Why I took a sh*t job to escape a really sh*t job

I applied to every job in my nearby area and even attended 5 interviews in one day.

A couple of weeks ago we spoke about feeling 'trapped' in a job. The reasons for feeling trapped were endless...disability, maternity considerations, fear, money and so on. One community member sent in a message reflecting on her experience of being trapped and how she took a still relatively sh** 'for now' job, to escape her really awful job. Last week I spoke to her about her experience.

Could you tell me a little bit more about the really awful job? What were you doing, how old were you and why was it so awful?

I accepted a job at a local start-up company made up of two halves — a manufacturing business and an eCommerce business with 10 sub-brands to its name. My role was originally supposed to be “Marketing Executive” but quickly evolved into being the Marketing Manager, building a team to complete all of the work required.

I also had to frequently attend events which meant working away from home, doing long days (typically 7am - midnight) and working 15-day stints in a row.

There was way more work involved than one person could humanly manage.

On top of the Marketing Manager role, I also started training as a Project Manager and was tasked with managing projects of all shapes and sizes for both businesses (events, new product development, white label projects, etc).

Part of that project management role meant I, a 25-year-old woman, had to manage senior male colleagues. There was a lot of friction here. It was clear that they weren’t familiar with someone else (particularly a young woman) delegating tasks to them. People would point-blank refuse to cooperate, even if the tasks would have naturally been on their plate anyway.

One of the senior colleagues would purposefully turn up late to meetings that I scheduled. If I scheduled a meeting for 10am, he wouldn’t come to work until 12pm.

What was the final straw?

I was burnt out, bullied and undermined.

I’d spend days pleading with my CEO to make a change. Telling him that I’d walk if he didn’t help me. Even offering suggestions as to how to improve things.

But, nothing ever changed. I’d continue to be overworked while being disrespected and undermined by colleagues. I cried in the work toilets more times than I’d care to admit and had sleepless nights worrying about going to work the next day.

One day, one of the senior leadership team made a huge mistake simply because he was stubbornly refusing to work with me/do as I requested. When I tried speaking to him to resolve the error, I was met with the usual resistance and comments of disdain and disrespect.

As always, it came down to me to fix that mistake. Which I did, whilst being belittled and undermined by that colleague. I walked out that day.

I think that was the moment I realised enough was enough. My personal life was suffering and I was breaking myself for what… a company that doesn’t care about me?

Were you fussy when searching for your next job? Was it about just finding anything less awful?

Not at all — I didn’t care what job I moved to, as long as I got out of my current one. I applied to every job in my nearby area and even attended 5 interviews in one day.

I was desperate to make a change. Out of those 5 jobs, I just accepted the first one that offered me a position. It wasn’t my favourite role but I knew that it would be good enough for now.

Do you think finding the ‘for now’ job was worth it in the end, even if not perfect?

The ‘for now’ job came with problems of its own — from the marketing budget being stripped away to the MD going out of his way to avoid me. Seriously, he’d ignore my calls, not reply to emails, and make excuses whenever I requested a meeting.

But, it was an easy job compared to the last one.

So, I made the most of having a job that wasn’t mentally or emotionally killing me while thinking about what I wanted my next steps to look like. I wanted to be really careful about what type of company I worked for, making sure it was one that really cared about employee well-being.

I actually got made redundant from that role just days before Christmas but that’s a story for another time.

But that redundancy was a blessing in itself. It was the push I needed to go freelance and now I’m running my own marketing agency.

Things can get better.

The comments have been reactivated so do join in the conversation below.

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