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WIBU to have walked out of these jobs?

(15 Posts)
Flaky Wed 13-Dec-17 23:41:21

I am thinking about returning to work after a hiatus and have been thinking about my last 2 jobs that I walked out of, which really dented my confidence and whether I was BU.

Job 1
First job after a long 5 years of being a SAHM. Youngest DCs all at school so champing at the bit to get back into civilisation. Job as PA to Chairman of a local manufacturing company. Great pay and perks. I was amazed to get back into a role at a level I had been in before. Interviewed by the Finance Director/Sales Director initially who confided in me that the Chairman didn't really want a PA but they felt that he needed someone to take the pressure off and get involved. Met the Chairman at next interview who asked me lots, told me he wanted me to get fully involved in the business etc, etc. All great, offered role. Massive anti climax. Chairman didn't want to deal with me, didn't want meetings with me to delegate work, sorted his own diary etc. My work was mainly low level stuff the Finance Director offloaded like spreadsheets, budgets etc. Kept trying to get on Chairman's side but he was quite dismissive as he was used to working alone. Very frustrating. It all came to head after about 4 months. I had to take a day off as DC ill. Rang it in very apologetic, was able to do some work at home. Came back in the next day and Chairman was out so asked me to check his emails for something and I came across an email he had sent to the Finance Director bemoaning the fact that I had been off and saying remind him never to employ women with children again referring to them as 'flaky'.
I saw red as I had bust my bollocks trying to fit in so I sent an email with my immediate resignation saying that I hoped they could employ someone without children and who had no intention of ever having any and they had employed me under false pretences anyway. I copied this to all staff blush. God knows why I did that!

Job 2
Two months later for a District Council. PA role again to a Senior Director. Interviewed by him. Wanted me to have a visible role, all very exciting. Great pay and pension etc. Offered job. On 1st day told that as the PA to the Chief Executive had resigned, that would now be my position. Never met the man before that and a little overwhelmed but accepted as not much choice. Chief Executive was a hated figure by other staff I very soon discovered and that soon radiated to me as I was his PA. Staff very rude and obstructive when I asked them to do stuff that the Chief Executive wanted. Called him names behind his back, very disrespectful. He didn't want me to get involved with anything apart from making teas/coffees for meeting and buying his lunch. Expected me to know stuff he hadn't told me about and very shitty when I didn't. Didn't want me disturbing him in his office etc. Several angry outbursts by him but I was told by HR that I couldn't raise a grievance as well, he was the Chief Executive, and no one else was senior to him! Open plan office with other admin staff - 1 was a nightmare. The 1st day I started she had a loud sweary personal call with an ex. Calling him an cunt etc. I was gobsmacked as never ever seen that in previous private sector jobs. No repercussions as she had disclosed she had mental health issues and was on medication. Everyone in the office was very wary of her. She tried to offload her work on me (constantly off sick and late) and if we had to work together on something, she would argue about what she was doing and what I should be doing. Made me burst into tears from stress one time (1st time ever at work and was mortified). I started to get panicky on my way into office. It came to a head after a year when the Chief Executive shouted me out for not turning over the page on his desk calendar from one month to the next! I went on sick leave and resigned 2 months later. I found out that the Chief Executive had been through 3 PA's in the preceding 2 years before I started.

Got pregnant with youngest DC shortly after so haven't been working since.

I often think back to those jobs and think what the hell went wrong and how I could have dealt with it better.

Any thoughts?

Posted in chat initially by mistake.

SadTrombone Thu 14-Dec-17 01:53:17

Sounds like you were unlucky. Twice!
Your response to the incident at the end of the first job could be seen as extreme but I'm guessing it was a 'straw that broke the camel's back' type situation.
Get back out there and good luck finding a position where you're not working for a dickhead!

MsHopey Thu 14-Dec-17 07:37:49

I've had some bloody terrible jobs.
First job I was passed over time and time again for promotions, even though I had been there 5 years and was doing the job above mine at the rate of a normal employee. The people who were promoted had only been there a few months but were related to other senior members of staff. They even asked me to train them in the higher role as i had experience, but I was good enough to give the job to. I quit.
Second job I was bullied so bad at work I cried every morning and during lunchtime. The highest up manager kept taking me into the office to talk about my weight and general appearance as they thought I didn't "fit in" with the other staff. I was told to wear more make up, to fake tan as I was too pale. The shit they said and did to me is so illegal. I was signed off with anxiety and resigned the day I came back. I had a feeling they were going to fire me anyways. It was all so silly because the job was in a call centre, where we never saw a client face to face.
I then went back into retail, where as soon as i got comfortable they moved me to another store. Not part of my contract, just employees were thin on the ground and as someone who was new to the team I was easier to move. Basically no one gave a shit about me, so it didn't matter where i was. I got pregnant, I was in a very active role, the pregnancy put a stop to that for health and safety. You only get a 30 minute break in a 10 hour shift. I got in trouble for needing a wee, having morning sickness, stretching my legs. And have other members of staff tell me I'm lazy, and they can't wait for me to go on maternity leave as I'm a burden and they have to do extra work to make up for my pregnancy.

I'm now on my 5th month of maternity leave and have never felt happier. Honestly I never want to go back. I'm a bit of a victim. I've been trying to get all our outgoings down so I don't have to worry about going back to work for a long time and hopefully just live off my husband's wage.

Honestly, in your experiences, if people are going to treat you like that, it's going to come to a head sooner or later. All of us can only take so much. As you've said. From the sounds of it both your bosses were arseholes. You couldn't change that, no matter how hard you work. It's a shame that you was once so excited to get back into work, and these bad experiences have left you second guessing yourself. I think you were lucky to get out when you did, it can really affect your self esteem. Just have to find a job with the right fit, which I think is getting harder and harder.

NovemberWitch Thu 14-Dec-17 07:42:42

It does sound as if you don’t need a job enough to put up with the sort of infuriating, belittling crap that many of us have to battle through and cope with, so I’m a bit envious at your ability to flounce and still have a roof over your head.

HermionesRightHook Thu 14-Dec-17 07:49:36

Sounds like you need to get better at interviewing them - in an idea world it's a two way process. I know that can't always be the case but these were clearly terrible fits with bad managers.

Try www.askamanager.org - have a root through the archives for stuff about interviews and bad bosses.

But the first one - that was not a great way to handle it. I would have got HR involved immediately and been looking to use it as leverage to get them to a) not be misogynist dicks and b) actually let me do the job they had employed me for.

HermionesRightHook Thu 14-Dec-17 07:50:00

(whilst looking for a new role, I should have added)

RedSkyAtNight Thu 14-Dec-17 07:50:14

2 sounds like an awful situation and that you did your best to resolve it professionally.

1 sounds like a complete overreaction. Yes, the email was unprofessional, but it wasn't intended for you to see and flouncing out was unnecessary. I think it's a very rare environment where someone never says anything unpleasant about you behind your back in a moment of frustration, and you might need to toughen up a little if you want to get back into working.

TBH though, as PP says, it's clear that you don't "need" to work, as most of us do, and you're therefore considering your job as optional.

redexpat Thu 14-Dec-17 07:50:35

You have been unlucky, but I think you could get better at addressing problems in the workplace. If you go and read some of the threads in the employment section on mn you will very quickly get a sense of how to deal with these things. Short version: get everything in writing, back up emails etc.

Anatidae Thu 14-Dec-17 07:51:05

What went wrong was that as in too many places, the atmosphere was dysfunctional, the job wasn’t properly defined and the support structure wasnt there. That’s something you don’t have much control over, so don’t stress about that.

What could you have done differently? That’s the more interesting question. You can’t change the dynamic of the office from a junior position. You could perhaps have requested a more formal definition of the job, but again that’s sometimes easier said than done.

What you could definitely have done differently in job one was not to see red and resign on the spot. I know it’s tempting, I have myself been pushed to fantasies of it maaaaaany times. But. Doing that marks your card. It marks you as someone who doesn’t have great impulse control and most industries are small worlds. In that situation I’d have followed the book - request meeting with boss, and HR. Explain issues. If that felt like it’d be more negative than positive I’d have resigned in a more conciliatory way. Because you are the same people again and again in most industries. A colleague has just done this. She was pushed to the brink, she’s found a new job and has resigned with good grace, stating that she had an offer she simply couldn’t refuse gosh no not you I just couldn’t turn this down wish you all the best blah blah.
Never burn your bridges, is the point.

Job two also sounds nightmarish and again, there’s. It much you can do about the actual dynamic. It’s not your job to fix it. Again, I think you left in a non optional way. Sick leave for stress then resigning is something that marks your card a bit too. I’m not saying it should, by the way, only that it does.

Ethylred Thu 14-Dec-17 08:02:17

"Seeing red and resigning". Very very rarely, maybe twice in a lifetime, it's right to be angry, and maybe this was such a time. But use your anger,
don't be controlled by it. That means, go out and get an offer of another job. Then you are in a position of strength. Resigning never does any good unless it puts you in a position where you can do something. Like Geoffrey Howe stabbing Margaret Thatcher from the backbenches after his resignation.

LifeBeginsNow Thu 14-Dec-17 08:12:44

Maybe it's a PA thing. You were lucky to get to resign, I've just been sacked.
I could tell my director didn't like me and it made work life very uncomfortable. I struggled on despite no training and an office manager who was completely unapproachable. They all expected things to be known even without guidance and having only worked there for a short time.
I wonder if it's the type of role where they recognise it could be a help because of current workload but the workload won't allow for time to get the person up to speed. It might suit an internal progression rather than employing an external employee.
It's dented my confidence even though I know I worked hard when there. Back to job hunting now!

RB68 Thu 14-Dec-17 08:16:58

The jobs would have been fine if the arseholes that were your bosses were not arseholes therefore not unreasonable. Hoping to shortly get a job as PA/ EA to a CEO, thankfully I really like her...

However you need to adjust the story you tell on your CV so that you are not putting people off you - so no slagging and you leave for personal reasons etc

expatinspain Thu 14-Dec-17 08:21:03

The second job I totally see why you resigned. Your boss was a bully.

First job...wow, that was complete unprofessional the way you handled that! There are procedures there for a reason. Copying all the staff in on the email is slightly unhinged behaviour.

DivisionBelle Thu 14-Dec-17 08:38:59

2 difficult jobs.

Better handled by you stepping back and looking st the job that needs doing and the structures available.

First job: they behaved very very badly. You could have played that to your advantage by handling it unemotionally and formally, instead of behaving even more badly.

Second job: dreadful bullying, but then you complain about phonecall woman when you yourself had behaved so unprofessionally in the previous job, burst into tears, take things personally etc etc.

You did have bad luck in the jobs and workplace cultures, but you need to find your inner grown-up.

KungFuEric Thu 14-Dec-17 08:50:30

I always follow the 'you never know who you'll meet again' in the workplace rule, and try to behave professionally so no one could personally recommend that I didn't get a job from previous experience.

How many people did you copy in to that email at job one? You take it each of those people would now suggest to their current employers that you are unprofessional and a bit unhinged, who'd walk out of a job in a dramatic fashion.

The main point that comes across is of an attitude that you don't need to work, it frightens employers.

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