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Tools and Forms for Filling Salaried (Professional) Positions - Writing and Revising Job Descriptions

Job Description Format

Title: Date:
Dept: Reports To:

Purpose: Summarize the general purpose or goal of this position. This statement should give a brief but concise overview of the basic function of the position.

Duties / Responsibilities: Describe the duties and responsibilities concisely but clearly, and outline the basic components of the activity to be performed. An effective job description conveys the scope of the assigned responsibilities as well as the level of assigned authority, responsibility and autonomy.

Task Descriptions: Each task description should address the following:
1. Process – What methods, procedures, and tools are used?

2. Quantity – How often is the task performed? Daily? Weekly? As needed?
(If infrequent, state why the responsibility is critical to the position.)

3. Quality – What is the expected outcome? Describe what is acceptable completion of the task.

One aspect of the Americans with Disabilities Act is to distinguish the essential functions of a position. Essential functions of the job are the fundamental duties that the employee must be able to perform with or without reasonable accommodation. A job function may be considered essential for reasons such as:

The position exists to perform that function,
There are a limited number of employees available among whom the job function can be distributed,
The function is highly specialized, and the employee is hired for the expertise to perform the particular function, or
Other employees in the same job are required to perform the function.

In addition to these general criteria, any task that is performed at least 10% of an employee’s time would likely be considered essential.

If the essential functions require that an employee have particular physical abilities or communication abilities, these should be noted. For example, a job that requires frequent contact with other people requires communication verbally, in writing, or through other means. If an essential function of a position is to perform duties at various locations, an appropriate qualification is “frequent travel, normally requiring a driver’s license.” Statements describing the essential functions should begin with descriptive action verbs (“trains,” “retrieves,” “summarizes”). Avoid using the phrase “able to” or “ability to.” This can confuse functions with required abilities.

Most positions include responsibilities which do not meet the criteria of an essential job function. Please designate with an asterisk (*) only the functions which are considered essential.

Many job descriptions contain a statement that duties other than those enumerated may be assigned. Any such statement must make it clear that only duties reasonably related to the position will be assigned. For example, “other duties as assigned” is too broad, but “other reasonably related duties” or “other administrative duties,” would be appropriate.

The UMPSA agreement provides for an annual review with the employee of his/her job description. The unit member is entitled to have input in revising his/her job description and may attach a written addendum to the job description.

Knowledge or Skills: This section answers the following questions:
1. What is the minimum educational level necessary to perform the essential functions of the job?
2. Is a higher degree level preferred? Is a particular discipline or specific course work sought?
3. Can experience be substituted for education?
4. What kind of related job knowledge or experience is required to enable an employee to do this job?
5. Descriptive statements that relate to the responsibilities may include ‘familiarity with . . .,’ ‘basic working knowledge of . . .,’ ‘demonstrated success with . . .,’ ‘progressively more responsible work in the area of . . .,’ ‘significant experience with . . . .’ Specifying a number of years of experience is not the most valid measure of an individual’s level of qualifications.
6. Must the employee hold a particular license or maintain certification?
7. Is the employee expected to achieve the license/certificate within a stated period from the date of hire?
8. Is travel an essential job function (as defined in the Duties/Responsibilities section)? If so, the ‘ability to travel, normally requiring a driver’s license,’ would be a required qualification.
9. What other special abilities are required to perform the essential functions? For instance ‘ability to frequently lift 30 pounds’ or ‘ability to collect research samples in appropriate field conditions under sometimes adverse weather conditions.’ Remember that the qualifications must directly relate to the position’s duties and responsibilities.

Supervisory Responsibilities: Describe how many other employees (professional, classified, student) to be supervised. For what supervisory activities does the employee have informal, formal, subject to review, or final authority? For instance, the employee may schedule and oversee day to day work activities but not have responsibility for hiring and evaluating other employees.

Position Type: Is the position an ongoing base budgeted position, is its renewal contingent on the receipt of funding from outside the University, or is it for a fixed-length term?

Work Environment / Dynamics: Describe the environment and/or setting in which this job is performed. Is the employee required to be on call? If so, to what extent and for what kind of occurrences would the employee be called? Are there stressors inherent to this particular job? What is the level of predictability in this job? What impact does change have on the job duties? How changeable are the methods, technology, services or other elements that affect the employee’s job? How is this position expected to react to and/or manage change? How predictable are changes to work assignments? Over what kind of time frame is change normally incorporated into the job’s duties? Describe any unpleasant factors of the work environment such as heat, noise, odors, bodily fluids, exposure to hazardous substances, etc. and the frequency/degree to which the employee would be subject to these.

Work Year: Describe the employee’s work year (full-time, part-time, fiscal, student calendar year, other). If the employee works less than twelve months, when does the work year begin and end?

Schedule for Evaluation: Evaluations for UMPSA unit employees should be conducted every six months during the probationary period and annually thereafter. Board of Trustee policy states that all employees shall be evaluated annually. The current UMPSA agreement requires that the annual evaluation be conducted within the thirty day period preceding the unit member’s anniversary of employment. The department may also establish an alternate schedule for evaluations. Supervisors should take note that if the evaluation is not conducted within 30 days of when it should have been conducted, the unit member may request in writing that an evaluation be conducted. If the evaluation is then not conducted within three weeks of the written request, the evaluation shall be considered SATISFACTORY for that year.

You may want to have the unit member sign the job description, although this is not required.

When a vacancy occurs, email the job description and position vacancy announcements to the Office of Human Resources, who will coordinate a review of these documents. The position vacancy announcement and the Recruitment Strategy are subject to final approval by the Office of Equal Opportunity. No advertising should take place without this approval. More information may be found at http://www.umaine.edu/eo.


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