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How to Spot Signs of a Toxic Culture in the Job Description

By | April Zimmerman |

The first week after I quit my toxic job, I hardly opened my laptop. I didn’t peruse LinkedIn or subscribe to job boards or refresh my resume. I slept in. I potted plants. I watched a lot of 90 Day Fiancé. I drove to Sullivan’s Island in the middle of the weekday and read books on the beach.

I needed to take a step (or five) back before I could move forward.

When I left the marketing agency seven months ago, I was relieved to close that chapter and thrilled to have the time and mental energy to pursue a healthier opportunity. But my confidence was at an all-time low. The thought of digging through job postings made me want to swallow a Lactaid and eat blocks of cheddar. I no longer trusted my judgment. I missed the warning signs last time, I thought. What if I miss the red flags next time and end up in another toxic workplace?

Even when I felt ready to browse job postings again, I wasn’t. The first time I sat down at my desk, powered up my laptop, and typed a few keywords into the search bar, I was immediately triggered. One job post required an “ability to tolerate a high level of stress and constantly changing deadlines.” Another post for a popular food delivery service said it wanted a hire who could “operate at a feverish pace while never compromising the craft.”

High level of stress. Constantly changing deadlines. Feverish pace. I left my job because of unmanageable stress brought on by a dizzying workload and impossible deadlines. I didn’t want that again.

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