it’s your Friday good news — Ask a Manager

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It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time.

1. I’ve been waiting a long, long time to finally share some Friday good news.

My job has descended into the seventh circle of hell over the past two years. My boss spent most of his time dodging important emails or finding ways to be out of the office, leaving the team to clean up his messes—this resulted in multiple all-nighters from mid- and junior-level staff to get projects done on time. He was also in a not-so-behind-the-scenes power struggle with a senior-level person on the team. The chaos caused 60% of our team to quit; they were not replaced. My boss’s boss refused to manage the issues, and instead asked if I would just run things from behind the scenes, with no extra pay or title changes. (I declined this “empowerment opportunity”, which apparently showed how I am “not a team player”.)

Things came to a head in February of 2020. I am normally known as incredibly rational and low-drama, but an event occurred (which is too identifying to share) and I looked my boss squarely in the eye and weighed the value of flipping a table over to rage quit. I barely kept myself in check, and decided to wait until I closed out a stretch of PTO the following week and then give notice.

In excellent timing, COVID-19 lockdowns began during my PTO. With quitting no longer an option in the turbulent economy, I turned to your blog in order to re-write my resume and launch an incredibly targeted campaign to transition to one specific company, one in an industry I am trained in but haven’t worked in for several years. Turns out I had two different connections to this company via my professional network; both people coached me on the process and connected me to recruiters.

I went through 4-5 interviews over three months. Each interview ranged from incredibly casual to quite formal; I used your interview guide to prep and felt prepared for anything they threw at me. Finally a job offer finally came, and I used your advice to negotiate a higher salary.

I’ll be starting the new job with a 25% raise. I couldn’t have done it without all the wisdom and experience of this site—even just reading the stories of others has been helpful, to see that I’m not the only one stuck in a terrible situation and able to get out.

2. I’m a young graduate student and an avid reader for years. Recently, I interviewed for a semester position. They asked me for my rate, and I decided to aim up and use your language as for why my work deserves $30 an hour. (This rate is double what I made in my last internship and more than typical pay for grad students here.) To my surprise, the company offered me double what I asked for! I am in shock and so thrilled to see an organization believe in pay equity and in not taking advantage of students!

3. I was laid off last September due to budget cuts, and because I am a performing arts administrator, I knew the road ahead was bumpy. Five months of searching later (and several interviews that went nowhere), I just accepted a job offer from a very small local performing arts center that has decided to hire their first development professional! I used all of your advice in the cover letter and interview process, and then I negotiated for the first time in my life when they gave me an initial offer (following your script and suggestions). I asked them to come up to an hourly wage that I felt reflected the industry and my experience, and while it took them a day to get back to me (and I bit my nails the entire time), they said yes, they could come up on the salary, how soon could I start? Thank you and all of the AAM community for all of the resources you provide; this has been such a tough time for so many of us, and you have been a bright light in the sky!

4. This is the story of a company treating a pregnant employee well. In late 2019, my boss and I discussed the goals for me to get a promotion in 2020 with a plan of what I would do and how she would assist and facilitate to make it happen. Unfortunately, she got diagnosed with cancer and went off on leave. Her work was divided up among the remaining supervisors, but then Covid hit and really changed a lot of how we were doing our work and focus was on that and just keeping everything going well. My boss did well with her treatment and when she returned in the spring I was pregnant and due to start a 14-month maternity leave in the summer (this is a really normal leave amount in my country). I would be returning around October 2021.

The promotion didn’t get completed before I left and I figured when I returned I would work towards it hoping to get it completed by first quarter 2022. However, when my boss called to let me know the amounts of our year-end bonuses (less than normal due to Covid and because it was prorated as I only worked til August, but also still pretty decent since it is a bigger financial services company) and on that call told me that they are doing the work to have me promoted immediately on my return. She basically made a case to the director to approve the promotion now, that I do such good work and it’s not my fault the promotion was derailed from her cancer, Covid and my pregnancy! I couldn’t believe it. I feel so much better knowing that they don’t see my pregnancy and leave as bad things and that they recognize the circumstances for what they were. This is how companies should treat mothers. We are not liabilities and we can do really great work.

5. Thank you so much for creating and maintaining such a valuable resource and supportive community (I feel like I receive support even just seeing people supporting each other, here!). Long story short, I started a new job last July that immediately turned out to be not at all what I hoped. I wanted to give it a real try, and I thought I might have a chance of changing things (and I’d told the hiring manager that I’d stay a year if I took the job, which I felt bound by even though I was not legally bound), so I hung in there for several months hoping things would get better. Then COVID hit and I felt utterly trapped. I’ve historically been very bad at job applications. Everywhere I’ve ever worked has loved me (I receive counteroffers every time I give notice—seriously), and I interview well, but for whatever reason, I don’t seem to present myself well on paper. I have always had trouble reaching the interview stage, even for roles my experience and education seem like a terrific match for. Job searching during COVID felt hopeless and self-defeating, and it felt like I would just exhaust myself for no reason (and I did feel lucky to still have a job, even though I was…quite unhappy in it).

But, reading AAM regularly made me feel like I should at least try, a little. So, I did…and then I tried a little more, and kept trying…and this week received an offer for something that will fit SO much better with my life. The pay is comparable to my old position, but it’s a *substantial* improvement when benefits are taken into consideration (I went from basically nothing to a very wonderful set of benefits, including more PTO than I’ve ever had at a job). The company has demonstrated throughout the interview process that they really value work-life balance, and the actual job duties will be the kind of thing that I find very relaxing to do all day (a serious departure from my current role).

I feel like AAM has helped me with motivation to get out there and keep applying for jobs, staying grounded in workplace norms while working in a place where professional norms were not, uh, there, and in upping my game in the application and interview process (though I still seem to represent myself poorly on paper—I have read all the guides, but my resumes and cover letters must just be…bad? Hopefully I won’t need one for a long, long time).



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