Why "That’s Not Part of My Job" Should be Banished From Your Vocabulary

Published: Sep 15, 2011

By Angela Rose, BioSpace.com

Ask yourself this question: Am I so totally, unequivocally happy in my current position that I do not have the slightest desire to ever move to another? What was your answer? If it was “No,” then you should banish the phrase “That’s not part of my job” from your workplace vocabulary, pronto. Don’t do it just because budgets are tight, jobs are scarce and you fear that you’re replaceable. Do it because you’ve decided to wholeheartedly embrace every opportunity for improvement that comes your way.

Supervisors, bosses, even co-workers appreciate team players. If you immediately deny assistance to someone who asks for your help, you come off as unkind, selfish, and possibly even lazy. A supervisor may interpret your response to mean that you care more about your own workload than the overall success of the company. This will not win you any favors. In fact, the next time you ask for one, you may find your favor account overdrawn.

Instead of resorting to “that’s not part of my job” when someone requests your assistance, make it part of your job whenever possible. Then document the ways in which you’ve assisted with tasks that were technically outside of your job description. Your willingness to lend a hand will make you more valuable in the eyes of your employer and more popular with your co-workers. This is an advantageous position to be in the next time you need to schedule vacation time during the busy season, ask for assistance on your own projects or even request a raise.

Along with value and popularity, you may even gain new skills. Perhaps you’ll discover talents you didn’t know you had. They could lead to a new position in which you’ll feel more fulfilled. It may sound like a fairytale, but it really does happen. For example, I began my career as a part-time copywriter/full-time administrative assistant at a small marketing company. A few months into the job, the graphic designer quit without notice. I was asked to cover the duties of the designer until a replacement was hired. Rather than saying “that’s not part of my job,” I spent a few hours learning the basics of the software required, covered the design position for several weeks and discovered that I loved it! A replacement administrative assistant was hired instead. One year later, I was managing a team of designers as well as writers –all because I was open to embracing an opportunity.

Of course, you should not be so accommodating that you set yourself up for failure. If you do not have the skills required to complete a task, say so. Express your willingness to learn or work on the project with assistance, but be upfront about your lack of experience or necessary knowledge. If helping your boss or co-worker will cause you to fall behind on other duties, say so. If they are insistent, you can suggest rearranging deadlines or authorizing overtime to make your assistance possible.

With the U.S. unemployment rate holding steady at 9.1 percent, it may be said that any job is a good job. Banish the phrase “that’s not part of my job” from your vocabulary and you may find yourself with an even better one before you know it.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.

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