Dear Employers: Job Descriptions are REALLY Important
Like most people in PR, I found my current firm through networking and landed an interview thanks to a great referral. When I received my offer letter, I was so excited that I started doing cartwheels (literally). Maybe it was all the flips and spins, or the fact that I was absolutely clueless, but upon accepting the job, I made one major oversight: I walked into the office on day one without ever seeing a job description for my position.
As employee No. 9 and the first entry-level hire ever, I suppose I should have thought more about what was expected of me. Instead, all I could think about was how I needed to kick bootay and make some money while doing it.
Fast forward a few months, past a few 12-hour days and sleepless nights, and I find myself receiving a promotion, yee haw! I assume the review was pretty typical: “Here’s what we love about you, here’s where we think you can grow, yada yada yada, here’s your new salary and this will be your new title.”
New title? Right, of course. At that very moment, I wanted to punch myself in the face – why did I wait until my review to even think about the position above me and what it might entail? Was it because no one in the office currently held that position? Was it because I’m just an idiot? In a slightly panicked tone, I asked, “So what do you expect from me now? What is the differentiating factor between this new position and the responsibilities of my previous title?” I’ll never forget the answer: “Let me check on that and get back to you.”
Coming from an internship at a global company that had a plan and process for everything, a smaller firm was a breath of fresh air. The few tasks that tended to slip through the cracks because we didn’t have an “HR Department” didn’t really bother me. Until that moment.
And now we come to the lesson. Just like everything in life, you need a plan for success. As a young professional, you should view your job description as a starting point from which to grow your career. Review what’s expected of you and start devising a plan for how to go above and beyond in order to ultimately move up the ladder. Of course, there are still times where I fly by the seat of my pants, combining common sense, observation and trial & error, but now that I know what’s expected of me, life is a little less stressful.
If you’re like me and don’t have an explicitly defined job description, or have never seen one for your position, don’t hesitate to ask. If you’re at a small firm, there may not be a job description. And, if that’s your situation, I suggest sitting down to write one with your boss. Better yet, perhaps looking into programs that could help your company reach its full human resources potential is in order.