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I am an experienced SharePoint Consultant/Contractor with a very solid technical background and excellent refrences. In Decemeber last year, I accepted a 6 month contract of "SharePoint Developer" in one of the country's biggest organizations.

In my job interview, in addition to SharePoint technical questions, I was asked about my Excel macro development skills. I clearly and honestly stated that I am not an Excel programmer and just use Excel as and when basis.

Since I have started my contract, I am continuously being assigned to develop different types of Excel worksheets, macros, formulas, etc. Everybody talks in Excel and they just use SharePoint as a repository. No one has ever developed a solution in Excel and even nobody has ever installed Visual Studio on their machine.

My question is what should I do?

  1. Should I resign (which is quite difficult for me because of financial reasons for the time being)?
  2. Just wait and keep developing useless Excel Macros? In this case what will I write in my resume about this contract?
  3. Talk to manager and tell him to assign me only SharePoint related work?

People don't know anything about SharePoint, but they use SharePoint. Therfore they hired me as a "SharePoint Developer" to create Excel sheets for them :)

By the way, everybody is very happy with me because I have designed some some very good macros for them. However this is not what I wanted to do.

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FWIW, as much as we developers may cringe, some of the most urgent gritty problems in "the enterprise" are solved by people writing excel macros. I find it interesting that you call them "useless" but then admit that people do appreciate them and need them. Jobs are rarely described accurately in the description. It won't last forever and at least you're providing value and solving problems (put that in a resume bullet point under "versatility"). Sharepoint isn't that much more interesting than excel anyway :-) –  Angelo Feb 20 '13 at 0:30
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... you didn't ask "what would the job responsibilities entail" at least once while interviewing? Wtf. –  enderland Feb 20 '13 at 0:50
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The content of this question is too localized. Let's say, I applied for a pilot job, I am asked to repair airplanes after I was hired. What's the difference between my question and this question? Workplace should be for all kinds of jobs, not just for software developers –  scaaahu Feb 20 '13 at 7:11
    
@scaaahu, I think that this is a good question if you think of it generally as a situation where "I was hired to do X, but now I am doing Y". This is a widespread problem. –  Angelo Feb 20 '13 at 13:17
    
@Angelo "I was hired to do X, but now I am doing Y". is exactly what I am talking about. The OP should edit the question as such to make it general so that everybody who has the similar problems would know what to do. –  scaaahu Feb 21 '13 at 3:27
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closed as off topic by jcmeloni, scaaahu, gnat, RhysW, Jim Feb 20 '13 at 15:41

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3 Answers

You're already between 2 and 3 months, presumably, into a 6 month contract so quitting early is almost certainly a bad idea. The world tends to be rather small and the chances that you'll burn a bridge that you'd like to use in a few years is rather high. Plus, it sounds like quitting would be problematic for you financially which makes it even less attractive.

If you are doing short-term contract work, the problem tends to be how to compress, say, 10 6-month contracts into a paragraph to show what you did for the past 5 years. You can talk about the business problems you solved without needing to be specific about which technologies were used on which contracts. Realistically, though, it seems likely that a few months of heavy-duty Excel macro development would be a good skill for a Sharepoint developer to have given how most people use Sharepoint.

The only reason I would consider talking with your manager is if the company has told you that it intends to renew your contract at the end of the 6-month period. If that's the case, it may be helpful to meet with your manager and explain that you're perfectly happy to fulfill the contract doing Excel macro development but that you aren't going to be interested in renewing unless there is more Sharepoint work to do. And you may want to suggest to your manager that they may want to change the job description if and when they look for a new developer because they are likely to be better served by someone that has more Excel macro experience that can pick up Sharepoint than the reverse.

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+1 for suggesting that you help them write a more accurate job description. It seems clear that whoever wrote the description doesn't have the technical background to be doing so on their own. Approach it in a positive, constructive manner and they'll probably appreciate it. –  Joe Baker Feb 20 '13 at 4:29
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First, look into your contract to see what kinds of terms would you have if you did quit or if you tried option 3 only to be told that you aren't a team player and so your services are no longer required here. This is a starting point as it could determine what other choices you have.

Second, how horrible is it writing Excel Macros for another few months? You could claim that you improved productivity by automating report generation among other things. The key here is to get what was the business value of the work you did. If it is helping the business be much more productive and efficient then that is the benefit you want to tell for future employers.

I'd be careful about trying option 3 as I could see that backfiring as you may well end up committing Excel spreadsheets in SharePoint so that you do use it a little bit.

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In addition to what has been said in other answers, I would like to add the following:

  1. Don't resign!
  2. If they are willing to pay you to develop the Excel Macros, they are by definition not useless. I would explain on your resume how you adapted to successfully solve the the business's problem.
  3. Do not tell your manager what kind of work you should be assigned to, this is literally part of their job. You need to sell the advantages of SharePoint development over Excel Macro development. You need to convince everyone that there are benefits to using SharePoint as more than just a repository.

Any position is created because the business needs to solve a problem that it cannot currently solve or at least solve quickly enough. This means that a job posting for new technology will involve fixing mission critical old technology. Every position is going to have legacy code, products and processes. The goal is to innovate within the existing structure to provide a greater Return on Investment(ROI).

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I don't think one has to frame it as "putting the business's success and needs ahead of your own". No one actually does that, and if they did they would be a doormat. It is sufficient to frame this experience as being an adaptable problem-solver rather than a "sharepoint-only developer". –  Angelo Feb 20 '13 at 13:07
    
@Angelo you make an excellent point. I re-worded my answer accordingly. –  Ryan Gates Feb 21 '13 at 0:55
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