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Careerminds

Effectively Reaching Beyond Your Job Description

Jennifer Fry
Careerminds Consultant

It goes without saying-- or rather, it should-- that completing the duties detailed in your job description is always an expectation. The fact of the matter is, while your work should be appreciated, it most likely will not be specially rewarded unless it shows an extraordinary effort on your part.
Think of it this way: does the mailman get a bonus on his paycheck for every piece of mail he successfully delivers? Does a teacher get a promotion every time she teaches something new to her students? Of course not-- that's what they're expected to do. But, if that mailman were to finish his deliveries faster than the others, or add more stops to his route, it may be a different story.
The key to moving up the ladder lies beyond your job description, and here's how to go about effectively stretching beyond your normal responsibilities without stepping on anyone's toes in the process.

  • Pretend You Have Two Jobs: The first job, of course, is the one you were hired for, the one spelled out in your job description. You perform this job well, but that does not count towards a raise, promotion, etc. because, remember, that's what you're expected to do, anyway. The second job, however, is what sets you apart and provides that above-and-beyond status that will qualify you for special rewards. In your second job, make it a point to talk to others with whom you do not work directly and ask how you can help them achieve their goals and how they can help with yours. The idea is to formulate a real plan for how these two teams or departments can collaborate to better achieve the goals of the company, and once this plan has been created, the two of you can pitch it to your boss.

This technique will presumably facilitate the employment of several others that can be used to good effect independently, as well.

  • Make Friends In High Places: This does not imply that you should start sucking up to your boss-- that probably won't go over well with him/her or with your co-workers-- but you should make an honest effort to get to know people in other departments and/or in higher positions. These new friends may be willing to provide some insight into what other responsibilities you would have in the case of a promotion and may even be willing to offer advice on how to reach that goal. Additionally, you will be able to show your boss that you've taken initiative by learning about these other duties without being asked to.
  • Learn New Skills: In conjunction with the previous tip, stepping beyond your comfort zone and into new learning experiences. Again, it will show your boss that you've taken initiative to learn something that can be beneficial to the company of your own accord. Something as simple as reading a new book by an expert in your field or staying ahead of the technology curve can put you in the position for advancement.
  • Ask For More Responsiblities: So maybe you're not sure about taking on additional tasks on your own; that's ok. Approaching your employer to request more responsibility is just as effective as taking it upon yourself to find more to do. Asking for larger or more complicated tasks goes to show that you are truly invested in your work (and the company), and not just in getting a paycheck-- you're not asking for a promotion or a raise, after all, just additional responsibility. If all goes well, that new title and/or paycheck will be the result, anyway.

The lesson here is this: the duties listed in your job description should be thought of as the minimum. In order to receive greater compensation, you need to produce greater work. Take some initiative by reaching outside of your basic responsibilities and showing your boss that you've got what it takes to go above and beyond expectations to help the company achieve success, and you, too, will be successful.

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Careerminds provides scalable, strategic solutions to organizations seeking affordable, web-based outplacement services. Using a Web 2.0 e-learning platform that delivers affordable, online career transition services, Careerminds provides a high-tech and high-touch blend of on-demand career transition education supported by senior-level career consultants to help displaced workers reenter the workforce quickly.

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