it’s your Friday good news — Ask a Manager

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

1. I’ve been reading this blog for years, usually on my morning commute. I just wanted to write in with some happy job news. I am a degreed librarian with a second niche MA and have worked in libraries in some capacity about 7 years total. My goal for many, many years was to become a specific type of librarian, and so I supplemented my library jobs with a handful of programming gigs directly related to this role. To be an “official” librarian, you need a Master’s in Library/Information Science, so I enrolled in a special library program specifically preparing students for the exact role I wanted. Extremely long story short, my grad progam absolutely killed my passion for libraries. When I graduated I spent months applying to anything-but-library jobs and was rejected or ghosted by most places I applied– and I don’t blame them! I spent my entire working life gunning for a hyper-specific career and my work experience showed it. I did have one promising interview outside the field (we’ll get to that later), and one disastrous still-in-libraries full-day interview (academia…), but that was it.

I ended up applying to one of those hyper-specific library jobs when it became financially necessary to just get a job, any job. I was offered that position, and –in the same week!– another completely unrelated to libraries position that seemed interesting and aligned with a lot of my interests. Faced with those two options, I felt like I had to pick libraries one last time, as I had never actually done the job I had spent so many years preparing for. At the time, I also couldn’t afford the lower salary. So, I accepted the position and made a lot of necessary and fulfilling changes to my department in my first six months. I didn’t magically start to love libraries, but at least I had a stable job with a decent salary. Then… the pandemic hit, and I was laid off exactly a year from my start date. As I know you’ve seen, libraries were, well, not the best places to work in a pandemic. I spent eight grueling unemployed months reading Ask a Manager, scrolling jobs-related subreddits, and sending out applications to all sorts of places. I had two interviews in that whole period, neither of which led to anything.

But then the non-library job I was offered when I first graduated was open again. I read all of your cover letter writing advice (including a particularly helpful post on career changes) and sent in a cover letter unlike any I have ever written. Looking back, I know the confidence hit from being unemployed for so long really showed through in this letter and in my first interview (!) with the company, but there’s no changing that now (I cringe at my use of the word “unconventional” TWICE). The hiring team remembered me, invited me to interview again, and I start in two weeks! I still can’t quite believe it– how often do we get do-overs?

Anyway, I really just wanted to say thank you. I’ve read so many helpful comments and posts over the years, and I’m happy to finally have something positive to show for it.

2. The pandemic really highlighted the weaknesses at my workplace (morale is non-existent as is effective communication, and favoritism runs rampant). I have been looking for a new job since last summer but even in normal times my area is over saturated with candidates for my industry. To say the least, my search has been discouraging. But, today I received an official offer for a new job! The pay is very slightly more but I’ll actually work less. From reading AAM, I’ve picked up great tips about assessing workplaces and bosses in interviews and I feel hopeful about my new employer. This position will also allow me to learn a lot more industry specific skills that I’m excited to explore. Between finally qualifying for a covid vaccine and this new opportunity, I finally feel like 2021 will be better than 2020.

3. I’m a long-time reader, occasional commenter and just wanted to give you a little bit of really good news about my job. So I’ve been working at my current employer since December 2018, and in 2019 I finally felt brave enough to come about about part of my queerness, and my Grandboss was so happy with this that I was invited to join the Employee Resource Group for LGBTQIA+ people in March 2019. Side note: I love Fergus, he is everything I want to be in a manager. Aside from being visible queer representation in a notoriously conservative industry, he’s fair and sound and really champions people from the ground up. But all that is by-the-by.

On to my more recent Good News. In aid of Trans Day of Visibility 2021 I was invited to attend a webinar by said LGBTQIA+ network that really helped to clarify some things that I had been pondering about my gender since Lockdown 1 in March 2020. I included my pronouns in my Zoom handle and was called out by the speakers as normalising neopronouns in a really positive way, and that made my mind up. I called my direct manager after the webinar and came out as nonbinary to her, and let her know that when Employer rolls out the Pronouns-in-the-email-signatures thing (hopefully HR will sign off on it in time for Pride 21) that mine would be Ey/Em/Eir as well as the She/Her that my colleagues are used to. And while she was taken by surprise she was incredibly supportive and told me she was proud of me.

I don’t know about others, but I’ve really felt like this job, which I stumbled into purely by accident, has been the best move of my life, giving me the support I needed to question both my orientation and gender and the security to come out and be supported and not fear retaliation.

I hope someday soon all employers will be as supportive and inclusive as mine.

4. Avid reader of yours and wanted to share a little good news. So throughout my adult life, I haven’t really had a solid career path that felt right. I graduated college in 2008 with a degree in Anthropology, worked at a school, did retail, and eventually got into an office admin type role which is where I thought I wanted to be. I soon felt bored and roughly a year or so into that job, my partner and I decided to up and move to BigCity nearby. I had gotten another job in sales which I hated, got back into an administrative role, got laid off from that, and then started another office admin role. I found myself bored once again but decided to use that time to study up on Excel and then on the CRM we were using. A year later, I got myself a certification for that CRM (a major, well recognized/respected certification). Eight months after that, this Monday, I accepted a role as the CRM Administrator at a different company. This came with a 44% increase in my salary which after years of struggling and undervaluing myself feels amazing (money isn’t everything, but it sure helps). Your site (and book!) have been instrumental in helping me to process through impostor syndrome, writing resumes, interviewing etc. I am so excited to begin this new chapter in my career with all the challenges and opportunities it will bring! Thank you!

5. A few years ago, I started working at a job that was a Perfect Fit for me. I loved every single day of work, I loved my director and teammates, it was everything that I hoped for. And then we got a new director, and everything changed. My job title across the company was eliminated and I was demoted, and then our team started to experience insane turnover (I was there for 4 years and had 5 directors) with most of the people at my level getting fired rather than resigning.

And then 2020 happened – I was diagnosed with severe depression and forced into a short term leave, which blew my mind. I was basically told that I needed to choose to take a leave or be fired, even though I begged them not to make me take a leave. After that happened, I polished my resume and cover letter and started to look, but given my field I knew that things were going to be tight. My profession is one of the first to get laid off/fired when the economy slides, so I knew my market was flooded with highly skilled and talented folks. I applied for a few jobs over my 3 month leave, and kept looking even as I busted my butt to keep my employment.

In February, though, a company that I’ve always wanted to work at posted a job opening that was literally a perfect fit for me. This company is one that I’ve applied at many times and never once got an interview (I was never qualified, but what’s the harm in applying, right?), are highly awarded across Canada, and a 10 minute drive from my home. So I applied, and kept my cool about it…. and they called me back! It was 3 weeks from application to offer, and I was able to negotiate an amazing total benefits package! It’s a total dream for me – everything that I love to do professionally, coupled with an amazing team!

Thanks for this amazing blog – I love the resources, I love the stories (and I’m so grateful that I’m not the only one who has experienced terrible jobs!) and I love reading your advice.

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