it’s your Friday good news

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

1. I can’t thank you and your readers enough!

I was working in a job for almost a decade that gave me valuable experience in the working world, and more than decent pay and benefits, but was otherwise awful for my mental health. In particular, my relationship with my boss was incredibly toxic.

I have been searching for years for other opportunities, but was dreading the leave because the last time I tried to accept another offer I was berated as a fool and manipulated into staying and my professional relationships deteriorated further as a result of the incident.

Due to a number of factors, last year I was pushed to my breaking point and really dove into my job search with increased vigor. The good news: with your column’s advice, and your book, my revised cover letter and resume brought multiple interviews and a handful of offers. One in particular was especially appealing to me, but seemed more than I deserved. They even fought to convince me by increasing their salary offer past the already-exceeded range.

Here’s where your commentariat comes in; I wanted to accept so badly but feared putting in my notice with Toxic Boss. I sought advice and reassurance in one of the Friday Open Threads and found such inspiring support, that I realized that, if complete strangers were rooting for me so proudly, why couldn’t I do the same for myself?

So, I put in my notice the following Monday, worked out my two weeks, even negotiated a small severance, and I am now working at the new job. It’s a completely different industry, which is a bit of a culture shock, but its worlds apart from the toxic culture I worked in before. I already feel valued and respected and wanted here. I’m so excited about my future now!

I couldn’t have made it here without you and yours readers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

2. For COVID, my company made us take a 20% pay cut across the board, and then later turned around and cut certain people’s hours and salary in half (leading to most of them resigning, because part-time work isn’t really a thing in my industry so they wouldn’t be able to make up the wages lost with a second job). We were bleeding people, and to top it off, the project I was on was going worse and worse, with longer and longer hours, more and more bad decisions, and generally a lack of respect for the work my team put in in favor of the work another team was doing.

I started job hunting despite the pandemic, and announced my departure a week after my boss announced his. We’re both so much happier at our new jobs I can hardly believe it. I’ve only just started this week, but already I can see the signs that the company is healthier, people are less stressed, and the work culture is more geared towards general wellness, so people are encouraged to take breaks and keep a good work/life balance. I’m hopeful to stay here quite some time before I move on again! I know my cover letter wasn’t any good (I was too drained to really put a lot of time into it), but my resume was full of key skills in my industry, and I’d allowed myself to forget what a valuable team member I am on paper and in person. I had three competing offers! So if you’re out there and you’re unhappy, focus on learning some in demand skills and arrange your resume to highlight them. It can be done!

3. A lesson from your blog helped me this week! I’m a graduate student who recently started my first tutoring job through my department–it’s only a couple of hours a week, but besides being useful experience, it’s a nice little bit of pocket money/rainy day fund on top of my graduate stipend. I needed to purchase a specific book to use in the tutoring sessions, and I was about to just buy it and accept the fact that most of my first week’s pay would go on this textbook. But then I remembered you telling so many people that you shouldn’t have to give your own money back to your employer! So I asked, and it turned out my department was totally willing to reimburse me for this book. It wasn’t even an issue. It’s made for a very auspicious start to the tutoring job and a pleasant reminder that my time and money actually are worth something!

4. In April 2019, I was laid off after being associated with a company for over 20 years doing freelance and then full-time specialized work. Over the previous decade, I’d also built a side gig as a freelance writer and editor. After I got over the shock of being let go, I decided to pursue writing and editing full-time positions. Over six long months, I had to reinvent myself. I applied to over 200 positions, took job-hunting classes, got a new wardrobe, and joined a networking group. One of the best things I did was to start reading Ask a Manager. It really helped when I was ghosted by another company after going through six rounds of interviews. I learned to just move on. I learned interviewing techniques. I learned I wasn’t alone in the struggle.

I’m happy to report that in Oct. 2019, I landed a fantastic full-time content writing job with a progressive company, and I’m earning more than double my salary from my other full-time job. When COVID hit, the company committed to NO layoffs in 2020 and moved everyone 100% remote . They’ve actually hired around 3,000 new employees. I have a great work team and a supportive manager. I love my job. And last week, I received a 6% raise because upper management has been impressed with my work. I couldn’t be happier!

{ 35 comments… read them below }

  1. Agnes A*

    While it’s encouraging to read these stories, it often makes me feel like I’m the only one who has been unemployed for a year without any prospects of finding a new job. Do people who haven’t been able to get a job ever follow up?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sure! I’ve had many letters here from people who are struggling to find a job. You’re just not reading them in the Friday good news posts, because by definition these are people who are sending in good news.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        I think the question was about whether there were any good news tales from people who’d been out of work for a year or more. Looks like letter #4 is a 6-month span, which is not quite that long.

    2. Mr. Shark*

      I have a friend who was out of a job since before the pandemic started. She would volunteer at animal shelters while searching for work.
      She just got a job recently, in exactly the position she wanted! So it’s possible, even in these tough times, to get there, even after a year without finding a job. Hang on! You can do it!

      1. TardyTardis*

        I keep trying to get a friend of mine to volunteer around where he lives, because I really think it would improve his job prospects–but he always has such good reasons why he can’t get a job (yup, one of those people).

      2. TardyTardis*

        On the other hand, I volunteered at the local library, and so when a position came up, guess who was hired for it (yes, it was only part time, but I had been out of the system for over a decade due to a special-needs child).

    3. Cara C.*

      Hi Agnes! I stepped away from my career in my 40s to care for a sick parent and ended up being out of the job market for two years. After that I felt like I was trying to claw my way back in and it was incredibly tough. I was finally hired for a full-time position in my field last summer (during the pandemic!) after relocating to a totally different part of the country and volunteering a lot in a setting where people could observe my skills. People in that setting gave me job leads and glowing recommendations (and the experience itself was rewarding and helpful to the people we served). The job I got is not my dream job, but it is a foot back in the door, a purpose, and a paycheck and insurance. I know it can be difficult to stay hopeful, yet we never know what positive things may be just around the corner. A situation that I never would have chosen (caring for a sick parent) has led to a new adventure in a new place for me. Hoping good things are just around the corner for you as well!

      1. Agnes A*

        Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been thinking of relocating too as things went downhill in my city last year (not only because of Covid). I realize that I’m lucky not to have any people who depend on me at the moment, but it’s still depressing. I do freelance work a couple of hours per weeek, but wiil look into volunteer opportunities too.

    4. Pamela Adams*

      A friend of mine was unemployed for about 3 years in the last recession. Plus she worked for Countrywide, so lost her house too. She was hired by my state university, and has just completed 10 years.

  2. Calrayo*

    Congratulations to all of the letter writers, and especially to LW 1! Being in a toxic place can really warp your expectations and you should be so proud of yourself for stepping out of that and knowing your own worth.

    1. Artemesia*

      I was struck by her feeling she could not get out of this bees nest because it would be too hard to confront the boss and resign. AND that the moral support of Alison and this group helped her past that. Re-setting your perspective can be hard when you are in quicksand. So glad about her good news.

    2. Sun Tzu*

      Congratulations from me too to LW#1! It is great to hear that they were able to find a better job and strong enough to cut ties to the old toxic one. Thanks for sharing!

    3. LW#1*

      Thank you so much! I’m seeing quite harshly how warped my sense of normal has become, now that I’m working in a new environment. The coworker who is getting me up to speed had to laugh and tell me I didn’t need to ask permission to use the restroom, and the support and excitement I am seeing from my new supervisor about his expectations for my success is so astounding, I don’t quite know how to react! Though I’m feeling a little like a fish out of water in the new industry, I feel as though I’m picking things up quickly and easily, and my new team is incredible. I’m so glad I took the leap!

  3. Mstr*

    OP #4 can you give us any insight on how to find a good FT content writing job? I’ve got experience but have been doing other work as all I’ve seen (for like the past 5 yrs) is independent contractor jobs with incredibly unrealistic demands (which usually put the pay below minimum wage). Any job boards, networking associations, company names, specializations, etc?

      1. hmbalison*

        Hi, I’m the OP. Unfortunately, Mstr, the truth is it is incredibly difficulty to find a F/T content writing job. I was coming from doing freelance work, so a lot of employers questioned why I wanted to make the change to F/T. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any job boards or networking associations for writing jobs, specifically. I did attend a networking group for professionals in my geographic area, and that’s where I heard the message to get my resume out there. I applied and applied and applied to jobs and stopped taking things personally–which is the advice I also gleaned from Ask a Manager. I will say that as a writer, in addition to an excellent resume, having a strong online portfolio and a strong LinkedIn profile are absolute musts when looking for work. Ask people in your life who are writers to take a look at how you’re presenting yourself with your portfolio and LinkedIn. Best of luck to you.

        1. content lady*

          I am a content director and manage a team of writers. Look for brands that produce a ton of content–my company has a monthly magazine, blogs, videos, etc. Look for jobs that are listed as “copywriter” as well as “content writer.” Some companies don’t understand the difference and list the roles the wrong way. Having 3-5 really good clips is super important, because that’s how I screen when hiring–I look there before I look at the resume. FWIW, I see good roles listed on MediaBistro’s weekly email.

    1. Beehoppy*

      I don’t know if this would help for you, but I am also primarily a copy/content writer (they are used interchangeably around here) and one thing that helped me tremendously over the last couple years was looking at associations. Now I happen to be in the DC area where many of them are based, but lots of them are going remote. Google ASAE career headquarters-I feel like their job board isn’t as widely known as Indeed so less competition. All of these places need people to write for them. Also, sometimes smaller places will combine writing with admin work (I know) so keep an eye out for that as well. I search under: marketing, writing, copy writing, content, communications, editing, etc..

  4. beanie gee*

    These are always so heartwarming! I was especially impressed by #1’s ability to get severance after submitting their notice – I didn’t even know that was a thing!

    1. Mirve*

      Maybe they were paid for unused time off or something? Especially if the company does not normally pay that out, it might be considered severance and something you could ask for. Like pay me my 3 unused days instead of me taking them during the notice period.

    2. SEM*

      I didn’t either and I’m HR. It’s not usually, at least in the US I’m wondering if there were other circumstances not mentioned. There is no reason I can think of for a normal resignation to get a severance

    3. LW#1*

      Perhaps I misspoke, calling it severance. My company agreed to pay me beyond my last day (essentially an extra week), to avoid reducing my salaried pay since my last day fell halfway through the pay period, they agreed to pay out all vacation I had accrued, and agreed to pay my monthly bonus in the following month (it is paid in arrears for goals met during the previous month and is not typically paid out when an employee leaves).

    1. SEM*

      It’s not a thing in the US, as mentioned in other comment. There must be other circumstances not mentioned here (HR)

  5. ZSD*

    #3 makes me so happy! Grad students have such tight finances; I’m glad AAM helped this person learn how to request reimbursements for expenses. The cost of a textbook might be a small thing to someone making $50k a year, but for a grad student, this makes a huge difference.

  6. Chaordic One*

    These are all great news. I’m especially impressed by OP1 and OP2 both getting multiple job offers. Good for you!

  7. Tussy*

    I’m really happy to read about the grad student getting their textbook money back. Work can seem like you should just never ask for things because you should be grateful to work there but the day you learn that you can ask for reasonable things is a good day.

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