What to Do If Your New Job Isn’t What You Expected

According to a new survey by staffing firm Robert Half, 41 percent of workers said the role they accepted at a company was different than what had been outlined to them during the interview process.

If you find yourself in this situation, what’s the most productive way forward? To gain insights into this unfortunately common scenario, I tapped Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half.

Paul, from the company’s perspective, why might a job not be what was originally intended? Where is the disconnect?

Companies don’t set out to trick candidates who might not be a good match for the position. Sometimes the needs of the company may change during the hiring process or soon after an employee joins the team. A project may change, goals may shift, team resources may vary – and or all of these could impact a new hire’s job duties.

Or…the company didn’t really know what it wanted in the first place! If you are a new employee and you’ve realized after a few weeks that your actual job is nothing like it was described in your interview, what is your immediate recourse?

Request a meeting with your manager to review the job description as it was discussed in the interview process, as well as your goals and expectations of the role and how they differ with reality. Your manager might be able to address your concerns and adjust your duties. Many times, professionals don’t address things that are bothering them at work, which lowers their morale and makes the situation worse.

How might you go about shaping the job into what you want and/or what the company needs when the role isn’t working out the way you or the organization intended?

If your job duties have changed due to business needs, ask your manager for a revised job description. If the new duties don’t interest you, suggest other things you are interested in doing that could be a good fit for the company. A manager might not realize the opportunity until it’s presented to him. You might not like all of your duties, but combining them with tasks you really enjoy could be worth staying for.

In the event that the job duties and your interests can’t be reconciled, ask if there are other roles (i.e. a lateral move) within the company that could be a better fit. Obviously, your manager thought you were a good hire originally, so she might be able to find a role for you in another area of the organization.

Is there ever a rationale for leaving the company in this type of situation? How do you know that time has arrived?

If the discussions with your manager don’t lead to positive changes and you feel there are no other options within the company, you might want to quit and pursue other opportunities that are more in line with your career goals. If you decide leaving is the best course of action, be gracious and avoid burning bridges.

Terrific advice, Paul. I believe that a year is a good rule of thumb. It takes at least that long to accurately assess whether there really is nothing more of value to be learned from a new job, and whether you really have to leave in order to drive your career forward.













Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Follow her @alevit.

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