Help! Recruiter Lied. Now I’m Stuck in a Job I Hate!

Dear Work Coach,

I’ve been reading your posts online and they are very helpful. I have the similar situation to “Justwondering“, so I’d like to ask your help.

I used to work in a major hardware company selling PC for over 7 years. Until all the interests gone and I decided to leave. I switched to a job selling IT consulting service last year. 5 months with that job, a recruiter caught me and offered a very exciting opportunity, which is to sell software to Asia-Pacific area.

I was so happy and thought I found the best job I could think of, because I wanted to learn software, I know I can sell, and it is also a good software company. More importantly, the job requires candidate speaks fluent Mandarin, and that is my first language. I was informed that I will be given the opportunity to sell the product and develop the market in Greater China area.  Think about it, the product, the company, the market…I couldn’t wait to start the new job!!

Now I’m in the position of selling software for 3 months. Unfortunately when I started, I was assigned the territory of India. My past 7-8 years experience is dealing with customers in North America. And as I mentioned above, one reason I love the job is because I speak Mandarin and am very interested in developing that huge potential market.

Now dealing with India, due to the reason of culture, mentality, business environment etc, it is absolutely new to me, and all my strength and experience turns out to be useless. I am dealing with my weakness now, and it will certainly not satisfy my boss expectation. I even asked him if I would have chance to do Great China area, but my request was rejected.

I had thought about my next step and the options are:

  • First one, if I try to find another job, what am I going to tell interviewer? I hate keep changing job, and I did not change one job for 7-8 years, but the interviewer would think why you change 2 jobs in one year? What’s your problem?  If I say I stayed with one job very short (5 months) is because I thought there is a “dream job” waiting for me, does that make sense? Now you want to leave your dream job?
  • Second one, I take the challenge and do my best effort to develop India market. Since it is my weakness, it may take some time to pick up, but my boss already lost his patience. He already told me that “We won’t wait too long”. I’m facing the possibility to be terminated at any time. I’m not sure if it is fair to justify a people on job for only 3 months. But let’s assume if that happen, it would be a worse situation and I have no idea what to tell interviewer when I seek the next job.

So I really need your help and please give me some advice or suggestion. I feel myself in the dead water. Thank you so much!



Hi AW!

First, thank you for the kind words. Much appreciated. Now let’s see if there’s something we can figure out together to help you. I hope so!

Your analysis of the situation is a a very good one.  It’s important for you to know that many bright, talented people come to a place like this in their lives and they find a way out of it. Even if the water feels dead to you, there is a phrase from Zen Buddhism I love: The river flows. Around the bend…although it may be rocky for a while…there is an answer.

In my life, whenever things like this happened, I always emerged stronger for the experience – although admittedly sometimes it took a while and I wasn’t always so sure it would work out at every moment. But it always did.  I think these lessons help make us better employees as well as helping us see things in our lives in a whole new way.

But enough with the life coaching…right now I know you just want some answers. 🙂

While I certainly would never suggest I have the right answer for you – you will know that yourself – here are some of my thoughts to help spark your own:

  • Either the recruiter lied to you, the company you now work for lied to you, or they both lied to you. In any event, they did a wrong thing. You are not doing the job you were promised and in no way should YOU feel bad about not succeeding in the Indian market. I know you are trying your best.
  • Whether they fire you or not, I’m not sure this is a a company whose promises you can trust. Let’s say you did manage to turn things around, can you trust them to give you the raise or bonuses they promise? Is there really a good future there for you, or would you be smarter to take that same effort and apply it to a new job – one that you really want? I always believe in trying to make a job work before jumping ship, but in this case, even if you did it, what would you have? Would this kind of boss always make you feel insecure? Unless there is more to the story, he doesn’t sound like someone you can turn to and discuss things with. Do you really want to stay in this job where you feel so unhappy and unappreciated?
  • Since you are worried they will fire you anyway, no matter what, you need to start looking for a job again. It’s the smart thing to do. And if things do turn around, all you’ve done is spend some if your spare time looking. Nothing lost.
  • Meanwhile (while also looking for a job), I think you might as well try talking to your boss. Let him see your determination and strength. Tell him you really want to do well there and ask him to set some specific goals with you to help you turn things around.  Ask him if there is any training he thinks you should take. Really show him you are eager and determined to make things work out. And be confident in your own ability. You don’t have to succeed; these are tough conditions. All you have to do is know you tried your best. At the very least, you’d feel better about yourself and maybe learn a bit more about software.
  • Now to the job hunt. First you need a good resume that highlights your best skills before you get to the details of your experience. This helps people get past the two jobs within a year or so. Luckily you have a long-term job to show you are loyal and reliable. You can find some information here: 5 Must-Do Resume Tips from a Fellow Blogger. If you go to Susan Ireland’s website, she also has good cover letter suggestions and examples. You’ll need that too to sell yourself. I’ve been in a similar situation, and a good cover letter that catches their eye will help get you past any recent short-term jobs.
  • Now here’s the really good news…you can go after the kind of work you want now – using your strengths. Mandarin is a great business asset nowadays and there are probably jobs you are qualified for in those markets. You need to make every effort you can to find them – including talking to anyone you know from China or who works there. Ask everyone! This is the time for you to be networking.
  • When talking to a recruiter or in an interview, you can tell the truth (without all the details of course). You never want to say anything bad about another employer, but you can say that you were recruited from your other job with an offer to use your Mandarin skills and work with Chinese markets. Then you can say something like “unfortunately, they didn’t have that opening anymore and assigned me to India. As much as I appreciate the opportunity to learn new things, I really want to work with China because I think my skills are especially suited to that market. And I very much want to be part of helping to open up new business there. Unfortunately, where I am now, that’s not possible. As you can see from my other long-term job, I am very loyal and very much want to find a company I can be part of for a long time.” Not those exact words, of course, but you get the picture.

Companies know that people make career mistakes. It happens to almost everyone. Except people who never take risks. And to let you in on a  secret…people who never take risks never get very far – and are not the right personality profile for expanding markets. As long as you’ve shown stability in your career (which you have), a good company will see past a bad experience or two.

But you have to believe in yourself before you can sell them on that. If you don’t believe in you, why should they? That’s the real secret. But you have a lot of strengths and I want to make sure you know that. If you speak from your heart and let them see who you really are, a good company will recognize your value. And a bad one…well, you don’t want them anyway. That’s part of the lesson, I think.

I hope this helps you look at things another way. AW. To summarize my thoughts (and I realize they may not match yours):

  • Redo your resume immediately!
  • Start looking for a new job doing what you thought this was – or something similar.
  • Also talk with your boss and try to turn things around – or at least leave on the best terms knowing you tried; if they don’t see your value, they are not the right place for you. It is NOT your failure. It may actually turn out to be a lucky thing because it got you thinking about what you really want!
  • Interview with confidence, knowing that the wealthiest, most-respected business men (and women) all took risks. And at some time they all failed. No one makes it all the way to the top in business without slipping. If they do, they missed many essential lessons – as well as the compassion for others that would help them be truly respected.

I think you may find many good things coming your way when you start to look for them – and believe in yourself. Things like this can sometimes make us feel less about ourselves, but just remember…it’s not what you can’t do, it’s what you can.

Good luck! Please keep us posted.

Ronnie Ann


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. Update: AW wrote me privately to let me know that the recruiter didn’t exactly lie; maybe at worst there was some misrepresentation or misunderstanding from the company itself. And also, AW says he welcomed the challenge. I’m glad to hear that. AW sounds like a very generous person who is smart enough to look at the role he played in getting here. Still…fyi there are plenty of cases where recruiters and/or companies do lie. So it’s good to ask lots of questions up front and get things in writing!

    But I’m happy to report AW says he did find things in the post that may help and he’s redoing his resume “immediately”. He’ll also talk to his boss.

    AW asked again about his short-term jobs and my reaction to such a thing:

    “Would you mind telling me what you’d think if you see a resume with 2 jobs change within 9 months?”

    And this was my reply:

    “As I said…this is not unheard of. Some places will throw it out for sure…but many others look to see if there’s a long term job (you have one) and then look to the cover letter to see if they get a good feeling about the person. You can’t worry about who rejects you…you just have to do your best to maximize the ones who will want to talk to you. That’s your challenge.”

    AW said it was fine for me to tell you this since I told him I prefer to share such things with my readers. And he also promised to keep us informed on this blog, which I very much appreciate since I think he is not the only one in this type of situation. Plus I think we’re all curious. 😉

    Good luck, AW!

    Ronnie Ann

  2. I’ve started looking around, and some friends suggest look around if there is similar position available in their competitors, because I still like the product, have the passion to work on Asia-Pac market. How do you think of this idea? What should I say to competitor if I have an interview opportunity? Thank you in advance.

    By the way, there is no need to talk to my boss. One of my colleagues has gaven me enough background information and informed me clearly that any conversation would be a waste of time. Anyway, I don’t like “bad mouth”, I’m glad that people trust me and willing to tell me the truth… All I need now is to find a job:-))

  3. Hi again AW!

    Sorry to hear that the job is still not going well. But if you have indeed made the decision to move on, then I applaud you for taking things into your own hands and looking for a job that will work well for you.

    But FIRST I must talk about your words saying “there is no need to talk to (your) boss”. It’s true that if you’ve decided to leave, then talking to him might make no difference. And you may know some things about him that also make it useless. But let me offer a few reasons it might still be worthwhile (I offer this for other readers too in case this doesn’t apply to you):

    1) By going to him and asking for his help and advice and letting him know you want to succeed in your job, you may be surprised by what can be accomplished if you really listen and show him you are determined and strong and willing to do whatever you need to do to be a star.

    2) You have a slight chance of improving any references you may get if you are straight with him and keep him informed along the way. If you give someone no clue and no chance to help you improve, then it leaves a bad taste in their mouths when you do leave.

    3) It helps teach you how to establish relationships with bosses. Whether here or in your next job, the only way you will get ahead is to be able to do that – and to learn to nurture the relationship in a way that works for both of you.

    4) It shows your boss you are not afraid and are the kind of person who can take things into his own hands and try to find solutions – including solutions to increasing revenue from your accounts.

    5) Colleagues may have their own reasons for offering “advice.” Is your colleague a star? Does he know your boss well or does he have his own fears and career issues?

    Of course, in your case, your colleague may be very nice and giving you perfect advice. But I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that early in my career I once worked with a very nice man (or so he seemed to everyone) and he gave me similar advice and acted as my friend and fed me information about my boss that made me keep away from him. And it turned out the “nice” man wanted me out and was undermining me.

    Again, I know this might not be the way in your case, but a successful person builds his or her own relationships and doesn’t rely on second-hand knowledge. Although it is very helpful to take that into account when strategizing how to approach a person, you still want to trust your own instincts and give yourself a chance to build those instincts first-hand! What you learn now – even if it feels like a failure – can help you succeed later on. It’s all part of building our business smarts.

    Now, if you think your boss will fire you for just talking to him, then I certainly understand why you want to avoid even trying. That would be smart. But imagine what it would do for you and your career (there or elsewhere) if you could meet with him and find even one thing that can be improved. Putting yourself into the “I’m taking charge of making my own life beter” mindset instead of “there’s nothing more I can do here because of how he is” would be a lifelong gift to yourself. Maybe you’d get nothing but then again you already have that. Successful careers require some risk and the resultant growth in ourselves, so maybe there is a lesson to be learned and won after all.

    And now I return to regular programming.

    Of course, sometimes a company is just a bad company and no matter what you try, they are not the place for you. If you are ready to move on – and that is a perfectly wonderful choice if you know in your heart it is time – then of course, by all means use this experience to look elsewhere in the industry.

    One caveat: I don’t know your industry, but I assume you have to do this carefully and respectfully since it can get back to your boss and be a reason for him to fire you. (Another reason to make sure he understands what you want, even if it might be down the road in the case of your current job.) Also, in some cases there are no-compete clauses in contracts, so read carefully what you signed. But if none of that is an obstacle, then of course it’s a great idea to look where you have passion!

    I provided some ideas for what you could say to a recruiter or potential employer in the above post. The only way that wouldn’t work if you were applying for a job in the exact same territory. That would be hard to explain, because they’d want to know why you didn’t achieve more success where you are.

    Your best bet for the market you’re interested in is to play to your strength which is your knowledge of Mandarin and the culture. If you seek jobs in that area, you shouldn’t have any problem using the reasons I gave above. It’s not bad-mouthing to say there was a misunderstanding and the territory you wanted wasn’t available and you tried your best, but you know now that you really want to work in a market where your strengths can help bring in lots of business. A potential employer would love to hear your passion and commitment to a market they want to conquer. And you have skills they would want. But the biggest skill is the inner strength and determination you bring with you.

    So that’s the best advice I can offer with what I know. If you have decided to look for a new job, then just make sure you follow my suggestion in the above post to create a very strong resume and go after this with all your heart. Maybe you are a bit unsure of yourself at times, but this is the time to show how much you have to offer the right employer. help them understand that you’re looking for the right match, and, unfortunately, this just doesn’t seem to be it.

    But wherever you go, be secure enough in who you are and what you have to offer to build a strong relationship with your boss to help you succeed and advance. Just give it your all and don’t stop until you’ve achieved what you want. We all have much more inside than we know. 🙂

    Good luck AW!

    Ronnie Ann

  4. Depressed says:

    Help! I am a new visa holder from another country who is very depressed due to recruiting company misleading me in a position after giving up my career. I left my country on a career path in project management…even passing up a career advancement in the company I worked for 15 years as I had just accepted the recruiters offer for a project position in USA. After passing up 2 career offers…1 in my own company as stated, and another in NY city…the receruiting company delayed and delayed my tranfers for 4+ months! I was stressed, had anxiety attacks, already left my company as we negotiated an end date, embarrassed around family and friends as I told them when I got the job offer but now I am still around in my country 4 months later….just to come to the company in USA finally finding out all too soon now that it is not the job I applied for. In fact it is no where near my career path! I am in project management and they stuck me in a administrative assistant job! I went from having a career to having a job…big difference. And after explaining my disappointment, looking for explanation as to where is the position I applied for…they come back basically threatening that I may be out the door if I do not cooperate, that the manager I am admin to needs help in his new career role that is why I am the admin, and that I have to go through as a admin assistant or clerical to reach the project management role! I never hear of such BS!!! They played with my life! I had roots back home in work…and I gave up my family and friends for a advancement….NOT JUST A JOB!!! Now I cannot quite because my visa is linked TN status is linked directly to the company and even if I do find a company who will hire me for the right career position, I have to return home and start the appliction process all over again…with NO GUARANTEE the NAFTA officer(s) will approve it again!!!

    Forgot to mention, the recruiters excuse for taking 4+ (almost 5) months to get me here was “computer \ application systems down; management changeover; authorized signatures not available at this time (on vacation); lost paperwork need to resubmit…:

    What can I do? Write to the President of USA and hope he will give me US Status like he did for the illegals \ students \ etc recently? I doubt I could get the same.

    Basically I am so screwed (pardon my french) and therefore fallen into another depression due to the same company.

    I need HELP if anyone out there can……..

    • chandlee says:

      Dear depressed,

      Sorry to hear of your situation. Remember: very few things in life are completely unchangeable. One option you have is to explore new opportunities and leave the company. That said, while you are in the situation you are in — I recommend you work hard at your current position and also explore other roles.

      In most companies the process to acquire visas for others is LONG and COMPLEX. If you don’t have your project manager (PMP) certification, you may want to seek that out as it could help you secure a new role.

      Many companies do have a path that requires people to serve more junior roles before they can be promoted. One strategy you could use would be to talk to people who are in the position that you ultimately seek/thought you would have in your current position — and ask them their advice on how to get there. As Steven R. Covey says, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

      In the interim, I recommend you seek out the friendship of a community that feels strong and supportive to you in your current location. This can help you build connections and feel more stable in your current environment.

      Good luck,

      • Depressed says:

        Hi Chandlee,

        Thank you for your reply, however, I have already began seeking other employment opportunities the moment I realized I am not in the position I applied to NOR one in any way in line with my career OR one that I left a company of 14 years for.

        I understand that some companys’ expect a few months or so of evaulation, possible in SLIGHTLY more junior roles then the one hired for, however, this is way off in my situation. As mentioned above, I should of realized after the recruiter took over 4 months to make this happen. lost 2 advancements in Project Mamangement because of it, that they were just pulled a fast one on me and ruined my career.

        With the company I am in, I cannot apply elsewhere within, as I work for the recruiter…on loan to the company ….being I am on what is called “consultant” basis. That is why I am stuck. I need to leave the recruiting company all together.

        In conversations with others, who work for the same recruiting company I do, they got the positions they applied to. And better yet…they are all men. I am the only female. Do you see the bigger picture here? Males got the project jobs they applied to….female got the “admin”. Hummmmm…a little sexiest if you ask me.

        I also spoke to the managers of the recruiting company, and well, the message came across loud and clear….live with it or get out. Great way to conduct business with foreigners. I am sure my Government would like to hear about this…along with the US President.

        Thanks for your advice, but I already have everything you suggested in motion based on my own inclinations….including my PMP.


      • chandlee says:

        Dear Depressed,

        I can’t really comment further on your situation as I’m not in it first hand.

        That said, I do think it’s a bit much to say this has ruined your career for the long-term. While it is certainly true that people can wind up in positions that are a bad fit, how much you are able to recover from this in the future depends in a very large part on how you respond to it. Can you dust yourself off? Start fresh? Find a new option and pursue it.

        I believe that when you look at it is a “ruin” you discount the power you have to change the situation in the future.

        Good luck and all the best,

  5. angel2uni says:

    I can relate. Since I relocated to USA, one thing I found is that alot of Recruiting companies, or as they like to be know as – Consultant Companies, “lie” about a position.

    I left a very high profile career in my country to only find out too late when I accepted this so called “same” job here, that it was only a “exaggerated” name of the position. It was completely administrative, where I had a LEAD, PM, Manager role back home.

    Now after being out of work for 1 year, I accepted another position, similar to one I had before the manager\PM\Lead role back home, only to again find out that the recruiter exaggerated in both writing and person-to-person that the job is very very junior (HS equivalent), and very administrative. No room for advancement here.

    Why do companies or recruiters do this to so many experienced workers?


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