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About Position Descriptions

Position Descriptions

A position description is a formal statement providing essential information about a job, including functions, competencies, and qualifications. The position description serves as a critical document for attracting, screening and interviewing candidates and enables an employee to better understand what is expected to successfully accomplish the responsibilities of the position. Position descriptions are usually prepared by a Manager with the approval of the Department Head.

A position description serves six key functions:

  1. Provides the incumbent an understanding of the primary accountabilities, duties and responsibilities they are expected to fulfill (what is expected of the incumbent),
  2. Identifies the purpose of the job based on essential and non-essential functions, core competencies and position specific competencies (what is the purpose of this job),
  3. Provides essential information for assigning the appropriate pay grade, job function and/or title for the job (how do we determine the grading and compensation for this job),
  4. Assists in recruiting efforts for screening and interviewing (how we tell prospective candidates about the job).
  5. Provides a means to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (ensures that people with disabilities are not excluded if they can perform the essential functions of the position, with reasonable accommodation).
  6. Provides the basis for determining whether a job can be exempt from the requirement to pay overtime as prescribed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

A competency-based position description focuses more on the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to successfully accomplish the responsibilities of the job than on just the responsibilities themselves.