When to Walk away from a Job

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I was listening to a client recently tell me how she is in this job that she hates. The boss is horrible to her and she now has ulcers, which she (and her doctor) suspect comes from the job stress. She doesn’t want to quit because she is afraid of not being able to find another comparable job.

Even in this tough economic climate we’ve been faced with this past year, there are times when you have to JUST SAY NO and walk away from a job.

Speaking from an experience back in my early 20’s, I can tell you why…

Recently laid off from my pharmaceutical sales job, I found an ad in the paper with the words “Sales Representatives Needed” screaming out at me. Not that I even liked sales. I didn’t, but at the time, I didn’t know what else I would be good at, so I stayed with it.

I arrive at the meeting place, a hotel lobby, around 6:00am and met the DM and two other reps. They start talking about what entrance they thought they’d be able to get in through. A small warning bell went off in my head, “Why can’t we just use the front door?” I ask naively. They all sort of looked at each other and chuckled…”new kid”. “They don’t let us in the front door, they don’t like ‘solicitors’ so we find our own way in” chuckle, chuckle, wink, wink.

We get on the road and head over to this company that manufactures chemicals. The DM insisted we sneak in through the back door that says,’Authorized Personnel Only’. I didn’t like this one bit. First, OK, I am a very polite person… I like to be invited places, not sneaking in to a place–especially potential clients. The only time I ever tried to “sneak” in anywhere was a Def Leppard concert when I was a teen–and even then, my good manners told me it wasn’t the right thing to do. But I digress.

 So, short of skin tight black spandex from head to toe, I felt like I was on Mission Impossible (hear the theme song in your head?) creeping through the side entrance and hiding behind boxes until we could “come out” of our hiding spot. Seriously. Keep in mind that I am in a skirt, pantyhose, high heels, and a brand-spanking new white blouse. I didn’t think that I would be slinking around oily plant floors when I dressed for my new job that morning. That is how unethical these people were. Slinkers. My new word.

Now I am thoroughly embarrassed, hating these slinkers, and wanting to leave, but with no ride and not really knowing where I was, I was stuck–and with them for the entire day.

We try to act as if we belong as we brazenly come out from our hiding spots and waltz along the shop floor.

Until we are stopped by the shop superintendent, who didn’t want to hear what we were trying to sell, utterly disgusted that we snuck in, and marched us out the front door. I was very happy and nodded to everything he said, giving him my very best, ‘this is my first and last day of this awful job and I’m chalking this up as a terrible experience, sorry to bother you’ look.

This went on with 4 other “prospects” who all kicked us out. I was SO happy when that day was over.

I have never quit a job without another one lined up. In fact, I’ve never NOT worked since I was 15 years old. But in that instant, I knew I was never coming back. I had been listening to my instincts tell me from the minute I got there that it was all wrong, it wasn’t the job for me, that I would be miserable there. For once, I didn’t stick it out. I didn’t say, “OK, see you all tomorrow!”. I left.

It was the best feeling in the world and I was so grateful to not have to go back.

So, my point is this:  if you go to a job that makes your skin crawl, that goes against everything you believe in, or you are getting treated poorly, LEAVE.

I am the first to think, “desperate times calls for any ole’ job’, but there are lots of other jobs out there that are less painful and cause much less stress. Think of your mental and physical health if you are going to a place of work that you despise. It’s not good for you. I am a firm believer in the mind+body connection. If you are miserable, your health will start to deteriorate and THEN how are you supposed to work?





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Written by Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW - Visit the website to hire executive resume writer Erin Kennedy, CERW, CPRW

Erin is an internationally renowned certified resume writer specializing in professional and executive level resumes and career services.

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  1. […] between them, and use that to your advantage. If nothing else, the more you look like you already belong in the office, the easier it will be for the employer to imagine you as part of the team. var […]



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