updates: the non-vacation, the maternity leave demotion, and more

Here are three updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. What to say when a “vacation” isn’t a vacation (#4 at the link)

Your advice and that of the commenters arrived in time for me to use wording suggestions and to let go of it better when it didn’t need clarification.

I especially appreciated the comments from those in similar situations. I was feeling alone in my grief and the commentators on AAM helped me more than any grief forum I’ve tried.

And some good news: for the first time ever, I had feel better after a trip to the house instead of worse. The folks helping set up space to work and a to-do list since they wouldn’t be there in person. While it was still a hard trip, I did actually disconnect from work and come back in a better place mentally.

Thank you!

2. I was demoted after my maternity leave (#2 at the link)

I have an update, albeit 6+ years later.

The root of the problem was how management handled everything. The boss that promised the new role was let go a few weeks into my leave. Grandboss was minimally involved from afar and left the day to day to Mario, the only manager left on-site. That would have been fine except Jane, my replacement, was difficult to work with. It was clear she thought she was above everyone, knew how to do everything, and should have been named interim manager. While I was out, she implemented processes that directly went against the customer’s policies and tasked unqualified people with duties that directly affected financial reporting. We consistently butted heads. Mario typically sided with me but his management style was avoidance so it just created more problems.

About 6 weeks after I returned, an interim manager was brought in. He was great to work with and quickly declared me “senior management” (along with Mario) although without an actual job title. I got a small pay increase and was moved to a customer facing role that essentially oversaw Jane and her team. Obviously, that didn’t go over well. She tried hard to sabotage me and female supervisor, starting rumors that I was badmouthing our employees to the customer and the supervisor only had her job because Mario thinks she’s pretty. It was all quite ridiculous, particularly coming from a 40-something year old woman. She ended up giving her notice and the interim manager ended her employment a few days later. A new (terrible) manager was hired, then quickly fired, and Mario eventually got the job.

I went on for 4 years without an actual job title, just doing whatever needed to be done. I was de facto in charge of a department but without any actual responsibility for a team of employees. It was fine for a while but once I started being held responsible for things that were out of my control, I pushed for a promotion into an actual management position with a job title. I got the title and the responsibility but the promised raise never came. I kept asking and eventually Mario told me to stop asking because it wasn’t going to happen.

Hearing that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I aggressively started my job search and a few months later, accepted a position with a lower title but a higher salary at a large global company. I’ve been there for a year now. The job is easy, less stressful, and opens up a lot of opportunities for promotion and potential relocation. The new company is flexible so I’m able to WFH and spend my mornings distance learning with my first grader. (Shout out to all the teachers – you are amazing and wonderful. Thank you for everything you do and everything you’re doing now in this new normal we’re living in.)

It all worked out but it was a long road to get here.

3. Applying for jobs from another country (#5 at the link)

About 2 years ago, I sent in a very minor question asking about protocol when calling in to a Skype interview from abroad. Using that answer, and the other advice from your site, I got the job I was interviewing for! It was a huge relief to come back to gainful employment after 3 years teaching English in Asia. I took that gig even though I was being hideously underpaid and overtaxed (independent contractor-hood suuuuuucks), but it put me in a great position to network since the organization has a vast array of departments, clients and alumni.

I was able to leverage that network to move into another, much better job after only a year and a half! And using your tips again, I was able to negotiate the initial salary from 39,000 to 46,000!! As in turns out, the language skills I had polished in Asia turned out to be worth an extra 7k! As someone with a perennial self-esteem complex and a deep hatred of studying, that was the biggest moment of joy and accomplishment I’ve ever experienced in my professional life.

I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that Ask A Manager has had a critical role in my professional development so far. The sector I’m in now is notoriously specialized and difficult to break into, but I was able to do it thanks to the helpful advice from you and the community! I hope I can contribute to someone else’s growth in the way you all have to mine. :)

{ 20 comments… read them below }

  1. staceyizme*

    SUCH good updates! So glad for the new jobs that allow for more time at home, more salary and just more sanity! Congratulations!

  2. sacados*

    OP3: Welcome back, and congrats!
    I also just moved back to the US from Japan last year in July. It’s been quite an adjustment — not to mention the fact that I only had 7-8 months of “normal life” before things went topsy-turvy all over again with the pandemic …

  3. I Love Llamas*

    Great updates from everyone – thanks for the good news! #1 – I am so glad it worked out for you far better than you thought it would. Everyone needs to offload some of the mental stress #2 – Thank goodness you moved on to a better situation and #3 – congrats on your successful return from Japan — I haven’t been able to convince my son to use AAM’s job search tactics yet….

  4. Bookworm*

    #2: Yikes! Sounds like that was a journey but glad it worked out in the end. And good luck distance learning!!!

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      Yessss I’m so glad it worked out! But it also made me a little sad to read how long it took. To stereotype badly, I think women as a whole put up with stuff for sooooo much longer than they need to. What if we all could have moved onto those greener pastures a year or more sooner than we did?

      1. OP 2*

        Oh, I totally agree with the stereotype! I stayed way too long because it was convenient to have flexibility and seniority and I was comfortable with my benefits, etc.

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          As long as you’re getting something out of it, then it makes sense to stay! Flexibility can be highly underrated, especially for mothers. I just hate to see women stay because they don’t believe they can do better.

  5. YA Author*

    I feel for LW #2! Over my 12-week (unpaid) maternity leave, a level of management (senior manager) was inserted between my boss (director) and my level (manager). My new boss was formerly a peer and very difficult to work with. They immediately moved to the home office (previously remote) and took over my office! I had to come in over maternity leave to clean out my personal things—I’d been there for years and had planned to return.

    This is petty, but I never mentioned to them that my water broke at work—in that chair.

    1. Gumby*

      To be truly petty you should mention it after said difficult manager had used it for some time, maybe a month or so.

    1. Scout Finch*

      When the update comes really does not matter! Sometimes it takes a while for things to shake out.

      I just appreciate that letter writers provide updates.

        1. Babar Moose*

          I’ve been reading this blog for so long now that a 6 year update still works for me! I love them all

    2. Facepalm*

      Yeah, isn’t it awesome that the LW took time out of their lives during a pandemic and home schooling and working from home to give an update to their original letter?

      1. Stormfeather*

        Yep, still holding out hope for some day some sort of update from the “my employee wants to go to her graduation and quit to do so, what’s wrong with her and how can I scold her for it?” letter. XD

    3. Love them all*

      Old updates are awesome! I love the long-term perspective, where you can really see ripple effects and how much certain people or decisions ultimatey did or did not matter.

  6. Quake Johnson*

    Heaven help me I am so confused about Who is managing Whom (and What) in #2. Which I don’t think is OPs fault, rather the mess of a company’s.

  7. Caroline Bowman*

    The thing is, when one has just started their family, needs time off and to adjust to the realities of life and juggling the needs of a whole other person (who may or may not sleep when they’re supposed to!), along with all of the normal relationships, financial concerns and so forth, it’s actually not a bad or wrong thing to simply accept ”it is what it is” and to somewhat tread water. Of course this is within reason, clearly OP2 had excellent and pressing reasons to want to move on, but given the circumstances, it was probably for the best to just keep things on an even-ish keel for a while. Congrats on the new, improved job, you certainly deserve it and more!

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