Instructions to Complete Position Description Form

The position description should accurately reflect the duties and responsibilities of the position. A well-written position description produces a mental picture of a job and eliminates the question, “But what does the person in this position actually do?”

Position descriptions reflect a position’s assigned duties as they exist today and not as they may be in six months. The position description provides the information necessary to classify the position.

Position descriptions should be “incumbent neutral” and not based on any quality of an incumbent (such as knowledge, skills, abilities, performance, dedication, loyalty, years of service, or degree).

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  • Position Description Header

    Position Title: Identify a title that appropriately describes the major function of the position (30 characters or less preferred). If the title includes a commonly used term such as "manager," "director," "supervisor," "vice-president," place that word at the beginning of the title. Example: Vice President, Human Resources

    Department: This is the major division/department in which the position resides or is budgeted and may include an additional identified area within the division/department for more precise identification. Example: University Facilities/Landscaping

    Reports To (Title): Provide the title of the position that the position reports to. Do not list the name of the individual. Example: Chair, English Department, Controller

    Position Number: If this is an existing position, provide the position number. Leave blank for new positions.

    Pay Grade: Current grade of the position if previously classified. Leave blank if this is a new position.

    Date Revised: Provide the date the position description was written or updated. Use the 06-13-07 date format.

    FLSA Status: Leave blank. Human Resources will make the determination as to the exempt/non-exempt status.

  • Hints for Writing Position Descriptions

    The fundamental purpose of the position description is to describe the work assigned to a position. It should clearly state the job duties and responsibilities that go together to make up a job.

    Here are some hints that will make writing positions descriptions a bit easier:

    • Write in a concise, direct style.
    • Always use the simpler word rather than the complicated one. It will cut verbiage, shorten your description, and enhance understanding. Anyone at the University should be able to pick up a job description and come away with concise knowledge of what the job entails.
    • Use action verbs in the present tense (for example: writes, operates, or performs).
    • Avoid abbreviations and acronyms. Other people reading the position description may not be familiar with them. If abbreviations and acronyms are necessary, define them the first time you use them.
    • Don’t use ambiguous terms. If you use terms such as “assists, handles, and performs,” describe “how” the position assists, handles, or performs. Using the word “by” and then detailing the processes, tasks, or operations done will usually clarify the ambiguity. Example: Processes invoices for payments by checking invoice forms for completeness, preparing check requests, and forwarding approved requests to accounts payable to provide payments to suppliers.
    • Avoid gender-specific language, such as, “He manages,” “She is responsible for.” The position description should describe the job regardless of the current incumbent.
  • Position Summary

    In this section, state the primary purpose of the position in no more than three or four sentences. State the functions and responsibilities of the position without giving detailed information. The summary is intended to give the reader a basic understanding of the position.

    Example: Position: Electrical Assembly Technician - Performs a wide variety of duties to build, assemble, and test electrical/electronic controls and performs electrical, machinery and building maintenance. Assists with sub and final assembly, as needs arise and time permits.

  • Job Duties/Responsibilities

    This section contains a description of the duties, functions, and responsibilities assigned to the position. Provide in a bulleted or numbered format with generally no more than 6-12 items.

    Duties should be listed according to their importance and/or frequency with which they are performed. Please include the percentage of time the employee typically spends, over the course of a year, performing each duty. Duties that require less than 5 percent of time should be combined with other duties or left off the job description. Use terms that help to define complexity and decisions made by the position.

    Example: Compares salaries of selected university positions against similar positions in the marketplace using either commercial salary surveys or by contacting employers by phone or email; determines level of comparison, and makes recommendations for salary structure adjustments, if appropriate. 15 percent

    The following chart will assist you in estimating time percentages:

    Percentage Week Year

    5 percent 2 hours 2 1⁄2 weeks

    10 percent 4 hours 5 weeks

    15 percent 6 hours 1 month

    20 percent 8 hours 1 1⁄2 months

    25 percent 10 hours 3 months

  • Contacts

    In this section, please list those individuals or groups outside of the position’s regular work group that the position contacts, including the purpose or nature of the contact.


    • Corporate human resource departments - to solicit participation in an on-campus job fair.
    • University of Richmond Catering - to arrange for food for an event.
    • University of Richmond alumni - to solicit donations.
  • Supervision Exercised

    Identify the type of supervisory responsibility that is expected from this position. Identify the number of staff and students supervised.


    • Does not provide direction to other individuals.
    • Assists in providing training, work direction, and problem-solving assistance for student workers.
    • Supervises, hires, trains, provides work direction, and problem-solving assistance for student workers. Also reviews or oversees the work of other staff.
    • Supervises staff, including hiring, scheduling and assigning work, reviewing performance, and recommends salary increases, promotions, or terminations.
    • Manages others through subordinate supervisors.
  • Working Conditions/Physical Effort

    Identify the working conditions and physical demands that relate to the job duties and responsibilities of the position.

    Use terms that best describe:

    • Environment, such as office or outdoors
    • Exposures encountered, such as hazardous materials, loud noise, or extreme heat/cold
    • Essential physical requirements, such as climbing, standing, stooping, or typing
    • Physical effort/lifting, such as sedentary - up to 10 pounds; light - up to 20 pounds; medium - up to 50 pounds; heavy - over 50 pounds
    • Example: Requires the employee to work both inside and outside in cold, wet, and dry conditions. Frequently required to use personal protective equipment to prevent exposure to hazardous materials.
    • Indicate if the position will be required to work weekends, nights, or be on-call as a regular part of the job.
  • Qualifications

    This section shows the minimum level of job knowledge (such as skills, expertise, know-how, and ability) required to do the job. This knowledge is typically gained through a combination of formal education and related experience. It focuses on the minimum level of skills, knowledge, and expertise necessary to prepare an individual for the job.

    Use the following terms to indicate the depth of knowledge necessary at the time of hire: working, general, thorough, or comprehensive.

    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.

    Example: Working knowledge of the processes and procedures used in accounts payable

    Example: Thorough knowledge of OSHA and other laboratory safety regulations

    Identify occupational certifications and/or licenses that may be required. Examples: CPR Certification; plumber’s license

    List specific skills and/or competencies required. Examples: skill in the operation of handheld power tools; skill in the use of specific computer hardware or software; ability to read, interpret, and apply policies and procedures; ability to operate a forklift

  • Education and Experience


    Identify the minimum educational qualifications that an employee must possess on the first day of the job to satisfactorily perform the duties and responsibilities of the position. State the educational qualifications in terms of areas of study and/or type of education that would provide the knowledge required for entry into the position. You may indicate an equivalent combination of education and experience.

    Example: Bachelor’s degree in accounting or business administration.

    Example: Bachelor’s degree in accounting or a combination of graduation from high school and five years experience in accounting in a medium-size organization.


    Identify the minimum number of years and type of work experiences that an employee needs to be qualified for the job.

    Example: 3-5 years of administrative support experience

    Example: 2-3 years of experience in performing payroll functions; prefer experience in an integrated human resources/payroll system