it’s your Friday good news

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

1. My husband had been applying for internal jobs at his company for over a year. He had a few interviews but they ended up going with other internal candidates. He had recently applied for several jobs that all went up at once (that he was qualified for – these weren’t stretch positions) and when he didn’t even get a response from the recruiters, he decided to start applying externally. One interview didn’t lead anywhere but an interview at a second company led to them offering him a higher level role so they could match the salary he wanted and give him better experience. He was delighted – it was a big pay bump from what he was doing and got him into a back-office position instead of a customer-facing role. He was really excited about a lot of things with the company and with his new manager. Well, fast forward to 3 days into his role and his manager came to him and offered him yet another position, also with an increase in pay, on a new team the company is standing up and they want him to be part of! He feels like he’s finally getting a break and I’m so happy for him.

*cue best infomercial voice* But wait! There’s more! About an hour after he called to tell me about the new position he was offered, I had a call with my boss in which she told me *I* was getting a promotion and 10% raise! I had no idea it was coming – it was put in out of our normal appraisal cycle. Our company had recently had a small restructuring and I had new corporate bosses (but mainly report to and work with program management) and I had been really anxious about the shift. It seemed like we were working together pretty well but I didn’t realize it was THAT well! I know the PMs I work directly with supported this but I think it was initiated by the corporate bosses.

But all this to say – my husband and I have both learned a lot from your site and the wonderful community of commenters you’ve cultivated. I’m confident that knowledge and insight has contributed to our success. It’s helped give us words when we don’t know exactly how to express ourselves and taught us to think in new and different ways. Thank you for providing such a thoughtful, nuanced, practical, contemporary community for all of us to grow and learn from!

2. I’m finishing up my medical training to become a forensic pathologist—4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 4 years of residency, and 1 year of fellowship done thus far with 1 more year of fellowship to go. I saw job postings for forensic pathologists at my city’s Office of the Medical Examiner, and decided to toss them an application even though I wouldn’t be able to start until next summer. I figured the worst thing they could do is say, “Please try again next year.”

Lo and behold, they offered me an interview! I scoured your site for interview tips and pointers, and went into the interview with a handful of questions prepared—some more specific to my situation, and others more general. The panel seemed particularly impressed by the question, “What distinguishes the forensic pathologists who are good from the ones who are really great at the job?”, which I pulled right from the site. Overall, I thought the interview went well—I answered all their questions even if the answer was “I don’t know,” and nobody cried. Apparently they thought so, too, because a couple weeks later, HR called and offered me the job! I’ll start next summer (barring any major screw-ups in my final year of training here) and I’m excited to join their group and get my career off the ground.

3. Several years ago, I had a really bad boss (the organizational structure is such that I get a new boss every 3-years). It was the classic dynamic: manipulation, inappropriate behavior towards staff members’ private lives, pitting staff members against each other, you get the picture. Fortunately/unfortunately, out of our small staff, I was his “favorite” and as such, he was really pushing me to go to graduate school. I really wasn’t interested, but due to my severe anti-confrontational nature (I’m getting better at it), I ended up enrolling in a graduate program that my organization fully funded. Not only did they pay my tuition and fees, but I negotiated for them to pay me a little extra in salary to balance the taxes I would have to owe (since them paying my tuition was considered a wage), I could do my schoolwork at work as long as I got my other duties done (it was an online degree program), and they paid for my textbooks if they were more than $50. It was tough and it took me 5 years because on top of working full-time, there was my wedding, followed a couple of years later by my pregnancy, and then finally a pandemic where I worked from home full-time while taking classes and serving as the primary caregiver to my baby/toddler.

But I am very proud to say that this past May, I earned my master’s degree! On top of that, after graduation, I asked my current boss (who I very much like) about a promotion. With your advice that there is generally no harm in asking for what you want, I ended up getting a new fancy title and a really nice pay bump (about 8%)!

4. My husband and I were finally able to make a decision – and have the freedom – to relocate to a new city. We had hit the point where we were priced out of being able to thrive in the city we’d been in, and were finally (knock wood) past the hump of family emergencies that had held us there. Making the decision allowed me to put in my notice at Old Job, as we decided to just go regardless of job/no job, and that was a massive relief.

After making the decision on where, I started looking at job postings, and ran across a just right job, which was a total shock and incredibly pleasant surprise. It was literally exactly what I do and was with a really great organization. I submitted my resume and cover letter and received a response less than three hours later. I did a series of interviews, had a new job within ten days, allowing me to finalize my end date for Old Job.

The pandemic was not that hard on us personally, in the sense that we both had work, I was able to work from home, and my husband is self-employed and had a place to work on his own every day that was outside of the house. We did okay that way, and it bought us time to talk to each other without interruptions, and make some really important decisions. It sucked hard on the professional side as my work load went way up and I was on 12 hours a day most of the time, plus weekends a lot of the time. There was absolutely no bread baking happening in our house, though I did perfect some cocktail recipes. The work stress level was absolutely bananas and 100% not okay.

Once I transitioned out of Old Job, I was able to work remotely part-time with New Job while we prepped to move. We got to New Town about six weeks ago (and LOVE it), sold our Old Town house last Friday and bought a New Town house of our dreams on Sunday. I am still trying to figure out how to handle the lack of stress, as I literally haven’t felt this way in my adult life ever – that’s about 35 years of locked shoulders and tension headaches. It is the most glorious thing I’ve ever experienced and I will do everything I can to pay it forward so others can experience the glory of not being a total wreck due to work. (One of the ways I do this already is helping friends with their resumes and cover letters, with a *lot* of tips and pointers from this site.)

5. I’ve been a longtime reader of your site, and you even personally responded to one of my emails two years ago when I was waiting (not so patiently) for my current employer to approve my hiring form and confirm my start date. Well, I’m still with the same employer and I was promoted as of July 1 to a communications manager role with a 13% increase to my base salary! Thanks to this promotion, I’m only $10k away from making six figures a year, something I NEVER imagined would be possible when I graduated from college with a journalism degree 12 years ago.

I had a really rough start to my career. I graduated in 2009, right in the beginning days of the Great Recession, and couldn’t get a writing job to save my life. Newspapers weren’t really hiring and, if they did have something, the competition was fierce and I was competing with people who had 20 years or more on me. Corporate Communications roles were also scarce in my city, and my co-ops and internships just weren’t enough to get me over the hiring line. I ended up accepting a temp job 11 months later that was completely unrelated to my degree and only made $8 an hour – it was very bleak.

I think I stumbled on your blog sometime in 2012 or 2013, and it changed my life. I had no idea I was writing resumes wrong and churning out crap cover letters until I started reading your archives. I still had a tough time moving up – I jumped around a lot of different industries doing a lot of things that were also unrelated to my degree – but every time I moved, I took your negotiating advice and grew my salary slowly but surely. In 2019, I landed at my current employer with a 46% increase in salary, and now I just received another major bump after making a name for myself with some pretty well-connected people in the company (the hiring manager for the position I’m in told me she pretty much tailored the job posting to my specific skill set after finding out I was interested in working with her team).

And now I’m finally in communications! It only took 12 years to get here (lol), but I finally did what I set out to do. I wrote to say thank you so much for all of the excellent advice you provide to your readers free of charge, but I also wanted to send this in hopes that you’d publish it for your readers who are struggling with job searches right now, especially new grads. This economy and job market is far from great, but please, don’t give up! It’s going to be rough for a while – I know, I’ve been there – but if you’re willing to pivot and go down unexpected paths, you may just find your way back on the road to where you want to be later. Good luck, all!

{ 14 comments… read them below }

  1. Cleo*

    These are all great! Congratulations to all of you.

    And thank you LW #5 – what a wonderful, heartening story!

    I’ve also had a twisty career path (I graduated during an earlier recession in 1991) and also built a pretty great career out of a series of not so great seeming jobs with lots of course corrections and being open to unexpected opportunities.

    1. Fran Fine*

      Thank you! And yes – leaping on opportunities, no matter how disparate they seemed, was what led me to this place. I actually believe all of my crappy jobs prepared me for this new role much better than if I had gone in straight line. I’ve matured so much and have better boundaries now because of the (sometimes abusive) nonsense I went through in my early years – I don’t think I would have lasted long in a communications role if I had done it straight away out of school. I just wasn’t in the right headspace and didn’t have the right skills just yet.

  2. starsaphire*

    I love these good-news updates! Congrats to all the LWs.

    I loved OP #4’s comments about paying it forward. I’ve been helping friends with their resumes and proofreading their cover letters* for years, and this is a lovely way to frame it — that we’re paying forward all the great help and advice we get here from Alison and the commentariat.

    So happy to hear success stories!

    * I think it’s legit to proofread a cover letter for typos, and offer general advice such as “Focus more on what’s not on your resume.” I’ve never helped write a cover letter that wasn’t my own, honest!

  3. Bookworm*

    Again, a nice way to go into the weekend. Thanks to all the LWs for sharing their good news!! :)

  4. AnotherAlison*

    Congrats to everyone on their successes.

    Gotta admit, though, #2 has me scratching my head a little. They’re just going to leave the position open for a year while the OP finishes up? Is that normal in the ME field? Or city government? New grads in my field usually get hired in batches in the fall for the next summer, but this sounded like they were ready to hire now but OP wasn’t available.

    1. Clumsy Ninja*

      Might also be that they expected it to take a long time to find someone (or even that they have room for more than one), so hiring now to start in a year is no big deal. Not sure about the medical examiner world, but for veterinarians right now, finding the right person but they couldn’t start for a year would still be a yes.

    2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Also depends sometimes on what the situation is that is driving them to look for new people. Municipal and government employment tends to favor long duration workers who will retire out of a position, and management can often know when someone is coming up on that retirement marker (often 20 to 30 years of service, depending on the field). It can allow you to start the hiring process early, especially management and the long time employee have a good relationship, and there’s no concerns about getting pushed out. In that sort of a situation, you might get someone to say they’ll stay on an extra few months or even a year, if they find a really promising candidate.

      Really well managed agencies will sometimes even plan for a long term transition, in the name of ensuring that institutional knowledge is retained. I know that when some family of mine retired from their fairly specialized job at a state agency, the recruitment process for their replacement started two full years before the actual retirement, because there was a lot of hand off that was going to be needed, certifications the employer was going to need the new person to get, etc.

    3. BadWolf*

      It seemed like a long time to me, but I figured very specialized position plus government equals long timeline. Maybe (maybe!!!) they’ve planned ahead and the position they are filling is someone looking to retire soonish, but is flexible on when they retire.

    4. Pdweasel*

      OP 2 here. In this line of work that’s quite common to hire early and hold spots for months. I interviewed for and was hired for my current fellowship position in 2019, for example. There is a massive shortage of board-certified forensic pathologists in the US—about 500, and we could use easily 3x that many (even in Pre-Covidian times). Since was late in the academic year (which starts in July in the medical field), the trainees further along in the pipeline more likely than not already had jobs lined up, so the options are either more established FP’s who are looking to switch jobs and folks in my situation (not that I mind, though lol!). So the job is contingent on my successful completion of the fellowship and passing Forensic Pathology board exams within the next 3 years.

      1. Doc in a Box*

        Came here to say the same thing. We just finished interviewing for fellowship positions that will start in July 2022. For my first post-training faculty position, I interviewed in September-November 2017 to start in August 2018. Part of the reason for the long timeline is how long it takes to get licensed, which is different in each state … I accepted a job offer in mid-December 2017, started the paperwork immediately, and didn’t receive my license until the end of June 2018. Just in time!

        Congrats on being done with training!

  5. Artemesia*

    My favorite stories are the ones where someone is. not rewarded where they are, overlooked for promotion etc and goes out and gets a shiny new job with more pay. Kudos to all of these good newsers.

  6. 30 Years in the Biz*

    An amazing set of stories today! Even a “twofer” for LW1. I particularly liked this sentence when referring to Ask A Manager: “It’s helped give us words when we don’t know exactly how to express ourselves and taught us to think in new and different ways.” This is so very true! I would also add that Alison’s book recommendations are the cherry on top of the “Career Sundae” that’s she’s created for us.

  7. Here Today*

    So good to see this good news, which is in such short supply these days. Congrats to all!

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