I know people typically think that engaging in a job search can beat you up and be tough on the ego. But I’m here to say not so! For those in professionally unhealthy situations, it can be an uplifting exercise that helps immensely.
Years ago, I accepted a position that turned out to be really toxic because of a terrible boss. Since I hadn’t experienced working for an egomaniac before, I kept asking myself, “This guy can’t really be doing this intentionally, can he?” Even though I knew early on that there were problems, I wasn’t smart enough to cut my losses and leave. I kept thinking I could figure this out. If I was just smarter or more skilled, I could make it work.
I stayed for two miserable years and many sleepless nights. Staying too long created many issues for me. It affected my confidence, increased my self-doubt and I couldn’t shake off the depression that rooted itself into my very being.
But I found that once I started an earnest job search, things got immediately better. Why?
1. I realized there were lots of companies out there looking for competent people like me.
2. I got feedback that I had great experience and an outstanding resume.
3. I had a great network of mentors and past colleagues that would support me.
4. I realized that the advantages I thought I had in this job (high salary and fancy title) were things I could get elsewhere.
So in writing this blog, I surveyed people I knew who are in bad work situations. They told me that it takes over every area of their lives. It affects their health, their belief system and their family. And as badly as they knew they needed to leave, they were paralyzed with fear.
So I encourage people who are in toxic situations to get out there and start looking — today. It will help your ego, not hurt it. Try these easy steps:
Set aside goal for each day. Even 30 minutes a day is 3.5 hours of time totally focused on your job search each week. Then, if you’ve spent that time, put it out of your mind and try to let it go. Knowing that you’re working towards leaving should help you do this.
Polish the resume. Pick the best style — chronological or functional. The best resumes are those that highlight the best of what you have to offer, emphasizing your strengths and downplaying your weaknesses.
Ask for help. If you have a mentor or friends in the business community, reach out to them and ask for feedback. Let them know you’re looking and brainstorm the best tactics for your search.
Reach out. Use your LinkedIn network to help you get in front of hiring managers. Ironically, when I reached out to one of my contacts, he was the actual hiring manager for the job and was very glad to get my call.
Be good to yourself. Spend time with friends who love you, perform positive thought exercises, look to anything that can be inspirational and uplifting. The toughest time to face a job search is when your depressed and your self-esteem is low. Make up for it by being good to yourself.
Was this a dramatic situation for me? Sure. It took me years to recuperate. If I had been looking for another position earlier, I would have realized sooner that I had options available to me. I would have heard from others that I was a catch, which would have helped my frail ego that was getting beaten up every day.
I would have realized that there are many employers out there, looking for great people like me.