Of all the documents associated with being an employee, your position description is perhaps most aptly described as a ‘living document’.

Sure, the organisation’s values may be pinned to your cubicle wall the first day you arrive on the job, but your position description is likely to be the document you refer back to most – from your first week, right through to the end of your first year of employment, and beyond.

Here’s five ways you can use your ‘PD’ to your advantage:

1.It’s what you need to know

Module 10 of the Successful Graduate course looks at how to approach asking questions on the first day or week of your new job – essentially to help you gain the best possible understanding of your role and its organisational context in the shortest possible time. Your PD should definitely guide these questions; for instance, by the middle of your first week, you may have been introduced to all of your duties, except one you’re not that sure about. This shows you exactly what to ask about before the week is out.

2.It’s what you need to show

As a new recruit, you might be subject to a 3-6 month probation period, and most likely an annual performance review. Your position description – and your ability to demonstrate that you’ve been delivering upon it – will be central to these processes. Don’t be caught by surprise, review your PD at least monthly, if not weekly, when you start any new role.

3.It’s an indicator of when you’re ready to step up, or step out

Module 9 of the Successful Graduate course mentions ‘job creep’ or the tendency of roles to grow as you grow, requiring periodic reviews of your PD, and perhaps even a review of your salary and benefits package! This is a double-edged sword though. Most PDs include a provision for ‘other duties as instructed by direct supervisor’ or similar, to allow your employer to be responsive to emergent opportunities. Our advice is to embrace this clause, and rather than refusing to undertake tasks ‘not in my PD’, use them as a space for self development, either to prepare yourself for more senior roles in your company, or indeed in another organisation in due course.

4.It’s an indicator of skills transferability

PDs are wonderfully public. (Our tip is that some of the best PDs are written by universities, and big universities tend to have a large number of jobs advertised at any time.) If you’re considering moving to another company or even industry, jump online and compare the duties of your PD with one of theirs – is there any synergy? For instance, this process could indicate that even though your job-specific or ‘hard’ skills (remember those from Module 1 of the Successful Graduate course?) aren’t directly transferable, the bulk of your general workplace or ‘soft’ skills (also explored in Module 1) may be, and you might just be a more competitive candidate than you previously thought!

5.It’s the basis of your next resume

Reworking your resume in anticipation of your next job? What better way to describe your latest skill sets than by adapting the duties list from your current PD? We all love it when the hard work’s already half done for us, right?!


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