Tech & Work

But that's not in my job description

What do you do when you're being asked to do more than was initially indicated when you accepted your job?

A reader recently wrote to me asking me to address the issue of employees having to perform duties that are not in their job description. This particular IT pro was given a good deal more duties than she initially signed on for and was asking if she should ask for a raise.

First, let me say that this is an extremely common occurrence. It's especially true since many companies are forced to do more with fewer employees due to layoffs. A lot of people are so grateful to still be employed in this economy that they hesitate to say anything until their job load has just about doubled.

How do you tell when things have gone too far and what can you do? Here are some things to consider:

Do you have an employment contract?

Meant to provide key employees with a carefully designed set of incentives, a good employment contract will spell out the scope of an employee's responsibility to the company, including your title.

If your employment contract is explicit, you can always refer to it when approaching your manager about duties that aren't included. If it's not explicit, then a clever manager can manipulate around what was stated and what is being asked. It's not easy to ask for clarification on an employment contract during the hiring process, but it's something you should do.

What types of duties are you being asked to do?

If you were hired on as a Support pro but your boss asks you to clean his office, then obviously you need to put your foot down, preferably on your boss's head. But if someone is asking you to let the Fed Ex guy in because your desk is next to the entrance, I'm not sure that's worth creating a ruckus over.

There are always going to be extra duties that could not have been foreseen. Employees who bend a little are usually regarded well by their managers. Divas are not. Also, you don't want to bend too far in the other direction and be an absolute door mat.

Are the extra duties interfering with your primary duties?

If so, you definitely need to speak with your manager. Sometimes managers are too distracted (or lazy) to figure out that all the little extra duties she's asking you to do can accumulate to an unmanageable mess. It's really up to you to bring this to light. Of course, this is not saying that every manager will be receptive to that because a good many of them do this on purpose.

Just have a nice conversation in which you ask if you could be compensated for the extra duties you didn't know would be yours when you took the job.

Anyone have any experience having this talk with a manager? If so, how did it turn out?


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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