askST Jobs: What to do when a job is not what it says on the tin

askST Jobs: What to do when a job is not what it says on the tin

Manpower reporter Tay Hong Yi offers practical answers to candid questions on navigating workplace challenges and getting ahead in your career. Get more tips by signing up to The Straits Times’ HeadSTart newsletter.

Q: My job seems different from what I signed up for. Should I stick it out?

A: In Singapore, jobs often diverge from what people expect in terms of job scope, work arrangements, or remuneration and benefits, says Mr Nilay Khandelwal, managing director of Michael Page Singapore and Indonesia.

Mr Khandelwal notes that frequent reasons for such divergence include miscommunication during the hiring process that leads to a gap between what is communicated and the actual job requirements.

“Assumptions based on industry norms might not align with the specific practices of a new role,” he adds.

Structural factors also play a significant role, with organisational restructuring such as mergers or internal changes potentially shifting job roles and expectations, Mr Khandelwal says.

Mr Jeon Chan, a consultant at recruitment firm Robert Walters Singapore, says that the nature of roles may evolve because companies are reducing the number of layers, which could cause job scopes to become less specialised.

A growing trend of consolidating business functions previously covered by multiple local teams into a single regional team in some sectors like fast-moving consumer goods could also cause an employee’s job to take on a wider remit, he adds.

Nonetheless, he notes that workers across all industries are expected to become more agile and adaptable in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.

“Professionals should be open-minded to opportunities to learn new skill sets and discover an undiscovered inner potential,” says Mr Chan.

A recent study of more than 500 Singapore workers by Michael Page indicates that 41 per cent of organisations in Singapore struggle to find the right talent, and 30 per cent grapple with retaining existing employees, which Mr Khandelwal says underscores the complexity of matching expectation with reality.

This means individuals and companies need to take proactive steps to minimise the risk of mismatch and manage changes effectively.

“For talent, it is essential to clarify expectations by asking detailed questions about job responsibilities, performance metrics, and growth opportunities during the interview process,” Mr Khandelwal says.

Meanwhile, companies ought to clearly articulate job roles, responsibilities and expectations during the hiring process. Updates should be provided as well if changes occur.

Flexible policies on work arrangements and career progression can also alleviate the fallout of a mismatch by catering to both individual needs and changes in the business environment.

Having competitive salaries that are aligned with market standards, providing exposure to top talent and creating a supportive culture with open communication can all be put in place to balance employee needs and profitability, Mr Khandelwal adds.

“This alignment can reduce turnover rates, thus lowering recruitment costs and contributing to overall profitability.”

For their part, individuals should consider the alignment of the job with their longer-term career goals, the availability of growth opportunities, the work environment, and financial stability when deciding whether to stay in a current role or move on, Mr Khandelwal advises.

In a sign of how important the right fit is, Michael Page’s latest poll on talent trends found that 90 per cent of employees polled are open to new roles despite being satisfied with their current salary.

Furthermore, 44 per cent would decline a promotion to prioritise well-being.

Mr Khandelwal says: “If the misalignment can be managed through communication and the role still offers potential for growth and satisfaction, staying might be worthwhile. However, significant misalignment affecting job satisfaction, mental health or career progression suggests exploring new opportunities.”

Mr Chan suggests that people whose role departed from expectations ask their direct manager to outline the long-term benefits of pressing on.

“Speak to people whom you think will give you sound advice, not just those who will say the things you would like to hear.”

Individuals should also ask themselves if the job imbues their life with a sense of purpose, he adds.

Have a question? Send it to [email protected]

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