Are you working for a jerk or even worse a bully boss? As I wrote in my article “The Courage to Take Moral Action,” if it gets to the point where you need to move on to a new job, you want to make sure you don’t end up in the same boat again at your new job. There are some things you can do as you look for your new job that will help.
The most important thing you need to do is to decide how important it is to you to avoid ever again working for an asshole as bad as the one you are trying to get away from. If it is not at the top or your priority list, you will likely compromise somewhere along the way and risk eventually being right back where you started.
Before you go look for your new job, take an honest look inside yourself and ask what you might have done to contribute to your current misery. It is not your fault you are being bullied at work, but some parts of your situation might be your responsibility. Did you take your current position for the wrong reasons? Did you fail to do a diligent background check of the organization and your boss? Did you discount bad news or warning signals you had about this company or your boss before you took the job? Once on the job and the bullying started, did you address the behavior quickly and effectively or did you hold out unreasonable hope?
If you find something inside yourself that contributed to your current situation, confront and address it before you move on.
Now go find the job you want and deserve, not the job you need. You have no control over what the folks you interview with will do, but for your part, give them a realistic preview of your expectations. In very positive terms, describe how important it is for you to work for people that treat others with respect and dignity. Tell them that you thrive in an environment like that and aspire to lead like that yourself when given the opportunity. Ask to see their policies on workplace harassment and bullying. If they don’t have specific policies like that, ask why not? Listen carefully to how they respond.
Make sure they understand a healthy corporate culture and ethical leadership are very important to you. This will be a good signal to send to companies that operate accordingly and a bad signal to those that don’t. If they balk at your signal for any reason, shake the dust off your feet and move on.
Be patient, but be resolute. Even in a good economy it could take a while to sort through the chaff. And even if you do your best to put all your cards on the table there is no guarantee that the company you are interviewing with will do the same. But it’s the best you can do and it’s worth the time and effort.