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Instructions for Writing a Job Description

[Procedure] Last Updated: October, 2016

A job description is an outline prepared in the employing unit that identifies and describes the current primary duties and responsibilities performed by one employee on a permanent and continuing basis. In the case of occupied positions, the description is to be written by the employee performing the work; in the instance of a vacant or new position, the description will be prepared by the immediate supervisor. Descriptions for temporary assignments should not be included within the body of permanent assignments. There should be one job description per position. In the event of permanent changes in job content of an occupied position, the new configuration of duties/responsibilities/activities must have been performed as described for at least 30 days by the current employee before submitting a revised job description. Supervisors are free to revise and report work content of vacant positions at any time, subject to approval of higher management.

The most recent job description should be reviewed with the employee on an annual basis by the supervisor.   Biennial if no changes have occurred, the results of that review should be reported to Human Resource Service using a Position Review Certification form.  Notification that a review is due is sent out quarterly by Human Resource Service. Additionally, a new description should be prepared and forwarded to the Employment Coordinator whenever permanent changes in assigned duties and responsibilities of the position are implemented.

The following general guidelines have been developed to assist you. They are not intended to be universally applicable and adaptation to specific cases is expected.

An effective job description provides the reader with:

  1. Job Summary/Primary Function of a Position. An overview of the primary goals, activities, and/or services the employee carries out, written without using comparative adjectives regarding difficulty, complexity, etc.
  2. The Organizational Relationship. Who assigns, reviews, and approves work carried out by the employee, and whose work is assigned, reviewed and approved by the employee? (Organizational charts are not required, but may be included as an aid in conveying the organizational context of the position.) If there are supervisory responsibilities, those who are supervised must be identified by position number and title, and the extent of responsibility with respect to: assignment of work to others, methods used in reviewing their work, and the effects of their work should be described. All position being supervised including other civil service, student employees, and extra help should be so identified.  The job descriptions of all subordinate Civil Service employees must also reflect the same reporting relationship.
  3. Work Activities. Identify the main duties and responsibilities of the position. Describe each activity separately, in a concise, factual statement which includes the activity being accomplished, how it is accomplished and the objective of the activity, if it is not obvious. Avoid subjective statements such as "highly complex," "extremely difficult," etc--let the work description speak for itself. Do not include prospective work assignments that are contingent upon additional staffing, new equipment, etc., or activities that are performed on a temporary basis due to the absence of another employee or in response to a temporary problem or project. Do not use quotations from Civil Service classification specifications or copy from other the Civil Service position descriptions.  Indicate in the left margin the approximate percentage of time spent in performing the various work assignments described. The total allocation should add up to 100%.  There is no need to account for precisely 100% of the total time, or to include incidental, non-recurring duties. A work sheet used in converting percentages of days, weeks, etc., is available on request from Human Resource Service.
  4. Work Responsibilities. How much freedom in determining priorities, work methods, etc., is given the employee in carrying out the job? Are there detailed instructions, guidelines, State or Federal Regulations, etc., that the employee can refer to or must comply with? Are other employees available to answer questions and provide guidance? What "quality controls" exist to monitor the employee's completed work? How does the supervisor know whether or not the work is of a satisfactory level?
  5. Inter-Relationships. Which people and/or events provide the "job inputs" that require or initiate work activities of the employee in this job? Who are the people dependent on the "job outputs" from this position? How are their activities affected by the quality and timeliness of work from the employee in this position? What would be the effect of late or inaccurate work and what corrective actions would be necessary?

The following signatures must appear at the conclusion of the job description:

  1. The employee who performs the work as reported in the description and whose signature attests to their understanding of and agreement with its accuracy.
  2. The individual supervisor who assigns, reviews, and approves the work as reported in the description and whose signature attests to its accuracy. •
  3. The Head of the Department, who endorses the delegation of work as described.*
  4. The Dean, if the position is located in a teaching college, who endorses the delegation of work as described.*
  5. The Vice President/President, who endorses the delegation of work as described, if applicable.*

* These signatures acknowledge an awareness of the employee's assigned responsibilities and duties. They do not constitute agreement with any opinion regarding the correct classification of the position description nor does endorsement constitute a change in classification. The party whose endorsement is sought has fifteen (15) working days in which to review the description.

Each level of management has the prerogative of directing that the employee cease performing certain activities reported in the job description; however, it is not permissible to merely direct the removal of the activity from the description while allowing or expecting that it continue to be done by the employee.

Job descriptions must include the official Civil Service title.  An informal job title which is different from the official Civil Service title may also be indicated.     Only the official civil service title tied to the classification will be used in the PeopleSoft system.  Job descriptions should not include work schedules or conditions of employment. Job descriptions may not include statements of "minimum qualifications." Such requirements are established at the state level by the State Universities Civil Service System and cannot be revised at the campus level.

Position descriptions which contain a job title other than the correct, official Civil Service title, statements concerning the minimum qualifications, or those that contain descriptions of other positions, may be returned to the originating unit without evaluation.

The original signed description should be sent to the Human Resource Service. A Position Request From (PRF) will be used as a cover when submitting the job description to Human Resource Services. The Human Resource Service retains copies of job descriptions which are assumed to be the official copy until superseded by a new description. They occasionally may be used in the development of new employment examinations, and may be made available to state and federal agencies responsible for adjudicating claims involving disability, equal pay/EEO complaints, etc.