If you work for a bad boss, you probably count down the minutes every day until it's time to clock out and daydream of leaving for another job. No matter how miserable you are or how badly you want to quit, it's crucial that you plan well for your departure. Line up your next position and make connections within the industry so you can make a clean break.
Prepare an Exit Strategy
Start searching for another job as soon as you decide to resign. You'll have the confidence to stand up for yourself instead of second-guessing your decision if you know you have another position waiting. In addition, if you leave on bad terms, you may have trouble using your boss as a reference. Network with people in your industry and ask colleagues to provide a reference. As tempting as it is to show your boss what you think of him by walking out the next time he treats you poorly, don't hurt yourself by leaving without a backup plan.
Don't Burn Your Bridges
In your resignation letter, you may be tempted to lash out at your boss and describe every way he made your work life miserable. You may even want to tell senior management you're leaving because your boss is incompetent or abusive, in the hopes the company will take disciplinary action against him. Unless you're planning legal action because of your supervisor's behavior, however, don't blast your boss when you leave. You may want to use your former colleagues as references or may want to apply to the company in the future. And who knows, you may have to interact with your former co-workers and supervisor at your next job if you stay in the same industry or if the two companies do business together. Preserve those relationships if possible.
If you address your supervisor's behavior in your resignation letter, maintain a professional, respectful tone and stick to the facts. Steer clear of emotional language, name-calling or accusations. Your letter will end up as part of your permanent personnel file, and if a prospective employer calls to verify your employment, he may talk to someone in human resources who knows nothing about you aside from what's in your file. If you apply to the company in the future, the hiring manager may look at your file and hesitate to re-hire you if you seem petty or childish in your letter. Instead of saying your boss was terrible to work for, list specific behaviors and incidents and describe how they interfered with your ability to do your job. Mention that you enjoyed other aspects of your job and that you regret that you have to leave.
Addressing the Issue During Interviews
Never say anything negative about your last employer during job interviews, no matter how much you despised your job. Prospective employers may fear you'll speak badly of them if you leave, and may wonder if the problems stemmed from your boss or from you. They may also suspect you won't be satisfied anywhere and will likely leave their company as well. If an interviewer asks you why you left your previous job, avoid blaming your terrible boss. Instead, say you wanted a role with more responsibility or that you wanted to explore other facets of your industry.