A job description contains the following components:
Writing an Effective Job Description
The job description should accurately reflect the duties and responsibilities of the position. When well-written, it produces a realistic picture of a job and answers the question, "What does the person in this role actually do?"
A job description not only describes the position’s responsibilities, it sets the
foundation for recruiting, developing and retaining talent and also sets the stage
for optimum work performance by clarifying responsibilities, expected results, and
evaluation of performance. It is also an important component to maintaining an equitable
compensation system and ensuring legal compliance. The document should be revisited
and updated in line with the annual performance evaluation cycle.
The job description contains sufficient information to describe major responsibilities and essential functions as they exist today. They provide the information necessary to classify the position, not the person; thus they are “incumbent neutral” and not based on any specific quality of an incumbent (such as knowledge, skills, abilities, performance, dedication, loyalty, years of service, or degree). The document should not include every detail of how and what work is performed so that it remains useful even when minor changes occur. Job descriptions can be written as a joint effort between supervisor and employee, but the supervisor must approve.
The Job Classification Title is a title used by Human Resources to group jobs into
predetermined classifications, especially within the Clerical and Support classification.
The Working Title is a brief description (1-4 words) of the job which reflects the content, purpose, and scope of the job and is consistent with other job titles of similar roles.
Examples include: Child Care Specialist; Director of Web & Digital Media; Coordinator
for Intramural Sports; Director of Communications; AC/Heating Mechanic; Carpenter;
The Job Purpose provides a high level overview of the role, level and scope of responsibility
consisting of three or four sentences providing a basic understanding, the “bird’s
eye view” of the role. A concise summary of “why the job exists?”
This section contains a description of the duties and responsibilities assigned to the job. They describe the fundamental nature of the job which occupies a large proportion of the employee’s time.
If applicable, also address the type of supervisory responsibility that is expected from this role. Detail the extent of the job’s authority to hire, discipline, terminate, assign work, train, and evaluate performance of subordinates. This can be either a separate job duty or noted in other job duties as appropriate.
The job duties should be listed in accordance to their importance and/or frequency
which they are performed. They are typically presented in a bulleted or numbered format,
consisting of approximately 4-6 separate duties, with each one assigned a “percent
of time” (adding to 100%) which reflects the estimated time an employee will spend
over a year. Duties that require less than 5 percent of time should be combined with
other duties or removed from the job description.
This section lists the required level of job knowledge (such as education, experience,
knowledge, skills, and abilities) required to do the job. This section focuses on
the “minimum” level of qualifications for an individual to be productive and successful
in this role.
NOTE: For Clerical & Support classified positions, the minimum qualifications are predetermined by Human Resources. For Administrative classified positions, the minimum qualifications will be reviewed by Human Resources for appropriateness and consistency. Applicants that do not satisfy all listed minimum qualifications cannot be considered for the position.
Identify the educational qualifications that an employee must possess to satisfactorily perform the job duties and responsibilities. State the educational qualifications in terms of areas of study and/or type of degree or concentration that would provide the knowledge required for entry into this position.
Identify the minimum number of full-time experience required in terms of years and the type of work experience that an employee needs to be qualified for the job.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities ›
In stating required knowledge, include the level or depth of knowledge required for entry into the position. The following definitions should be helpful:
- Working knowledge: sufficient familiarity with the subject to know basic principles and terminology and to understand and solve simple problems.
- General knowledge: sufficient knowledge of a field to perform most work in normal situations. The work calls for comprehension of standard situations and includes knowledge of most of the significant aspects of the subject.
- Thorough knowledge: advanced knowledge of the subject matter. The work calls for sufficient comprehension of the subject area to solve unusual as well as common work problems, to be able to advise on technical matters, and to serve as a resource on the subject for others in the organization.
- Comprehensive knowledge: requires complete mastery and understanding of the subject. This term should be used sparingly and only for unusually exacting or responsible positions required to originate hypotheses, concepts, or approaches.
List specific skills and/or abilities required for incumbent to be successful in this
role; including designation of any required licenses or certifications. Some considerations
are: analytical, budget exposure, communication internal or external, computer, creative
thinking, customer service, decision-making, diversity, logical thinking, multi-tasking,
negotiation, problem solving, project management, supervision, teamwork, etc.
An expanded listing of the Required Qualifications which can be used to further determine
a person’s ability to be productive and successful in this job. These Preferred Qualifications
are “nice to have” but are not essential to carrying out the day to day functions
of the job. If included, the Preferred Qualifications can focus on any or all of the
following: education, experience, knowledge, skills and abilities.
Identify the physical demands and working conditions that relate directly to the essential job duties and responsibilities to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Describe the type, intensity (how much), frequency (how often), and duration (how long) of physical or mental capabilities required.
Hints for Writing Job Descriptions
Job descriptions should be prepared in a manner that all components are accurately
stated to create a clear understanding of the role.