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How to Handle a Bait & Switch Job Offer

by Lisa McQuerrey

You're finally offered the job of your dreams, yet on your first day at work, you discover the job responsibilities are nothing like you thought they would be. Either the employer intentionally misled you to get you to accept the offer, or there was a valid miscommunication about what duties the job entailed. How you handle the situation depends on how badly you need the work.

Pre-Hire Bait and Switch

If you experience a pre-hire bait and switch, you still have time to resolve the issue before accepting the job. For example, if you interview for a retail management position and are offered a job as a retail sales clerk, you may feel the employer was misleading about what kind of job you interviewed for. In this case, you can clarify the situation and then decide whether to accept the job based on the information you get. Before you sign a contract or agree to the job, make sure you get the terms of the agreement and the position’s responsibilities in writing to ensure there are no additional surprises.

Different Job Responsibilities

If you launch into a new position and find out the role and responsibilities are not what you envisioned, ask for a meeting with your supervisor to clarify expectations. “I was under the impression I'd be working one-on-one with clients preparing tax returns. So far, all I'm doing is researching tax code. Can you clarify my job responsibilities?” Keep in mind that the first few days and weeks on a job involve a settling-in process where you become acclimated to the different aspects of your position. What you do initially may not be what the boss plans for you to do permanently.

Other Duties as Assigned

Many job descriptions have a fine-print clause that reads something like, “and other duties as assigned.” This is an employer's catchall phrase to indicate that regardless of what type of job responsibilities you’re assigned, he reserves the right to change that description at any time. Get clarification from your supervisor about what this means specifically for your position. For example, if you’re a marketing manager, other duties could potentially and appropriately include proofreading occasional documents. It should not include sweeping out the break room unless that’s something discussed and agreed to during pre-employment negotiations.

Handling Bait and Switch

If you ultimately decide your employer pulled a bait and switch on you as an intentional way to mislead you from the true responsibilities of the position, you have a few choices about how to proceed. You can talk to your employer, indicate the job is not what you envisioned, and ask for your duties to be revised accordingly. If this request is denied, you can quit the job or acclimate yourself to the role as it is. However you handle the situation, do so with professionalism, so you don't harm your reputation.

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