Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

How to Handle a Bait and Switch

What is a bait and switch, exactly? In a job situation, it’s when an employer hires a person for a specific job, and then the duties end up being radically different than what was talked about in the job interview. For example, you are hired on the promise of big fancy projects and seniority, when really they make you lick stamps all day. Crummy, right? What do you do if this happens to you?

Suzanne Lucas for CBS News, suggests making sure that you are really in a bait and switch situation (bait and switchuation?) before making any big moves. It is possible that you are simply new and haven’t worked your way up to the tasks that were promised yet. Or perhaps your boss has made an honest mistake in understanding what your predecessor did.

Either way, a good place to start is to have an honest conversation with your boss. Explain to him/her, “I thought I would be doing A, B, and C, but I’ve been doing X, Y, and Z instead.” This would be a great time to bring out your official job description if you have one. Ask your boss to clarify what is expected of you, and ask if there is a timeline as to when you will start doing the tasks on your job description. Reiterate your enthusiasm for the job described, and ask what you can do to get things moving in that direction.

Hopefully talking with your boss will help smooth things over. However, there are also things you can be doing yourself to reclaim the new job you were promised.

Lucas suggests taking some initiative. Don’t wait around for someone to schedule training or for dream projects to be handed to you. Use what you know about your new job to start tackling projects and solving problems. Especially try to solve problems that can reduce or eliminate the menial parts of your new job. If you are buried under paperwork, see if you can automate the process by using software, or by spreading out the data entry across more people. Keep your chin up, and try to get through the break-in period in your new job with a sense of humor. Hopefully this can save you from more complicated alternatives.

Consider approaching Human Resources about a department transfer if your company is large enough. You could do this after exhausting options with your boss, or with your boss’s permission and recommendation. The latter is obviously preferable! This could be a good way to get a position more suited to your strengths, without going through the hassle of a whole new job search.

Your final option for a bait and switch is, of course, to quit. Don’t worry; you won’t be the only person to have ever done this. Except in a situation where you have signed a contract, there is little to no actual repercussions to an employer who pulls a bait and switch. If you did sign a contract, consider seeing what your lawyer can do with the situation. Otherwise, there are plenty more job fish in the sea!

Spark a conversation: Should you put the job on your resume if you have to quit? Leave a comment below, or send me a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Varin Tsai

Kristin Anderson

Kristin has a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, with an emphasis in creative writing. In her free time she enjoys long walks, kitchen adventures, and making puns.