it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I have been an avid reader of AAM for 6 years, having stumbled upon your website when I was making the leap back into work after having my first child. In 2017, after working in restaurants in a well-known food metropolis for almost 20 years and as a chef for almost 10, we moved cross country to be closer to my family and I took a position at my family’s non-food-related business. It was an industry I knew nothing about, but the pay was okay and the benefits were generous. I was also surprised that my customer service expertise translated beautifully to my new position, and I found my coworkers to be professional and helpful and my managers to be really great.

Unfortunately I discovered quickly that I hated the industry. And by hated I mean actively despised because it went against my personal and moral beliefs. Imagine being an environmentalist and taking a position as an oil salesman; this felt like exactly that. I spent many hours of many days getting yelled at by old white men who weren’t getting what they wanted exactly when they wanted it in an industry I literally didn’t care about and it wore on my soul. I continued to plow through the work out of loyalty to my mom, who is the president of the small company, but after 2 years of grinding it out I started looking for a job in food again. I even took an interview at an upscale grocery chain’s corporate headquarters in my city, but the position would have been a lateral move from what I was already doing, and when I shared with my mom that I was interviewing elsewhere, they ended up offering me a 20% raise to stay, so I did.

Cut to spring of 2021: We’re a year into the pandemic, having transitioned to full-time WFH for all 5 employees in the company, and several things transpired to quicken my departure from the business after 4 years of being there: 1. My work (aka my mom) did a really crappy job of providing any accommodations for me during the initial stages of the pandemic, as the only employee with small children (my kids were 2 and 5 at the time). As in, I got zero accommodations, despite my asking multiple times for adjustments to my work schedule to make it possible to have both kids home with no childcare while still doing my job. 2. My coworker quit early in the pandemic and they never rehired for her position, which meant my workload essentially doubled and stayed doubled the entire remaining time I was there. And 3. My direct supervisor, whom I have known for over 20 years and otherwise fully respected and thought was a great manager, turned out to be both anti-vaxx and anti-mask. I had to fight for the most basic COVID safety measures such as masking indoors at all-staff meetings. As you can imagine, this was also straining my relationship with my mom.

After yet another Very Bad Day at work in April 2021, I looked online at job listings yet again and saw that the upscale grocery store I had interviewed with 1.5 years prior was hiring for what is basically my dream job as a chef developer, doing R&D and recipe development for the grocery brand. I sent the listing to my husband and his response was, ‘It’s like they wrote this job exactly for you.’

I reached back out to the HR contact I had, hoping they remembered me, and they did! I had my first interview scheduled a couple weeks later, and this time I diligently studied your interview guide line-by-line, spending several hours the night before each interview preparing questions and practicing answers. It helped immensely; I nailed both my first and second interviews and I got offered the job soon after! I started about 6 months ago and it has been AMAZING. Not only am I working back in food, which is my first love and passion, but I received a $11K salary increase plus EOY bonus opportunity. The corporate office is also walking distance from my house, whereas pre-pandemic I was commuting 20 miles each way. The office has also taken COVID very seriously, mandating vaccines for the corporate office and implementing appropriate safety measures and adjusting for new information. At my previous job, I had to fight tooth and nail for any COVID precautions at all, and it’s a relief to not have to worry about that anymore, especially with little ones at home. Best of all, though I know my mom was very disappointed that I ended up leaving the company, she didn’t take it out on me at all and we are on great terms again. She’s even come around to realizing how toxic the environment is for her and is looking to retire within the next year, which is such a relief as we’ve been trying to get her to retire for over 5 years.

So thanks for AAM, and thanks to the amazing community as well. This is one of the best resources on the internet, bar none.”

2.  “I have been in my current position since October of 2018. I have been looking to move up in my company for a year. Last July I interviewed for a stretch position that I really didn’t think I would stand much of a chance at getting. This position is a level above what someone at my level would normally get promoted into – it happens, but it’s not common. I had the interview and thought I had done medicore, at best. The hiring manager called me a couple of weeks later and told me that I didn’t get the position. But she also said that she was very impressed with me, I was their #2 pick and outperformed managers (which I am currently not), and she would love for me to apply for future openings on her team.

Sure enough, in early December she messaged me to let me know she was going to have an opening and asked if I would like for her to send me the link when it got posted. A couple of days later someone else she works with called me to make sure I knew it was posted. The next day the manager messaged me again to encourage me to reach out if I had any questions. I interviewed the Friday before Christmas Eve. I thought I bombed the interview but apparently I was wrong (again!) as I had an offer the following Wednesday! From the day I applied to the day I had an offer, the whole process took less than 3 weeks which is super fast at this company. This will be my 3rd promotion since I started with this company in 2016 after graduating college and comes with a 20% pay bump! Thank you for all the amazing resume and interview advice you have given. It has been a huge help!”

3.  “I am so relieved to be able to share this news.

In 2018 I left a job that I loved for medical reasons. Got that finally resolved many many months later. At that time there were no positions available with the company I had left so I moved into active job-seeker mode.

A month into the search, my husband (who is retired) was diagnosed with cancer. We knew (because of the type of cancer) that it was going to be a difficult treatment regimen, so we decided to rely on savings until the worst of the protocols were out of the way. Finally got him squared away in late 2019, and I began job searching again. I found a job and was due to start in March 2020. Needless to say, that job evaporated like so many others in the wake of the pandemic.

I stayed in the hunt, but nothing materialized until summer of last year, when the job market got a little looser. I started at least getting some screenings and some interviews, but no offers.

Finally, a week ago I got an offer! It is a 95% WFH position, and when I have to go into the office it’s only a 15-minute commute. The pay meets our needs, and I was even able to negotiate a 5K bump in the stated range because of my experience. I start soon and I am so very happy.

So I’m here to share that even a 71-year-od grandma, with no college degree, who has been out of the workforce for over three years can find a good job! It takes perseverance, optimism, knowing and believing in your own worth, and listening to good advice — like the advice that you give here! Thank you.”

4.  “I am a big fan. I have been reading your site since 2015 and it SAVED me. From 2011 to 2017 I was in an extremely toxic, dysfunctional workplace, but I didn’t see it at first. Then I inherited the office manager position with HR duties I knew nothing about. Your site was a God-send. It made me start pushing back against the company owner and the awful ways she treated her employees (but not me, she LIKED me… for a while). Oh the stories I could tell! Did I win? No. Ultimately, I had to leave to save my sanity. But, I fought for what was right while I could.

Which led me to an easier, much more laid back position – not toxic in the least – but still dysfunctional in that this company owner just did not handle his business well. I was stress free and treated well, I just didn’t know if my paycheck would clear every week. Yikes!

Which leads me to where I am now, which is…. OWNING MY OWN BUSINESS!

Yes, I finally took the leap and said to myself, ‘Self, I can do this on my own and see what happens.” So I set myself up to offer bookkeeping and virtual admin/executive assistant services for small businesses and business owners. Then I hit social media, my local network of friends, business organizations, freelancer job boards, anywhere I could think to get myself out there. 5 months later I have as much business as I want to take on, I am actually turning some down because I don’t want to overbook myself. I am making more per hour than I was as a paid employee. AND I just landed a really big client (for me anyway) that looks like it will turn into a long term relationship, which is exactly what I want.

None of this could have happened without Ask A Manager and its commentariat. I would never have gained the knowledge and insight I have now without all of you. Ask A Manager helped form my way of thinking about the workplace, about the employer/employee power dynamic. And now, it helps me with my client relationships and my business core values.”

{ 48 comments… read them below }

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      I wanted to add my congratulations, and wave as another reader made more hopeful, because my plan is to work until I am at least the same age as you are now! May you enjoy your new job for a long, happy time.

  1. Chilipepper Attitude*

    I am out of toxic old job and happily working at new “dream” job thanks to AAM and the commentariat and these stories kept me going when I really needed it. And I am also almost grandma age!
    Thanks to everyone for writing in and Alison for doing this!

    Happy weekend all!

  2. Jo in OKC*

    Congrats to Letter Writer #1 on being able to leave the family business while maintaining the family relationship.

    1. LW 1*

      Thank you! My mom honestly deserves a lot of kudos here; she’s a really pure spirit and has never acted out of spite or pettiness in her life. She wasn’t perfect obviously when I was working for her but she was doing her best, and she was genuinely happy for me when I got the new position. She knows that food is my passion and she’s elated for me to be back in it.

  3. Momma Bear*

    Love all these updates. I’m glad that OP1 not only has a great new job but was able to repair their relationship with their mom. Family business can be really personal so kudos to you for getting through it.

    1. LW 1*

      Thank you! I feel like I won the lottery in my situation, truly. I know so many people whose transitions out of their family business would be either impossible or incredibly difficult. My mom deserves a lot of credit; she knew how tough it was for me to work in the business and she was genuinely happy for me when I got my dream position. She is a really good person and would never hold my leaving against me.

  4. Expelliarmus*

    OP3, your unique story is really inspiring! All the best in your job, and hope your husband is doing well!

  5. korangeen*

    Personally I wouldn’t describe a move from a job I actively despised because it went against my moral beliefs to a job of equal pay in an industry I actually liked as a “lateral move.” That sounds like a huge step up! I’m glad LW1 eventually managed to get a job they love and that works well for them.

    1. LW 1*

      LOL, I think you’re probably right! I meant that the position that I initially applied for was much more of a lateral move; it wasn’t a position I was particularly excited about (and was similar to what I was doing at my previous job, think supply chain/vendor relations) and the pay was equivalent to what I was making at the time. This new position is absolutely a dream and a HUGE step up. And now that I’ve been with the company for a little while, I have learned that the reason the previous position I applied for was open was because that department has a very high turnover due to a toxic c-suite manager at the head of the department, so I definitely feel like I dodged a bullet!

  6. LuckyDog*

    Dear #3: Good going, strong woman! Thanks for sharing your story. I’m 63, also a grandma, looking at a job-searching soon. Feeling encouraged by you!

    1. Working Granny*

      found that if I acted young they treated me that way. I have gray hair (and refuse to color it – I earned it!) but styled it attractively. And I only included back to the late 1990s on my work experience.

      1. Twill*

        I am in the Healthcare claims industry and very lucky they don’t shy away from us more ‘seasoned’ employees! Also – I made the decision 2 years ago to stop coloring my hair. It and to my absolute surprise, my grey streaks look amazing! I get compliments all the time, and it’s been so freeing not to have to worry about that. But I agree with you it’s about it’s about showing that you’re still relevant and still do the job!

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        A good cut and styling make a huge difference with gray hair. I felt like a new person after cutting several inches off my “pandemic hair” (aka “no haircut for more than 2 years” hairstyle).

  7. Working Granny*

    I found that if I acted young they treated me that way. I have gray hair (and refuse to color it – I earned it!) but styled it attractively. And I only included back to the late 1990s on my work experience.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Ditto. Gray hair looks great with a good, modern haircut. I’ve also found it helps to go for contemporary eyeglass frames, for those who wear them.

      1. Working Granny*

        Yeah, I tried several “contemporary” frames but just couldn’t reconcile myself in them. I think the important thing is to feel confident in your skin.

    2. Chickaletta*

      Gray is in! I’m in my 40’s and up to 1/3 of my hair gray. I get compliments all the time and have no plans to color it. You go!

      1. Working Granny*

        My Sis was near 100% gray in her late 30s. I had only scattered gray until well into my sixties. But I like the “softening” effects of it.

  8. My Brain Is Exploding*

    Absolutely loved your story…you got a suitable job, your husband is better, you are awesome!

  9. WindmillArms*

    OP #4, congrats on venturing out on your own! I took the leap to freelancing two years ago and I love it. I do the same work I’ve been doing for a decade, but I pick my clients and my hours. It feels GREAT to have enough work that you can start turning some offers down. Well done.

    1. Funfetti*

      Seconded! I ‘m launching my business in the next two weeks. So excited to read stories like these and 1000% yes I’ll still be incorporating AAM into how I operate. Core values – exactly right!

    1. Camellia*

      This reminds me of a meme I saw, that said the following:

      “I’m going to make a YT video titled, “Stuff ALL men say”, and it will consist only of the phrase ‘But not all men say that!!’. And then I’ll wait for men to stare at their keyboards in utter distress as they contemplate the paradox of their intense desire and desperation to inform me that not all men say that.”

      1. Old white man*

        I’m bowled over by your wit. Really, you should be a comedy writer. I’ll bet you could research great resume and cover letter tips right here in your quest. The world is waiting…

    2. Violetta*

      Agreed, tbh, and I’m not an old white man. I’m getting so tired of this phrasing – it definitely had its use three to five years ago to point out inequalities, but the point has been made now.

      As this ‘old white men yelling at employees’ dynamic was regularly occuring at the LW’s 5 person family business that her mom is the president of, it sounds like they were in a prime position to actually change this dynamic and protect their employees. I’d be much more interested in hearing about that…

  10. Kell*

    Man, OP3, on an individual level I’m really really glad you found a work situation that makes you happy, and that you and your husband once again have your health. But on a societal level, I wish we could take good enough care of everyone that “I need to find a new job at 71” didn’t even have to even be a thought in anyone’s mind!

    1. TimeTravlR*

      I had a similar thought, and I am hoping the LW3 is working because she wants to/likes to and not because of our society’s failures (which are many). If not, though, I’m glad she landed something that makes her happy.

      1. Working Granny*

        I’m hoping that both of you see this answer. I appreciate your concern. There is definitely financial need — we didn’t do a good job of husbanding our resources for retirement — but my personal need to work was even greater. Thanks for your kindness!

  11. Poppin' in for This*

    Oh, these are all so great. Especially #3!! We have several people in our office who are in their 70s and without degrees. NOTHING would get done without them. They are smart as whips and know Everything and they make a perfectly fine living to boot. Congrats to everyone who posted!

    1. Working Granny*

      I read a CNN article lately tha indicated that people in their 60s and 70s are more productive than their younger colleagues. Yay for us gray-haired contributors

  12. Sara without an H*

    Great news, everybody! It’s good to be reminded that finding the right situation often takes time and not to give up too easily. Hope all of these posters have a great 2022!

    1. Loredena Frisealach*

      Well, that’s why this is the Friday Good News post! (If you scroll down, below the open thread, you should find today’s problem thread – it’s a 4 questions one).

  13. Barefoot Librarian*

    LW 1 :
    “I sent the listing to my husband and his response was, ‘It’s like they wrote this job exactly for you.’”

    This is EXACTLY what my husband said when I shared the job I just started in December. I left a position that was stressful and didn’t pay great but that I loved, but I trusted my gut and the good advice I’ve gotten here and could not be happier. Congrats on getting out and keeping a good relationship with your mum.

    1. LW 1*

      Thank you so much and huge congratulations to you as well!! It’s such a good feeling to be doing work I feel made for ☺️.

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