Tips for writing a job description

A position description is a formal document that summarizes the important functions of a specific job, using clear and concise language. It should accurately represent actual duties and responsibilities as well as job specifications. Position descriptions are the documents on which the University bases position postings, job interviews, and performance appraisals. At the University, each position description should follow the following general format:

Components for position descriptions include: 

  • Position title
  • Position title of the supervisor
  • Date the position was documented
  • Summary of the position
  • Essential duties and responsibilities
  • Qualifications
  • Special considerations

Position title:

  • Use titles which describe the nature and level of work performed.
  • Avoid inflating titles.

Summary of position:

  • One or two sentences summarizing the primary function and general purpose of this job.
  • It may be helpful to write the position summary after defining the essential responsibilities of the position.

Examples:

  • Prepares, assembles, edits, formats, and writes unit publications, including articles, manuscripts, books, journals, and/or website material. Ensures all materials meet established standards of appearance and content.
  • Assists in monitoring and coordinating general campus safety program, including safety inspections, accident investigations, and safety training.
  • Provides 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.

Essential duties and responsibilities

  • Limit this section to eight current essential duties and responsibilities each of which accounts for more than 5% 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:
    (incumbent=implied subject)Evaluates (action verb) jobs (what) and prepares or revises (action verbs) job descriptions (what). - 20%.

For assistance, please see the list of sample statements in writing the essential responsibilities of the job.

Position qualifications

  • Include minimum qualifications for formal training, education, certifications, licensures, and/or working experience.

  • Identify the level of knowledge, skills, and/or abilities (KSAs) required to perform the essential job responsiblities and duties competently.

Example:

  • Bachelor's degree in a related field.

  • Two years experience directly related to position responsibilities.

  • Basic knowledge of accounting application systems, e.g., SIS, Payroll, General Accounting.

  • Whenever possible, incorporate appropriate adjectives such as "basic", "intermediate", or "advanced" to indicate the required level of each KSA.

    Basic - knowledge sufficient to perform recurring assignments with a reasonable degree of independence under normal supervision and after a customary orientation period.

    Intermediate - knowledge sufficient to coordinate, interpret, critique and/or synthesize the work of others and to make a meaningful contribution to such work.

    Advanced - knowledge sufficient to qualify as an expert, an internal consultant, or a resource to other qualified specialists in other departments.

Special considerations for position working conditions/physical effort

Identify the working conditions and physical demands which relate to the essential functions of the position. This information is important to ensure that position descriptions, when necessary, include appropriate language about the physical requirements of the job for monitoring compliance with the ADA.

Example:
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.