No Laughing Matter: Avoid Being ‘Fooled’ in the Job Search

April Fools’ is a day of fun and surprises – but when the surprise is a job you weren’t expecting – it’s no laughing matter.

When a friend of mine decided to accept an entry-level position, I had my suspicions at the start when she read the header of the job posting “Are You a PR Rock Super Star? Join the Revolution.” She assured me this was the job for her, and it would give her an opportunity to really get her feet wet and “own PR” for a growing, start-up company. A few months later, the story had changed – so too did her enthusiasm and zeal for the job. Turns out, not only was the company not growing, but she spent the bulk of her day on tasks unrelated to the role … and, did I mention, she was still waiting to get paid? 

While this is an extreme example, I’m sure many of you can relate. If so, rest assured, you’re not alone. According to a new survey conducted by Robert Half, 41 percent of U.S. workers said they have taken a job that turned out to be different from what they thought it would be during the interview process. Among those respondents, job duties was the most commonly cited aspect of the job that turned out to be not what new hires expected, followed closely by corporate culture and work hours.

You may be wishing for a crystal ball to tell you when it’s the right opportunity. The truth of the matter is there’s no exact science to the job search. But don’t fret just yet. Here are four tips you can employ to help decrease your likelihood of being “twice the fool.”

1. Ask the Right Questions. It’s important to remember that the interview process is a two-way street. The job interview is not only an opportunity for a potential employer to get to know you, but it’s also an opportunity for you to learn more about the hiring organization. Make sure that you leverage this time with hiring managers to ask targeted questions that will help you better understand the role and whether it’s a fit for you, such as … Why is this position open? How would you describe the company culture? Can you describe a typical workday for a person in this role?

2. Do Your Homework. The more research and time you invest in your job search efforts, the better the end result. Make sure that you spend time reviewing the company online. What does the website state about their team and the culture and values they instill ? How does it compare with reviews written by employees on sites like Glassdoor and Also, pay attention to what they post via social media. How they position themselves through sites like LinkedIn and Facebook can provide some insight into the personality of the organization.

3. Remember it’s Not Just About the Paycheck. Studies have shown that money doesn’t necessarily lead to job satisfaction. While the initial salary offering may be enticing, there are many other factors to consider before taking a new position, such as the culture of the company, the type of work you’ll be doing, the people you’ll be working with, and the overall stability and future of the organization. 

4. Trust Your Gut. When all else fails, trust what your gut is telling you. People often say that when you find the right job, you’ll just know. Listen to that feeling. If something seems off or amiss during the interview process, it might be a sign that this is not the right job for you. 

Have you ever been ‘fooled’ by the job search? How have you overcome this job search challenge? We’d love to hear from you. Share your story and best practices in the comments section below.

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