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Your Job Description

By Steve Jones,

In every job I've ever held, there's been some scope creep in my duties. No matter what I think my job is, I end up handling tasks in very different areas. While bartending, I've had to cook food a few times. While managing a network, I ended up performing some software development. As a DBA, I've assembled network cables. As a manager, I've had to arrange and setup dinner banquets for late working employees. Even at SQLServerCentral, I used to have to make sales calls when I expected to be more of a technical worker.

That's the sign of a good employee. Someone that pitches in and gets the work done as needed, doing their best if the task is out of their skill area. It's what I'd expect from most employees, though I've never worked with a union. Rules might be different for union employees, though I'd hope most would pitch in in a crisis. I also think this is something I look for when I interview people. I hope to get the feeling from a candidate that they'd be willing to learn to handle tasks outside of their primary position.

I was thinking about this as I read a post about job descriptions. It talks about the mess that many job postings contain, with a wide variety of requirements and duties. I think many of these descriptions, especially in technology are the result of too many chefs working on the final product. From what I've seen, most of the descriptions need a mythical candidate in order to meet all requirements. Companies will never find this person and instead compromise their choice based on who applies. So, always apply if you meet 50% of the requirements.

This made me wonder about the descriptions that are out there. Some of them are really crazy, but I think some of the issue is there are people that want to make their jobs sound more important than they really are, just as they may do with their job title. Keeping this in mind, what would you say is your job description? Is that what you'd list in a job posting or would you add more or take away some of the items?

I used to want a more important title, and a more complex job description as I was growing my career. These days I'm less concerned with pumping up my job, but I think that's part of the cycle of a career. I'm curious where you are in your career and how you might describe what you actually do to others.

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