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How to avoid a "bait and switch" job offer.
There's a new reason people are changing jobs: they get hired to do one thing, but are assigned to do something else. Nothing takes the bloom off the rose like finding out you're expected to make the coffee (it happened to a new manager) or that the design engineering job is really customer support. These are extreme situations, but many people find themselves performing tasks unrelated to their job descriptions. While we all know that job descriptions change and evolve, it's something else when you never get to do the job you were hired for.

Protect yourself before you accept a job. Ask to have your main responsibilities and tasks put in writing, along with the assurance that at least 75% of your time will be devoted to those tasks. You should also "vet" the job during the interview process. People rarely do this, yet it's critical to your success and happiness on the job.

  1. Ask for a brief written description of the work you'd be doing day one, week one, month one and through the year. Few employers will spell this out, but their reaction when you ask will reveal a lot about their integrity.
  2. Request wording in your job offer that says if the company needs to reassign you, this must be negotiated. If the reassignment is a step down or outside the work you were hired to do, you want the option to leave with a defined severance package.
  3. Ask to see your work area and the tools you'll be using. This is a good indication of whether the job is what you were told.
  4. You must ask, dig, poke and demand the information. You must "triangulate" and talk with others in the company to figure out for yourself what the work really is. If you get the runaround, reconsider accepting the offer.

Make no mistake: good jobs evolve and you should expect the nature of your work to change, too. Even in companies with high integrity, changes in the economy can mean shifts in job responsibilities. You need to be flexible. But that doesn't mean an employer has a right to unilaterally determine that you'll be doing work different from what you agreed to do when you were hired.

When job candidates don't assure themselves what a job is about, they wind up job hunting again very soon. Don't get suckered into a "bait and switch" job offer. Before you accept an offer, make sure the work matches the job.

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