Updating Your Job Description for Professional Growth

An accurate job description is essential for success. It should reliably detail your job’s primary tasks; help you prioritize what matters most to you, your department and your organization; and help you establish personal goals for your career. It should also protect against role-related misunderstandings and ensure that, based on your responsibilities, your salary is fair. To ensure that your job description does all that, you need to review it with the boss annually—at your yearly review, or at another time. Here’s how!

1. Carefully read through your job description. It should:

  • List your most important skills and responsibilities at the top.
  • List new responsibilities that have been added since your last review. (Older duties that no longer apply should be deleted.)
  • Begin each bullet with an action verb that describes each responsibility, task or project, i.e.: budgets, creates, communicates, coordinates, develops, evaluates, manages, maintains, monitors, operates, produces, reports, schedules, supervises, trains.  
  • Explain the skills that have allowed you to successfully carry out the tasks listed in the first few bullet points. 

2. Now, make a list of any needed changes to the document. 

3. Set up a meeting with your boss to discuss your job description. Give him or her enough time to review it before you meet. 

4. At the meeting you’ll want to:

  • Review each entry on your job description.  
  • Discuss how you’ve handled new tasks.   
  • Highlight recent accomplishments the boss may or may not be aware of.
  • Share concerns about any aspect of your job and consider ways to resolve those concerns. Work together to create a plan for going forward.
  • Bring up expanding your responsibilities. Perhaps you’d like to take on a new project or supervise others. Be prepared to explain why you feel you’re now qualified to do so. Anticipate reasons the boss might say no and prepare to refute them.
  • Ask for training in a new area or one you’d like to improve in. Explain how this training will help not only you, but your department and organization.

5. After the meeting, redraft your job description to include the revisions discussed.

6. After the boss approves your redraft, submit it your HR department.