As an assistant, one thing that I have found is that many times you will encounter employers who may not be as professional as you might expect. Early in my career, I encountered an employer who did literally everything wrong – and just plain did not care. It was embarrassing for me, since I had to handle the phone calls from disgruntled clients, and extremely frustrating since I simply could not do anything to control the situation.

As I continued in that job, I noticed that my own behavior was deteriorating. I tended to do as little as possible, feeling that it would not matter whether I kept up a schedule or not since my boss certainly was not going to. I started avoiding calls and trying to call back at times that I thought I would get a voicemail rather than a real person. Since my boss was not very reliable on the phone either, I found that I could actually go for weeks without speaking to him. Finally, I had had enough – and so had my family, who was suffering since I had developed a chronic bad mood and attitude from my toxic work environment (which was my own house!) I had to quit.

I ended up just emailing the guy and telling him that I would be unable to continue working for him. I gave 2 weeks notice, but never heard back so I went ahead and shut my end of things down and just didn’t invoice him for those last two weeks. While I definitely look back on that employer as one of the worst I’ve ever had, what really makes my skin crawl is the effect that his behavior had on mine. I have never in my life behaved so unprofessionally, and I never will again.

Even if your employer is terrible, you must make sure that it does not create problems with your own behavior. I imagine if anyone ever managed to reach him to ask about my performance, he probably would not have anything good to say – and I would deserve that negative feedback. Since then I’ve been more careful in the jobs I take, and I’ve never encountered that type of situation again. If I do, though, I hope I’ll handle it better the second time around. 

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