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bait and switch: what would you do?

Hi,
6 weeks ago I got hired for a project where I was to build a cool statistical mapping/graphing application for some people in an R&D department. My background is more in standard enterprise data management apps, and the main reason I took this job, is because I am trying to move away from enterprise data management apps, into scientific research applications. (please no comments about the financial foolishness of this plan ;-))

Anyway, my interviewers mentioned that I would also need to help out on another app, which is a pretty typical enterprise data management app. 

6 weeks into the job, I am ONLY doing work on the data management app, which has no end in sight.  I pointed out a number of problems with their original design, and proposed some changes that I thought would work better. Big mistake! Now I'm the lead on this thing I don't really want to do. In fact, they are now doing an employee search for someone to work on the charting app that I thought I was being hired for! 

Now, the main reason I took this particular job is because I want to get into cool scientific visualization type work, maybe even go to grad school. I didn't want to work on yet another data management style app. However, the second more important reason I took this job is because I needed a job! I'm happy to be employed, but not particularly happy that I'm working on this particular project, especially when I thought I would be working on something else.

I sort of want to chime in and say that I thought I'd be working on something else, and don't particularly like this project...however I don't want to get sacked! Any job is better than no job! (maybe) I now know that this project is much more important to the organization than the graphing app. My contract is for a year. What would you folks do? chin up, tough it out for a year? mention that I want to be working on something else? neither? something else? any input would be nice.  i'm also starting another related thread in this forum...

whatToDo
Thursday, November 21, 2002

The days of getting paid to play with "hypeware" are OVER.  Those people have long been laid off.  Recall how you felt when you were laid off, and make sure you remember every morning.  Be happy you are working on something critical.  Be happy you have health benefits, we are entering a new (and better) era. 

PS: Next time, don't show so much interest in doing the "shit work" if you dont want it.  You are clearly more important in your new role.  Stop your complaining.  No one owes you a special fun project to work on.  Earn your paycheck, and deal with it.  If you don't like it, then find a new job, and be done with it.

Good luck

Bella
Thursday, November 21, 2002

PS: Have you not developed ANY business acumen since being laid off, and having had ages to reflect?  Do you have to ask why they would assign you to this project, when you yourself said it is more critical?  On second thought, you may deserve to be fired.

Bella
Thursday, November 21, 2002

Bella, thanks for your positive reply! I don't remember being laid off, and I realize no one "owes" me a paycheck. I guess I didn't make myself clear: I have been doing enterprise apps for a while, and have no problem finding work doing them, as I have a good network, a lot of experience in a "hot" application space, and live in an area where demand still outstrips supply.  I'm trying to move into scientific research, and the institution I'm working at is a scientific research institution. I thought perhaps taking this job would be a good first step - but it really isn't , if I'm just doing the same thing I was doing before, but at a lower rate! Also, even though this data management app is "more important" than the visualization app, they are both R&D apps, and neither one is "crucial" to the longevity of the institution.

PS: One reason I'm trying to get out of enterprise apps is because every person I know over the age of 30 doing them is a cranky, fat motherfucker who hates his life and spends a lot of time randomly flaming people on message boards. Sound familiar? 

whatToDo
Thursday, November 21, 2002

Try bluffing, if they call, don't quit, just fold.

Doug Withau
Thursday, November 21, 2002

Do youre best not to gag while looking for a new job in what you want!

Isn't it obvious
Thursday, November 21, 2002

There is always tomorrow...

Today its the same old crap, and despite the fact that there seems to be no end in sight, there always is a tomorrow.

Weigh many of the other merits/demerits around you:
. Are the people smart?
. Is there potential for growth independent of the specific project?
. Is the place well managed?

Lots of other stuff - take inventory.  Its often possible to switch projects once you've completed this one.  Is that a possibility?

FWIW,

Nat Ersoz
Thursday, November 21, 2002

If you don't tell them that you would rather be working on the other project, they're probably not going to figure it out themselves.

If they realized you weren't really interested in the project, it might have been harder to get hired in the first place, but now that you are on it and if they like your work it's not likely you'll get fired just for telling them you would rather be on the other task.

If you have a good relationship with your supervisor, then you could bring up the topic and discuss future options.

BTW, if you are in an area where demand for developers exceeds supply, let us know where it is.  A lot of us would like to know.

mackinac
Thursday, November 21, 2002

You need to front up to your manager with enthusiasm and ideas for the scientific apps, just as you did for the enterprise app. Make sure he knows where you want to be.

Even do a definite deal with him or her, if needs be: you'll do a good job on the enterprise app if you can do some part of the scientific app.

Must be a manager
Thursday, November 21, 2002

"Even do a definite deal with him or her, if needs be: you'll do a good job on the enterprise app if you can do some part of the scientific app. "

I think I am going to approach it this way. Thanks! I'll let you know how it works out.

whatToDo
Thursday, November 21, 2002

> what would you do

I asked a lawyer "How much is an employer allowed to change a employee's job description, instead of terminating the employee's position?"

He replied that, for example, they can't require an employee to emigrate, nor even require them to accept a demotion.

He also said that, here at least, the amount of notice due and of any severance or compensation can be assessed, argued, not argued...

I mention talking to a lawyer, but in my experience this is a last resort: the first thing I would do is talk with my boss.

Christopher Wells
Thursday, November 21, 2002

WhatToDo  - "every person I know over the age of 30 doing them is a cranky, fat motherfucker who hates his life and spends a lot of time randomly flaming people on message boards"

Have we met?

Alberto
Thursday, November 21, 2002

Seriously - I'd say that you want to work on the other application, get them to hire a new person and tell your boss you'll do the handover to them so that you can get back to the other application. This is a win - win, you get the job you want and the company get to have you holding the hand of the new person for a while until they learn to walk and then run.

Alberto
Thursday, November 21, 2002

Alberto: I don't think we've met. But maybe. ;-)

That comment might have been a bit harsh, but there certainly seem to be a lot of grumpy old programmers, in my experience.
(even worse, are the systems administrators)

I'm trying to sort out some type of plan, hopefully it will all go over well.

whatToDo
Thursday, November 21, 2002

IF you let your Boss know, then he might think what guarantees he has that you will do any other task with enthusiasm?

Prakash S
Thursday, November 21, 2002

what2do,

I believe that you said that you were hired specifically to do this scientific visualization project, with some minor assistence needed on some boring project.

You passed up higher paying offers to do boring projects because you wanted to work on this interesting thing.

And so you find that you are not working on the interesting thing, but are doing the boring project, a project which you would be paid much more to do elsewhere.

And to add insult to injury, someone new is being hired to do the interesting project that they lured you in with.

Yes, you have been bait-and-switched. It happens sometimes, especially if there is a job no one wants - I've been through it a couple times.

I would politely and calmly confront your boss with these facts and assert clearly that you will be working on the work you were promised, making clear that the boring work is something you would be paid much more to do elsewhere and it as your primary focus was completely different from what you were promised.

If they do not turn you over to the project they lured you in with, I would go straight to a lawyer to negotiate a severance package.

It's a breech of contract. They misrepresented the job. Because it was done in bad faith, they are liable to you for treble damages - such as relocation expenses, severence, etc.

Good luck.

Ed the Millwright
Friday, November 22, 2002

Ed the Millright might be right. If you think you were deliberately suckered into the arrangement, you should be screaming.

However sometimes situations such as yours arise because managers are dumb. If that's the case, be polite. If it's not the case, be demanding and rude.

Must be a manager
Friday, November 22, 2002

"every person I know over the age of 30 doing them is a cranky, fat motherfucker who hates his life and spends a lot of time randomly flaming people on message boards. Sound familiar"

I didn't know you knew Bella!


Friday, November 22, 2002

Whatever you do, don't say nothing. I've been there, and believe me it does no good.

Is anyone doing the visualisation work you were hired for?
If you were hired to do particular work, and you are not doing it, definitely complain.

Remember if they are being underhand about this they will probably be underhand about other things too. Any you are not without bargaining tools - if you quit they will have to find someone else and lose time on their Enterprise App, and go through another expensie hiring procuedure

David Clayworth
Friday, November 22, 2002

Now, now.

In his capacity as the official senior JoS Troll-in-Residence, Bella deserves more respect than that.

Dunno Wair
Friday, November 22, 2002

>> In his capacity as the official senior JoS Troll-in-Residence, Bella deserves more respect than that. <<

Bella deserves no respect. We've heard things like "if you don't like your job just leave" for too long.

It is possible to change a bad environment for the better. I'm sick of people like Bella with the "everyone should just put up or shut up" attitude.

NathanJ
Saturday, November 23, 2002

>> In his capacity as the official senior JoS Troll-in-Residence, Bella deserves more respect than that. <<

Actually Bella's been slacking as the resident troll lately.  I'm glad he's back to form - it's a good reminder to spend less time in forums and more time doing something useful.

So remember ...

Ask not for whom the Bella trolls, he trolls for thee!

Nick Hebb
Sunday, November 24, 2002

> PS: One reason I'm trying to get out of enterprise apps is because every person I know over the age of 30 doing them is a cranky, fat motherfucker who hates his life

I am not fat. 
And I left the IT industry earlier this year.

> Actually Bella's been slacking as the resident troll lately.

Yes, I've been somewhat busy in establishing my new life(style).

Bella
Sunday, November 24, 2002

so Bella, what do you do now?

Need2Know
Monday, November 25, 2002

Don't listen to them Bella, they're all fat motherfuckers with angry wives.

Alberto
Monday, November 25, 2002

That actually happened to me at my last job.

I just lined up a new job and left.

I'd start interviewing if I were you.  Voting with your feet is the best way to get what you want.

Norrick
Monday, November 25, 2002

Norrick, that is not the advice people want to hear.  Only compliment people, say naive/optimistic things, and how he got a raw deal.  Never suggest taking responsilibity for your situation, or doing anything proactive to rectify it.  Rather, suggest blaming others, and not reallly doing anything about it.  That is sure to get you more support that the advice you originally gave.,

(Bella deserves no respect. We've heard things like "if you don't like your job just leave" for too long.)

Bella
Monday, November 25, 2002

"PS: Have you not developed ANY business acumen since being laid off, and having had ages to reflect?  Do you have to ask why they would assign you to this project, when you yourself said it is more critical?  On second thought, you may deserve to be fired.

Bella"

how is this a useful comment? how's the divorce? found a new job as a commercial fisherman, or whatever you are doing now?

anyway, I talked to my boss. The people advising me to sue were a bit overboard. i usually get jobs from friends, through friends, and litigation would effectively destroy my network. the situation is that they basically don't really have anyone competent to do this stuff, and they really need my help on this enterprise thing. so, i'm going to help them out, and hopefully work on the fun stuff after the first of the year.

whatToDo
Monday, November 25, 2002

If they do not have anyone competent, then why weren't they hiring for this. Instead, they put out the nice job description that lured you in. They might not have done this on purpose, but that is the present day reality.
As it stands, they are still not hiring for the job you are doing now. Instead, they are putting out a job description for the fun stuff again ...
What makes you think your situation will change? Or do you believe that they are now trying to "bait and switch" the next sucker to come along, and you will be fine ...

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Actually they are hiring two more developers. The job descriptions are sort of "programmer at large." I'm involved with the hiring process for any further developers, and I will essentially now be managing both projects, so things will work out OK. There are other reasons to stick with the job, such as very flexible hours (I can attend night school, something I've never had time to do in the past), and it looks good on a resume for the field I want to get into.  So, it still isn't ideal, but it should be OK for the time being. Thanks everyone for the advice.

whatToDo
Tuesday, November 26, 2002

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