updates: the incompetent temp, the person who lacked ambition, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. Talking about my future goals when I lack ambition (#3 at the link, first update here)

I thought I’d write in with one final update! I am now leaving my current job and will be returning to my home country in August. I used your advice to craft my resume and cover letter and really explain how my particular skills and experience fit with each role and each school. I was only able to visit my home country for a week but I was able to schedule an interview on each day.

Several interviewers mentioned how strong my cover letter had been and how they got a real sense of my personality and unique professional interests from it. Again, this was entirely down to your advice! I also thought a lot about my interview technique as I know that I have a tendency to panic when I’m put on the spot. I made sure to think very carefully about my specific achievements in my current job, used lots of examples and made sure that I answered the interviewers’ questions clearly and directly. I interviewed for four jobs that week and ended up receiving enthusiastic offers from all of them! The job that I ended up accepting was absolutely incredible – I had such a good impression of the school (and used your advice regarding asking good questions and finding out about the culture of the workplace) and it was clear that my style of teaching and overall educational outlook really suited the school and the department that I would be working with. I was anticipating having to take a salary cut due to teaching wages in my home country being lower than where I currently work but I actually got a small increase compared to what I’m earning now – and with shorter working hours! I didn’t negotiate my salary any further but the school made it clear that they had started me on a relatively high salary as they had been so impressed with my interview and experience – something that I would not have been able to do without your blog! I’m still not sure if I have ‘ambition’ in the sense of wanting to move any higher up in the organisation or take on additional responsibilities, which is what I initially wrote to you about, but I have realised that I am ambitious in terms of the standards I hold myself to in the job that I have and how much I want to continue developing my skills and experience.

The last few weeks have been incredibly stressful, with both my country of residence and my home country being put on lockdown due to the virus. I am teaching all my lessons online at the moment and really missing having a routine and seeing my students in person. I’m hoping that by August, the schools in my home country will be open again so that I can get back to ‘real life’ work, but knowing that I have a job lined up for when I get back has taken at least some of the pressure off me at the moment. I really couldn’t have done any of this without your advice, both your response to my initial letter and everything that I have learned from reading your blog in general. Being new to the workplace after university, your blog really helped me to feel like a professional adult, not a college student who had wandered into the office by mistake! Thank you again!

2. How do incompetent people get work?

I have found a job, applied for casual but ended up getting a full time permanent position. Still on probation but my manager and supervisor is very pleased with me, especially how I’ll be staying long term for some stability. They have even been very accommodating with some personal leave I need to take soon due to some scheduled surgery, only stating I’d have to take it unpaid because I haven’t accumulated enough leave.

Thanks very much for your advice, it wasn’t in retail I was looking or saw the incompetent people, many of them I did see while being interviewed, like reception staff. Of course I said nothing though to them at the time.

I do look forward to a number of years working in this workplace.

3. Our board president sucks, but we’re stuck with her until the next election (#3 at the link)

Things have gotten both better and worse. Better, because the VP won the next round of elections, and it’s much better working under her. Worse, because the team is so burnt out from the last time that they’re less engaged than previously.

Where it gets interesting, though, is that the old president actually stole money that should have been used on a political campaign, so there’s a whole investigation going on into that. The current president might have more info than I do, but it’s been over a year and we haven’t gotten our money back. I suspect the police may get involved at some stage. What a nightmare.

4. Our weird and incompetent temp keeps getting rehired

First of all, thank you and your awesome commenters for the great advice. Shortly after the letter was published, I spoke to my team lead about my concerns with the intention of bringing it up to my manager at our next meeting. Like you suggested, I left out the weirdness and personality quirks, focusing only on her work and its impact on us. It turns out I was a couple days too late, and he’d just had a conversation with her about re-training and finding efficiency solutions. Since it was being handled, I didn’t feel the need to speak to the manager about it after all.

A few weeks later, we were having a group lunch (no talk of male fluids – thank goodness!) and she announced she was leaving at the end of her contract in a few weeks. She later told me she didn’t get the 1-year temp-to-perm position due to failing a language proficiency test, but was offered another 3-month renewal to her temp contract. She felt like she was being strung along, and decided to amicably part ways with nothing else lined up. Personally, I would have accepted the renewal of the contract while I looked for a different job, but I understand she was pretty frustrated by that point. We all had lunch on her final day, and that was the last I saw of Incompotemp.

Although she’s been gone for a while now, I still find a few amusing Incompotemp nuggets here and there. Recently, I was updating an animal crackers process document and saw her name in the version control page. This section lists out big version changes, such as “Final Draft”, “2019 Visual Identity Update”, and whatnot. Among the versions sits this beautiful gem: “Version 3 – Modification performed on Animal Paw Size section on page 9, section ‘Beans to fur ratio’, second bullet – added a comma.”

Incompotemp is gone, but not forgotten.

updates: the incompetent temp, the person who lacked ambition, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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