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What to do if you've been mis-sold a job

Shot of a young businesswoman looking stressed out while working in an office job
If it becomes apparent that the job you accepted isn’t the one you were advertised, what can you do about it? Photo: Getty

After a lengthy application process and several interviews, you’ve landed a great job. Or you’ve landed what you thought was a great job. In reality, the responsibilities of the new role don’t quite match up to the job description ⁠— and you’re concerned you’ve been misled into accepting the position.

Being mis-sold a job is a common problem among employees. This year, recruitment firm Career Wallet found nearly one in five (18%) job seekers who have accepted a new role have regretted the move as soon as they have started the new role.

The main reasons included being mis-sold the job in the interview process, aggressive management and salary disagreements.

Read more: What is 'moral injury' at work?

A new job might not always meet your expectations, especially when you first start. It takes time to settle into a role and get used to your responsibilities, colleagues and environment.

However, if it becomes apparent that the job you accepted isn’t the one you were advertised, what can you do about it?

How to tell if you’ve been mis-sold a job

“Tell-tale signs of a ‘mis-sold’ job include feeling extremely over or underqualified for the role or having duties that are significantly different from what was discussed during the interview,” says Toni Frana, career services manager at FlexJobs and Remote.co.

“You may also feel strongly misled on the day-to-day job responsibilities, benefits or perks.”

Sometimes, job posts are the problem. Poorly-written job descriptions can be confusing and misleading ⁠— and the interview process might not help to clarify the role.

“Candidates may apply for a job anyway, figuring that the interviewer will better explain the job,” says Frana. “However, if you’ve gone through the entire interview process and still don’t know very clearly what the job entails ⁠— that is a red flag. We advise job seekers to always ask more questions and find out information immediately or pass on the opportunity.”

What to do if you’ve been mis-sold a job

If you’ve been mis-sold a job, the first thing to do is to retrace your steps back to the interview process.

“If the role and responsibilities are vastly different from what was discussed during the interview, determine if the person who promised it was in a position of authority at the time of doing so,” says Frana.

“Were job duties made clear throughout the entire interview and hiring process ⁠— and were they documented anywhere you can reference, such as in the posting, in an offer letter, or in any onboarding paperwork?”

Read more: Why working from home risks burning out employees

Then, Frana advises to put together a plan to discuss with your manager or HR team. It might help to suggest the possibility of an internal job transfer to a role better suited to your skills and experience. You may also be able to take on different responsibilities of projects in your current role.

It’s important to remember that being mis-sold a job may well be an honest mistake by those who recruited you. The role may have changed from the time the job was posted online.

“However, if the role or its benefits changed drastically, this may be a result of companies wrongly making promises during the interview as a way to recruit people in a competitive labour market,” says Frana. “That’s why it’s important to get that commitment in writing as part of a job offer and before accepting the job.”

How to avoid being mis-sold a job

Before accepting any job, it’s important to ask about everything you need to know about the role. It’s also important to get written confirmation that what you discussed in the interview is what your job will be.

“Once you sign the offer, you’ll be expected to abide by that job description, salary, and whatever other details are in it,” says Frana. “It doesn’t matter what you discussed during the interview or what was in the job posting. Before you sign off on a job offer, make sure the written offer matches what you and the interviewer talked about.”

Read more: How work changed in 2022

If you asked direct and specific interview questions about daily responsibilities, tasks and compensation ⁠— and were intentionally misled by the company ⁠— it may be better to continue your job search.

“If something about a job doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t,” says Frana. “Quitting the job may be the best thing you can do for long-term career satisfaction.”

Watch: Why do we still have a gender pay gap?