That’s not my job

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The phrase you should never, ever utter, even under your breath, in the workplace is, “that’s not my job.” Regardless if you’re the newest or oldest employee, boss or intern, this is a phrase you only say when you no longer want to be employed with your present organization.

Now, granted if your employer is asking you to do something illegal or immoral, you have bigger issues and should consider perhaps finding a quicker exit. But this post isn’t about those kinds of situations. This post is about those every day requests that might not be officially in your job description.

While filling the copier, fetching the mail and answering the phones while the administrative assistant is at lunch isn’t likely outlined in your job description, the phrase, “other duties as assigned,” probably is. And that’s the catch.

To be a team player, the other duties as assigned portion might mean getting coffee, refilling toner and running a few errands.

As this February 2013 article from Forbes indicates, saying that’s not my job to a coworker asking for help makes you seem uncaring and like your job is better, they are beneath you and lots of other inferences you might not have meant.

“Therefore, as a contributing member of the team, a top priority is to care about the success of others (or at least act as though you do),” Darlene Price, author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results says in the article. “An unconcerned, detached and self-serving attitude quickly limits career advancement.”

Don’t limit yourself. Instead of saying that’s not my job, follow Price’s advice and instead say,”I’ll be glad to help. Given my current tasks of A, B, and C, which one of these shall I place on hold while I work on this new assignment?”

This phrase or something similar, communicates teamwork and helpfulness and reminds your boss of your current work load and the need to set realistic expectations, Price says in the article.

What are some other career killing (or moral killing) phrases?

Don’t be afraid to negotiate

If you are like most recent graduates or job seekers, you’re thrilled to get a job offer. So thrilled you barely read through the details before becoming giddy. Then you get to the salary and it’s a little lower than you’d hoped and the benefits could be better.

Don’t fret, you are expected to negotiate. “Even in tough times, most companies expect you to negotiate,” according to The Galima Group, a partner of The Berkeley Center for Executive Development at UC Berkeley. Not to mention, when you respectfully negotiate, you demonstrate the business skills the company want you to employ on the job, this article from Forbes states.

As noted in The Galima Group post, look for subtle hints that the hiring manager is open to negotiation. “For example, many managers may say, ‘why don’t you look over the offer and call me if you have any questions’.”

An offer typically includes more than just the paycheck. Including:

  • Signing bonus
  • Vacation, sick days, personal days
  • Maternity / family leave
  • Flex-time or ability to telecommute
  • Professional training (continuing education, conference attendance, etc.)
  • Job sharing
  • Start date
  • Stock options
  • Performance bonuses
  • Accelerated review time with potential salary increase
  • Job duties
  • Company car
  • Company credit card
  • Expense accounts

You’ll want to first ask yourself what are the top three or five things to you. It’s ok if money is at the top or on the list!

“As long as you act respectfully, you have nothing to lose by asking what the company can do to bring you closer to your desired salary,” according to this Career Builder article.