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Friday, January 1, 2010

what bad job news were you later grateful for?

Sometimes bad news is really good news, although we don't know it at the time.

For instance:

* You're fired from a job and as a result end up in one that's far better for you.

* You don't get a job offer from the company you hoped would give you one, which means that you're free to accept the offer from your dream company a month later.

* You don't get the job and later hear that the boss is an abusive tyrant.

With so many people dealing with bad news in their job search, I thought it could be interesting to hear what bad news you've encountered that you later were grateful for. Any stories from you guys?


Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

This isn't recent -- but, I had just finished my MA in philosophy and was working for a company -- I was laid off, which forced me to apply for part-time teaching jobs. Because of those jobs I'm now finishing my Ph.D. and have tenure teaching philosophy.

Anonymous said...

In a previous position, the executive that hired me and that I reported to left the company and the persons who replaced her (1 puppet and 2 board members pulling the strings) were bullying jerks who made decisions that were personally beneficial but professionally unethical at best, illegal at worst. They made it clear to me that my job depended on going along with whatever they told me to do. It was an extremely stressful position to find myself in.

I loved the people I worked with and the organization I worked for, so it saddened me at the time to have to leave my position because I wasn't going to do something I knew was wrong just to keep my job.

I ended up finding a job with a new company that is an amazing place to work, with talented, smart people making a lot more money than I did before.

12 months after I left my previous employer I found out that they had gone out of business due to mismanagement of funds. So everything ended up alright for me after all.

Olivia said...

I didn't get a job after attending an interview that gave me a very bad feeling. Not only did the department I would be working with have imaginative demands on time and resources, but they also weren't shy about stating how they felt about female scientists, like me. It was so uncomfortable I wanted to leave halfway through the interrogation. When I had to restrain from telling one interviewer to grow up, I realized it was DEFINITELY not the place for me. Two months later the posting went back up on my main industry job board. I can't imagine the poor person who got swept into that position and out again, but I'm glad it wasn't me.

In the meanwhile I managed to pick up a freelance writing career and will begin working for a company that I know treats their employees like people. I'm so glad not getting that first position let me hold out for something that won't drive me to ulcers and migraines in my twenties.

Anonymous said...

I was at a horrible job last year but I'm still friends with the gal that trained me who I wouldn't have met otherwise. I shouldn't have taken the job to start with but if I hadn't I wouldn't have met the only friend I have in this city.

Frank said...

I applied for a procurement position, things were doing well until I met with a very nasty recruiter...she began asking what I was doing there - this didn't happen in the US by the way. I didn't get the job and I felt very bad about myself because the location was great, great salary etc.

3 months later they went out of business...I'm so glad that I didn't get that job.

Anonymous said...

Actually all of your examples I have lived through. I took a job I didn't really want just so I could have a paycheck. I learned a lot and worked my butt off. I eventually got tangled up in a mess with manager who accused me of something I didn't do. I was fired. I was so upset about it but found another job within a week that I wouldn't have been able to get without job #1.
At job #2 I worked for a great manager but the company was awful. There were always threats of layoffs and uper management was very untrustworthy. I stayed there for 6 years and sholud have left sooner but didn't. I moved go another city and manager #2 (who I worked very hard for) gave me a raving review to a headhunter.
The headhunter sent me to one interview and I felt great about the job but I didn't get it. The second interview also went great and I got that position. I found out at job #3 that four out of 12 employees used to work for the other company and said how horrible it was. I am now, thankfully with a wonderful company and am thankful for all the (at the time) bad news.

class-factotum said...

Four years ago, I was laid off from my job (along with 800 other salaried ees, round 5 of layoffs). A month after I was laid off, I met my husband. We started dating. I was living in Memphis, he was in Milwaukee. He would fly me up to visit him or he would come to see me. Because I was unemployed, I had time to see him. We got married in 2008. I would rather have him than that old job.

They have scrapped the SAP project I was working on and the project mgt has all taken "early retirement." The company's stock continues to tank, which is not good for my 401K and is probably because I am no longer working there, but there you go.

Anonymous said...

I was once demoted from my "head of department" position and was placed under a new boss in a different department, doing the same job.

What I found was that my new boss had already taken an interest in helping me further my career in the direction I actually wanted to go and not the path I fell into. So while my ego was bruised from the demotion, my career was ultimately pushed into the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I worked for a swindling, abusive tyrant who fired me. I was able to leverage that position into a new position, where I met great friends (to this day) and directly landed me where I work today.

As an HR person, there have been times in the past when I want to look at people and say - you do not want to work for this person, this department head, etc. There have been times when people I have talked to are disappointed and I silently say - you have no idea how fortunate you are .

It may not appear it in the moment, but there are times when our lowest points are our greatest gifts.

Anonymous said...

I failed to get an offer for a job I wanted badly. About six months later, the person that got hired for the position got laid off.

Mary said...

I had interviewed with a company- it went really, really, REALLY well- the phone interview, the 1 on 1 with the HR rep, the best interviews I had ever had period and probably the most professional experience I had interviewing thus far. Everyone was really on top of their game and it was so refreshing.

Then, the for the final interview, I interviewed with what would be my boss. She was unapologetically 20 minutes late, called me by the wrong name, and very clearly never reviewed my resume before sitting down with me. She was a terrible listener, and no matter how I explained my past positions, she never "got" what I did. Being unemployed, I had interviewed a gazillion times and never had that happen. Ever.

I was apprehensive about the job after that, but I was (still am) unemployed, the job was paying really well, so I would have taken it if it were offered.

On the way home from that interview, I got an offer for a really amazing visual merchandising position at a well known luxury department store, but it was PT and really, really far away. But, it was still something I was considering based on what they were paying.

I took AAM's advice about offers and told the job I just interviewed with that I had gotten another offer but was more interested in this job (true). They emailed me back right away and said they wouldn't know for a week or so, but they wanted to know the compensation package they offered me.

That kind of put me off. A lot. I didn't think it was any of their business, and anyway it hadn't been discussed. I told them the offer was made but we hadn't discussed pay just yet.

After that, they just flat out stopped responding to me, as if it were punishment for asking where I stood in being considered for the position and not disclosing another company's compensation package. It was rather shocking considering they had been so awesome and professional prior to this. It didn't make sense.

There were so many things that added up to it being a bullet dodged and I'm soooo glad I never was offered the position.

Cassie said...

I didn't get a job at a community college, which worked out because my part-time job became a permanent (much higher paying too!) job and I also moved so transportation to that community college would have been a pain.

T. Alex Beamish said...

This one's easy. I was looking for a C software development job, I was sent to interview for a position that was Pascal (a language I preferred to avoid) with C 'possibly in the future'.

I was interviewed by a crusty old guy who said the previous developer had left them for 'sacks of gold' to go to another company, as had the development manager. Whoever took this job would have to 'hit the ground running'.

The plant was really nice, and I quickly turned the offer down: a) not my preferred programming language; b) they'd begrudge every buck they paid me; and c) I'd be critical path from Day 1.

I drove by the site a year later -- the plant had closed and the building had been demolished. That was the right decision.

Anonymous said...

Was laid off after being promised by the top people I wouldn't be. They were so embarrassed they couldn't do it themselves. Instead they changed whom i was reporting to so she'd have to do it. She refused as she felt it was just wrong. So they asked a couple of outside contractors to do it which of course was shocking and hugely embarrassing.

I'm still dealing more with the hurt of HOW rather than the fact of it (fortunes of war, after all).

But at the very same time my mother's health went down (we cared for her with Alzheimer's) and so I got to spend unrestricted quality time with her throughout the following 9 months of her life -- It meant the world to us both and I would have regretted if it had not been possible.

Lise F said...

I got laid off from my full-time market research job in May...

.... well, okay, really I got myself fired, because I was so fed up with the place that I could no longer hold my criticisms in. It was the kind of situation where an honest critique would either get you a promotion or get you fired, and as I suspected, and perhaps even hoped, it got me fired.

However, it turned out to be just the kick in the pants I needed to get into a new career. If I had been applying to full-time jobs in this new career, I wouldn't have gotten them, because I didn't have any professional experience, so being unemployed allowed me to pick up contract work which has given me that experience.

Right now I'm still doing contract work, but it's paying the bills, and I really feel as if I have a new career.

Joel said...

I've had at least two cases where I didn't get chosen for jobs with companies that went on to go bankrupt a couple of years later [in one of the cases one of the bigwigs actually went to prison.]

Last summer I was let go at a job that I just wasn't a good fit for. I'm still looking for work, but I don't miss being at that job.

Ask a Manager said...

These stories are great. Thank you guys for sharing them.

When you're in the moment, still absorbing the bad news, it's often really hard to see it as anything but bad. It's interesting how things look a few months or years later.

Anonymous said...

I worked for two days in an office but had a very bad feeling the whole time--the boss was mercurial in his moods and demands, and the way they did business was questionable, even to a fairly green, fairly young person.Even though I didn't want to look bad for quitting after only two days, I couldn't shake that bad feeling. A month after I quit, the boss was indicted for slumlord practices.

Anonymous said...


In response to your statement that in the moment, it's hard to see a situation as anything but bad...

I had a contract position that was supposed to turn into a full time position. I liked the job enough, and I liked my coworkers enough, but I didn't like the town I was living in.

Shortly before my contract was supposed to end, they hauled me into the HR office and warned me I might be getting fired over something that had happened a few months ago, that my boss had counseled me about, but had "only recently come to their attention." I was more pissed about HOW the firing went down than the fact that it did. And two days later, I was happy I was able to job hunt full time... and eventually found a job better aligned with my interests in a better city. Going six months without a paycheck sucked, but I don't think it sucked as bad as staying in the old city would have.

Anonymous said...

My first job was at a non-profit, Company A. I worked there for 14 months before there was rumors of lay-offs. My boss let me know that SOMETHING was up, and to get my resume ready. I started applying and got an interview immediately. I accepted Company B's offer 24 hours before management from Company A came in and laid me off. Company B kept my family afloat for six months and then got laid off Company B. It's toughened me up to get laid off twice in one year. I have no ill-conceived notions of "job security." I'm now working for Company C: More room for advancement, much higher pay than Company A or B, and an office environment I love. Coming from Company A where there was always a cloud of fear, a micro-manager boss, an office that was practically Company C where there is more flexibility, better bosses and more opportunity for advancement...I'm definitely better off. And it only took me a year to get here!

Ben Eubanks said...

Not really "bad job news," but...

I was stuck working for a crappy company. They didn't care about the employees. The employees didn't care about their jobs. It was horrible to say the least. So I started writing and blogging, and I was able to move out into a better job just a few short months later (partly due to my writing gigs).

The moral of the story is: if you're stuck at a horrible place, do something outside work that brings fulfillment. You never know where that little hobby might lead. :-)

Anonymous said...

I got fired from my last job during the probationary period because they deemed me a 'bad culture fit.' Truth be told, I was miserable from the first day I started and called several recruiters on Day 3 with a full on SOS request. I was even tempted to just quit, but had I, I would not have been able to collect Unemployment during this past year+ and I'm not sure how I would be surviving / thriving were that the case.

Maggi said...

In May of 2008, I got my dream job, Diversity Recruiter for the company I had been with for a while...and 30 days later, they eliminated the position. I was then offered a job that no one wanted managing the contingent labor program, which was a promotion that included a raise, so if I hadn't taken it, I wouldn't have received severance. I took the job no one wanted and then four months later the company was acquired by an even bigger company and my job was eliminated again...but I had 9 months of "transition time" and got double pay for the entire transition. Then my husband got laid off from his startup in the middle of my transition, which seemed like a disaster, but once I was done with my job, we were able to travel and work on projects that we had both put off because of our jobs. Now we've both been able to start our own businesses and redefine our lives and we are so much happier for it! I remember being so disappointed when the diversity job was cut...but it's all worked out for the best and I'm thrilled.

Anonymous said...

I spent months trying to lock down an internship at a highly awarded advertising firm here in San Francisco. I had made it through my initial interviews and multiple emails with flying colors, only to be ignored (repeatedly) when I tried to follow-up with the person who was supposed to interview me for the final phase. I decided to just look for another job in retail, and ended up at a really amazing/famous boutique with high pay and tons of perks. I also found out that I would be needing the money, as a source of income which I had become dependent on was suddenly taken away. If I had simply interned, I would have missed out on my current job and all the networking and perks that come along with it. I would also have been broke and desperate.

so to all this I say:
God, protect me from what I want!

Anonymous said...

I was forced to leave my job in a painful long and drawn out way. It was incredibly stressful but I managed to negotiate a package. I took some time out to go travelling and met my now husband. And whilst I was away, the division I had previously worked for got sold off from the mother company leaving me happy I had left in time before mass panic and involuntary redundancies hit.

Colleen said...

I accepted a position in a lab at a major research hospital. Within a week I found out that all the employees who were leaving the lab for grad school (common for entry level research jobs) could not wait to get out of there - red flag #1. I also soon discovered that they had been neglecting crucial job tasks for weeks or even months at a time, leaving quite a backlog for me to deal with as a new employee.

One person complained endlessly when the manager asked her to work one week beyond her end date while the manager was on vacation. During that time, this employee did not provide any guidance to me since she was aggravated with the situation, even though she was my de facto manager at the time. When my boss got back I was held completely responsible for my lack of productivity that week, even though it was only about 3 weeks into the job and I had limited training and no real manager during that time. Red flag #2.

Red Flag #3 was when a weekly meeting with my manager was delayed by 45 minutes by another meeting she was in. Her door was closed, which always meant "do not disturb." I had a research participant schedule for the following hour, which was on the group calender she had access to and supposedly checked daily. I ended up leaving to go to that appointment. The next day I got a nasty email from her insinuating that I had stood her up! She even said that I should have "known" her meetings run over and planned my schedule accordingly, even though she admitted the participant appointment was higher priority. She also tried to say I was lying about the appointment being on the group calender, but when she checked it in front of me admitted she'd misread it. I got no apology for this at all.

I ended up being told I was having performance issues and was given specific goals to meet to remedy the situation. I met or exceeded all of those goals, and was told I was "doing better" and given a positive performance review. That was on a Monday. That day one of the head honchos came back from their vacation and met with my manager. I don't know what she told him, but Friday afternoon they called me in to talk and fired me. He mentioned specific examples of why, some of which never happened - like that I missed a meeting with a head honcho, when in reality I was 5 minutes late because someone had a heart attack on my train on the way in. This made me think that my manager misrepresented or outright lied about my performance, considering she gave me a good review that same week.

It was crushingly depressing - this was my first "real" job - but thankfully I found a MUCH better position and used it as a launching pad to apply to Ph.D. programs. I'll be pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuroscience starting this fall.

Anonymous said...

I once interviewed with a company where I met the Sales Manager first and then met the President of the company. The President asked me to go to lunch along with the Sales Manager. Everything went well, or so I thought because I got a call a week later from the Sales Manager saying I just wasn't his type.

18 months later, I'm reading the newspaper and they nailed a child porn ring. You guessed it, the Sales Manager was one of them. Glad I wasn't his type.

Anonymous said...

I've had a few of these, mostly in not getting hired by various call centers and then they go belly up or I hear horror stories later on or they outsourced everyone's jobs 5 minutes after the start date.