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 graduated from college and I was so worried about trying to find my first job post graduation in these strange times. I spent most of the school year crafting cover letters for positions that never so much as sent a rejection, and most of my classmates had similar issues with employers never getting back to them. But! I’ve been an avid reader for my entire college career, and I used your free PDF on interviewing to prepare and absolutely wow the interviewers through Zoom meetings and an office walk-through.

I just accepted their offer today for a position with amazing work-life balance, benefits, and pay more than DOUBLE what similar jobs in my area were offering! When the manager called to give me the offer, she told me that my poise through the technical problems in Zoom and my questions (including the “what separates a good person in the role from a great person in the role? question in the guide!) convinced them that I was exactly what they were looking for. I’ll be starting my first “adult job” in June!

Thank you so much for the troves of advice, and thanks to all the commenters on the blog. Just reading through others’ experiences and stories helped so much to calm my nerves and let me evaluate the company right back, instead of desperately trying to get hired. I’m confident that this will be a strong start to my career.

2. Last year I was “laid off” due to issues I had with a coworker who would continually berate me in emails (in which she would cc the entire office), withhold information and then send more emails criticizing me for not having said info… etc. It took me a long, long time to finally say something and, well, I learned my lesson. I was unemployed from the beginning of February to the first of November, when I found a temp job. The last day of April one of my beloved kitties had to be put down, and to be quite honest I think if I hadn’t been at home instead of having to deal with that place I probably would’ve lost what little patience I had left. Glass half full, or whatever.

And then! I got a text from the employer I left to go to the organization with the horrible coworker. I left them for only one reason: the money. I initially took the job because I had really needed an income, but it became the best job I ever had. A nonprofit that was chock-full of people who really, really, believed in what they do (I was accounting support). My boss did for me what no boss had done before, and that was: assuming I knew how to do everything. When I started there, I KNEW I had the skills and knowledge to do my job. He made me BELIEVE it. When I left I really, really missed my coworkers and management. I started my new job with positivity and enthusiasm that was quickly stomped on, and became one of those people who woke up dreading weekdays. And then of course I was out of a job. I missed the money, but not the people.

On to the good. The old VP-now-CEO, whom I had sporadically stayed in touch with after I left, sent me a text asking how much it would take for me to come back in a slightly different position that would still be working with numbers and plenty of accounting work but in one department, as opposed to the organization as a whole. I gave her a figure and then waited for almost two weeks. After about ten days I thought I had asked for too much. Knowing what I know now, it took them that long to move money and find money to make it work. I also learned it was Old Awesome Boss, who had also left the company, who told her to contact me. I started with them the first week of January and it’s almost like I never left! It took a few days to re-learn the software and accounts and I am still learning the intricacies of the department, but I know I have already made a lot of difference already because my two managers tell me pretty frequently I am a great investment. And! Just before I started, Old Awesome Boss texted and let me know he was ALSO returning.

No more abusive emails, no more passive-agressive comments in meetings, no more favoritism, no more people doubting what I can do. No more walking into a room and practically seeing the venom dripping down the walls. Even on the most pressured and stressful days, people are still positive and helpful. A year ago I was terrified and wondering what the heck I was going to do. Now, every morning I wake up with a great outlook and am actually excited about my job again!

3. I’ve been working full time since 2011 and reading AAM since 2012. I was asked to become a partner in the firm that I work at, and I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for a couple specific things you’ve done that have helped my career.

1. You preach that fair doesn’t mean equal. This couldn’t be more true in a professional setting, and it has made me a much more effective employee and manager. I don’t get bogged down trying to figure out how to treat everybody the same (or expecting to be treated the same), and I instead focus on being fair to everybody and making sure that I am treated fairly. Seeing specific situations on your blog have really helped me apply that principle in real, concrete ways.

2. You always advise directness. This one came easier to me that the first, but seeing your advice on specific situations with specific scripts has helped me apply this in ways that have benefited me greatly. As a result of your advice, I am a good advocate for myself, and I try to handle issues that arise with folks that work for me in a direct, “how do we solve this” type of way instead of letting things fester. This is one that in retrospect seems obvious, but doesn’t come naturally to most of us.

3. You are good at giving the benefit of the doubt to all sides of the discussion. It is too easy to just heap the blame on one side of a conflict, and I try my best to emulate you on this. Sometimes the issue is so egregious that there is no doubt to be given, but that is in the very tiny minority of situations that I deal with, and that is reflected in your answers to your questions.

Anyway, this just seemed like an appropriate occasion to thank you for the nine years (dang, we’re old…) of advice. You’re a significant part of the reason I am where I am.

4. I completed my MFA in fine arts in 2018 and have been searching for a tenure-track position in my state. After three years of adjuncting and several offers that didn’t quite materialize, I signed on to an amazing school, $10k more pay than I expected, and I have creative freedom to build the program of my dreams! It’s even a remote appointment, which is a huge plus as I’ve come to be quite the homebody over COVID. I negotiated a pay raise and the remote appointment and AAM’s techniques were invaluable.

5. I’ve been searching off-and-on (mostly a passive search) for a new job for 2 ½ years. My current role was fine enough, but not quite the right fit, below-market compensation, and there wasn’t much room for me to grow and advance into higher-level roles. I’d only ever gotten one offer in my job search during that time and they just couldn’t offer enough of a financial package for my family to make the jump. Nine times I’d gone through an organization’s entire interview process. At least thirty times I got past the initial phone screen. That long journey is now over: I have finally gotten and accepted a new offer!

I start in two weeks and am extremely excited for my new role. It’s in a part of my field where my interest level is highest, it’s above-market compensation, the benefits package in sum total is better, and there’s tremendous opportunity for growth and advancement. Thanks to AAM and the community here for helping keep me going through some times where I wondered why anybody would hire me at all, and often wondered how I was even keeping my current job. Keep trucking along, folks!

6. In June 2020 I was laid off from my job of almost 16 years. I was able to find a new position and was onboarded remotely at the end of the summer.

Pretty quickly I realized that the job was not a good fit for my skillset, even though the people were nice. I started applying for other positions over the winter and had several interviews with different companies in December and January. One interview was very promising but the company ghosted me. (And the job was just posted again – go figure.)

However, that door closing allowed another one to open. I interviewed four times with a well-known tech company, they made me an offer, and I just finished week one at my new job! I’m thrilled because this position is exactly what I want to be doing, and I have found “my people” on the team. This is a permanent remote position and most of the team is in another state.

I had to brush up on AAM about how to resign from a job, because I’d never actually done that before. The scripts and advice were extremely helpful.

To everyone else who is searching, your door will open too – I truly believe it!

{ 28 comments… read them below }

  1. Tracey*

    This is my favorite part of AAM and I’m thrilled for everyone – especially #2! Congrats all!

    1. Faith the twilight slayer*

      #2 here: I love this place. Even on my most pressured days (we just finished 3 simultaneous audits!) I am still laughing and having a good time. Everyone here is in a good mood 99.99% of the time, which is so, so refreshing. My insurance has zero copays for mental health and my hours are capped at 38 a week! Plus my boss sees nothing wrong with my now purple hair.

      I have a family member who was diagnosed with a long-term illness right after I started here and am their primary caretaker. My supervisor has been extremely understanding and is generous about letting me have the needed time off for multiple appointments as long as the job gets done.

      So. Freaking. Happy.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Your story really drives home the way that one person makes such a difference. You are clearly skilled and sought after yet that one person at the toxic place could make things so awful for you.

        Congrats and thanks for sharing your story!

        1. More Pizza*

          A good manager knows the importance of cutting loose the toxic personality. It infects and undermines the whole team.

      2. Tracey*

        Thrilled for you – I recently moved into a new
        department and it’s been such a joy for me as my boss seems to see I’m capable in a way others in my old one did not. It’s really life changing and such a boost to have good people supporting you!

  2. Momma Bear*

    I’m glad that LW #2 was not only able to get out of a bad situation, but has a fresh start with a company they already liked. I think for their own mental health they needed those praises.

  3. PT*

    Can I be a Negative Nellie and say I hate it when LW’s say they got a job with “amazing work-life balance” before they even start the job?

    A lot of companies lie about that in the interview stage to get people to commit, and then don’t live up to what they promised once they’ve got the person in the door.

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Why rain on someone’s parade? There are plenty of places that are really transparent about their work-life balance in the interview stage too, so it’s entirely likely that they have an accurate picture of what work-life balance will look like at their new org. I know I did. I just started a job last week and during the interview work/life balance came up and both the hiring manager and the VP I interviewed with talked to me about what w/l balance looks like here. I’ve since spoken with other teammates and it’s been confirmed that everything I was told in the interview is accurate.

      1. Cant remember my old name*

        When I was interviewing for the job I am in now, the interview process was a little longer than usual… because several key players were on vacay. When I started the job, on day one, three other people (at all levels) were on vacation. This was my first clue that the WLB they promised was taken seriously and employees were encouraged to take PTO. Sometimes you just know early.

        1. GS*

          I went from having a work cellphone in my last job to having my interviewer/current boss in this one say “if you have an questions feel free to call or email, but I won’t see them until after the weekend” which was a definite sign of work-life balance to come.

    2. More Pizza*

      I am on your side on this one. A lot of places lie about this and lots of other things to get you in the door, which is a dumb strategy because obviously you are going to catch on to reality pretty quick and then they have lost you forever.

  4. Not a Cat*

    This is usually the favorite part of my Fridays! Other than it being almost the weekend :-)

  5. Abogado Avocado*

    Thank you, Alison, for continuing this wonderful feature. It buoys me to learn how fellow readers have used your stellar advise to move on from toxic workplaces and terrible bosses.

  6. Bookworm*

    Definitely one of the best parts of the week. Thanks to all for writing in and sharing. :)

  7. EvieK*

    Chiming in on thankfulness for AAM and all the comments. Without it I never would have truly understood that there are no universal office norms. That when a co-worker is taking an action, I don’t like or I don’t “get”, that I just need to ask. They are most likely making the best possible choice given their background and the information they have. You have made so much of my work life less stressful. Thank you!

  8. Sled dog mama*

    #6-isn’t it fun to realize that you’ve never resigned before? Until two jobs ago I had only left jobs due to a lay off or the ending of a time-limited positions but had never resigned before. It was really kind of fun to realize that nearly 8 years into my career was the first time I ever told a boss I was leaving and had to write a resignation letter.
    Funny story from that, at the time I was working 50% in one division 50% in another. One supervisor was responsible for all my performance reviews, etc. and I was “loaned” to the other department. My primary supervisor just sighed and said he figured he be loosing me soon. Other supervisor lost her mind when I told her (which was about a week after meeting her).
    50% of my position was up for elimination due to loosing a contract, the client notified us 9 months before the contract was up that they would not be renewing. I and my primary boss had been poking management for months to get an answer of what they were going to do with that 50% of my time, we had gotten total silence in return. I got an answer 36 hours after submitting my resignation.

  9. 4CeeleenLV*

    I know the pandemic’s been rough on me and damaged my attitude about work (and everything else) because I just feel angry about other peoples’ success :(
    Logically, I know that one person’s success does not remove or diminish the possibility of my success. In fact it enhances it in almost all circumstances.
    But here my knee-jerk is ‘of course the graduating student was poised, they haven’t had to work a full time job during 18 months of pandemic’. I guess the main thing the pandemic damaged was my ability to empathise and recognize others’ struggles.

    1. Ariaflame*

      As someone who works in a university, I can assure you, that even in places which were only lightly hit, the pandemic was no picnic for students attempting to finish their studies.

  10. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    #5 could have been me. I got laid off due to COVID, took the first job that presented itself … and it was AWFUL. My work life isn’t perfect now but it’s so much better.

  11. GS*

    Oh, that interview question! I asked it at my interview for this job, which was a panel interview: “what separates a great person in this role from an ok person?” It got very awkward and quiet for a minute, and the person who would become my boss said something noncommittal, and the interview moved on.

    Turned out the panel contained the other person who also works in my role, and his (and now my) boss. He and my boss definitely work very hard to get along (they succeed in being polite and respectful to each other! But it’s clearly hard work for both of them) and so she didn’t want to answer the question in front of him, and he didn’t want to answer it in front of her.

  12. More Pizza*

    Ugh I needed this whole post. A reminder to take the long view and that life can turn on a dime for the better in unexpected ways. I am in passive aggressive irrational favoritism hell. To the last writer, check out Central Pacific Bank and the state of West Virginia for incentives to relocate your remote job to these states.

  13. TardyTardis*

    I had to add this good news–my daughter got tenure! She’s been at her current university for a relatively short time, but apparently the good work she did at her previous one, plus her dedication during the pandemic have been rewarded.


  14. B Wayne*

    I truly enjoy the Friday Good News. I usually read it on Saturdays so I have six days of AAM during the week.

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