your next move

‘My New Job Is Nothing Like I Expected’

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Dear Kimberly,

I’ve been working in my current position for eight months, and I’m unhappy. My expectations for this position were very high. But the scope of my job responsibilities is really different than I expected it to be, and doesn’t align with my previous work experience.

My dilemma now is that I’m on the job hunt again, looking for a position that makes better use of the skills that I’ve acquired both at my current job as well as my last one. In addition, I’m looking to relocate to be with my boyfriend, so I’m searching for an out-of-state position. How do I either (A) drastically change the conditions of my current job, or (B) find a new job in a new state and avoid getting sold a false bill of goods again?

Thanks for taking my question, and for your help.

Dear K,

I’m sorry to hear that you’re unhappy at your new job. Even when you do as much research as possible, sometimes you can still get surprised and discover that how the job was sold to you is very different from the day-to-day experience of working in it. I’ve personally had this experience myself, and within my first three months there, I sat down with my boss and had a candid conversation about how the role was positioned versus what I was actually doing (and expected to do).

For me, the root of the problem was a lack of resources. I was promised that I’d be able to hire a new person for my team when I started, but then I kept getting the runaround from my manager. I had the job description ready to post, but I was told to wait, and wait some more. Meanwhile, the work was beginning to pile up. At the same time, the broader team didn’t quite understand my role because it was brand-new to the organization. They had their own expectations for how I would be helping their teams. I kept being asked to do special projects or join meetings that were irrelevant to what I was tasked with building in my inaugural role. I was super nervous to pull my manager aside, but I knew I had to do something. It would be a waste of my time to just keep surfing LinkedIn for a new job and wishing I could go back to my old team.

For starters, if you haven’t had a conversation with your boss about your experience at the company, do so. For all you know, they could be thinking that things are going great and everyone’s happy. You can’t fix the problem if you don’t name it, and they might be willing to make changes. This isn’t a chance to play the blame game, but rather a chance to break down your expectations of the role versus the reality of it. The goal is to come up with a solution. I recommend asking yourself a few key questions before walking into that meeting:

Do you need more resources? If so, what are they? X number of new hires? A budget increase? A raise?

Do you want to work on different projects? If so, what kind? Was there a recent project that you wanted to work on but weren’t able to, or weren’t given the opportunity to?

Do you want a different schedule? To move to a new state and be allowed to work remotely in your current job?

Is there an existing role at your company that you’d like to move into that is more similar to your last one? If not, what would it be?

Figure out what you want (and what you won’t compromise on) beforehand. Schedule dedicated time to speak with your manager — don’t bring this up at the end of a weekly 1:1 check in. Start by saying that you’d like to chat about your experience so far, and to review how the work was first described to you versus what you’ve been doing. Keep in mind the questions you asked yourself above, and ask if you and your employer would be able to partner together and come up with a solution that aligns with both your interests and the organization’s needs.

Now, if you’ve done due diligence and believe things can’t be fixed in your current role, the search for a new job begins in earnest. You have options: Find a job in the city you’re planning on moving to, or a remote one where location doesn’t matter. If you do the first, note your moving date on your résumé and cover letter. Many professionals in your situation will remove their current address altogether and simply put “relocating to City, State in Month Year.

Next up, making sure you know what you’re really getting with your next job. In my book, I walk readers through a basic skills assessment to uncover all of those they’ve gained from past jobs. Remember, it’s a good thing to have varied experiences. It only adds to your “career tool kit” and opens up more opportunities in the future. On a piece of paper, write down all of the job titles you’ve held on the left side, and on the right side all of the skills you’ve acquired in them. Then cross out any of the skills that you never want to have to use again, and circle the ones that you’d most like to use. When reviewing job listings, target the skills that you’ve circled. And as you’re interviewing, ask questions about the amount of time you’d be spending on both the skills you’ve circled and crossed out.

And last but not least, when looking to relocate, networking can be key. Research local professional organizations that you can get involved with. Subscribe to their newsletters and attend virtual gatherings. If your boyfriend is already in the city you’ll be moving to, coordinate a visit and attend an in-person event next time you’re in town.

Remember, embarking upon a job search is always a multifaceted process. It takes the average person six months to find a new job, but it doesn’t sound like you want to wait that long, so, do all of the things! Speak to your current manager, update your résumé and cover letter with the note on relocating, and, if you can, start building relationships in your new city.

Career and leadership-development expert Kimberly Brown helps readers make sure their next move is the best move. Listen to the Your Next Move podcast here and keep up with Kimberly on her website.

‘My New Job Is Nothing Like I Expected’