It takes quite a bit of time and effort to find a job, especially when you take into consideration the amount of time spent working on the development of a resume, searching through online job boards, filling out online applications, and going through the interview process – often interviews with multiple recruiters and hiring managers. What happens after you have spent all of that time and discover the job you’ve begun is not what you had hoped it would be or not what was advertised? Perhaps you have the ability to simply quit as soon as you start, or you have limited options available and you have to stay with this job until you can find a replacement – and that means having to go through the entire process all over again.
As a career coach and educator, I have found that there are usually one of two explanations mes jobs. The first involves a situation where the person is searching for a job and is genuinely surprised to find that the actual job is nothing like the job they applied for and accepted. This is often due to not conducting proper research while pursuing a job and/or not asking the right questions during the interview process. The second explanation involves a person accepting a job they know is not a good match, and hoping it will become something else in time. For example, they have more experience than the job requires but the employer only matches them to an entry-level position. Or perhaps the person accepts an entry-level position, which requires less qualifications than they possess, hoping to advance quickly within the company.
Regardless of the reason why someone finds themselves in a position now that they did not hope for or want, it can become extremely frustrating to wait and hope for the job to eventually improve through advancement within the company. This is why I have always recommended that a person accept a job offer only if they are willing to perform the job tasks exactly as required now and not for the hope of something changing in the near future, or holding onto a belief that they can advance beyond this current position any time soon. Why? Because there is no guarantee that a new employer will hold the same view or be willing to make an immediate change. The only aspect of your career that you can control are the actions you take and to make the best decisions you need a clearly defined purpose and plan.
The Role of Expectations and Perceptions
Economic conditions have made finding a job in many industries challenging and/or highly competitive. That means gaining an interview can be extremely difficult, and a new job even harder to come by. It is understandable when someone has struggled to find a new position for quite some time to take a job even when it is less than desirable. But starting a new job under those circumstances means that eventually reality will set in and you will either feel happy for a short-term, stuck and locked in a job you do not want, or be surprised and find the situation eventually improves. No matter what the actual outcome may be, accepting a job for any reason other than finding a good match for your career requires examining both your expectations prior to accepting the job offer and your perceptions after you begin.
While you are searching for a job you need to establish a clear set of expectations. Determine what you expect from a job, which includes the minimum you are willing to accept in terms of responsibilities, salary, and other benefits or perks. The expectations you set should be realistic as well, and that means you do not expect a job to lead to anything more as there are never any guarantees. You may want to take into consideration what a potential employer expects. When an employer hires someone, regardless of the reason, there is an expectation that the new employee accepts the position and is willing to perform the required tasks. Employers rarely hire someone with the expectation that they will be quickly moved out of that position. While you may expect something more from a new job, if your expectations do not align with those of your employer you may find yourself off to a rocky start. This leads to perceptions as well. If a new employer perceives that you are starting with an attitude of expecting more, you may be deemed as a threat or worse early on.
Establishing a Career Purpose
Whenever you accept a job offer there is only one certainty you can count on and that is a position has become available for the job tasks listed in a job ad and/or described during the job interview. The employer has matched your background and skills to this position, whether they have recognized your current and future potential – or there was a hope you would accept the job because they hold a market advantage. Some employers may view your acceptance of a job as an indicator you need it and have little bargaining power.
Whether the reason you were offered the job was right or wrong, accepting and starting the job means you are now expected to complete the required tasks. You may never know the exact reason why you were offered the job and the only way to avoid finding yourself in a situation you do not want to be in is to establish a career purpose and have a well-defined job search plan in place. The follow strategies will help you develop your career purpose and plan.