How to Change Your Job Description Before Starting the Job

by Grace Ferguson

Your job description entails a summary of the usual functions of your job. It doesn’t state every possible duty you might be asked to perform. However, if the description differs from what you were told when you were offered the job, you should clarify the matter, and if necessary, get the document changed. You might also consider changing your job description if you’re still in the hiring and negotiation process. Make the change before you start the job so you and your employer are on the same page.

Finding Discrepancies

Your job description should include your job title, a summary of your role, your main responsibilities and duties, minimum qualifications for the job and physical criteria. Go through all the sections to see if there are discrepancies. For example, the document says you’re responsible for relieving the receptionist whenever she takes breaks and lunches, but your manager didn’t tell you that. Or the description says some heavy lifting is required, but you weren’t told this.

Clarifying Discrepancies

Call or email your point of contact, which may be your boss or the hiring manager to clarify your job description. Explain the discrepancies you found. Even if your job description doesn’t need to be changed, this process helps put you and your employer on the same page. If the description needs changing, your manager might need to submit a revised description to the human resources department. HR should send you both a copy of the updated version. Or the hiring manager might ask you to submit the change directly to her. In either situation, you should receive a copy of the official change before you start the job.

Negotiation Documentation

Before accepting a job offer, do your own research to know what the employer should likely pay for the relevant responsibilities and duties. You might use a credible job and career website to figure the rate an employer in your area and industry may pay someone to do your job. Or use Facebook or LinkedIn to ask people in your industry. Compose your own job description, which should correspond to what the employer is seeking and what you can provide. Weigh your own description against your employer’s to see if it justifies you negotiating a higher salary.

Negotiation Meeting

Once the hiring manager raises the issue of salary during the employment process, you may begin negotiating. Be wary of seeming demanding when asking for more money and a change in your job description. Focus on pointing out key areas in your description that demonstrate how you can improve the company’s bottom line. Be open to other suggestions and be willing to compromise.


Your employer’s job description should include a disclaimer that says the stated list of duties is only a synopsis of the typical functions of the job. Additional tasks your boss didn’t predict may arise while you're on the job. He will appreciate your flexibility in such cases. However, you must know where to draw the line. For instance, you’re now asked to collect and calculate weekly time sheets on a consistent basis and this is not in your job description. You should see about getting the description changed, because that’s a significant task.

About the Author

Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.

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