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After interviewing for a job in a new technology that has great long term prospects, I joined the company despite relatively low pay. After joining the company, I was assigned to different technology doing tasks very different from the job I accepted and interviewed for.

Because of the large gap between what I was told I'd be doing, and what I'm actually doing, I'm unsatisfied and want to change. I would be open to doing the job I thought I was hired for, but if not I will search for a new job.

What is the best way to bring up the gap between the job I was hired for, and the job I'm actually doing to management? Who would be best to speak to about it (my current manager? the hiring manager?), and what is the best way to go about discussing it that is likely to result in my work assignments being more in line with the expectations set when I was hired?

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    Have you already raised this with HR or your manager? Because generally if nothing is flagged, then the assumption is that everything is alright. – Michael Lai May 22 '13 at 1:38
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    Since it's impossible for us to judge what the best option is for you and will likely result in this question being closed, I am going to try to refine it with an edit while keeping the heart of your question intact. After I'm done, feel free to edit back in anything important you think I removed, bearing in line the guidelines for the site. – jmac May 22 '13 at 1:42
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    As stated above, I edited heavily focusing on finding a way to get the job you were hired for and staying with the organization. For the impact of quitting a job after a short period, here is a question that may help – jmac May 22 '13 at 1:54
  • @GreenMatt Yes this happened to me before as well (many years ago now) and I had the same experience as you and after a couple of heated conversations, I ended up getting the job I really wanted somewhere else in very short time. But maybe it got worse then because I didn't handle it as well as I could have and the advice below should help better this time I think. – abc123 May 22 '13 at 22:08
  • Also re the impact of quitting a job after a short period, here is another question about leaving a job very early to accept another offer. – abc123 May 22 '13 at 22:15
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Particularly in technology work, the agreement between you and the company (unless otherwise specificed in writing) often covers the work in a general sense, but not specific technologies, due to the general problem that architectures and decisions about what the best technology suite may be can change quickly due to business reasons, so a company may not be willing to make a guarantee.

It sounds like the problem is the technology, so the first step is knowing what happened to the work you originally thought you'd be doing. Was the project cancelled? Did it reduce in the time after you interviewed so that it is now overstaffed/fully staffed? Asking "why" is a great place to start, because it doesn't imply anything other than a desire to understand what's going on.

From there, I'd advocate you pick a strategy based on the information you learn, personal style, the organization, and the ease with which you can find a new job:

  • If the work is gone - it's gone. If the work you were hired for isn't available, they won't agree to make work for you. At best, you can politely suggest to your boss that you really don't have any interest in being underpaid to work on the current technology, but chances are threatening to leave is only going to raise defensiveness.

  • If the work is around but you can't do it - start asking why with your direct management and escalate if you don't get useful answers. Why did they interview you for one thing, but assign you elsewhere? Do they understand that this was key for you in joining the company? Is there something you can do to change your current assigments? I'd suggest phrasing this as questions and not demands, and be willing to hear the answers. At this point, the assignment could be a simple misunderstanding, or a more serious issue that may take some time to unravel.

  • If you've already tried the gentle approach - If you tried the gentle - hey, how can I move over there and the answer was unsatisfactory, I'd recommend starting to make demands and job hunting simultaneously ... assuming your qualifications are such that a new job is relatively easy to get. This is the part with a balancing act - if the company really can't/won't give you the opportunity you want, then you're going to have to look. This is where the company's interests and yours diverge - they won't change a technology just because it helps your career - and they have the staffing needs they have... if you can't reconcile your interests, look for something new. But realize that as you become more pointed in demanding a different job, the risk is there that you won't be seen as a team player, and you can damage your rep with the company.

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The job contract is an agreement on what your responsibilities and tasks are, so if you view it as important (and the employer should as well) then you should make every effort to raise it with the relevant people. There is no way to tell whether they will honour the terms of contract until you start the work, and so if they break the terms then you should have every right to walk out (after giving them the opportunity to rectify the situation). Putting up with it just gives them the justification that there is nothing wrong, so you need to weigh it up in terms of what you have to gain and lose the longer you wait.

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    I do not disagree with what you are saying but I do not think this is going to be terribly helpful. Job contracts are usually more about the general items like rate of pay, title, benefits, and less about the work you will actually be doing. If a company needs a software developer to load a truck they can have them load a truck. The OP seems to be looking for a way to convince their company to have them do the type of work they believed they were being hired to do. – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 22 '13 at 13:29
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    Maybe it makes me snooty, but as a software developer I would not load a truck. However, in my recent offer letter it makes no mention of job duties, simply my title. Generally, titles are generic enough that it cannot necessarily determine what your duties are. It is likely, as you mention, that there is no contract that states job duties. – Dave Johnson May 22 '13 at 13:49
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    @Chad i don't load trucks, that's why i do software. I wouldn't walk out on the job... i just wouldn't load the truck. Also, why am i working in a company where people need things loaded into a truck? – bharal May 22 '13 at 14:32
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    Hey, I once worked at a job where they grabbed a few software devs (including myself) to move some server racks from one site to another (to include loading/unloading the truck). I've also sat at a front desk and played receptionist for a day (different job) because the boss wanted that station manned while the receptionist was on vacation. In either case, I didn't think it was a particularly good use of my time or skillset, but meh -- I was being paid (and ridiculously well considering the type of work I was doing on those two occasions). – James Adam May 22 '13 at 16:53
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    I've loaded trucks (Hey we moved the office completely 3 times). I even asked a US Senator and a member of the House of Representatives to help unload a truck once (they did and, to be fair, I didn't know who they were until after they unloaded the truck). I've also made copies and stood on a ladder holding a cable while the network guy fed it through to the a new office space we had just expanded to. Good employees do what needs to be done even when it isn't in their professional specialty. Anyone who thinks he is too good to load a truck is someone I would not want to work with. – HLGEM May 22 '13 at 17:05
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Lots of things can happen between the interview and starting a job, the original project could be cancelled, a higher priority project may have someone leave suddenly and need a replacement more urgently, they may still be planning to use the technology you are interested in but the project start got delayed by a couple of months and they put you in the other spot to avoid losing you, etc. They might even have put you on a legacy project to get you some understanding of the current problems in preparation for a future project to replace some of all of the old one.

These things happen after you have worked somewhere a while too, so don't get too attached to what you are going to be doing. We all occasionally get put on projects that we would prefer not to work on. The needs of the organization are paramount in assigning work. You can, of course, politic to get the assignments you want (which you should always do). But even then there are no gurantees. Sometimes things out of your control or even the organization's control happen.

The best tactic is to talk to your boss about where you want to be and how to get there. Ask what happened to the project you thought you were being hired for. Your options are different depending on what caused you to be assigned in a place other than that which was discussed.

And in the meantime do a good job at whatever they have asked you to do. You have more leverage when they want to keep you than when they don't care. No one is going to care about the wishes of a whiny prima donna who thinks he is too good to do the job we gave him to do and who blows off the work. And there is something to be learned from any job and any task. And start learning the business of the organization (you can't have too much domain knowledge and who knows this chance to learn the legacy product might turn into leading the redesign in a year or so) and the political structure. To get the assignments you want now, you will have to play the political game, so use this time to scope out the right people to know and to talk to about future assignments. Make people want to fight to have you on their team.

The alternative is to look for another job. This will work once or twice in your career, but use it sparingly, spending only a short period at every job will get you labeled as unreliable, unrealistic, or difficult to work with.

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    +1 for And in the meantime do a good job at whatever they have asked you to do. Even if you find another job, you want good reference from the old one, right? :-) – Peter M. - stands for Monica May 13 '14 at 0:08
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Based on your reluctance to ask someone when this first occured or the fact they didn't inform you, your company may discourage employees from speaking up. It may have been an oversight or they just think all programming tasks are the same.

Go to your immediate supervisor and ask him/her if you will ever be able to do the other things. If they seem concerned, let him know your preference. There may be a valid explanation.

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This happened to me when I started at my current company. The difference, it seems, is that they were straightforward about it. On my first day, they very bluntly told me that I would be working on a different project than the one I had interviewed for. I didn't care, because I still wasn't working at my previous job, but I was given an opportunity to complain about it.

In your situation, start with HR. They may have some knowledge of the situation, or they may not. What they definitely will know about is how to facilitate your question being asked to the right person. It's kind of what they're there for (among other things).

If you are uncomfortable starting with HR for whatever reason, then go to your direct supervisor, and work up the chain. Remember not to be confrontational, try to be conversational about it. If you are too aggressive, they may simply let you go before you have a chance to find a new job if that is the path you decide is best.

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Typically many companies have HR policies on the time limit for changing the positions within the same company. For example, at my company, you cannot change between organizations within one year, i.e., you should be in your current position at least for one year. I think that you have two options here:

  1. If there is such a HR policy at your company on the time limit for changing positions within the company, then you can wait until completion of the time limit and then switch to your interesting position.

  2. If you cannot enjoy the responsibilities of your current position and it is very difficult for you to stay for 1 year (or the time limit) then I would like to suggest to have a backup plan (a competent offer from another company) before raising this issue to higher levels. Once you have an offer in your hand, make an appointment first with your current manager, and request him politely for moving to your interesting position. Of course, before this, first you should get acceptance from the manager of your interesting position. If your manager do not agree for this, then you might talk with HR. May be you can think about moving to another company.

All the best.

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