When the Job Is Not Quite as Advertised

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By Mary Ellen Slayter
Sunday, March 2, 2008

Poli Marinova thought she had landed a great entry-level job in marketing and advertising.

Wrong. "The job turned out to be selling distressed merchandise door-to-door in Southeast D.C. (not the nice section)," she wrote in a recent e-mail.

It was "a very unpleasant experience," said Marinova, 30, who now works as marketing communications manager for Alexandria-based Vacation.com.

Marinova's example is extreme, but she's not the only worker to take a job, only to find out it's not quite what she expected.

In some cases, the gap is so egregious, the only reasonable response is to quit immediately, as Marinova did. "As soon as I found out what the story was I wanted to leave but was left stranded and had to go into a convenience store to get a cab and find my way home," she wrote.

But in other cases, the difference in expectations is more subtle and doesn't become apparent until the worker has been on the job for a while.

That's what happened to Alanna Sloan of Sacramento, when she took a job as a promotions coordinator for a restaurant chain in California. "The position was supposed to require writing press releases, planning promotions, working with local media, in addition to working closely with a graphic designer to produce effective advertisements," she said.

Instead, she found herself doing mostly administrative work. At first she didn't mind, thinking it showed that she was a team player. "After three weeks my job proved to be nothing more than programming gift cards, printing . . . distributing supplies to the restaurants including things like soy sauce and chopsticks, and ordering needed promotional items," said Sloan, 24.

There was another discrepancy. She was told she would be paid $36,000 a year, but her employer didn't mention that $500 a month of that was in the form of a gas credit in lieu of reimbursing her for mileage.

She tried to work it out, scheduling a meeting with her supervisor and bringing the original job description along for discussion.

But instead of changing Sloan's tasks, her boss changed the job description, to "one without any of the desirable characteristics that led me to take the job in the first place." Sloan resigned. She quickly found a new job, one that has turned out to be as advertised.

If you find yourself in a job that differs from what you expected, you face some difficult choices.


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© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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