypical advice for aspirational women. “Talk less, smile more”, all of “Wait for It”, and, of course, that breaking point in Room Where it Happens.

        Hope you’re hanging in there, and that you get to write your own history down the road!

    3. another scientist*

      I didn’t see a specific comment that the OP was a woman. Also no comment on how much childcare the other spouse is shouldering. If both parents want to split it equally, then I can see how a managerial position with 12 reports does not provide sufficient flexibility, while maybe the spouses’ job does.
      That said, it’s pretty obvious statistically that the pandemic is derailing mothers’ careers especially, no argument there.

    4. Perpal*

      FWIW while the overall family stress is real, my husband is the one taking the brunt of extra childcare as I am the the “breadwinner” and his work was more passion project than income, and is what has taken a backseat since march. Hope that’s not too much #notallwomen for ya
      That being said, no shame in stating I love my kids and love spending time with them and it’s a priority that I parent as much as able. I don’t WANT to work 80 hrs a week even if that’s the old school model of how to succeed in academic medicine. I am working on saying no and keeping evenings and weekends clear. So far with mixed success but it’s actually a goal of mine to be better about saying no, for myself as a person.

    5. Cj*

      The OP doesn’t give their gender. Or which spouse is/was the higher earner. Or if they are a same sex couple.

      One could even argue that since their organization did work to accommodate the OP’s needs, they are actually more likely to be a man.

    6. I don’t post often*

      Woman here that has consistently made 50% more than my husband despite his having a grad degree when I do not. FINALLY we are within $10K of each other but his job offers no benefits. None. They do pay mileage, but I don’t think that’s a benefit. I so so so want to do what OP2 has done but 1) there have been layoffs at my job and I don’t want to raise my hand to go part time only to be laid off at the end of the quarter and 2) if I lose our benefits we are eaten alive by health insurance costs and there will be no money for retirement. Also my husband isn’t a great teacher. Scratch that- we both have tried our hand at teaching our daughter and we both fail miserably. There is a reason we are not elementary school teachers. :(.

      Great job OP2! I’m so glad this worked out for you.

  5. Lucette Kensack*

    I LOVE #2, because it illustrates that “success” is not always more money/bigger titles/ambitionambitionambition.

    AND, if (as I suspect) LW2 is a woman, it’s an illustration of the disparate impact that the pandemic is having on women’s careers. (If LW2 is a man, that would make him an outlier, not a counterexample.)

  6. Majnoona*

    My daughter got a job! Ok. I just wanted to say that. After college she did a year of City Year and has been applying for policy jobs in a narrow public interest field for months. Last week she moved to DC and today she got a job, in her field. I am so happy

  7. another scientist*

    the update to the update in #3 is fantastic! I remember not too long ago, when I was totally ready to accept my now-job. And it seemed that they really wanted to hire me. I steeled myself by basically reading AAM advice on how to ask for more, for a whole day. And having my spouse reassure me that I should just ask and it would be fine.
    It happened the same way as OP#3 describes. I said how excited I was about the offer and was there any chance they could come up on the salary? No arguing or justifying (I knew their offer had placed me in the middle of the salary band, which seemed fair since I had little specific experience but bring an unusual skill set to the team). They came back with a slight increase, but more importantly, they didn’t bat an eye at me having asked!

    1. CM*

      Yes, I love the double update! A key part of asking is definitely shutting up right after you ask. That awkward silence can add up to a starting salary increase. Nice job, OP #3.

      For #2, I echo all the comments above. As a fellow overwhelmed mom, it sounds amazing to be able to cut back my work hours so my kids aren’t basically alone all day — and it’s not a choice I would even consider making otherwise. And financially, it’s not a choice I’m really considering now. It’s frustrating that we are all in this position.

  8. Maggie*

    These posts have been a bit irritating to me because I… I honestly don’t even know. I guess because I’ve been working through the ‘Doritos bag’ self-pity phase myself lately. But this one was downright cheery to me and did genuinely lift my spirits. Thanks for continuing this series.

  9. TimeTravl_R*

    OP1 and all you other military spouses out there… you are always welcome to apply to federal positions and may (likely) even get preference! Please check out and usajobs for more info!!
    Also, your regular resume won’t be the same for usajobs, so please use the resume builder… as painful as it may be!

  10. Free Meerkats*

    For #3, Recast the “Family-size bag of Doritos” in your mind to “Value-size”. That way, you’re not eating for a whole family, you’re getting a great value! When I get in places like that, it helps me.

  11. Radio Girl*

    I really look forward to these success stories every week.

    Like many others, I am experiencing a minor, low level crisis of confidence, not brought on by a job, but by life in general. But these weekly reminders that good things do happen really help!

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