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 a frequent reader of your blog for the past five years, and I am so appreciative of all the helpful advice and content you consistently provide to your readers. I have also benefited greatly from the Friday open thread, and I am grateful to my fellow readers who have taken the time to read my comments and respond in a thoughtful and constructive manner.

I wanted to take a moment to share some good news with you regarding my job situation. I have been in my current position for about a year and a half, and unfortunately the environment has become increasingly toxic. I had a good boss who I respected and worked very well with, but she ended up leaving a couple months ago to escape the toxic environment and head up a new company in our city. Before she left, she told me she would love to discuss potential opportunities for me at her new organization.

Unfortunately, her departure ended up being pretty messy (through no fault of her own), and my future started to look pretty uncertain. I didn’t hear from my former boss for a while, and I started to think I would end up stuck at my awful job for who knows how long. I know the economy is suffering right now and the job market isn’t great, especially for my field, so I started to feel pretty pessimistic about my future.

I’m happy to report that after some time I did manage to connect with my former boss, and we had several conversations over the course of a few weeks about her new organization and what kind of role I could fill. I received an official offer from her yesterday for a fantastic position that would come with a promotion and increase in responsibilities, and allow me to do more work that I actually want to do!

In all honesty, the initial offer I received included a salary that was a little lower than what I was hoping for. I wasn’t sure how to tackle this since my former boss knew exactly how much I was making and what kind of benefits I received at my current job. I also felt like asking for higher compensation might be awkward given our relationship, but based on my own research and my perception of the value I would bring, I decided I should try asking for more. I looked up some of the advice and verbiage you have shared on your website about salary negotiation, and wrote down a very brief script for myself. My boss called me to discuss, and after thanking her so much for the offer, I asked if there was any flexibility with the salary and let her know what I was hoping for. I stopped talking (which was so hard! I don’t know why!) and waited for her to respond.

She seemed to think my request was reasonable and sent me a new offer letter this morning with the new, higher salary! I also was able to negotiate a flexible schedule that will allow me to work from home as I see fit. Believe it or not, I have NEVER attempted to negotiate after receiving a job offer, so this was new territory for me. I am so glad it worked out and am grateful to you Alison, and to your readers. This has been a really tough year, but it looks like things are starting to turn around for me and my family!

2. I’ve been reading your blog since 2013 and have learned so much about management, work culture, and job searching. I never tire of the endlessly interesting situations your readers write in about. I work in a public library, and since the COVID shutdown in March, my job duties have been altered significantly with no end in sight. I’ve been bored with my new duties, the stress level of my fellow employees has been high, and the management has not responded well. There is also a culture of senior management seeing direct service staff as replaceable and not respecting their input and ideas, and that has created a lot of conflict between staff like me and senior management.

I’ve been reading the Friday good news in your blog, and it inspired me to apply for a position that was quite a reach for me. After 3 rounds of interviews, I was offered the job last week! The salary is a third higher than what I make now, the benefits are great, the organization is a model for handling staff safety during COVID, and the job duties much more interesting and challenging. Thank you for all your cover letter and interviewing advice. I have always been afraid to apply for jobs that I’m not “fully” qualified for, and reading the good news from your other readers encouraged me to take a chance!

3. When the pandemic started, my industry was hit hard and in order to avoid layoffs, our company implemented a 10% salary cut across the board starting in April. Not only did they recently restore our full salaries, but since we’ve exceeded “COVID” expectations, they are repaying some of our lost salary. On top of that, they have constantly stressed that our health is most important and they are not opening the office until they are confident it doesn’t impose a risk. I love my company!

4. For the last three years, I’ve been working at a job I didn’t particularly like at a company that just wasn’t a good fit for my personality. I’m very excited to say that, using your advice about resumes and cover letters, I made the leap to a new role in a new industry!

I’ve been considering a total career change for several years, but have held off because the new profession would require advanced degrees and licensure. I was waiting for a good opportunity to make the switch, but I finally realized there was never going to be a good time to upend my life, and began seeking out positions that’d take me closer to where I want to go (and give me a chance to figure out whether or not I liked the work before I invested thousands of dollars in tuition). I started about two weeks ago, and it has been a breath of fresh air. The work is challenging and interesting, and I’m already marvelling at how much time I wasted not doing this.

There’s still a long road toward my degree and licensure, but I’m already much more engaged in my new role than I ever was in my old one. To anyone else reading: there may never be a ‘good’ time for you to make the change you’re daydreaming about! Making the leap can be worth it, even if you don’t quite know where you’ll land.

{ 23 comments… read them below }

  1. Thankful for AAM*

    the stress level of my fellow employees has been high, and the management has not responded well. There is also a culture of senior management seeing direct service staff as replaceable and not respecting their input and ideas, and that has created a lot of conflict between staff like me and senior management.
    That’s a public library in a nutshell!
    I am so glad for you that you have a new job and are so happy.

    I have used Alison’s advice to decide that I can live with the lack of respect from senior management (who are shocked and defensive that we might feel that way according to our last morale meeting) given the parts of the job that do work for me. But letters like this keep me watchful for other opportunities.

    1. Sara without an H*

      The attitude is not unknown in academic libraries, either.

      But I’m delighted to read of a fellow librarian moving on to a new, satisfying career.

      And you, Thankful for AAM — good luck to you!

      1. Tabby*

        Which is so sad because, seriously, the neighborhood librarian has known me since I was 4. 4! I recently told her that I considered her to be a beloved aunt, trusted beyond measure. I always knew I could trust her with anything and everything, and she always knew how to find me books that would challenge me. She also got me my first volunteer opportunity in the library when I was about 12, 2 years younger than normal because she felt I was mature enough to handle it. Senior management is really ridiculous to not understand how deeply they are missing this kind of thing, and how important the staff we see all the time is, for just this reason. The influence that woman had on my formative years! I still see her, though not as much as I used to. Ora is one of the few people I will happily hug. I don’t even hug my mother!

      2. DustyJ*

        I came here to say exactly this. It’s so good to hear of someone breaking free of libraries for a better career, it fills me with so much hope!

    2. Nethwen*

      That some administrations don’t value frontline staff makes me sad. Without the frontline, the library would be nothing to the community! In my opinion, front-line staff have some of the most important and most difficult jobs and people who do well should be highly respected and compensated. This idea that front-line staff are retired grandmas who just want something to do a few hours is nonsense (nothing against grandmas). It’s a mentally, emotionally, and physically taxing job that should be respected as much as we respect the skills of hostage negotiators.

      I am in library administration and ever since I got in a position with some pull, I’ve been working to give front-line staff more benefits, better pay, and the respect the position deserves. In five years, I’ve been able to raise the starting part-time salary almost $5 per hour (in a addition to the COA increases every gets each year). I’ve been able to get PT pro-rated sick and annual leave. We’ve re-worked PT schedules, with their input, so that, for the most part, they can work three 8-hour days instead of five 4-5-hour days, allowing them to save on transportation costs and more easily get a second job or whatever. We recently were able to combine two empty PT positions into 1 full-time position and we didn’t increase the educational requirements. That means we have a FT position that someone with a high school diploma might qualify for. (For people outside of library’s, this is shockingly revolutionary.)

      That isn’t all to toot my own horn. It’s just to show that while libraries can be dysfunctional places with misplaced priorities, some of us in administration really are trying to create better conditions. Also, for what it’s worth, I think “passion” is baloney. I try to hire people will demonstrated skill sets, not people who gush about how wonderful libraries are.

  2. EPLawyer*

    “To anyone else reading: there may never be a ‘good’ time for you to make the change you’re daydreaming about! Making the leap can be worth it, even if you don’t quite know where you’ll land.”

    Yep, yep, yep. There is never a “perfect” time to make the leap. Organize as best as you can — and go for it.

  3. NeonFireworks*

    I’m kind of stunned; I won an award for management!

    I work for a very large employer. I only got promoted five years ago, and am still approximately the second youngest of about 70 people in my division on this level. I would have been competing with a lot of senior people for this. I’ve been reading AAM for 3-4 years now, and I don’t think this would have happened if I hadn’t been picking up tips all this time.

    This is a much needed bit of encouragement! I’m happy with my career so far, but I’ve been job searching because recent events have made my position unstable (I have an offbeat, peripheral title of the sort that doesn’t make upward motion easy, and now my employer is having a hard time and will have to let some people on the bottom two or three levels go). Being able to point to a competitive accomplishment in management is a boost. Ready to polish this badge and go shine it at the job ads!

  4. Abogado Avocado*

    I so look forward to the Friday good news because the reports provide a needed refreshment of my sense of optimism. Thank you, Alison, for continuing this feature!

  5. DapperDev*

    I’ve actively looking for a job to escape my dysfunctional workplace. I have to say, Friday good news really makes me feel better and less alone about job hunting during a recession. :-)

    Hoping to have good news for AAM when it finally works out!

  6. OrigCassandra*

    OP1, I strongly suspect that your new-old boss simply forgot what you made at your old workplace. What with a new job at a new company and *waves vaguely around*, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have remembered either.

    The way you responded to the low offer was *chef’s kiss* and I’m glad it worked out!

    1. Sara without an H*

      Ditto. While I have a ballpark idea of what all of my people make, I’d have to check for the exact amount. OP#1, you handled it all perfectly. Congratulations, and good luck to you!

  7. Bookworm*

    Thanks to all the LWs for sharing their good news!! Always appreciated after yet another long week.

  8. JobHunter*

    I just finished the second of a three-part virtual interview process. The interviewer started out serious and calm, but actually laughed by the end (pretty sure with me, not at me). Here’s hoping part three is just as pleasant!

  9. Mar-Vel*

    “company that just wasn’t a good fit for my personality”

    THIS! so much. I’ve been feeling this for some time now. I really love my immediate team and the work I do. But the culture of my organization is just not a fit. I don’t mean it’s bad in a toxic way, but other departments, and the staid, complacent attitude is just not the way I roll because I’m such a DIY’er. But because it’s not toxic, and it pays well, it makes it hard to leave. But I just feel so very unfulfilled and throttled and like I could do so much more. But I’m also effectively blocked from doing more, and doing the work the way I see fit, but it takes so much longer and is all just frustrating (think Captain Marvel “I’ve been fighting with one hand tied behind my back. But what happens when I’m finally set free?”). I’ve been looking kind of low key, but trying to explain why I want to leave is hard to explain to prospective employers and not easy to frame my questions to determine the culture when I interview.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Check back through the AAM archives for advice, because this is doable. There ought to be some version of “I love my team, but after X years at Lamas R Us, I think the culture is no longer a good fit for me. I’m looking for something more creative and challenging, and I think this position would be a good fit because…”

      Or words to that effect. I’ve done a lot of hiring over the years and having outgrown a job is a legitimate reason for someone to look elsewhere. You just have to make sure you phrase it so it doesn’t sound like you’re going negative on your old employer.

      Good luck!

  10. Mar-Vel*

    If the position is somewhat different, I can spin as wanting to do more of X or Y. But when similar, I worry that “culture change or fit” sounds kind of lame if I otherwise say I like the work. I was thinking about saying a flatter or more agile management structure maybe!

  11. Asesty*

    I also received a new job today after 2 years of searching! Thanks so much for the valuable advice you provide on this blog

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