College Grads: How to Survive Your First Toxic Boss

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Okay…granted; the headline might sound a little pessimistic; but let’s face it, at some point in your career you will have your very first “Horrible Boss”. Graduation season for college seniors is the most exciting time of year. No more pulling all-nighters cramming for finals week. No more wondering whether it is worth to visit this website or visit website like that. No more worrying about whether or not you made the Dean’s list, or at least kept your GPA higher than a 2.0. No more meeting your friends at the local pub for “a couple cold ones” before you go home and study, only to pour yourself into your dorm at 3:00 A.M. making a pot of coffee so strong it’s practically molasses in order to stay up till dawn writing your ten-page psych paper due at 8:00 A.M. with a professor whose nickname is “no one passes this class…ever!”.

Many college grads will be lucky enough to immediately land a job directly related to the degree they’ve worked so hard for. Some will end up taking a job simply for the paycheck ending up in jobs they are less than happy with. For the lucky ones, congratulations! For the rest of the job seekers out there who end up in jobs you dislike, or working for bosses you clash with, this article is for you.

Resigning from a toxic job, or opting to no longer work in a hostile work environment is always in the forefront of the minds of employees who feel trapped, and believe they aren’t able to quit because they feel they can’t afford to. Let’s face it, in this slow economy it’s much harder to find another job. There are more job seekers today than there are open positions. So, what is a frustrated employee to do? Step one…do not quit a job without first taking some calculated measures.

Coping with a job you hate isn’t completely impossible. There are things you can do that can make your job suck less. There are also things that one should avoid doing at all costs unless absolutely necessary.

First of all, know that being in a toxic or hostile work environment can be a proven health risk. Stress wreaks havoc on mental, physical and emotional health. Secondly, there is a difference between having bad days at work and being in a truly toxic or hostile environment. Too many employees mistake a few bad days for being just that, a few bad days and instead decide they work in a toxic or hostile environment. Don’t make the mistake of overdramatizing your situation; on the contrary, seek out information to help you decipher the difference between the two.

Now that you’ve established the fact that you are in a job you are determined to get out of let’s break down your options.

If you absolutely cannot change jobs right now due to finances, location, transportation, or some other reason, there are things you can do to make your work life more tolerable. According to, How to Make your Work Suck Less (Without Changing Jobs), jobcrafting may be the answer. Researchers from Yale, Google and other institutions refer to this term as “subtly shifting their jobs away from their grimmer aspects” and shifting them toward a job that is more meaningful, enjoyable or fulfilling. One way to do this is by focusing not on the aspects of the job that you dislike, but by shifting your focus to the parts of your job that you do like or that may lead to gaining more skills or experience for a future job that you desire. Also, focusing on the aspects of your job that you find fulfilling, and/or help others will give you a much greater sense of accomplishment and pride in your work.

Take your job and chunk it into tasks. Break those down into how much time and energy you spend on each one. Prioritize what needs to be done that is most important and see what you may be able to delegate to someone else in your department. Oftentimes, it’s not the job itself, or the people we work with that stress us out, it’s being overwhelmed in our daily required tasks and duties that have to be completed each day. If you listen to the world, it will tell you that EVERYTHING is an emergency and has to be completed “right now” which simply isn’t true. We often place those intense, unrealistic deadlines on ourselves. So, again, prioritize your daily tasks, delegate what you can, and focus on those that further your self-confidence, self-worth and increase your value in the company, which in turn will further lift your attitude towards your employer, co-workers, supervisors and make you feel better about yourself and your accomplishments.

Keep track of tasks or duties that are extremely difficult to deal with and complete. Maybe you have to deal with a boss that is exceptionally difficult, demanding, or demeaning. Journal how you successfully handled those duties, tasks and/or bosses. When the day comes that you do leave your current toxic job, or walk away from that horrible boss, you will have cataloged the difficult tasks, duty, situation, or boss and will be prepared to efficiently answer any questions during an interview pertaining to these challenging situations. Also, make sure that you are able to turn these challenges into a positive outcome when answering future interview questions.

Another solution to a toxic work environment is to take a plan to your boss. Not everyone is cut-out for a particular positon, but that doesn’t mean that they suck at their job, are a bad employee, or not the right fit for the company. Bringing a plan to your boss about possibly changing jobs within the same company may be an option. Employers don’t like to lose good employees and oftentimes are more than willing to move that employee into a position that better fits their skillset. ZipRecruiter is a great source of information for jobseekers and/or employees looking to change jobs within their current company. If you are unsure whether you are having a bad day, a string of bad days, or stuck in a job you hate, it may help to determine if you hate going in to go to work every day and not just once in a while.

A rule of thumb, is to never quit a job unless you have a backup plan such as another job already lined up, a career plan to climb the current company ladder, or approach your current boss with a plan to find another position in the current company that better suits you and the employer.

Happy career hunting!

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