What to Do When the Job You Were Hired for Turns into a Job You Don’t Want

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Are you currently in a job that no longer fits you? This can happen for many reasons, and today, I want to talk about one scenario: the job you were hired for turns into something that you don’t want.

Anne started a new job 12 months ago. It promised many opportunities she wanted. She would be able do the kind of work she enjoyed today and in the future; she would get to build and manage her own team; she would have a comfortable, short commute.

The organization seemed to align with her values, and the hiring manager really wanted Anne in her department. Unfortunately, things changed suddenly. A merger with another organization led to a reorganization, which meant any plans to grow her department were put on hold indefinitely. Anne was re-assigned to another section of the business, reporting to an executive she never met. Anne did what she could to make the best of things and wait things out, while feeling unchallenged and disappointed with her new assignment. Then, her new boss resigned, and Anne was re-assigned to yet another executive she never met. Anne observed that with each reassignment, her responsibilities and authority were reduced.

Anne began to apply for jobs internally, and transferred to another department. It was after this transfer that she realized her career was still not moving forward. Instead, she feared she was moving backwards. She knew that if she stayed too long, her career would be negatively impacted. Now Anne was experiencing signs of being on the path to job burnout.

Anne’s story is a sad and frustrating one. It is a frequent experience in today’s job market and economy. Have you had an experience like Anne’s? I have. Perhaps you are in a similar situation right now.

As you read Anne’s story, or consider your own, there are two questions that you are probably asking:

  • What could Anne have done to prevent this from happening?
  • What should Anne do now?

Let’s start with: “What could Anne have done to prevent this situation?

Probably nothing. Sometimes during your research and interview process, you can uncover warning signs of problems to come, but not always. Corporate mergers are complex scenarios where details are kept confidential until the last minute. If there is an unexpected change in management, the work place and jobs change, and there’s nothing you or Anne could have done. Sometimes things change against your favor, and there’s no way to see it coming, and no way to prevent it.

Here are some of the things Anne has done wisely:

She focused on being adaptable. She didn’t react from fear or worry. She was patient and thoughtful and chose her actions carefully. She sought new work within her company that better aligned with her career goals. She made every effort to make it work without quitting. And in the end, she is still employed and positioned for action.

Anne continued to read the signs and gave attention to the potential long term impact on her career. She realized that if she doesn’t force a change soon, she will regret it.

Sometimes you can do all the right things and not get the results you want.

Let’s now answer, “What should Anne do now?

It is now time for Anne to actively look for a new job with another company, a job that moves her career in the direction she wants. If she stays in this job for two years or more, her career will move backwards. The time to change is now.

I also recommend that Anne actively seek out training and volunteer for projects to keep her skills fresh and current. This will prevent her current job from negatively affecting her career.

One quick note: Anne should not just quit her job. It has always been true that getting a job is easier when you have a job than when you don’t. That’s because you feel more confident in yourself and what you offer when you are employed than when you are between jobs. Anne should continue make efforts to keep her job while working on a longer term solution.

This is a difficult and common situation in today’s world. If you find yourself in a situation like Anne’s, I’d be happy to answer questions about your specific situation. I’d also love to hear what you did to navigate this type of career challenge. Just post your questions or comments below.

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Client Stories

What did you need at the time you hired Lori?


I wanted to work in my industry and didn't know how to progress any further than I was. I knew I had much experience that could be put in the industry of my choice but not how to parlay that experience. I needed guidance.

What did you and Lori do together?


Many, many things. Overall, to get clear in my mind what I offered and really what I wanted in a work environment. Every week was another epiphany after another. One of my favorites was the "knowing your core values". Having had some experience on this subject I was all ready to dive-in. Core Values is key. Knowing your core values. 

Lori makes it so easy to pinpoint. One time we were speaking about something else and we both realized...OMG...that is a core value for me. I hadn't written it down before, but discovered later that if ever a core value fit me...it was the one I mentioned at that time.  Knowing that piece of information also answered a long standing question in my head.  One of the "why's" as to my constant upset with other places I had worked.

What were the results from working with Lori?


Many things. One is a great looking resume. I thought, wow, I look good and it was all from work I had already done elsewhere but didn't know how to say it or present it. Another is the clarity of knowing where I will feel good when I do work. What I really want and with the kind of people I really want to work with on a daily basis. This entire process is so valuable. The best money I ever spent and I am not kidding or exaggerating. I was only hoping it would be valuable and it really was valuable.< I know stuff and it has value and is marketable. Lori showed me those things and it gives me confidence.

Anything else you’d like to add?


Lori delivers above and beyond. The highest quality of exchange, 'more than you expected.' I told my friends this over and over: 'I wish I had her 10-20-even 30 years ago.' Every one, and I mean EVERYONE, needs a Lori. Her understanding,patience, how she problem solves, putting things in simple terms, was mind blowing. I wish I could that well. I present a problem and she could turn it around and yes...another epiphany.

Lori, is worth every penny. It isn't about a title. It is about enjoying everyday doing work you love with people you like and are like minded. You'll know what you are looking for when you interview.  I never say this, but I will say it here. Lori is a major key into the rest of my life doing what I always wanted to do. That is: Being happy doing what I do, everyday. Something I have been saying for years. Allowing Sherlock...to be Sherlock.  Finding my people. They are out there and now I know what I am looking for in that respect.

LORI ROCKS!!!!!!

Sherlock Ganz, Los Angeles, CA