it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I am an ‘older’ worker, and had gotten to a comfortable position in a government agency (let’s say llama inspector) that, while not the best, I thought I could ride to retirement. It had its frustrations, but the autonomy that I was given made me think that was worth it.

This past summer, after I had inspected a llama facility, I received a call from the VP of llamas, asking when they would receive their llama approval certificate. While on the phone, he mentioned that they were looking for a director of llamas, and in my position I might know some people who would be well qualified — could he send me the job description to forward to anyone I might know? I replied that I would be happy to.

After reading the job description, and knowing some about the company and its goals in improving llamas lives, I realized this position could be a good fit for me. I called the VP of llamas back, and told him that I might be interested, and could he tell me more! He was surprised, but excited to tell me all about the company and their plans for llamas.

Long story short, after interviews with the VP, the president, head of HR, and director of llama care (using many tips from your site, of course), I was more than excited about the prospect of this position.

I have now been in this position for over a month, and it has been so wonderful. I am appreciated. I am heard. I am respected! I am working for a company that is passionate about improving the lives of llamas. And, I am making more than double my previous salary! All because the government agency that I worked for took too long in generating a certificate.

Sometimes the good things happen when you are not looking, or least expect it!”

2.  “I was laid off from Globally Known Computer Company in 2017. I took a break for a while then ramped up my job search. Through connections I picked up a contract gig that I was assured would become permanent, but which ended January 2020. (That was a blow because all my previous temp or contract gigs had turned into permanent employment. I’m now within 10 years of possible retirement, so I was concerned about ageism and being perceived as too senior or too expensive.)

I took a long-planned vacation in Europe, getting home just before the panini closed the world down. Refreshed, I dove into the job search once again. I felt a lot of pressure because my partner had taken early retirement when I’d gotten that last contract gig. Having been a devoted AAM reader for years, I knew how to customize my resume and tailor cover letters for each application. I did not despair when I didn’t get responses or interviews; I just forged ahead. My partner was nervous, but I was confident I’d get something — eventually.

In September 2020 I landed an interview. Within two weeks I had the job, completely and permanently remote at the salary I asked for. They are great at showing appreciation for employees without any gross or cringey stuff. In my first year, I was told many times how grateful they are to have me. There’s a lot of mutual respect, collaboration, and autonomy, so it’s a great cultural fit. I’m a heads-down, do the work, no-drama type of employee, so this spring I was delighted to get a sizable raise and a great bonus without asking. I plan for this to be the last job I’ll ever need!

I’ve enjoyed Ask a Manager for many years. Every day, Alison and her community make job searchers more confident and help readers be better employees and managers. I often share this website with other people. It’s one of the best parts of the internet. Thank you!”

3.  “My career path has been pretty bumpy since getting my bachelors. First, I ended up not going into the field my degree was in. However, I was able to leverage some club experience into a project management/event management role. I had a wonderful boss and I loved my work. Unfortunately, I was let go from that role in a mass layoff after only a year. That was a gut punch. I think it hurt more because it wasn’t a reflection of my work, I was just the newest employee. With only a year’s experience, I wasn’t having much luck finding a new project management role and ended up moving back to my hometown. I decided to pivot and try to find a job in IT as I had worked at an IT help desk all through out college. With that experience, I was able to find a job fairly quickly in a local small business, but after a few months it turned very toxic. My manager had no managerial experience and frankly had no business being a manager. There was a lot of turnover there and I quickly became the most senior person besides the manager. The manager dumped his responsibilities on me, but none of his authority. I would let him know about issues so he could address them, but then get yelled at for not fixing them a few days later. After getting a highly unprofessional email full of insults and way too many exclamation marks (while I was out sick no less), I told the owner either he needed to figure out a plan to move me away from this manager and get him managerial training or I was going to leave. It became clear that they were not willing to find a solution so we agreed to a “layoff” so I could still get unemployment. I had only been there 11 months. I was relieved to get out, but also depressed that I had to start over again.

I decided to stick with IT and took a temp role at another local business. This new place was so much better than the previous one. I had supportive managers who had our backs and my coworkers were kind and helpful. I happily accepted when they offered me a full-time version of the same role. I thrived there, getting excellent performance reviews, high metric ratings, and I was promoted after only a year. After 3 years there, I was working with my manager to figure out my next career move. I decided to send out a couple of applications, with the plan that if I got an offer, we could leverage that to get this new role created. I really didn’t take it seriously because I didn’t want to leave my current company. Until a consulting company asked me do a phone screen, then an interview with one manager, then an interview with a different manager, and then an interview with the department director! Each interview went better than the last and I found I was actually interested in the possibility of moving into IT consulting. When they asked for my salary range, I did some research and gave them a range that was 25% – 30% more than what I was making, but was on-par for the role they had been describing. They ended up giving me an offer higher than the top of my range, almost 50% of my current salary!! They said they were impressed with my work and I would be bringing experience that the team desperately needed. After a lot of thought, I took the plunge and accepted the offer. It’s now been a month since I started in my new role and I really enjoying it. My new manager has been great at providing support for me as a new consultant, while also trusting me as a subject matter expert in my field. I’m looking forward to learning more about consulting and expanding my skills so I can provide the best solutions for our clients.

I want to thank you for providing so many wonderful resources. I used some of your salary negotiation tips when I gave them my salary range. It was so nerve wracking asking for more than what I was currently making, but I had my research to back me up and gave the range very matter-of-factly. I about fell out of my chair when the offer came in above the top of my range. It is great knowing that they value my skills so highly that they are willing to invest so much in me. I don’t have imposter syndrome per se, but I do tend to undervalue my skills or downplay how advanced they are. This change has definitely boosted my confidence. Thanks again for all your great advice!”

4.  “I was burnt out in my field (education) but had no idea how to break out of the teacher mold. I was able to get a very entry, contract position w the federal government (working 10 hour days, 6 days a week!) but was desperate for a change.

Enter your blog: I devoured all of your resume, cover letter, and interview tips and tricks. Reworked both my resume and cover letter, sent them out to a company I was dying to work for — and within a couple of days landed the pre screen interview!

Two weeks and five rounds of interviews later (tech is no joke!) I have a new job!!! This job is a 50% raise and my first 9-5. I am over the moon excited and truly would not be here without your advice or the advice from your readers.”

{ 48 comments… read them below }

  1. BioBrains*

    love the panini / pandemic autocorrect. If only panini’s would shut the world down what a wonderful place this would be.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yah, I was wondering if it was a euphemism or a typo. Well, from now on, I suspect it’ll be another new AAM euphemism and I AM HERE FOR IT.

      1. wordswords*

        It’s an existing euphemism, at least in some circles; I’ve been hearing “the (great) panini” as code for the pandemic since early 2020. But it’s always fascinating to me to see which euphemisms have and haven’t spread where!

    2. Rage*

      I had to laugh at that as well.

      And I have a semi-related funny story to share that aligns nicely with that.

      When “The Avengers” movie came out in 2012, our Awesome Movie Theater promo’d it in a new way: with themed food and drink items. (Awesome Movie Theater is one of those that has in-seat food service and also serves alcohol.)

      I had my go-to’s at this place and so wasn’t really interested in ordering one of their new Avenger-themed options, but I was reviewing it, appreciating the fun they were having with the marketing.

      Until I came to this:
      A sandwich fit for Tony Stark! Featuring New York deli-style salami, ham, turkey, and Provolone cheese, topped with our house-made honey-mustard dressing, lettuce, and giardia.

      Um. Giardia is an intestinal parasite that causes gastric upset and diarrhea.

      What they meant was Giardiniera – pickled Italian vegetables.

      As a dog foster parent for a local rescue, I’d dealt with a LOT of giardia. Didn’t want it on my sandwich, especially since it didn’t include a side order of Metronidazole.

      I alerted the theater to the “problem”, but also shared a photo with all of my fellow dog rescue peeps, who laughed so hard they probably wet themselves.

      This panini that took down the world probably was topped with giardia.

      1. Maggie*

        I work in cat rescue, and a giardia panini would DEFINITELY bring down society. The thought alone gives me shivers.

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Hahahaha!!!! I’m a hiker and I always filter water that I get in the backcountry specifically because of giardia. I definitely don’t want it in my sandwich.

    3. Emdash*

      I cracked a smile at “panini” too.

      Made me think of that famous Drake meme with two photos.

      Pandemic v Panini

    4. Burger Bob*

      I don’t think it’s an autocorrect. There was/is a thing on Youtube (and I assume other platforms as well) where content about the pandemic was being demonetized in an effort to disincentivize the spreading of misinformation. Because of this, many creators would refer to the pandemic as some other p word in their videos. Panini was and continues to be a popular substitute word, mostly because it’s funny to say.

  2. 2 Cents*

    Congrats to all the OPs, but especially this: “My new manager has been great at providing support for me as a new consultant, while also trusting me as a subject matter expert in my field.” <–I'm considered the subject matter expert, and my current boss has supported my foray into more strategy-related roles (which means more opportunity and $$)–something my old, crappy boss told me I'd never be good at. Amazing what a good manager can do!

    1. OneMoreFed*

      By the wording of the letter, the llama inspection was complete (and just awaiting generation of the certificate) before the VP ever mentioned the potential job to the llama inspector. The VP didn’t offer the job to the llama inspector, but was attempting to utilize the llama inspector’s presumably larger network to generate candidates. The llama inspector recognized that they were a good fit for that job, applied, interviewed, and were accepted into the position. There is no mention of a pending re-inspection or next inspection that this llama inspector would be involved in. If that timeline of events is correct, I see no undue influence (or even perception thereof) in this situation. I don’t see the COI here.
      People leave government for private sector jobs all the time, and I could see the value in hiring a person whose previous role was inspecting the thing the new job does!

      1. Curious*

        Sorry, no. OP1 indicates. that the certificate hadn’t been issued … which means that the matter was still pending. OP1 needed to recuse themself from participating in that particular matter by notifying their supervisor or an agency ethics official before calling the VP of llamas. 5 CFR 2635.604. moreover, they can’t, as director of llama care, communicate or appear before their former agency in connection with that llama approval certificate. 18 USC 207. These are criminal matters, so, OP1, please be very careful.

    2. Fed for 25 years*

      I came here to say the very same thing. My concern wasn’t the same as OneMoreFed’s. For certain positions there is an ethics prohibition on accepting a position related to your government work for a period of time in case you might have undue influence with your former Fed office. As a director at the new employer it sounds as thought LW1 might be in a position to advocate for new employer with LW’s former employer. Also as soon as LW decided they were interested in the position they were required to report that to their ethic officer. I’ll put a link to the specific guidance in another comment.

        1. Llama inspector*

          Hey guys ! I’m a Llama inspector too and this is not a ethics violation ( at least in my state) The facility had already been approved for permitting . The inspector did not say they were under re inspection or closure.
          This is a fairly common occurrence because as llama inspectors we know the code and can help businesses succeed. We also know what other llama inspectors are looking for.

    3. k8orado*

      Came here looking for a comment like this, ha ha ha. Full-body yikes as I read this on the day of my annual federal ethics refresher.

    4. Hungry Magpie*

      Same here! I work for a provincial regulatory agency and this situation would be really, really perilous for a public servant here. It’s always drilled into us that we have to look at the *optics* of a situation, even if nothing untoward has happened and there was no malicious intent or something was technically “allowed”. At least in my jurisdiction, I would have to recuse myself with anything having to do with any entity that was discussing employment prospects with me.

  3. INTPLibrarian*

    “The manager dumped his responsibilities on me, but none of his authority.” I have been searching for the right words for this phrase for the longest time! It seems obvious now but I really was having a hard time expressing it. So, thank you for providing it for me!

  4. Chilipepper Attitude*

    As always, thank you to the OPs and to Alison for doing this!
    I found my “good news Friday” job a year ago. It is light years better than the job I thought I would “ride to retirement.”

    And I would not have had the courage to go for it or have known how to best market myself without Alison!

  5. Unrestricted Clause*

    #2 – Thrilled for you! But a bit concerned about your statement “I plan for this to be the last job I’ll ever need!” I too had a job that I thought would be my last, but things changed fast. A new manager instituted layoffs and that was that. I’m very happy with my current job, but learned to keep my eyes and options open until I officially make the decision to retire.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      That is good advice! I am very happy in this job but we are always checking, what is our plan if I lose it for any reason, do I just retire?

    2. I am #2*

      At this point, I’m only working for health insurance for myself and my partner, who will be eligible for government coverage in two years. I’ve done some research and feel comfortable that if this job disappears, we can get health insurance without breaking the bank.

  6. TootsNYC*

    I called the VP of llamas back, and told him that I might be interested, and could he tell me more! He was surprised,

    he was surprised, my ass!

    This is THE tactic of choice when you want to recruit someone but you don’t want to give them the impression that they don’t have to go through an application process, and you don’t want them to think you’re promising to hire them.

    You call the person you want as a candidate and ask them to recommend someone, or to help you get the word out about the open position.

    It’s not the case with every “help me get the word out” situation, but it’s incredibly common

  7. Llama inspector*

    Hey guys ! I’m a Llama inspector too and this is not a ethics violation. The facility had already been approved for permitting . The inspector did not say they were under re inspection or closure.
    This is a fairly common occurrence because as llama inspectors we know the code and can help businesses succeed.

  8. Maggie*

    Here’s mine! I was burned out and at a loss in my job. I’ve been there 25 years and while comfortable, pay raises were frozen, my hours were cut (keeping everyone just under the threshold for benefits) and my new supervisor wasn’t a good fit for me. Panic attacks and migraines were weekly occurrences. I quit spectacularly, burning a few bridges. I took a few weeks off to visit my parents, then used all of your advice to put together a surprisingly good resume and cover letter, and landed a private-sector job 2 miles from home. I have health insurance! I have a 401k! I get regular raises! The work is fairly straightforward data entry, and when I clock out, it ceases to exist. My old job left me so emotionally exhausted that I needed a nap every day. Now I have so much more energy in the evenings, I’ve been able to go back to a rewarding volunteer gig and pick up some old hobbies. I haven’t had a panic attack or headache since leaving the Heck job.

  9. Vicky*

    #3 – I’m so happy you have a new role, but I’m rolling my eyes at the shortsightedness of the old company. This is an example of why requiring offers to consider a raise request makes no sense. If you make all your employees go look at other jobs before delivering some improvement in their current roles… they may just realize there are greener pastures elsewhere.

    1. OP3*

      OP3 here. It wasn’t that they required an offer, it was my and my boss’ idea to give us more leverage when discussing with our department VP about creating the new role for me. Looking back, my boss probably knew that it wasn’t going to happen and didn’t want me to miss out on better opportunities elsewhere because I was scared to leave a job and company that I loved. One of the many reasons why he was an amazing boss and still a good friend. :)

  10. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

    At a state level, LW 1 probably won’t have COI issues.

    Let’s say you work in the Chamomile division of the Department of Tea in the State of Confusion. You have completed your inspection of TeaCo’s chamomile facility and issued their certificate. TeaCo’s herbal division manager calls to find out the status of their certificate, making sure you’re not asleep at the switch. By chance or not, they mention an opening in TeaCo’s Darjeeling department. Unless you’ve worked in State’s Darjeeling division, there is no COI if you take the position. If for some unlikely reason you do end up dealing with State’s Chamomile division, you may have to screen yourself out of that particular project, but that wouldn’t prevent you from taking the position.

  11. PDB*

    LW3; I used to consult in the technical end of the TV and movie businesses and the key was/is listen, listen, listen all the while observing body language and other visual cues. I think I learned more from the visual stuff and it really helped, as I consulting in areas where people were heavily personally invested in the work.

  12. Chaordic One*

    Once again, I’m very encouraged by and happy for today’s letter writers.

    OP1, I’m very impressed by your initiative. Opportunity was getting ready to knock, and probably on someone else’s door, and you answered before opportunity even had the chance to knock. Good for you!

    OP4, Were you responding to an advertised opening? Or is this one of those comparatively rare cases of someone demonstrating “gumption” and actually managing to get a job because of it?

  13. Mary-Christine*

    These stories are all so great, congratulations to all! I particularly loved #2, as I’m also 10 years from retirement, got laid off recently and am now in a contract position. This gives me hope!

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