Position Description

Why is it important?

A position description is a formal document that summarises the important functions of a specific job, using clear and concise language. It should accurately represent actual duties and responsibilities as well as job specifications. It is critical for us to become thoroughly familiar with the position. With equal employment opportunity laws clearly in mind and before the search for applicants begins, the needs and responsibilities of the position need to be clearly outlined in a position description.

A position description that is current, comprehensive, and concise is an important tool to be used at various stages of the employment process. Some of those stages are:

  • recruitment and posting
  • interviewing and selection
  • employee orientation
  • training and development
  • performance evaluation
  • promotion and transfer
  • disciplinary actions
  • salary administration
  • position classification
  • identifying essential functions

What Should Be Included In A Position Description

  • Position title and position number.
  • Position's status (regular, temporary) and full-time equivalent rate.
  • Agency and location of position.
  • Name of supervisor.
  • Compensation information.
  • Status under the Fair Labour Standards Act (exempt, non-exempt).
  • Purpose of position.
  • Narrative description of the position.
  • List of essential duties and responsibilities in order of importance and distinguished as essential (include frequency, extent of authority, and independent judgement).
  • List of non-essential duties and responsibilities and distinguished as non-essential.
  • Other duties that may be required or assigned. (These will be marginal duties.)
  • Minimum requirements for satisfactory performance-detailed knowledge and skill, and physical and mental ability requirements. Include any tests or certifications required.
  • Preferred qualifications for the position.
  • Extent of authority and reporting relationships.
  • Features of working conditions (e.g. travel, unusual work hours, environmental conditions, etc.)
  • Equipment and machinery used.
  • Date of review.

The position description should be reviewed carefully to ensure that the content is directly relevant to the position and isn't discriminatory under any laws. For example, task statements should describe what the tasks are and not how they are customarily performed. Minimum qualifications should include detailed statements on knowledge and skills required in addition to a certain level of education or work experience.

So that position descriptions can withstand possible legal challenge, they should be reviewed on a regular basis and updated or rewritten as necessary. A timely reminder to review position descriptions might be the annual performance review of an individual.

Taking the above pointers into consideration has proved to be hugely success to find recruits with matching skills and abilities.


Position Analysis

Position analysis is a procedure by which positions are studied, with the aim of determining the duties and responsibilities of the position and the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to successfully perform them. The end result is a new or revised position description.

Position analysis requires a thorough familiarisation with the job to learn as much as possible. Start with the following steps:

  • Spend time with the incumbent at the job site, observing and conversing while the incumbent performs various tasks. If the position is vacant, gather information about the position from other sources, such as previous position descriptions, co-workers, etc.
  • Identify specific position activities, work behaviours or other attributes required for satisfactory performance.
  • Determine the reporting relationships-in terms of both supervision exercised and received.
  • Observe the work environment as to physical working conditions, travel required, schedules (shifts), etc.
  • Gather and document as much information as possible.

Next, analyse the information to:

  • Determine the type and amount of education and work experience that will prepare someone to do the work.
  • Determine measurable skills and credentials (e.g., a certain typing standard or licensure) that are required.
  • Identify intangible criteria that is required or helpful in successful performance of the job, e.g., interpersonal skill, initiative, creativity, self-confidence, etc. The intangible job-related criteria can be used to help make the final decision between applicants who are quite similarly qualified.

Once information is gathered and documented, it can be used to prepare a complete and precise position description or to update an existing description