Why Having an A-Hole Boss Can Be a Good Thing

career tips for 20s, career advice, how to handle a bad boss

*Guest Post*


Getting The Job

After a slew of miscellaneous jobs post college graduation, I finally landed an exciting job in my field. I was pumped! The girl who did my interview was young, from my hometown, and seemed sweet. I would be making way more than ever before, and I would have a ton of freedom to really perfect my craft. That particular job was the only one in the department so I also got to take advantage of real-world resume-building experiences. What a great starter gig, right?

And then it all turned…

Well as the saying goes, all that glitter is not gold. Immediately after starting the job I realized I was the youngest person by about twenty years working at the company. I did not work closely with the girl who interviewed me. The coworkers there did not take kindly to a new young woman in the office with less traditional world views than what they were used to. As the months passed, the “good behavior” everyone had started out with began to dissipate.

The owner refused to read, (let alone respond to), the emails I sent, then accused me of never sending them. He insisted that any money needed for work materials was to come from my pocket. Weekly one-on-one status meetings he had said were mandatory began to become a waste of his time. I wasn’t included in staff meetings and was even hired under false salary promises!

At one time my boss even chastised me saying, “Who signs your paychecks? Do as I say.” Say whaaat?? But I stayed at that job for a good while. Like a lot of young people entering the workforce, I felt obligated to cut my teeth and put in time because it’s “the first job” out of school and I had to obsess over building a portfolio. After leaving that job, it took me a couple months, lots of schnauzer cuddles, and more than a few oreo milkshakes to rebuild my self-esteem and get back out into the job market. But as I began to reflect, I realized that having a less than ideal first job experience helped me more than I could have ever anticipated. Let me tell you why.

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Having an a-hole boss teaches you what you will not tolerate.

Going into my first professional job, I was naïve in my thinking that everyone had my best interests at heart. I assumed that anything said to me was correct because it was coming from an authority figure. Even though I am a confident woman, it literally did not occur to me to stand up for myself and oppose my boss. Working in an extremely bad environment, then getting out of that environment showed me that I will not accept a lack of respect for myself or my position ever again. I am a professional, an adult, and heck, a human. Common decency is not too much to ask for, and authority figure or not, no one is above giving it.

It looks good on your resume.

Hear me out. When you are interviewing for a new job, how much of the interview is spent discussing your old jobs? Like…half or more. I’m not saying spend the interview bashing your ex-boss, (definitely don’t do that), but if you can say with confidence that you have handled yourself with grace in spite of professional differences in the work place, and you have been self-sustaining with little job supervision, potential employers will be impressed. They can tell you are level headed, composed and mature. When you’ve dealt with a challenging experience as a professional youngin’, you can pretty much handle anything the working world throws at you.

It makes that next job so much sweeter.

After leaving that a-hole boss, I got a new boss. What a joy a healthy working environment can be! The new management was very supportive and open to my ideas. There was even an allotted budget for my department, and my opinions were sought out and valued. Such a breath of fresh air. Sometimes it takes a low to make you really appreciate a high.

If you’re feeling discouraged about your boss or supervisor, take heart. Tons of us millennials have made it through to the other side a little wiser and a lot happier, and you will too.

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  • Yes Rachel you are right,, having a difficult boss can make you wiser and more accommodating. No experience in life is wasted. That difficult boss could be your stepping stone to better performance at work. Great post!

  • Entering the workforce after spending your life being told what to learn and where to go can be so intimidating. The rules are so different! And having an experience like this would be even more daunting. This is great advice and perspective!

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    Great article! Having a job that is less than stellar definitely keeps the next one in perspective. It also helps you learn things you would never learn in an amazing professional environment.

  • Heather Brandon

    Haha, my second year teaching I had to report on an incident that involved another staff member and I was asked if any adults witnessed it. I had to say, “Yes, me. I am actually an adult.” You’re so right that it can sometimes take some time to realize that you have the right to stand up for yourself.

  • Having a not so favorable boss is never a fun time but it does certainly help us realize our worth in the end.

  • mckenna bleu

    Great post! Starting out in the real world can be tough – lots of life lessons to be learned. So glad you have a better boss now.

  • Nicole Leith

    That’s a great perspective. My first boss was psycho. Now, some of my co-workers worry that I let my bosses take advantage of me. I do so to the extent that will build my resume and then I put my foot down.

  • Angeline Holub

    I’m glad you are in a better place now!

  • Ice Cream For Dinner

    I’ve been there! Learning is all part of life and not every job will be perfect. I’m a better person because of my bad jobs.

  • Kori Evans

    Oh I totally get what you mean! This post is so relateable!! I had one of those!! But I never did think of the positive to take away from it. I love your perspective! Thank you!

  • Brittany Daoud

    Definitely agree with this! I’ve had a few jobs where my boss was definitely not the type of boss I thrived under, and it really taught me what was important to me in a job! Thanks for sharing!

  • Sydney Power

    I agree with this post and I really love that and I get what you mean! That is so much helpful.

  • Thena

    Really great post, love starting my day reading this!! Thank you for sharing and keep up with writing these type of articles. Loved the title!

  • Taylor Smith

    Great post! I know all about those kinds of bosses – and it’s why I work for myself now. 😉

  • Anna Hubbard

    This is a great way to spin it! I had kind of a hard to get along with boss at my old part-time but she made me a better worker!

  • This is such a great outlook to have about the whole thing. I had a very similar situation where one of my old bosses started out amazing, then slowly got more and more difficult to work with. While she didn’t get quite as far as telling me she’s the one signing my paychecks, she did tell me repeatedly that she would never hire a part-time person again because they were such a pain to deal with and schedule. Being the only part-time employee at the time, it was hurtful to hear her say that, especially when she wasn’t the one making the schedules. Very glad to have left, but it’s nice seeing it as a learning experience rather than a difficult time!

  • This is a great viewpoint to share!

  • That first point! Yes! So true! He wasn’t my boss, but there was a leader in a workplace I was in recently who was so overbearing. He’d burst in and and demand attention, even if i was on the phone. And he made me so uncomfortable that I felt physically ill when he was around. After awhile I stopped putting up with his need for attention. If he came in while I was working or on the phone with his, “Hello! I’m here! Notice me!” attitude I’d point out the obvious (especially when I was on the phone) and he finally toned it down a little.

  • Couldn’t agree more! My first boss ever was pretty difficult and I actually learned so much about how to be a great entrepreneur from her. Mainly because I saw what terrible mistakes she was making and learned from them. It definitely taught me what I wanted and didn’t want out of my career.

  • Danielle Randall

    This is really good advice. It is always good to stay positive during difficult situations. I think having these situations and looking at the situation positively teaches you a lot about yourself and helps you become stronger.

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