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California State University, Long BeachCalifornia State University, Long Beach

How to Write Position Descriptions

  • When possible, the incumbent should take some time to jot down duties as they are performed, including those performed intermittently (i.e., once/semester). Jotting tasks down on a desk calendar may help jog your memory.
  • When you've finished listing all your duties, describe them briefly using the following questions:
      • What action is taken? Be sure to use action verbs (write, analyze, type, etc.). Avoid using unclear words such as perform, coordinate, handle, process, etc. Ask yourself if a stranger would understand what you do by reading your position description.
      • What is the object of the action you perform? Ex., types reports, writes memos.
  • In the examples below note how the quality of the statement changes your understanding of the duties being explained:
      • BAD: Processes invoices for payments.
      • GOOD: Working under minimal supervision, matches invoices against purchase orders, checks extensions, discounts, freight charges, coding and authorized signatures. When correct, attaches a separate sheet and lists invoice date, number & account

      • BAD: Handles incoming mail.
      • GOOD: Distributes mail once daily into faculty and staff mailboxes.
  • The average job will have three to five major responsibilities. Identify the major responsibilities of the position and prioritize them by listing the most significant to the least significant.
  • Assign a percentage to each major responsibility. Combining a variety of duties (5 or 10%) in a miscellaneous category is acceptable. The percentages assigned to the major responsibilities of the position should equal 100%.
  • Once the major duties have been finalized, using the major responsibility as your header, make a list of each individual task that is associated with it until all duties for that area have been accounted for. Each major responsibility should have a listing of specific duties associated with it.
  • Once the individual duty statements have been completed, the next step is to define the purpose of the position, by explaining the overall responsibilities of the position. This should be a broad statement that conveys a general idea of the position such as:
    • “The purpose of the position is to provide clerical support to the Department Chair, including opening, replying to, or forwarding mail to appropriate staff, maintaining files and records, scheduling and arranging appointments, and providing budget support.”
  • Create the position description using the current form, attach a current organization chart, and submit through appropriate review channels, including supervisor and ASM. Positions descriptions that are submitting on the wrong form, or do not have all the required signatures, or an organizational chart attached will not be accepted.