When Your Job Description Changes

Here’s what to do if your job position changes in a way you didn’t see coming.
new job

When Your Job Description Changes

What would you do if your job position suddenly changed? While a new job description isn’t exactly a promotion or a demotion, a completely new set of job duties can turn what used to be a good career into a less desirable one.

This happened to a team member of ours. Early on in his employment history, he signed on to work as a front desk clerk at a hotel chain. However, on his first day, his employer — who turned out to be a rather difficult boss — handed him a laundry basket and an apron and informed him that his new job duties consisted of making beds and offering room service to disgruntled guests. 

That was not the position he interviewed for… so he promptly quit two weeks later. 

That’s one way to handle a job that unexpectedly changes. But what are your other options? And how do you navigate the emotions that come with getting the rug pulled out from under you?

Here’s a roadmap for what to do when your job changes in a way you didn’t see coming. 

What to do when your boss changes your job description 

1. Don’t take a new job description personally

When it comes to jobs, there are a few rules of thumb to remember. First, note that while a promotion or demotion may be personal (if it's based on your ability as an employee to complete the tasks you’re given), being given a new job description usually isn’t. That means it’s not your fault that this is happening, and you shouldn’t see it as a sign of inadequacy on your part. 

Instead, new job duties are usually assigned because of external factors. Many times it’s due to colleagues or bosses having their roles restructured or terminated, and other employees are left to pick up the slack. 

Or, the changes could be the result of an evolving company culture. New initiatives, missions, customer bases and products can all impact how employers decide which employees perform which tasks. 

This is important to know, because it’s crucial for the next step in dealing with a change in your job description. 

2. Get rid of your self-doubt

Now that you know your change in job duties isn’t personal, it’s important to dispense with any self-doubt you have about your abilities. Like we mentioned, you’re not getting a new job description because you’re unqualified to do what you’re doing… instead, you’re most likely being presented with new job duties because you are qualified, and your employer sees that. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to be happy about the change. You might be frustrated at having to learn new roles and responsibilities. You might be angry that you were blindsided by this shift in how you work. And you might be sad that you’re no longer going to be performing a set of tasks that you love. 

Above all, you might just be completely over the idea of taking on new job responsibilities.  

In this moment of emotional turmoil, the best way forward is to feel what you’re feeling…

…and then identify what you want from here on out.

3. Identify what you want 

Now that you understand how you feel about your new job duties, it’s time to decide what comes next. Grieving your old job won’t change anything, but coming up with some new ideas about where to go from here will. 

Are you comfortable with the idea of changing your role for your employer? If so, think of opportunities and ways to make this new job exciting, fulfilling and interesting. What can you do with what you’ve been given? How can you make this job your own, even if it was thrusted upon you? (Pro tip: journaling about this can help you sort out your feelings.)

On the other hand, if this new job description is something you absolutely don’t want, then it’s time to look at what you do want. 

It might take some work, but looking for a new job is always an option. Don’t be afraid to rely on your network and ask about potential opportunities. What’s out there? What new journey can you embark upon? What can you do that’s rewarding?

This is the key factor in dealing with a change in job description: it’s about looking at the opportunities, not the doors that have been closed. Once you start looking at things that way, you’ll find a lot more possibilities than problems ahead of you.

Is it scary to take that next step? Maybe. But after dispensing with the belief that your new job description was somehow your fault — or that you aren’t qualified enough to look for a job you actually like — you can find a fulfilling job with a great employer who values your specific skills. 

What to do when your employer changes your job description: focus on your opportunities 

If your boss gives you new roles and responsibilities, it’s time to take a step back and think. Do you like where your career is headed? Is this a welcomed change? Or are you opposed to this new direction?

Once you know where you stand, you’ll be able to start looking for opportunities (within your current organization or elsewhere) that align with your beliefs. And when you’re acting in accordance with your beliefs, you’re much more likely to succeed — not only in your career, but in every aspect of your life.

Want more advice like this? Consult with one of our coaches today.

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