Note: I am an entry level Web Developer in the US.

I started my current job a year and a half ago. At that time, I was right out of college and eager for a paycheck. I didn't think much of it, but now I realize that I never signed or received a contract regarding my responsibilities. The most I signed was a payment agreement but it didn't include a job description or title.

A usual day's work for me includes development and testing of new features for a web application. There are only two developers on this team (three when I first started), and we've fallen into our own niches where I primarily work on our web application and he primarily works on our standalone software.

Lately, my boss has been throwing a lot of curveballs at me. This includes being asked to go off-site during off-hours at very late notice, as well as programming in languages that I'm not familiar with to help my coworker with his tasks. We've also collectively turned into the IT department for the whole building and have been setting up new servers and Internet connections. To me, these things feel a bit out of scope for what I was hired for, and I definitely don't feel like I am being paid enough to tackle so many things.

For even more context, I was originally hired under the impression that I was going to be doing QA and Tech Support, but within a month I was given more and more development tasks (unfortunately without an increase in pay). So I feel like I was hired to do one thing, currently do another, and am being asked to do something different still.

So my questions are: How should I handle this situation and am I even legally allowed to turn down out-of-scope tasks? Is it appropriate to ask to sign a job description or renegotiate pay this far into the game? Should I consider this entire thing a big red flag?

Edit: A lot of people are suggesting other previous questions about how to decline work outside of scope or how to negotiate pay if I'm doing too much work. And while those are all incredibly useful resources, my issue is more centered around the fact that I don't have a job description at all. I negotiated my pay assuming I would be QA, my usual workflow has always been development, and my boss likes to throw IT, Tech Support, and the occasional road trip to work with physical machinery my way. No one in my company has ever actually told me "You are a programmer." or "You are a field grunt." I would really like to have someone tell me exactly who I am to the company and what I should be doing, but I don't know how to initiate that conversation.


So long as it's within working hours this is normal enough in many companies, especially smaller ones. And it can be great experience.

If it's going outside working hours or the pressure to deliver is too high then you need to discuss it with your boss. I've had several jobs like this, the only way to rectify it if it gets out of hand is discuss options with the people who can actually make changes.

First and foremost get all job requests funneled through a superior. Who ever is responsible for setting your priorities and time management. This is very important because it creates a buffer between you and Mrs Smith who's mouse is playing up for the third time this week etc,. and it gives you a paper trail on all work. Instead of having 50 people who can call you, you now only have one who although they're your superior, acts like your secretary :-) filtering the work before it gets to you.


Sounds like you are way past due for a performance review.

I would suggest that you and your manager sit down and discuss the direction of the department and find out what he/she plans to do for you and your career. If there is an agenda that you are just not aware of - then that could explain why you are being asked to do some things that is not traditionally "your position's responsibility".

That brings another point - technically, you are expected to do what is asked of you (within reason and legal terms, of course). Take the approach of, "hey I'm being involved with things beyond what I'd be asked to do normally - maybe this means I'm trustworthy".

You bring up potential inequality in pay. That one is on you. Everyone negotiates their own deal. If the pay isn't there for your financial goals and the scope of work is consistently falling outside of what you want to do - try and find a new employer that will respect your career and financial goals.

Good luck.


You'll never sign a piece of paper saying what your duties are. Those just don't exist. And this is from someone who's had almost a dozen jobs or contracts over a 18 year career, startups and large enterprises. At most it will give a title. In reality, your duties in tech are whatever you're capable of doing and needs to be done. This may mean changing languages, doing some QA, setting up a server, etc. Now if you don't like what you're doing, talk to your boss about it. If you really don't like it, start looking for a new job. (If you're doing much more difficult work, say you were hired as a tester and are now programming, its totally reasonable to request a raise and title change). But don't expect someone to come with a list of job duties that you can compare an incoming request to- that's just not a reasonable assumption.

  • I think this is really what I was looking for. I've always been under the assumption that people have these specific job descriptions that entail duties and responsibilities (kind of like what you see when you apply for the job). If that's not normally the case, then I feel a bit better about it although I think a good chat with my manager is still in order. – a_mediocre_riot Jul 7 '17 at 12:24
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    @a_mediocre_riot, even if there is a description of duties (government jobs sometimes have them) there is always a clause that says other duties as assigned (this also means you can be assigned lower level work such as making copies for a presentation). If the duties move you into a higher paying professions, then you discuss a salary or title change with your boss. But be aware that the higher paying work generally has to be over 50% before a pay hike and job title change would get approved. – HLGEM Jul 7 '17 at 17:50

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