my new boss treats me like his assistant … which isn’t what I was hired for — Ask a Manager

I am on the receiving end of a bait and switch job offer. I was hired to be a project manager and am now effectively an administrative assistant.

The job I interviewed for was listed as a project manager at a very large company. The job description clearly outlined expectations of a project manager and seemed to perfectly align with my background.

During the initial phone screen, the recruiter asked about my experiences as a project manager – but oddly, he also asked about my experience with calendar management and planning off-sites. Since I had worked at large companies before, I knew the challenges of scheduling meetings with numerous stakeholders and executives and figured this is what he meant. I explained that I had done that work in those contexts before. The recruiter said that 10% of the role would be those responsibilities and “light admin” work, such as submitting expenses. A little concerned, I tried to clarify, and he assured me the admin work was minor. He also mentioned that the role was open because the person who previously had the role, “Melissa,” had moved to another team but was still with the company and very happy.

Subsequent interviews focused my project management experience so I wasn’t too worried.

However, once I started the job, in my first meeting with my boss, “Kevin,” he outlined his expectations of the role and said 75% of the role would be to support projects he assigned me to and 15% to support other team member’s projects, with the remaining 10% admin work. Then he began assigning me administrative work like submitting his expenses, scheduling meetings for him with others, booking conference rooms, booking hotel rooms, and ordering catering.

Cut to four months into this job and I am now a full-blown admin with absolutely no project management work. I am treated by Kevin and the team as an admin. I’m invited to meetings just to take notes. If I attempt to participate in any way (as I was used to doing as an actual project manager), I’m dismissed or cut down. Kevin messages me to do extremely trivial things that he is fully capable of doing himself. I set up meetings for him and then he promptly changes his mind. When I booked a conference room that didn’t have enough seats, he ordered me to go grab chairs for the others. He asks me to grab pastries and book catering, order him lunch, book hotels — all very admin stuff. He also announced at our most recent team meeting that he had hired a person with a project management background to help with projects so I’m suspecting that he truly has no intention of me taking on the role I was hired for.

Last week I met with Melissa and explained what was happening. She nodded knowingly and said that Kevin came from a company where he had an EA who did everything for him. Since our company doesn’t allow EAs at his level, he uses the project manager role to fill that function.

I asked her why the job description was for a project manager – why not just hire someone with an executive assistant background? She explained that HR is involved in reviewing the job descriptions, screening candidates, and interviewing candidates as a control for preventing this from happening. My boss is just blatantly circumventing this by forcing the person in this role to be an EA and it was why she left the team to join a different one.

Do I have any recourse here? Or do I just have to quit since this isn’t the role I signed up for?

I worry about leaving early. I have a few short stints on my resume and it’s not ideal to add another one, but I don’t know that I can stay even six months with this treatment. Do I hold out and try to transfer internally? Is there any way I can alert HR to what’s actually happening? Or do they know, and just don’t care?

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