Career Advice

Multi-Tasking At A New Office: Tips For Trying On Multiple Hats In A New Job

You’ve been looking for a job for what seems like forever. Finally, you get that phone call you’ve been waiting for: the job offer. You show up your first day, ready to utilize the skills you learned in exchange for all those tuition payments… but pretty soon you find you’re spending half your time doing things that weren’t in the job description.

Depending on your industry and your specialty, the scenario above might sound all too familiar. And, depending on what extra duties your new employer has you doing, you might absolutely love the newfound variety in your life. But, in a less-ideal situation, you might feel more than a little apprehension about it.

Maybe they have you doing things for which you’ve never been trained, or that you simply don’t enjoy. Maybe the tasks that land on your desk are incredibly boring. Or maybe you’re just bothered by the fact that you thought you were being hired to build the skills around which you want to build your career, and you’re instead forced to spend time on things you’re not interested in pursuing.

Whatever the situation, it helps to break things down objectively and approach the situation logically.

First and foremost, determine your own level of comfort with your new tasks.

If your displeasure with your additional duties goes beyond distaste, then that’s a problem. It should go without saying that if the duties you’re being asked to do are unethical or illegal, you’ve got an issue on your hands. We all need to pay the bills, but if you’re doing things that you don’t feel right doing—or that you worry could land you in legal trouble—then it’s time to seriously re-evaluate your situation. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your boss about it, then at the very least, keep sending out those resumes when you get home at night, and get out before it’s too late.

If you don’t feel competent at your new tasks, talk to your manager or a coworker.

This is touchy—we all want to impress our coworkers and bosses, we want them to be impressed with our abilities and work ethic, we want them to feel like they can throw anything our way and we’ll handle it. And to a reasonable extent, you should try to tackle new tasks head-on, and put the effort forward to make it something you can do well. But, if you’re way over your head, make it known before it causes problems. Make it clear you’re happy to do what’s been asked of you, but you’ll need some help to do it well enough that both you and your boss will be happy with.

If you’re bored to tears with your new tasks, or simply aren’t interested in them, here’s where things get tricky.

Let’s say you’re tasked with organizing the company’s mailing list: a pretty straightforward job, not particularly difficult—and not exactly the most exciting thing in the world… exactly the kind of thing that can end up landing on the desk of the new guy or girl in the office. Generally speaking, my advice would be to make the most out of it: figure out how to do it faster, better. If they’re using an antiquated filing system or not making the most out of their software, try to streamline the process, comb the list for redundancies, or find other ways to improve the process… ideally, your boss will see how well you’ve handled that, and realize that you deserve more interesting and challenging projects.

However, there’s a danger there: they might see that you’re doing such a great job with the mailing list that it’ll end up being part of your weekly routine until you throw up your hands and storm out of the company forever. Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you do a great job on a menial duty and your boss mentions it, don’t hesitate to let him or her know that while you’re happy to help out however you can, you think your talents would be better utilized doing something else.

The bottom line is that you’ve got to walk a pretty fine line. Don’t be a doormat—don’t let your managers constantly shove duties down your throat that are completely unrelated to the job description you were given without letting it be known that you’re not happy about it. At the same time, remember that there are plenty of people out there who’d be happy to have any job, and if you make too much of a pest of yourself, you may find yourself one of them. – Original post by myFootpath’s Nate Abbott