Writing a Job Description

A position description serves as a formal document that summarizes the important functions of a specific job on which the university bases position postings, job interviews, and performance appraisals. Position descriptions should accurately represent actual duties and responsibilities as well as job specifications. Whenever you need to write or revise a job description, please begin with this word-formatted template of the job description.

TITLE

Use a title that describes the nature and level of work performed.

Consider internal and external status issues.

Avoid inflating titles.

 

POSITION OBJECTIVE

Provide a brief summary of the scope, objective or role, and key responsibilities (typically three to four) of the position.

Describe how the position supports, contributes, or is linked to the organization’s or program’s mission. If the position supports research, briefly describe objective of project.

It may be helpful to write a position summary after defining the essential responsibilities (functions) of the position.

  • Example 1: This position provides organization-wide human resources consultation to supervisors and managers regarding classification, recruitment and compensation, facilitates solutions and outcomes that support organizational efforts to deliver public service excellence. The responsibilities of this position is to prepare, assemble, edit, format, and write unit publications, including articles, manuscripts, books, journals, and/or website material. Ensure all materials meet established standards of appearance and content.
  • Example 2: Provide pre-award sponsored research services to the university community, including developing new funding opportunities, enhancing existing funding relationships, coordinating interdisciplinary proposal efforts, and representing the University on various research committees and professional organizations.
  • Example 3: Working under general supervision, plan and carry out research project(s) in accordance with general plans. Conduct a series of experiment to supply scientific information as part of a larger project.
  • Example 4: This position provides administrative and secretarial support to the Director of Central Services. Responsibilities include records management, report preparation, and coordination of budget development and equipment purchases.

 

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS

This section (duties and responsibilities) should use action statements of key work activities to achieve the position objective. Limit this section to current essential duties and responsibilities each of which accounts for more than 5 percent of the position.

List them in descending order of importance and indicate the percentage of time spent on the duties.

Use clear and concise language; closely related duties should be grouped together in one responsibility statement.

Avoid gender-based language.

To the extent practicable, please use action verbs with an implied subject (who) and explicit work objects and/or outputs (what).

  • Example 1: Provide recruitment consultation – analyze staffing needs; conduct job analyses; formulate, recommend and implement recruitment plans; screen applications; and recommend and administer assessment tools - 20%.
  • Example 2: Provide detailed analysis of raw data in written and graphic report form to be presented to management center - 20%.

 

NONESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS

List duties that are marginal or infrequent.

Usually, supervisors include the statement “Perform other duties as assigned” in this section.

  • Example: Attend training and provide end user guidance in the functionality of the new student information system.

 

CONTACTS

This section is important in rating the position, so please give it thought and consideration when developing the position description.

Indicate who the incumbent will have contact with (i.e., department staff, students, potential donors), the frequency (i.e., infrequent (up to 5%), occasional (6-15%), moderate (16-30%), regular (31-45%), frequent (46-65%), and continuous (66+%)) and for what purpose (i.e., provide information, resolve complaints, solicit donations).

  • Example: Moderate contact with students to explain the application of policies.

 

SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITY

Direct supervisory responsibility includes the authority to hire, transfer, suspend, layoff, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline subordinate employees or effectively recommend such actions.

List the job titles of the direct report under supervisory responsibility (refer to organization chart).

 

QUALIFICATIONS

Experience: List the basic (minimum) experience needed to be successful in the position.

Education: List the basic (minimum) education, certification, and/or licensing needed to be successful in the position.

 

REQUIRED SKILLS
List those measurable or observable knowledge, skills, abilities, and/or behaviors that are required to succeed in performing the essential functions.

  • Example 1: Ability to establish priorities, work independently, and proceed with objectives without supervision.
  • Example 2: Must have excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Example 3: Skill to use a personal computer and various software packages.
  • Example 4: Knowledge of Oracle database running in a Sun environment.

 

WORKING CONDITIONS

Identify the working conditions and physical demands which relate to the essential functions of the position, such as working indoors/outdoors, working with exposures to hazards, etc.

Include special considerations for the position, such as occasional travel or necessary overtime.

Use this list (pdf) to help you determine working conditions to include.

  • Example 1: The physical environment requires the employee to work both inside and outside in heat/cold, wet/humid, and dry/arid conditions. Frequently required to use personal protective equipment to prevent exposure to hazardous materials.
  • Example 2: May be requested to work overtime and weekends for special program events.