- Writing a Staff Position Description
- Job Elements
- Action Verbs
- Job Functions
- Supervisory Elements
- Physical Demands
- ADA Considerations
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This step-by-step guide is everything you need to prepare a position description. Review the guide below to discover available resources.
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:
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...
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:
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.
The following job elements should be included in a position description at the University of Vermont:
This list is intended to provide a common language to describe a body of work:
|Administer||Manage or direct the execution of affairs.|
|Adopt||Take up and practice as one's own.|
|Advise||Recommend a course of action; offer an informal opinion based on specialized knowledge.|
|Analyze||Separate into elements and critically examine.|
|Anticipate||Foresee and deal with in advance.|
|Appraise||Give an expert judgment of worth or merit.|
|Approve||Accept as satisfactory; exercise final authority with regard to commitment of resources.|
|Arrange||Make preparation for an event; put in proper order.|
|Assemble||Collect or gather together in a predetermined order from various sources.|
|Assign||Specify or designate tasks or duties to be performed by others.|
|Assume||Undertake; take for granted.|
|Assure||Give confidence; make certain of.|
|Authorize||Approve; empower through vested authority.|
|Calculate||Make a mathematical computation.|
|Circulate||Pass from person to person or place to place.|
|Clear||Gain approval of others.|
|Collaborate||Work jointly with; cooperate with others.|
|Compile||Put together information; collect from other documents.|
|Conduct||Carry on; direct the execution of.|
|Confer||Consult with others to compare views.|
|Consult||Seek the advice of others.|
|Control||Measure, interpret and evaluate actions for conformance with plans or desired results.|
|Coordinate||Regulate, adjust or combine the actions of others to attain harmony.|
|Correlate||Establish a reciprocal relationship.|
|Delegate||Commission another to perform tasks or duties that may carry specific degrees of accountability.|
|Design||Conceive, create and execute according to plan.|
|Determine||Resolve; fix conclusively or authoritatively.|
|Develop||Disclose, discover, perfect or unfold a plan or idea.|
|Devise||Come up with something new - perhaps by combining or applying known ideas or principles.|
|Direct||Guide work operations through the establishment of objectives, policies, rules, practices, methods and standards.|
|Discuss||Exchange views for the purpose of arriving at a conclusion.|
|Dispose||Get rid of.|
|Disseminate||Spread or disperse information.|
|Distribute||Deliver to proper destinations.|
|Draft||Prepare papers or documents in preliminary form.|
|Endorse||Support or recommend.|
|Establish||Bring into existence.|
|Estimate||Forecast future requirements.|
|Evaluate||Determine or fix the value of.|
|Execute||Put into effect or carry out.|
|Expedite||Accelerate the process or progress of.|
|Formulate||Develop or devise.|
|Furnish||Provide with what is needed; supply.|
|Implement||Carry out; execute a plan or program.|
|Improve||Make something better.|
|Initiate||Start or introduce.|
|Inspect||Critically examine for suitability.|
|Interpret||Explain something to others.|
|Investigate||Study through close examination of systematic inquiry.|
|Issue||Put forth or to distribute officially.|
|Manage||Direct personnel and area/unit/department operations.|
|Maintain||Keep in an existing state.|
|Monitor||Observe, track, or check for a specific purpose.|
|Negotiate||Confer with others with an eye to reaching agreement.|
|Notify||Make known to.|
|Operate||Perform an activity or series of activities.|
|Organize||Gather, collate, or classify information.|
|Participate||Take part in.|
|Perform||Fulfill or carry out some action.|
|Place||Locate and choose positions for.|
|Plan||Devise or project the realization of a course of action.|
|Practice||Perform work repeatedly in order to gain proficiency.|
|Prepare||Make ready for a particular purpose.|
|Proceed||Begin to carry out an action.|
|Process||Subject something to specific treatment; handle in accordance with prescribed procedure.|
|Promote||Advance to a higher level or position.|
|Propose||Declare a plan or intention.|
|Provide||Supply what is needed; furnish.|
|Recommend||Advise or counsel a course of action; offer or suggest for adoption.|
|Represent||Act in the place of or for.|
|Report||Give an account of; furnish information or data.|
|Research||Inquire into a specific matter from several sources.|
|Review||Examine or re-examine.|
|Revise||Rework in order to correct or improve.|
|Schedule||Plan a timetable.|
|Secure||Gain possession of; make safe.|
|Select||Choose the best suited.|
|Sign||Formally approve a document by affixing a signature.|
|Specify||State precisely in detail or name explicitly.|
|Stimulate||Excite to activity; urge.|
|Submit||Yield or present for the discretion or judgment of other.|
|Supervise||Personally oversee, direct, inspect or guide the work of others with responsibility for meeting standards of performance.|
|Train||Guide others in order to bring up to a predetermined standard.|
|Transcribe||Transfer data from one form of record to another or from one method of preparation to another - without changing the nature of the data.|
|Verify||Confirm or establish authenticity; substantiate.|
Essential Functions: Must be performed with or without reasonable accommodation. If appropriate, include information about resources and/or supervisory elements.
To distinguish essential from marginal functions, ask yourself :
In addition to identifying the title(s) and number of positions supervised, describe whether the supervision is functional or administrative.
Typically involves decisions or recommendations regarding hiring, promotions, salary adjustments, and terminations, as well as other supervisory duties. Administrative supervisors have either:
Usually is limited to assigning and reviewing work and acting as a group leader. Functional supervisors may make suggestions on hiring, promotions, salary adjustment, and firing.
To communicate about the physical demands and work conditions of a job, consider the following questions:
Does this job involve significant physical strain or activity?
What unusual working conditions, if any, are associated with this job?
Although not specifically required by the ADA, it is highly recommended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that every job have a carefully prepared job description that (1) distinguishes between essential and marginal job functions, and (2) reflects consistent job-related qualifications.
Currently, UVM uses detailed job descriptions that include consistent qualifications as the basis for the staff classification system.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), requires the fair treatment of "qualified individuals with disabilities." Such a person is "an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions..." of the job. For the purpose of ADA, "essential functions" are job duties that are "fundamental" and not "marginal."
The underlying premise of this title is that persons with disabilities should not be excluded from job opportunities unless they are actually unable to do the job. In order to ensure a match between job criteria and an applicant's ability to do the job, the ADA requires that:
The ADA does not require employers to maintain job descriptions, but written job descriptions prepared before advertising or interviewing applicants for the job are relevant evidence in determining whether a particular function is essential or marginal.
Other evidence of whether or not a particular function is essential includes:
Reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities. For example, reasonable accommodation may include:
For more information, contact Dana Hutchinson, the Americans with Disabilities Act Liaison in the Division of Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at 802-656-0945.