it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1. I’ve been unemployed since last July, after 15 years in the performing arts. For obvious reasons, the field has been 90% shut down since last March. Due to the pandemic, my husband and I had to postpone, then cancel our wedding/reception, our landlord decided to sell the house pushing us into the ridiculous housing market, and my state ended the federal unemployment extensions early. Stress levels have been high, to say the least!

Despite the stress of the layoff, being out of my old difficult workplace was actually a huge mental health improvement. In the last year, I started a business with colleagues, produced a concert film, started an MBA, and of course applied for job after job. I had a few first round interviews but nothing went further, and I was starting to be convinced I was just terrible at my career.

One of my long-term desires was to get into my city’s Arts and Culture department, where I could get back into my desired area – public arts programs. They recently reopened their facilities and posted several positions, so I of course applied right away. This time I got a call for my first in-person interview of the pandemic. To get ready for the interview, I re-read How to Get a Job and used your interview prep directions to get myself ready. In the lead up, my car battery had to be replaced, my external hard drive crashed while I was gathering work samples, and I was convinced I’d bomb the interview after these hiccups.

Right before walking in, I reminded myself that they called me because they already think I can do the job, so just go be myself. I nailed the interview, and just found out I got the job! My husband and I closed on our new house last week and my unemployment runs out in two weeks, so the timing could not be better. The future feels exciting knowing I get to go back to work in the community (instead of at my desk 3 feet from my bed) in a place that aligns with my values, and there’s a future path in my new organization. I owe so much to Ask a Manager and all your great advice! I recommend it to everyone as an invaluable resource for professional development.

2.  I’ve been at a small, flat structured company since I graduated undergrad. While my bosses are amazing (great mentorship, extremely supportive throughout a difficult medical issue, and very flexible with COVID), I haven’t been challenged and there was no room to grow in management skills– my ultimate career goal. I’ve spent the past four years grabbing every opportunity possible to manage projects and people while still technically being an individual contributor, and this Spring I finally made the leap to apply to manager positions outside at other companies.

I used every ounce of your advice: made an accomplishment-focused resume, tailored cover letter, acted like I was interviewing the company, etc. I applied to three jobs and got three interviews, two of which resulted in offers! The company I ultimately accepted a job from liked me so much that they cut the interview process short AND offered a signing bonus, without me even asking.

I truly have your resume advice to thank for this new opportunity. My title and tenure at Current Job do not reflect the skills that I’ve developed in my role (small company = many hats), but my resume conveyed my accomplishments clearly enough that I was able to get my foot in the door!

3. My twin brother is autistic, and has been working well paying but grueling contract jobs with various major tech companies. He has been on hiatus and dreading going back to another stint at Major Tech Company. Right after I read your interview with the representative from Auticon, my father called me and asked if I knew of any support or resources for autistic people in tech. Talk about serendipity! I looked them up, sent him a link to their job posting, and he got an interview. This week he got an offer letter, for $5,000 more than he was making at the Major Tech Company, with a generous PTO and benefits package, all 100% remote. Thank you so much for turning me on to that resource!

4. Even though I was fortunate enough to stay employed and to be able to work at home, my 2020 was still hellishly stressful. Lockdown happened just as my husband and I began the process of moving countries (we got rid of 80% of our furniture and put the rest into storage in February 2020 … so basically it was the worst possible timing) and we spent most of the year in immigration limbo. (I’m British, he’s American and he needed to get a spouse visa for the UK.) Immigration stress plus pandemic stress was just a uniquely awful combination.

When we finally moved to the UK in December 2020, I was prepared to be unemployed for up to a year, especially as I knew that I wanted to continue working in events. There were very few positions being advertised early in the year, and I couldn’t network as I know very few people in this area. I could only apply for 5 jobs in my first 3 months living here I also found Zoom interviews to be a steep learning curve.

But I got job #5 and so far it’s been great! My interview was a reminder to ALWAYS prepare thoroughly and be enthusiastic, even if the job description doesn’t enthral you at first glance. The job sounded more and more interesting as the interview went on, and I was very happy to get an offer. I credit the excellent interview advice on your site for helping me to land this job.

I’m learning a lot, I can finally step away from admin work and they were very understanding and flexible when my husband recently had health issues that were partly caused by all the stress of 2020. To everyone job hunting and dealing with difficult personal circumstances – don’t give up!

5. I work in a very toxic industry (nonfiction TV production), so while I’m not always able to apply everything I learn on your site due to our less corporate structures, I find I’m able to see corollaries pretty often, especially in terms of workplace norms. Between being a loyal reader of your site for a few years now and a few years of therapy, I’ve become less and less likely to put up with the toxic nonsense I often have to deal with to get my job done. I was laid off (along with our entire staff) back in July from my gig of 5.5 years, which is an eternity in this industry. The company rehired about 2/3 of the staff 2 weeks later to continue working, and I was not one of those asked back, I suspect at least partially because of my unwillingness to take a lot of shit anymore. Bummer for my checkbook, but good for my mental health!

And then I didn’t work for a LOONG time. When you’re a freelancer who takes a long term gig, you fall off of people’s radars, so I was not getting the calls I used to get. I also have a lot more experience, so some people are possibly not willing to pay my rate now. I started using your advice to apply to more corporate jobs – production work at large companies, tech, other industries entirely. I crafted clever cover letters and reworked my resume to highlight how my production and organizational skills would pivot nicely. Sadly, it never worked out, but it was excellent practice, so I don’t regret it at all. I piqued the interest of one tech recruiter who’s keeping an eye out for future work, which is great!

All of this to say I just started a new job this week! I was unemployed 2.5 years during the last recession, so 10 months doesn’t seem nearly as bad. I’m working with a small group of people on the launch of a brand new social concept, and so far, it’s great. I’m making more than twice weekly what I made at my last job (we make flat weekly salaries in this world), and I’m working with a new company that will hopefully like the work I do and keep me on beyond this project. I’m using what I’ve learned here to work with my colleagues to keep communication open and say what needs to be said, and I’m really looking forward to diving in once the work starts getting overwhelming.

And this is the whole point of my letter – even if you don’t work in the corporate world, the information provided here is still incredibly useful, especially in creative fields like mine where we aren’t taught to be managers but still have to manage and inspire teams, frequently overworked and underpaid teams. Thank you again to you and the commentariat for all the considerate, helpful advice. And good luck to everyone still on the hunt! Hang in there!

{ 14 comments… read them below }

  1. *daha**

    Gee willikers! I finally realized that Get A Job is the title of your book. I don’t process light text against darker background very well, and I thought Secrets of A Hiring Manager was the only title there was to it.

  2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    #3 You made me cry happy tears, and now I’m going to tell my brother with autism (who is also in tech, so more serendipity) to look at jobs with Auticon! Congrats to your brother!

    1. Autistic twins*

      Update: he’s been there just over a month and loves it. He says it’s so good he keeps waiting for the catch but so far it’s just an excellent place to work.

      1. Stitching Away*

        Was super disappointed to see all their openings require a year of experience. Seems to go against their stance of helping a group of people who struggling to get a foot in the door to begin with.

  3. NeedAnOut*

    I have an interview next week at a company that I’m really hoping to get into!
    I’m currently at an insanely dysfunctional place and so this is very exciting to have a light at the end of the tunnel!

  4. Bookworm*

    YAY to all the LWs! Thanks as always for writing and sharing. Especially to #3: I’m not sure if I missed it or just forgot, but it was great to see this re-upped. Congrats to your brother!

  5. applecrumblemumble*

    #5 I’m genuinely curious why non-fiction TV production is so toxic. Does anyone have insight?

    1. More Nuanced Than That*

      Have you seen/heard of the TV show Unreal? I read what #5 was referring to as that type of job/environment. So – not someone producing documentaries for the history channel “non-fiction TV production”, but someone working in production on “reality shows”.

      1. LW #5*

        I’m letter writer #5! I’ve literally produced docs for the History Channel, and unfortunately, it’s all pretty toxic. It’s mostly creative people with no management/business training whatsoever working at very small companies with no HR or other oversight of any kind working 12-15 hour days 6-7 days a week for low pay because budgets are so small. Most non-fiction TV is non-union, so there are literally no rules beyond what’s legal, and most people have no idea what’s legal. The jobs are so short and the pay is so low that it’s rare for anyone to complain about incidents, so anything goes and it can be really, REALLY bad. It can also be really good! It just has to come from the top down, and that’s sadly very rare. Narcissists are good at selling themselves, and this industry is just awash in them.

    1. allathian*

      Definitely! I rarely have much to comment other than “Congratulations!” but these are some of my favorite posts every week.

  6. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #5 – the only industry that I’ve known to be screwier than the IS/IT world is the broadcasting (radio/TV) world, at all levels. Now, I’m not familiar with the production end of things – but there must be associations, guilds, special interest groups in which you and your colleagues at other places can convene and exchange ideas – and most of all – NETWORK with each other.

    That way, others will be aware of your work – and what you can do in production, if they have a need for it. In the computer industry, one of the ways you can buy yourself job INsecurity is to sit back for years, and then when the you-know-what hits the fan and you’re in the street, you have no connections to work through or with.

    I presume it happens in your line of work. It does in mine.

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