Misled by a Job Description

By Kenneth Bredemeier
Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, June 5, 2008 6:06 PM

On paper, the job sounds good, even ideal. You're excited as you start the new venture in your life.

And then reality sets in. The new job is not much like you envisioned. In fact, the work is less than scintillating, beneath your skill level, and the job soon enough bores you.

So what do you do now?

I took a job two months ago on the basis of a job description that sounded like my dream job. Since taking the position, I have been told that the description "did not reflect reality" and they were just looking for highly qualified candidates. I've been given other work to do that is much lower-level than the originally stated work and that of my last two positions. I realize that part of the issue is organizational, as the company is going through reorganization. While it is easy and the pay is decent, I don't like it, and feel used. Should I leave or try to negotiate the work I'm qualified for? And if I do leave, will it look "bad" on a resume if I have only been here two months?

Marna Hayden, president of her own human resources firm in Nazareth, Pa., says she thinks that despite the apparent deception the firm exhibited in hiring this worker, "I wouldn't quit right away.

"It was wrong of the company to not level with them," she says, "but you have to look at the company. And if it is basically good, I'd stick it out," for awhile anyway.

"I would find out from the boss what is really important for the company and then do it," she advises. "If it's ethical and legal, you'll do it. You'd be showing how useful and flexible you are.

"The one thing I wouldn't do is complain," she says. "I think it's a little early to throw in the towel. Why would anyone want to be unemployed?"

By "really trying to find out what the company needs," Hayden says, "they're showing that they're a team player and that they're not a whiner. They ought to give it their all. Maybe they'll really build some good relationships."

And if this attempt at making a fresh start at the company still leads to nothing?

"If they're really disappointed, they can continue to look," she says, and that if it gets to the point of talking to a possible new employer, "it's not a negative, with a good explanation," to have a short work stint on a resume.

And that explanation would simply be that the former firm misled the worker in what the job would be.

Kenneth Bredemeier has six years of experience writing about the workplace. On the Job, a column addressing real worker questions about office relationships, corporate policies and workplace law, is written exclusively for washingtonpost.com. To submit a question, e-mail onthejob@washingtonpost.com. We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2008 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive