The information on this page is intended to help you write a job description for a job that is being posted. It is important to understand that a job description used in a posting and the job description visible in Workday may be different. Job descriptions visible in Workday are generic descriptions that may apply to multiple people with similar but not identical responsibilities.
A job description identifies, defines and describes the most important features of a job as it is being performed. A job description should describe and focus on the job itself and not on any specific individual who might fill or who is currently in the position.
Job Description Writing Tips
As you prepare to write a job description for a job that will be posted, the below tips may be helpful. After the tips, you will find a link to the job description template you need to complete as well as detailed instructions for completing the template.
- Determine what the primary duties and responsibilities are of the position. Typically there are 4-6 major end results that the position should accomplish. Each task should indicate what is to be done, how it is to be done and where appropriate why it is done.
- The description should describe the position as it exists now, not as it may exist sometime in the future.
- Begin each task statement with an action verb. Clarify verbs which have a variety of meaning e.g. analyze, handle, supervise, process, etc. Avoid using phrases such as “responsible for”, “assist in” and “involved in” which obscure the action.
- List the responsibilities in descending order of responsibility and assign a percentage of time spent on each activity. The percentage is used to help understand the job content and to determine the job’s FLSA status (exempt or non-exempt).
- Think about how to describe the position to someone who is unfamiliar with the position. Do not use jargon, acronyms or other non-standard language.
- Determine the minimum education, experience and/or training for an individual to be considered for the position.
- Do not include information which describes goals pertaining to the department or other general information that is not related to the specific job.
- Do not include references to personal qualities or skills.
- Describe the types of decisions the position is responsible for making and which types of decisions are referred to the supervisor.
- Determine the financial responsibilities the position will be held accountable for (e.g. managing department budget of $500,000).
Job Description Template Instructions
Other than “Job Code,” “Job Grade” and “FLSA Status,” all sections of the job description template should be completed. Do NOT leave a section blank. After the completed job description template has been reviewed and approved by your management, submit the template to your HR representative for forwarding to the compensation team.
Use two to four sentences to state the major purpose, objective or function of the position and the end result it is intended to accomplish or why the position exists.
Primary Duties and Responsibilities
Generally list no more than 6 primary duties in order of importance (beginning with the most important). Consider using an action verb (PDF) to begin the sentence for the duty that is being described. Include the percentage of time spent on each duty (this is required to determine FLSA status). Each duty should count for at least 5% and the total percentage of time should equal 100%. Each task should indicate what is to be done, how it is to be done and where appropriate why it is done. You should not simply include a heading and list several bullets as a large percentage of time.
State the minimum education and/or work experience required to be considered for the job. Note: Within Workday, the minimum education and/or work experience for a job title must be consistent. Any preferred education/experience should be listed in the next section. Specific knowledge needed to perform the job in a department should be included in the Critical Skills and Expertise section.
List any additional or desired education and/or experience that would enhance the capability of any employee to effectively perform the job.
Critical Skills and Expertise
Include knowledge, skills and abilities which are key to performing the job duties. Critical skills may include things such as ability to organize time and work independently, excellent oral, written and interpersonal communication skills, ability to handle confidential material, etc. You may also list “highly” preferred to ensure that the ideal candidate understands the level of knowledge, skills and experience desired.
List any licensing, certification or registration required to successfully complete the duties of the job.
Decision Making and Impact
Describe the kinds of decisions made as part of the regular job duties. What guidelines, policies, or procedures are available to assist in making these decisions? What interpretation of information and judgment is required? What kinds of decisions are referred to the supervisor? Include examples of decisions. What is the impact of these decisions on others within the work unit, across departments or university-wide?
Decision making statements may include things such as:
- Incumbent makes decisions on departmental purchases and expenditures in order to receive maximum value for dollars available
- Incumbent reviews information requests from inside and outside the university and makes decisions regarding what information to share and when to refer complex requests to supervisor
- Decides when office supplies and materials need to be restocked
Describe any significant financial responsibilities for which the position is held accountable. This includes work related to departmental and other budgets, revenues, contracts and grants. Provide information as to the position’s specific role with this data and the annual dollar amount (e.g. annual budget of $500,000) or a range of dollars (e.g. $1M to $5M).
- Internal – Describe the nature, purpose, importance and frequency of contacts within the university. Occasional, incidental or infrequent contacts should not be considered. Internal contacts may include faculty, staff, students, etc.
- External – As above, indicate contacts outside of the university. External contacts may include contractors, vendors, parents, alumni, etc.
- Given – List the number and level of employees this position supervises both directly and indirectly through other employees. If the position does not supervise other employees either directly or indirectly, state “Position does not supervise other employees.”
- Received – Describe the frequency and types of interaction between the employee and the supervisor.
Indicate whether the position has regular exposure to confidential information and describe the nature of the materials.
Job Location/Working Conditions/ Equipment
Use the checklist on the job description template to indicate where work is performed, i.e., office, laboratory, several different facilities, etc., and describe physical surroundings in which incumbent works. Consider if any extraordinary conditions exist and include any physical requirements of the job and equipment used.
Job descriptions should include a closing statement as follows:
The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all job duties performed by the personnel so classified. Management reserves the right to revise or amend duties at any time.