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University of San Diego - Human Resources
Revised 8/05
H:\Job Descriptions\GUIDE TO WRITING JOB DESCR.doc

Job Descriptions - Human Resources, University of San Diego
Page 1 of 14
Revised: 8/05


The following guide to writing job descriptions outlines the general model used in developing job
descriptions that comply with Federal guidelines such as the Americans with Disabilities Act

The following elements are included in each job description:
The title should be brief, descriptive, and consistent with other titles in the classification

The division is the largest level of the organization with which the position or class
specification is identified. It is identified by the cognizant vice-president or president.


Department is a level within a division which is titled to more specifically describe the
specialized function(s) performed by an occupational group.

Position Title:
Administrative Assistant II
Human Resources

Vice-President for Finance & Administration

The grade number is the end result of the Point Factor job evaluation and analysis. It is
the number used to express the equitable relationship which exists between that position
and all other positions and classes, based on difficulty and responsibility of work
performed, etc.

Non-exempt employees. Employees who are required to be paid overtime at one and
one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked beyond eight hours in a work
day or forty hours in a workweek, in accordance with applicable state and federal wage
and law hours.

Exempt employees. Employees who are not required to be paid overtime, in accordance
with applicable federal wage and hour laws, for work performed beyond forty hours in a
workweek. Executives, professional employees, and certain employees in administrative
positions are typically exempt.

The date is the date the description is officially approved.

Job Descriptions - Human Resources, University of San Diego
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Revised: 8/05

The general purpose should be a brief paragraph which serves as a summary
description or overview of the position. This capsule description identifies the position. It
should be definitive to differentiate this position from all others and will generally start
with "Performs...." followed by the level and kind of work.

Kind of Work: Although there is no set terminology, the kind of work should be
defined as briefly as possible by terms similar to the examples listed below to
describe the general group of work, followed by the occupational field when
necessary. For example:

Labor and Trades
Manual labor
Maintenance Work
Repair work

Supervisory and Administrative.
These terms define both level and kind of work. The above items
should be modified when it is necessary to indicate a
specialization within a group. For example: "Performs supervisory
and complex legal clerical work"; or "Performs administrative and
professional civil engineering work". These terms should not be
modified unless absolutely necessary to distinguish between
classes in a series, and then modification should usually be
restricted to words such as "light, heavy, routine or complex". If
two or more levels of work are involved, the higher level or the
most common level should usually be stated first, e.g. "Performs
supervisory and complex...", or "Performs administrative and

Occupational Field. The inclusion of the occupational field is useful if it clarifies
unusual working conditions, hazards or other classification factors not denoted by
the level and kind of work.

The statement generally starts with "Works under...", followed by the type of supervision
received and the type of class exercising the supervision. The following terms, and no
other, should be used for indicating the type of supervision received:

Immediate supervision
Close supervision
General supervision
General guidance and direction

Broad policy guidance and direction

NOTE: The reference attachment in the back of this guide defines the supervision terms listed

Job Descriptions - Human Resources, University of San Diego
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Revised: 8/05

The clause "Exercise supervision over...personnel as assigned" should be used to
indicate a situation where supervision is not necessarily present or continuous. If the
position does not have supervisory responsibility, then "None" should be indicated. The
following phrases are most frequently used to indicate the type of supervision exercised
over other personnel:
Exercises supervision over (department, division, etc.) personnel
directly or through subordinate supervisors.
Exercises supervision over (technical, clerical, professional, etc.)
Serves as lead worker over other personnel as assigned.

For example: A manager would very often supervise all the time. However, an executive
assistant or lead worker might exercise supervision over another in the absence of a
manager or the regular supervisor.

Examples of duties are descriptive. It is neither necessary nor advisable to attempt to
write an exhaustive position description; only sufficient examples to present a clear
picture of the work performed and the responsibilities of the position.
Sentences listing examples of duties usually start with a verb of the
present tense, such as, "Performs...", "Inspects..", etc.
Closely related duties should generally be grouped in one paragraph
and separated by a semicolon.
The first example of duties should contain information concerning any
supervision exercised over other personnel.

The last examples of work can include duties of related but non-essential importance.
These examples should identify duties that are not "essential functions", but are typically
undertaken or expected of the employee. These are generally duties which may be
performed by other positions and thus may not be an essential duty of this position. An
example may be serving on an employee committee, or duties related to backing-up or
filling-in for other positions when the employee in that position is absent.

The essential duties and responsibilities of the job represent those basic duties for which
the job was created which cannot normally be transferred to another position without
disrupting work flow.

When writing the job description, it is helpful to number the examples of work discussed
in the previous section. This allows the essential duties and responsibilities to be
referenced by number. For example, if the first 6 of 13 examples of work are essential,
then this section would simply read:
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
# s 1-6 in Examples of Work.

Job Descriptions - Human Resources, University of San Diego
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Revised: 8/05

An essential function is one that:

Is so critical to the position that it cannot be eliminated from the description of the job
without significantly changing that position's role and contribution to the organization,

Regardless of the frequency of performance, an essential function cannot be assumed
by another employee; or would significantly impact the description of a position that it
would require a change in classification and/or pay grade.

Phrases like, "Performs related work as required" or other duties as assigned, are not
recommended. Such a listing may be considered discriminatory. The following
alternative language should be listed at the end of every job description:

The duties listed above are intended only as illustrations of the various types of
work that may be performed. The omission of specific statements of duties does
not exclude them from the position if the work is similar, related or a logical
assignment to the position.

This section describes the lowest level of education, experience, knowledge, skills and
abilities that would be eligible for consideration in the event of this position becoming
vacant. It is not intended to be the hiring level. Generally, the successful candidate will
exceed the minimum requirements.

The following terminology should normally be used:
High School - "High school diploma or GED (General Education
Diploma) equivalent."
Some College -" years of college with course work in "
"Graduation from a college with an Associate degree in...."
College - "Graduation from an accredited college or university
with a Bachelor's degree in"
College plus - "Graduation from a college of law", or "Graduation from
a college or university with a Master's degree in "

If none is required, "None" should be listed. The statement of experience should usually
be shown as "X years of experience...."

This section should be used to indicate specific instances where related education
and/or experience can serve in place of those listed in either the education or experience
sections. NOTE: when substitutions or equivalencies are used there is some thought
that such a listing may be considered discriminatory
because it can be too
subjective. Alternative language such as the following is recommended if you use
substitution criteria:
Or any equivalent combination of education and experience.
You may want to further define an acceptable and bonafide equivalency, such as "one
year of full time experience may substitute for a year of the required education".

Job Descriptions - Human Resources, University of San Diego
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Revised: 8/05

This section can be used as a guide for developing recruitment and selection
procedures, including testing. They are listed in one paragraph for each level, with
knowledge first, skills second, and abilities last.

Level of knowledge required should be indicated as follows:
Some knowledge - Enough familiarity to know elementary terminology
and principles and their application to simple problems.
Working knowledge - Enough knowledge to understand everyday
terminology and principles and their application to everyday problems.
Considerable knowledge - Enough advanced knowledge to
understand terminology and principles and their application to
problems beyond the everyday level; a level expected to be obtained
through experience at the "working" level that has provided for the
increasingly difficult and independent application of principles.
Thorough knowledge - Nearly complete knowledge acquired through
considerable experience in the application of principles and
techniques in solving unusual and difficult problems and in developing
operational policies.
Extensive knowledge - The most advanced degree of knowledge likely
to be found, implying complete mastery and understanding of the
subject field. Use the term extensive sparingly and only for exacting
technical and professional level positions.
Refer to examples below.

Skill requirements should be specified only when the skill is in a measurable area or field.
Skills required should be phrased, "Skill in..,"
Refer to examples below.

Abilities required should be phrased, "Ability to...". Certain abilities appear in almost all
class specifications.
Refer to examples below.

For example: the knowledge, skills, and abilities section of a job description for an office
assistant might read as follows:
(A) Working knowledge of computers and electronic data processing; working knowledge
of modern office practices and procedures; some knowledge of accounting principles and
(B) Skill in operation of listed tools and equipment.
(C) Ability to perform cashier duties accurately; ability to effectively meet and deal with the
public; ability to communicate effectively verbally and in writing; ability to handle stressful

Job Descriptions - Human Resources, University of San Diego
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Revised: 8/05

Performance expectations applicable to almost all jobs are listed below. Most job descriptions
will have about 8-10 of these statements. If there are performance expectations unique to the
job or department, then these expectations should be listed first.

Be able and willing to represent the University in the most positive manner with prospective, former
and current students, clients, suppliers and the community we serve.

Possess the ability to meet and deal effectively with faculty, staff and other customers; learn and use
operating practices of the department and the University.

Possess the ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing.

Possess excellent human relations skills.

Cooperate as a team member with all departments performing duties essential to the achievement of
efficient delivery of education.

Be able to provide service in a courteous, prompt and efficient manner.

Establish and maintain strong working relationships with colleagues, staff, administrators, students
and the general public.

Must have excellent teaching, human relations, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Must possess the ability to get along with diverse personalities and populations.

Must possess flexibility and versatility in order to contribute to evolving work situations.

Use independent judgment to accommodate the needs of the University by determining proper
corrective action or by referring the problem to other appropriate personnel.

Have thorough knowledge of general office practices and procedures and good business English and

Ability to access, input and retrieve information from a computer system for word processing, design
and other uses.

Assume responsibility, deal effectively with problems, and exercise independent judgment when
making decisions.

Read, understand and express oneself clearly and effectively in written and oral form and request
clarification when needed.

Possess good organizational skills.

Ability to develop and use empathetic listening skills, communicate with clarity and maintain an
attitude that conveys respect, assistance, honesty and resourcefulness.

Ability to handle confidential client and employment information with tact and discretion.

Job Descriptions - Human Resources, University of San Diego
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Revised: 8/05

This section may be used for required licenses, certification or registration, or other
requirements and special conditions unique to the position.

Desirable membership in associations or professional societies should not be included.

This section may be used to describe the tools and equipment which the employee will
normally use to undertake the essential functions of the job. This is useful in the
recruitment and selection process, and in considering reasonable accommodations
which may need to be made for persons with disabilities.


This section should describe:

how much on-the-job time is spent in a variety of physical activities, such as: stand; walk;
sit; talk or hear; use hand to finger, handle, feel or operate; climb or balance; stoop,
kneel, crouch or crawl; reach with hands and arms; taste or smell; what weights must be
lifted or be exerted, how much and how often; any special vision requirements to perform
the essential functions of the job, such as:
close vision
(20 inches or less)
distance vision (clear vision at 20 feet or more)
color vision
(ability to identify distinguish colors)
peripheral vision (ability to observe an area that can be seen up and down or to
the left and right while eyes are fixed on a given point)
depth perception (three-dimensional vision, ability to judge distances and spatial

The understanding of physical demands is useful in the recruitment and selection
process, and in considering reasonable accommodations which may need to be made
for persons with disabilities.
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must
be met by the employee to successfully perform the essential functions of
this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals
with disabilities to perform these essential functions.

The Work Environment section describes how much exposure the employee has to
environmental conditions, such as: wet, humid conditions (non-weather); work near
moving mechanical parts; work in high, precarious places; fumes or airborne particles;
toxic or caustic chemicals; outdoor weather conditions; extreme cold (non-weather);
extreme heat (non-weather); risk of electrical shock; work with explosives; risk of
radiation; vibration.

The Work Environment section also describes how much noise is typically encountered
on the job. This may vary for positions which have both office and field duties. General
categories include: Very quiet (forest trail, isolation booth), Quiet (library, private office),
Moderate Noise (open office with office equipment running), Loud Noise ( manufacturing
processes, earth-moving equipment, congested traffic), Very Loud Noise (jack hammer,
front row of rock concert).

Job Descriptions - Human Resources, University of San Diego
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Revised: 8/05

The understanding and description of work environment is useful in the recruitment and
selection process, and in considering reasonable accommodations which may need to
be made for persons with disabilities.

The following paragraph should be included in the Work Environment section of every
job description. The language of the paragraph is intended to fulfill requirements of the
Americans With Disabilities Act.
The work environment characteristics described here are representative of
those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of
this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals
with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Job Descriptions - Human Resources, University of San Diego
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Revised: 8/05


Description of Various Levels of Supervision

The following section addresses 5 levels of supervision received. This section should also be
used when determining supervision exercised.


IMMEDIATE SUPERVISION. This phrase indicates the greatest amount of
supervision and control from above, the least personal independence of action, and the least
breadth of matters upon which the employee makes decisions. It is particularized supervision
that is recognized by its specificity and its application to details. The supervisor has not only the
responsibility for assignments, flow of work, production, discipline and other management
functions, but also the responsibility for proper instructions as to objectives, plans, policies,
procedures and office methods, including specific responsibility for matters which are out of the
ordinary or unusual when compared to the routine work performed.

The employee's assignments, objectives and sequence of detailed steps in the work are
prescribed through manuals, policies, directives, etc. Little opportunity is given the employee for
the exercise of personal initiative, discretion or judgment, or for the assumption of any real
responsibility for results alone.

Generally, the employee is held personally responsible for accurate and proper application of
steps in a well-recognized technique. If the employee has followed this technique and the
instructions, his or her responsibility ends, because the responsibility for results rests with the
supervisor. The employee is given no assignments requiring the exercise of experienced
judgment except that gained by experience in a well-recognized, standard, or conventional
routine such as following procedures outlined in manuals or directives.

When conditions such as those described above are encountered, the employee is said to be
under "immediate supervision".

The employee under "close supervision" is familiar
with the routine and with the methods or procedures affecting the particular position. It is
presumed that the employee will be able to recognize instances which are out of the ordinary
and which do not fall within existing instructions. The person is then expected to seek advice
and further instructions. Reviews and checks of the employee's work are applied only to an
extent sufficient to keep the supervisor aware of progress and to insure that instructions are
being followed.

Job Descriptions - Human Resources, University of San Diego
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Revised: 8/05