It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time.
1. I’ve never asked you for advice, but I was unemployed for 17 long months after my position (which I loved beyond measure) was eliminated at a company I had worked for 25 years. I spent some of that time reading your website and listening to your podcast.
I was finally offered a position at the beginning of March, which I happily accepted. Yay! The COVID crisis hit, and because my new position was with the local food bank, I was automatically essential! Double yay! But that’s only part of the success story.
I noticed right away that my team (two others plus my supervisor) seemed very engaged with their work … even on the evenings and weekends. Here is where my success, and all the things I learned from reading your posts, comes in. I asked to meet with my supervisor, and asked to clarify the expectation regarding checking and responding to email during off times. I made it clear I would do it if that was the expectation, but at the same time, I said, “I am very protective of my off time.”
My supervisor was not upset about this at all! She said that was not her expectation, but a personal choice, and told me, “That’s actually a very healthy boundary. I should probably do that, too.”
So, it’s a small thing, but it meant a lot to me that I was able to have this conversation so soon and establish a boundary, while also letting my supervisor know I was willing to be flexible if the situation called for it.
2. I moved out of a terrible job into an even worse job at the start of this year. Rather than waste another chunk of my life trying to make this new terrible job work, I decided to move on ASAP. Almost immediately after making this decision, I saw a job ad for a great position at a really highly-respected company in an industry I am passionate about. I was convinced I’d be rejected without hesitation, but it doesn’t hurt to try, and thanks to you, I aced the interview and got a job offer without even having to do the second interview that they usually require as part of the process.
My country then went into lockdown more or less directly in the week when I was due to start. I went into the (sad, empty) office once to collect my laptop, and apart from that I haven’t met any of my colleagues in the flesh and am working from home in my studio apartment. It sounds awful but has actually been incredibly positive and motivating so far! The onboarding has been extremely well-managed and I can already confidently say that I love my job! I can definitely pass on these tips for welcoming a new hire when everyone is stuck working from home:
* As much as possible, make sure the newbie has any tech or equipment they might need to be able to work not just productively but also comfortably from home. My boss made sure I got a pair of noise-cancelling headphones because my building is being extensively renovated!
* Organize short, informal coffee-break video chats once or twice a week for the new hire to meet various useful people from around the company. This is helping me get to know my colleagues and connect the dots of who I need to speak to for what — and it helps as a replacement for the kind of kitchen conversations where you end up chatting to people you don’t otherwise see every day.
* Be as responsive as possible in your communication platforms and check in often with the newbie to make sure she doesn’t feel lost or confused. And saying “good morning” and “have a good evening” is a nice touch.
* Have a quick call with the newbie after virtual meetings to explain the context of stuff that was discussed and describe the roles of the people who were in the meeting. This is something that you’d usually do on the walk back to your desk, so it’s great that my boss is keeping on top of it virtually!
* Always introduce the person in meetings with more than just your team and post their photo (with their permission!) in the general chat so that everyone can put a face to the name. This has really effectively established me as one of the team and not a distant stranger.
3. I started reading your blog daily after finding it through the intern dress code letter. At the time, my “career” wasn’t meeting my expectations (or expenses): as a recent college grad I worked 3-5 part-time jobs in a major city to make ends meet, and I spent two years despairing that I would ever get out of retail and customer service. Thanks to some luck, I landed a full-time job that gave me more skills and a better network. After a couple years, I leveraged that into better title and more pay…at a business that turned out to be terrible. Thankfully, that was around when I started reading AAM. I quit the terrible for my own sanity, and ended up with 3 job offers in different industries that all aligned with my skills and interests: I took the one in tech. After a couple years there, I applied against 700 other people for a top tier company across the country and got it! That job not only increased my income by 50%, but provided me much more freedom and scope. Until, that is, internal politics came to play, and I was fired for the first time in my life last fall.
It was difficult and humbling, but I took the time to think about what I learned, what happened, and how I could talk about it in a way that would show I took it seriously but was ready to move on to greener pastures. I started landing interviews right away, but it took a few months to get an offer at my current company. Thanks to your blog, I negotiated a salary about 4% higher than my offer (forgoing a small signing bonus) knowing that it was increase my long-term compensation–an overall 22% increase from my previous role. But! I was on track for a March 23 start date–right in the middle of the first wave of mandatory social distancing. Thankfully, my company decided to onboard me remotely, ship my equipment, and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. I have exceptionally good perks and healthcare, and I’m in a position to make positive long-term impact at a company that isn’t flashy, but makes a product that really helps people day-to-day.
Tl;dr: in the last 8 years, I’ve quadrupled my salary, moved up in positions with every job change, worked in roles I felt ethically good about, and built a strong cross-country network of personal and professional contacts. I always felt that I was so far behind in getting my career started that I would never catch up, but thanks to a combination of luck, hard work, and AAM, I feel good about where I am and set up for where I want to be.