update: can I leave my job after one year if I committed to more?

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, where all month I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer wondering about leaving a toxic job after a year even though she’d committed to staying for two years? Here’s the update.

I wrote to you back in March about wanting to leave my job with a jerk boss after one year even though I had verbally committed to at least two years on the job. Your response was so reassuring, and the commenters’ responses were validating as well. At the time, I had no idea whether I would be able to get a new job in a month or in a year, but I at least felt like I was making the right choice in aggressively applying for new positions.

The same day you posted my letter, a recruiter reached out to me on LinkedIn about a position she was recruiting for. I went through the interview process and discerned that this opportunity was exactly what I was looking for in a new position. I got a great offer at a 37.5% raise from my previous annual earnings (!!!) and very happily accepted.

When I had the quitting conversation with my old boss, she responded positively and said she was happy for me. I naively assumed that I could go out on a high note instead of leaving on bad terms. However, pretty much immediately she started using my new job as another reason to unfairly criticise me, saying my attention wasn’t with her and that I was distracted because I was moving into a new job. (Meanwhile, I was actually working longer hours, doing everything I could to wrap up the major projects I was working on before I left or otherwise to minimize the amount of work my coworkers would have to do to see them to completion once I was gone). This kind of thing is par for the course with her, though, so I just tried to grin and bear it.

…That is, until she called me and some of my coworkers a really degrading insult in a meeting a week before I was set to leave. At that point, I was fed up, and with a new job lined up, I didn’t feel the need to stay for the rest of my two weeks. I left that day, telling my boss as calmly as I could that I felt that her management style relied on bullying people and that I could no longer work for her because of it. Did I burn a bridge? Yep. Do I care at all? Nope! I panicked at first after I did it because it felt like such a brash way to leave. But the more space I have from the job, the more time I’ve had to reflect on how deeply, deeply dysfunctional and toxic that work environment was. I’m glad that I stood up for myself, said my piece, and got the hell out of there!

Now I’m a few weeks into my new job, and I couldn’t be happier. My work environment is radically better, with everyone from the CEO to the interns being supportive. positive, and respectful toward each other every day. I get great feedback on my work, and my new boss has already taken the time to establish mentorship as part of our working relationship. This is my first time working in such a healthy, functional work environment. I wouldn’t have had the guts to get out and fight for a better position if it wasn’t for you and your readers giving me that final nudge forward that I needed.