Got a Job Description?

2 min. read

Burn it.

As much as people bullshit on their resumes, so do organizations when they create job descriptions. 

They’re laundry lists. Important if you’re looking for a job. But once you have it – useless.

Sure, you and your boss can discuss it over coffee and shoot the breeze about what you’ll be doing. But once you get one of those “other duties at the discretion of management” all bets are off.  Personally, I’d use it to light the grill this weekend. Should give the brats some added flavor.   

I love it when job descriptions include a list of desired characteristics ripped from some bestseller with the magic bullet.

“Able to pivot.” A barf bag, please. 

“Team player, hit the ground running, collaborative, influence without authority.”  Aren’t these obvious?

“Honest. Treats people with respect.” I almost forgot. Thanks for reminding me.  

What happens to your job when there are major shakeups like mergers, pandemics, loss of a major client, new regulations?

Sound familiar? Lighter fluid, please. 

Oh, and job titles. What the heck? One organization’s Maintenance Manager is another’s VP of Operations. How about the “VP of Mirth” or “Curator of Mammals.” Fun, but what do any of these mean? 

Please. Just burn it already.

The key to job success is clarity, not a description. It’s mandatory to get clarity as things change. 

Here’s a way to figure out your job so that it makes sense to you, your boss, even your mother when she asks. I call them “The Big Three.”

  1. “The What” –– what are you responsible for? 

Avoid a laundry list of tasks. Instead, ask yourself what are the critical tasks and responsibilities you’re expected to perform? 

Aggregate and prioritize them. Aggregate again to define your role.

2. “The How” – how do you best perform the job?

What knowledge, skills, and behaviors must you demonstrate? Things like building relationships and credibility, or speaking to others at their level of understanding. Great skills. Highly transferable.

3. “The Who” – who are the people you need to interact with to get the job done, build your network, and create on-going relationships?

 Face it. Some people are more important than others.  

• • •

  1. Define your job for clarity.
  2. Set up a meeting with your boss. Explain you want to make sure you’re working on the right stuff, using and learning the right skills, and interacting with the right people.
  3. Prepare for shock on your boss’s part. Maybe freshen up your CPR skills? Nobody does this.
  4. Ask for ongoing feedback.
  5. Remember – this is an organic process. So keep at it.

You may be thinking that your boss should be doing this, not you. Agreed, but don’t count on it.

You deserve this. Now go out and get the clarity you need.