As an interview coach, I’ve had many people contact me because they took a job that did not turn out to be at all what they expected. They are questioning their decision to accept the position, and don’t know quite what is wrong or what to do about it.

The first thing I ask is whether they have a written job description. Almost always, the answer is “no.” The person accepted the job with just a verbal description of the role and responsibilities, often given in the interview, but nothing specific in writing.

Here are three reasons why this can become a big problem:

1) If you have a verbal agreement with your soon-to-be boss, that might be ok.

But what if they leave the company and someone else moves into their role? Your new boss might have different ideas about what your job should be. Now what?

2) Sometimes, people take a job with a company that is owned or managed by “family and friends.”

Because of the close family relationships, it seems like a handshake agreement on your job duties should be fine. Maybe you have known your soon-to-be boss since high school. Or perhaps that person is your uncle or sister-in-law. 

It can quickly get complicated when you mix your personal and professional life, particularly if other employees perceive that you got the job because of nepotism. As the old saying goes, “What could possibly go wrong?”

3) Without a written job description, there is no way to measure performance.

How do you and your boss know that you are doing an excellent job if it’s not 100% clear what your job is?

Thankfully, this is an avoidable problem. You must be very clear during the interview process that you need a written description before you can accept the job. If there isn’t already a written job description in place, then how can you be sure that you are accepting a salary that is equal to what you will be doing? Don’t be shy. All you want to do is to set clear expectations that will benefit the company and everyone involved.

It is better to have something written formally, rather than depending on email correspondence. This should be a document that goes into your permanent employee record with the company. If a job description does not exist, then offer to put one together yourself. If it does exist, but somehow does not line up with your understanding about the job, it is much smarter to address that now than when you are already in the position.

To create your job description, just answer these three simple questions:

  1. What does the company expect from you and your work?
  2. What do you expect from the company?
  3. How will your performance be measured?

I have been doing interview coaching for 20 years now. This is the type of issue where we can strategize to avoid an unnecessary problem. If you think I can help you, you can visit my appointment scheduler for a free initial consultation. Hope to hear from you!