The position description is the primary document of personnel administration for the University. Position descriptions are important tools for supporting internal programs, such as performance management, training and professional development, recruitment, and compensation and classification, as well as for compliance, such as with the Oregon Equal Pay Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, collective bargaining agreements and UO policies.
Position descriptions help employees get a sense of their job responsibilities, what's expected of them, and the standards by which they’ll be evaluated and rewarded. Position descriptions can help supervisors manage employees’ performance and set expectations, develop recruiting materials, identify professional development opportunities and training needs, and ensure consistency and equity among positions.
Each position description should be written in such a way that it provides all the information a supervisor, employee, or search committee needs to clearly understand the duties for which the incumbent is responsible. It must accurately reflect all the duties and responsibilities required of the incumbent as well as the qualifications that person needs to satisfactorily fill the position.
General Tips for Writing an Effective Position Description:
The development of a position description should be done thoughtfully and carefully. Do not let the pressing needs of a search process minimize the importance of developing an accurate position description.
- Use specific and clear language.
Instead of a general term like “good communication skills”, say the person needs “the ability to communicate policies to employees at levels, both in person and in writing.”
- Begin with action verbs in the present tense,
Examples include supervise, inspect, produce, organize, motivate, educate, administer, compose, analyze and repair.
- Avoid jargon that the search committee and applicants may not understand.
- Be accurate in describing the duties.
Don’t overstate or understate - to do so may result in classifying the position incorrectly and/or affecting the compensation of the position.
Engage employees in the process:
There are several approaches a supervisor can take when creating or editing position descriptions. While the final decision making authority rests with the supervisor/unit leadership, it is important to engage the employee in the crafting of their position description. Depending on your department and your management style, it is recommended that you utilize one of the following methods:
- Draft position descriptions for your employees’ jobs based on your knowledge and experience, then discuss your draft with them to solicit their feedback for your consideration.
- Ask employees to develop or edit a draft of their own position description, which you then review and edit.
Regardless of which method you choose, it is critical that you have a follow up discussion with the employee once you have finalized the position description to ensure they understand your expectations as well as their role and responsibilities.
Update position descriptions regularly
Position descriptions should be reviewed and updated at least annually, in conjunction with the annual performance review process, to ensure accuracy. If a substantial change occurs within the unit or to that position, such as a reorganization that substantially changes the duties of the position, the position description should be reviewed and updated at the time the changes occur.
MyTrack Talent Management System
At the University of Oregon, position descriptions are created, edited, maintained and accessed in MyTrack, our online Talent Management System. Units should log in to MyTrack in order to create, edit or access position descriptions. Employees can view their position descriptions within MyTrack. The Talent Acquisition team provides a variety of tools and resources to guide users though the process of entering a position description in MyTrack. The MyTrack Position Description Guidelines offer a comprehensive resource that covers all elements of the MyTrack PD and how to complete and submit a PD for review.