In a lot of big companies, you’ll hear a lot of people say, “That’s not my job.”

The world is constantly changing. The problems that companies face are constantly changing as well.

When an unexpected problem pops up in a company, most people see the problem and declare “that’s not my job” (to solve that problem).

The rationale goes something like this: “My job is to do X for the company. I’m paid to do X. If the company wants me to do X + Y, they should pay me to do that.”

In my experience, this kind of thinking is misguided. All of my career progression in industry came from solving problems for my employers that were “not my job” (nor anyone else’s) to fix.

It is far easier to get a raise or a promotion for a job that involves doing X + Y when you’re already doing both effectively.

There are two key insights to making this strategy work effectively for you.

1) Some employers and company cultures will not pay or promote you for taking on bigger headaches. In this situation, taking on more work is still the right thing to do as it will improve your skills, help you gain more experience, and enhance marketable skills.

However, to fully realize your market value you may need to switch employers. In that situation, it’s to your advantage to have a broader and deeper set of skills than a narrower and shallower one.

2) It’s useful to be strategic as to what additional work you take on. If your regular job is doing X, and your expanded work is Y, then you want to choose “Y” very thoughtfully.

The best type of “Y” work to take on are those areas that add value to customers or your employer.

If “Y” involves creating a better product for your customers, that’s a worthy thing on which to focus.

If “Y” involves selling more customers than the company otherwise would, that’s a good place to focus.

If “Y” involves saving your employer $500,000 a year in unnecessary costs, that’s a good thing too.

Target the biggest headaches your skill level allows you to solve — especially those headaches that aren’t anybody else’s “job” to solve either.

My entire career has been built off of others saying, “that’s not my job.” Where others see a headache, I see an opportunity. If you look strategically, you might too.

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