I’m still not doing the job I was hired for two years ago

A reader writes:

I’ve been at my current job for two years, and have been doing … okay. No big issues, but in previous reviews my boss has talked about me in terms of good, not great. I’m definitely struggling with efficiency, and am generally bored and disengaged.

The problem is, I’m struggling because the skills I was hired for (user training and product management) have nothing to do with the job I’m being asked to do (technical support). My personality and preferred work environment are also really at odds with what I’m doing; I have ADHD and excel in a social team environment, but am rarely given work that requires any engagement with coworkers.

I brought up my confusion about this during last year’s review, and my boss assured me that product manager was the goal for my position, but I needed to show a little more drive first. Is there a professional way of pointing out that I’m not dazzling him in this role because it’s not what I was hired for? Or do I just write this off as a bad fit and start job hunting again?

It’s been two years! If your boss were telling you this after two months, that would be one thing — but after two years?!

“We need to see you prove yourself before we’ll put you in the job we hired you for two years ago” is just a tremendous line of BS. Either they didn’t see the skills in you they expected to see and so they put you in this other role (in which case they should be up-front about that) or they never intended to and for some reason keep stringing you along. Either way, after two years, there’s no reason to think it will change.

You could try a conversation along the lines of, “The work you hired me for is X. The work you’ve had me doing is Y, which is not my strength. You’ve told me I can’t move to X until I prove myself at Y, but Y isn’t what I excel in. Given that, can we talk about exactly what you need to see from me in order to move me to X, so that I can figure out if I can meet those goals?”

If you’d had that conversation four to six months into the job, I would have told you to frame it as, “Can you tell me the timeline for moving me to the role I signed on for?” But it’s been so long that that’s mostly moot. Two years in, they think of you as this role, not the one they hired you for.

Definitely start looking outside your company.

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