it’s your Friday good news

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

1. I just started at an organization this past week that essentially does work similar to my area of consulting on a broader scale for multiple clients. I was able to get a higher offer than what the range listed and bring in my existing major clients!

My previous job was a passion project where I was severely underpaid and seriously overworked. The job also often had issues with toxic workplace behavior. After putting in my notice there, I have had 7 months of job searching while consulting and my new organization has been a dream to interview and start with. The process moved so smoothly with only minor delays, they sent me a monetary gift for time spent on a practice exercise, and they had thorough and thoughtful interviewing and reference checking. I asked the magic question and started the job within 2 months of my first interview. Your interview tips and strategies were so helpful and so far, I’ve been overjoyed at how great this organization is.

In fact, I found myself thinking a lot about how you’ve mentioned toxic workplaces warp your sense of normalcy. I had to do some meditation/journaling during my first week because I found myself checking my negative self talk and feeling like I had my back up a little. It goes to show that even with over half a year of distance, those expectations have a habit of lingering…

I’m learning how to trust again and I’m so glad this is somewhere where the people are not only meeting my expectations, but exceeding them. Cherry on top? I more than doubled my salary and have dream benefits in this new position!

2. I used what I learned from Ask a Manager to progressively grow my career at a not for profit for about 13 years. I was the go-to for unusual personnel questions, inter-departmental conflicts, and was respected and efficient enough that I had time to build my own programs when I was done with my core duties. Then there was a pandemic, and we shut down operations in the fall.

Thanks to my jurisdiction’s laws on layoffs, and an existing part-time “fun job” that I was able to scale up to full-time hours, I’m financially in a stable place to start this year. I’ve been able to take my time and apply for lots of interesting roles, and thanks to years of reading Alison explain the importance of thoughtful cover letters and resumes, I have received multiple invitations to interview. The role I ultimately decided to accept is with a different not for profit in an adjacent field, where I’ll get to continue to develop a lot of the skills I learned at my old job. I start today!

And there’s a negotiation success story! My new job offered 20% less pay, and doesn’t pay for any retirement benefits. I negotiated back and forth to to the top end of the pay band for this position, and got an extra week of paid vacation so I can continue to work my “fun job” and use that money to grow retirement savings. My new role can be responsible for a significant part of the organization’s income, so if I do well over the next few years we should be able to give everyone in the organization some significant raises to bring them up above a living wage for our expensive region.

(My brother was also recently laid off, because pandemics are the worst. He’s now an Ask a Manager convert and is working on making his resume and cover letter work for him as he changes industries… I sent him a reading list.)

3. I entered 2020 already burned out, but COVID made my work a thousand times harder. So I decided to try to break into an adjacent field, which, due to the timing, meant giving up next year’s contract at my current job before I started job hunting. That was a scary decision to make in a bad economy, but we had good savings, and I knew another year would destroy my health.

There have been 3 full-time jobs posted in my 2 months of searching that match my needs and abilities. I used your resume, cover letter, interview, and thank-you advice (so basically, I scoured your site at every level of the process) and got second-round interviews at 2 of those employers!

One employer ultimately put the hiring process on hold as they continue to recover (I also turned to your advice as I waited forever for them to get back to me, which helped me let go of my expectations before I got that news). And…the other place just hired me, with a salary $20,000 higher than I’d expected! Thank you SO MUCH for your work. I have no doubt that it got me hired.

4. I’ve got some regular good news and some “less typical but still good” good news. A little over a year ago I had decided to start a casual window shop for a new job. If I found something I really wanted, great! If I didn’t or didn’t get it, my current position was survivable. Then, of course, pandemic. But I kept my eyes peeled. And wouldn’t you know it, in August of last year I found a position at another museum, which is a very niche field. It was more of a lateral move, and slightly down in pay, but it had what I wanted: better hours, better benefits, better commute, and a chance to switch from event level planning to activity level planning, which is much more my speed. I used your resume, cover letter, and interview advice and I felt really good about it. And so did they! I left my old job right in the middle of one of the biggest event cycles and was very nervous, but everyone had a great response and the President said they would try to win me back in the future. It was actually a great ego boost.

The other side came about a month later when I realized that my marriage was ending. Here I was, fresh in my job, shiny new ID card in hand and major changes happening. I went to my boss and grandboss just to give them a heads up and luckily both were very kind, offering me whatever support I needed. I used the knowledge of reading through so many of your posts to guide how much info I shared and with whom. Things came to a crunch point when the call was put out for business cards. I needed some but I realized that soon I would need a different name on them since I’m going back to my maiden name. So even though it’s not legally changed yet, I went to my boss and we got me a new email address and business cards ordered in just a day or so! Framing it as “my name will be changing legally in the next couple of months” instead of “I’m getting divorced so I need a new email address” was very helpful. Being matter of fact about the change as “Yup, new name, same me” has also helped avoid drama.

Thank you for giving me the tools to navigate the many changes I’ve been experiencing in the last 5 months. It’s been quite the wild ride.

5. I work in healthcare. Our work is less stressful than if we were a hospital or a safety-net clinic although all our patients are high-risk and we have seen a number of COVID patients. I took this job after being burned to a nub in my previous clinical position and I’ve been adamant about setting limits. Much to my surprise I’ve had no negative consequences at all. It’s a fairly sane place to work (for healthcare, anyway). I’ve also been adamant about refusing to take any kind of promotion or leadership position (I’m one of the oldest/most experienced clinicians in my area).

Last year they announced a new initiative in my area of specialization – work I’m passionate about. I agreed to take on local leadership. The program went live at the end of January and has gone well. There are still a few bugs in the system and it’s a ton of work. We simultaneously had staffing changes that have left me temporarily covering the clinical work of three people. I remembered everything you’ve written about not accepting extra work when it’s too much. I went to my boss and said “I understand that this is an extraordinary situation and I want to make sure the patients are cared for. If I need to pick up extra visits, then Project A and Documentation B for the new pathway will have to be shelved for a while. Can we talk about priorities?” He got creative and found some clinical help for me, fast-tracked a new hire (she starts next month, which is blazingly fast for our sector) and has stepped in himself once or twice.

Today in our weekly team meeting, my grandboss took the time to thank me for everything I’ve done. Apparently other teams are really struggling and complaining about the new pathway while our rollout has gone quite well. Everyone on our team deserves appreciation – which I said – but I won’t lie. It felt really, really good to be publicly acknowledged like that. If it hadn’t been for your advice, I probably would have tried to do the extra visits and would have flamed out – again. Thank you for helping me preserve my sanity so I can do the work I love.

{ 37 comments… read them below }

  1. OrigCassandra*

    Virtual elbow-bump to OP4. I really appreciate all the people at my workplace and outside it who took news related to my divorce in stride. (“This shop loyalty account has the name Ex’s_Name on it?” “Yeah, not any more.” “Oh, okay, fixing that now.” THANK YOU for not making a huge deal of it when I was still raw and uncertain.)

    Rock that new job, OP4!

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      In 2008 I called my boss and said “I need tomorrow off to file for divorce,” and she said, “Oh. Well, you can throw yourself into your work, then.” One of the two worst things a boss has ever said to me. Glad #4 got better support!

        1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

          A boss who started my annual review with “Why are you still here?”

    2. OP4*

      Thanks! It’s an interesting thing because my new coworkers weren’t around for the relationship, engagement, and marriage the way my old coworkers were, so there’s less to “undo” as it were. I’m just me. Well, me and my cat, Gwen.

      1. Caroline Bowman*

        What a very unnerving and quite distressing time you have faced, but by being honest and truthful without drama, you’ve dealt with it so well, and let’s face it, people change names/ circumstances all the time. It’s much easier when you aren’t so well-known yet, and of course people are self-centred so they’d go ”huh, Gwen Smith is now Gwen Jones, weird, what’s on Netflix?”.

        Hopefully this is the start of many, many great and wonderful things for you in your new job and new life (but crucially with the old cat!).

  2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    Well done everyone, but especially LW #5 — THANK YOU, as a patient and community member, for the work you and your team have put in during this particularly stressful time.

  3. Momma Bear*

    Asking for support is something many of us are terrible at, but I’m glad to see letters where someone not only asked but received. Good for you!

  4. the Viking Diva*

    Hurrah for all y’all … and especially thanks to #4 and #5, as I really appreciate hearing some good-news stories from within a job and not only the got-new-job stories. I know more of you out there have that first kind too, send ’em in!

  5. Carol*

    OP 5- your job sounds awfully familiar. Glad things are going well for you! Way to set boundaries. I’d like to learn how to do that better, myself. Sounds like we have very similar healthcare positions.

  6. StellaBella*

    Wow OP1, payment for a work exercise pre hiring? Novel! I am so happy to read your letter – such good news!

    1. Hope*

      LW here! Yes – they sent $100 for about 50 minutes of my time/expertise in total before they even moved me to the reference checking stage. I’d actually heard of this practice on AAM before but never thought I’d see it myself. It set such a great tone for the whole process.

      1. Hope*

        And thank you so much! I’m so happy to have had a reason to make it onto Good News Friday.

    2. Joan Rivers*

      “toxic workplaces warp your sense of normalcy” —

      that’s SUCH a good point, whether it’s work OR a relationship!
      You get “benefits” from either, they “support” you, but you get used to the toxicity. You compromise and adjust. Sometimes too much.

      We can get so “drained” from it, instead of it being “tiring but rewarding” — you can get too drained to see clearly.

  7. Pants*

    After being unemployed for over a year (thanks apocalypse!), I got an interview with a company I’ve been salivating to get into for years. At the end of the interview, the manager asked me if I had any questions and before my brain could process what my mouth was doing, I said “Yes, actually. May I please have this position? It sounds like a dream!”. She laughed and then I second-guessed myself as soon as we left the zoom.

    I was offered the position 30 minutes later with a salary over $10k more than my last job. And it’s just as awesome as I thought it would be!

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Oh, that’s great! It sounds like it came off as genuine and enthusiastic, not just something someone was told to say to show “gumption.”

      1. Pants*

        It was genuine and enthusiastic and I am happy it came across that way! I’d recommend it to anyone, provided the interview environment supports it. This company and my boss specifically are highly evolved and treat people as human beings. I’m a month in and it’s still a little weird to be surrounded by people who are NOT toxic! (PTSD, perhaps?) I mentioned my probable Imposter Syndrome to my boss a couple weeks ago and she laughed and told me everyone has been glowing about me. Still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but far far far less so. I’m a contractor for 6 months (standard at Company) and then they can extend my contract or hire me outright. I’m fine being a contractor forever but I have a feeling I’m coming on as an employee in Sept/Oct!

        It’s only taken 20+ years to get here…. :-)

  8. Loves libraries*

    In letter #4, what’s the difference between event level planning and activity level planning?

    1. BadWolf*

      Not the OP, but my guess is the somewhere around “We’re having a day long conference and need a speaker, lunch, handouts, a big room, snacks, and an optional evening event.” vs “We’re having a magician in for kids at the library and need to reserve the room for an hour”

    2. OP4*

      Event level planning is working with vendors, making maps and floorplans, having big interdepartmental meetings to make sure that facilities knows where the portapotties go, planning for signage and sponsorship recognition, managing bigger budgets, and then being the on-site manager for the day so that when something goes wrong, you can be there to fix it.

      Activity level planning is more like, determining what you can do to get across a certain concept within a much smaller smaller timeframe and to a specific audience, also being in charge of the materials needed to do the thing.

      For example, a nature event might include the DNR, an animal rescue group, a composting expert, nature walks, maybe developing an activity for the sponsors, getting a lineup of related talkback sessions and a location for those, etc. A nature activity might be doing a hands-on soil erosion demonstration and then having the group engineer a dune protection plan with simple materials.

  9. A.*

    I love that for LW5, setting boundaries helped their whole team succeed. Very well done!

  10. Bookworm*

    Thanks as always to the LWs for sharing their news! Always to end the week on a happier note.

  11. Joan Rivers*

    I went out at night last night for the first time in ages. Heard live music, first time in ages.
    Just am fully vaccinated today, after a long year.
    And the singer I heard is 93! She’s working, touring, wearing sequins, and making people laugh at 93! Marilyn Maye, Johnny Carson’s favorite.
    She was so inspirational and the fact that she is touring the country as a Pandemic winds down is so amazing. The fact that she was wearing heels inspires me, too!
    I went w/someone I reconnected with after meeting in 1969 at my first real job, and we both loved it.
    Age is just a number. Work can be play if you love what you do.

  12. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    He’s now an Ask a Manager convert and is working on making his resume and cover letter work for him as he changes industries… I sent him a reading list

    I’d be interested in this reading list.

    1. TeaCoziesRUs*

      I need this reading list, too!

      Congrats to all the OPs!! I love thr new job wins, thr on the job wins, and the less drama divorce win (?).

    2. Hazel*

      I was thinking the same thing! I have a friend who is depressed and job hunting. I gave her the AAM URL and told her how valuable it is, but if I could “borrow” your list, that would make it more possible for my friend to use the resources here. Thank you in advance if you’re able to post it!

  13. Cef*

    As someone who’s currently struggling in the very niche, very weird, and often very toxic museum field as well, I found it so nice to hear LW#4’s success story.

  14. Not Australian*

    I gave a copy of the AAM book and the Magic Question (rephrased to ‘what can I do to excel at this job?’) to a young friend of mine just starting out on his work career. He’s exactly the sort of person who will take notice of good advice and act on it, and I think it will give him confidence to know that he’s got the combined experience of AAM and the commentariat to rely on.

    More personally, I actually went out shopping under my own steam for the first time since late 2019; I’ve been kept indoors not only by the pandemic regulations but also by unrelated health problems which have only just been diagnosed properly. I walked there and back, keeping company with a rather ‘senior’ friend (no rushing for either of us!) and it was actually something that, due to our changing personal circumstances, we hadn’t been able to do for many years. Hooray!

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