it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I wanted to write a note to you to express my thanks to you and the wonderful community at Ask a Manager. Since I first stumbled upon your blog, probably around 4 or 5 years ago (when I was really starting to put some serious effort and thought into a job search), I have long lost count of how many people I directed to your site. Like hundreds before me, I have found such a trove of wisdom, sound and sensible advice, insight and knowledge, along with personal stories that have helped me learn more about workplace norms, professional norms, as well as being more exposed to diversity, inclusivity, and becoming more aware of my own biases and prejudices (and how I can confront them).

I also wanted to share with you my own success in hopes that it will encourage others. I started searching for a job about two years after I had been hired, as it was apparent almost immediately that this job was not the right fit for either me or my skillset – but I wanted to give the job at least a year before looking elsewhere. It was an extremely stressful job where more duties were constantly added to my plate with no increase in pay, in addition to a controlling micro-managing boss. However, this job was in corporate retail was my first professional job after graduate school, when it was clear that my graduate degree in a niche liberal arts fields was pretty useless outside academia.

Although I did not get a job right away (alas), I nonetheless felt that I was learning more about how to present my resumé/curriculum vitae, prepare for job interviews, and write cover letters. (Though I never achieved the well-written, incisive cover letters other readers so kindly shared.)

A second important component was networking. For me, this turned out to be a job coaching program that was available to me because I also have a disability. I honestly did not even know such an opportunity existed, until a neighbor who knew that I was job searching encouraged me to apply to the program. I sent off for an application, returned the application and necessary medical records and qualified for this program, which included assistance with job searching and job coach that helped some with interview practicing, but moreover helped with learning to discuss my disability and how to navigate that throughout an interview process through the first 90 days of a new job. (I very much grew up in a culture where one tried to ‘pass’ and act as if one had no disability.) For anyone who has a disability and would feel comfortable, I recommend that they see if there are similar programs in their area. While the assistance offered may vary, for me this was a pivotal moment in my job search, as this program had connections with local employers that were intentionally seeking to be more diverse in their job hiring practices.

A large Fortune 500 company that has a local office where I live was hiring through such a program. I went through two rounds of interviews (for which I felt reasonably prepared for as I followed your advice like writing down answers and practicing them out loud, etc.) and I was offered a position! It is a typical 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday job with benefits. Even better, this new position has a 42.5% increase in salary (though to put that in perspective I was very underpaid at corporate retail job), is the kind of job I can “leave” at the end of day, is a lot less work and significantly less stress, a better manager (at least so far that seems to be true), and it is for a large company where I can potentially see myself staying for several years.

And as an epilogue, not long after being hired a friend of mine was job searching and asked me to help her with potential interview questions; between the suggestions in your book/blog, and the ones I had written down from my own recent interviews, I suggested 4-5 questions for which my friend should have answers. Most she had not considered and three of them ended up being asked in her interview. So you also helped her!”

2.  “Yesterday brought the best news: a job offer! And I am convinced that the question you recommend, ‘What, in your opinion, separates a good employee from a great employee,’  sealed the deal.

My adult child has been a devotee of yours for years now, and is always sharing the wealth, which could not have helped me more, as a 56-year-old woman looking for a job. While I have had luck finding part-time gigs, I have been looking for full-time work as a teacher for three years, after being laid off from a small preschool. Many was the time I was convinced I should give up, that the cards were simply stacked against me.

I am, however, beyond tenacious. I think the combination of a website that highlights my work as a writing tutor, and the many students I have worked with who have provided invaluable teaching lessons, helped me not only land a first interview, and demo lesson, but the job itself: a middle school writing support instructor! When I asked the head of school the above question during the interview, she paused and said, ‘Wow, that is a great question!’

And there you have it. Thank you so much for all that you do, Alison. I can’t thank you enough.”

3.  “My kid got into grad school after a frustrating year of applications and rejections. I would like to thank AAM for keeping me sane. Specifically, whenever I read a letter about someone’s overbearing mother who interfered with job applications or contacted the boss, I reminded myself, ‘Don’t be that mom, don’t be that mom, being that mom doesn’t help.’ So I sat on my hands, until the one time he asked me for help, and then I used everything I’ve learned here to help him write the cover letter to the school that accepted him. Thank you! And I am NOT that mom!”

{ 14 comments… read them below }

  1. Observer*

    #3- All the sympathy in the world! It’s REALLY hard to sit on your hands.

    And, I’s SO glad it worked out for you.

    1. Panda*

      Agreed. I am learning how to keep my mouth shut. My tongue may have permanent scars from biting it, but hey, the kids are starting to come to me for help so that’s good. And I have suggested Ask a Manager to all of them.

  2. Mostly Managing*

    #3 – I am also the “mom watching grad school applications happen” and trying not to interfere.
    I have proofread a few things (strictly for typos, not for content, as requested!) and said things like “ooh, that sounds like a fun program, I can see why you would want to apply”.

    I’m sure over the next month I will be saying things like “I’m sorry you didn’t get into that one, I know how great it looked” and (I sincerely hope) “congratulations! I’m so proud of you.”

    Solidarity for moms who just want to make it easier for their kids, and know that “helping” will have the opposite effect!

    1. Observer*

      Solidarity for moms who just want to make it easier for their kids, and know that “helping” will have the opposite effect!

      This especially, though I would expand that to all parents.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Yes, it’s hard to be hands off with adult children who are just starting their careers. I have given them advice, but only when they ask. They know I read this site and several times I’ve heard, “What would your friend Alison say about this?”
        In fact, one Friday I shared a Good News about my oldest daughter. I can’t thank Alision enough for this site and helping me be a good advisor to them.

  3. Goldenrod*

    Yay! Great updates! And I concur with how helpful this site is, I have learned so much from Alison and also the commenters here.

  4. Serenity Now; Firefly Class*

    I like the intersectionality and variety of AAM. I am a mom, and have said to myself, “Don’t be that mom.” and I cheered for disability awareness in the workplace.

  5. justanotherusername*

    #3 – Same here! I never realized how hard it would be to stay out of my kids’ job search until they were in the middle of it and I was reminding myself constantly of all of AAM’s good advice about not getting inappropriately involved. Not only has Alison helped me, she’s helped my kids a lot!

  6. Sociology Rocks!*

    I just want to say as a recent college grad who only got a job a couple months ago, seeing that there are parents with the sense to recognize you’ve got to be hands off in order to actually be helpful is heartwarming. One of my parents did this, the other very much didn’t, and you are all entirely correct that it makes it harder to ask them for help when someone is always offering it. It makes you feel like you either aren’t capable or like you aren’t seen as independent yet. So kuddos to the good parents keeping their distance and providing moral support

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