it’s your Friday good news

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

1. I took a job in 2019 that didn’t value my worth and experience (even though it was directly related to the job they hired me for). It was a large step down pay-wise, but since I was unemployed at the time of the offer, I had to just take it, and hope for the best. The job really hurt my savings as I had to dip into it to make ends meet every month. I worked myself back up through raises and promotions very quickly (I guess the experience they dismissed WAS relevant) to pretty close to where I was. Then the pandemic hit and they made us take a 30% pay cut for 4 months. The very week the company put pay back to normal, I was part of a layoff in my department that took out 1/3 of us. The initial low pay, then the pay cuts, then unemployment destroyed my savings (90% of it to be exact). I learned a lot in that job, but I felt like I paid for a another degree in what I had to withdraw from my savings over 18 months just to cover my bills.

But I have been reading your site for 2 years, and took your advice on my cover letter, resume, and interview prep. I put extra effort into my resume and cover letter tailoring. I really worked on my pre-interview anxiety. You taught me the red flags to look out for and the courage to withdraw my application when I could tell it would be a dreadful place to work. It’s strange to say, but you also taught me that interviewers are human too, and to just relax and be myself. I got to the # 2 choice for 2 different jobs within my first month of the layoff, which really boosted my confidence and let me know I was on the right path.

Because of the pandemic (at least I hope that is the reason), it’s been four months, hundreds of applications, and dozens, and dozens of interviews. I made it to the # 2 spot 3 more times, and I got an offer today! Everyone I met with was amazing. This job puts my career back on track, and even better, it pays DOUBLE than what I was making at any point in my career up until now! It should allow me to pay my savings account back relatively quickly. PLUS, the day I got the offer, I got a call to interview for a federal government job in my field!

I’ve told the other people that got laid off at my old job to read your site. You and the commenters have helped me beyond words and I couldn’t be more grateful to you and this site.

2. I’ve been trying to get to the next level in my career for years but the leadership in my department hadn’t been great on internal progression. I and some other colleagues regularly asked for training and development opportunities but were always denied. At one point senior management created new senior roles and told us explicitly they were created as development roles. We were encouraged to apply and my manager told me I was a shoo-in (I of course took that with a large pinch of salt!). 6 of us applied and interviewed for 3 roles and they appointed two external candidates and reopened applications for the third post. They told us we didn’t have enough experience or training. It was a kick in the teeth and really hard to get past – I searched for jobs for a year but was limited in what I could apply for due to needing particular benefits and couldn’t get anywhere.

Then, we had a new head brought in who had a very different approach! She’s all about improvements, innovation, and developing her team. I’ve learned so much from her and she’s amazing. She’s coached me and encouraged me to grow. Last year she juggled the budget to create a two-month long stint of three senior roles for me and two colleagues to act up into. These temporary positions have been extended and extended and she finally got approval to make them permanent. We still had to apply and formally interview for the roles, but today I had my interview and I got the job!

It feels so good to be finally taking the next step in my career. I’ve learned so much over the last year and now I get to keep on developing. This, plus the bonus I got last week, has made me so, so happy with my job, my workplace, and especially my head of department.

3. I’ve been job searching for about 18 months, and after whittling down my resume and interview skills, I was getting down to the final two in a few recruitment processes. I had a lot of not-so-great experiences (being ghosted, mainly, as well as being mined for information on my workplace) and some great ones (finding a potential mentor in a hiring manager even after she told me I didn’t get the job).

During all of this, a role that I had always coveted came up at a big organisation. When I spoke to the internal recruiter, she indicated it would be a long shot but she was going to put me forward. It was a drawn-out process during which I was offered a 6-month contract role at another organisation with a $15k increase on my current salary, which I accepted. I told the recruiter this, and she worked to get their process sped up. I was shocked to be offered the role at double my current salary (and with benefits included, more than double what the other organisation offered me). I was told I’d been offered the role over more senior and experienced candidates, and it’s a significant step up from what I’m doing now.

Because people were on leave, the contract process took a while, and meant that I had to renege on the first offer only a few days before they wanted me to start. I knew I should call them but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to convey everything that I wanted to say, including the need for job security and the life-changing salary, as well as how much I regretted letting them down. I ended up sending an email, to which the hiring manager was very gracious in responding.

I was so anxious about reneging that I made myself physically ill (thanks GAD), but I think I used a lot of the tactics I’ve learned from AAM to write the email and was lucky that the manager was a professional and kind person. All’s well that ends well though – I’m starting the new role tomorrow and am so excited for the opportunity!

4. I’ve been reading your column since 2014 and it has helped me navigate the work world so much. This isn’t the sort of thing my parents or mentors understand well so having a reliable source of information on norms and strategies has been life changing. Your column has helped me move from a job hopper that couldn’t seem to get a job making a living wage to a confident well-paid professional. Today I started a job with a small company and I felt like I knew what to explore during the interview process. The job has enough flexibility that I can continue with paid research work I started while in grad school, it really feels like having my cake and eating it too. I hope you understand what a difference your column makes to people like me.

5. I’ve been a long-time reader/lurker, and I took a lot of your advice about re-tooling my cover letter to be job specific, reconnecting with old colleagues to spread the word about my job hunt and what I was looking for, and stay motivated by other people’s success stories on Fridays! I started passively job hunting in January 2020 and kicked my search into high gear in August 2020 after being laid off from my last job. It was my second layoff in two years and quite demoralizing. However, I took the opportunity to really think about what I wanted to do in terms of work, work environment, and industry.

This January, I reached out to a former manager in another city to let him know I was looking for a job after being laid off, I wanted to return to the industry I previously worked in with him, and that I was looking for a job in my city or fully remote. He forwarded my resume to someone on his team who was expanding his team. From there, I completed the interview process. received an offer, and accepted! They even increased the title of the role to hit my stated salary requirements and were able to accommodate my request to be fully remote (which would not have been possible pre-pandemic). I did not counter. I start soon after 7 months of unemployment. I could not have done it without being a reader of your site because I had always been leery of “networking” and reaching out to former colleagues.

{ 19 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonym*

    Wonderful news! Congratulations to the LWs, and thanks for sharing! Alison, these are keeping some of us going as we try to get to our own success stories. Thanks for doing these.

    1. Joan Rivers*

      #1 reminds me of one thing about life:

      You don’t have to set up your life w/the maximum amount for “bills” — what are “bills”? They can be based on your previous income or just on how to aspire to live.

      Instead of finding a job that fits your “bills” maybe assess your “bills” and be sure they need to be what they are. Maybe they do, but maybe some are just habits.

  2. Chilipepper*

    I really appreciate all the OPs for taking the time to write in. It always makes me so happy to read them all!
    And the impact Alison has had is beyond words. I hope you realize Alison, just what an impact you have and how important you are!

  3. Lizzo*

    Hooray! And OP5, that’s *exactly* how to leverage your network for new opportunities. Well done!

  4. Manager-ish*

    Congrats all! I do want to mention with regard to #1: I hate the “it could be worse” cliché and draining savings really does suck, but it does feel a bit … tone deaf, perhaps, to focus so much on that when there are so many people that experienced similar situations but without any savings to speak of in the first place. American society is particularly cruel right now to those without inherited wealth and/or other privilege, and while a lot of us do work hard for what we have, there are many more that work as hard or harder and still have far less.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m sorry to see that critique here. Someone will always have it worse, and hardship doesn’t have to be “enough” to earn the right to celebrate good news on this site. (And really, someone who has managed to build up a safety net has every right to be shaken by seeing it decimated.)

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Yes, there are people who actually SAVE out of their income, it’s not necessarily “inherited.”
        Going through hard-earnings savings is even more painful than going through inherited ones.
        And saving is a concept that not enough people think about or do.

    2. LW1*

      LW1 Here:

      Wow! I don’t even know where to start. For starters, I didn’t type “it could be worse” in my letter. I did a control+find on the page and only found the instance where you typed it. But it can always get worse. In fact it did get worse. Less than a month before the layoff, I lost a parent unexpectedly. So during the layoff I got to plan, and then finance my travel to an out-of-state funeral, plus deal with all the typical drama of a large family in mourning and then go home to bust my butt in job applications and reaching out to my network (so fun).

      I hope when your good news story posts that no one downplays it. I also hope that it’s 3X better than mine.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, me too! I certainly hope this will be a permanent feature of the site. A great mood booster.

  5. Your Friendly HR Rep*

    LW3, don’t feel bad about reneging! I’ve received these emails/calls a few times and while yes, it is a bummer that we have to go back a step or two in the hiring process, I get personally excited for that candidate with multiple great offers even if they don’t accept mine!

    1. Joan Rivers*

      For sure don’t feel bad! You know companies renege and worse all the time! This company looked at resumes and interviewed so they had options, and may have another candidate who was close to you who they can offer the job to. More than one can be a good possibility.

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