it’s your Friday good news

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

1. I graduated in 2020 into a dismal job market. The only things I had lined up were abroad, so of course they all became impossible. Disappointed and uncertain about what to do next, I applied for every job that looked remotely relevant and eventually ended up working in a Covid testing lab; not the most interesting job in the world but I was grateful to have an income and to be doing something useful.

Then in December I discovered Ask a Manager. I can’t remember how I came across it, and originally I was only reading it for the drama, but I think over time your wisdom snuck its way into my brain.

When I started my job search again I tried to take your advice on board. I refocused my CV on my achievements, I wrote less formal cover letters that didn’t just talk about what I had done, but also how I did it and why I enjoyed the kind of work I do. After each application was submitted I tried my best to forget about it and move on. So I couldn’t believe it when last week I was invited to TWO interviews, both for incredible jobs in the field I am passionate about. I downloaded your free interview guide and did almost everything you said, and I treated both interviews as conversations where both sides were trying to work out if I was a good fit for the role. I enjoyed both of them and really felt that all the preparation had been worth it for that alone.

But then I was offered both jobs! I couldn’t believe it; to have gone from months without a single interview to two amazing job offers in one day was surreal. It’s not a situation I ever thought I would find myself in and it’s honestly all thanks to you. I asked for time to consider each offer, spoke to my family and friends and eventually chose the one that I thought would give me the most room for growth. Your voice was in my head the whole time.

Thank you Alison. You’ve taught me so much about what life after university is like and how to make the most of it. I’m so excited to start my new job, and not only will I continue to read AAM religiously, but I will be recommending it to all of my job-seeking friends. You write with such strength, wisdom, empathy and humour and your generosity actually changes lives.

2. I just wanted to share a short story in the good news category. A while back, my manager, an older man, regularly used the R slur to express his frustration at decisions people in other departments made. After noticing him do that a few times, I decided to take the advice I’ve read on here and scheduled a short meeting with him. I calmly asked him to avoid that phrase and gave him a personal reason why (I had a cousin who was frequently the target of that slur), and to his credit, he stopped almost immediately. He slipped occasionally but quickly backtracked, apologized, and it hasn’t been a problem for quite some time now.

3. My husband and I worked from home together in the same home office for 4 months in 2020. One slow afternoon for both of us (right before my 30th birthday), I started talking about what I wanted from life. I was about to return full time in person to a library customer service job. I loved that job fiercely and the growth I experienced in it for the nearly five years I was there has been invaluable. But I knew my time was coming to end with them. I wanted a bigger challenge. After a lot of discussion, I decided it was time to consider leaving library work. I’ve been doing it in some form or another since I was 16 but I couldn’t see myself doing it long term anymore.

My initial thought was to start grad school (which I did) and continue my position until I finished then switch fields. But last November, a position opened up in the admin office of the library that I had thought for awhile, if that opens, I think I’d like it. So I applied. And I got it! It’s a pretty significant pay bump, it’s more aligned with my long term goals and it’s definitely a challenge. I want to credit reading your site for the past few years for not only making me into a better manager but also reminding me of the impact of the thank you notes. The one I wrote for my current position, I treated it like a second chance cover letter and I heard it was the thing that made me the stronger candidate. I’ve been in the position for three weeks now and really enjoy the work. I no longer feel stuck in a rut.

4. I’ve got one for the good news file! I had a job I loved but was unhappy in my region, so had been casually applying for jobs out of state – an uphill climb at any time, especially because I’m in a fairly niche field. I was in the running for a director-level job at our national professional association, which would have been a big step up in pay and responsibilities. Unfortunately, the pandemic brought a hiring freeze immediately after my final round interview, and they were unsure when they would be able to hire again.

Meanwhile my job turned on a dime when COVID hit and our public-facing office closed due to governor’s orders. Our boss was unhappy working remotely despite the productivity of our staff, and was projecting all of his anxieties around furloughs and (theoretical) budget cuts onto everyone, especially the rest of us on the management team. Once we were back in the building, he was also making decisions that pushed against public health guidelines – nerve-wracking for staff who are high-risk or have family members who are. I knew I had to leave when he publicly came down hard on those of us on staff who thought our organization needed to produce a statement on Black Lives Matter and express our commitment to anti-racism and serving diverse communities. His reaction was completely out of sync with previous work being done at our organization, and the messaging of our state and national association.

I intensified my search and focused on areas doing relatively well in the pandemic. Using your advice on resumes and cover letters, I landed a few interviews. Despite being a strong candidate and getting great followup feedback, it was just too tough to choose me over internal or local candidates, especially during the pandemic. Then I saw a dream job – the job growth I was seeking, a small increase in pay, and the perfect location. I thought I shot myself in the foot during our video interview when I mentioned my salary request (on the slightly higher end, but not offensively out of range). Imagine my surprise when I got a call that Monday to schedule a final-round interview! They offered me the job at a competitive salary, my family moved up, and I’m loving my new role. I report to people who share my commitment to diversity and inclusion, and who are focused on public health and the safety of our staff and clientele. I’m excited to see how I am able to grow and develop here, and my family and I are so happy in our new location.

Thank you for all of your advice over the years! It’s made me a stronger job candidate and manager.

5. I had a phone call with my grandboss (technically I’m reporting directly to him right now) as we’re finalizing cost of living adjustments (COLA) so they can go into our payroll system. Due to a system rule, as the person doing the approval I can’t see myself, so I let my boss know that I manually added myself to the summary. (Also for context, he asked me to call him which is rare and we normally communicate through email and IM.) He then tells me that I shouldn’t be on the COLA list. Because of how well I’ve stepped up with my boss and two peers leaving (leaving just the two of us and a coordinator on the team and just me to do a lot of the analysis/daily work as he’s an SVP dealing with a recent merger) and still given the same quality of work (while being honest with people about timelines – luckily 99% were understanding that I’m only one person), I’M GETTING A 14% RAISE!!!!!!

{ 22 comments… read them below }

  1. Leslie Hell Knope*

    I love the first update, and second every word! I, too, came for the drama and stayed for the wisdom and empathy. <3

    1. Kathryn*

      I discovered this blog while I was in college and used several blog posts as sources in papers and I’ve been hooked ever since and I recommend Ask A Manager whenever I can!

    2. Happy Lurker*

      Came for advice, stayed for the everything! Thank you OP#1 and ALLISON!
      Keep Calm and Allison on is my internal mantra.

  2. Ginger Baker*

    Because of my job role, I ended up seeing the email BossMan sent to another person I was supporting agreeing that I was the top candidate but also specifically calling out my thank you email as a “sealing the deal” kind of thing. Any doubts I ever had about thank you notes disappeared in that moment!

  3. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    To #1, training myself to have Alison’s voice in my head has been the single best thing for my career! You are so right about the value of re-programming your tactics in the job hunt!

    I went from really hating the job I was in a few years ago to realizing WHY I did, realizing that the environment was really dysfunctional (and found out recently that company no longer exists) to starting a new job next week that though it’s not a “dream” job, it’s something that really fits me. I don’t feel “robbed” anymore of my time, or dreams, or whatever, and recognized I have a lot more power over my situation than I thought, and I don’t need said dream job to be happy. And also, the value of portioning out and conserving your office-capital. That concept was revolutionary and everyone I share it with is like, “WHY IS THIS NOT TAUGHT IN COLLEGE?!”. AAM helped me break out of my Dad’s antiquated job hunting advice and be successful.

  4. EmbracesTrees*

    Wow, one of those days, I guess (gray, rainy, windy, dreary): #2 got me all weepy. Small steps like this — a simple conversation! — making a big difference in the lives of people who now won’t be subjected to that kind of ugliness.

    Kudos to OP since these things can feel daunting — and to her boss for being the kind of person who is willing to listen and change (aka, evolve)!

    1. Reality Check*

      I’m trying to figure out what the R word is, but I’m glad the conversation worked!

        1. DSmom*

          As a mother to an incredible little girl with Down syndrome, thank you for having that talk with him. <3

    2. just a small town girl*

      Yes! I have no personal connection like OP, but for some reason the R word really sticks with me and I’ve successfully helped my SO and roomate remove it from their vocabulary. I’m so happy for them to have a boss who wants to do better and that they had the courage to bring it up!

  5. Bookworm*

    I love reading these. Thanks again to all the LWs for sharing! Thanks for letting us end on a higher note. :)

    1. JanetM*

      I agree! I wonder if Alison might consider continuing the Friday Good News even after the Zombie Apocalypse ends.

  6. Bostonian*

    2 offers at once! I’ve had a decent amount of professional luck and success, but I’ve never been in that situation. Must have been really empowering to know your worth and have a choice!

  7. Harvey JobGetter*

    As someone who used to use the R word a lot, I’m forever grateful to the person who called me on it 21 years ago. Even though I’m sure I knew it was inappropriate and hurtful, they were the first person to ever call me on it and I haven’t used it since. Sometimes people just need a kick in the pants.

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