Update On Hubby’s Job Situation: Depression, Guilt, Self-doubt & Hope

On October 3, I wrote a post about Mr. FAF’s recent job situation.

At their weekly check-in meeting, Mr. FAF’s boss asked him to look for another team at his company.

In other words, Mr. FAF’s boss didn’t want Mr. FAF to be a member of their team anymore. Mr. FAF was politely kicked out of his group.

It felt like one of the biggest rejections hubby has ever had in his life.

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What has gone on in our lives

Mr. FAF later told me that it was a low point in his life.

He felt like a loser, and he had little, if any at all, confidence in himself.

He kept apologizing to me every day for being a loser. I could tell he felt inadequate as a husband and a dad who can’t provide financial security for his family.

Mr. FAF’s income accounts for more than half of our combined income, so a job loss would put us in a less ideal situation although my income can still support the whole family (i.e. mortgage and monthly expenses) if we pull out kids out of daycare.

I tried to be supportive and told him to not lose hope, and that things tend to get better after they get really bad (which I’m not really sure myself).

To an outsider, it might be just a team mismatch. But for hubby, it was a confirmation of all the self-doubt he has about himself that he is indeed a loser who gets nothing right in his life.

I wish I could say it is all in his head, and that this is the Imposter Syndrome. But based on what Mr. FAF told me, he’s not so passionate about the work and feels that he’s the worst member of the team.

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Taking action

Mr. FAF reached out to some of his colleagues on other teams and asked to talk to the managers. He also met with his boss and asked if his boss could help him find a new team.

A couple of days later, his boss came back saying he’d found a new team for Mr. FAF, and that Mr. FAF could start on the new team on October 15, about two weeks after he was told to transfer.

That update still doesn’t make Mr. FAF feel any better. He feels like an outcast who’s been kicked out of his group due to his performance.

To be fair, I could tell Mr. FAF wasn’t too passionate about his job and didn’t put in all of his effort. He wanted to transfer to a new team one month after joining the company but didn’t have the guts to do so.

One thing about Mr. FAF’s personality is that he’s adverse to change and likes stability. He wasn’t sure if he could fit in with the new team or if he could do a better job at the new position.

It was self-doubt that prevented him from searching for new opportunity. His boss, however, could sense his lack of passion and thus a lackluster performance. His boss’s words were the final push for Mr. FAF to leave it all behind and start a new chapter in his career.

The biggest lesson I’ve drawn from this experience is that finding a job you like is crucial. It not only gives you more energy every day when you go into work but also encourages you to showcase your best qualities. If you feel indifferent about your job, your boss and colleagues can possibly sense that too.

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Mr. FAF’s goal

For Mr. FAF, his goal is to be able to work for Google one day. He likes that Google is innovative and has a lot of great projects such as the driverless cars.

He reached out to the Google recruiter after getting the news. (Mr. FAF got an offer from Google a year ago but turned them down to stay in DC with me.)

They told him there is an opening in DC, which both of us were super excited about. However, the position was L3 while Mr. FAF’s level is higher at L4, so it wasn’t a good fit both in terms of qualifications and compensation (i.e. L4 engineers get paid much more than L3). Plus, it is a small team with only 20 software engineers.

They said that there won’t be any openings in the DC office in the many months ahead, so hubby was very disappointed.

Since I work in the public policy field, DC is the best place for me to be. But it also means that Mr. FAF has to delay his Google dream until later.

At least, now we know there’s a chance Mr. FAF can still find a position in the Google DC office, so now we’re just waiting.

In the meantime, Mr. FAF will also be studying for an interview at Facebook since the company is expanding their engineering team in DC and is recruiting new employees aggressively.

It will take hubby 3-4 months to get ready for the interview. However, deep down, Mr. FAF still feels unsettled about whether he can do well even if he can transfer to a new company.

He’s not even sure if he can get an offer from Facebook (his next career move if he still can’t find a suitable position at Google).

He asked me to forgive him if he can’t get a job at Facebook. I was confused and asked him why I would need to forgive him. He just needs to do his best.

Mr. FAF said that he’s using a lot of the family resources with his dad and me doing most of the household chores and child rearing while he’s figuring out his next career move.

In a nutshell, he’s feeling guilty for everything that he does or that has happened to our family recently.

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Conclusion

I am glad I can give you an update on Mr. FAF’s job situation in a relatively short period of time (about two weeks).

I was worried it would take Mr. FAF months to find a new team, and that he might not be able to find any team that wants to take him in.

This incident has caused both of us a lot of stress and has definitely crushed Mr. FAF’s self-confidence big time.

He thanks me every day for being by his side during this low point in his life. I jokingly said it’s because I have no choice. But deep down, I know I will support him even if he’s unemployed as many wives do.

What matters to me is whether he’s aware of the consequence of his action and whether he keeps trying to improve the situation.

I am sure I will be in his shoe at one point in my career, and I will need his support as much as he needs mine at the moment.

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18 thoughts on “Update On Hubby’s Job Situation: Depression, Guilt, Self-doubt & Hope”

    • Thank you, Miss Functional Money. I’m trying to help him get through this phase. I think things will get better. He just doesn’t see it yet 🙂

    • Thank you, Joe! He’s still looking. It was his first day on the new team today, so I’m waiting for him to come home and tell me all about it 😀

  • Sorry to hear about the unfortunate occurrence. But, through turmoil comes triumph. Tell Mr. FAF that self talk is most crucial to his success. Negative self talk will only re-enforce the bad. No matter the situation, there is always a solution. Tell him to look at having to find another a team as a blessing in disguise. Things don’t happen to people, they happen for people! This is a small hiccup on your families voyage to further success and riches.

    All the best,

  • So glad you’re back on – I was so used to your 3 posts a week I was getting a bit worried about the ‘silence’ after the last post!

    Maybe this is helpful for your husband: I managed a lot of different teams in my career and sometimes there were issues of team fit as well. From my experience there is a big difference between an employee not being competent for example, and therefore not a good fit for the company, and just not being a good fit in a specific team. The way you described the situation, I am sure in your husband’s case it’s the latter.

    It still doesn’t feel good, I’m sure, since he’s not the active part in this move. But maybe the two of you can work from the assumption that the new team is indeed a better fit and management trusts he will be better able to show his full potential in the new environment – I can vouch for the fact that that’s a very real possibility, I’ve even seen people becoming big-time outperformers in a new team. A non-fit situation is not necessarily only about the team member either, sometimes it’s about the head of team’s management style and maturity as well.

    I keep my fingers crossed everything works out fine!

  • I am hoping the new team goes much better and that hopefully the situation is one of productivity and positivity. He is going to lean on you for support, and I am so glad he has you there and now that your FIL is here, I am sure the extra help is so welcome!

  • Aw Mr. FAF sounds a lot like my husband. They beat themselves up real bad over some things that I don’t think they can control. I’m surprised the manager didn’t LINE up a new team for Mr. FAF to join first hand. That’s his job…why did it take 2 weeks and some prompting to get Mr. FAF onto another team? Sounds like a bad manager to me!

    I think Google ranks are not industry standard, like L3 to them is a L4, they just call it L3.

    • Jared feels that way too? 🙁

      Google offered Mr. FAF L4, and the position is L3, so there’s a bit of a mismatch. L3 gets paid less I think, so Mr. FAF wants to wait for the right position.

  • I’m very happy your husband found a new role, and hope it will be a better fit. Just a word of caution – managers can definitely tell when someone isn’t excited/passionate about a role. In the future, when he joins a team that may not be a good fit, it’s probably best to start out with either a frank conversation with the manager about any concerns (I joined this team thinking I’d be working on X, but it turns out my role is focused on Y. Can we discuss this, and see if there are other options/projects that might bring me closer to X?) Short of having that conversation, I think the employee needs to bring their most passionate A game, for the duration of their time in role, and/or find something that’s a better fit. It sounds like your husband isn’t great at masking his feelings, and when he’s not passionate about something, he doesn’t do his best work and it’s clear to others. I think that’s totally natural/normal, but he’ll want to work on how to find the positive in challenging work situations, as all roles go through phases where they are more or less of a fit for someone.

    Also, second the comment about Google levels. How did the recruiter benchmark the role as an L3, and I’d be surprised if there really isn’t any flexibility at an L4. Is it the role that’s totally focused on an L3, or that the recruiter thinks the years of experience your husband has would make him come it in at an L3? Those are two different things, with different potential solutions.

    Good luck to you & your family!

    • I think you made a great point about passion and performance. I think that’s exactly what happened, and Mr. FAF’s manager could just see right through it.

      In terms of the Google levels. Mr. FAF spoke with the recruiter and found out about the level difference which can easily result in a big difference in base salaries (L4 gets paid more than L3 and does more challenging work). That’s why Mr. FAF decided to wait until the right vacancy comes up.

  • Fingers crossed for you guys!! Mr. ThreeYear was once laid off twice in one year and definitely felt terrible about himself for awhile. But it ended up being a blessing in disguise, as it led him to the amazing job he has now. I know that doesn’t help much in the moment, but please know the future will be bright for your family!!

  • Feigning interest isn’t easy when it comes to a job. I’ve had a number of jobs and admit to not liking parts of them. For me, by focusing on what I did like, I was able to overlook the bad.

    If you’re in a position which doesn’t motivate you, switching teams or even companies may be in your best interest. You’re not doing yourself nor the team any favors. Hopefully Mr. FAF has a fresh start on his new team while preparing for a FB interview if push comes to shove. A change of scenery can sometimes do a wonder of good.

    Best of luck!

  • Jared sounds like a great man and husband who is simply trying his best. Nobody likes to be in this position. I have been there before and I can totally understand what he must be feeling. There is bigger plans for him so keep his head up and try not to worry. Worry will not do any good. Best of luck to him on the new team and to Google/FB.

  • Sorry to hear what you guys are going through. Hang in tight there. I know Google and Facebook are great places to work, but maybe expand the list of companies a little bit to help? Just a thought.

  • Hi,

    I am very sorry to see what happened to Mr. FAF. As a fellow Chinese, and a software engineer. I like to give some advice in regarding to his situation:

    1) Getting the pink slip happens to every one at least once. Or at least to most of people. And most of them happens on the very first job. Why? One makes lots and lots of mistakes because everything is new. It annoys others to the point they just have to let you go. I was being told the same thing after I struggled on my first job for a year and 10 months. So I left for a contract position in Microsoft in Bellevue WA. The second one was just so much better than the very first one. Anyways, for the very first job I had, it was a financial company, high stressful. I was new and had no idea how to deal with people, with day to day operations. No one bothered to teach me what I need to do. I did the best I could and it was just not enough for the team. One secret I learned later is that if I get along with the team, the team would overlook a lot of my personal flaws. It is vitally important that we learn how to get along with our colleagues as best as we could.

    2) Mr FAF needs to get over this incident as quickly as possible. Negative emotions and lack of confidence will greatly affect performance at the new work. Right now, the fear is “can I do this and can I do it well?” The answer is always, “Yes.” Right now the economy is really good, companies are fighting for high skill workers, no company would easily let go existing employees. So he can either try hard (fight) in the new team, or if it does not work out, stick for a while another 6 to 9 months and start seeking new jobs. D.C. has a great IT job market, He can get a job anywhere. I wouldn’t let go the existing position easily unless a new opportunity pays more or is a better fit. What I would do in this situation is to get an opportunity to accomplish some great work with the new team and make a great first impression. Then keep up. Be communicative, Always ask questions before making important decisions. The best to do this is to talk to a guy (someone who is in charge) on the team and say, I have a situation that I need to solve and here is what I think that should be done, (lay out your plan). do you think this is the right thing to do? The worst thing one can do is cave at the corner and not interested in anything. And being reactive instead of being pro-active.

    3) We are all 1st generation immigrants, and survive in this country is just not easy. Everyday is a struggle. And having a good job one loves is just an illusion. We all need to do what ever it takes to keep a job we more or less don’t like. For me I found that getting people like me and having them know I can help them is the best way to keep my job. Having great technical skills and a lot of professional experience makes this very easy. In our line of work, we have this phrase, “baby steps.” Just take small steps. First learn what the team needs and how one can help. Then just do your best to help. Take it one day at a time, make a list of things to be completed, and try to finish them. Take time and talk to people, learn their expectations, and try your best to match the expectation. If it gets too tough, change a new job. It is easy to get one now. It is OK to change jobs. Last year, I changed 4 different jobs. Can’t say the job market would be the same for next 6 months. That is why it is important to fight to keep the current position. Leave when it is absolutely necessary. The most important thing right now is to accumulate knowledge and experience, learn how to do the work well. Then the next one would be a little easier. Things will never being “easy” easy, but it will be manageable.

  • Wow, Sherman Zhang, those are good points! I agree especially with 3rd point as a 1st generation immigrant myself. I am a mechanical engineer, and one thing i realized is to always do high quality work regardless if i am passionate or not about a project. In my opinion, this is what being professional is all about, to deliver high quality results for the team no matter what. Your husband is a very smart person, he will do just great!

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