it’s your Friday good news

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

1. Over the last year, like a lot of people, I had a ton of work creeping into my work/life balance. Back in March and April when we were scrambling I understood to an extent – and obviously wanted to prove I was worth keeping in case there were layoffs. Luckily, my company avoided those, but we’ve been chronically understaffed for years, and with the new stresses of the pandemic, it really started to catch up with us. For months I went along with it, working longer and longer days, with assurances that it’d get better “soon” – but of course, it never did.

So two months ago I started casually job searching and a pretty amazing opportunity jumped out at me. The title was technically a step down, but I was getting desperate to leave so figured it couldn’t hurt to interview. The interview process went really fast, and they were so impressed with my skills they actually bumped up the title and salary to match my previous ones, AND guaranteed I’d have remote work permanently!

Your negotiation advice really helped! I was going to lose 5 vacation days, so I just asked if they could match what I was currently receiving. No equivocation or saying “it’s okay if you can’t…” Just asked for what I wanted, and they said yes!

I’ve been in the job for almost a month now and the difference is night and day. I only work 8 hours, and so does everyone else on my team so I don’t wake up to 20+ emails sent between midnight and 6 AM (seriously! And this was all from people that live in my time zone!). I’ve even been able to pick up a pandemic hobby (just in time to be vaccinated of course!).

2. I never thought I’d write in about a 70% pay cut as good news. But after years as a top performer in a high-profile, high-compensation field well known for its burnout and toxic workplace practices, starting a new job with regular hours, at a place where I think I can really do some good in the world, is well worth the massive salary cut. Your website helped me see that many of the expectations I was dealing with at work are not normal and helped me keep perspective rather than fully buying into the 24/7 culture. I used many of your interview prep and cover letter suggestions, and got the job I wanted most. I’m about to have my first no-work-email weekend in 5 years. I can’t wait to see what life is like when work isn’t taking over everything! I think it will be beautiful.

Read an update to this letter here.

3. I work in health care and decided to quit my toxic job back in December 2019, take a month or so off to reset, and find a job that was a healthier environment and more in line with my clinical interests. Spectacularly bad timing, but we didn’t know it then! I had some promising interviews in February and March 2020, but when Covid hit, most outpatient clinics stopped hiring, and I’m not trained for inpatient work. So I spent the pandemic making masks and applying for jobs.

Finally, in July 2020, I had two great interviews at two great clinics, either of which I would have been happy at. One of them, though, (Clinic A) I’ve wanted to work at since I had a rotation there during school. I got an offer from the other place (Clinic B) and successfully stalled for a month until I heard back from Clinic A. The director of Clinic A called me on a Friday to say that they really liked me, but the other finalist candidate had more experience, and they just had to go with them. I was disappointed but glad to have been a finalist, and accepted Clinic B’s offer. Then, the following Monday, Clinic A called back to say that one of their clinicians was retiring, and was I still interested? I absolutely was, so later that week I accepted Clinic A’s offer and rescinded my acceptance at Clinic B.

I was very worried that I’d be burning a bridge, but I read all of the AAM archives about juggling offers and un-accepting jobs, and wrote Clinic B an honest email acknowledging that I was putting them in a difficult position but that I felt I couldn’t turn down this amazing opportunity. They were incredibly gracious and even said that they hoped to work with me in the future! And now I’ve been at Clinic A since September 2020, and honestly it’s the best job I’ve ever had. The director is fantastic, my coworkers are welcoming, generous, and hilarious, our patients are delightful (mostly), and I have queer community at work for the first time. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to juggle the offers and then rescind my acceptance without your blog – thank you so much!

4. I work in a sector of an industry that has seen significant growth due to COVID-19. In 2019, prior to COVID-19, I had conversations with my manager about advancing my position within the organization ahead of the annual budget decisions. Having worked in my particularly niche area of the organization, I knew that I was unable to effectively continue to cover management and operations all by myself (I was a team of one). The budget request was denied, and I was very disappointed, and started looking for a new job. Then COVID-19 hit, and my job exploded. I dug in and recommitted and worked hard to do what was asked of me. It was shortly into this period that I asked again for more resources- a title change that would grant me more access to the tools to be able to more effectively do my job, as well as additional staff. I was told nothing could be done at this time, even though I could see other positions and programs within the organization being augmented outside of the formal budget process.

So, I continued to do my best to do my job, regularly bringing up my resource challenges in my one-on-ones with my supervisor. We continued to have conversations ahead of the 2021 budget year, which included some very sexist undertones (see the “prove it again” bias). I was eventually assured that things were “looking good” for the changes that we had asked for previously. However, due to burnout, mis-management, isolation, and multiple organizational issues, I decided that even if the changes were granted this time around, it would not be enough to salvage my happiness and faith in the organization that they were committed to my program. I gave my notice ahead of the budget decision.

On my way out, I found out that the budget request for my program was, in fact, denied again. So, that was validating. Fast forward a few months, and I’ve been working various temporary gigs and contracts as it relates to my specialty. As it turns out, my previous employer didn’t value my skillset, but other people and organizations do! I’ve also been accepted to grad school- which I’ve been considering for years. I finally had the time and bandwidth to complete the application.

The cherry on top is that just yesterday, I accepted a position that is exactly what I was doing at my previous employer, with the advanced title that I’ve been hoping for, and an organizational commitment to the program. A friend at the organization sent me the job description when it was posted, asking if I was interested. While the dollar salary isn’t quite what I was making previously, we negotiated, and they were able to increase the salary and PTO from the initial offer. And I get to work remotely. I already feel more valued and appreciated. I think I will be much happier- and you can’t actually put a price tag on that.

I think that the moral of the story is to find and connect with people outside of your organization. You never know what opportunities might actually fall into your lap.

5. I’ve been reading your blog for years, through a couple of very rough job transitions (indeed, I’d sent you a letter, which you kindly answered personally, about a particularly terrible experience at my last job just after the pandemic hit) in the last few years.

I was laid off from the aforementioned last job in August. I’ve been out of work and collecting unemployment for nine months. I’ve applied to hundreds of jobs. Some, just to show unemployment I was doing so. But many that I did actually want and would do well, and I applied all your great tips on cover letters and resume overhauls to my applications. I had three or four interviews out of all of those that went into a second round, past HR screenings. In every one of those cases, it felt that my considerable experience as a journalist and content writer was being ignored. They wanted very specific experience in niche fields; they didn’t want to acknowledge that I had last held a senior manager title and wanted to start me at entry level; a couple of times, I was basically told, anyone can write, why are you special?

I’m now happy to say that two weeks ago, the former boss who had hired me at that last job, then left shortly after (smartly, as it turned out), contacted me to say there was a new vacancy at his new job and I was the first person he thought of to fill it. I was a senior manager role, with content writing and content strategy components. He knew I could do it, but moreover, was impressed that in the time while I was laid off, I’d pursued a pretty great freelance writing career with some interesting bylines and continued to prove that I could tailor my work to just about anyone.

I am so glad that this was a bridge I had maintained; I’ve long had a tendency to burn rather than build, especially when a job proves to be as toxic as that particular workplace was. But this guy is one of the good ones, and I”m happy to say I start Monday in my new job. With pay that takes into account my work history, and makes me feel great.

Thanks Alison, and keep up the good work. These Friday good news pieces have kept me going during some super rough moments, professionally and personally.

{ 16 comments… read them below }

  1. Bookworm*

    Thanks as always to all the LWs for writing!! Always good to end these weird times with some good news.

    1. Sariel*

      I agree! Reading the Friday Good News is a great way to start the day. And also gives me a bit of hope when I’m overwhelmed or frustrated at work. :)

  2. Falling Diphthong*

    #4, this is a helpful reminder of how getting out of a bad situation can be a reset. And when you’re happier and more confident, it’s easier to convince other employers to take a look at you.

    Humans are good at adopting to the prevailing social norms, even when those norms are unhelpful or outright terrible.

  3. Eether, Either*

    Loving starting off the long weekend with such good news from everyone!!! Yay!!

    1. allathian*

      Yay, indeed. I love reading these and I certainly hope that Alison will continue to publish them even when the pandemic is no longer the issue it currently still is.

  4. It all started with a goat*

    #1 could have been written by me – four years ago. I was so frustrated and fed up with the previous company and things never really getting better, that I applied for a job two steps down from my then job title in a state halfway across the country. The new company came back with an offer $10k over what I’d asked for, and changed the job title to match what I was leaving, and let me work remotely. Within 6 months I got a promotion I never would have received at the old company. I just got a pay bump effective yesterday and my base salary is now twice what I was making. This year, due to a number of payouts for different things (including spreading the PPP loan forgiveness to employees), I’ll actually make more than three times my previous yearly salary. Next year, I’ll be back to just base salary, but still thrilled with that.

    I was really nervous about switching jobs, but the culture is a 100% turnaround from the old place, including the occasional “You’re the expert, why would you need feedback?” on job duties that I never would have been able to do without major oversight previously. Even without the salary boost, it would have been a fantastic move.

  5. Nicotene*

    Most people probably don’t realize that Alison responds personally to letters sometimes! Actually Captain Awkward does too. It’s pretty cool that they genuinely care about people. I bet a lot of letters are very heartbreaking (and impossibly time-centric too, about circumstances that are happening RightNow).

    1. Moonstone*

      Allison once replied to me when I was trying to figure out how much to ask for in a salary negotiation! It made all the difference in my confidence.

  6. afsdfs*

    6 months ago, I took a 30% paycut and a 1 week vacation cut to move from a high stress high visibility role at a failing company, and moved to a low stress/low visibility role at a much larger, much more stable company. On the last day at my old company, they countered with more money than I could have possibly imagined anyone in my family ever earning. I still left. I know I was making the right choice. I am so much happier in the new role. At the old role, I was afraid to have children thinking pregnancy would make my boss and team hate me (I traveled alot, they’d have to in my stead) and ruin my career (physically could not work in the environment while pregnant). Now at 29, I can finally consider starting a family. I have a little less money to put away now, but I have so much more time with my family. My market is insanely over saturated and I am “undereduacted” compared to my peers. I use the AAM interview guide religiously and studied very hard, and I believe it really helped empower and enable my success. Thank you Allison

  7. green beans*

    anyone can write, why are you special…
    oh dear. I would be afraid to see the content they produced.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Anyone can call themselves a writer, but it doesn’t mean that they can write. Actually, you can switch that to almost any profession. I mean, I travelled in a plane, so I could call myself a pilot.

      1. joss*

        “I mean, I travelled in a plane, so I could call myself a pilot.”

        LOL! Will Smith did you one better in Independence Day. He had seen an alien space craft in action so he was sure he could fly one. To think that in real life people actually make equivalent stupid comments regarding writing is just pathetic…

      1. green beans*

        I’m currently watching a job opening that I’m pretty sure isn’t getting filled because they have very few qualified applicants combined with a slightly-too-low salary. They’d only need to come up $5-7k to be baseline competitive (!) and the position has been open for going on seven months. It is, of course, a specialized writing position.

  8. LilyP*

    Big congrats to poster #2! If you’d ever consider doing an interview post in a year or two I’d love to hear more about how this transition goes for you.

    1. Lw2*

      Thank you! I’d be happy to if people are interested. I’m now over 2 months in (wrote this a little bit ago) and so far, despite some stress learning a new job, it is a wonderful change. Turns out I like spending time with my toddler way more than I liked having money for fancy vacations I never had time to take!

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