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Promises, promises

Your career : Careers clinic

Six months ago I left a job I had enjoyed for four years. I felt that I had been there too long and joined a smaller, younger firm on the verge of expansion. My new company is expanding quickly and provides a vibrant and innovative working environment, but I feel I have been let down on a more personal level.

I was made a number of promises by the head of department at the interview. These included greater managerial responsibility, the chance for overseas travel and access to training courses - none of which has yet materialised.

Recently, I noticed that my old firm is now looking for chartered engineers with my sort of experience and I am sorely tempted to apply. Would this be foolish? What would be the best thing for me to do?

Name and address withheld.

Our experts advise It is never professional for a business to make promises that it does not deliver. In recruitment markets where there is strong demand for particular skills, managers could be tempted into selling jobs by making promises which they are not in a position to honour.

Were these commitments in writing?

Have you sought a discussion with the head of your department to explain why further responsibility, travel and training have not been forthcoming?

How will your department head receive these questions?

The new environment may be challenging and vibrant but you may not always be able to rely on the word of management. This is often excused by comments such as 'things are moving too fast, ' or 'events have moved on'.

If this type of business culture is one with which you would be uncomfortable in the long term, then you should consider moving on.

It is always good practice to leave an employer on amicable terms and give contractual notice. This leaves the way open to rejoining a previous firm.

Identifying and selecting an employer whose credibility is established and whose business culture broadly fits your own work ethic is likely to be the most satisfying match.

Brian Parker, human resources manager, Kier Group Unfortunately, companies overselling jobs at interviews is a common problem. What candidates need to do is interview the company as well as vice-versa, so they are 100% sure what the job entails. You cannot assume that a job description will remain static, although it is good practice for employers to give notice of change, and to explain changes in a business context.

Your job description can form part of your employment contract, so if you feel you have been asked increasingly to work outside the terms of your contract then you should consider taking legal advice.

You should not do this until you have discussed the issue with your line manager or personnel department and clarified how and why the misunderstandings arose. You should try to agree exactly what your role is and then continue to review this regularly with your manager.

If, after taking responsibility as suggested above, you are still not happy with your new company, then yes, you should consider moving to another firm. I certainly would not threaten to leave, however, unless I was prepared to carry out the threat.

Imogen Daniels, research and development adviser, Chartered Insitute of Personnel & Development My advice would be to have an informal meeting with your manager and raise the issues of concern.

I think it is worth the effort. At the same time, it would not do you any harm to enquire about the new vacancies at your previous firm.

We have engineers who have left and come back to the fold when they realise the grass is not always greener.

Lindsay Blackman, head of personnel, McNicholas Construction Company It is not uncommon for an organisation to offer something they do not deliver to new employees. I would like to know how proactive you have been in your new job. Often organisations want to see how committed a new employee is before providing the benefits promised at an interview.

Have you discussed the matter with you line manager? Perhaps there are legitimate reasons why the benefits have not materialised - budget cuts, for example, or changes in corporate objectives. A competent line manager should keep you informed of such changes, otherwise I would suggest discussing the problem with a qualified careers adviser.

I would advise you to persevere with your existing company. Discuss your concerns and get some feedback before putting together a personal plan of action. Remember that the grass may appear greener on the other side of the fence, but this may not always be so in reality.

Richard Sewell, head of business development, Institute of Management.

Key points

Try to identify if a company is overselling a job before accepting it If promises about a job do not materialise approach your line manager.

If there are valid reasons why benefits are not available try and establish a timetable for getting them.

If you are unable to clarify your position you may need to seek legal advice. As a last resort you may decide to get a new job

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