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The Question

I've been in my job for four months. After completing my masters in engineering, I was excited about getting this job right away.

But after two months, I realized everything I was told in the interview about my role were misrepresentations. My manager ignores my e-mails and acts irritated if I try to chat with him. I tried booking meetings, but he cancels them. I am rarely assigned work and excluded from big projects. Most days, I have nothing to do, although my role's description potentially entails lots of work.

I talked to my manager's superviser, hoping he could remedy the situation, but there isn't any vision with regards to my role. This frustrates me and I find myself nervous and stressed out.

Can I remedy this situation, or is hopeless and I should leave? What can I do about the misrepresentation in my interview?

The First Answer

Colleen Clarke

Corporate trainer and career specialist, Toronto

There is nothing you can do about being misrepresented in the interview, that is water under the bridge. You have done everything you can to show great intention to work hard, but to no avail. You are a victim of bullying, which is unacceptable but also somewhere you probably don't want to go due to your short tenure at the company.

So, it is time to polish up the résumé. When you are being stymied by your manager and his boss, the situation is out of your control. Document in detail every occurrence – past and present. Approach the HR department and ask for their advice on how to handle the situation, without whining. Present your case with specific examples including dates, e-mails and documented conversations. You may not want them to intervene but you want their advice on how to proceed and an explanation as to why this is happening.

Can you shadow someone while you look for a new position? Identify a mentor so you can glean knowledge and new skills while you wait. In the meantime, maintain a professional demeanour, be respectful and helpful, learn what you can and network intensely inside and outside the company.

The Second Answer

Billy Anderson

Founder of the Courage Crusade, Toronto

I hear this often with grads. You might be feeling, "Why did I bother getting a Masters if they won't let me use it?"

Does your boss have a Masters? If not, it's possible he feels threatened by the "new guy with the degree" and is scared to let you shine. This sometimes happens when a boss lacks self-confidence or is nervous about his status in the company.

Be careful with your assumptions though. He might not have lied in the interview. Perhaps something changed in the organization after you were hired. We never know everything that's happening behind the scenes.

If the only way you get tasks is by asking for them, then keep asking! Ask your boss what you can do to help. He wants to know that you're keen to make him and his entire department look good, not just yourself.

Also, try getting to know him as a person. Ask about his hobbies or his family. People can warm up a lot when they're treated like a normal human being.

Lastly, we always feel better when we have a plan, so decide how much longer you're willing to stick with it before you look for another job. You'll have a date you're working towards and you'll feel a little less helpless.

Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com. Your confidentiality is ensured.