Contents
Cal Poly Pomona

Writing a Position Description

Picture of the words "Classification & Compensation"

General Information

The Classification Plan of the California State University (CSU) serves as a basis for maintaining salary levels for employees that are equitable in relation to the work performed.

Through the process of job analysis, all administrative, academic-related, and staff positions are allocated to an appropriate classification on the basis of job content. Duties, tasks, and responsibilities of a position must be clearly and accurately described, in writing, before an analysis can be conducted.

The Position Description form is provided for this purpose. It should accurately represent actual duties and responsibilities as well as job specifications. Position descriptions are the documents on which the University bases recruitment postings, job interviews, and performance appraisals.

The description may be completed by the manager (in conjunction with the lead person if necessary) and/or by the employee who performs the duties. If the description is written by the employee, the manager is responsible for determining the accuracy of the information before submitting the description for review.

Tips & Suggestions

  • Before beginning to write, spend some time thinking about what the job entails and preparing a draft outline for reference. The most important duties may be listed first, or duties may be listed according to the time spent performing them.
  • Focus attention on what is done, rather than the manner in which tasks are performed. Avoid expressing conclusions or opinions about the difficulty or complexity of the work and how well it is done. For example, use "tracks and reconciles department budget" rather than "handles budget very well."

  • When describing the duties/functions of the position, begin each sentence with an action verb. Some examples of action verbs include: Identifies, writes, designs, processes, develops, assists, interacts, coordinates, maintains, plans, oversees, advises, acts, keeps, represents, edits, identifies, gathers, summarizes, and so on.

  • Avoid gender-based language.

  • Use position titles that describe the nature and level of work performed-avoid inflating titles.

  • Avoid the use of indefinite terms and vague expressions, or abbreviations, form numbers or phrases which have no meaning outside the immediate office or department.

  • Include minimum specifications for formal training, education, certifications, licensures, and/or working experience.

  • Whenever possible, incorporate appropriate adjectives-such as "beginning," "intermediate," "advanced," and "expert"--to identify the level of knowledge, skills, and/or abilities required to perform the essential job duties and responsibilities competently.

  • Generally, only MPP positions use terms such as "manage/supervise," "hire/terminate," or "evaluate performance." Other positions can "lead, oversee, coordinate, etc.," "recommend for hire," or "provide input to evaluations."

  • Do complete #23 of the Position Description - Activity Report, identifying the physical effort, mental effort, and environmental factors/working conditions which relate to the essential functions of the position. This information is requested to ensure that position descriptions, when necessary, include appropriate language about the physical requirements of the job for monitoring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Information for the Manager

  • If the form is being completed by the employee, provide assistance as needed.
  • Please check one of the action identifiers at the top of the position description form, as follows:

    • Please place a check mark on "Request for Classification Review-New Position" if the position description is to recruit for a new position.
    • Check "Request for Classification Review-Existing Position" if it is to replace a previously filled position.

    • Check "Request for Classification Review-Existing Position" if the position description is for a reclassification request."

    • Check "Update of Position Description" if the description is an update only.

  • Please verify that the employee has signed the position description in item #24. Complete items 25 through 27. Your signature certifies that, to the best of your knowledge, the description is complete and an accurate depiction of the current duties and responsibilities of the position.

  • Give the employee a copy of the signed/certified description and retain a copy for your records.

  • With appropriate cover memo, forward the position description and organization chart through the line organization for review, comment, and signature by the responsible Management Personnel Plan (MPP) line/HEERA Manager. The cover memo for a Request for Classification Review should explain why this position is being recommended for reclassification and what classification you are considering. Forward the final description packet to Human Resources. Please send your packet (both reclassification requests and recruitment requests) to the attention of the Manager, Employment & Compensation.

Classification Review Checklist

____ The current job description

____ The former job description

____ A cover letter describing changes in the position

____ An organizational chart

____ Appropriate signatures