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Writing a Staff Position Description

Writing a Staff Position Description

Position descriptions are written by supervisors who design and evaluate positions. Supervisors may ask employees to document day to day job duties and functions. 

A well-written position description:

  • Clearly and accurately communicates the essential purpose and responsibilities of a position in the Job Summary
  • Outlines the specific Job Duties or Job Functions performed and the methods used to complete the duties
  • Defines the Minimum Qualifications needed to effectively perform the work
  • Is essential for recruitment, training and job evaluation and informs compensation decisions

Job Summary/Basic Function: Describes the essential purpose and primary duties of the position. It may include information about the unit or department to put the position in context.

Job Duty/Job Function statements identify primary as well as current duties and responsibilities of the position. Job duty statements typically contain two parts: the Task and the Purpose, as shown below:

TASK

PURPOSE

Compile enrollment data

for distribution to administrators

Conduct analytical studies

to support financial planning

Analyze budget and recommend expenditures

to meet current and future business needs

Monitor system performance

to ensure system integrity and determine necessary corrective action

Job duties should:

  • Include substantive, broad duties/functions, leaving fine details for "to do" lists
  • Be grouped by functions such as budget, facilities, procurement, human resources, information technology and communication that identify different aspects of the work and are described in a few sentences
  • Communicate the full range of job elements the position has responsibility for including financial resources, budgets, physical resources and data/records information
  • Be specific about what methods, processes tools, techniques, materials and equipment are used
  • Describe supervisory elements
  • Describe physical demands and work conditions
  • Be identified as essential and marginal functions
  • Be understandable; limit the use of jargon and acronyms
  • Utilize specific action verbs for each job duty, (e.g., "operate," "analyze," "approve")
  • Include accurate percentages of effort. Generally individual functions are best described with percentages no higher than 20% to 25%, and no lower than 5%
  • Limit "perform other related duties as assigned" to 5%

Job duties should not:

  • Contain restrictive language that would preclude the accommodation of workers with disabilities.
  • Be so specific that changes in technology or the preferences of employees and supervisors do not cause it to become prematurely outdated

Minimum Qualifications: Determined by the supervisor in collaboration with Human Resource Services.

Include (in the following order):

The minimum level of formal education, license/certification, years of relevant work experience and skills and physical requirements required to perform the job functions

Do not include:

  • Statements related to performance, behavior, personal attributes or expectations,
  • Vague descriptors like "professional" or "excellent"
  • The qualifications of the employee in the position or of the ideal candidate. Current incumbents and candidates for a position often have more or less education and experience than stated in the minimum qualifications.
  • Statements regarding "an equivalent combination of education and experience..." This wording is already a standard part of the posting language displayed to applicants.

UVM's intention in basing classification on minimum (versus ideal) qualifications is to attract the broadest and most diverse pool of applicants during the recruitment process.

Make sure to distinguish between the skills required (education level and number of years of related work experience) for the position and "desirable" skills. When listing "desirable" qualifications, be careful to consider the potential impact on the applicant pool, as qualified individuals may choose not to apply based upon their perception of listed qualifications.


Last modified April 03 2014 02:29 PM