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THE QUESTION

I was hired for a senior-level strategy-based role that seemed like a great fit on paper. Now that I am here, the gap between the role as outlined and the day-to-day reality is night and day. I have been forthright with management that I have very little to do and that the role I was hired for has not really materialized. They are not concerned and keep reassuring me that things will get busier, but I don't believe this will happen.

I have just passed my probation period and am considering approaching my VP to figure out an exit plan. I'm concerned that I've wasted these last months in a role that will now stand out on my resumé due to the short tenure and am wondering if I can ask for a letter or recommendation that basically says that they misrepresented the job description (a director-level role on paper that is co-ordinator/assistant level in reality). Is there any way I can ask for an severance package based on this misrepresentation? Can I leave it off my resumé altogether, and if not, how do I explain this short a tenure to potential employers so it doesn't look like I was fired?

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THE FIRST ANSWER

Kyle Couch

President and CEO, Spectrum Organizational Development Inc.

Resumés are a funny thing. They are a non-legally binding document and most organizations are more fearful of additions versus omissions. Resumés are intended to be a sales pitch about your qualifications and competence with respect to the prospective job opportunity. Therefore, I fully recommend adding your most recent role at this organization.

With that said, I would use a more progressive resumé approach of listing it as a project accomplishment, as opposed to a career history. While your tenure is brief, you can point to the fact that a) it was a director-level position and b) you were hyper-productive. I suggest you request a letter of recommendation in the event that this most recent post was questioned, but don't add it to your initial package to the "next" employer.

I am a big fan of "fit" between employee and employer. Your drive to move on is the right one. Use this as a learning opportunity, specifically around asking more pointed questions and being more cautious and forthright in your next interview.

THE SECOND ANSWER

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Eleanor James

Consultant, coach and speaker, The James Thinkstitute

This is an oddball situation and from your description, it does seem more disorganized than malicious. Nonetheless, it's a bridge not to be burned. Do approach your VP to work out an exit plan giving both of you time to find replacements. Though I see your point about misrepresentation, I'm not sure it would hold up to severance, a lawyer can advise you.

Avoid throwing around blame, use all the finesse you've got. Be clear with them that the company has a lot to its credit (you applied for the job) but it's not a fit for you (a.k.a. you passed probation but the company didn't). With regard to your job history/resumé, ask for a letter from the company (perhaps offer a draft) explaining that the role for which you were hired has not materialized due to uncontrollable circumstances. That way, everybody saves face and you won't have anything to hide.

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

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