I’m still not doing the job I was hired for two years ago

A reader writes:

I’ve been at my current job for two years, and have been doing … okay. No big issues, but in previous reviews my boss has talked about me in terms of good, not great. I’m definitely struggling with efficiency, and am generally bored and disengaged.

The problem is, I’m struggling because the skills I was hired for (user training and product management) have nothing to do with the job I’m being asked to do (technical support). My personality and preferred work environment are also really at odds with what I’m doing; I have ADHD and excel in a social team environment, but am rarely given work that requires any engagement with coworkers.

I brought up my confusion about this during last year’s review, and my boss assured me that product manager was the goal for my position, but I needed to show a little more drive first. Is there a professional way of pointing out that I’m not dazzling him in this role because it’s not what I was hired for? Or do I just write this off as a bad fit and start job hunting again?

It’s been two years! If your boss were telling you this after two months, that would be one thing — but after two years?!

“We need to see you prove yourself before we’ll put you in the job we hired you for two years ago” is just a tremendous line of BS. Either they didn’t see the skills in you they expected to see and so they put you in this other role (in which case they should be up-front about that) or they never intended to and for some reason keep stringing you along. Either way, after two years, there’s no reason to think it will change.

You could try a conversation along the lines of, “The work you hired me for is X. The work you’ve had me doing is Y, which is not my strength. You’ve told me I can’t move to X until I prove myself at Y, but Y isn’t what I excel in. Given that, can we talk about exactly what you need to see from me in order to move me to X, so that I can figure out if I can meet those goals?”

If you’d had that conversation four to six months into the job, I would have told you to frame it as, “Can you tell me the timeline for moving me to the role I signed on for?” But it’s been so long that that’s mostly moot. Two years in, they think of you as this role, not the one they hired you for.

Definitely start looking outside your company.

{ 150 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Bubbles*

    You will never be put in to the job you were hired. I’m sorry, OP, but you are stuck. It’s time to look elsewhere. It would be worthwhile to have the conversation, but I wouldn’t expect your boss to change.

    Reply
    1. Cobol*

      OP I don’t know if you have a spotty job history as ADHD can easily lead to that, but you’ve been at your current position for an okay time period.
      Bubbles is right*. If you want to do that job it will have to be elsewhere.

      *I love screen names. I’m going to say Bubbles is right several times today

      Reply
    2. Itsamea*

      Hey Bubbles, how would your advice change if OP was in a niche field with limited options for alternatives at the same career level?

      Reply
      1. Havarti*

        If they’re supposed to be in a niche field but the job they’ve been doing for two years hasn’t been in that niche field, I don’t know that Bubbles’s advice would change. You have 3 choices:
        1.) You get your boss to give you the job you were supposed to be hired for
        2.) You find another job
        3.) You stay and resign yourself to not doing the job you were hired for

        If your skills are specialized and not in high demand or opportunities so limited to make going elsewhere impossible, then maybe you need to think about expanding your skills.

        Reply
        1. Well Then*

          Laying out the options this way is really helpful. Another point to consider is that OP isn’t building skills or gaining experience in the job they were hired to do, so this role isn’t advancing their career and staying longer will only prolong that. A lateral move to a better job environment would give them opportunity to progress that the current job isn’t.

          Reply
        2. Antilles*

          Agreed. If you work at Chocolate Teapots Inc, but if you’re stuck in tech support rather than designing teapots, you’re effectively *not* in the niche field of teapot design – the fact that you did IT for them isn’t going to count for much to anyone looking for a teapot designer.

          Reply
        3. Jdc*

          I feel like In a niche field that would maybe be the norm and they’d know it going on? Pardon my typing it’s -13 and I’m outside. Amazed i still have fingers.

          Reply
        4. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          If OP has done good at the job, even if it isn’t what they want, it an still get them another job elsewhere with a better boss. I’m not saying that’s the best option, as OP wanted to do X and not Y, but it would at least get them away from a boss who lied and strung them along. I don’t know if a similar position elsewhere would put them in line for what they really want?

          Reply
    3. Dragoning*

      I agree. Boss thinks OP is asking for a promotion when they haven’t proven themselves “worthy” of a promotion.

      Reply
        1. AKchic*

          If you happen to have your original job description, you can bring it along to your next 1-on-1 and point out that this is what you were hired for, and it’s obviously not something you’ve actually been allowed to do, which is why you aren’t thriving in the position you are doing.

          But Alison is right, you aren’t going to be doing the work you were hired for. Your boss is never going to allow it, for whatever reason. You’ve essentially given two years to stagnate the skills for your chosen field and now it’s time to try to make the best of it.

          Reply
          1. Confused*

            I actually did that at my last job – my boss said the job description was very high level and I would need a lot of training to get there. The job that they hired me for, knowing my experience. To be fair, this wasn’t the boss that hired me, and she may not have hired me if she was on the panel.

            Reply
        2. RUKiddingMe*

          I don’t mean to be blunt…but…they are never, ever, ever going to give you the job they hired you to do.

          *Two years* and you still have to only serve cookies because they don’t trust you to pour tea?

          I don’t want to say “bait and switch…” but I did anyway.

          Start aggressively job hunting before all of your skills in X atrophy and become completely obsolete.

          Start resume/cover letter curating today.

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader*

            Totally agree with RUKM, OP.
            And adding telling you that you have to do better at this job is just a technique for holding you back and down. It distracts you from the main point that you were not hired to do this job. It’s not your field, so of course you are not going to knock it out of the park, for cryin’ out loud.

            Did they let you know on the interview that you would be doing this for a bit and then start the job you were hired for?
            Or did you walk in the first and get a surprise?

            OP, the boss will see to it that you will never do well at this job so he can keep you at this job. Has anyone been hired to fill in the position that was supposed to be yours?

            Reply
        3. Confused*

          OP, I was in your position at my last job. I was hired for a role and was never allowed to do any of the duties for it. I asked and asked if there was something wrong with my work and I was told I was doing fine, but just “needed more training” and was “still very new”. I was new, but people had started after me that were also brand new to this role with even less experience at the agency I worked for, and they were allowed to do their jobs as advertised. No one really told me what training I needed and one of my colleagues who was supposed to share his workload with me decided that he was my supervisor (he was NOT, we had the same title though he added senior to his ONLY after I started, how convenient. No one in his role, even senior, would supervise who is essentially their peer and we reported to the same boss) and basically only gave me his admin tasks. I asked every single month if I was meeting their expectations and if I was, why I wasn’t allowed to execute the work I was promised. No one gave me a clear answer.

          It’s worth noting that I was a gov’t contractor and my colleagues were direct hires. My contracting company received such excellent feedback on my work (????) that I got a surprise raise less than six months in. To this day I am still baffled about what they wanted from me. They were basically paying me double an admin’s salary to do about an hour of admin work a day and not much else.

          I left at the six-month mark and I’m at a job I love now and I’m doing EXACTLY what was promised in my interview! I haven’t been this happy in years.

          Reply
      1. Mama Bear*

        This might be part of the problem.

        If I were the OP, I’d be looking but still have that conversation. If the boss is willing to shift, then great. If not, then you know for sure that you need to be going. If it’s a hard to find job? Well, OP isn’t going to find that job easily so keep working tech support in the meantime. If the manger isn’t moving OP into that role, then OP needs to let go of having that job at that company.

        Reply
        1. OP*

          After hearing Alison’s advice I think that’s the plan! It won’t hurt to have the conversation, and if my some chance it works then hey, no job hunting needed! But my guess is I’ll need to start looking for a better fit.

          Reply
            1. MissDisplaced*

              Sometimes I think with these situations it wasn’t a lie exactly.
              But they’ll still likely balk and say something to the effect of “It’s not exactly what you were hired to do, but it’s what the needs of the business are right now.”

              Rarely will they ever admit fault that they didn’t understand the needs before they hired. Instead they’ll attempt to shift that onto you, because you all are not being a “team player” by not wanting to do a completely different job!

              Reply
  2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    OP, I think at this point your boss has an idea of you. And of the job. His memory of what he hired you for is different from what you remember. He has probably been wrong all along (bait and switch or completely misunderstood that they are two different things). Now he is looking at you like you are trying to wrangle out of something, change the situation to suit your wants, not meet the promises he made.
    Start looking.
    But at least you have a great answer for why you are leaving!

    Reply
    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      I also would guess that what Boss has OP doing is a bigger need for the company, and so Boss really doesn’t see it as a priority to move OP to the other role. That is, although they said they were hiring for a llama coat groomer, they suddenly needed a lot more llama hoof trimmers (even just-okay ones, as OP has described herself to be), and nowhere near as many coat groomers. Coat grooming is a privilege, while hoof trimming is a need.

      That’s all on top of Boss having misremembered / forgotten what OP was hired to do.

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader*

      Since OP has asked about the job she was hired for, the boss definitely remembers. He’s just a manipulative a$$.

      Two years is more than enough time, OP. Plan that he has NO intention of moving you over. Act accordingly. I have seen this one too many times.

      Reply
  3. Submerged Tenths*

    Did you somehow get switched with someone else at hire? I mean, did they hire someone to do tech support who is now doing user training and product management and who is equally disillusioned? That is really the only scenario i can think of that makes ANY sense! By all means have the talk with Boss — but start job hunting yesterday.

    Reply
    1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

      The way I see it, LW probably was hired and given gruntwork to “prove” herself, then failed to produce the dazzling brightness that recommends someone for what they see as a promotion. Which is a shame — if she has ADHD and can do okay in a role for which she’s not suited, she’ll probably be absolutely amazing in a role that fits.

      Reply
    2. OP*

      No, thankfully I’m sure that’s not what happened! I was asked to join a brand new team, and I think that what role they THOUGHT they’d need wasn’t actually the role they DO need.

      Reply
      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        That’s what I’m getting even from your letter. They had an idea of what they needed, so they hired for it, but realized they needed a body doing more in your position. No malice, just completely oblivious. Like, OP has a job; we kept up our end. OP isn’t great at it, but not PIP worthy, so let’s keep chugging along.

        Reply
      2. Quill*

        Unfortunately, that probably means there isn’t a role they could move you to that fits what you’re hired for. Probably time to polish the resume.

        Reply
      3. Lora*

        Been there, OP! And I have no ADHD at all, so I’m going to go with your line management is not organized or strategic and probably you will never get to do the thing you were hired for because all they really know how to do is firefight.

        In my case the company in question had a backlog of orders for Old Product (not my specialty), and New Product (very much my specialty which I was hired for) still needed a year of development to be commercial-ready, and they didn’t really understand how much development and expertise was required by New Product. They never sold a single New Product as far as I know, and while they were able to sell other parts of the business when they were taken over, they had to mothball the New Product things. Compounding the product development strategy were several re-orgs and a takeover, so every few months I had a new boss with new ideas and a different set of annual goals… I think I was definitely hired in good faith, but senior management couldn’t plan their way out of a wet paper bag, and my new bosses were always shocked, shocked! that I had been promised a different role every time I pointed out that I was supposed to be working on New Product Development. Every conversation with each new boss was basically, them firefighting: placate Lora with vague noises, then hammer on the more immediate issue of the day and say things about Everyone Pitching In, “you’re the manager so you’re responsible for all of it” comments etc. with no real development planning or driving forward towards a goal or decision.

        Unfortunately, a lot of managers run their operations like they’re managing a fast food joint. For a lot of operations that is okay, but for others not so much…

        Reply
        1. OP*

          Oh man, that sounds like almost exactly what happened to me in the last year! Worked super hard and did great with building a new product, but sales completely dropped the ball, and then I kept getting pulled into old projects that were already a mess, or just any other job that needed to be done.

          Reply
  4. Amy Sly*

    Either they didn’t see the skills in you they expected to see and so they put you in this other role (in which case they should be up-front about that) or they never intended to and for some reason keep stringing you along.

    One other possibility: the workload of the company changed to the point where they don’t need a product manager, and they’re too cowardly to just tell her. Not that it makes much difference — the only way OP will be able to do product management is to leave. But it may help OP’s state of mind to consider the possibility that they were trying to be helpful by keeping her on at all instead of maliciously putting her in a job she wouldn’t succeed in.

    Reply
    1. Itsamea*

      This is a very real possibility in contract/project based work environments where the skills in demand vary depending on the work load/portfolio. That’s my situation, and I am beginning to wonder if I am not flexible enough to fit into some other pseudo role during the periods that none of my projects truly align with my abilities or interests.

      Reply
    2. Dust Bunny*

      This is my guess: She was already there and isn’t doing badly enough to fire, so . . . job migration and inertia. I feel like we see this on here a lot; people grinding along doing something they weren’t hired to do, but not doing it badly enough to attract a lot of attention.

      Reply
    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I had a job where (big picture) they were planning on closing down branches for a renovation project, and reassigned people’s job duties so they would be cross-trained to have a job during that time. Sounds sensible, right?

      Except they didn’t communicate ANY of this to ANYONE involved, so we ended up with a bunch of supervisors angry that their reports were juggling duties between themselves and another supervisor for no reason, and we ended up with a bunch of employees angry that they were being asked to do work that was well outside their area of training and interest (say, the head llama trainer packaging teapots for shipment), and often involved Musical Payrates (your hourly rate changed from week to week based on which supervisor ran payroll) and Oddball Schedules (you must be at work from 8 am to 7 pm but you can’t get OT so we’ll just pay you for 8 of those hours.)

      By the time they did the closing down of branches for the renovation project, all of the staff they’d hoped to retain were gone, and they were scrambling to transfer interim staff into the branch to keep things running.

      Reply
    4. Dragon_dreamer*

      Or they flat out lied. When I first applied to the bent metal fastener, I applied to be a computer tech. The interview was focused on that role. I was told on being hired that I’d be a tech.

      First day on the job, I got ordered to learn the register. Okay, no problem. I asked when I’d start in the tech department. The manager looked me in the eyes and laughed. “We don’t hire people like *you* for anything but cashiering.”

      It took me 3 years and a new management team to do what I’d been hired for. If it hadn’t been the only job I could get with no car in a retail heavy tourist town, I’d have quit.

      Reply
        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          Female, autistic, take your pick. Every time we got a new management team, I’d have to prove myself all over again just to stay in tech. That’s partly how I became one of the best techs in the company. I found out later that each new management team was warned by a member of the old team to “keep an eye” on me. >.< I did have supporters, like my former Senior Tech and one of the Tech Managers, but both were driven off and into much better jobs.

          That company did like to switch management teams from store to store every couple years. I had 5 new managers in 4 years. Three managers were led off in handcuffs, including the assistant who laughed at me (who was found asleep at his desk) and the Store Manager who hired me, and their Ops manager, all at different times. That last made me work a 12 hour shift the day I found out a friend had died in a car accident. The one who actually got me into the tech department was eventually demoted from Store Manager and moved to another store after multiple sexual harassment claims from the teenage workers. (I was in my early 20.)

          I finally switched stores after the last management team at the first one decided to push me out. The store manager was the type to call us all her "children" and address us as such, and her assistant was a bully. Neither thought women should be in tech. They'd write me up over the littlest cr*p, with the final straw being a meeting where they screamed at me. Our policy was to tell the customer that diagnostics would be 10 minutes, repairs 3 days. They claimed the customer said I'd promised her a 10 minute repair (for viruses!). 3 days later, when she picked up the machine, she supposedly threw a fit over it having taken so long, so they'd refunded her and blamed me. Only the fact that a manager at another store 40 minutes away (by now I had a car) wanted me to come work for her. By then, I was already a rising star in the company, and another former employee vouched for me.

          That bully of an assistant later stopped by my new store to pick up supplies, and made sure to come over to me and claim he was being transferred there. He *laughed* heartily at the look of anger and disgust on my face. The team that finally got rid of me after 10 and a half years was one I'd worked for at the first store, when they were both assistants, though that was (mostly) precipitated by an HR rep who had never liked me. (She actually once referred to me as "that idiot savant.")

          Reply
    5. Tinker*

      Yeah, this is a thing.

      I have a lot of feels about this letter because I was/ somewhat am in a creepily identical situation inclusive of this element, and — it helped, but also only somewhat helped — folks didn’t mean it maliciously, but I was still in the situation and also I had several conversations of the form “hey, I realize that this isn’t intentional on your part, but the situation I’m in is really ridiculous” / “well, I mean, we’re not out to get you”.

      Like: I get that, and at the same time I’m still IN the undesirable situation.

      I basically cosign advice “get out” — have not done this personally yet because a stroke of luck made the situation change, but I would not bank on such a thing happening.

      Reply
      1. Amy Sly*

        Exactly. It doesn’t change the advice to get out, but as someone with depression and prone to personalizing things that aren’t personal, it’s good for my own health to say “yes, this situation is bad but not because they meant to hurt me.” Unintentional wounds still hurt, and we should still work to avoid them, but framing things as non-malicious helps remove the poisonous anger.

        Reply
      2. Senor Montoya*

        The other reason to get out is that the longer you stay in this job, the longer you are not using and improving your skills in the area you want to be in, and the longer you are not building up years of experience in your preferred field. You can’t get promoted within your preferred field, because you aren’t even doing work IN your field.

        Reply
        1. Tinker*

          Yeahhhhh that thing is a concern — employers have a legitimate desire for evidence that you are what you say you are, and recent evidence is the most valuable. As the evidence of your value in the thing you’re good at becomes less recent, it becomes more of a challenge.

          I will say, because it might be comforting to the OP as it has been for me: with that stroke of luck I mentioned, I’m back doing work that is more like the stuff I’m good at, and what I’m finding now that I do it more is — I would have progressed technically more and had more quality bullet points on my resume if I had been working on this rather than “answering phones” for the past while, but I have not stood still in my personal development.

          Having struggled so much with things I’m not good at, and dealing with all my Former Gifted Kid (you are so smart but lazy) feelings while doing that, means that when setbacks come up in the course of the more suitable work I’m much less bothered by it than I was before, and it’s easier for me to keep my head and methodically pursue solutions. That benefits me internally now, and also it seems fairly evident that even if it isn’t paying off spectacularly yet in external results, if I keep working the problem it eventually will.

          Reply
      3. Leela*

        I was once hired to be a recruiter and when I started it was really basic admin work FOR the recruiters, like filing and stapling. I asked if it was going to be long-term or what the plan was (because in the interview there was no indication at all that this wouldn’t be a recruiting job, they answered all of my questions about their recruiting team and just never said I wouldn’t actually be on it, and the job title was “Recruiter”) and they said no. I started job searching that night, they fired me overnight without telling me (I was a contractor through an agency that didn’t pass on the message* so I showed up the next day and was told to leave instantly because I obviously didn’t want to do the work….that I wasn’t hired for because I was lied to the whole process).

        *So my contracting agency left me a message after work to call them when I got a chance. I got so many garbage phone calls from that agency that were always just unpaid check-ins about nothing where they had nothing to tell me but the messages would always be this. Still, I *did* call back but the person that called me had left for the day. The next morning, after I was forced to leave once I’d gone to work, they’d e-mailed me AFTER the start time would have been to tell me that I’d been let go and to please not go in. I went to the agency and raised a stink but they kept blaming me for not seeing the message, that they’d sent me after the start time, to not go in to the office. And that I shouldn’t have gone to work until I was able to get a hold of them which would have put me in a world of shit if I’d done that and it was just a standard check-in

        Reply
        1. OP*

          I’m stressed just reading this. I’m sure I would have written some very rude Glassdoor reviews if it had happened to me.

          Reply
        2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          Ooh, I’ve had that experience with a staffing agency. Was several weeks on an assignment and was moved to another seat where I was squinched into a corner, nothing was ergonomic, and I reported a couple of times to the agency that I was going home in pain every night. I was also now sitting next to someone who called me ugly names and played a weird nature-sounds music box so loudly I couldn’t hear what I needed to to work. I reported all this to the agency because it was a negative impact on completely my stuff. The on-site supervisor said the workstations were the same, which anyone who looked could see was untrue. Went in one day, my desk was cleared, the supervisor saw me, said not one word to me, and stalked into the next room. I called into my home voice mail and there was a chirpy message from Agency Girl, left at a time when she should’ve known I’d already be en route to work, saying don’t go back there. When I got home I called the agency back and gave them a right earful about a humiliating experience. Some time later, another Agency Kid called me and offered me the same assignment again. Yeesh.

          Are any staffing agency people reading this?

          Reply
    6. Mama Bear*

      This happens all the time. I was once hired for web content work and the reality was there was very little to no web content work. I ended up doing data entry until I found another job.

      Reply
    7. OP*

      I definitely think there’s some of that too! This company is mildly dysfunctional, so projects and workload gets shuffled around a lot. I don’t think there’s any malice involved, just incompetence.

      Reply
      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        Ha, that’s what I wrote above. But they can still kill you with kindness. They are not outrightly hostile, so it seems fine. But it isn’t. You are getting behind in your career and wasting time. Writing to Alison was the first step. The confirmation she gave you is step 2. Step 3: profit, err um, I mean job searching. Step 4: profit :)

        Reply
      2. Not So NewReader*

        In human service there is a thing called neglectful abuse. This is where a caregiver “forgets” to do something. It’s a passive malice toward others.

        I would argue that dysfunctional, chaotic work environments are their own sort of passive malice. Lack of caring and planning hurts other people. We all know this, it’s not something we figured out just yesterday. The boss knows you were lied to and he is covering that up with the smoke screen of “You have to do better!”. This is malice.He knows you got an unfair shake and he is perpetuating it. He lied and now he is covering up the company’s lack of professional standards and professional organization. If he had been a real boss, he would have been advocating for you to move over to the job you were hired for ASAP. Because he would know most people will not stay once they figure out they have been wildly deceived.

        I had a hard time drawing my line with stuff. And it’s because of all the excuses. “Well, if we only get this project done. Well, if we just replace Sally who suddenly left. Well, we lost components so we now have this set back.” The thing to cue in on is the non-stop stream of problems. It’s been 2 years, OP. They should have moved you long before now. They have no intention of moving you just as they have no intention to stop running from fire to fire and ever being an actual professionally run business. They may enjoy having one crisis after another and there is no plan in place to ever stop the constant problems.

        Reply
    8. TardyTardis*

      Been there, done that, I was so good at teapot polishing they totally forgot they told me that I was never going to do the teapot analysis reports that I was expecting to work on. Also, there were so many teapots that I didn’t have time for the reports anyway.

      Reply
  5. Itsamea*

    OP I am in SUCH a similar situation, 2 years in, ADHD, too! I love the subject matter of my job but the actual day-today (how the sausage gets made) is often at odds with my own working style and I feel like a fish out of water, even though I am very good at the substance parts of my work. I constantly feel like I’m making mistakes, but it’s things I’m not good at or an expert in. Still, it’s demoralizing. I’ve been wavering for about 6 months now… kind of always hoping change is on the brink. I have some promise that a program I have been championing might get traction in the next 6 months, so I plan to stay at least that long. I really don’t know what to do about either. How specialized are you? I have a semi-specific skillset and very specific subject expertise, so something holding me back is whether I can find better work elsewhere. What are your reasons for staying 2 years? Mine are that I love my boss and have learned a lot from him and I find my subject engaging. Would love to have a conversation with you about this.

    Reply
    1. OP*

      ADHD buddy! It’s a blessing and a curse.

      This was the first decent job offer I got after moving to a new state on a whim, and I liked the coworkers I was originally collaborating with. Unfortunately there’s some dysfunctional management, and the projects I was excited for were all drastically changed or postponed in year one. I stayed another year in the hopes that I’d be able to get back to those, but a year later and most of them are still on indefinite hold or have been numped way down the priorities list.

      I had never worked in this particular field before, so no real specialization, but I’m now the subject matter expert on a couple of important systems. Unfortunately it’s all work I didn’t want to do in the first place, so my excitement for getting things done is VERY low.

      Reply
      1. Itsamea*

        Honestly, we’re in very similar boats. The primary project (Project A) I was hired for actually fell through within my first 6 months so they put me on some other things; I had to take over a project from a person who quit and it’s wildly outside my skillset *and* subject area. I’m open to learning new things but if it’s 3+ steps away from my chosen specialties, it just becomes a stretch. It seems you feel similarly. 2 years later maybe there’s a possibility to launch some work similar to Project A, but I don’t have a clear road map for how to get there. I’m not sure if my boss also doesn’t know or just doesn’t have time to strategize. Do you feel like the company overall has a clear strategic vision, just not FOR YOU? or is it more systemic? I’m not sure of the answer for that myself. I’d also really REALLY love to hear how you manage to keep your focus when things at work aren’t interesting you. What have your coping mechanisms been so far?

        Reply
        1. OP*

          It seems pretty systemic, or at least it is for newer hires. A lot of employees here have been in their same jobs for years and years, so there is a lot of pushback when new responsibilities come up. Because management overall is a little short-sighted and dysfunctional, those new responsibilities all seem to go to newer hires like me, who then end up with roles they didn’t expect.

          I haven’t coped super well at times, but a mix of finally taking medication, getting really intense about detailed to-do lists, and using ambient noise apps with headphones constantly seems to help me get things done. It still feels like especially boring tasks might kill me, but I can get through it.

          Reply
          1. Itsamea*

            Well I admire you! I think you’re doing all the right things. If you make changes, please make sure to send in an update. I have a feeling I will stay here, and I’d like to see what my alternate-universe life might have been like. Good luck with whatever you choose!

            Reply
  6. Wear Floral Every Day*

    This is ridiculus, I am sorry you are going through this. Do you have any written proof from back when you where interviewing with them ? Like an email exchange that describes the job offered? Or any proof or material back from your early training/induction days? I don’t know how you can use these things, that also depends on how you are going to move forward (quitting? take this case to HR?). But at least come up with something concrete for your next review.

    Reply
    1. OP*

      Unfortunately no, not a lot of details are in writing! This was a new role within a new team, so it was really just my boss telling me what I was going to be doing in my interviews and first few weeks. I don’t think he was lying, but I think the needs of the team were pretty miscalculated.

      Reply
      1. Close Bracket*

        “This was a new role within a new team, so it was really just my boss telling me what I was going to be doing in my interviews and first few weeks. ”

        Sometimes needs are miscalculated, but sometimes the needs just change. I wouldn’t hold your boss to a verbal agreement made 2 years ago. You need to ask about what roles are available *now* that are similar to what you want to do.

        Reply
    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      It really wouldn’t make much of a difference if OP had anything in writing. It’s not much different than getting an offer letter for a new job and then having the company change their mind and not give you the job – it’s not any type of guarantee. They either suck at communicating, or the business needs changed. Unfortunately OP has waited too long to address it. I would still have the conversation that Alison suggested, but have very low expectations that anything will change.

      Reply
  7. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Your boss’s response is so paternalistic. Oh he’ll place you in the job you were originally hired for if you do well at the job you weren’t hired for?

    Please.

    Reminds me of the time my dad paid me $20 to memorize some long prayer at church. I did memorize it, got paid, and promptly forgot it and still can’t remember it to this day.

    Motivation has to come from within!

    Reply
      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        Yup, not malice. He thinks he’s HELPING you. God save us from the helpers.*
        *sorry, Mr. Rogers’ Mom, but the helpers are the worst.

        Reply
  8. RC Rascal*

    “ Not enough drive”

    Let’s add that to the list it nonsense objections sleazy managers have to their own subterfuge.

    Other favorites include:

    Managing, not directing.
    Lacks proper managerial aptitude
    Immature ( said to anyone younger than 35, especially female)

    Reply
    1. Confused*

      My colleague who refused to share the workload (NOT my manager who always gave me good reviews but did not intervene in this situation), said that I needed to “be more useful.” I did everything I was asked and many things that I was not. Fuck that guy and fuck that whole job.

      Reply
  9. Optimus Prima Donna*

    Two years!
    Two yeeeears!
    Why am I thinking about a John Cusak movie?

    Anways…back to the OP.

    I agree 100% with Alison but wanted to point out something you might want to consider. While the position you are in is not your idea job, it’s not common for a job, any job to be a 100% compatible with your personality, skills and situation, meaning your ADHD. Even if you did have an accommodation or just consideration from management due to your ADHD, there’s going to be some level of the job being the job and you having to perform it because you are a professional. People who thrive when given creative tasks will still find themselves doing production work and people who enjoy work that is structured and linear will have to work through disruption too. To me, a great profession is one who shows the ability and discipline to work through the challenge and be successful. A employer will value employees who seem to be able to make a success of things – those who can work through a range of conditions and come out with a win.
    Giving your employer the benefit of the doubt for argument’s sake (because you should always look at things from their end too), might they see you as someone who has excuses and points to other things are reasons for unimpressive performance instead of someone who can handle things that are not ideal? If I heard from a strong performer that they don’t believe their job is their ideal situation….versus someone who is mediocre and saying the same thing, I’d be more likely to shift the high performer to a better situation for them because I want to support their performance. For the mediocre employee, I’d be thinking about supporting them into working through challenges to be successful. I’d meet any obligations for accommodation, if it came to that. But I would wonder if I’d hear excuse after excuse instead of how they conquered challenges.
    I’m not saying that you should stay with your employer, the two years the job versus promised job mismatch is clearly making you unhappy and for that reason alone, you should at least, try to see if there’s something out there closer you your idea job. I’m just saying that your approach should be partly, what’s the best, most compatible job for you and also how are you going to be successful, not not moderate due to reasons. GL!

    Reply
    1. Itsamea*

      Where do you draw that line though, between “the ability and discipline to work through the challenge” versus when it’s just no longer a good fit? Some challenges are challenges because that’s not our skillset or where we excel, and it makes sense to not thrive in that environment. A moderated amount of challenge is necessary for growth, but where’s the line? And I’d argue the line is also a moving target, depending how much support and resources/time you have to handle the challenges too.

      Also, if OP has ADHD, some things aren’t just “challenges.” Some things are borderline impossible when you’re not neurotypical, and it might seem like you should “just do it” but that’s genuinely not how the brain is functioning. So where’s THAT line?

      Reply
      1. TiaTeapot*

        I like to analogize to color blindness. If you assign a red-green color blind person a job which requires distinguishing between red and green (teapot sorting works well here), they’ll never excel at it. Maybe they’ll figure out a work-around, but no amount of practice or good attitude or ‘suck it up, no one enjoys the entire job’ will change the fact that their brains just. don’t. work. that. way.

        Reply
        1. Itsamea*

          I like that a lot. What’s the “rise to the challenge” equivalent analogy? Like as in, you can train your brain to work that way with some effort and dedication. I can’t really think of a good one

          Reply
          1. pamela voorhees*

            Maybe learning to tell the difference between identical twins? We had a pair in my middle school and while it took some effort, every year by the end of the year the teachers would be able to tell who was who without asking. I guess within the red-green analogy it would be learning to tell the difference between a really dark red and a really dark green teapot. It’s possible to spot differences, you just have to work at it.

            Reply
          2. lobsterp0t*

            I mean, you literally can’t do that with ADHD

            That’s why it is called a neurobiological disorder and not bad habits or laziness

            Reply
        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ll throw another impossible fit: A star hands-on technician with years of glowing reviews, whose boss switched him to phone tech support against his will. Technician pointed out that he has Tourette’s and would be a terrible choice for telephone support. Fired within a few months inappropriate language. Last I heard he was talking about lawyers…

          Reply
    2. Elizabeth West*

      Better Off Dead! “Two dollars! I want my two dollars!”

      I’m with you on not every job or every aspect of a job being 100% compatible, but this isn’t even the job the OP was hired for.

      Reply
    3. Workfromhome*

      I don’t really get why the employer should be given any benefit of a doubt. Being a technical support person especially if its a phone based potion is so vastly different from being a trainer or product manager that anyone who is good at one could very easily struggle at the other regardless of ADHD or anything else.

      I just fond it a cop out to try to place any blame on the OP for “not being able to handle things that are not ideal”. Their results have been “good”. So they are clearly “able to do the job”. They ARE successful.
      This is a matter of a person being promised a job that would suit their skills, goals personality but having a bait and switch pulled to put them into a job that not only doesn’t play to those skills but they in all likelihood would not have accepted had they know what it was.

      I have firsthand experience with this being hired as a trainer then moving to a client facing Professional service position. This work well for me based on my interpersonal skills traveling around to meet clients face to face and build relationships. Then in their infinite wisdom they decided they were short staffed on the help desk and all of us needed to take a “week long shift” off the road on a first level help desk queue. I absolutely detested it and was quite blunt that if it continued very long I’d look elsewhere. Being able to answer calls as quickly as possible, reading from scripts or asking questions I knew were wrong drove me nuts. I would never in a billion years apply for a help desk job yet here I was doing it. If some were to look at my metrics compared to some other help desk people they would have been terrible. I cant imagine someone telling me “hey you aren’t great at help desk we need to see you be much better before well put you back in your normal role where you have been outstanding”
      They lured them in with a project manger job. Maybe that job is now not needed or they want to give it someone else . The OP needs to start job hunting before they end up trying to apply for new project manager jobs with 5 years of being tech support person on their resume.

      Reply
      1. OP*

        Yep, you nailed it! It definitely has bait and switch vibes, though in my particular case I think it was more managerial incompetence/not actually knowing what they would want for this role. Either way, I agree that it probably won’t get better.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader*

          If they did not know what they wanted for the role and they told you X but that was a lie. They did not know that they wanted X. They could have said we are not sure what we want. But that’s not what they chose to do.

          I don’t get all the excuses for this employer. If the situation were reversed and an employee behaved this way that employee would be tossed out on their butt.

          My problem is that I have seen so much of this. If a student gets told over and over their is a test on Friday and they fail to prepare then they lose. This is a group of people that show up at a work place every day and fail to prepare to be professionals. How many days/months/years can they fail before their excuses are not legit?

          The problem is you were hired to do X. They have you doing unrelated Y and they are chopping you because they think you are not good at it. You weren’t even hired to do Y. Worse yet, Y is not even your field. I am not surprised you are not great at it and I am even less surprised that you are bored out of your gourd.

          They have said for two years there is no job in your field for you at this company. It’s okay to believe them. I hope when you resign you tell them that you do not appreciate the way you were lied to about the job. Tell them not to do that ever again. And privately know, they are just going to keep doing this.

          Reply
    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Your reasoning is so very, very good for many situations we see pop up here but this is not one of them. This isn’t a situation where the OP is not performing well at a job, or only doing well at the parts they like, and making excuses for it. The OP is quite literally doing a completely different job than what they were hired for that require a skillset that they identified long ago they do not have. The specifically applied for a role they were qualified for and played to their strengths and that is not what the company has then doing. OP is not making excuses for not being remarkable at certain things and whining about how that is holding them back. They are very plainly saying “I applied for a role that was marketed as A, B, and C which fit my background, experience, and skillset very well. Company has me doing X, Y, and Z which are not a match to either the job description or my skillset”.
      OP – you definitely should not have let this go on for two years, but as that ship has sailed its time to move on. You can absolutely talk to your boss again and ask why they aren’t moving you into the role you were hired for. When you get the usual answer, simply say “Why would I need to be really great at that? It has nothing to do with A which is what I was hired for.” Probably won’t help much but you won’t have any what if questions laying around.

      Reply
    5. Tinker*

      Someone who is managing to scrape up acceptably mediocre performance when they are in a situation that plays directly against their disability is in fact demonstrating strength in the area of pushing through adversity.

      Like, if someone does something like breaking a leg and having to crawl back out of the wilderness, that’s “wow, magazine article about your tenacity” not “wellllll, I mean, your 5k time was really not all that competitive”.

      Reply
      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Fantastic analogy. I’d also liken it to people who love to put toddlers into situations where they’re definitely going to struggle, like having to sit still and be quiet for long periods of time, then gripe about how “kids these days are so out of control.” (Not that OP is a child, I just have a feisty toddler so these analogies are always top of mind.) Struggling to do a thing you’re not well suited for isn’t a moral failing.

        Side note: My 5k time is not competitive at all and I’m running on 2 good legs. ;)

        Reply
        1. Cafe au Lait*

          Oh, man, I had a visceral reaction when my MIL said my two-year-old had the terrible two’s after my kid sat quietly for over an hour and a half at a slower-than-poke restaurant and my MIL promised kiddo something kiddo couldn’t have. Bitch, please, the kid isn’t haven’t trouble, you’re having trouble understanding two year olds.

          Reply
      2. Not So NewReader*

        I will agree that OP is a very strong person, no matter how we look at it. As I was reading I thought to myself, “Do you sit and cry every Sunday, OP? Because I sure would be.” I’d feel trapped for sure. I give you a lot of credit for hanging in there this long.

        Reply
    6. OP*

      Hey! Thanks for your concern. I can see where you’re coming from, and this would be fantastic for someone new to the workforce to hear. However, I’m not, and I’ve previously gotten a lot of praise at jobs that better fit with how I work. The problem is that this job is currently about 90% work I both don’t want to do and would never have agreed to if it had been in the job offer, which I think would be a problem even without having ADHD.

      I also think you might have read into “good not great” as really messing things up a lot, which isn’t the case here! I’m like a B+/A- student, but my boss is looking for straight As.

      Reply
      1. Happy Lurker*

        So unfair that boss is looking for straight A’s! Nothing is wrong with average C’s. B’s are above average, but boss wants rockstars. So annoying!
        I had a person tell me that my score of 96.5, although good, wasn’t good enough and we would revisit it. I would need to work on getting that score up. BTW was told 95 was all it had to be at the outset. Now they only want 100. My head just about popped off my shoulders.
        Unreasonable people with rediculous expectations really demoralize me.

        Reply
        1. TardyTardis*

          Reminds me of the accounting class where 97% was an A, and missing one pop quiz due to illness knocked me out of it.

          Reply
    7. andy*

      > If I heard from a strong performer that they don’t believe their job is their ideal situation….versus someone who is mediocre and saying the same thing, I’d be more likely to shift the high performer to a better situation for them because I want to support their performance.

      So you would not move someone who is not performing at position they are bad at, even as they are aware they are not performing and are communicating about it? To me this does not make any sense at all. It is quite unfair from a company to hire me at position X (I am good at), then have me do Y (I am bad at) and then blame me for not performing or refusing to let me do X till I get better at Y.

      Everyone has things they are bad at. Matching right people to the jobs should be one of managerial responsibilities. And when you have low performing person at one position, it is irrational to refuse them to move them away from that position.

      Reply
    8. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      “a great profession is one who shows the ability and discipline to work through the challenge and be successful”

      Working through a (reasonable) challenge that is part of *the job you accepted* is expected.

      Working through whatever challenges the company or your manager throws at you, because that’s what professional looks like… No.

      When your company expects you (on a ongoing basis) to do work you aren’t trained for, spend most of your day doing something different from your job description, attempt to hit a moving target, work without the necessary equipment, etc, etc, you are being taken advantage of.

      When they position it as “show us what you’re made of” or “this is how professionals behave” or “we need to see your commitment”, you’re being gaslighted.

      Hired to do user training? A challenge might be to develop new course material in a short timeframe, or develop online self study material. Difficult, yes, relevant, yes. Asked to do technical support instead of training? That’s not a challenge, it’s a con.

      Reply
  10. ThatGirl*

    I sympathize. I was hired into a brand-new role, meant to work on longer-term projects and oversight and cross-functional collaboration within consumer care. But between the reality of needing extra help with day to day consumer care, going through multiple team leads in 2 years and feet-dragging from VPs who didn’t understand the bigger picture, the role was never quite what I was told it was going to be. I eventually gave up and applied for (and got) a different role in marketing more in line with my previous experience. And guess what, they hired another CS rep instead of someone to fill my role.

    Reply
    1. OP*

      Yeah, that sounds a lot like what I’m dealing with! I love brand new roles when they actually go as planned, because I work best in fast-paced jobs where there’s always new things to do. But when the original description was a terrible guess as to what is actually needed, it’s awful.

      Reply
  11. Tinker*

    Hoooooooooboy. Did I accidentally hit enter on a draft email from last year?

    Okay, so I have a follow-on question for this: how do you address the problem in a job search professionally with minimal risk of sounding like an excuse maker or a bullshitter? I mean:

    — OP is now interviewing for project manager positions.
    — The facts underlying OP’s resume and answer to behavioral questions reflect that their most recent two years of experience are as a mediocre tech support representative.
    — OP would actually be a brilliant project manager again if they were working in project management.

    How do you get the hiring manager to “this is a brilliant project manager who has been coping admirably with a hecking awkward situation” rather than “this is a mediocre tech support representative with ideas far above their station”?

    Reply
    1. Itsamea*

      I guess…. focus on the achievements and acknowledge there was a misalignment of expectations without sounding whingey about it. But like really focus on what you managed to achieve that was outside of your skill set, while continuing to emphasize the things you really think you’re actually good at and would like to be doing.

      I think the pitfall here is how what you didn’t want to do became what you were doing, then people see you can do it so they give you more of it. I think it takes strong reframing to make sure future interviewers understand that you were making the best of it (admirable quality) but it’s not what you want more of.

      Reply
      1. Tinker*

        This seems like a good idea, and maybe what I’m asking next has no particularly great answer, but:

        Description of my accomplishments, over beer at the bar: “I managed to not get fired for two years and indeed to be rated as merely mediocre despite: seriously look at this situation y’all.”

        Description of my accomplishments, over coffee at the interview table: “I managed to not get fired for two years” does not play well in this context, therefore instead say ?????

        There isn’t really any risk of someone hearing me describe my merits in the domain of my equivalent to “tech support” and deciding they’re desperate for more of that.

        Reply
        1. Close Bracket*

          Do you have tangible output you could point to and play up?

          What do you say in your yearly performance review (if you have one, and if you have to write a self-assessment as part of it)? I always use my performance review to update my resume with new accomplishments. If you were to write a self assessment right now to give your boss, what would you play up in it? That becomes your interview pitch.

          Reply
        2. JSPA*

          “I managed to remain cheery and collegial with coworkers despite the repeated disappointment of being strung along, month by month, with promises of being moved to [job I had been hired to do]. Doing a merely adequate job on tasks that have nothing to do with one’s skill set can mess with a person. I consider it a real achievement to still feel, down to my core, that I’m an excellent [desired job description]. My doggedness at [LiarCo] demonstrates that I have the fortitude to deal with times when there’s less [fun part of desired job] and a lot of [more prosaic parts of desired job].”

          Reply
        3. Rusty Shackelford*

          “I took a role that I absolutely wasn’t trained or prepared for and did, at worst, an average job of it. So imagine what I can do when I actually know what I’m doing.”

          Reply
      2. Senor Montoya*

        Right, address it in the cover letter, but getting the tone right is reeeeallly hard. I suggest getting others to read over the cover letter before sending it. Pick someone trustworthy and experienced.

        We had an applicant in our most recent search where their program was killed, they were assigned to a different program and a different job (one that could look like a demotion based on job title), and they just went on too long in the cover letter about what had happened and why. The first sentence was fine, we all recognized Yep, that’s a rotten thing that happens in higher ed. But then it went on and on… Everyone on the committee felt terrible for them, but the letter gave us all pause: this may be someone who can’t control their perfectly reasonable disappointment and upset well enough for us to trust that they could be professional about difficult and frustrating situations. When we’re getting lots of good applications where that isn’t an issue right there in the cover letter, we noped that applicant.

        Reply
    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      “I interviewed and was hired for a project manager position. However, shortly after I was hired, the company moved me into technical support they needed to fill that position quickly. My real skills and abilities are in project management, so I am looking for opportunities, both in and outside of my current employer, to pivot back to that role.”

      This is less about the why (company is a bunch of tools) and more about the what. And by keeping the current company in the job search (whether you are or not), you show a willingness to work with them and not just a pissed off attitude at current company.

      Reply
      1. Sara without an H*

        This is a good script. I also believe that it’s really not uncommon for people to get pulled into the help desk roll to cover a gap, and eventually find that the change has become permanent. So I really don’t think OP will need to have an elaborate explanation for looking for new opportunities.

        Reply
        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          Exactly this! You can’t leave support roles empty. No customer wants to hear “We’ll get back to you in four months after we’ve hired and trained new employees.” I think if use this script or something similar, an interviewer would just nod their head in commiseration. They’ve probably had to hire those roles, and in a hurry, too.

          Reply
      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Perhaps also say something about what you *have* gotten out of the role: able to calm a tense customer? quickly get to the source of an XYZ problem? more clearly explaining XYZ solutions? These last 2 aren’t irrelevant if you’re staying in an industry that includes development&support for XYZ.

        Reply
    3. fposte*

      I think you emphasize the prior part of the resume and treat the current job more as a holdover job than an official step. There’s no reason you’d be required to use the past two years in answers to behavioral questions; draw on your PM experience instead. And you’ve got a built in “Why are you leaving?” answer; it was sold as project management but it turned out the employer needed tech support more, and the promised transition to PM work never happened.

      Reply
    4. Not All*

      I just told interviewers that while I had been hired to do X–which was my interest & specialty–due to some organizational issues they really needed my position to do Y–which was neither my area of expertise or interest. It didn’t seem to be an issue because I was hired for the 4th position I interviewed for & made the short-list on the the previous 3. Considering how competitive the positions are I was applying for, it didn’t seem to concern the hiring managers at all.

      I was careful not to badmouth the manager during interviews…even though the unvarnished truth is that he flat lied to me about what I was going to be doing as an intentional bait & switch…and did again when they advertised the position after I left even though I specifically told both him & grandboss that was why I was leaving & warned them that they were unlikely to ever get someone with a desire to do Y if they keep advertising for X as there is almost zero overlap in aptitudes required.

      Reply
    5. RC Rascal*

      Here is a high falutin executive phrase to add to your tool kit:

      The needs of the business

      I was hired to be a product manager, but because of the needs of the business I was asked to do tech support. After two years the needs of the business are such that a product manager opportunity will not be available for the foreseeable future. As my strengths and goals are in product management I am looking for my next opportunity.

      Done

      Reply
  12. Minimax*

    Wow! So similar to my issue. After two years I held my bosses feet to the fire and they admitted this is the role.

    At that point I made the decision to job search. I never signed up to be tech support.

    Reply
  13. Close Bracket*

    I’m at 10 months, and I just took my job description to my boss and said, “I applied to this job bc it sounded cool, and I haven’t done any of this. Why aren’t I doing any of this?”

    “Not enough drive” is too vague to be actionable. While you are looking for a new job, also go back to your manager and ask for some actionable specifics on showing drive.

    Reply
      1. Close Bracket*

        He acknowledged my frustration and said he would keep looking for opportunities for me. So that’s something. We are a matrixed organization, though, so my manager has a limited role in determining my actual work.

        Reply
  14. Dysfunction Junction*

    Oh no, I’m in this letter and I don’t like it. I’m in a similar situation – hired for a brand new role 2 years ago, two people quit just after I started, so I’ve mostly been covering bits and pieces and not getting any of the exciting projects or responsibilities discussed when I was hired. I currently get free tuition though and am working on a graduate degree so I’m wondering if it’s worth another year of little growth on my resume in exchange for those letters behind my name.

    Reply
    1. Sara without an H*

      I don’t know what your industry is, but free tuition is a very nice perk indeed. If the degree is one that will help your career down the road, I’d say stick it out.

      Reply
    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Pay attention to any rules about paying back that tuition if you leave within X months after getting that degree. Learned from the commentariat here.

      Reply
  15. Not All*

    I’m curious to hear from managers who do this…though maybe none of them read this site!

    WHY????? WHY do you bait & switch? Why not just advertise the position you actually have & hire someone who is willing/wants to do that work instead of pretty much guaranteeing you will have someone who is neither suited to nor wants to do the job? I don’t get it. I see it over & over & over and it baffles me every time.

    I can kinda, sorta almost get it in government where we have very standardized position descriptions and org charts that often don’t really capture a specific role. Yet since most managers seem to figure out how to write up what the specific job entails for inclusion in the announcement intro…or at a minimum will verbally explain it during the hiring process…that can’t be the real reason.

    I just don’t get it.

    Reply
    1. Amy Sly*

      Can’t speak for the malicious ones, but as Alison always cautions us when we’re job seekers desperate for feedback on why we didn’t get the job, the business’s needs change. And some managers are disorganized and incompetent.

      Yes, it would be best if managers nailed down exactly what they needed before they even advertised the position. Sometimes they don’t nail it down until the evaluating candidates phase and need months on end to make a hiring decision … and sometimes they don’t nail it down until they have a warm body in the office who needs something to do.

      Reply
    2. Sara without an H*

      Why? Let me count the ways…

      1. Because they don’t think about what they actually want/need now for the position, so they post the old job description, although it no longer bears any relation to what the position actually does.

      2. Or they may actually need two positions, can only get one, so they hire somebody ostensibly to do A and B, and then start tasking them with C, D, E.

      Either way, it’s crappy management.

      Reply
    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      In my case, the VP advertised for an office manager slash marketing assistant, with a timeline of 6 months to hiring a full-time office manager. Unfortunately the owner of the company said when I didn’t want to be the FT office manager, I would become the FT receptionist. I was caught in the cross-fire, and it didn’t end well for the VP either.

      Reply
    4. andy*

      In tech, it may simply be that non technical manager has no clue about what position actually is … but knows which words work on people. Advantage of non technical managers is that they can lie without knowing it. (Which is why they look good in front of their bosses and bad to work for).

      Other cause is that nobody who makes rational decisions would take the position knowingly. This is quite often. These are positions where you don’t learn new things, are micromanaged and havw no autonomy, add nothing for cv (neither interesting technical or non technical experience) or plainly put you at disadvantage. Plus you typically inherit massive mess combined with toxic politics.

      Third, company wants to see itself as great place with great interesting jobs – and refuses to accept reality of projects they are working on.

      Reply
    5. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      What I’ve seen so far is
      a) Intentional. Hiring manager doesn’t spill all the beans until the first day because it’s a position at a controversial place that some will object for valid reasons.
      b) Miscommunication. HR asks the Team Leader to write a description, forgets about it and publishes the ad for a job that has nothing to do with what is needed.
      c) Change. The offered position matches with the initial request, but in the meantime the business need changed and now the company has an unhappy employee who wants to quit.

      Reply
  16. Mill Miker*

    Definitely time to go. I’d bet good money that if you did manage to suddenly become top performer in your role (which is probably a moving target), you’d suddenly be “too valuable where you are” and then the excuses will just continue from there.

    I’ve made this mistake before. Get out while you experience in the past roles that you like is still “fresh”, it’ll be so much easier to get something you like.

    Reply
  17. MissDisplaced*

    This is ridiculous but it seems to happen fairly often, and seems to be more so the case in Tech.
    I think your company is stringing you along.

    In my case it’s been somewhat the reverse of the OP. I was hired on a new team to do X. I happily did X for over 2 years. But then a reorg happened and I was basically moved to a different team where I been told I can no longer work solely on X, must give up some aspects of X, and now have to also work on Y, which I know nothing about and don’t want to do. Oh, by the way, this was all “decided” on the spur of the moment when I was called in to a different manager’s office without any notice or prior discussion about what I actually wanted to do. But 6 months in, I’m still working on X but no longer actually part of X. It sucks!

    Reply
  18. Just Another Manic Millie*

    “WHY????? WHY do you bait & switch? Why not just advertise the position you actually have & hire someone who is willing/wants to do that work instead of pretty much guaranteeing you will have someone who is neither suited to nor wants to do the job?”

    I’ll tell you why, as the victim of several baits and switches.

    Sometimes it’s because they know that if they told the truth, no one would want the job. This was the case when I was hired to be an admin/relief receptionist, only to be told on the first day that the receptionist had just quit, and I would have to fill in as the receptionist (as well as be an admin) until they hired one. But they never hired a receptionist. That was the plan all along – that they would hire one person to be both an admin and the receptionist. The relief receptionist is supposed to cover for the receptionist when the receptionist goes to the ladies room or out to lunch. Do you know how hard it is for a relief receptionist to cover for the receptionist when both of them are the same person? Do you know how hard it is to go to the ladies room or out to lunch when it isn’t anyone’s job to cover for you, and you have to rely on someone doing you a favor?

    Sometimes it’s because they don’t like the applicants they get when they publish a genuine advertisement, so they advertise for something else. That’s what happened when I answered an ad for an admin with a B.A. who could type at least 80 wpm, only to be told on my first day that the receptionist was out, and I would have to fill in for her. And then to be told a couple of days later that I was doing such a good job that I would be the permanent receptionist, and that when the receptionist returned from her vacation, she would be given another job. And then I found out a few days later that there wasn’t any receptionist on vacation. The plan all along was for me to be the receptionist. They didn’t care for the applicants who applied to be a receptionist, but they liked the applicants who had a B.A.

    Sometimes it’s because they don’t want to pay a big enough salary for the position. When I applied to be a sales assistant at a stock brokerage firm, I was told by the employment agency guy, the branch manager, the office manager, the stockbroker, and the stockbroker’s senior sales assistant that experience working at a stock brokerage firm was not necessary. The senior sales assistant even told me that he would be responsible for training me. Then I was hired, and then I found out that I was not being given any training. I eventually found out that they had really wanted someone with experience working at a stock brokerage firm, but everyone they had interviewed had said that they weren’t offering enough money. So they decided to say that experience wasn’t necessary and that they would provide training. Except that they didn’t provide training.

    Reply
    1. RC Rascal*

      Sometimes it’s indicative of lack of alignment & lack of communication on the hiring team.

      For example, we made a bad hire of a Product Manager. Engineering needed the hire to be able to climb a ladder carrying 25 lbs and walk great distances at customer sites. The Marketing Director wanted someone she could offload a bunch of chart and graph making in. She hired someone who was grossly overweight.

      He was great at charts & graphs. He couldn’t climb ladders, walk distances, or carry weights. It was a mess.

      Reply
      1. Clementine*

        This sounds like two distinct jobs, maybe? A lot of people, not just some overweight people, will have trouble carrying 25 pounds up ladders and walking long distances at client sites.

        Reply
  19. Bob Anon*

    Reading this and the comments makes me suddenly feel less crazy because I am in such a similar situation! In my case, I started raising concerns within 2 months of starting and escalated the concern to the head of my company. It did not help because they honestly didn’t have work to do for my specialty (data analysis) but they were in desperate need of an executive assistant. They are annoyed that I am not good at organizing schedules, taking detailed notes, and providing admin support. Their excuse for not giving me real work to do was that I was not doing well with the unrelated tasks they were giving me and that I would have to prove myself by doing an excellent job in my current role. Its a total catch 22! I have been applying elsewhere since January, I recommend you do the same.

    Reply
    1. MissDisplaced*

      Those are two COMPLETELY different jobs!

      I’m in marketing and I would also suck at being any kind of executive assistant or proving admin or office support that wasn’t writing or graphics related. I know nothing about accounts or how to keep the books balanced. Hell, I once tried to get a restaurant reservation for a large group and it took me forever (and I booked something way too expensive). I also can’t transfer calls worth a shit! Lol!

      If they’re expecting you to excel as an admin assistant, you need to get out. It will only make you miserable.

      Reply
  20. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP —
    While you may want to have one more conversation with your manager, you might as well just start job hunting. Alison has lots of good stuff in the archives about job searching, and two years is a reasonable time to stay before moving on, especially in tech.

    Reply
  21. andy*

    This happens often in IT. Management promises interesting job to attract people and then have then doing something completely different. And they keep promising and manipulating until you leave. At which point they act all surprised and hurt over you doing such a shocking thing.

    If anybody hints at stream of lies and manipulations, he is totally rude programmer saying something inappropriate. It is total lack of social skills to have boundaries and wanting to get what was promised.

    Run. This wont get better at this workplace. There are better workplaces.

    Reply
  22. Retail not Retail*

    I’m worried my coworker is in this position but it’s only been 5 months and she’s retired from her Career so if this isn’t quite right, it’s not resume killing.

    We were told she would not be doing the heavy labor we do, she’d be doing the… llama nail polishing while we wrangled and shaved them. She’d have as her domain an offsite indoor space. She was told she was hired for little details and creative planning but also she’s like “i’m not too good to get dirty!”

    Reply
  23. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I’ve heard too many stories over the years of this happening to people to trust it’ll ever change, so I am in the firm camp of “sure talk to them again…while you’re also job searching on the side, these people rarely see the light.”

    It’s often not malicious that this happens. People are bad at judging what certain jobs actually “do” or what’s actually needed at any given time, if they’re in a period of either growth or changing directions. But these people also just don’t care enough in the end, they’re not invested in your happiness or even getting the biggest bang for their buck for what they’re paying you for. It’s just that they want someone to do that role, you can do it [even if not the best], so therefore, there they plug you in and go off on their merry way. Then they act like “oh well you’re not impressive, so why would I do anything to retain you…including putting you in a position like the one I originally hired you to do…” Sigh.

    So yeah, please start at least passively job searching.

    Reply
  24. Not So NewReader*

    ‘Then they act like “oh well you’re not impressive, so why would I do anything to retain you…including putting you in a position like the one I originally hired you to do…” Sigh”

    And as the years go by they wonder where they lost their soul. This how it starts.

    Ethics. It’s a thing.

    Reply
  25. Junior Assistant Peon*

    This letter could have been about me. I’m two years into a job that turned out to be a bait and switch. I think it was a case of my boss not having a clear idea of what he wanted, and very poor coordination between managers, rather than an intentional change in the job description. My job is at the interface between two departments, and both my boss and the other department head are really territorial and don’t work as a team.

    I’ve finally figured out that I’m never going to start doing the job I interviewed for if I just keep waiting patiently, so I went to a job interview earlier this week.

    Reply
  26. Hubert Cumberdale*

    My situation is slightly different. I was hired for a specific job, then did that job for about 2 years. The first project didn’t go well, and I admit I made some mistakes, but the second project went extremely well, and much of that was because of my work and what I learned from the first one. In a discussion with my boss and his boss, it was decided that I would be involved in all similar project, and eventually become the senior engineer in that field. Since then… nothing. For the past 6 years I had to watch other people do my work, while I have to be satisfied with the scraps. I have talked to my managers about it, but all I get are promises. “Next project, I swear.”

    I have been looking for other work, but I just don’t have enough recent experience, so I’m stuck.

    Reply
  27. Bait and switch job*

    OP I’m sorry this is happening to you. I hope you take Alison’s advice and start looking for something more inline with your skills.

    I’m in the same situation, although I have only been here a few months. I was hired to analyze the llama performance and I’m given clerical work. After having several conversations with my boss, nothing changes. I’m looking for something else.

    Reply
  28. Mr. Tyzik*

    OP, this sucks and is unlikely to change. I think you have a great foundation for having a conversation with your manager.

    I had a similar situation in which I was employed as a Scrum Master, then asked to act as a Project Manager. It was miserable. I love being a SM; I hate being a PM, although I have the skills. I kept asking when I could scrum, and was told not until I could “show passion” over my infrastructure, rack stack cable, projects.

    It didn’t get better. I got laid off eventually – too many PMs. I never did get to SM on that team. I was down because of it. I’m in a better spot now that I found a job – yet don’t be like me and be forced out. Be proactive and start looking now, and control your own exit.

    Reply
  29. Jessica S.*

    Oh, I have been in your shoes, OP. But not out of the gate. I was at a job for a number of years as a Technical Writer. Loved it. Writing is my passion. To make several long stories short, the company expanded quickly, my role expanded, and I turned into a Technical Writer/Product Specialist for a new software package. I was doing customer training, giving presentations, and even went to conferences and trade shows, on top of writing documentation. All fine, since the position came with a nice salary boost, but the time came where I could not document the entire product suite as efficiently as I could with all these new responsibilities. As the software package became less new but needed infinite amounts of support (and customer support turnover was very high), my role turned into a Customer Support Specialist and documentation went on the backburner entirely. At over 10 years with the company. I was not happy. We did hire someone to “replace” me and do my technical writing duties, but she didn’t last. Clients ultimately left us in droves for cheaper products and solutions that competed with ours. I lasted about a year in “customer support” before the company suffered a round of layoffs and I was let go. I have a new job as a Senior Technical Writer now, and am much happier :)

    Reply

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