how soon can I quit a new job with a tyrannical boss?

A reader writes:

I was hoping to write to you with good news about an exciting new job, but, it’s only been a week and I’m already wondering if I should quit.

My last job of two years at a large company was fine but not great: the management was lackluster and I wasn’t really excited about the work, but I was paid reasonably and had a lot of schedule flexibility, including the option to work from home once a week (I’m in a lab-based environment, so more than that would be tough). I recently accepted another position at a small company because it’s in a field I hope to get into, plus the work seems more aligned with my background. They also made an offer on the spot, and while I took a day to think about it, I’ll admit I was flattered. They initially offered $15k/year less than I was making, but when I mentioned that, they agreed to match my (then) current salary, so I’d thought that was a good sign. However, I’ve been here a week, and already I’ve learned that:

– There’s a massive amount of turnover. In a 20-person company, five (including the president/owner) have been here more than 15 years; everyone else started within the last year, and most have only been here a few months.

– We are exempt employees but our time is micromanaged, and I don’t have nearly the same schedule flexibility as I was led to believe. I was also specifically told that working from home would be a regular option, but it turns out that it’s only allowed in very limited circumstances (being out mildly sick, for instance), only with pre-approval (hard to do if you’re sick!), and — since we only have desktops — we’d need to check out one of the barely functional laptops ahead of time.

– One of the longer-term employees is blatantly sexist, to the point that he actively disparages and usually refuses to even acknowledge women, including the two more senior female employees. The HR person is aware — he treats her the same way — but apparently she’s powerless to address it because he’s close friends with our boss.

– Our boss (the president/owner of the company) is apparently a bit of a tyrant. He’s the kind of person who’s always generating new ideas, and he’ll frequently ask employees to drop everything and focus on his pet projects (and prioritize them over actual, funded work with strict deadlines). Even more concerning, he’s apparently prone to yelling when he’s displeased; I haven’t witnessed that yet, but other employees have said that it’s very ugly and borderline abusive.

I left my last job on good terms, I know they’re still hiring for my old position, and the HR person told me in my exit interview to keep in touch and to let him know if things didn’t work out here, so … I’m really tempted to ask for my old job back. From some of your previous posts, I know I’d need to be committed to staying for a while, but honestly? My gut feeling says I’d rather go back and stay for at least another year rather than staying here even a few more weeks. I’m willing to give it another week or two to see if things improve, but am I being over-sensitive?

You are not being overly sensitive.

You were misled about the schedule flexibility and working from home. Those two things right there are reason enough to decline to stay. You signed up one thing and found it was another. You’re not obligated to stay when someone does a bait and switch on you (just like they wouldn’t be obligated to keep you if you told them during the hiring process that you were available 9-5 and then announced after you started that you’d only be working 11-4).

It’s also entirely reasonable to decline to work in an environment where blatant sexism is tolerated (and refusing to acknowledge women is really extreme on the sexism scale), where the boss yells or is abusive, or where the management just sucks.

People don’t always have the option to turn down work in those circumstances, but when you do have options, you’re entitled to use them!

There is sort of a hierarchy of needs at work, in that most people aren’t likely to find somewhere perfect and so sometimes it makes sense to decide you can live with something that’s less than ideal (like bad management or an annoying culture). And if you’d only encountered some of the more minor problems on this list — like if the only real issue was that the owner changed focus frequently — it might be more reasonable to stick it out and see how things go. (That’s not to say that frequent priority shifts aren’t problematic; they are. But they can be manageable for some people in a way that other things on your list are not.) But that’s not your situation.

There’s also an advantage to getting out now, in that you can just leave this job off your resume entirely and not have to answer interviewers’ questions about it in the future, whereas if you stay six months and then leave, you’ll have much more of a gap. Gaps aren’t inherently resume-killers, but it’s nice to not have to bother speaking to them at all.

That said, since you wanted to leave your previous job, I’m hesitant to tell you to jump right back to it just as a way to get out of this one. An alternative would be looking for something different and leaving as soon as you find it, rather than going back to a job that you were pleased to move on from.

For what it’s worth: you were flattered when this employer made you an offer on the spot, but often that’s a sign of trouble to come. Not always, but sometimes it means they’re desperate to hire because they can’t keep people (possibly reflected in their high turnover) or that they aren’t particularly thoughtful or rigorous about hiring (which can have ramifications for who you’re working with — and potentially for who’s managing you too), or that they don’t want you to have too much time to think it over, or just that they’re kind of a chaotic mess. Sometimes it’s none of those things, but it’s definitely a flag to slow down and make sure you’ve done your due diligence on what working there will be like.

{ 199 comments… read them below }

  1. Jean*

    I had to go back and re-read the letter to find the reason LW decided to even take this job in the first place, after the lowball salary offer. There have to be other ways to break into that new field. There is no way this “opportunity” is worth the risk of damage that it could do both personally and professionally.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I get the impression that this new field might well have a certain amount of glamour attached to it, otherwise why would anyone stay there?

  2. NeedRain47*

    A note for the future- ask about turnover during the interview phase! Don’t say “what’s the turnover like”, but you can ask related questions about longevity and why the position you’re applying for is vacant. It will sometimes clue you in that something is wrong.

    1. The Original K.*

      I always, always ask why a role is vacant. It’s one of my standard interview questions.

      1. Nonny Mouse*

        The most distressing reply to that I ever got was that the job was vacant because someone came through with a shotgun and shot up the employee-provided housing. No one was injured; however all but one of the employees whose houses were shot quit.
        I took the job anyway, stayed for six years.

          1. Nonny Mouse*

            It was a remote region of the US where employer-provided housing is common.
            I was told alcohol was involved.

            1. Nonny Mouse*

              And in retrospect, I think they were happy to tell me up front rather than have me find out and quit a week later.

                1. Nonny Mouse*

                  Now that I think about it the manager who hired me was also the one employee in a shot house who did not quit. So perhaps that also contributed to his transparency.

      2. Ran away*

        I always ask why the job is open. The answer was once that the previous two people were both fired.

        1. Barry*

          In a friend’s case, the guy he would have replacing OD’d on heroin in the alley behind.

      3. Shhh*

        I always ask this, too. For my first job, it was vacant because it was a new position that was created from two positions that were combined when the people in them retired, which reflected industry-wide changes. For my current job, the previous person had been commuting 3 hrs (!) round trip (!!) every day (!!!!!) and took a very similar job closer to home. Both of those seemed like good signs (and were for the most part).

        1. Shhh*

          I’m sorry, that was supposed to be 3 hr EACH WAY every day. 6 hours round trip. I would’ve left too.

          1. The Original K.*

            I’d have to be in dire straits – like, imminently facing homelessness – to take that job in the first place.

      4. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        The last few times I asked (interviewing atm) it’s been that they’ve just done a restructure. And I strongly suspect that if current role didn’t lie to me, they significantly elided the truth…

    2. Elle*

      Yes! My most dysfunctional jobs were in positions with high turnover. Sometimes it’s specific to that job and manager and not the company as a whole.

    3. Lisa*

      This is a fantastic line of questioning that isn’t encouraged nearly enough. It takes some craftiness because NO ONE is going to admit what’s really going on but tone, evasion and body language will tell you quite a bit.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Yes, even a non answer gives a lot of information.
        as does an “incorrect” one, “oh, a bad fit. more details about the person.”
        Um, lemme guess, everyone one of your ex partners is “psycho.”

      2. ferrina*

        I asked this of several companies during my most recent job search, and none of them blinked. All of them provided great info- though most of that was in subtext. One person talked about how the person had decided to decrease hours and this was a full-time role, but then proceeded to talk about how that person had grown the role. He didn’t realize it, but he was describing a role that was absolutely unreasonable and unteneable. I withdrew from that process.
        Another company told me that the previous person had left to to focus on X, but this job was more about Y. I was looking to do more work with Y, so that was a great match for me.

        1. irene adler*

          I asked why the position was open. Answer: the prior person left.
          Why did she leave? Answer: They didn’t really say. She wasn’t fired or anything.

          I asked what things the predecessor did that they especially liked and wanted to see from the new hire.
          Answer: She wasn’t around long enough to to really demonstrate anything noteworthy.

          ‘K bye!

          I think candidates have to come at this from a variety of aspects (turnover-for the position, dept and company, why the prior worker left, things they liked about the prior worker’s work, etc.). Otherwise, glib responses are given in the hopes the candidate won’t figure things out.

      3. artie-smartie*

        I’m the LW from the post a few months back about the recruiter who wouldn’t stop calling or take no for an answer about an interview, and then got shirty about emails (hi!).

        One of the major red flags was that said recruiter, in trying to hype up the role/company to me, more or less without prompting told me that the previous person left the role because they’d been promised freelancer-to-perm but then the company changed their mind and kept it freelance indefinitely and the freelancer ‘got upset about this'(!). When I asked the ‘why is this role vacant’ q to the managers, I got a load of waffle about nothing that made clear that in addition to the status change, they also were trying to reduce the number of days (and thus pay) while increasing the role scope to that of at least 3 people, and saying a whole lot about ‘fast-paced’ that clearly just meant constant chaos…

        I do not regret not taking that job. Or rejecting it over email.

        1. artie-smartie*

          and to add – this is why asking the question is important! even a non-answer tells you everything you need to know, I think.

    4. irene adler*

      True. I wonder though, if they’d focus on the long-term employees while glossing over the revolving door.

      “We have people who have worked here for 15 years and more. Folks seem to like sticking around. And, we’ve welcomed some new hires too-business is increasing!”

      I’m glad OP wrote in. It confirms my gut reaction to a similar situation. See, I got a job offer 15 minutes after the Zoom interview ended. My gut said no way. There were other red flags- notably the “we have some long-termers here” comments when I asked about why the position was open. And the salary situation? They did that too. I was offered my current salary. When I turned them down the salary jumped $8K. I’ve never made that much money so fast in my life. So I knew this was not a good set-up for me.

      (There were other yellow flags. Let me not bore folks with those)

      1. pancakes*

        “We have some” —> “To clarify, is that a majority of your employees? Or relatively few?”

      2. Nonny Mouse*

        Any time someone is pushing you into something, it’s a good bet that they’re doing so for their own advantage and not yours.

      3. Locke Lamora*

        The kitchen version of this is “how long has your dishwasher worked with you?” If the interviewer seems puzzled by this or answers that they have a hard time keeping dishwashers then it’s a bad sign. The best places are the ones where they treat the folks doing the nastiest job well and retain them either by promotion or compensation. An established restaurant can run for about a week without a chef but only about an hour without a dishwasher.

    5. TeamPottyMouth*

      “Why is this position vacant, and how long was the previous person in this role before leaving?”

      1. Elle*

        Having a lot of long timers is also a red flag to me. It’s something about being stale and not willing to make changes. I’m not sure what the sweet spot is and how to ask about it but the best places I’ve worked for have some new staff at all levels. They also have people who’ve been there a while.

        1. Another health care worker*

          Yes–the scenario here is the worst, I think, in having a few people with 15+ years’ tenure, and everyone else brand new. To me, that says “we have a few people running the show who will never leave, and they tend to scare everyone else away pretty quickly.” Good cultures seem more likely to include a blend of very long-timers, mid-range tenures, and newbies.

          1. Arrghhhhh*

            Lol…I probably should not use this but I say our place is like Hotel California, you can check out but never leave to explain the longevity of the staff (when I started our receptionist was 89 and started with the company when we bought the building in the 50’s. She had worked for the company who previously occupied the space!) But I also try to explain the good and the bad about our company. Why people stay and why people leave are big topics during the interview as well as culture. We pretty much make clear what are pain points but also push the advantages.

            1. Screen Porch Office*

              I use the Hotel California analogy with my employer as well! Mostly because it’s a smallish non-profit, and employs a lot of people with young families. So people move back and forth between part time and full time, or they leave but do some occasional projects for us on a contracted basis. People “check out” but unless they move away, we usually see them again. (Even if it’s only at one of our fundraising events!)

        2. ferrina*

          When a company immediately starts touting long-termers as soon as you ask about turn over, that’s a red flag.

        3. Zombeyonce*

          That isn’t always true. The team I’m on has very low turnover and 3/4 of the team has been there for over 5 years, many over 10. We always get a huge number of internal applications when a position opens up (rarely) because our team is fantastic. People are really good at their jobs, the managers encourage professional development and create new roles for people to grow into and are very supportive. They’re also very flexible and do whatever they can to make schedules work for people as lives and needs change. Everyone gets along and we’re pretty diverse for the company.

          A lot of long-timers can be a red flag, but it sometimes means something good. You just have to get all the background information.

          1. Another health care worker*

            This is consistent with what I said because it’s not the same situation at all as the OP’s. “3/4 of the team has been there for over 5 years, many over 10” is much more variety in tenure than “a few people have over 15 years, and then the next-longest employed people have been there under a year.”

          2. fhqwhgads*

            I think generally a healthy split is something like 25% < 5 years, 25% 5-10 years, 25% 10-15 years, 25% longer (or other distribution if the company hasn't existed longer than 15 years). It's when you get the extremes of majority super long timer, minority brand new or vice versa that it's an immediate flag.

        4. tamarack and fireweed*

          It wouldn’t be a red flag for me, more like a feature of the job that needs attention and management. A long-standing stable team in a stable industry with not much growth (at least of that particular team) is something that can just happen, and at least it means that the people who are there like it there. Yes, coming it fresh and green is *going* to disrupt the team, so best is everyone is aware of it and does their best to manage the change.

          On the other hand, what does not “just happen” is a leadership team with decades of seniority and everyone else with a tenure of less than a year (at least unless the company operated a radical reorientation and rapid expansion within that last year, after puttering along much smaller for a long time – not super likely!). It usually means just what the LW is seeing: a dysfunctional place that can’t keep their new employees.

      2. Soanon*

        This is good advice. If I’d asked that for my nightmare job 12 years ago, I would have learned that my predecessor was on the job for one day before not coming back. And that the person before that person left after two months. I only found out after going through memos on the shared drive and piecing together a pretty disturbing retention history, capped by one of the more senior employees secretly taking another position and quitting on the spot one night just six months into my role there.

        1. Elle*

          Or after you’re hired the manager bad mouths your predecessors. Somehow everyone they’ve ever had in this position has been terrible and never stays.

      3. M2*

        This is a good question but in my current situation I have been in my role (and promoted 3 times) for almost 5 years. There is new top leadership within the last year who is creating a toxic work environment and hired some who turned it into a bully club and micromanaging situation. Basically because they are insecure.

        If they were asked this question about me (I am actively looking to GTFO) they would say I had been in the role a few years but in the department for 5 years. I am hoping if people on my team stay they can clarify and state I had planned to stay longer term (I had planned to stay in my current role at least 1-2 more years) but due to current leadership left due to toxic work environment. If I didn’t have a family and a mortgage I would have quit already.

        The new leader screams, yells, sends awful emails to staff but ‘clients’ love this person. I’m not angry about it, it just makes me sad because I loved my job and felt I did something meaningful! I will most likely have to move my family as similar roles are not located in my area. Toxic workplaces are the worst and is worse when HR, the CEO/ President\ Board knows what is happening but does nothing!

    6. tamarack and fireweed*

      Also “is it a team that has worked together for a long time or would I be one of several who only recently started” (better than “is there a lot of turnover”, but you get similar information out of it).

    7. Reb*

      Another good question an applicant asked me recently: How is [this job-role] perceived by the rest of the company? My team’s in the good position of being well-respected but if not, I think the answers (or non-answers!) would be informative.

  3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

    Offers on the spot are almost always a bad decision for everyone involved – it’s like going to Vegas and getting married while you’re still in the NRE phase of a relationship. Neither party is thinking fully or deeply about the end results, and they probably don’t have a full understanding of who the other party is – the hiring party isn’t taking the time to compare notes on the different candidates and see how they feel a day or two later, after they’ve thought about what your answers to interview questions were, and you as the person being hired haven’t really taken time to think about what the interview exposed about the potential work place.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I had this happen once, and it was actually within my current organization (for a lower level role, have been promoted a couple of times since), BUT, in this case I knew the hiring manager really well, as she did me as we had worked together pretty closely in an adjecent capacity for a couple of years. I knew they were struggling to fill the role for [reasons] (not bad ones, in this case), and I also knew I was the perfect candidate for the role. So she broke usual protocol and offered me on the spot. But this was a VERY SPECIFIC circumstance.

    2. anonymous73*

      Most of the time yes, but not always. I started my career as a developer, got laid off and was out of work for a year and a half. I had a recruiter reach out to me for a Business Analyst position because the dinosaur system I had worked on was being used by the company for this job. I had zero experience as a BA, but went in for the interview. The recruiter called me 5 minutes after I left and offered me the job. It allowed me to learn new skills and advance in my career. It may have been the exception to the rule, but I wouldn’t immediately count out anything just because it was offered on the spot.

    3. Arrghhhhh*

      My place has made offers during the interview but I have only heard about it happening with one group and it has only occurred with individuals that have been referred to the company by current workers. However, they have had an interview with HR and completed our company testing prior to the interview with the manager where they are offered the position.

    4. L'étrangere*

      Depends what you mean by on the spot. I had a great interview once, really clicked with the manager, and had an offer on the voicemail by the time I got home. Which I took immediately. One of the best jobs ever. I agree that I wouldn’t necessarily be happy to have someone try to pressure me into taking something in person during the interview itself. But I’m in tech, decisions within a day are not at all unheard of, nor are they always bad ones

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Fair point – with really fast job offers it’s helpful to remember your industry and it’s norms for whether a fast offer is a red flag or not.

    5. Ellie*

      It does depend on the field though – for almost every job I’ve ever gone for, the interview has ended with them offering me the job. Once or twice it’s been a phone call either later that day, or the following one. I’ve never had it take longer than that. Some fields are hard to fill, and on many large projects, a vacancy that’s been open for too long gets added as a risk to the delivery timetables, so they have to move fast (and security checks can take a while, so they need to get that process started as soon as they can).

      Offering a lower salary, and then only matching yours though? That’s a red flag. They didn’t budget right for the position, and likely won’t be offering you cost of living raises anytime soon. I’d decide quickly if I wanted my old job back, or to look for another one, but no way would I stick around at this company.

    6. babblemouth*

      I hired a lot of people for internships, and once made an offer on the spot. I think it was OK because the stakes were low (internship), and the candidate was truly exceptional – which we knew from her CV and the pre-screen interview already. It was a video interview where the other interviewer in the room with me could pass a note saying “OMG yes”. I made it clear that while the offer was on the spot, there was no obligation on her side to accept on the spot.

      All this to say, while it’s rare, there are some occasions when you can find that all the stars align and you can go for it.

  4. Antilles*

    If they’re *this* dysfunctional in the first seven days, it’s certainly not getting better.
    Heck, you could even argue that this might be the high-water mark and it’ll get even worse when the CEO/others are more comfortable around you.

    1. rayray*

      I once took a job that I was feeling bad about in the first week. My boss was very controlling and not very patient, but I just thought I’d try and stick it out. I figured some people just aren’t good at training new people and it’s stressful to teach someone on top of what you’re already doing.

      I should have bounced. The job was AWFUL. I was trying so hard to be positive and stick it out like people were telling me. I finally ranted to a friend one day about a few crazy incidents that had happened and my friend just bluntly exclaimed “that lady sounds f*cking stupid. Get out of there” The RELIEF that came over me in that moment. I just about cried. I know people mean well when they say to just give it time, and very often that’s true – there is an adjustment period, but when there are blatant red flags, just get out ASAP.

  5. irene adler*

    How soon can one quit a job with a tyrannical boss?
    Life’s too short to put up with this.
    Prior job sounds like they would welcome you back. Take it!

    1. KRM*

      Yes, in this case I think going back to your old job is OK. You took this new one for a new opportunity and what you thought would be a use of your skills more aligned to what you want in the future. You didn’t leave on bad terms or hating the work or anything, so I think you go back, you spend a few months researching what you want as a next step, and you spend a few months interviewing for new positions, taking the time to make sure you get the right fit. I think ultimately that’ll be better for your health (both mental and job wise) than to keep this job and look while you’re at it.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        And OP already has the perfect explanation – the new job was not at all what was advertised.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        Yeah, it’s no guarantee it would work out – the old job is rightfully going to be leery about the OP’s commitment – but I’ve certainly seen people come back after finding the grass less green than expected on the other side, and put in another solid 1-2 years before finally jumping ship, all on good terms. Win-win for everyone in these cases.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      This. OP’s current job sounds awful and the only way it’s likely to get better is if a meteor hits the CEO and his sexist buddy and someone else takes over. As other commenters have noted, odds are it’s going to get worse as the jerks get more comfortable with OP and/or OP gets to experience tantrums and other nonsense first hand. They lied to OP in the interview process. Who knows what else they’re going to lie about now? And like Alison said, from a resume perspective, you can pretend it never happened. So my advice is GET OUT. DO IT NOW.

      The bigger question is whether OP should go back to their old job. I’d say it depends on whether it makes more sense to go back for 1-2 years or to quit ASAP and commit to a job search. The latter is definitely more stressful and will totally depend on whether OP’s financial situation allows it. Really, I just want to throw it out there that staying in the horrible job or going back to a just-OK job are not the only two options here.

  6. NYC87*

    Ugh this was me a year ago – I hoped things would get better (spoiler alert, they didn’t). I am now desperately trying to leave but wish I went with my gut and left right at the beginning. It’s not worth it.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Sending you good vibes, NYC87. Sounds like a terrible situation and I hope you land something awesome soon.

  7. The Original K.*

    In general I’ve found that if there are long-term partners/senior-level people and junior-level people and nothing in between, that’s a bad sign. Means they either don’t promote and people move on, or the employer sucks and people move on when they figure it out.

    But the bait and switch alone is reason to go. If you take a job based on certain parameters and those prove not to exist, it’s reasonable to go.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Option 3 – they promote to retain junior level employees without backfilling properly, which is also NOT great.

    2. Hazel*

      Right, and not just because you don’t want to do the job without those parameters, but also because they are people who have lied to you about the job. They can’t be trusted.

      1. The Original K.*

        I used to work with someone who had accepted what they thought was a salaried offer, and then at the end of the first week they got an email from payroll asking for their hours. They were like “hours?” and went to their boss, who hemmed and hawed and then admitted that yes, the role was hourly. I said flat out that I’d have quit – if they’ll lie about pay, they’ll lie about anything.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          THIS. They will bullshit you to get what they want any time they think you won’t like the truth.

    3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I also think that in this kind of setup, the senior level people there are either bullying narcissists, who know full well they wouldn’t get away with it elsewhere, or hapless victims with Stockholm syndrome who think they wouldn’t ever get another job elsewhere because they’ve been groomed to think they’re hopeless.
      That was the case with my previous employer at any rate. I look at their website occasionally and the company photo is always the same management line-up and a row of goofy youngsters who have no idea how to identify toxicity at the workplace, never the same ones either.

  8. EPLawyer*

    If your old job will take you back, I would go. yes, you wanted to leave for reasons. But the job was okay. As in you can stick it out for 6 months or so, THEN start looking and be picky about your choices. That way it will probably take at least a year before you find a better choice.

    1. londonedit*

      I agree; it might well be a case of ‘better the devil you know’ here. Yes, the OP had reasons for wanting to leave their old job, but if they think they could go back and stick it out for 6 months before looking for something else, I think that would be the best option. At least they’d be in a reasonably safe and comfortable environment and they probably wouldn’t feel so desperate in their job search.

      1. Just J.*

        I agree with both EPLawyer and lononedit. If you can stick it out at your old job for six months, then go back. If you don’t think you can, then start job hunting ASAP.

        BTW, I know many people, including myself, that have returned to a previous employer. It happens. People will understand and there is no shame in it.

        1. Worked in IT forever*

          Me too, I left my original employer on good terms and was told I was eligible to be rehired, if I ever did want to come back. I returned after less than a year.

    2. L.H. Puttgrass*

      There’s nothing like a horrible, awful, no-good, toxic workplace full of covid-carrying bees to give a person a new appreciation for “fine, but not great.”

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        For sure, while people should definitely feel free to leave a job over literally anything they want to including “lackluster management” and such reasons OP was looking at jobs in the first place–it’s also super okay to be like “y’know what, maybe I don’t love my job but it’s fine and I’m comfortable for a while.” So unless they have other irons in the fire… if I were in OP’s shoes I would probably go the route they are considering of trying to get my old job back and staying there another year.

        Like certainly I don’t mean to imply that you should have to be *grateful* for a normal work environment where your boss doesn’t yell all the time and no one actively ignores the women in the room–ideally that would just be the baseline experience! But I think it is likely that after even just a week at this shit show OP will feel a lot happier in their old job than they did before. I’d go back there and live a boring life for a while, then give yourself some time to be super picky when applying for your next job.

    3. Fuzzyfuzz*

      I was in a similar situation. Left okay job where I’d topped out in terms of seniority/pay for a step up that I ended up hating from day one. I stayed three months and went back to my old job, and I do not regret it. I started job searching again (about 15 months after my return), and I am in a much better/more balanced mindset.

      It is not worth staying in a position where you’re unhappy when you have another good option–you owe it to yourself to take the opportunity to return to your old job before it goes away!

    4. kiki*

      Yeah, I would go back to the old job, if possible, and use that time to be really selective about a future move.

    5. jm*

      adding to the chorus of agreements to this. LW, i recommend going back to the old job, but keeping up your momentum and finding something that really works for you. i assume the advice to find something else first was out of concern you’ll get complacent in a situation you disliked enough to already leave once, but getting out of tyrant town should be the priority.

    6. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      I regret not going back to a job that I liked when I found myself in a job that I didn’t. I could have, I was asked to. And I didn’t. The reasons I left had a lot to do with “I just wanted something new” and the industry I supported (in IT) was dying – but the job was good and the people were more or less good and I would have gotten another three years out of it.

  9. Neosmom*

    Get out! Something similar happened to me. Offer on the spot. Tyrannical boss. I left after 10 weeks with nothing else lined up. And sooooooo glad I did.

    Can you do work for your former employer on a contract basis to tide them (and yourself) over and search for something different? I hope so!

  10. Sarah in CA*

    Reminds me of a job I had in Las Vegas in 1996 or so.

    They advertised it as a receptionist position but the nature of the “company” was no clients coming by. Took me a few days to realize what they really wanted was a junior patent clerk, with a heavy side dose of personal assistant to the CFO (calling to find violin lessons for her kids, picking then up from school, etc).

    I actually really liked the personal assistant stuff but being lied to made me resentful and I left within a couple weeks.

    1. RagingADHD*

      It’s rather odd that you’d assume they lied, rather than being bad at writing job descriptions (which are nearly universally badly written or incomplete). A lot of people who haven’t done to jobs couldn’t really tell you the difference among a receptionist, a junior clerk, and a PA. They are all lumped in as aspects of admin work.

      It’s even odder that you left a job you actually liked because they used the word “reception” instead of “general admin.”

      Did they lie about anything important, like the hours or pay? Or do you have a very strong preference for working front-desk and dealing with customers? I’m trying to relate to why this would matter enough to quit a job you liked.

      1. Liz T*

        None of that is odd.

        Don’t overlook employer lies. When there’s one, there will be more.

        1. Cpt Morgan*

          My god, how exhausting it must be to assume that confusing “admin” with “receptionist” must mean that they’re unrepentant liars who can’t help lying.

          1. Liz T*

            Assumptions actually tend to save energy?

            Bending over backwards to cover for employers who post wildly inaccurate job descriptions and manage to go a whole interview process without mentioning any of the job duties? That’s what sounds tiring.

      2. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

        I think the junior patent clerk part of it was the real deal breaker.

      3. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

        Oh come on. Most people who have a business darn well know the difference between a receptionist who answers the phones at the front desk and a personal assistant who does your chores and errands.

        Just like we know a lie and a bait and switch when we experience it.

  11. Not My Name*

    OP, most folks in your position don’t have an out, but you do. TAKE IT and run, don’t walk, outta this place if you ask me.

  12. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    “There’s a massive amount of turnover. In a 20-person company, five (including the president/owner) have been here more than 15 years; everyone else started within the last year, and most have only been here a few months.”

    If OP hadn’t mentioned that this was a lab environment, I would have thought she was working at a Finance company I worked at the past. The description fits to a tee. It was the most dysfunctional place I have encountered in my 25 years of working in corporate offices, and is the only job I have ever quit on the spot with no notice. I only made it 6 months into an open-ended contract position and was a mass of anxiety by the time I left.

    Listen to your spidey-senses and run, OP.

  13. Amy L*

    I once left a job after day 2. I could have left after the first day. It was awful. They had you finger print when you walked in the door and when you left. That was the first sign. The second was only the owner opened the mail. Huge red flag of a company that was 70+ people. If you don’t trust any of your employees that’s a big problem.

  14. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

    Oh dear lord. Call the nice HR person at your old company TODAY. That place sounds like a nightmare factory.

      1. Jora Malli*

        Right? When the Hellmouth OP says your job is a nightmare, you should run screaming from that job.

  15. the cat's ass*

    Yikes on Bikes! When the revolving door is spinning so fast you’re getting windburn, it’s time to bail! You have a secure job to bounce back to, which is an added bonus. I think it’s fine to quit now and go back while you figure out your next steps. Good luck. Life is too short to work in a bait-and-switch environment.

  16. Bethie*

    Leave now – I had a job I knew I didnt like and was offered an interview that would have changed my career path. And I passed bc I didnt want to bail on day 3. I lasted 3 years, went on anti-depressants, cried a lot, and was eventually fired for things I didnt do while on maternity leave (it was an excuse to get rid of me but they paid me to leave so I took it). Dont do what I did – look out for yourself.

  17. Nea*

    Look at it this way. You have absolutely nothing to lose by contacting old job today and saying “They lied about working conditions, can I come back?” Nothing to lose. Not. One. Thing.

    One of two things will happen:
    – Old Job says “no” and you are exactly in the same position
    – Old Job says “yes” and you’re in saner surroundings for 6 months-1 year while you figure out your next step

    There is LITERALLY nothing to lose by asking the old job.

    1. Loulou*

      There is something to lose, though — Old Job’s goodwill, if OP takes back their old job and then leaves again very quickly.

      1. Fuzzyfuzz*

        If this person can stay 12-18 months, at least, the bridge will not be burnt. Commit to not even looking at other jobs until the 12 month mark has passed.

        1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          Was coming here to say this. I had a circumstance where I returned to a former role that I had left on good terms, and that was the pact I made with my boss at the time – I didn’t give a specific timeline, just said that I was planning to rescind some active applications (she didn’t ask for this, btw, though I know she appreciated it and I think it definitely helped with how I was viewed in the organization going forward). It was definitely the right decision.

          Sometimes seeing that the grass isn’t greener makes you view your former role in a different light. Sometimes not. But it sounds like you weren’t so unhappy in your old role that you’re averse to returning.

      2. Emily*

        OP can inquire as to whether the expectation is that they’ll stick around for some period of time, but I wouldn’t assume it is. Coming back to your old job is different than being newly-hired because you’re immediately productive and they don’t have to spend $ on the hiring process, so they may be happy to have them back even if it’s not for very long.

        1. Antilles*

          Depends on what you mean by “not for very long”. If it’s a year-plus? Sure, they’ll probably be okay with it.
          If it’s only a few months, then no, they won’t just be happy to have you back – instead, they’ll be irritated that you put them back in the exact same situation and they have to basically re-start their hiring search from scratch. They’d possibly even decide that your entire ‘return’ was in bad faith – that you never actually wanted to come back, you just wanted a stop-gap to pay you to job search.

      3. A Simple Narwhal*

        Yes I would just caution the OP that if they go back to their old job, they’re going to have to stay for a bit in order to not burn that bridge. Not forever, but they should consider if they’re willing to stay there for awhile and temporarily put a pin in their job search before going back – it wouldn’t be a great look to go back only to leave almost immediately again.

        1. Observer*

          Well, the OP does say that they would be willing to stay at least a year. Which, given that they can hit the ground running, is worth more than with a new employee.

          1. A Simple Narwhal*

            Good catch, I totally missed that! If they’re willing to do that then I whole-heartedly agree they should go back to their old job asap.

  18. CheesePlease*

    OP – this job won’t get better, and I don’t think you gain anything staying there. Yes it’s the right “industry” but your experience will be in managing a stressful environment and not in anything really focused in that industry.

    I will also say, I left a company that had some highly functional but highly dysfunctional areas. I tried to shield my new employees from the dysfunction as best as possible. If you’re already seeing BLATANT SEXISM it will only get worse. I’m sorry.

  19. pancakes*

    “I’m willing to give it another week or two to see if things improve . . .”

    In addition to what others have said, I just want to point out that this time frame wouldn’t make much sense, in terms of the problem the letter writer describes. When it comes to long-term, well-established patterns like high turnover throughout a company or blatantly sexist behavior, a week or two of discernible improvement is next to nothing. That’s probably just a bright spot rather than a new pattern, in that context. It’s much too little to justify pinning one’s hopes on.

    1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      Plus it ups the chances of their old position being filled while they are waiting!

    2. Bob-White of the Glen*

      Plus, what happens if your old job is filled?

      Go back now. See the best parts of that job, and figure out if they will work with you for different experience, etc.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Joining the chorus of people saying don’t wait for improvement that more than likely won’t ever come. Just go now – either back to old job or back to intensive job interviewing – while you can afford to leave this job off the resume.

    4. Fuzzyfuzz*

      Totally agree–you’ve seen enough to know it’s a bad place for you to be. In my situation, something weird and chaotic would happen every few days, starting the weekend BEFORE my first day. I kept thinking that whatever that week’s ‘thing’ was was an aberration, until I realized around week 9 that this was the new normal. I gave notice on week 10 and left on my 12 week anniversary. Don’t wait!

    1. Gail Davidson-Durst*

      Yup! The house is full of bees! GET OUT.

      I think generally speaking Alison’s advice not to just go back is good, but in this case, I think having a known quantity of “fine, not great” is worth aborting as fast as possible so you can get back in there before they hire someone else. Then use your known flexibility and relatively low stress at that job to set yourself up for a cautious job hunt in the near future.

  20. Soanon*

    If at all possible, go back to your old position. Trust your gut and follow your instincts. If your old position isn’t available, start looking for another job ASAP and get out of the new job ASAP. When you know, you know. And you know.

    Over a decade ago, I left a job I loved to break into another field and experienced very similar circumstances as what was described in the letter (including the “borderline abusive” boss; no, your boss is almost certainly abusive), albeit without the WFH concerns. On the first day, I knew enough to start thinking about going back to my old job, which had not filled my position and would have easily hired me back (and they did, just four years later). Pride and embarrassment got in my way. I stayed in a terrible job for four years that beat me down, distorted my view of good working conditions, made it nearly impossible to job hunt as my abusive boss refused to approve time off for appointments and threatened to fire people who left on time, and sent me in a 5-year career spiral that ended in a complete mental breakdown and transition to a completely different industry altogether. I don’t have the job on my resume, I don’t have anyone from the job as a reference, and I don’t actively use the skills as career leverage. It was not worth it. Nothing about it was worth it.

  21. Enn Pee*

    I had a boss who once left after 4 months because our Big Boss yelled at her in front of other people because one of her two direct reports (not me) gave notice a month after he started. He had another job lined up, they were kind enough to wait until he could get his boss settled in!
    My boss tried to explain that her direct report had been offered the job before she even started. IT DIDN’T MATTER to the Big Boss.
    So – she called her old job, asked if her old position was open. It was! She hadn’t left on bad terms, just had been looking for a promotion (in title, not in salary) in our org. She gave her notice and went back to her old job.
    You can too!

  22. Critical Rolls*

    Run, don’t walk. If you aren’t in a financial position to be jobless, the faster you can get back to your old company the less likely your position has been filled. Escape, then deal with next steps.

  23. Egmont Apostrophe*

    Why would you take a job at the same pay if you have a job? I can see doing it if you were laid off, I could see downshifting to a different level of working life, but why change jobs just to stay in place? This letter is a good warning about that.

    1. Peachtree*

      Some people are looking to move careers / change roles and see themselves doing better at another company. A sideways move isn’t always negative.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Absolutely – I took a lateral (in pay and seniority) position at another org because the focus is different and the environment is somewhere I think I can excel *and* be formally recognized for it.

        If the new culture was a disaster, though, I’d have bailed back to my old job ASAP. And I’ve seen people who left my old company for more money at a competitor come back within a year b/c the new culture wasn’t a good fit.

    2. Soanon*

      Different health insurance program; different 401K program; difference in commute time; difference in modality (better WFH options); difference in responsibilities between companies (in my position, I could be doing standardized assessments all day or counseling all day in the same position for the same pay but at different companies with different staffing levels and needs); difference in working hours; etc. In this case, LW specifically stated: “I accepted another position at a small company because it’s in a field I hope to get into, plus the work seems more aligned with my background.”

      1. LIZZIE*

        Exactly. My job is not exactly exciting, it actually can be boring at times. But the benefits and salary keep me there. they are ABOVE and beyond many places. As I have less than 10 years to retirement, I’m not going anywhere.

    3. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      The OP stated that the job was in a different field that they wanted to break into. This letter is a good warning about a lot of things, but a lateral move to break into a new field is a reasonable reason to take a job offer.

    4. Zombeyonce*

      My partner took a new job for the same amount of money. They had been at their old job for a long time and there was no where to move up, and nothing new to learn. They needed a new job to get practical application of new skills to make them marketable so they can apply for a higher-paying job in a couple of years. Sometimes you just need the experience and can’t get it where you’re at.

    5. Garrett*

      My current job is more-or-less a lateral move paywise from my old job. But, this company offered me the opportunity to split my time between the stuff I was already doing and a new area that would help build my credentials. I had been at my old job 15 years doing mostly the same thing so this will help me in the future.

  24. Laura*

    The only part I disagree with in the response and most comments are about offers on the spot. I just don’t know how applicable that is in today’s job market. Employers are having to act quick on good candidates because everyone has a labor shortage at this point. I had a firm reach out on a Thursday (unsolicited, I wasn’t even looking for a position), by Friday we were chatting briefly on the phone, Saturday had a zoom call with the main person I would be working with, and by Monday I was in office discussing specifics of the offer and signing. They had been trying to fill that role for at least 6-12 months. I just think there are more perspectives on instant offers in this job market.

    1. Meow*

      It depends highly on the role and the interviewing process. If it’s just the manager at the interview, and they know they have no other good applicants in the pool, it might make sense. Usually at my organization, we have an interviewing team, so we’d need some time to discuss our thoughts as a group.

  25. Karia*

    Get out as early as possible. I had a very similar situation and I was a wreck by the time I left. The issues you mentioned – sexism, yelling, the immediate bait and switch – they say very clear and important things about the company.

  26. RachelTW*

    I would definitely be calling my old job to see if I could return.

    Additionally, OP, you accepted a new job that was offering you exactly what you were making, and they had to come up to that from an initial low-ball offer $15k less than your current salary. Personally, I have only ever taken jobs that paid *more* than what I currently made. The devil you know has value.

    In my opinion, taking a new job is always a gamble, so I want to make sure I am getting extra compensation for taking that risk. Unless the benefits were wildly improved or there was a big bonus or stock options or something, I would avoid taking a new job for equivalent pay. (Not to mention the fact that your best opportunity for a significant raise is usually by switching jobs.)

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      To be fair, a change in career direction, which the LW mentioned, doesn’t often come with a pay raise, and sometimes with a decrease since the person is less experienced in the area they’re switching to.

  27. Just Your Everyday Crone*

    Does our culture just train women to be abused? I feel like we see a lot of these letters where it’s so clear that you enter up broken stairs through the field of bees past the dumpster fire, and the question is “am I overreacting?” and NO! You’re under-reacting! Run away! And this is not blaming the LW, it’s so common (and I was like this myself when I was young myself). It’s like we’ve been trained to be the person in the horror movie who suggests we all split up and then goes to see what that noise in the basement was.

    1. Purple Cat*

      Does our culture just train women to be abused?
      Yes, yes it does. Women’s feelings don’t matter and are usually wrong. The patriarchy is correct and women must learn to be subservient and bow to their will at all times. Women are trained to be the ones to steady the boat, while the boat rockers have free reign. Of course not everybody fits into these molds, but US society absolutely expects it.

      1. M2*

        To be honest the most abusive bosses (including my current one) I have ever had have all been women. I am a woman.

        1. Jora Malli*

          That’s also patriarchy at work. In environments where women have to fight to be taken seriously and climb the ladder, some of them will acquire a Highlander-style “there can only be one” mentality. If only a few women ever get to positions of power, the way a lot of them will choose to get there will be by pushing down the competition.

    2. Oakwood*

      It seems to be more prominent in women (imho). I don’t know why. But, it’s not isolated to women.

      Many men, particularly those that are the primary breadwinner form their family (remember, almost 1/3 of married women are stay at home moms), are often reluctant to rock the boat at work.

      I’ve got a number of male relatives in bad job situation. Why do they stay? “What if I can’t find another job; I don’t want to lose what I’ve got; at least this brings in some money.” Excuse after excuse. The truth is: they are afraid of the unknown. They don’t like their current situation, but it’s the devil they know.

    3. WS*

      Yes, but if all the jobs in your area or field because you’re a woman/POC/LGBT then changing one house of bees for another isn’t going to solve the problem. You might well want to stay with the bees you know or the bees where you can access training to change fields or the bees that at least pay well. A lot of questions on this site are checking the bee level in their job and if it’s an option to move on.

  28. Sunflower*

    Run, don’t walk, back to your old job. People go back to their old company plenty of times.

  29. NoviceManagerGuy*

    Nothing you’re seeing will improve soon, and you shouldn’t try to get used to it. If you have a safe out, use it, and do your OldJob the honor of not searching again for a year (unless they get terrible too).

  30. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    Get out if you can manage it. I have one job that only lasted two months and doesn’t show up on my resume.

  31. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    OP, you are reeling.
    I get it. You jumped into this reservations, now you are concerned about jumping out too soon as well.
    Like everyone here, I am assuring you, JUMP.
    This will fall under “regret NOT doing.”
    You have a place to go.
    You have a legitimate reason.
    The extent of which you don’t have to share with your old company.
    You don’t have to tell them everything.
    They don’t need to know that you just hate this place and haven’t given your new career aspirations a chance.
    The less you say the better, for many reasons.
    But go back to work. Clear your head. Start again.

  32. MCMonkeyBean*

    Wow, I know it’s not really the worst thing in the list of terrible things about this company but seriously–desktops!? I know it isn’t exactly unheard of to be promised more flexibility in the interview than you feel like they actually offer once they arrive, but that is really beyond for them to tell you that working from home was a regular option and then they don’t even give you a laptop. How did this company survive the last couple of years?

    1. Jora Malli*

      People tend to talk about working from home during the pandemic as if it was just a given that everybody did it. But some workplaces just kept on requiring people to come in to work every day even when case numbers were at their highest.

      With everything else OP has said about this company, I’d absolutely believe the current work from home procedure is the same one they’ve had this whole time.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I know that lots of places weren’t able to do remote work during the pandemic, but in general there are SO MANY reasons that a person or team might need to suddenly work remotely on a temporary basis (for example, many years pre-pandemic my whole team suddenly had to get our major quarterly filing done remotely due to a big snow storm in our usually warmer southern state) that this is just such bad practice. They are wildly underprepared for many scenarios, and the fact that they then tout the ability to work remotely during recruitment is just absurd.

      2. Jackalope*

        You are probably right. But it’s such a bad idea to lie to the person who’s interviewing with you. If you don’t offer work from home then just say that. Lots of people prefer it but there are also people who like going into the office more. You’re more likely to get the employees who will stay if you’re honest about the work conditions.

        (Not that you don’t know this; I’m sure you do. But I remain amazed at the number of employers who don’t get this.)

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’d trade my work notebook for a desktop in a heartbeat.

      Desktops can be repaired easily. Notebooks usually can’t.
      Desktops can be upgraded easily. Notebooks, outside of RAM and storage, can’t.
      An UPS is usually easier to come by than a replacement battery, and they’re practically universal.
      Most of my peers over the years have attached their notebooks to one or more monitors, a mouse or trackball, and a full-size keyboard. They may as well be desktops at that point.

    3. Ellie*

      I have it as second worse, after the low-ball salary offer. It sounds like they just straight up lied about that, you can’t work from home using a desktop.

  33. Dana Whittaker*

    I have worked with colleagues who left for “greener pastures” and came back after one week. They were welcomed with open arms. Go ahead and ask – the worst thing they can say is no.

    1. CW*

      I did just that. I quit my new job after 5 weeks back in January, then asked for my old job back. They said no, but we were all on good terms. Nothing bad came out of it besides the no.

      And in case you are wondering, I am now employed somewhere much better.

  34. cowwomaninhiding*

    Don’t sell your soul for $. It won’t get better and the only ones that stay are those who don’t understand their worth.

    1. Lysine*

      What’s sad is they’re not even selling their soul for money. They had to convince them to pay them the same amount they were already making!

  35. Mikey*

    Wow, if it wasn’t for the lab environment, I could have written this letter. I just quit my job with nothing lined up because the office was so toxic. The owner is a belligerent toddler and a bona fide sexual predator, and my boss is the biggest micromanager I’ve ever met. (There’s a camera in the snack pantry in the break room and you’ll be scolded if you take “too many” snacks. I wish I was kidding.)

    OP, I think you should go back to your old job so you can start job hunting again in a few months! Trust me, nothing is worth the anxiety and stress of working in a toxic office! My last day was Friday and I’m already SO much happier!!

    1. Blinded By the Gaslight*

      I stupidly stayed in a toxic new job that I thought I needed for “the experience” to advance my career. I should have quit after the first 30 days, but I thought it would get better and that I could improve things. Instead, it was like getting trapped in a tar pit – the harder I tried to make it better, the more I got further entrenched in the quagmire. Working there tanked my mental health and sapped all energy to even look for other jobs. When I finally got out, I was a shell of a person, and I’m still un-doing the psychological damage.

      Don’t do what I did. Save yourself!

    2. CW*

      Scolded for taking too many snacks? Sheesh, you are not in elementary school! I can’t even imagine how bad that was.

      Glad you got out of there.

  36. anonymous73*

    I disagree with Alison. Find out if the old job is still available and if they’re willing to have you back, go immediately. I would even say you don’t owe the new place any sort of notice because the things they promised were clearly BS. If it’s this bad after a week, it’s only going to get worse.

    1. Jackalope*

      In addition, since the point of giving notice is to let the workplace smooth over your departure (finishing up projects, tying up loose ends, etc.), leaving now means that a notice doesn’t even make sense. There’s nothing the LW will have started that can’t be given to someone else if they’ve only been there a week.

  37. kiki*

    My answer is ASAP! Unless there is some sort of major incident, your first few days are going to be when leadership and your managers are doing their best to make sure you like it there. If it is already clear that they are awful after a couple days, start figuring out how to leave. Especially if you have a fine job open to you, take that opportunity while it still exists.

    A friend of mine applied to a new job that really wooed her in the hiring process. The day she got in, she realized they had completely lied about the nature of the job. On the second day she asked her coworkers and they had all also been duped, but couldn’t leave until they found a new job (and they were all actively looking). According to them, it seemed like that’s how the company had come to rely on staffing this role– lie to folks and get them in the door and then you’ll have them for a few weeks to a few months while they look for new jobs. It’s a terrible and inefficient system, but it seems like some terrible companies do it.

  38. Oakwood*

    Every employer tells new employees the first few months are a probationary period. If they don’t like what they see they can let you go. No explanations needed; no guilt; they just let you go.

    Probationary periods go both ways. You don’t like what you see. You can leave. No explanations or guilt needed.

    I would take a two pronged approach. Yes, contact your old company about a job, but aggressively hunt in the job market as well. There’s a reason you left your old job (without even getting a raise).

    I would leave out the personal reasons you left when talking to potential employers. They really never know if the problem was an unruly boss or you are oversensitive. Unfortunately, they often they won’t give you the benefit of the doubt. I’d stick to objective reasons.

    1. You were promised a work from home option; there in fact was no work from home option.
    2. Your time was micromanaged; you were an exempt employee but there was no flexibility in scheduling your hours.
    3. People are moved from project to project willy nilly (you’ll need a longer explanation as to why that was a problem here, as most companies occasionally move employees to different projects as the need arises).
    4. It’s a 15 year old, 20 person company, yet 15 people have been there less than a year; the high turnover rate made you think the company was not as stable as described.

    I would frame all that within “probationary period” explanation.

    I would have no problem with a person leaving a company after a month or less if they framed it as the company failed the probationary period.

    1. Art3mis*

      I completely agree with the probationary period aspect. I started a new job in late April and it’s not going well but for different reasons. Nothing egregious like OP has stated but I still don’t think it’s going to work out. IMO if I were not performing the way my new company is not performing, they wouldn’t hesitate to fire me, so I don’t see why I need to give them any slack. So yeah, OP I think you’re fine to bounce.

  39. Observer*

    OP, this employer is not just “blatantly sexist”, but “crazy town sexist”. Which is to say that you are dealing with a bunch of people whose relationship with both reality and basic norms of behavior is unhinged. You don’t need to worry about equity in the workplace to realize that these people ARE going to cause problems and have problems. And the mud could stick to you if something blows up while you are there. Which is another layer of urgency to get out.

    You have an option – Exercise it!

  40. TG*

    You lost me at being flattered they offered you a job on the spot – at $15k LESS than you were making and still when they matched it…they should have offered you MORE.
    Then on top they totally mis represented the job flexibility and the boss sounds bad.
    Go back to your old job and look for ways to add more challenging work to it, and ask for
    more responsibility.

  41. Susie*

    I would call your former workplace and go back if you can. My husband recently did this. He had been with the same employer for 24 years, but he was offered quite a bit more money and a great and less expensive benefit package, so he decided to take the job. His manager wanted to keep him but they couldn’t match the new offer.

    Four months in and he decided to call it quits. The company was nothing like it was pitched. He got more money and the better benefits but many other things were not good. The entire management team that was there when he was hired left and/or were fired within 2 months. They asked him and others to work overtime, which he was fine with and he seriously has no problem with overtime, but they didn’t actually need anyone to work OT. It was an additional 4 hours of doing nothing. If they had actual work for him to do, it would have been fine. There were also a couple of safety issues and an issue when the company made some kind of mistake regarding the health insurance.

    He called his old boss, who hired him immediately on the phone, they reinstated his seniority and benefits. Everyone was so glad he came back. He’s been back 5 months and they have running a new onsite warehouse. Sometimes the grass in not always greener.

  42. Mirradin*

    Go back, go back, go back.

    Yes, you’ll need to commit to spending a longer period at your old company, but you don’t know how long it’ll take you to find a completely new job while working at your current place. It could take months or even years, and the crazy is going to sap your energy to job-hunt. Better to return to a stable position and regroup from there.

  43. Connie-Lynne*

    I once quit a job four days in, and returned to my previous job.

    The boss had given me, at 4pm, an early-morning deadline for a site mockup, telling me they needed to get it out for approval ASAP due to other deadlines. When I delivered it, he didn’t even look at it until noon. I asked him what was the deal with the urgent deadline, and he said “oh, I just did that to see how well you responded in a crunch.”

    Yeaaaah, NOPE. I stayed up nearly all night working on that, and I had informed him this would be the case in order to meet the deadline. It’s OK for you to quit, OP.

  44. CameBackAfterOneWeek*

    Hi AAM and readers! I have a question which I would really love love your input please. As my username states, I had resigned from my job and then came back one week later. I had been with this company for 3 years. A few months later I am job-searching again. It will show up to my future employer when they do the background check.
    My dilemma is when should I bring it up to my future employer? Before the background check or during? Will employers bat an eye that I had left for one week (I didn’t write this is my resume). I do not want to have a job offer, resign from my current employer, and then have the future employer rescind my job offer after they do the background check.

    1. CL*

      Hey, as someone who just completed a background check for a recent offer, past employers and specific employment dates didn’t really show up in my background check. They just verified that I had worked at my most recent employer. They didn’t even bother verifying the other two most recent employers. If you only left for a week, it’s not likely that would show up in your background check unless you have some specific reason to believe it would.

      Also, a resume isn’t an affidavit, it’s a marketing document. It’s not really relevant to your experience and knowledge that you weren’t working there for one week of your overall tenure with that company. It wouldn’t make sense to include it in your resume. If the employer asks about it you can explain, but that’s not information I would volunteer.

    2. Ellie*

      Leave it off your resume, but list it as part of your background check. Resumes are designed to show your career history in its best light, no-one will expect the two to match perfectly. Unless it was someplace that would disqualify you from working there, there’s no need to mention it upfront.

      1. CameBackAfterOneWeek*

        Thank you both for your replies! it has assured me a bit that it is fine..

  45. CL*

    This honestly sounds like the company I left last month. I broke down and quit without another job lined up (something I’ve never done before) and still think I did the right thing. I’d been there for 5 years, during which time the culture continue to worsen. Places like that break you down over time. If OP can get their old job back, they should definitely cut their losses and leave. It’ll look better on their resume than if they have to list this new place. And one thing about at least some tyrannical bosses, definitely the one I just left, is that they resent you when you do leave. I gave mine 3 weeks notice and he wouldn’t even speak to me during those weeks, but told other people in the company how disappointed he was in me for leaving. I can’t imagine what he would say about me to a future employer. Luckily I had other managers there who are willing to give great references, but avoiding tyrants is safer for your career in the long term.

    1. CW*

      The fact that he gave you the silent treatment during your notice period just reeks of narcissistic behavior. Of course, I will not assume he was actually a narcissist. But the fact you stayed for 5 years makes me feel really bad for you. Glad you got out of there.

      But 5 years? I still don’t know how you were able to force yourself to do it. Because I wouldn’t have lasted anywhere near as long.

  46. Bookworm*

    It feels like there two separate questions (maybe?) here. It does sound like you should leave: it doesn’t sound like a good work environment (the turnover alone is a red flag).

    Whether you should go back to your old job is up to you. If you like it and your old co-workers enough to stick it out for awhile, then maybe it’s worth it. It may also be a good time to take a break and reassess but not everyone is in a position to do that.

    Good luck! I hope you find a solution that works for you.

  47. DryEraseAficionado*

    My single biggest career regret is not leaving the job I knew was awful, as soon as I knew it was awful. I started September 2019 and realized within weeks it wasn’t for me, but felt like I needed to stay for at least a year (why?!). And then, well, everything that has happened in the last two years.

    I am 6 months into a new job that is So. Much. Better. Don’t be me! Get out early and don’t look back!

  48. mypartnerdidthis*

    I don’t know if my partner wrote this letter, but my partner literally just went through this. They stuck it out for a few weeks, and eventually, after getting yelled at for looking away from the screen for a moment during a zoom call where the ceo and a director had been yelling at each other, immediately called old job and started back at old job the very next week.

  49. JustInCase*

    Even if there weren’t all the drama going on, I say trust your gut if it tells you that this isn’t the right job for you. I recently was let go from a job I knew within a week wasn’t the best fit. I was determined to stick it out and see if things improved since I felt the position had a lot of growth potential. During that time, I suffered the loss of a family member, the fourth in six months. My partner and I are now both in counseling because we just couldn’t take one any more grief. At work I was distracted. I made mistakes. I didn’t trust my management team enough to ask for the help I needed and they didn’t see me as an employee worth fighting for. I wish now that I had listened to my gut in the first week and told them it wasn’t a good position for me and I likely would have gone back to my previous job where I also left on good terms. It wouldn’t have prevented the loss of my family member, but I would have been in a much more supportive environment. Now I am reluctant to return to the industry in general given how hostile and personal my firing felt. Instead I am unemployed, searching for fulfilling work, and trying to get my mental health back to a good place. I hope you have an easier journey than I, and please, please listen to your gut.

  50. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    If you can, get out now. Not so sure you should go back to other job either unless you need to.

    Did they outright lie to you in the interview when you asked about these things? It’s just odd that there was no hint of any of this.

  51. Lifeandlimb*

    I think you should feel out now whether you can go back to your old job. But know that if you then hop from that to another new one in the next 6 months, you risk tarnishing your relationship.

    Maybe you should job search simultaneously. Don’t stay here long enough for this toxic environment to change you.

  52. CW*

    I will keep this as brief as possible. Please get out as soon as possible and don’t wait a minute longer than you have to. I was at a job earlier this year and ended up quitting after 5 weeks. And I ended up doing so without notice. The reason? It was giving me multiple debilitating anxiety attacks every single day. Any longer, and I would have ended up in the hospital. It was that bad.

    Please don’t let your health suffer. From what you described, this workplace is very toxic. Ask your old employer if you can come back. The worst they will do is say no. But more importantly, leave this place ASAP. Don’t delay.

  53. Zou Bisou Bisou*

    Wow! My partner just went through the same thing – was lied to by the hiring manager about working from home, was ridiculed by his manager for his medical condition and was told that “if you make it past a month, you’ll stay here for 20 years”. Not to mention his manager was managing 24 other direct reports in a highly technical field. Needless to say after 2 weeks he quit, and has signed on for a new role this week. LW I hope you find something new ASAP!

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