1. Keep a Paper Trail
After a year of high-fives in her job as a coordinator at a film festival, Jennifer was promoted into an executive role. She knew it was an amazing opportunity to add management experience to her resume. But quickly she saw some financial sketchiness that made her very uncomfortable. “I refused to sign off on certain financial documents. I did my best to clean things up and keep my name clear. But I also saved emails and correspondence to absolve myself from blame down the line.”
She knew she had to get out, and so as soon as she could land another job, she gave hertwo-weeks notice. She says: “The final answer was to take the experience I needed, struggle through what I could reasonably handle and then get out.”
2. Ask to Change Departments
After a year of unpaid gigs at small startups, Haley finally landed a job at a prestigious beauty company. But the environment was not the supportive place to grow that she’d been promised in her interviews. She found herself iced out of important meetings and criticized by co-workers in front of her boss. “The shocking thing is how senior women don’t support the younger women starting their careers—they seem threatened,” Haley says.
But rather than jump ship, she crafted a plan to lobby her bosses in a series of meetings and memos to create a customized role for her in another department. She got the new gig, but still she’s soured on the company. “When I make my next move I’ll be proud to say I did everything I could to make a job work for me and for them,” Haley says. “My sanity is more important to me now than it was when I just wanted a big name on my resume.”
3. Plan to Pay it Forward
Kiera* was thrilled to land a PR job right after graduation, but within the first month the entire team quit (red flag!) and she found herself with zero guidance. Even worse, her new boss yelled at her at every turn. “I was so, so miserable there, every day I knew something traumatic was going to happen,” Kiera explains.
Ultimately the job was short lived—Kiera quit. But she left with an important legacy of the gig: “I learned how not to treat my co-workers, but I still get the shakes every time I pass the office building.”
Ultimately, the minute you realize that you’re in a toxic situation, you should start crafting a plan to find a job, and a company, that treats you with the respect you deserve. The dream is still yours, but the path to get there doesn’t have to be so treacherous.