Writing a Staff Position DescriptionPosition descriptions are
written by supervisors who design and evaluate positions. Supervisors
may ask employees to document day to day job duties and
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. Examples of the beginning of such statements are shown below:
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 that provide an understanding of the scope of the position authority.
- 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")
accurate percentages of effort. Generally individual functions are best
described with percentages no higher than 20% to 25%, and no lower than
- 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.
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"
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
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.