Writing the Job Description

Your First Step in Recruiting

Writing a clear and accurate job description for a position is an important first step to recruiting the candidate best suited to your needs.

Some pointers before you get started:

  1. Use clear, concise language. Don’t use ambiguous or elaborate language. The goal is to be literal, not literary.
  2. Use non-discriminatory language.
  3. Describe only the duties, skills, and knowledge required of the position, and avoid describing personal traits.
  4. Be accurate about the duties and responsibilities of the position – don’t understate or overstate them.
  5. Describe the position as it exists today – not how it was in the past, or how it will be in the future.
  6. Avoid technical terms, acronyms, or abbreviations. If you must use acronyms or abbreviations, use the full term the first time followed by the acronym or abbreviation in brackets.
  7. Make sure the skills, knowledge, and attributes that you require in the position are directly related to the duties and responsibilities performed in the “Work Performed” section of the job description.
  8. Do not state education, certification, specific UBC training, or experience as requirements of the position, unless you can demonstrate that they are essential to the duties and responsibilities of the position, or unless they are required by law or a relevant licensing body.

When outlining the “Work Performed” section of the job description:

  1. Write one clear statement for each major duty. For some statements, you may need to elaborate with supporting information.
  2. List statements in descending order of importance, and begin each with an action verb.
  3. Construct each statement to include:
    • “What” – use a verb to describe what action is being performed
    • “How” – indicate how the action will be performed; use terms like “based on”, “by using”, or “working with”. Describe the knowledge, information, tools / equipment / materials, or people that are necessary for the action
    • “Why” – indicate the reason the action is performed, and clarify what the goal is, how it will satisfy a need, who has the need and what it is
  4. For duties that involve less than 5% of the job, address these in a general statement at the end of the “Work Performed” section, such as “and performing other related duties”. These duties are not normally considered a major duty.

Job Description/Job Ad Template

Job Information

Classification Title
Business Title
Department

Job Summary

Provide one or two sentences to summarize the purpose of the position. This may be expressed in terms of duties to be performed, results to be achieved, or key contributions to be made.

Organizational Status

Provide a brief description of the unit to give the position’s context.

Describe the relationships, interactions, and liaisons with other functions and the nature of these relationships. Include the positions to which the position reports, works with, contacts (both internally and externally), and supervises.

Work Performed

Identify the core responsibilities of the position – grouping related duties, key deliverables, or results to be achieved.

List responsibilities in order of importance.

Use words that clearly and consistently describe the actual nature of the responsibility. For example, use of “manage” or “lead” indicates full accountability for the area versus “coordinate”, “support” which indicates a contribution to, but not full accountability.

If applicable, outline specific conditions of employment and/or working conditions.

Consequence of Error/Judgment

Describe the level of decision making expected, and if the work will be subject to checking and by whom.

Describe the types of situations or problems that would require exercising judgment, and describe the consequences of inappropriate judgment exercised by the position.

Supervision Received

Outline the level of supervision the position receives.

Supervision Given

If applicable, outline the level of supervision the position is given.

Education/Work Experience

List the minimum educational qualifications required for the position as well as any additional preferences.

List the minimum work experience required for the position as well as any additional preferences.

Skills

List the skills, or abilities that are necessary to be successful in the position.

Updated July 2014

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