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GUEST COMMENT: On the first day of my new job, I was informed a better candidate had replaced me

Musical chairs

Musical chairs

This site recently published an article about how to leave your job properly.

Sometimes, however, when you leave is not in your control.

I was recently laid off due to a downsizing exercise at a bank. But in reality, my job was eliminated before I even started two years ago. On my first day, I was informed that I’d been assigned to a role in a completely different group to the one I’d expected to join, and in an area in which I had no experience.

I was told this had happened because they’d found a ‘better’ candidate for the role I was expecting to fill. Unfortunately, I’d changed jobs quite a few times and was in no position to turn them down.

Changing the job specifications of a new hire seems to be a trend in financial services. Since then, the same thing has happened to me several times. As a new joiner, it always leaves me in a difficult position with my new manager: if I prove to be better than the person who displaced me, it makes the manager look stupid. If I don’t prove to be better, it vindicates their decision and makes it look like they did the right thing.

Does anyone else have experience of this? How would you suggest dealing with it?

Comments (5)

  1. You’ve experienced B to the Power of Three. Bullsh*t Baffles Brains, which is the management modus operandi at many banks. It doesn’t matter how good you are, how hard you work, how much you schmooze your boss or, more to the point, how profitable you are: there will be a knife-wielding number cruncher out there who can upset the whole apple cart if your area is deemed needy of the slice. (So much more refined than ‘chop’). Banks like to think they are refined.

    The slice is what bank bosses do when things get tough; when things get boring; when they think things are going too well; when they think things might change in the short- medium- or long- term; when they need to jockey for position with each other. It often doesn’t bear much correlation to profitability, but blood-letting is the sport of preference for bankers. They have to be seen to be tough. Especially on you.

    One famous (now booted) head of Equities at a global bank said ‘I don’t have friends in the office’. Remember it. Although I must say it gives me joy that he no longer has an office, or any friends inside – or outside it.

    You’ll either a) get moved to where you aren’t effective so they can performance-manage you out of your job or b) your job will suddenly and mysteriously cease to exist (although in many instances it resurfaces in India with cheapie chappies and chapesses who cost about a fifth of you lot) and you’ll be out because they can do it.

    This is banking. What you do with this information is up to you. Good luck and watch your back. Always.

  2. If the job spec has changed that significantly when you show up, you could have grounds for constructive dismissal. You’d need to resign straight away though. You say you were in no position to turn them down which I take to mean you weighed up your options and went for the paycheck. Fair enough, but I don’t see what use it is wringing your hands about it two years on. You sound like a very passive individual, so my advice would be to play to your strengths and wait for something to come up.

  3. “Unfortunately, I’d changed jobs quite a few times and was in no position to turn them down.”

    – so make sure you do the very best at each job, and learn as much as you can, so when you are a) given the boot b) or decide you have had enough, then you can walk into your next role as the ‘better’ candidate.

    MikeTheMechanic Reply
  4. Welcome to the club…
    I have been in the same position a few weeks ago.
    Between the moment I signed and the one I started the bank had changed its organisation setup (for the xth time in less than a year) and the initial job was no longer there.
    Consequently, I was assigned to three diferrent jobs in less than three weeks. I anticipated what would happen next and decided to step down.
    Considering the outstanding level of mediocrity in top managemnt nowadays, my advice is to turn the page and create your own business.
    I was always very conscious of the fact the people were treated like tools in the past.
    Post crisis, we went the extra mile in the absurdity.
    With all my symphaty.

  5. Like: the comment about ever-present current… ‘mediocrity in management’; Seen it, experienced it, suffered from it and gnashed teeth at the twits who assume that because they come from a certain school/uni/class/business school/club they are the inheritors of the earth. But get over it. They always will be.

    More important:

    Like #2 Create your own business.

    The only way to get away from the grim, bust model that passes for City business this way is to do the latter. But hang onto your ethics when you do, or you’ll be as bad as the last lot. And learn to schmooze the above IOTH class. They’ll stuff you into a corner otherwise.

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