Not in Your Job Description?

The work you’ve been doing might not be what’s in your job description. Now’s the time to review and perhaps rewrite it.

When did you last review your job description? More importantly, when did you last seek to update this information with what is actually true?

Case #1: Your job title is Instructional Designer. When hired, the description was light on details. The actual work is (far) less about “design” and more about using various tools to complete others’ projects. You develop their slide decks using a corporate template and their documents and spreadsheets. You’ve been burnishing your rapid development tool skills by updating old eLearning courses to the latest version of SCORM and HTML5.

There is nothing wrong with any of this. However, if the work you do is different than your job description and job classification, it may affect your compensation (and incentive plan).

Case #2: When you accepted the role, your responsibilities included in-person training for new employee orientation and onboarding new staff. Now you’re training clients online every week. You lead sessions at the annual user conference. You have increased your visibility in, and value to, the organization. Does your job description, role placement, and classification reflect your contributions?


It is likely you’ve been too busy doing the work and living your life to realize that this is your career and an opportunity to embark upon a discussion with your leader. But before jumping in to push your leader, you need to do some work:

  • Survey others you know doing similar work, formally and informally. Determine whether things are where they should be with your background, experience, skills, and education. Ask them what their career trajectory looks like.
  • Align yourself (i.e., join and participate) with at least one organization devoted to the work you seek to do more of. Also align with an organization(s) in the industry where you seek to do work.
  • Keep learning and building skills. Don’t stop. Ever. (Even if you have to pay out of pocket.)
  • Start slowly. It may take time to realize change in your leader, department, organization.
  • Be consistent. Don’t ask for “x” now and “y” two months later (unless circumstances have changed).
  • Have an internal plan for the potential reality that what you seek isn’t possible “here” and you might only find it elsewhere. But proceed with caution. The grass can always be “greener” somewhere else when you’re looking in from the outside.
Dawn J Mahoney, CPTD
Dawn J. Mahoney, CPTD, is the program content manager for Training magazine. She also owns Learning in The White Space LLC, a freelance talent development (“training”) and instructional design consultancy. She is passionate about developing people through better training, better instructional design, and better dialog. E-mail her at: