Not the Job You Signed on For? Elaine Varelas Offers Advice

Is the job you just landed not what you signed on for? Can you do anything about it?

Ask the Job Doc.
Ask the Job Doc. –

Q: Several months ago, I happily accepted a job offer for a challenging new role at a company I was really excited about. Fast forward to now, and the job I’m actually doing is not at all what was advertised. My day-to-day work is much lower level and doesn’t involve the more advanced, creative work that drew me to the company in the first place. Can I do anything about this or just start job searching again?

A: Unless this is their onboarding practice, you may need to start job searching—but talk to management first for more context. Sit down with your manager or the people you interviewed with to discuss the kind of work you anticipated being involved with in your role. You can even bring the original job description to compare it to what your day-to-day job actually is. There are a lot of factors that could be at play here, so your first step should be clear and open communication.


You don’t identify what your industry is, but a company’s workflow is often determined by external factors beyond its control. Does your company not have the expected contracts that would require your higher level skills? Have any customers or projects changed? Was there a notable shift in the industry or new players in your organization’s competition? Whatever the case may be, this is the kind of information you need to be able to get from them.

When you have this conversation with your manager, lay out the scope of the projects and responsibilities that were discussed in your interviews and ask if something has changed. Ask about the state of the organization and where the need for someone with skills at your level went: “I was hired for higher level work—does the company not have it right now? Do we anticipate getting that work and I’m just on hold until it comes in? Or are there other things going on that I’m not aware of? I am capable of contributing more to the organization, and I’d like that opportunity. ” Perhaps they aren’t fully aware of the level or amount of work that you’re capable of, so communicating all of this early will serve you in the long run.


It may have seemed like you were getting the low-level work just because you’re the new guy, but most companies don’t want to overpay for junior work. But it’s worth considering whether you accepted a compensation that’s tied to a junior role because you really wanted a job or to work at this specific company. Your excitement about the new role and the organization may have colored your view of the job description and the work that you would be doing. That’s why taking a fresh look at the job description and comparing it to your day-to-day tasks is so important.

It’s good that you’re only a few months in, because now is the time to ask these questions. You might find that the high-level projects occur only twice a year and not every day. Or again, depending on your industry, you could just be between contracts—you might be doing low-level work now but can expect more exciting work when a contract is in place. Have a conversation with your manager to get more information and figure out if those challenging projects are headed your way—or if you need to start polishing your resume.