Laura Berlinsky-Schine
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“My start-up sounded like a dream job,” a Fairygodboss member wrote on the community feed. “But during the interview process, the founders were not honest with me about how they ran the business, and after a few months of gaslighting, they fired me when I would not play along.”

After five months on the job, this member was let go because of purportedly not being a “cultural fit” with the company. 

“Lots of feelings and thoughts here, but now I’m not sure how to explain in job interviews why I left the company after such a short time without ‘talking smack’ about my former employer (which would look bad on me), while also recovering from the gaslighting, manipulation and hostility I dealt with daily.”

It’s a painful situation to find yourself in: trying to move on from a job where you were treated poorly while simultaneously looking for a new (better) position.

So, how do you navigate the job search after you’ve been gaslighted at work?

1. Decide how you’ll discuss why you left your job in an interview.

First things first: have a plan for how you’ll address being let go before you go in for the interview.

“I was also hired for a role that was completely changed,” another Fairygodboss community member wrote. “It’s a terrible environment, where one day you’re praised and your colleagues are beaten, and then the next day it’s reversed. I’m looking for work, and I’ve decided that I’m going to say that my role changed substantially and the new role doesn’t fully utilize my skillset.”

Audrey Kirsch agreed. “Just say in future interviews that the job you thought you were hired for turned out to be something far different and you decided you didn't like the direction it was going,” she said. “Many startups are like that. They are working out how they want to operate and it takes a while to form a good business practice. This company has a way to go so you're better off not being there.”

Of course, you don’t need to go into extensive detail; keep it simple.

2. Take care of your mental health.

It’s natural to feel exhausted, upset, anxious and depressed after a harrowing work experience. First and foremost, focus on your mental health. This is critical for protecting yourself and better understanding what you need from a job — and how to spot red flags next time.

This might mean working with a therapist, spending time on self-care activities or giving yourself time to relax — whatever it takes to build or rebuild your confidence and self-esteem.

3. Reach out to your contacts.

Network, network, network. You may have taken a professional hit, but more than likely, there are plenty of contacts from your past, such as former colleagues, mentors and friends, who can attest to your qualities and abilities. Cast a wide net; at the very least, you’ll probably get some encouragement, if not job leads.

4. Use the Great Resignation to your benefit.

“We are in the great resignation, as economists put it,” M. Girl wrote. “This means it's an employee market, so if a company lost you because your values did not align with theirs (normal and perfectly okay), many employers will not only pay attention but also may find it helpful [to better understand] how to retain you.”

That’s important to remember — employers are in the market for talent and will be eager to snatch someone up with the experience and skills for their roles. Just because one job didn’t work out doesn’t mean the next opportunity won’t be amazing — or that you’ll never land on your feet. 

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What's your no. 1 piece of advice for approaching the job search after being gaslighted? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!