What to Do When a New Job is Nothing Like You Expected

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careerYou are so excited about a new job only to find out on your first day that it is nothing at all like what you were told it would be in the interview. Have you been career-catfished?

“If you’ve discovered that the job is not what was originally described, then a discussion needs to happen between yourself and your manager,” independent Human Resources consultant Jana Tulloch of Tulloch Consulting points out. “You need to be honest, but diplomatic, about it. Note the great things about the job, and then highlight the specific things that are different from what you were led to originally believe.”

Make sure to speak up about the discrepancy. “Don’t suffer in silence, live with resentment, or complain. Those three (all too common) approaches affect your energy and ability to get results, and will likely peg you as someone who has a bad attitude,” says Marilyn Suttle, president of Suttle Enterprises LLC. “Instead, communicate your concerns with curiosity. Schedule a time to talk with your boss. Give a reason for the meeting that will frame you in a positive light. For example, ‘For me to be as successful as possible in this new position, I need to clarify the expectations of the job.’ Bring a written document that describes the position as you understood it to be. Give your perspective. If it turns out that your new job will not live up to the description, it will be easier to part ways professionally if you’ve taken a respectful approach to bringing clarity to the situation.”

But what if you don’t have the leisure to quit, or just don’t want to quit?

Get clear on why you’re staying. Will the position eventually lead to the roles and responsibilities that you ultimately prefer? Will it give you experience on your resume? Will this position help you develop the skills or experience you need for the future?” asks Suttle.

If you are staying on, get a clear understanding this time around with your higher up. “Partner with your boss to illuminate your path. This position may be a “paying your dues” position that will eventually lead to the leadership position that you ultimately want. Make your professional goals known and ask leadership to assist you in the path forward,” says Suttle. 

Accept your decision. If you decide to stay, despite it not being the ‘ideal’ job, make peace with your decision. Self-awareness is your strongest ally in life. Rather than fighting reality, you can explore your reasoning, decide how long you’ll stay in this situation and make the best of your time on the job. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up on yourself. It means that perhaps this position is a stop gap to afford you a living while you’re growing your skills, or searching out the next position that would ultimately be a better fit.”

But the next time you take a new job, make sure your job is clear and spelled out in writing. “Always ask for a copy of the job description prior to signing on the dotted line, just so you have all the info you need prior to making that final decision,” advises Tulloch. “If no job description is available, document what you feel are the expectations and confirm it with HR prior to accepting the job. Role expectations should be clearly spelled out. If they are not, and everything is based on discussions during the hiring process, then there may not be much that can be done if the organization does not agree with your perspective.”