Position Description Development

OSU-Cascades Position Description Development Process

  • Hiring Manager is responsible for developing the PD, in partnership with Talent Acquisition Consultant & Search Advocate.
    • As appropriate, include Corvallis units for certain academic faculty positions. (Tenure track, Postdoc Scholars)
  •  Ensure that the budget request for the position is approved.
  • Utilize OSU-Cascades standard Position Description Template (DOC) to initiate PD development. 
  • Confirm the search committee. Required: Search Chair, Search Advocate, Subject Matter Expert, and one or two additional committee members.
    • It is best practice to include individuals from outside of the department or in professional/staff positions for varied prospective.
  • Send draft PD template to Talent Acquisition and Search Advocate for review and collaboration.
  • Partner with Talent Acquisiton to establish posting timeline and advertising strategy.

Writing a Position Description

Importance of Position Descriptions 

The position description is the primary document of personnel administration for the University. It affects how a position is classified and compensated. It serves as the foundation for setting expectations with an employee, and for performance evaluation and management. It also is important in determining the professional development needs of the incumbent. 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.

Goal of Position Description Writing

Each position description should be written in such a way that it provides all the information an evaluation committee needs to clearly understand the duties the incumbent performs. 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.

Review the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access (EOA) Principles for Developing the Position Description document for ideas around how to incorporate the diversity aspects of the position.

Position Summary 

After the job analysis has been conducted, the next step is to begin writing the position description. From the job analysis, you should have an understanding of what the primary purpose of the position is. This is the position summary. Write the summary to explain what you need accomplished by this employee and how it relates to the mission of the organization. This should be no shorter than a sentence or two and no longer than a paragraph. In the position summary, balance the need to focus on the position’s purpose with the need to provide some limited information about the organization for recruiting purposes. Be sparing with your use of marketing language here, as the posting is the place best utilized to market the organization, location, etc.

Position Duties

This section should expand on the position summary. Write position duties so that they are clearly understandable by anyone who should happen to read the position description. The duties should be succinct. From your position analysis, begin grouping the position duties by similarity and importance. Typically, you will have no more than eight to ten groupings of position duties. Each group should have a common heading.

Tips: Do not list unnecessary details, only the important facts regarding the position. Avoid ambiguous terms and begin each statement with an action verb. Avoid jargon that the search committee and applicants may not understand. Avoid stating a list of performance expectations. Expectations may be listed in a separate document. Be accurate in describing the duties. Don’t overstate or understate - to do so may result in classifying the position incorrectly, affecting the compensation of the position. The duties must total 100%.

Decision Making/Guidelines 

This section, along with the position summary, defines the scope and responsibility of the position. List what decisions the incumbent will be expected to make independently and which decisions they will make under the guidance of their supervisor. List the impact these decisions will have on the organization. What are the negative impacts of an incorrect decision?Then list what guidelines the incumbent will use in making these decisions.

Determining the Qualifications 

Ensuring that the qualifications are accurate and necessary for the position is crucial to a successful search. Qualifications should not be so extensive that they limit the applicant pool or could be seen as discriminatory. Go back to the job analysis and the position description. What must the incumbent have upon beginning this position to be successful Create a list of these items. These will become your minimum qualifications, or the additional required qualifications. What qualifications would be helpful for the incumbent to have, or useful to the organization? These will become your preferred qualifications.

For Classified positions, the minimum qualifications come from the classification specifications and have been negotiated with SEIU. The additional required qualifications cannot exceed the minimum qualifications. Be careful when you list experience or education as a requirement and refer back to the minimum qualifications.

Refer to the Online PD and Recruiting System Position Titles for minimum qualifications for unclassified positions. If you require a degree, make sure to list what field the degree is in. (e.g. B.S. or B.A. in Psychology, or closely related field)