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The Position Description and You. Office of Human Resources, Oregon State University. Position Description Development and Purpose. Components of a Position Description This is the primary administrative tool for employees Position Summary – What is the primary reason the position exists?

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The position description and you

The Position Description and You

Office of Human Resources, Oregon State University

Position description development and purpose
Position Description Development and Purpose

  • Components of a Position Description

    • This is the primary administrative tool for employees

    • Position Summary – What is the primary reason the position exists?

    • Position Duties – What work is the incumbent in the position expected to perform?

    • Decision Making/Guidelines – What are the impacts of the decisions this position makes? What laws, rules, or guidelines must be followed? What are the consequences of a poor decision?

    • Minimum Required Qualifications – What skills or experience is necessary to successfully perform in this position?

Position description purposes
Position Description Purposes

  • Position Description is used for Recruitment & Selection

    • Job postings inform applicants of the terms and conditions of employment

  • Position Description is used for Training and Development Needs

    • Should be updated annually during the performance evaluation

  • Position Description is used for Classification Allocation and Compensation

    • Used to determine whether PECBA exclusions exist, and if a position should be classified or unclassified

Position description uses
Position Description Uses

Organizational planning

Recruitment & selection

Labor relations (contract administration)

Classification allocation & compensation

Employee development & training

Performance evaluation

Position summary
Position Summary

  • State the primary purpose of the position.

  • What does this employee need to accomplish and how does it relate to the mission of the organization?

  • Avoid lengthy statements about the organization.

Position description duties section
Position Description-Duties Section

  • Position Duties are meant to expand on the summary.

  • Clearly define duties. Be accurate.

  • Don’t understate or overstate.

  • Focus on key elements of the job. Group duties by similarity and importance.

  • Be specific. Begin each statement with an action verb.

  • Is there a clear relationship between the duties section and other sections?

Position description statements
Position Description Statements

  • The position description writer can clarify terminology and descriptions of work by asking a mental follow-up question, “In order to do what?” or “For what purpose?” For example:

Poor Statements

Good Statements

  • Ask clients questions from a standard form.

  • Type letters and reports.

  • Questions clients to decide eligibility for (specific services), records answers on eligibility form and sends on to be processed for acceptance or rejection.

  • Types final letters and reports from rough copy and general instructions; selects the correct format and proofs draft for typing, spelling and format errors.

Position description statements cont
Position Description Statements, cont.

Poor Statements

Good Statements

  • Assist in handling correspondence.

  • Maintains grounds and landscaped areas.

  • Keeps all records.

  • Manages the office.

  • Receives, opens, dates, stamps, sorts and routes incoming mail to appropriate staff for needed action.

  • Mows lawns with power and hand mower to maintain appearance of grounds.

  • Compares invoices and purchase orders for accuracy. Reviews purchase orders submitted by the (named) department for accuracy and gives them to purchasing agent to review.

  • Schedules work assignments of support staff to assure effective use of resources. Assigns and prioritizes work. Reviews completed work for accuracy and timeliness. Approves leave assuring that support work can be done.

Decision making
Decision Making

  • Defines scope and responsibility.

  • Lists what decisions the incumbent may make and the level of autonomy they have.

  • Lists what laws, rules, or guidelines are used in making decisions.

  • What are the impacts of an incorrect decision?


  • Determine the minimum or additional required qualifications – What must the incumbent have upon beginning this position to be successful?

  • Determine the preferred qualifications – What knowledge, skills, and/or abilities would be helpful for the incumbent to have, or useful to the organization?

Qualifications cont
Qualifications, Cont.

  • Avoid listing numerous qualifications that will negatively impact the search and limit the applicant pool.

  • Avoid qualifications that could be seen as unnecessarily discriminatory.

  • Ensure that qualifications relate to the duties of the position.