Human Resources - Preparing a Job Description


The job description is a summary of the responsibilities, reporting relationship and requirements for a position.  The job description is used for several different purposes; they include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Recruitment and selection of candidates for the position.
  2. Communicate job expectations.
  3. Determine essential job functions
  4. Compensation administration.
  5. Disciplinary actions.

This booklet is intended to help individuals develop or revise job descriptions.  The booklet describes preparation steps and ways to gather information before writing the actual job description.  Finally, the booklet discusses the actual components of the job description and how to complete those sections.

Preparation and Gathering Information Needed for the Job Description:

To properly prepare a job description, the job analyst (the person preparing the job description) needs to have a thorough knowledge of the job duties and the requirements necessary to successfully perform those duties.  There is not one set process used to gather the information needed.  Here are some suggestions that you may use to gather information:

  1. Observe an individual performing the job.
  2. Contact other employers and determine what duties and requirements they require for the same or comparable position.
  3. Interview or develop a survey instrument asking a current incumbent what job functions they perform and the requirements they believe are needed to perform the job.
  4. Ask to see work output or other products of their job.
  5. Talk with supervisors, customers, co-workers or others who have to work in cooperation with the person performing the job.
  6. Determine what equipment or resources are required to accomplish the job tasks.

Inevitably, you will gather a lot of useful information.  Once that is accomplished, it will be necessary to summarize this information and produce the job description.

Writing the Job Description:

Appendix 1of this brochure contains a blank job description form.  An on-line version of the form is also saved on the Windows NT network in a Word file.  You can find the job description in the following location:

  • Drive:                                     common$ on ‘spark,wcsu (k:)
  • Folder:                                   Temp - Shared
  • File Name:                              job description form
  • File Extension Type:            .doc

There are six sections of the job description.  They are as follows:

  1. General Information
  2. Position Description Summary
  3. Job Duties Statements
  4. Supervisory Authority
  5. Job Requirements
  6. Approvals

Below are a description and general instructions for completing each section of the job description.

  1. General Information – Below are the components of the six elements of the General      Information sections and a description of the information needed.
    1. Supervisor’s Title – Identify the immediate supervisor and record that positions job title.
    2. Department – Record the department that the position is assigned to.
    3. Employment Group – Which employment group does this position belong to --- AAUP, SUOAF-AFSCME, or one of the classified bargaining units.
    4. Grade/Rank/Level – Indicate the grade level, administrative rank  (I through VII) or the faculty academic rank.  If this is a new position or a reclassified position, it will be necessary to discuss the appropriate administrative rank level with the Human Resources Department. 

      When developing a job description for a classified position, you will need to compare the job duties you develop for the position to the State’s job specification.   Job specification information can be obtained from the Human Resources Department. 
    5. Job Analyst – Record the name of the individual completing the job description.
    6. Date Completed – Record the date when the job description was completed.
  2. Position Description Summary – In two or three sentences, the job analyst should provide an overall description of the position.
  3. Job Duties Statements – A listing of all the major job tasks and responsibilities of the position.  These statements should describe explicitly what action is expected, what is done, or the worker’s concrete contributions to a process.  A properly written job duties statement contains two components: 1) the action that is expected to be performed (e.g. – gathers general ledger account information); and 2) The expected result of the action (e.g. – produces monthly financial statements).

    Appendix 2 of this booklet contains a listing of action verbs and their definitions.  These are the verbs commonly found in job duties statements.

    An important purpose of the duties statements is to assist with the identification of essential job duties.  The Americans with Disability Act requires employers to focus on the essential functions of a job to determine whether a person with a disability is qualified. Defining essential job functions prior to determinations of whether individuals are able to perform these functions, with or without accommodations, is viewed favorably by the courts.  Predefined essential job functions are presumed to be genuine and valid.  It is important to realize that the assignment of a job duty to a position does not mean that it is essential.  Below are guidelines issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that can be used to determine whether a job duty is considered essential:
    • Is the individual in the position actually required to perform the function?
    • Would removing that job duty fundamentally change the job?
    • Does the position exist to perform the job duty?
    • There are a limited number of employees available to perform the job duty, or among whom the job duty can be distributed.
    • A function is highly specialized, and the person in the position is hired for special expertise or ability to perform it.
  4. Supervisory Authority – List each subordinate position over which this position will have direct reporting responsibility.  This means, the individual holding the title of this job description will be responsible for daily supervision, conducting the performance appraisal and imposing any disciplinary measures.
  5. Job Requirements – These are the educational, work experience or other knowledge, skills, abilities or other (KSAOs) traits that an individual must possess to successfully perform the job duties.  Job requirements must always be stated in minimum terms.  While there are requirements that are preferable and may bring “extra” ability to the position, if they are not necessary to perform the job duties, they should not be listed on the job description.
  6. Approvals – Once the job description is completed, it needs to be approved and signed off by the departmental supervisor and the Human Resources Department.


Again, this brochure was written to assist individuals in gathering information and developing job descriptions.  The Human Resources Department is always available to assist individuals or departments with the process.  Should you need assistance, please contact the Human Resources Department at extension X-78662.

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