Job not what you were expecting? When employers misrepresent.

Man looking upset at a computer

You are on top of the world. Finally, you have pulled the plug on your old job, had the leaving party with your colleagues. You’ve bought a smart new outfit, it is 8:30AM and you are all set for your first day with your new employer. As you stride through the doors of your new workplace there is a flutter in your stomach, a sense of eager anticipation.

Getting this job has meant everything to you. It is the career progression you have been looking for. A chance to really use your skills and demonstrate to the world what you are capable of. No longer are you stuck in a directionless rut. You have a team, you have influence, you can really make a difference now.

You are led to the floor where your office will be. It is not an office, it’s a desk, a cubicle, an area that you share with 30 other people. “Is my office not available yet ?”, you ask. Matters begin to unravel, you reach for the original job description as it was advertised in the paper, billed by the job agency and promoted on the internet.  After a few days in your new job, a sense of regret, of disappointment begins to set it. This is not what you expected. In fact, these are worse conditions than you had previously.

Your job has been misrepresented. This may be a story that is familiar to many readers. If this were a case of misrepresentation in the sale of goods and services it is likely that you would know exactly what to do. Where to make a complaint, where to post the story to on the internet. Hurting the brand that has misled you, making others aware of their deed may be therapeutic and it may get you your money back.

A job is a little different. It is your livelihood. It is how you define yourself. It is  the place where you stretch your mind and prove your worth to the world. Except now you can’t. Unlike a brand that has conducted itself badly, you still need your job. Even if it isn’t the one you applied for. Going public on your employer isn’t likely to do you any favours. The path to resolution seems somewhat more cloudy than it would be in the case of purchasing a badly represented product.

The first thing to understand is that you have “bought” a bad employer. Great employers believe in authentic representation of the company and its culture. They won’t make outlandish claims about the realities of working there, they will put forward genuine statements about the culture and the values of the company. They will allow you to understand what you are buying into. Save for birth, death and marriage changing jobs is after all one of the most important events in your life.

If your job has been misrepresented, you have likely chosen a company whose culture is disingenuous. A company with whom you are unlikely to find satisfaction or reward. If it is prepared to corrupt the employment narrative, then what of the way that the organisation handles it’s customers?

Organisations that care will want to ensure that everything is understood. They will be communicating company values to you before you even apply for a job. Great employers will ensure that you have implicit understanding of its employer values, just as a quality brand will in the commercial world. When you purchase an Apple product, you have some notion of what that product will be when it is in your hands. Why shouldn’t a new job be the same? This is why some companies have employee’s flocking to their doors whilst others get big bills from recruitment  agencies.

If you are stuck in that position, what can you do? First of all retain any documentation that was provided to you in advance of accepting the job. Take notes and document interview conversation. You may need this information at a later date.

I suggest that you talk first to your boss. Identify why the job is a world apart from what you were promised and articulate that clearly to your boss. Try to agree a way forward, a way to better your role towards something more aligned with expectation. Maybe, it is a case of misunderstanding that has a resolve.

Failing that, it is probably time to talk to HR first verbally, then in writing. Make it clear what the issues are, what your expectations are. Think through desirable outcomes. Chances are you cannot return to your old firm unless you left on exceptionally good terms. So what are you looking for. The right job in this company? A new job elsewhere? Really think this through. The company should at the very least facilitate your search for a new job for a reasonable time period if it cannot meet what it promised you.

There may be legal avenues, for this you will need to talk to a lawyer. We suggest that you make this a final remedy though. Try as much as possible to resolve the situation through dialogue and negotiation with your new employer.

An employer’s misrepresentation in the hiring process may have induced the employee to quit their previous job, causing the employee to lose their previous salary, or to move to a new city, causing the employee to incur moving expenses. An employer’s misrepresentations with respect to pension or benefits may cause a loss or reduction of those benefits || EKB.com

Always remember that good organisations care. They care enough to make sure that you are going to be happy in your new role. They will offer transparency in the recruitment process, they will put forward people in the organisation for you to meet with so that you can get an honest perspective on the realities of working for the firm, the boss and so on. It is as important to them as it is to you to get their new hires right. If an employer is not proactive in ensuring everybody is comfortable, and in defining and agreeing the role clearly in advance, I would have my suspicions.

No matter what the conditions in your current job, moving from the frying pan and to the fire is not a desirable outcome for anyone. Take your time and proceed with a little caution and you’ll find the perfect job for you. A poor employer probably treats it’s customers in exactly the same way. Would you really want to work there?

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