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. Important features on a job description include:
Use one or two sentences to state the major purpose, objective or function of the position and the end result it is intended to accomplish.
Primary Duties and Responsibilities (Essential Functions)
Essential functions are the fundamental job duties regularly performed by an employee in the position. List no more than 6 primary duties in order of importance (beginning with the most important). Include the percentage of time spent on each duty. Each duty should count for at least 5% and the total percentage of time should equal 100%. Essential functions are those functions the incumbent must be able to perform unsupported or with the assistance of reasonable accommodations.
State the minimum education, knowledge and/or work experience required to effectively perform the job.
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 all knowledge, skills and abilities relating to physical or mental conditions which are required to perform the essential functions of the job. Critical skills may include things such as ability to organize time and work independently, excellent oral and written communication skills, ability to handle confidential material, etc.
List any licensing, certification or registration required to successfully complete the essential 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).
- 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.
- 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 checklist 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.
Job Description Writing Tips
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. The following tips may be helpful as you write a job description.
- 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 why it is done.
- The description should describe the position as it exists now, not as it will exist some time 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 examples of independent judgment and discretion that is used and the types of decisions to be made.
- 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.
- 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 references to personal qualities or skills.