it’s your good friday news — Ask a manager

It’s your Friday good news!

1. I don’t know if you realize how often your advice turns people’s world upside down, often when they didn’t even realize that things had become untenable from many angles.

I’m an important example, as reading your advice over the past three years has helped me not only to switch fields, but also to navigate through some personal issues in a very controlled manner. After an ill-timed graduation with a seemingly useless master’s degree, an international move and the pandemic, I ended up freelancing sporadically for almost two years.

As a result, I struggled with terrible depression and anxiety, but I lived your gospel and just kept applying for jobs, writing better cover letters, and participating in online networking events for various industries, even if I didn’t feel I had the right to do so. I took the free time I had to get some therapy and learned that it wasn’t my job status or title that determined my worth.

It was your wisdom that protected me when not one, but two companies gave me incredible job offers, but research showed that rats left the ship in both cases. I was so eager to take up the offer both times, but you taught me what to look out for.

I heard gems like, “Since we’re a family business and don’t want to contribute to the family breakup, we’ll have to verify that your husband moved in with you too,” (from a religious nonprofit). I was able to give their HR department candid feedback about how male employees I knew personally didn’t have this demand from their husbands, and was rewarded with their aggrieved HR director promising they would change the direction they were taking with their questioning.

When the stars finally aligned I got a great job in a very low COL area. As an American in Germany, and although I was looking for an English speaking job, I did what you advised to make myself as relevant as possible, preparing for many language classes, watching Netflix in German and speaking to my husband (and everyone) in German in the intervening months.

Because I didn’t sit still, I was able to close a surprise interview in German. As it turned out, they weren’t expecting me to be able to speak it at any level, but being able to at least stumble through it allowed me to interview the CEO when my US colleagues couldn’t, which can translate into special assignments afterwards .

My transition was from education to recruiting to journalism, and the latter wasn’t even a field I was looking for. I pointed out why all my broad experience was relevant to be able to explain things to the general population in an interesting, yet understandable way.

I can now work from home with my dog, which, despite the lower pay, makes me feel more rested and in control than I have in ten years. I also now know how to treat every interaction with my boss with ‘the look of an advisor’ and no longer feel paralyzed by criticism. (That’s easily the most beautiful superpower you could give someone, Alison!)

I share your site professionally with everyone and am now urged to write advice myself. I successfully pitched a tech advice column (a hobby of mine) because women are underrepresented in the industry. I’m finally looking forward to the future!

2. As a budding professional in a dysfunctional workplace, I’ve relied on your site to teach healthy work behaviors. And I finally made it! As it was for many others, for me the pandemic was a time of reckoning – I came to realize that the little, nagging things that were bugging me about my employer were actually endemic problems that were only going to get worse, not better. I realized I had to leave in the summer of 2020, but I had to wait for a hiring freeze in my field first. It was a difficult, dark time for me, knowing that I was miserable, but temporarily stuck.

It’s all changing now. I accepted a position with a big (huge!) name in my field and received a 25% raise. This organization offers a generous array of benefits, a supportive work environment and brilliant and inspiring colleagues. I really feel like I’ve won the lottery and I’m finally excited about the trajectory of my career again. I know I couldn’t have gotten through the interviews without including the information from your site and book over the years.

3. I was offered a job at a small healthcare startup while I was currently working at a FAANG technology company. Not needing the new job, I really focused on negotiating benefits that would convince me to leave. A sticking point for me was maternity leave – the current job offers some of the most generous maternity leave in the US. The startup was willing to offer a reasonable amount, but it was 4 weeks less paid maternity leave. I asked them to make up for the 4 weeks in a different way (signing bonus or equity). They came back to me and said they wanted to be competitive in the industry – so not only did they offer me the extra 4 weeks of paid maternity leave to match my current benefits – they would make that the standard company offering going forward! With such a corporate culture, I took the new job right away.

4. Thanks for all your advice for helping people who are non-binary at work. I was able to take it with me and use it in a conversation with my own boss. I was able to use the email signature option to talk to her about the change and recently I was able to change my nickname! I knew my business would (probably) be supportive, but I don’t think I would ever have had the courage to do it if I didn’t see it so normalized on your website – so THANK YOU!

5. For the past 6 years I’ve had trouble getting hired because a former manager gave a bad reference (I quit without notice at a really bad time).

I revised my resume and cover letter after reading everything on your website about resumes and cover letters and I started getting interviews. Some of the jobs I applied for were not offered to me, but that’s okay because I later learned that I wouldn’t have been suitable because of the culture of the organization or for other reasons. In short, I grabbed the straw to quit my current job and applied for all sorts of things.

A great job posting was posted a few weeks ago. I applied through and received an interview request within a few days. They needed someone who could start as soon as possible. I read all the interview guidelines and went into the interview with the attitude I interview them to see if this is for me. I also thought that the worst that could happen is I don’t get the job, but now I don’t! The conversation went great. They called me on a Saturday to offer me the job. I gave 2 weeks notice the following Monday and just finished my first week at work. As far as I can see so far, the company culture is supportive and doing very well.

The other important part of this story is that since they had to make a quick decision, they didn’t contact my previous employer who gave me a bad reference. They did ask me why I left my previous employer (it was a really good job without the manager) and I was honest without being too honest. The company was going to be taken over by another company and we didn’t know if we would keep our jobs. Two people had quit a few weeks before me. I was then reassigned to cover their department (completely different from what I was hired for, but I was qualified to do the job). I said I wasn’t happy about being transferred to another department with no timeline to return to the position I was hired for. I added that 3 other employees left the company in less than 2 months after me.

I can’t thank you enough for all the great information on your website and the comments from all the readers. I would never have gotten this job without stumbling across this site last year. I feel like this is a job and company where I can retire. Thank you!

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