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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