Guide to writing position descriptions at Purdue University
Written position descriptions provide legal protection for employers and supervisors by documenting the work responsibilities for specific positions.
These descriptions allow positions to be grouped based on federal requirements so that:
This article is designed to assist you in conceptualizing and developing both new and revised position descriptions in today's environment at Purdue University. By following a step-by-step method, you can develop appropriate position descriptions that accurately document the work responsibilities of your position(s).
ï¿½Minimum requirementsï¿½ and the legal framework
Purdue is required to comply with regulations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), along with many other federal regulations. These regulations require Purdue to post positions with minimum requirements.
Order of items on Purdue's Staff Position Description Form
The order of the items on the position description is as follows:
To develop a well-integrated position description, it is helpful to fill out the form in a different order than it is presented. The rest of this document follows a suggested order designed to facilitate the process.
TOP OF PAGE 2
Please be sure to provide OnePurdue information, including org unit name and number. For existing positions, please also provide the position's OnePurdue ID number. With OnePurdue, we also need to know the supervisor's position ID number.
There are sections for you to enter a suggested title, the employee group, the employee subgroup, information about whether the position is full or part time, and what shift will be worked.
Briefly describe the primary purpose of the position. When summarizing the primary purpose, think about why the position exists. What is the main function? What key work would not get done if the position did not exist?
This statement is used by Human Resource Services in posting the position on the University Posting Listing, and in conjunction with other recruiting techniques.
Determine the major responsibilities of the position and their relationship to the organization's needs. Use action verbs in the present tense. For a good listing of action verbs related to specific types of work, check out a helpful resource from UCLA.
As you think about the position's responsibilities, please indicate percentage of effort spent in each major responsibility. Each major responsibility listed must be at least 5 percent of the total responsibilities.
TOP OF PAGE 4
Functional Supervision: Individuals who functionally supervise others do so by assigning tasks, providing instructions, and reviewing work.
Temporary/Student Supervision: At Purdue, functional supervision also includes hiring, terminating, and making pay decisions for student and temporary employees.
Administrative Supervision: Always includes Functional Supervision. Also includes responsibility for making hiring and promotion decisions/recommendations, pay adjustments, and terminations.
If supervision is part of the responsibilities, please be sure to include information in the responsibilities section that supports the level of supervision indicated
Indicate the number of staff supervised under each category (Functional, Temporary/Student, and Administrative) on the Supervision Roster page, and list the position IDs of the supervised employees in the appropriate area of the form.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs)
The definitions below will help you fill out the KSA section of the position description. Please be sure to list required KSAs first, and then you may also include preferred KSAs. Please note which are required and which are preferred. Preferred KSAs can improve your ability to differentiate among qualified applicants.
Knowledge: Information or procedures a person needs to know to adequately perform the job. (Examples are: knowledge of basic math, knowledge of accounting, knowledge of computers, knowledge of office routines, knowledge of equipment operation, knowledge of supervisory principles, knowledge of policies/procedures, knowledge of foreign languages, composition.)
Skill: Technique, art, or trade requiring specialized training. (Examples are typing, data entry, word processing, organization/time management, proofreading/editing, oral/written communications, presentation skills, phone etiquette, interviewing, etc.)
Ability: Quality or trait one should be able to demonstrate while performing a mental or physical activity. (Examples could be analytical ability, interpretation of policies/procedures, ability to work under pressure, confidence, perceptiveness, credibility, etc.)
If your area has identified specific job-related competencies, you may wish to integrate them within the knowledge, skills, and abilities you include on your position description. If you need assistance with this, please contact your compensation analyst.
Criminal Convictions Records Check (CCRC)
Follow directions to note whether or not a CCRC is required and if so, why.
MIDDLE OF PAGE 2
Education and Experience
In compliance with regulations and Purdue policy, it is necessary to determine the minimum education and experience required to successfully perform the major position responsibilities.
Experience refers to the type of training typically acquired through school experiences (high school, college, commercial, shop, vocational, etc,) or directly related on-the-job work experiences. Review each of the responsibilities you have delineated, the education level you have specified, and determine both the type and length of experience required to perform the position. Some examples of work experiences might be as follows:
If you need help identifying the types of education and/or experience that would be appropriate for your position, please contact your compensation analyst.
You must list the minimum education and experience you will accept, but you may also wish to list preferred types and levels of education and experience. This will allow you to differentiate among qualified applicants.
Physical and Environmental Position Specifications (For All Positions)
This section of the position description form is designed to help Human Resource Services assess both the physical demands of the position, as well as the environmental conditions under which the position is performed.
This section also provides information pertinent to the Americans with Disabilities Act, specifying equipment usage, working conditions, etc.
Follow the instructions to list all equipment used, physical requirements, environmental and hazardous conditions.
Position Description Questionnaire (For Clerical and Service Positions Only)
This section is designed to assist Human Resource Services in completing an evaluation of the position in order to establish the position's classification and level.
The University uses a Nine Factor Evaluation System (NIFES) that is a weighted point-count evaluation system based upon the degrees assigned, typically, to each of the following factors:
As you work through each question, decide which phrase best describes your position's responsibility for each factor. Each option reflects a differing degree of difficulty or responsibility related to a specific factor (such as Learning Period, Responsibility for Work Performed, Contacts, etc.). Please check the box next to the statement that best fits overall. Please check only one box.
TOP OF PAGE 8
Staff Position Posting Form
If you need to post your position immediately, please fill out the Staff Position Posting Form. Please provide the requested identifying and contact information on the posting form, and note, where indicated, whether HRS may share the salary with applicants and whether or not you need additional recruitment/advertising assistance.
Remember to review security roles currently assigned to the position to determine whether they need to be changed or updated prior to filling the position.
Your Business Office can assist with salary information and obtaining necessary signatures before the forms are sent to Compensation, HRS.
Recruitment Plan (unnumbered page)
If you have goal-related vacancies, or if your position may be difficult to fill, please review the recruitment plan page and provide any information that may help identify additional recruiting opportunities.
If you find yourself stalled at any point in developing your position description, please call on your compensation analyst for assistance. Your analyst can help locate sample position descriptions and other information.
In addition, there are free sample position descriptions and occupational information at the following Web sites:
This article was excerpted and modified from The Guide to Writing Job Descriptions, a manual prepared by Tom Haworth, Libraries, Purdue University.
- Employment and Compensation
Visit the LeadingEdition index of articles and past issues.
LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors. It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually. If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us. Thank you.