Letters to Your Boss Concerning Your Job Description

by Dana Severson

    Businesses evolve, and what was once necessary to meet an employer’s needs does so as well. It wouldn’t make good business sense to maintain the status quo if the status quo was no longer relevant, efficient or effective -- and let’s not forget profitable. So, an employer must make changes to his staff. Some of these changes involve new hires, but others will inevitably impact your job description. Don’t be alarmed; it’s quite common.

    Doing only what’s expected of you is never a good way to get ahead. This type of attitude is one of the quickest ways to lose the support of your boss. But being a good employee, you’re probably willing to take on additional responsibilities. As you do, your position in the company inevitably changes, and the same should be done with your job description. Request that the duties added to your role be added to your job description. In writing, list out everything that’s been added to your plate and send a copy to your boss, asking her to revisit what's included in you current job description. If an employer is holding you accountable for these duties, credit is due, and the new job description can provide a basis for setting goals, reviewing your performance, and earning more money.

    During the course of a career, you’ll be hard-pressed not to develop new skills. If you don’t make anyone aware of these new competencies, they can easily go unnoticed, and you could end up feeling underutilized. You may also miss out on an opportunity for a promotion. Explain in a letter to your boss exactly what duty or responsibility you want added to your job description, and then why you’re best suited to the task and how it will benefit the company. Consider including an updated resume -- highlighting your new skills or professional achievements -- with the request to help support your case.

    It’s within an employer’s right to modify job descriptions, but a conversation should take place before it occurs -- “before” being the operative word. Hopefully, you and your boss have sat down to clarify what’s expected of you going forward to ensure you’re both on the same page. After the meeting, send him a letter recapping the discussion. Include what’s to be added to your responsibilities, when you’re to take over these responsibilities and if there’s a change in the priorities of all other duties. You should also incorporate details on the timeline, expectations and supervision involved with the new tasks.

    If after the discussion you have concerns, you may also need to put them in writing. Managers don’t always know how these changes affect the workforce until changes have been made. It’s up to you to bring it to their attention. For example, the added duties could be interfering with the main responsibilities of your job. Or the new tasks may be outside what’s “normally” expected of someone in your position. Explain how and why these new duties could impact your job performance, particularly around any main responsibility of your current role. Maybe there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. Maybe someone else in the company is already doing something similar to the new task and would be better suited for the additional duties. Let your boss know as soon as possible or you’ll be held responsible. Your due diligence could get your manager to take some of the additional duties and responsibilities off of your plate.

    If you can’t come to an agreement or don’t find the changes acceptable, you can choose to leave the job. In your letter of resignation, detail exactly how the change in job description has led to your decision. Keep it positive and non-accusatory. You don’t want to burn any bridges you could later use to advance your career.

    About the Author

    Dana Severson has been copywriting since mid-2005, providing marketing collateral for businesses in the Midwest. Prior to this, Severson worked in marketing as a manager of business development, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others. His work can be seen on Beneath the Brand, Digital Pivot and On Marketing.

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