Ask LH: What Should I Do When My Job Role Doesn’t Match The Description?

Ask LH: What Should I Do When My Job Role Doesn’t Match The Description?

Hi Lifehacker, What would you do if you are in a particular role in your company (mine is web designer) but you haven’t been assigned enough tasks to improve your skills and experiences? There haven’t been enough design tasks in my role and I’ve ended up doing all sorts of other tasks. I’d like to seek another job but I lack confidence since I haven’t been able to build on my skills here. Any suggestions? Thanks, Underemployed

Business cleaner picture from Shutterstock

Dear Underemployed,

Tough break! If you feel your day-to-day tasks don’t match the position you applied for, you are perfectly within your rights to mention this to your manager. The key is all in the approach — you obviously don’t want to throw around ultimatums or imply you were somehow duped. Instead, arrange a formal meeting and explain the specific skills you were hoping to develop based on the original job description.

Most businesses are keen to keep their employees happy so they don’t start looking for new jobs. Try to present clear objectives and be willing to compromise on your current responsibilities. Basically, you need to tell them you want to do more design work while remaining flexible and happy to help out in other areas. If you play your cards right, a satisfactory arrangement should be achievable.

It will also help if you do a bit of workplace research — are there potential opportunities within the business that management may have missed? Coming to them with a feasible plan that may actually benefit the company will make it much harder for them to fob you off.

Of course, there are always managers who are set in their ways or horribly toxic humans. If you’re met with a brick wall, perhaps it’s time to dust off your resume and look elsewhere. You can find hundreds of tips on every aspect of the job hunting process via our Jobs, Job Search and Resume tags. You can also find ten ways to enhance your job prospects here. Good luck!

If any readers have been in a similar situation to Underemployed, dispense your advice in the comments section below.


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  • I have some experience in exactly this problem – not wanting to leave because I was not confident in my skills. I wasted years before getting the gumption to jump ship.

    In the end what it took was a really honest self-assessment of my capabilities… things that I could do that were worth money to other people.

    That doesn’t mean being the best designer in the world, it means being a designer who does good work. It doesn’t mean knowing every part of the craft, it means knowing enough to get the job done. You have skills, skills people will pay you for, and you’re willing to learn the things you don’t know. That’s honest, that’s your resume.

    My advice is: start looking for a new job, start interviewing, commit to leaving your current job… you’ll be happier and more productive and you won’t waste years hoping things will improve, because they probably won’t – changing a company’s approach/culture is ridiculously difficult so if you don’t have a financial interest in doing so, don’t bother. Hook up with another company that already has that basic stuff sorted and start moving your career forward instead of worrying about fixing someone else’s business.

    Also – keep sharp by putting in some design hours in your own time. Vanity projects, creative projects, get a portfolio together. Something that’ll hone your skills, and that you’ll be off the client leash, which is a luxury you won’t often get! All of that will impress an employer.

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