What to Do When Your New Job Doesn’t Match Your Expectations

Author: Jared Lindzon
Source: FastCompany

It’s a longstanding cliché that job hunters bend the truth on their résumés to portray themselves in a better light, but with unemployment at 3.6%, employers are now the ones who may be doing the exaggerating.

As a result, more new hires might be finding themselves in roles that aren’t exactly as advertised.

According to a study by Glassdoor, 61% of new employees have found that their role isn’t consistent with the expectations set out during the interview process, and a recent study by the Addison Group suggests that candidates are looking for more transparency when interacting with prospective employers. The survey found that when it came to interacting with a new employer, 29% cited transparency in regards to compensation and benefits as their top priority, and another 28% said they most cared about getting sufficient information about the role.

“Unfortunately, it’s more common than you’d think that people get into a role that they feel is not quite what had been laid out during the interview process,” says Glassdoor career expert Alison Sullivan. “Things like the job responsibilities weren’t exactly what had been discussed, or company culture was different than what it seemed, or work-life balance and the hours expected were misaligned.”

Sullivan says there are a lot of factors that can lead to miscommunications over expectations, adding that the competitiveness of the current labor market is putting employers under increased pressure to fill openings. Peg Buchenroth, the director of human resources at Addison Group, agrees, adding that the squeeze has resulted in shorter and often less thorough hiring cycles.

“If a company needs to fill a position, and it’s very critical, and they speed up their hiring process, that’s where things can get lost in translation,” she says. “If the vetting process isn’t thorough enough, people may accept roles or offers may be made before [expectations are] fully understood.”

But the blame doesn’t just lie with employers, according to Monster career expert Vicki Salemi. She says that job seekers often find themselves in a role that differs from their expectations when they focus too heavily on the employer, rather than the position itself. “It often happens when someone is interviewing with a ‘dream employer,’” she says. “They interview with rose-colored glasses.”

Warning signs

Salemi says there are a number of red flags candidates can look out for that might help them avoid accepting a position that differs from their expectations. Job descriptions that are too high-level and short on specifics, for example, can suggest that the employer hasn’t properly defined what the role will look like. “If they’re talking in really pie-in-the-sky terms, very macro level, you can ask them ‘what does that look like in practical terms?’” she says.

Glassdoor’s Sullivan adds that candidates should also be wary of descriptions with too much detail. “If you find a job description that has too many requirements, that can be another sign that they’re not really thinking about what success looks like.”

Ask the right questions

Key to avoiding a role that fails to meet your expectations is asking the right questions during the interview process, explains Sullivan. She says that asking very specific questions—not just about the responsibilities but what percentage of the successful candidate’s time will be devoted to each task—can help paint a more accurate picture.

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