Q&A: “I Feel Like I’m Doing Someone Else’s Job For Free”

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“I’m an administrative assistant in a small non-profit with a Bachelors degree in accounting, and I feel like I am doing my HR persons work. I recently convinced our HR person to put an ad out advertising for counselors. All resumes came directly to me and I sorted through all of them. I then contacted 20 candidates to set up the interviews, and later brought them in for second interviews. I then called all the references for each applicant. So after I do all of this I then have to packet it up and send it down to HR for them to do a background check and then send out an offer letter. It seems like I’m an HR assistant when I’m not. Is this normal and/or acceptable?”


One thing I often see with smaller organizations, and with non profits in particular, is that type of blurring of the lines when it comes to the roles and responsibilities, and essentially “who does what”. You’ll see a lot of that overlap and people wearing a lot of different hats, because a lot of times these organizations are limited in staff, and budgets don’t always permit hiring additional staff when you’re a company that’s limited in funding, or still trying to grow.

Taking on this kind of support role for a particular project (say, hiring for this particular role only) is one thing. Consistently taking on these types of tasks (HR support functions) that may be out of your responsibility or even comfort level is another. Think about where you fall in between those two scenarios. Is this a temporary project or need that you’ve been asked to step up and help with, or do you feel you’ve been asked to take on additional work outside of your job description that perhaps warrants additional pay or a different title?

At the very least, while it may be an uncomfortable situation, it’s definitely something you can highlight positively in the future on a resume or cover letter, or in an interview, and position it as an opportunity where you demonstrated leadership by recognizing a need, and stepped outside of your role to offer your support, and perhaps developed additional skills in the process.



Photo by PlanningQueen on Flickr