Workers lured by oversold jobs

A staff shortage, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, meant she ended up working 70 hours a week as she performed her office duties and also provided in-person patient care. Far from being able to spend evenings at home, as she had hoped, “I worked ridiculous hours and I had no social life. I was a zombie,” she says.

Some of the problems with oversold jobs stem from inherent flaws in the hiring process. “You always accept a job offer with limited knowledge of the role,” says Tegze, “because you won’t be able to cover everything for an hour or two in an interview.” To mitigate this, one thing candidates can do is try to gather as much information as possible before accepting an offer.

Ingram suggests asking lots of questions, talking to former employees, and even asking to spend a day with the team to see how things work in practice. This can reveal aspects of the internal culture and processes that can have a big impact on a day-to-day basis, but which may not come out clearly during interviews. “Before you accept the job, you have the power,” Ingram says. “As a candidate, you should interview with the company and not be pressured into accepting a job offer without having the information necessary to make the decision.”

If, despite this, a candidate still finds himself in an oversold role, it may not be too late to act. During the trial period, “good HR departments follow up, good recruiters follow up, a good manager will have conversations to see how it goes,” Ingram says. “Hopefully there’s enough rapport for the individual to tell if they’re disappointed.” In some cases, course correction or an honest conversation about what the role offers may be possible.

But an oversold role is unlikely to turn into a dream job, and many job applicants may have to start their job searches all over again.

Despite promises from the CEO that the system would change, Julie knew there was no long-term solution to staffing shortages (a dynamic that in itself could make a company more prone to overselling its roles). So she quit her job after six months – which was possible thanks to all the overtime she had racked up working long hours – and has now returned to her original job as a caregiver in residence. “I wanted to take control of the hours I worked,” Julie explains.

Not all workers can afford to leave a position that does not meet expectations. Although she feels “a lot of doubt and anxiety” about a job that has been oversold to her, Priya feels she has to stay, for the foreseeable future, for financial reasons and because she lacks the qualifications and experience in his role. “I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a new role, but I would need a little luck,” she says.

May, meanwhile, has worked to improve her prospects inside the organization. “I’m an optimist,” she says. “I thought I could find a way to move up the ranks to another place in the organization where I could use my talents and skills.” She and her colleagues have worked together to implement new training programs that she says have had an impact. “We had a huge hit, but our reward was having it taken away from us and giving it to someone else.”

She was returned to her original role and was relieved when, after 18 months, her contract ended. She is now in the process of opening her own business offering corporate wellness sessions. The whole experience, overall, left her feeling discouraged, she says. “I was exhausted.”

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