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I was recently quietly put on a team and will be undertaking additional responsibilities, in addition to my existing responsibilities at work. I say quietly, because it was rather informal, as a result of a meeting with my boss. What I'm concerned about is the initial "job description" sheet I signed when taking my original position. It outlined more or less what I'd be doing with the addition of the often dreaded "other duties as assigned", which was already taken well advantage of.

Is it uncommon to ask for my boss to re-write my job description to accurately reflect the increasing umbrella of tasks now beneath me? There seem to be blurred lines here where I'm not sure if I was promoted or just being taken advantage of.

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Is it uncommon to ask for my boss to re-write my job description to accurately reflect the increasing umbrella of tasks now beneath me?

At every company where I have ever worked, job descriptions were pretty much useless. They were mandated by HR, created in as generic a fashion as possible, and never updated unless HR decided it was time to do so.

The only real use for job descriptions at my companies was to get a New Hire Requisition approved by HR. Other than that - nothing.

And every job description I have ever written or read always contained a magic phrase like "other duties as required", to cover the real world conditions.

In my experience, we start at a particular set of expectations for our job assignments when we are hired, but the real responsibilities begin to change immediately. Jobs morph into what we can do, what we want to do, and what the company needs to be done. We grow into our jobs, and our jobs grow into what we do.

Trying to keep a written job description accurate over time is wasted effort, in my opinion.

In my experience, it is extremely uncommon for someone to ask their boss to update a written job description - I've never asked it, and I've never had anyone who worked for me ask it.

If you feel you've exceeded the boundaries of your job, you should start talking about it with your boss, as a prologue for a great annual performance review, or even setting yourself up for a promotion. I think this is a far better use of your time and your bosses time, rather than just trying to have a piece of paper updated.

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Having the scope of your job change is not at all uncommon, as the needs of the business change and your skillset grows.

Different companies differ in how much effort they make to keep the official job description in synch with what you're actually doing. If your manager is making that effort, this is usually a Good Thing, since it helps ensure that you'll be evaluated against what you actually did.

  • Exactly, the supervisor may be doing the employee a favor. If the supervisor had left the original job description in place, it could appear the employee was spending too much time on tasks unrelated to job they were hired to do according to the job description. – Jason Oct 14 '15 at 1:35
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Is it uncommon to ask for my boss to re-write my job description to accurately reflect the increasing umbrella of tasks now beneath me?

No. Generally that's the sort of thing that would be addressed in the context of an annual performance review. It would be reasonable to bring the matter up at your next review, and request that your position description be updated to accurately reflect the tasks that you're actually doing on a regular basis.

However, it may not make sense to immediately request a review or to specifically request that they rewrite your job description outside of the context of a performance review. It's possible that they've given you the new tasks on a once-off or trial basis, and that you may not continue with them longer-term. Your job description is there to reflect the things you're routinely expected to do, not necessarily everything that you may be asked to do.

So I'd say give it some time, and if your new responsibilities continue then definitely bring it up in the context of your next performance review.

There seem to be blurred lines here where I'm not sure if I was promoted or just being taken advantage of.

Could be either, or it could be their way of evaluating whether or not to formally promote you (i.e. by seeing how well you handle the additional responsibilities, first). It doesn't sound like you've allowed enough time to decide anything either way.

Depending upon your locale, the responsibilities outlined in your formal job description may have a bearing upon such things as your minimum wage/entitlements (for instance, Australia works that way, however I think that's more the exception than the rule). Or your employer may implement its own policy of position-specific pay scales (regardless of locale).

In such cases, getting an employee to routinely work on tasks that aren't formally part of their job description can be a tactic employers use to reduce the compensation they pay. And I've had personal experience with at least one company that deliberately and methodically did exactly that, and on a very large scale.

Outside of such cases, however, your formal title/job description is not a significant concern (apart from looking better on a resume if you can put 'Senior X' instead of just 'X'). Having more accuracy is always better, but not necessarily very impactful in most tangible ways.

Generally try not to assume your employer is trying to take advantage of you unless you've got some corroborating evidence to prove it. Like if you've had the additional responsibilities for a year, performed well at them, but they flat out refuse to update your position/job-description or even perform an actual performance review. Otherwise you should at least start out by trusting them.

To reiterate; my suggestion is to just give it some time, and if the additional responsibilities continue then bring the matter up at the next "natural" opportunity. Try to avoid rushing/forcing the issue.

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