7

Related to this previous question - in essence: I was taken on for a senior-level strategic type role but then after a few (about 3/4) months of carrying out that role (not due to performance) I was taken into a project team (with no known end date but will be at least a year in the future) where I am working in the role of a junior C# coder which is a step-back of at least 10 years in my career. (I am getting on for 20 years of experience!)

I've asked about alternate assignments etc and been told it can't happen due to the importance of this project to the company. They know that they are now paying me more (as the intended original role) than they would be paying a junior coder and they accept that. (the differential in salary is "nothing" compared to the amount of revenue that the company can potentially gain from this project)

Understandably I'm now looking for alternative roles... My question is how could I present/word this "interlude" to a potential new employer when asked why I'm looking again so soon (about 6 months)?

I'm not a "job hopper". I'd happily stay a few years at least in a job that suits me and I suit the company -- but at this company which claims to value self-development and such - I'm just stagnating now. I wouldn't have taken this job (I left my old company voluntarily, wasn't laid off etc) if I'd known the role would be "junior web developer" rather than "Architect".

ETA: the info is in the linked question, and the Q related to that, but adding it here for clarity: All my time is accounted for with "billable hours" etc. as the assumption is the "junior coders" are directly working on stuff for clients (the software I work on isn't the "product" for the clients, but it's a business-to-business model and our software enables various stuff they do using our website) (so I can't just study on my own initiative in work hours) although I am salaried as such. I could work on personal projects outside work hours, and have done for many years actually, but I'm suffering a strange kind of "reverse burnout" where I actually want to be doing more... and can't seem to get motivated with that. I feel like I'm about ready to give up actually which I haven't felt in all these years!

I suspect that it's partly due to me being "across" a lot of projects in the company, and so on the balance sheets as an "indirect cost" rather than if they recruited someone to do this work directly which would then be a "direct cost" to the project and as such it's political. I don't think I can overcome politics like that, especially since I'm relatively new.

18

My question is how could I present/word this "interlude" to a potential new employer when asked why I'm looking again so soon (about 6 months)?

Ummm... explain it exactly as you've explained it here. Any potential employer that would fault you for wanting to work in a position commensurate with your education and skills is probably not somewhere you want to work anyway.

  • Do you think "bailing out early" rather than "stick with it and see how it goes" would be perceived negatively? – user100220 Apr 24 at 20:44
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    If your current employer were offering a definite date in the near future on which the you would return to the role for which you were hired, I could see some sense in "sticking it out". Without that, it is time to jump, before the skills you want to use get rusty. – Patricia Shanahan Apr 24 at 21:34
  • @user100220 I don't think anyone would except you to 'stick with it' if you are assigned different work from what was agreed when you were hired and for which you are getting 0 feedback or possible solutions. I would even say that any company that does take offense to you leaving for this reason is a company that might put you in the same situation. – Blub Apr 25 at 7:53
  • I like this answer. I'm a big fan of keeping it honest. People always think they're playing it smart by hiding everything or abstracting the truth, they're not. It works with companies that have toxic cultures, but well meaning organizations WILL hold it against you, people will perceive any deviation from the truth as inherently bad.When will people get that business is about relationships and relationships are about honesty and good intent? – ShinEmperor Apr 26 at 13:30
4

Explain it exactly how you have there.

I wouldn't stick it out with a definitive date either because businesses can, and will, promise their employees the world and give them nothing instead. It costs very little for them to do just that, and employees are very "sticky" overall. This is especially true of employees who let themselves get steamrolled back in to a very junior position from a senior one.

Find a new job, you're leaving because of the reasons stated above. Don't tell them how long you may have been dealing with the indignity.

  • You're right about being promised things and then the company didn't keep their word... this did happen to me in the past (many years ago now and not related to this employer whatsoever).. – user100220 Apr 27 at 17:55
  • @user100220 it's VERY important to remember that nothing that you've ever done for them will matter if you end up conflicting with the "needs of the business". A million good deeds can be erased with a single misdeed. The business with always carry on without you. This applies to days off, salary bumps, bonuses, perks, etc. – Malisbad Apr 28 at 2:04
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I would suggest mostly discussing as you have in your question. The twist, though, is you can present it as the company seeing this as your criticality, not a demotion.

After four months, I was moved to a high profile project. I believe they assessed my repositioning based on wanting star players, but this project underutilizes my experience.

In this way you've highlighted that you were selected for being so well viewed. Make sure you call out that you're glad they see you in this light and were quite willing to help out as needed, but well over a year in a junior role was closer to a redefinition of job than helping out.

Another option would be to present this current position as a contract and avoid the length of stay question altogether. It's a bit disingenuous, but quickly addresses why you're leaving so soon.

1

First I wouldn't explain anything negative about your current role. Do not add that they took you off senior role (no amount of explaining would look good), do not add that you asked them, and finally do not say anything else bad.

Simply say,

I am looking for a role that fits my experience, and expertise and this role with your company looks like a good fit.

  • 1
    Agreed on not trashing current employer, but doesn't not addressing it leave out there that you're leaving a permanent position in under a year? The question will come up or perhaps even worse it might not. – John Spiegel Apr 25 at 13:57
  • I up-voted your answer, but have a question about that. When you say "don't add that they took you off senior projects" is that because you think it would be seen as a 'demotion', 'for cause' even if I'd said otherwise? (i.e. "user100220 must have been more suited to just implementing stuff rather than setting strategy" or similar, "so they were effectively demoted") If asked something like "what are you currently doing day-to-day" (or however that is worded in interviews) what would I say then? – user100220 Apr 27 at 17:58
  • I would explain honestly as in, "I was the senior person on project A. Then I moved on to a new project B after that one completed bringing my expertise of X, Y, and Z. I felt at that point my skills and expertise were not being utilized to its fullest and am currently looking for a role where I can." – Dan Apr 29 at 12:16
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I really like John Spiegel's script. This explain that the company ended up changing your responsibilities to fit their needs, but left you doing work you had no interest in doing. I would add that you're happy to be a team player and help out in a pinch, but since this was a long term plan you decided it was best for your career to find another job where your interests and those of the company match.

As for your fears of appearing like a job hopper, here are some (helpful) Ask a Manager articles on that topic :

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