How to Use Your Job Description to Advance Your Career

When was the last time you looked at your job description? Is it up-to-date? If you haven’t paid much attention to this document lately, you should. It may be more crucial to your professional success than you think.

In a recent survey by OfficeTeam and the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) tied to our Office of the Future research project, 41 percent of administrative professionals said their work responsibilities had changed significantly since they started their jobs.

They also said their job descriptions were not accurate.

Having a job description — an accurate one — can help as much during your job as when you were looking for it. Here’s how:

Set yourself up for success

This document can be valuable from your first day on the job by defining your day-to-day tasks as well as the goals and benchmarks you need to meet. It keeps you and your manager aligned by determining the criteria she should use to evaluate you. And a current job description also contains information you need to evaluate your own performance on the job.

Move beyond assigned tasks

You don’t have to feel confined to your job description. Use it to help identify ways of growing your role and career beyond the duties you were originally assigned. An organization’s needs and business environment change often, and what was required of the position when you began may be different later in your career. Review your job description regularly to stay one step ahead.

After you’ve gained some experience with the position, you’re in a prime spot to discuss with your manager how you can adjust your job description to take on more responsibilities. Your company may even be willing to pay for you to take classes or gain necessary certifications. You both benefit by adding qualifications and advancing your career while also helping your employer.

Land the chopper

But you don’t always have to get permission to go beyond your job responsibilities. Fifty-five percent of administrative professionals polled in the survey said they very often help out with tasks beyond their assigned duties. Thirty-two percent said they assisted with these types of tasks “somewhat often.”  

Are there specialized tasks that your job description does not include? Can you do them? Not many administrative professionals have helped land a helicopter on top of a building, but at least one person polled in the OfficeTeam/IAAP survey said it was a task they were asked to do at work. OK, maybe that’s an extreme example, but it’s true that pitching in and going the extra mile will showcase your willingness to step in when you see a need you could meet.

How do you use your job description? Let us know in the comments section.

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