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Wrongful hiring is the case where actual job turns out to be very different than what you have applied to.

I have recently started my second job, leaving my first job after 7 months due to wrongful hiring. For my first job, I have applied for a DevOps position but I ended up doing front end web development back there. I had no experience nor desire in doing front end development yet I was doing it. I was never given any chance to demonstrate my DevOps knowledge, and yet my senior and manager was very sure that it was too early for me to switch to operations. I was also sitting idle until given a task. I was not allowed to grab one from the backlog nor work on or study something else. Mind that neither of them had any experience with DevOps before.

Fast forward, I applied to a DevOps position at a global company trusting the brand name. I got through a very technical interview where I was asked questions about vendor specific products used in DevOps and was hired immediately.

I must say I felt proud that even though I jumped the ship too early, I was able to get hold of a better position.

Now after two months into new job it is clear that my day to day duty has nothing to do with DevOps. I am hired for support work. Basically I am a customer relationship officer with knowledge of Docker.

My first company was a well known start-up at my country, and my current company is a well known global company. During my first job interview I was asked whether I am willing to do some development time to time and I said yes to it thinking that since I am hired for the back end team, I'll work in developing API's and what not in addition to my DevOps duties. I was not expecting front end development given that we already had 3 people doing those. So, I did asked questions about my current position and made it clear why I am leaving my job when interviewing again. So hiring manager was well aware of my standpoint, yet he did not openly informed me that the position will be a support role rather than any dev or ops.

My question is, if I cannot trust the brand name what/who can I trust to? How many job changes does it take to land the actual position doing the actual thing? How am I, as a new graduate/early career developer navigate through this "actual job turning out to be something very different" without it's being too late at weird positions ?

10 Answers 10

24

My question is, if I cannot trust the brand name what/who can I trust to?

By "brand name", I'm assuming you're referring to the title of the position you applied for.

You should never trust just a title to mean what you expect, as you've learned. Many job titles are filtered through HR or other people who are not directly involved in the actual work that will be performed. Other times, titles are chosen to attract specific talent that may have desirable skills chosen to supplement roles more core to the position (e.g. "we want a support engineer, but we want one specifically who knows Docker").

You need to ask very specific questions, not only about the tools you expect to be using, but how they'll be used. Things like "will I be creating new containers tailored for each project, or do you have a template already defined that I will be deploying?", or "could you describe what your DevOps tool stack currently looks like, and how my role will interact with those tools? Do you anticipate changes to that stack that would involve my role?"

How many job changes does it take to land the actual position doing the actual thing?

Honestly? Possibly a couple. It really depends on what you're looking to do, how hot that role is in your market, and how many other people are competing with you for that role. If you're lucky, and talented, and interview well, you may get right into what you want to do. If not, I don't think its unusual to work your way towards a better fit through 2 or 3 positions that aren't really what you want to do.

I was asked whether I am willing to do some development time to time and I said yes to it thinking that since I am hired for the back end team, I'll work in developing API's and what not in addition to my DevOps duties. I was not expecting front end development given that we already had 3 people doing those.

If you're asked if you're willing to do some development from time to time, at the very least you should ask what languages and frameworks you'll be using.

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    I think OP meant the global companies brand name, could be wrong but otherwise +1 – Twyxz Sep 21 '18 at 13:53
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    @Twyxz That was my second guess. If that's what the OP meant, though, then I'd say the bigger the brand name, the less you trust them. – Beofett Sep 21 '18 at 13:58
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    Never forget, the company is interviewing you but you are also interviewing the company. Ask specific questions, see if you can join the team(s) for a day and get an overview of the actual workload, and (atleast in the european country where I live) it's pretty common to have a trial-time as a new employee where you can quit/get sacked without reason. – Michael Pittino Sep 22 '18 at 13:46
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    Yeah I agree with @Twyxz he is probably meaning the company name and reputation they have. – mathreadler Sep 22 '18 at 21:27
  • Additionally one of the most important questions to ask a prospective employer's technical interviewer is, "What does a day in the life look like for this position in my first week, first month, sixth month and year?". If you're looking in to devops and they say "first week will be doing front end development, getting to know the product, but by the end of the month you should be writing containers for docker" then you'll have a good idea of the expectations. – C Bauer Sep 24 '18 at 15:00
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Ask open questions!

Often the employer has little clue about the meat and veg of a vacancy and their job is not to make you happy, the job is to sell a position. They are a car salesman and to these guys nothing is impossible, the car can do anything you like and that crack in the windshield is "just cosmetic, will buff right out".

So don't give them a way to bullshit their way out of a question. Don't ask "hey I'll be doing devops right?" but go for something like "so describe the things I'll be doing on an average day", see if you can get your potential direct supervisor to answer some questions, ask which tools you will be using most.

So hopefully you will be able to spot who are the bullshitters and who the people who actually know what they are talking about. It won't catch the outright lies but it'll get you halfway there.

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    This is very good advice. It can also be good advice from the opposite side. In the final interview at my current position the owner asked me to explain what I think I would be doing at the new job, to make sure we were on the same page. – pipe Sep 21 '18 at 14:49
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    "the job is to sell a position" -- isn't their job to fill the position with the most qualified applicant available? I suppose a poor applicant may be better than leaving the position empty, but unless it's an undesirable job why would the intentionally try to sell it to someone who's a bad fit? – Barmar Sep 21 '18 at 17:45
  • @Barmar Someone who's qualified and actually wants the job. But that's very true - high employee turnover is generally considered a bad thing (and it's expensive to train all those people), unlike for car salesmen, who often couldn't really care less what you do after you've made the purchase. – Dukeling Sep 21 '18 at 19:28
  • It's nice if the person actually wants and enjoys the job, since people who enjoy their work are usually more productive, but it's not generally considered the employer's problem. There's only so many criteria you can hope to satisfy. – Barmar Sep 21 '18 at 19:42
  • @Barmar Employees who don't enjoy the job may end up leaving very soon (especially if you deceive them to get them to accept) and may do the minimal amount of work. In my experience, interviewers often look for candidates who are passionate about the job (maybe sometimes to their own detriment, but it's still common). – Dukeling Sep 21 '18 at 19:51
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What can I trust?

Nothing is the short answer.

People will always make the job look more enticing than it actually is. That's part of recruitment in order to get good overqualified staff to do potentially an easier job. (on purpose or not it happens)

Since you are very early into your actual working career you need to develop experience in the fields that you may not want to in order to develop into the career you want.

You should also ask more questions to the interviewer when you are being interviewed. Interviews are a two way street for you to find out about the job and company whilst the employer can find about you. Make sure you get all the information you need during this time (even then you may be lied to or the role may be disguised).

If it still happens you either confront your mentor/manager mentioning you weren't given the role you expected although you asked in the interview and was told to your face otherwise. Or you can leave, and carry on looking. That's just the life of looking for a job specific job.

  • At my old job not only I was doing something totally different but also I was sitting idle rest of the time and was not allowed to work or study on something else. So, waiting there was not a good option. I think I am failing at assessing the job during interviews. What kind of questions should I be asking? – oftencoffee Sep 21 '18 at 8:00
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    Even where it's not deliberate, it can still happen. I've been in the position of being interviewed for a specific role working exclusively with framework A, getting the role, then finding out I'd be working with framework B (and then seeing multiple other devs go through the same thing) just because (mostly contract) devs working on framework B kept leaving during the hiring process and that project was the priority so they had to keep plugging the gap with their new hires, even if they weren't a perfect fit. – delinear Sep 21 '18 at 8:25
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    Then you confront them @oftencoffee Say I was told I'd being doing this and I'm not, I sit idle most the time and aren't allowed to self learn is there anything that can be done? – Twyxz Sep 21 '18 at 8:40
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    This is not necessarily true for every company, recruitment that brings in too many people that leave shortly after due to dissatisfaction should, and generally will, be reprimanded for that. – DonFusili Sep 21 '18 at 12:32
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    @oftencoffee Don't ask "yes or no" questions. They know that you want to hear "yeah", so they give you a "yeah". Ask open-ended questions. Have them describe what you would be doing before you indicate what you want to do. You are much more likely to get at least semi-accurate information that way. – Jim Clay Sep 21 '18 at 14:43
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Agree with the other posters about asking more questions... I'll add another thought: don't be afraid to push for what's right, and always try to have a backup plan.

Some years ago I was working as a contract programmer for a large telecom. It was OK, I had a good reputation there but the work wasn't very interesting.

I applied for a similar position at another company in the same city. They interviewed me in person three times for this position, which was developing embedded C code. They actually wanted me to come in for a fourth interview, but I refused (being a contractor, I was losing money taking time off for the interviews). I told the HR person (in a nice way) that they've already learned enough about me to make me an offer.

This was my first warning sign. However, they did make an offer, I accepted, turned in my two-weeks notice and showed up at the new job after that.

The morning of my first day, I was met by a manager whom I had never talked to before in any of the interviews. He showed me my office, and explained that he was in charge of the software developed by the company in Forth. He then handed me a Forth book and told me to start reading.

I was frankly horrified - Forth was an ancient language even back when this took place. This was definitely not the job I was hired for, and I had no desire to learn something that would have no future value on my resume. At no time in any interview was the word Forth even mentioned.

After sitting and stewing for an hour, I went and found the division head I originally interviewed with (who was also the Forth guy's boss). I politely explained the problem, and I ended by saying "Look, there was some kind of mix-up. I understand these things happen. If the job you offered me is already filled, I'll just go back to my previous employer. Is that what you want me to do, or can you put me to work in the position you hired me to do?"

I was very low-key, polite and matter-of-fact. I knew I could go back to my old employer because I had left on good terms and they flat-out told me they would re-hire me any time.

So the resolution was, there had actually been a mixup. They knew it but instead of fixing it they had hoped I would just go along. They had actually hired a Forth programmer and gave him my position because he started a few weeks before me. Of course this guy was thrilled to be doing C instead of Forth (who wouldn't be). After I spoke with the division head, they dragged this poor guy out of his office and put him under the Forth guy, and put me into the position I was hired for.

The manager of the Forth group was pissed at me. About a month later, the guy I switched places with walked off the job with no notice (no idea why), and after that the Forth guy was really pissed at me, but that's life.

So the moral of the story is: speak up immediately, and be prepared to walk. I have found in this and many other situations that companies will only push you as far as you let them. Yes sometimes we all need to do things outside of our job description. Always be willing to pitch in where needed, but know where to draw the line so you're not taken advantage of. Sometimes you have to help your employer do the right thing. Hope this helped.

  • I had exactly the same experience. This company wasn't near Manchester, UK was it? – Neil Sep 23 '18 at 16:53
  • No, it was in Austin, Texas! – RETXED Sep 24 '18 at 22:30
3

During the interviews, did you ask what your job would be like day to day? I always ask that question when I'm at a interview and thus far, they been truthful. I learned at age 16 to ask this question after being hired to my first job at Taco Bell. Of course this isn't a fair comparison but the fact is we both got lied to.

I was hired initially with the assumption I'd be on the line making/preparing orders. I even asked for the instructions on how to make all the various menu items. I even asked if I could work on the line and they even said, "Yes, you can." What I didn't realize is none of these questions I asked were actually about what I was being hired for. First day on the job I was told to wash dishes. After three days of this, I finally asked and they said maybe later. Finally after the 5th day, I got fed up and just started assembling items and the manager was upset and told me to go back to washing dishes. I quit the following day only lasting 1 week into my first job. After that I always ask the hiring manager to explain my day to day tasks and to walk me through it. Even after graduting college and getting my first programming gig, I asked that.

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During the interview, ask if there are other engineers doing the same or related work and if you can talk to them. Generally if there are others on the team, I'd be wary of an interview that didn't already have you talking to someone you would be working with but that does happen in large companies that have separate hiring departments.
Talking to someone else doing the same job can give you a much clearer idea of the actual tools, what they are doing etc. You can ask how much time they spend on different aspects so a "mostly DevOps, some front-end" job can be evaluated to see if that is really the case.

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I think you're asking the wrong question.

Stop worrying about job descriptions, and start creating the job you want where you are now.

I became a full-time DevOps Engineer by stepping into the role when someone else left abruptly. My manager asked me to help fill in during the transition because that was the only DevOps employee they had. Why was I tapped to help? Because I had consistently expressed an interest in learning about DevOps and was the only one who had shadowed the other guy a few times. After busting my rear for a few weeks to get things in order, I approached my manager and asked for the job.

I had also been delving into DevOps on the side for years to the point where I felt comfortable putting the experience on my resume. I just looked for opportunities to automate development tasks, like setting up continuous integration servers and automating deployments. Sometimes I just did the work and then later showed it to my coworkers, letting the results speak for themselves.

I've been hit with bait-and-switch job descriptions. A company specifically advertising a lead DevOps role eventually offered me a job as a general application developer. The job description had slowly changed during each of the five interviews, and I told them that was why I turned down the offer. But that's par for the course. Job descriptions and resumes are sales tools.

Find any opportunity to improve and initiate change on your own. What's the most tedious part of your front-end work? Can you write a script to make your life (and coworkers' lives) easier?

1

Trust, but verify

if I cannot trust the brand name what/who can I trust

I suggest you do less trusting, and more asking.

Interviews are a two-way street, as Twyxz said. You should be asking very pointed questions about them regarding issues that are important to you, just as the hiring company asks you pointed questions about issues that are important to them.

Written job description

Ask for an official job description in writing, with a list of duties to be performed.

Specifically ask for the criteria, in writing, by which you will be judged for performance reviews, raises, etc.

If all you see in writing is vague generalities, take caution.

Talk to counterpart

In a big company, there is likely someone in the same or similar post. Ask to speak with such a person.

If there are no direct counterparts, ask to speak with an ex-employee formerly in that post.

And ask to speak with the closest teammates & coworkers, two or three people with whom you’ll most often interact. Ask them to describe an average day in the life of the person in your job.

Know exactly who you are talking with

Be very clear on who is the person with whom you are speaking. When you first sit down, re-iterate what you understand to be their position and role in the hiring. If you don't know their role, ask. This makes a good first impression, as you a person who is taking seriously both the hiring process and the job.

Ignore anything a Human Resources (HR) person tells you about the details of a technical job. Instead, they are the ones to ask about the company in general, perks & benefits, company policies, performance review process, and any legal issues regarding your hiring.

When speaking with higher-ups, take anything they say about the job details with a grain of salt. They rarely know about the day-to-day reality of lower-level jobs. But listen carefully to what they say, as you can learn about the company culture and the specific business goals to which you will be contributing. If you read between the lines, you may get a glimpse into the realistic expectations of your duties. Ask for stories about people formerly in your position who did exceptionally well or poorly, not as gossip but as a way to gain insight into what they value and what duties were being performed in these stories.

You mentioned “hiring manager”. I do not know what you meant exactly. The most important part of the interviewing process is to speak with the person who will be your direct day-to-day manager/supervisor. Ideally, speak with this person first and last.

  • On the first talk, be very explicit about what you liked and disliked in your other jobs, explaining what your are looking for in a new job. Avoid complaining, focus on explaining. After sharing, if your expectations do not mesh with theirs, terminate the interviewing process, so as to not waste people’s time.
  • Having a second talk at the end gives you the opportunity to explore any issues or concerns that arose during your talks with other folks.

global company trusting the brand name

Being global or having a brand has nothing to do with getting clear expectations about a particular job.

In the end, jobs are sometimes not fully understood by the hiring company.

How many job changes does it take to land the actual position doing the actual thing?

Teams change. Practices change. Technology evolves. Business environment changes. Manager shake-ups or re-orgs occur. So your role and duties are quite likely to shift. This is especially so in the world of software development and IT operations.

As a result, turnover in these fields are quite common. I suggest you get comfortable with the idea of moving between jobs now and again, when a work environment no longer suits you.

Lastly, consider working for a small company or a startup if you want more responsibility, more varied duties, and a more dynamic environment with more opportunities to shine.

  • I choose to work at a small start up first as I mentioned in my post thinking that I will get more responsibility. However there my manager was an absolute control freak who did not allowed me to do anything without him getting involved. I was waiting for tasks to be assigned to me. I was not allowed to start working on tasks that are waiting in backlog. Also I was expected to work overtime or just stay late a bit for team morale, that I am leaving the job on time was not ok. So, when it comes to small companies accountability often goes out the window too fast, so I switched to an enterprise. – oftencoffee Sep 22 '18 at 7:46
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The most direct approach is to tell them.

I want to work as x, I had to leave my last two jobs because instead of doing x I was doing only y.

Companies for what ever reason try to make their jobs seem as exciting as possible. But they won't hire you if you tell them upfront that if you are not interested in what the job really is and will leave as soon as possible.

The problem here is that they may think you are too picky and will leave if someone asks you to do something a little outside of your job.

-3

An employer to trust more in their description of what they want upfront will be consulting. Specifically as an "engineer", say for Docker.

They will bill you out at a high rate for specific skills that the client demands.

If a company says, "Send me a Devops with these skills" - and you show up, you better have those skills. You will be traveling likely - could be upside or downside.

  • This is only somewhat true for the very first assignment. After that, they will send you to a different client, and there's no guarantee whatsoever that you will be doing the thing you were hired for. – Dmitry Grigoryev Sep 24 '18 at 12:45

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