Preparing a position description
- When is a PD created?
- Who prepares the PD?
- Is there a standard format for PDs?
- Other points to consider
- Further information
A position description (PD) is a written statement which provides comprehensive details about a professional position within the University. It provides information relating to a position's:
- Major responsibilities;
- Supervisory responsibilities and independence in decision making;
- Reporting relationships;
- Work requirements (ie. knowledge, experience and skills required);
- Specialist software and equipment requirements; and
- Selection criteria
PDs are used for purposes such as:
- Documenting and clarifying position and performance requirements;
- Providing applicants with the position's requirements during recruitment; and
- Determining the appropriate classification level for the position.
When is a PD created?
A new PD is required when:
- A new professional position of more than six months is created; or
- Approval has been given for the review of the classification of an existing position.
Who prepares the PD?
Normally, the position's supervisor prepares the draft PD. If the PD is for an existing occupied position, the supervisor prepares the draft PD in consultation with the position's occupant. All draft PDs are discussed with the relevant HR Consultant and amended, if necessary, prior to being submitted for consideration.
If an employee's supervisor does not support the review of an existing position's classification, the employee may document the changes to the position and approach the relevant HR Consultant for assistance. If the review is approved, the HR Consultant who will prepare the PD after consultation with both the supervisor and the employee.
Is there a standard format for PDs?
All draft professional PDs are prepared using the Position Description Template.
Before completing the ten sections of the PD template, complete the information concerning the position, its location, and classification history (for existing positions). If an existing position is being reviewed, use the existing PD as a starting point for obtaining these details and developing a draft which reflects the new or altered aspects of the position.
To guide you when completing the PD template, brief outlines and examples of the requirements for each section of the PD are provided on the template. It is particularly important to accurately document the major functions of the position, in order of importance or time spent on the function, as these details will inform the details provided in the other sections of the PD.
The following resources may be of assistance when preparing a draft PD:
- Developing selection criteria
- Example selection criteria statements [pdf]
- List of position description action words [pdf]
Other points to consider
- Ensure the content and language used reflects the level of responsibility expected of the position.
- Create a title that reflects the major function of the position and does not contain any reference to the position's expected/existing classification level. Amend the title of an existing position, if necessary, to reflect the new responsibilities.
- Avoid being too restrictive when specifying specific skills and qualifications. Remember it is the requirements of the position rather than the skills and qualifications of previous or current occupants that is required. In most cases, it is preferable to open the position to a wide pool of applicants.
- Structure the wording of the PD so that it does not assume prior knowledge of the job.
In addition to the above resources, advice and assistance can also be obtained from your HR Consultant.
Updated: 02 October 2013