Regulations and Definitions
- Position: a group of duties, responsibilities and working conditions requiring the service of one person for the hours per week specified.
- Classification: a group of positions similar in content of duties and responsibilities that the same title and pay grade is assigned to each position.
- Classify: the assignment of a position to a classification.
- Reclassify: the reassignment of an existing position to another classification.
- New positions are classified and existing positions reclassified at the request of the department.
Complete the following departmental needs analysis prior to developing a Position Description:
- Review the existing generic classification description.
- Describe the position: full or part-time, temporary or regular, position share or other special circumstances?
- If this is a newly created position, discuss with your Human Resources Representative.
- What does the position accomplish? If there is an incumbent, what are that person's duties?
- Who does this person report to? Are there any special considerations/issues, such as multiple reporting relationships?
- How does this position fit into the department? Where does it connect with others?
- Does the department have current unmet needs this position could fill?
- What ramifications do upcoming organizational changes have on this position?
- What new directions are in the future for the department? Do they impact this position?
- Who can provide information about this position before the "formal" Position Description is written?
Answering these and other questions before you begin the process of creating a Position Description, can make the task easier.
Writing a Position Description
Preparing an effective position description involves defining the following:
- Title of position and working title
- Basic functions and responsibilities
- Characteristic duties and responsibilities
- Related duties
- Supervision received
- Supervision exercised
- Qualifications, and
- Required Contacts
Basic functions and responsibilities
Describe the basic functions and responsibilities of the position by distinguishing the position function from other classifications using characteristic duties, responsibilities and contributions. These are generally identified by the following factors:
- Recognized as being the primary duties and functions.
- Occupy a significant portion of time.
- Performed on a regular or recurring basis.
Look closely at the nature of the work and its relative responsibility and difficulty. Position descriptions should contain enough information to clearly define what duties are to be performed. Note: Review the position description with HR prior to posting for consistency.
Departmental qualifications are tied directly to the work involved and are directly relevant. Example: Selected candidate must have at least one year software programming experience in Novell and Fortan, C++.
Note: Avoid qualifications not related to the duties and responsibilities. For example, the qualification “Must have winning personality" is not appropriate and can be legally challenged. A better qualification could be stated as "Demonstrated excellent customer service skills." Interview questions should be prepared to probe for knowledge and demonstration of those skills and should be measurable using documented selection criteria.
Additional Suggested Tips and Resources
Talk with your unit HR colleague for access to:
- CUPA HR - Job Descriptions Index
- SHRM - Job Description Manager ($360 per user)