Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

Ask an Honest HR Professional: How Do I Deal When I Was Job Catfished?

person at desk
Georgijevic/Getty Images

Dear HR Professional,

I took my current job thinking it would lead to numerous career advancement opportunities, and now I fear that the job I ended up with is far different from the one I was originally presented. I've tried to make the best of it, but I’ve determined it's definitely time to look for a new opportunity. How can I do this without being deemed a “flight risk” by my current or future employers?

Catfished and Concerned

Dear Catfished and Concerned,

Sorry to hear about your experience! It’s always disheartening when the opportunity you were expecting isn’t the one you end up with (especially when you were told otherwise…). Luckily this has happened to quite a few people before you, so I have a quick two-step process to help you out.

1. Exhaust Your Options at Your Current Company

You’ve said that you took your current role with the understanding that it would lead to career advancement opportunities. This can come in many forms—promotions, learning opportunities, connections, internal transfers, etc.

Think about what excited you about this opportunity in the first place and then have an honest conversation with your manager about what you’re looking for. There may be opportunities for you at your current company that you don’t know about; the only way to be sure is to ask!

If There’s Really Nothing There For You

If you’ve done that and you’re sure that your company can’t offer you anything that you’re interested in, it’s probably time to start updating your resume and seeing what else is out there. These articles should help you get started conducting that search without getting in the way of your current job:

2. Prepare Your Story

Truthfully, hiring managers will probably throw you a side eye when they see your dates. So it’s important to tell your story the way you want them to see it in both your application materials (especially your cover letter) and when you’re networking. And I know, networking is the worst, but in a situation like this, it’s the best way to get your foot in the door.

And if you’re worried about answering that dreaded, “Why are you leaving your current job?” question during interviews, remember to be honest without skewing too negative. This article has some great responses you can use to talk about your reasoning in an authentic way—without throwing your employer under the bus.

If career advancement is what you want in your next role, the best way to make sure you get it is to ask about it while you’re interviewing. I know, I know—your current gig told you they had these opportunities for you, too, but you can do some research to find out if other companies are telling the truth or not.

Look at the employer’s social feeds, articles, and Muse profile (shameless plug, I know) to see what’s authentically coming through about why it’s a great place to work.

Follow up with the people you’ve interviewed with and ask them about their own career advancement at the company. It’s one thing for a potential employer to tell you about growth opportunities; it’s another thing to hear from other employees who have gone through it.

This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask an Honest HR Professional in the subject line.

Your letter may be published in an article on The Muse. All letters to Ask an Expert become the property of Daily Muse, Inc and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.

A logo with "the muse" in white text.