The term “catfishing” is commonly used to describe someone who deceptively pretends to be someone online that they are not. But, similar trickery can also happen in the workplace. For example, you accept a job only to discover that the work isn’t at all what you thought it would be. Because companies make open positions sound as appealing as possible when hiring, it's not uncommon to feel like you’ve been catfished when your day-to-day tasks don’t match the picture presented during the interview process. Before you panic or quit, take these four steps to get your position back on track.
Ask before you accept
If you want to know what your position will entail, just ask.
Make sure you get the low down on factors that could impact your work-life balance, like how much travel is expected, and whether or not the company offers remote work, flexible hours, or overtime. Press for information about typical tasks and career advancement for your position.
It’s important to speak with the person you’ll report to. Don’t assume that leadership is on the same page with what the job responsibilities will be. For example, if a CEO decides to hire a social media strategist but doesn’t get buy-in from the head of marketing, that new hire will probably get redirected into whatever tasks the marketing department needs to be completed, in contradiction of the duties outlined in the job description or the interview.
When you ask the direct manager their vision for the role, you’ll quickly learn if they have a plan. That information can help you decide if you want to accept the offer. Be sure to take notes to document their responses. If you’re communicating with them via email, save and tag the thread in your mailbox for future reference.
Allow for an adjustment period
If you’ve already started, don’t write off a new job just because the first week doesn’t live up to your expectations. Most positions will have an adjustment period. Learn the practical side of how the company operates and how your skills can improve the workflow. Your manager and team need time to get to know you and your style so you can collaborate effectively.
Before you dive in, have an honest conversation with your boss about the onboarding process and how long it should take. For example, if they expect you to be up to speed within two months but your responsibilities still aren’t clearly defined or are shifting six months later, it may be time to revisit your role.
If you’re in a new position within the company, you may need to manage up. Ask your manager about major projects they would like to see you start or complete in the first two, four, or six months. If those projects don’t align with the position you were hired for, pitch alternative ideas that reflect the original focus of the role.
Schedule a data-driven follow-up
Work may still not be what you expected. Maybe you were hired as an inside account manager, but instead, you’re making cold calls all day. If so, it’s time to meet with your manager to assess whether the company’s needs have changed. Here’s how:
- First, create an accounting of your work. What percentage of your time does each task take? Are the work-life balance factors in line with what the manager presented before you started? If not, can you quantify the difference? (For example: Were you told that the position would require 10% travel, but the reality is closer to 25% travel?)
- Next, present that data to your manager. Let the facts do the heavy lifting for you. Explain how the manager presented the role and show how your actual work differs. Find out if your manager still needs you to perform the tasks originally outlined or if the company’s needs have evolved.
- Finally, follow up. This is your opportunity to adjust your expectations or get your role back on track.
Do some soul-searching
Based on your manager’s follow-up feedback, you might have a hard decision of staying in a job that’s significantly different from what you were offered or leaving.
Quitting seems like a logical solution, given the hot job market, but your current company may be willing to make changes to keep you. Meet with your manager one more time to gauge their interest in keeping you on their team. If your ideas are all false starts, it may be time to start looking.
No one wants to hop right back into the job market, but sometimes it’s in your best interest to cut your losses when a company has catfished you. If you’re only four or six weeks into a new job, many of your original leads may still be hiring.
The right job for you is out there. With targeted research and smart interview questions, you can find a position you’ll love.