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By Wendy A. Reynolds

Use your job description to help define your personal brand

Chances are that the last time you saw your job description in writing was the first time you saw it – when it was that want ad you answered. If you have been at your job for any length of time, what you do on a day-to-day basis is probably significantly more than what you had read.

If you are thinking of asking for a raise or preparing for a performance review, it is time to sit down and rewrite your job description so that you have a clear and accurate picture of what you contribute to your team and what your worth is to your company.

Here are five simple steps you should follow to make sure your up-to-date job description reflects not only what you really do, but how it impacts your company’s culture, goals and bottom line.

1. What they think you do

If you have the original job description you applied to, copy and paste it into a new document and use that as a jumping-off point. If you do not have it, reach out to your Human Resources (HR) representative and ask them to email a copy of their version of your job description.

If for some reason HR does not have an official version on file, do a job search online by typing in your specific title, and copy and paste a job description that sounds most like what your day-to-day job activities are like.

You will now be able to alter this document as much as you need to in order to make it more comprehensive and up to date without having to start from scratch. A great reference for job descriptions is The Career Project website.

2. What you actually do

Now comes the fun part. In a separate document, make a list of everything you do in a day (i.e., for a salesperson – you make cold calls, update email correspondence, visit with clients, etc.). Then, make a list of everything you do on a weekly basis (i.e., you update paperwork, track billing, place orders, etc.).

Make another list of your monthly job responsibilities (i.e., submit progress reports, complete action statements, create presentations, etc.). Finally, make a list of all of the yearly tasks you handle (i.e., run year-end cost analyses, create fiscal year projections, etc.).

Compare the lists with your original job description. Highlight the new items that you have taken on over time and are now part of your purview. If you are not responsible for something in the original job description, make a note of it so that you can let your supervisor know during your performance review.

From now on, your new job description will be based on these daily, weekly, monthly and yearly lists. I am willing to bet they are longer than what was listed in your original job description.

3. The skills needed to do what you do

What skills have you acquired since you were hired? Maybe you are now fluent in both PC and Mac. Maybe you have mastered C++ and lend a hand to the front end developers on occasion, or you have conquered the postage machine and take care of the mailings for the department. These are new skills you now bring to the table every day, and they should now be part of your job description, so create a new column and add them to your lists.

4. Who you tell what you do

Your original job description should have listed the person you would be reporting to; for example, if you are a copy editor in a publishing company, chances are you report to the managing editor of your department.

However, what if you now also serve in the research and development department for some publishing projects, and report to the department head there for these assignments? Your new job description needs to make clear not only what you really do, but also to whom you really directly report. Add this information to your lists in a new column.

5. The criteria used to judge what you do

It is crucial that your new job description includes guidelines and criteria used to evaluate your job performance. This way, everyone is clear and on board with what is expected and how it will be judged.

If you do not know what these criteria are, you can ask your supervisor or HR representative. They will be very important additions to your lists, so do not forget to create a new column for them.

Your new job description document will be a useful tool to share with your supervisor during a performance review but be advised: Just because you have put it in writing, it does not mean it is now “official.” Whether or not your supervisor or HR accept your draft as a revised job description they will keep on file for you is at the discretion of the company. Consider it a tool for your personal use more than the new guidelines for your gig. Having said that, you can also use it as a tool for looking for your next gig as well.

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