it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I’ve been in the federal government for over 17 years and a recent internal restructure put me in a bad position with a new boss. She was very clear that if I wasn’t ok with coming into the office almost every day and doing the jobs of three people (one of whom was at a higher grade), I could leave. I immediately started looking and purchased your book for additional help. I renovated my resume and used your tips to create a great cover letter. I had two interviews, one in government and one with a consulting firm. I used the “magic question” in both interviews and all of the interviewers were extremely impressed with it. I just accepted a position with the consulting firm that will allow me to work from home most of the time and will provide more opportunities for promotion. I’m sad to leave the government after such a long time, but I’m excited for new opportunities!”

2.  “I was a SAHM working side gigs for 10 years. I couldn’t see a path back to working full-time in my field while juggling All the Things. A really bad experience during a part-time job (think: boss went to prison, my position was terminated) shook my confidence as well.

Then Covid sent my spouse home to work. Two years later, he and his employer are still happy with the arrangement. A previous coworker was relentless about sending me job postings and I finally decided to try. I used everything I learned through this site about resumes and interviews. I applied for three different jobs last fall with the same large local employer and went through several Zoom interviews, fighting imposter syndrome all the way. My pandemic puppy tipped over a garbage can and started munching loudly on trash during my presentation to 30 people. But! I got the job! I’m doing work I care about with great people, along with a good salary, amazing benefits, and room to advance. My WFH spouse is now the default parent for our school-aged kids during the day, and I no longer feel like a resentful house-elf.

I read AAM every day and have converted several coworkers. Thank you for being an amazing corner of the Internet!”

3.  “I’ve been reading Ask-A-Manager for over 12 years. First because it was interesting and funny, and later I realized it made me a better employee and colleague. I worked at three different companies while being an almost daily reader. Things I learned or reinforced what I already was inclined to do:

  • You have to clearly define the problems before you can solve them.
  • No one can read my mind. I need to tell others what I want or need.
  • If I go in with the assumption that we all want to solve the problem, and I’m kind to my coworkers, even when they don’t deserve it or they have tried my patience, I usually get good results, in the long term if not in the short term.
  • If you don’t try to improve the situation, then it will never improve. If your hands are tied, or the company refuses to change, then it’s time to get out.
  • Interviews are a two-way street. I walk into them with a list of questions (on paper!) about the position and the company that I want answered.
  • I take notes at interviews.
  • I don’t want to be a manager, but I enjoy being a mentor and helping others navigate sticky situations.

I recently have taken early retirement, and was overwhelmed with the reactions of coworkers within and outside of my department. Frankly, the reactions have been flattering and were very unexpected. I’ve always worked hard and been appreciated by management for that, but the dismay and multiple suggestions to either reconsider retirement or come back as a consultant either full time or part time kept coming in, and not just from my manager. It wasn’t simply that I was helpful, but that I trained others how to do things themselves, and made them better employees. By working with the assumption that we all want to resolve these issues, I apparently taught colleagues how to work collaboratively and why that’s better. By bringing the best out of myself, I evidently brought the best out of others. I’m kind of flabbergasted by the reactions, but decided that following basic tenets is what had made me so popular to work with. (Who knew I’d be the popular kid?!)

Thank you Alison. You and all the commentariat have provided ongoing insight into different aspects of a situation and the motivations of others. These insights helped me to be a better employee, and more importantly a better person. I’m looking forward to my next new adventure.”

{ 32 comments… read them below }

  1. Llama Zoomer*

    OP #3 – what an awesome letter! I love the synopsis of lessons from AAM and I’m so glad you are sailing off into the sunset with such gratitude and appreciation from your colleagues.

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Agreed! I hope you take someone up on the idea of consulting — you sound like someone a lot of workplaces should be looking to for advice. And I hope you make lots of money and work only the hours that please you.

    2. Hazel*

      Especially this one: “I don’t want to be a manager, but I enjoy being a mentor and helping others navigate sticky situations.”

      It never occurred to me that that was an option, but it’s exactly how I feel! Thank you, OP #3!

  2. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    I so want an update from LW1, will they have to hire multiple people to replace you, is that manager eating crow, are they going to solve/fill the giant hole you left?

    1. De Minimis*

      If it’s anything like my agency, they will just pile it on whomever is left. We had a transfer and a retirement in my department, and I’m currently doing the work of maybe 3-4 people. We’re hoping to hire someone soon, but it’s hard to find employees even for the federal government.

      1. Berkeleyfarm*

        <3 I hear the Fed hiring process is pretty lengthy. I used to work for a big county (population more than a lot of states) and it wasn't bad once we had a req but getting one was tough.

        There was a lot of "you're already here so we expect you to pick up the slack" – including for people that were drawing a salary but not putting in effort. My group especially got piled on – most of us got hired in from Outside and had matching salaries and we were very much resented for that.

    2. OP #1*

      I just found out that the guy who sort of replaced me (I say sort of, because he didn’t take too kindly to having all of my work dumped on him and he subsequently dumped some of it on other people) gave his notice today. He started looking as soon as I transitioned my work over to him. I don’t think it’s going to be well-received by my former boss’s leadership chain and I can’t help but be delighted by all of this. I was really nervous about leaving the government, but I’m three weeks into my new job and it’s such a breath of fresh air!

  3. Miss Muffet*

    “interviewing is a two-way street” is definitely something I have learned here too. I have even managed to apply it to my child trying out a new club for their sport — understanding that you are, to an extent, “trying out” for them, but also you should see if it’s a place you like and will be happy at. Hopefully this helps lay foundations for job searches later in life!

  4. Daniel*

    #3…what a wonderful update. I’m totally imagining you walking off like Judd Nelson in the Breakfast Club with Simple Minds playing in the background. Congratulations on your retirement!

  5. De Minimis*

    #1 is sounding like my current situation–it’s hard to walk away from the federal government, but it’s good to know you can do it and end up in a great position.

    1. OP #1*

      I wanted to stay in government, but out of 80 jobs I applied to, I made the cert for about half of them, never heard back from a bunch at all, and only got one call for an interview. I said forget it and moved on to looking for private sector jobs, where I had a bunch of interviews and eventually decided on an offer. I took a pay cut but I think I’m actually going to come out ahead because I can work from home full-time and I don’t have to drive 30 miles each way to the office.

  6. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

    The last one is me. I have no interest in managing, or even supervising, really, but I am very good at training others! 2 of them even made supervisor at my job because I know how to show them All The Things.

    Although, I did put in for a supervising role, because it’s the only way I’ll get a deserved raise, and I’ve been doing it for a year and more, so why not.

  7. Lulu*

    Well done to all the letter writers, great updates this week!

    Re the magic question: I can never quite work out how I’d respond to whatever the interviewer says in reply. The only response I can think of is awkwardly shoehorning in ‘Well I am GREAT at qualities X, Y and Z!’, which is… not great. Can anyone help me get past this mental block for whenever I do get to use this question!?

    1. OP #3*

      In my opinion, this is part of YOU interviewing THEM. An “okay” or “thank you for explaining’ worked for me.

  8. ecnaseener*

    Congrats to all of you LWs! I especially love #3 though – we often get good news letters about getting a new job or promotion or leaving a bad situation, but it’s a rare treat to hear about how AAM just helped someone be the best version of themself at work.

  9. New Jack Karyn*

    Yay for #3! What great lessons to learn–and to boil down to their essence and share. Have a great retirement!

  10. PerplexedPigeon*

    #3 makes me happy! It’s also one of the first times I feel validated in my “I don’t want to be a manager but want to be a good mentor” philosophy. Often I feel like I should want more but honestly, my teaching job fills me up and I really don’t want to be a manager. Thanks OP3!

  11. Tuppence*

    OP#3 the best update ever.

    I have always love the Good News Stories and hope to have my own to share, as I am at the referece and security check stage.

    I am sure I am not alone in saying this buy your update has inspired me to be a better employee and emulate you.

    I hope to retire with the new company I hope to join and would love to bring as much to that role and to my new colleagues.

    Enjoy your retirement and please let us know how you go.

  12. Cohort 1*

    When the puppy knocks over the garbage can and starts wolfing it down during a Zoom interview, what it the proper response?
    1. Pretend it’s not happening and focus like a laser
    2. Glance that way, make a wry face, and soldier on
    3. Say, “Oh dear. Can we continue this in 5?”

    1. Hazel*

      I had the same thought. I suppose I would do the second one unless the pup was in danger of eating something harmful.

    2. OP #2*


      Hi! Cohort, I started out with Option 1 when the dog woke up and started roaming around the home office. I could see him in the Zoom monitor behind me and pretended it wasn’t happening. But then he found something loud, like an empty chip bag, in the trash can next to the desk. At that point I leaned down to move the trash can and I think said something like, “My apologies for the dog interruption” and kept soldiering on through the presentation. Luckily he hadn’t found anything dangerous. A minute or two later I shared my screen to show a video so once the camera wasn’t on me I hustled him out.

      If it had been part of the interview where I’d been answering questions, I definitely would have gone the #3 route with something like, “Excuse me for just one moment, my dog woke up and I’m going to take him out so he isn’t a distraction.” But stopping a timed recorded presentation . . . I’m just really grateful for that 2 minute video I included so I could scramble around unseen!

      I could go find the archived recorded presentation to see exactly how it all happened, but I’m pretty sure I would end up under my desk with embarrassment. The feedback I got later from coworkers was that it wasn’t a big deal, and the most people had to say about it to each other at the time was disappointment that they didn’t get a better look at the dog. (There’s a Slack channel devoted to pets!) I also learned that with all the virtual interviews happening now, search committees are given instructions not to let Zoom weirdness color their evaluation of a candidate.

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