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Task a Minute

When hired for that new job, you’re fresh and budding. You’ve loads of energy and ambition. As you grow into the position, your tasks pile up, and you find yourself doing things never expected. The job description you read during the hiring process seems nothing like the work itself. So at this point in your design career, craft your job description or compare the work you do now to the expectations you had upon being hired. Evaluate what you do, how much time you spend doing it, and what skills are required from 9 to 5 (or 9 to whenever).

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PUBLISHED ON Sep.10.2004 BY Jason A. Tselentis
Jeremy Flint’s comment is:

I am the Senior Web Designer. Here is a list of what I have done in the past month.

  • Design concepts in photoshop.
  • Code web sites in XHTML and CSS.
  • Modified web applications written in ASP.NET.
  • Modified/written form processing procedures for an Oracle Portal system using pl/sql.
  • Assisted in migrating servers from windows NT to windows 2003.
  • Replaced power supplies in two machines
  • Edited video using a Media100 system
  • Converted video using Cleaner for streaming

I think its safe to say my job is not limited to just designing web sites, but that is what keeps it fun.

Last October, I helped renovate the mezzanine level of our office that we were taking in from a previous client.

On Sep.10.2004 at 10:01 AM
laura’s comment is:

These posts always seem to come at the right time for me, as I am heading out to a job interview this afternoon in the hopes of finding exactly what it is I was set out to do: design. Not walk the dog. Not make employee birthday cards..ha, ha.

On Sep.10.2004 at 10:31 AM
szkat’s comment is:

my current job is working at an architectural firm, but my entire education has been focused on print media. to move from my magazine-layout-ridden portfolio to illustrator design/build documents has involved learning to read building plans, learning parts of AutoCAD, entering 1,300 signs manually into FileMaker Pro, and suddenly being trained in cartography.

my job description is associate designer in architecture and marketing. i thought i would be heavy on the marketing side, but suddenly i'm going out after work with a bunch of architects and engineers who tease me about trading Photoshop tricks for AutoCAD tricks like currency. but i love my job. it's nothing that i ever thought i'd be doing, and i'm learning every day. and on the side everyone's starting to profile me as this crazy design girl b/c of my Photoshop skills and random design knowledge. taught everyone about saul bass yesterday.

everyone's learning, everyone's enjoying it, so i don't mind that my job has taken me fathoms from what its description is. i always thought print would be my one and only, but environmental design has become my new focus and it's great.

On Sep.10.2004 at 10:36 AM
Dom’s comment is:

I love my job. I was hired under the impression that I'd mostly be designing ads and doing production work. But actually, I design maybe 2 ads every 6 months. Most of our work comes through identity, collateral and we've been doing a ton of e-newsletter and Web/Flash stuff lately. I'm the only one who does Web/Flash here and I also get to design all the logos/stationary, plus a ton of other stuff.

It's a small place, only 9 people, but everyone's real cool and we have fun every single day. Sure, when things are slow, we occasionally help out with filing or boxing up miscellaneous items in storage (aka, The Black Hole) but hey, it keeps us busy and we're not doing it all the time.

I found myself at one point, extremely unthankful for this job, due to my bad attitude, but then I started remembering the excitement I had when I first got hired, and how I worked my butt off, part time and took the full time position from a designer who just wasn't performing. I was so stoked, since this is my first design job. Sure, there are things I wish were different sometimes and I don't plan on being here for the rest of my career, but I know one thing:

just be thankful for what you've got…

…though you may not drive a great big cadillac…

On Sep.10.2004 at 11:21 AM
Jason T’s comment is:

Taking things for granted can do more harm than good. I like your attitude, Dom.

On Sep.10.2004 at 11:23 AM
Patrick C’s comment is:

• Expert knowledge of: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, XHTML (from scratch, no dreamweaver please), CSS.

• Some 3-D modelling and animation experience.

• Expert knowledge of cross-browser, cross-platform web issues.

• General knowledge of all server-side web tech issues.

• Experience with a wide range of print demands, and knowledge of various printing techniques and requirements.

• Web site planning, design, and development.

• Flash promotional movies, interactive CDs, and web sites.

• Some knowledge of sound capture and editing.

• Copy writing.

• Proposal writing.

• Project management.

• Sales.

• Client relations.

• Bookeeping.

And the two skills I'm concentrating on (and this isn't a joke):

• Knowing when to take a vacation.

• Knowing when to say no.

Freelancing can be a pain in the ass.

On Sep.10.2004 at 11:41 AM
Jason T’s comment is:

There are so many tasks we must attend to outside of design. How realistic are job descriptions? How considerate are you of their tasks, responsibilities, and skills when applying for a job? Or do your eyes just jump right to the salary?

On Sep.10.2004 at 12:00 PM
laura’s comment is:

just be thankful for what you've got…

…though you may not drive a great big cadillac…

Wow Dom...I feel like the bad apple now. I don't hate my current design job right by any means, I could be in much worse shape. But isn't the grass always greener?

On Sep.10.2004 at 12:13 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:


"taught everyone about saul bass yesterday".

Make sure you inform them that Bass was not just an Graphic Designer and a Designer for Film.

Bass also excelled in Architecture, Interiors and Environmental Design.

Pull into any Exxon, Esso, Gulf, SOHIO, JOMO (Japan)Petrol Stations. Those are Bass' Architectural Design.

In 1959 Bass was one of the First Designer(s) to Develop and Design The first Playgrounds for Public Housing in America for the Longwood Redevelopment East Corporation.

Implemented in Washington D.C. Chicago, and California.

In the early years Bass Developed and Designed Homes. Has the Development and Design of a Hospital to his credit.

Ahhh, get the Book. It'll be on the shelves in January 2005. It'll be the Best Book ever written.


I've learned early on requesting a job description for your responsibility can lead to disaster. Essentially, it can be a nose dive to seeking employment elsewhere. Once you do it. You wear a permanent target on your back.

Most work now-a-days are considered team efforts. Where everybody pitches in. Of course we no there's always a week link. Somebody not pulling their own weight.

These people have to singled out.

What I don't like is taking the responsibility for a Slacker. Taking the responsibity for someone else's work. That has the capability of doing it. Prefer to pass the responsibility on to a subordinate.

The first job I had in Design was in Exhibits. I remember going in to the interview. Thought I was going to be contributing to all this amazing work. I was a Journey Man. Rememberances of the Bauhaus.

Doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Enhancing my knowledge of all Disciplines before I decided where I wanted to be.

I learned Fabrication, Installation, Cabinet Making, Contributing to the production of Print Media, i.e. Posters, Catalogs, and other Communication aspects of projects.

All this was pre-computer era. We're talking early 1980's

I even learned how to setup Audio Visual Presentations.

If I had a Job Discription. It would've been confined to just doing Graphics.

I was kind of upset at the time. With maturity comes Wisdom. Looking back, if I were just confined to Graphics. I would've never learned all the other aspects of Design and Craft. Which enriched my background and added arsenal.

My First Boss was a Senior Production Manager with Charles Eames.

What Baffled me. The job disrciption was for a Graphic Designer with knowledge of Printing. Which is why I applied.

As Michael B. would say. "When life throws you a curve. "Hit a Grand Slam".

On Sep.10.2004 at 01:19 PM
Jeremy Flint’s comment is:

On the flip side of this subject, how many people tend to laugh at job descriptions that ask applicants know everything under the sun.

Prime example:

Web designer with experience in Photoshop, Flash, Director, Dreamweaver, XHTML, CSS, Javascript, .NET, Java, Javascript, VBScript, C#, PERL, and PHP.

On Sep.10.2004 at 01:42 PM
Jason T’s comment is:

We are expected to be Journey Men. Which doesn't sound all that politically correct in this day and age. That aside, where do you feel job descriptions come in handy? Is it merely for human resources? Do they help you gauge how you've grown since taking the job, and then become leverage for getting a raise?

On Sep.10.2004 at 02:09 PM
Patrick C’s comment is:

I think it's a widely known, and excepted fact, that people ask for the stars with job descriptions assuming that they will settle, eventually, for much less (something more terrestrial). I really don't know why they do this? Anyone know?

So when they ask for a "talented" web designer, but one who could also build the back-end of amazon.com from the ground up, you know that you can apply and go for the interview even if you're just a designer because it's likely that in the end the other stuff listed will be dropped. It's a stupid game, IMO, but everyone's playing.

On Sep.10.2004 at 02:15 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Job Annoucements.

Usually are written for someone that is already in the Position,but leaving.

It has been my experience. Usually, the advertised position is already created for someone internally. The entity is thinking about hiring. And has prior knowledge.

That said, the better jobs are not advertised. They're filled via contacts via friend of a friend. Talking about a network.

Walk-on jobs is a completely different animal.

The only thing that can gauge whether you deserve a Promotion is Well Documented Performance Journal.

Two types of Job Announcements are written.

One by Personnel or Human Resources.

The other by the entity in which you work.

Often times they work together.

Job Announcements, Vehemently are not Job Discriptions. This coming from someone that has Hired and Fired.

The only way to get a Job Disrcription is from Human Resources not your Supervisor or Boss. If you work in Corporate American or Government.

Again, this coming from someone that was a former Chief of Design at a Government Agency.

Other smaller private agencies operate differently.

On Sep.10.2004 at 02:42 PM
Anonymous’s comment is:

The simple fact is that most people leave their current position because:

1. They feel that their contributions are not appreciated by bosses or coworkers.

2. The feel that they have no control over the amount of work -or time they have to complete it- to get done.


It's also been shown that a majority of people will take a job with a lower salary and better benefits over a job with a higher salary and poor benefits.

Don't get stuck on how much a position pays.

Not make employee birthday cards..ha, ha. I hate doing that too- and holiday cards for the boss' family. I once did a card for my boss's son who just turned 16. It featured his present, a nice new silver Porsche 944 convertible! And here I was working for a salary that had me thinking "if I had kids, then I can collect Welfare." Even though I agreed to that salary, still some people do things that you just don't do.

I used to design a lot of recruitment materials at one of my past jobs. Job descriptions are the "ideal" candidate, which does not mean that if you don't match the requested skill sets, they won't hire you.

Job descriptions are never accurate, so expect "add-ons" once you get there. If it is a good place to work for, those "add-ons" are great learning opportunities.

As far as job ads that offer entry level salaries but ask for tons of experience. As I grew in my career, I tried to branch off and learn other skills (web/animation applications) thinking it would make me a more valuable hire. I came to the conclusion that it is better to learn one thing and be good at it rather than be mediocre (sp?) at a lot of things. For a print guy like me, web stuff changes to quickly to master it. Once I learned html, then PHP came around. I got off that ride-too fast for me.

DesignMaven is right. The good jobs are not advertised. I don't even look at the classifieds anymore. The old saying "It's who you know, not what you know"

Dom-can I work where you work?

Laura-I'll join you as another bad apple, seems you and I are in a similar situation.

Does anyone know a good headhunter in Chicago? (Other than City Staffing, Aquent, Palladin). I could use one. Heard both good and bad about Melinda Holmes and Assoc. as well as H2.

On Sep.10.2004 at 05:51 PM
Tom B’s comment is:

'Wanted - interesting, intelligent courageous person required to work more hours than they're being paid for; to take an interest in the workings of our client's crappy company that we're trying to save from their own stupidity; to know how to achieve all the effects our competitors can acheive and to be prepared to spend his/her own time learning new skills to achieve the ones they can't; to teach me some new skills and show me new ways of thinking; to shut up and do what they're told when necessary; to convince clients to do things they don't want to do; to convey a general sense of high-culture artiness; to convey a sense of down-to-earth business prowess; to tell me when I'm being dumb; to not tell our clients when they're being dumb; to be able to fix complex electronic equipment that he/she knows very little about; to always be cheerful; to be 'cool'; to be a bit like me.

The Boss.

On Sep.10.2004 at 06:02 PM
Dom’s comment is:

Laura - Yes, I do plan on moving up. I've learned though, that if you're faithful with little, you'll be faithful with much.

Job descriptions are never accurate, so expect "add-ons" once you get there. If it is a good place to work for, those "add-ons" are great learning opportunities.

Dom-can I work where you work?

Anonymous, sorry, we're not hiring at the moment : )

I think you can turn just about anything that happens into a learning opportunity, no matter if the job is good or bad. I've learned a ton about myself working here at my first job out of both good and bad situations (and trust me, there have been bad ones). We make a joke out of cheesy hack turd projects. I even won a polished-turd award. There was a real trophy with a turd on it, spraypainted gold.I kid you not!

Constantly complaining about things only brings you (and others around you) down. That will cause you to focus on all of the negative things. I found myself complaining about my job every single day, to almost every one (family and friends) I talked to.

It was driving me (and them) nuts!

All the while, I thought I was ready to switch positions and move up—then we got slammed, and I was just struggling trying to keep up and stay productive and organized. I learned a ton about myself and about how I really wasn't ready to move to the next level (production-wise). My design skills have improved dramatically from a year ago, but I still need to master production and organization.

As far as doing birthday cards for your boss, why not treat it like any other project and have fun with it? I've done about 3 or 4 projects like that here, and I've had fun with them. Just treat it like any other design project. If I had my own studio, I wouldn’t be interested in hiring someone who took their job so seriously that designing a birthday card was outside of their job discription. That's cold.

And hey, if you're ready for the next level, go for it. What's stopping you? When I'm ready to move on, I'll go. I just know that for me, I still have a few things that I want to learn before I move on. This company is a slower paced one, and will allow me to do this on my downtime. Just today, something happened that really made me irritated, but, I chose not to focus on that all day, and to just be content with where I'm at right now. I know something better is in store one day, but for now, I'm just learning as much as I can and working as hard as I can to be excellent at what I do. OK, I'd better go home, I'm starting to picture myself sounding like Joel Osteen.

Not that that's a bad thing. I love that dude.

Have a great weekend!

On Sep.10.2004 at 08:12 PM
Dom’s comment is:

OK, one more thing, before I head out that I must say!

When I think about where I'm at now and where I was 2 years ago, delivering Domino's (no pun intended) Pizza, freelancing, and working until 3 and 4 o’ clock in the morning, barely seeing my wife and baby girl—working weekends, mopping up dirty floors, dealing with cheap people who think that a 5-dollar tip on a $300 dollar order is fair—where I'm at now is heaven on earth!

I thank God I got my foot in the door, that's all I got to say.

On Sep.10.2004 at 08:22 PM
Jason T’s comment is:

Life is what happens while you're making other plans.John Lennon

On Sep.11.2004 at 09:28 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:


OK, I'd better go home, I'm starting to picture myself sounding like Joel Osteen.

Not that that's a bad thing. I love that dude.

Lot of life's lessons and inspiration can be learned from Joel Osteen.

I look at him most Sunday's; right after T.D. Jakes.

On Sep.11.2004 at 03:43 PM
Dom’s comment is:

DesignMaven, T.D. Jakes is one of the most powerful speakers I have ever heard. That man is awesome! I had the Man Power series from 98, with Deon Sanders, Les Brown, Ted Debiossi and another guy, who's name I can't remember, but he was real good too. Joel Osteen is cool. He's so mellow, and he's not really churchy. Neither is TD. But you're right, Joel Osteen has a lot of good things to say. He's got a great Teacher, too. And TD is like the preacher who talks about the things you “aren't supposed to talk about”. I love it. Glad to hear you're a fan.

On Sep.11.2004 at 11:13 PM
Jason T’s comment is:

As we've seen, some of us have been kind enough to share their job descriptions. So how seriously do you take them? When looking for work, do you gauge whether or not you want the job based on merely its description? Of course not. While working, how loyal are you to your job description? Do you avoid doing things because they're not part of your job description? Doubtful.

The job description provides a window. What parts of the job description leap out at you besides the salary? What parts make you shrivel up? When you feel you've exceeded your responsibilities, do you cry out, whimper, or whine?

On Sep.12.2004 at 09:57 PM
szkat’s comment is:

Make sure you inform them that Bass was not just an Graphic Designer and a Designer for Film.

Bass also excelled in Architecture, Interiors and Environmental Design.

Design Maven, that's exactly why I picked him. my architect buddies of course have a pretty good knowledge of architecture and an emotional investment in the history of their profession (at least the ones i work with).

so my grand plan was to start them off with something they can easily relate to, Bass or Frank LW. i'm going to build upon their architectural design knowledge with my graphic design knowledge until one glorious day i'll be able to discuss Saarinen and they'll be equipped to handle Duchamp with equal ease.

and that, dear friends, is why i adore this job despite it not matching the description. i find that in an interview, i'm paying as much attention to the freedoms and quirks of the people as much as the actual work i'll be doing. as far as work goes, Jason T, salary is always a component but i've never had to rely on it to make my decision. i look for a job that lets me use photoshop; i look for an employer that smiles when i mention Design Camp; i look for a job that trusts me to try as hard as i can, encourage me to overcome what i don't know, and at the end of the day my art director is supportive.

God help me, i have no idea how i found that by age 23. this is my fourth job since graduating almost two years ago, and every time i talk about it, i appreciate it more.

and Anonymous — try these guys. they worked hard for me and i was very satisfied with them.

On Sep.13.2004 at 10:04 AM
laura’s comment is:

If I had my own studio, I wouldn’t be interested in hiring someone who took their job so seriously that designing a birthday card was outside of their job discription. That's cold.

No, that's not the point at all. I'm not above that. Designing a birthday card is a lot more fun and less stressful than say, an annual report. What we are talking about here is job description. No one mentioned that I would have to illustrate players for the boss' daughter's soccer team book, pro bono, after hours, when I got the job. No complaints here. That's just the way it goes. Sometimes I feel time is wasted for the task at hand though. There are hidden expectations we don't know about until we get the job, as with anything.

On Sep.13.2004 at 11:24 AM
Dom’s comment is:

OK, doing work after hours is kind of another issue. I guess it just depends on how often it happens. If your employer is clearly taking advantage of you, on a consistent basis, then maybe it's time to move on. I guess it just depends on how much you want (or need) the job.

On Sep.13.2004 at 12:06 PM
heather’s comment is:

My Job Description (Translated):

Purpose: to enhance WSYT & WNYS image through printed and collateral materials (translated... to exist as the entire creative department)

Job Duties:

1. Provide clean, precise mechanicals for any art need the stations may require; design and prepare logos, graphics for local programming and promotions. (translated... fight with producers as they try to use all the wrong fonts and tacky graphics, teach bosses/supervisors about print processes, branding, and importance of design for ALL on-air materials. become a temporary producer when the producers are lazy, edit video and create the motion graphics.)

2. Design/produce sales materials as requested. (translated... convince account managers that comic sans is the worst typeface ever made, teach them about branding and audience and why its important to their clients and potential clients)

i find myself doing more than my share but i enjoy it. it's an ongoing process of integrating design into people's live who never thought about it before. i'm learning editing and production for video (a whole new world!) and expanding my OWN opinion of what design is....

dom, i enjoy immensely you're attitude. i hope it rubs off on me :)

On Sep.15.2004 at 08:46 AM
Jason T’s comment is:

For those of us not familiar with WSYT & WNYS, please tell us what that is, heather.

On Sep.15.2004 at 09:49 AM
heather’s comment is:

our station call letters. (i work at a TV station)

On Sep.16.2004 at 09:09 AM
Dom’s comment is:

Thanks Heather. Trust me, I sometimes fight tooth and nail to keep it that way. And sometime I loose, too. As long as you don't stay that way, ya know? We all need to vent evey once and a while. I just try to see the real truth in whatever the complaint may be though. It's funny how what we say, or think, can have such a tremendous effect on our life, good or bad. Speak good things and you get good results!

On Sep.16.2004 at 11:46 AM
UK matt’s comment is:

I left my last job because I ended up doing my manager's job for him. I was the only person there that had a passion for this game. Now loving my job at Hallmark Cards UK - lots of designers just like me who design day and night, and not only for a way to get paid. Im no longer the 'best', which is now a good thing because it makes me try harder and question every decision i make.

But yeah, the job description has already started to change...

On Sep.25.2004 at 05:39 PM