it’s your Friday good news

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

1. About a year ago, I took a new stretch role at my current company in a different department. This job came with significantly more responsibility (both managerial and otherwise), a nice step up in pay, and work that sounded like an interesting way to expand my skills. For reasons that are too numerous to get into here, almost right away I started to sense taking this new role was a mistake. But I promised myself I’d give it a fair shot and at least stick it out long enough to get over the initial learning curve, work to change things, and then reassess.

Despite my best efforts to improve the situation by managing up and across (and of course down, though that wasn’t the source of my concern), the situation only grew worse and the job developed into a significant source of stress in my life. I stuck it out longer than I otherwise might have due to general Covid uncertainty, but as I felt myself recently becoming disengaged in and discouraged about the work I am doing, I decided enough was enough. I brushed up my resume and wrote targeted cover letters explaining my desired career shift (using your advice of course!) and applied to a few openings that needed my technical skills over managerial. I accepted that I’d likely have to take less money for more enjoyable work.

This week, I accepted an offer for a technical/individual contributor role at another company! I haven’t been able to give notice yet as I’m still waiting on the offer contingencies to clear, but I already feel a huge sense of relief and excitement about the new role! On paper it looks like the new job is a step down from my current one, but I’m certain it’s the right choice for me at this time in my life. The icing on the cake is that I’ll actually make more than what I do now, and they’re even throwing in a sign on bonus! I had set myself up for a false choice between money and enjoyable work- but it turns out I can have both.

My advice to anyone else in a similar spot- prioritize yourself and choose what makes you happy, even if it’s not a conventional choice. I’m a Type A “fixer” by nature and I had more loyalty to my current company than was good for me. I was also a bit hesitant to step off the fast track I’ve been on, even though I knew in my heart it was making me miserable. But in hindsight I should have done this so much sooner. It’s ok to try something that doesn’t work. It’s ok to opt out and move on. Be kind to yourself.

2. Thanks to advice from your blog, I jumped from the public to private sector in a significant career jump, negotiated pay, time off between jobs, and increased vacation days. That’s not something I’ve ever had to do in the public sphere and I would have caved with the minor pushback I initially received had I not been as well equipped thanks to you.

But more than that, reading Ask a Manager for so long has helped me understand how interviewing is a two way street and that I really need to suss out what the culture and management style of an organization. I’ve struggled a lot with feeling like I have to warp myself too much to fit into company culture, but I made a concentrated effort to toss that mindset aside. The honesty and forthrightness helped me land the job and feel excited about starting it.

So, thank you to you and the commenters for all their advice. I’ll definitely keep checking daily, but first I’m going to enjoy a nice break between positions to do a whole lot of nothing.

3. Long time reader writing to say thank you for all the advice and entertainment I’ve gotten from your site over the years. I have accepted an offer for a new job with a 50% pay increase! I was determined this was going to be the salary I negotiated on but they came straight in at the top of their advertised range. I don’t think this would have been possible if I had anchored the negotiations to my current salary and your language for declining to disclose this was immensely helpful.

4. The pandemic has not been easy for my husband and I. I found out I was pregnant right when the pandemic hit, and the pandemic has made my job very difficult and probably emotionally unsustainable. My husband was laid off from his in July, making matters worse, and he has a kind of niche set of skills and unusual background and the job market where we live is very competitive, so has endured multiple long and grueling job searches in the recent past already. He wasn’t happy where he was, but with a baby on the way and my job feeling tenuous we needed stability. We set ourselves up physiologically for another long and demoralizing search on top of pandemic and new-parent anxiety, but he has perused a lot of your advice before, so he was at least ready this time, and after just three months he landed a job interview at a great local company with great benefits and culture, and a lot of opportunity for growth. It was the kind of interview he’d never landed before, almost too good to be true. Well, he heard back that he got the job this week! And since, as irony would have it, of *course* they wanted him to start right around my due date, he used your advice to negotiate a flexible start date two weeks after whenever the baby is born (which could be any time now.)

5. I wanted to write in to share a little good news of my own since these weekly posts have been really lovely to read. But first of all, I want to say thank you for all the extremely helpful advice you’ve given your readers over the years! I’ve been reading for a long time, and your website has really helped me navigate things in my work life. A few years ago, I decided to switch careers – I pursued a niche performing arts degree, decided not to pursue it professionally, then felt extremely lost and took a job I didn’t like until I figured out what I wanted to do, which turned out to take a few more years than I expected. I eventually realized I really didn’t want to be doing what I was doing, so I decided to re-train and enroll in a part-time program to learn a new skill. I eventually left the job I hated to finish up some classes and start freelancing full-time last year. It’s been rewarding but very, very hard.

I learned that freelancing is not great for me, but there are very few full-time positions in my new field so I thought I didn’t really have a choice. However, a great full-time opportunity recently came up, so I applied even though I never thought I would get the job. But I did! I just started my new position, and I’ve now successfully transitioned into a full-time job in my new field! I’m thrilled, and it feels pretty surreal. Ask a Manager has been so helpful throughout this journey, and I can’t thank you enough.

{ 29 comments… read them below }

  1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    These are wonderful. Kudos to all in applying the wonderful skills from AAM and persevering!

  2. Susan Calvin*

    Congrats to everyone!

    I’d like to add some good news of my own, which I didn’t get around to submitting in time: from now on, I’ll be reading the “how to be a good manager” advice with new eyes, because I’m moving into my first leadership position! After being about ready to pack up and find a new job, 4+ years into this one (in an industry where some would consider that ancient), and some doubts about my opportunities here, it was really encouraging how much of a shoo-in everyone involved in the process seemed to consider me.

    1. Wandering Wonderer*

      Congratulations Susan Calvin! Both on the new position, and on receiving positive feedback. This internet stranger is ridiculously happy for you.

      And big congratulations & thanks to all those taking the time to share their Friday good news – I read and appreciate them all every week.

  3. JobHunter*

    Congratulations to all! I also received an offer and am waiting for the contingencies to clear.

  4. many bells down*

    I have tiny good news: our organization lets you roll over 2 weeks of vacation time to next year. However this year everyone has way more time since there’s nowhere to GO and you lose anything over 2 weeks if you don’t use it by the end of the year (there’s no cap to accrual).

    Our DFO is leaving in December, but the board wanted him to stay in a few more months to help with the transition. So he agreed – IF the board would allow ALL 2020 earned vacation hours to roll over for the entire staff. And they agreed!

    1. lala*

      Aw, that’s awesome that he went to bat for you all.

      I just got a new job (yay!) and a silver lining of covid is that I have 2.8 weeks of vacation to cash out because I didn’t go anywhere this year! Would’ve liked a vacation but I’ll take the extra paycheck.

  5. Sharkzle*

    LW #1 thank you so much for your insight. I’m in a similar situation as you and it was nice to read your story and identify with a lot of it. My coworker was laid off and I agreed to take over his responsibilities with the promise of a title bump and a raise. The job is somewhat adjacent to what I was doing before but it’s much more high-stakes – more responsibility and more authority. It’s been 4 months and multiple meetings later about the job description and salary and I still have my old title and haven’t gotten a raise. It’s been hard to try and flex any authority without a more senior title, that’s just how this company works. They’re now talking about giving me a bonus instead of a raise. This has tipped the iceberg for me to realize that I don’t owe them anything and the daily stress and anxiety about these new responsibilities isn’t good for me and I need to move on. Thank you for your advice, I needed to hear that! I will prioritize myself and choose something that makes me happy or at least doesn’t cause debilitating stress and anxiety. Good luck in your new position!!

    1. LW#1*

      I’m so glad you identified with some of my situation Sharkzle- it’s the advice I wish someone had given me months ago. Good luck finding a better fit for you…I hope to hear your good news story soon!

  6. StrugglingJobHunter*

    It’s nice to know there are people who are finding jobs despite the market! I have been applying, doing technical interviews and… struggling. I did a few interviews this week and can’t help but feel totally dejected. It only seems to get harder and harder.. D:

    So please keep sharing Friday good news! It’s a real silver lining :)

    1. lala*

      I was about ready to throw in the towel after 8 months and ride out the pandemic with my current miserable job– and then I got an offer! You don’t get a “yes” until you get a “yes.” If you’re getting interviews, it’s only a matter of time.

      1. StrugglingJobHunter*

        I sure hope so! I’m taking online courses to strengthen my technical interview skills. I even started writing down what I’m getting asked so I’m more prepared for future interviews.

        Congratulations to you!! I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that I get something good too :)

    2. Nicotene*

      I need to channel your positive energy, I admit I skip the good news because my job search isn’t going well. Seeing that other people are doing it does not make me feel better, it just makes me beat myself up and say, “see, the economy isn’t even that bad, all these other people are doing better than they were before Covid!!!” However, I fully admit this is my own problem. I deliberately read the comments today to see if I could grow my heart a few sizes :D

      1. StrugglingJobHunter*

        Totally know what you mean! I think the fact that we’re struggling goes to show it’s a lot harder to find a job than it looks. Hopefully we’ll both find something soon enough! :)

  7. Artemesia*

    Sharkzle — we are all pulling for you. Don’t breathe a word to anyone that you are searching; let their first awareness be when you give your two weeks notice — and don’t look back or be tempted to stay if they finally come through. Abusing good employees by dangling promises while they do more work? Screw that. Hope you find something soon and they can just sit an spin.

  8. Bookworm*

    I really needed to see some good news this week and as always, AAM came through.

    Thanks to all the letter writers for sharing! Also special thanks to LW1: the end of your entry resonated with me.

  9. cleo*

    These are so, so lovely! Congratulations everyone.

    And LW 1, thank you for this – “I had set myself up for a false choice between money and enjoyable work- but it turns out I can have both.”

  10. Dimples*

    LW #1, I enjoyed your narrative and appreciate the value you provided in it as well.

    I have an interview next week for a Chief of Staff role I am not 100% thrilled about, because I would rather be an individual contributor than move into managing other people and their work.

    But, the job market being what it is and me currently being out of work, I will see the interview through and decide later what to do, if an offer is made (or not)

    People usually say things like you don’t grow or won’t grow, if you don’t step up to managerial roles or take up new challenges. How true is this?

    I also wonder if my desire to remain an individual contributor is born out of laziness and the desire for an easy life.

    1. JobHunter*

      “I also wonder if my desire to remain an individual contributor is born out of laziness and the desire for an easy life.”

      I have wondered this myself, but chose to frame it as “I feel most successful at my work when I help others succeed at theirs.” I read somewhere [paraphrased] that there is no shortage of Sherlocks in the world, but there is a shortage of Watsons. Watsons are equally important to getting the work done.

    2. LW#1*

      You sound a lot like me talking to myself about a year ago! When I decided to take the stretch role, I thought it was a great way to expand my skillset and learn by doing. And, despite the tone of my letter, it totally was! I’m taking a lot of great skills away from my time in the job that I think will serve me well in whatever roles I have in the future, like how to effectively communicate w/senior leaders and how to negotiate and push back in delicate situations.

      But at the end of the day I dreaded every single Monday in a way I never did before, and most of the work that was my responsibility started to feel like a chore. I realize every job has some drudgery- but the balance was way off, you know?

      I don’t think there’s any harm in trying out a role that sounds interesting to you, especially if that’s your best option- just give yourself some grace and the permission to move on if it’s not the right fit in the end.

      Rooting for you Dimples, good luck in your job search and finding the right fit!

  11. Dimples*

    @ Jobhunter, I appreciate the context you’ve provided.

    Is wanting an easy life such a bad thing? Lol, I wonder.

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