Position Descriptions

Position Description Information


A written summary of the most important features of a position including:

  • the general nature of the work performed,
  • the specific duties and responsibilities, and
  • the qualifications needed to do the job.


  • To help employees understand their jobs.
  • To clarify relationships between jobs, avoiding duplication and gaps in responsibilities and specific duties.
  • To provide information for classifying positions.
  • To assist in performance appraisal by providing a standard against which individual performance can be measured.
  • To clarify lines of communication, authority and responsibility.
  • To assist in organization planning.
  • To introduce new employees to their jobs.
  • To assist in hiring and placing employees in the job for which they are best suited.
  • To establish lines of upward mobility.
  • To identify training needs.

Writing a Position Description

A Position Description describes the knowledge, skills, abilities, and duties of a specific position, not the characteristics or traits of the current incumbent. Before writing a position description, consider the following:

  • Keep the sentence structure simple. Omit unnecessary words that are not relevant. Focus on the responsibilities associated with the position.
  • Be precise. That is to say, think about how this document will serve as a model for position evaluation and analysis.
  • Focus on critical activities, disregard occasional tasks that are not unique to the specific position.
  • Refer to job titles rather than actual incumbents, e.g., "Reports to the _____ manager" as opposed to a specific individual.
  • 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."
  • Refer to the importance of diversity on our campus.
  • Avoid gender-based language.
  • 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.

Working Titles

Classification titles are broad and are used to distinguish a grouping of similar positions across a variety of settings, whereas a working title is specific to an actual position in an identifiable work unit. A position may only have one working title, and should not duplicate another classification title. Working titles should clearly describe the function, responsibilities or scope of the position, and should not misrepresent the authority or function of the position. 

For example, the classification “Administrative Support Assistant I or II” may not be sufficiently descriptive, particularly if there are several positions with the same classification title in the same work unit and each has a different function. A working title such as Support Assistant, Customer Service Representative, Administrative Assistant, and Department Assistant may be appropriate if this is the case. 

Titles such as Administrator, Director, Associate Director, Assistant Director, Manager, and Supervisor, should only be used with positions designated as “management” or “supervisory”. Such positions have been designated as MPP (Management Personnel Plan) in accordance with the provision of the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA) and Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations. 

The following are examples that may be used in working titles. This list is not mean to be all inclusive or restrictive. 

  • Lead – Work leader for a small group; typically performs work that is substantially similar to co-workers. 
  • Analyst – Professional; performs work requiring analysis 
  • Specialist – Paraprofessional; may be subject matter expert for a certain specialization 
  • Coordinator – High level support 
  • Technician – Paraprofessional for technical positions 

The Humboldt Position Description Consists of the following sections


SECTION I. POSITION INFORMATION: Includes Reason for Position Description, Effective Date, Division, Department, Employee Name, Humboldt Employee ID, Current Classification, Position Number, FLSA Status, Working Title, Time Base

SECTION II: PURPOSE OF THE POSITION: Briefly describe the major purpose of the position and the role it plays in the department/organization. 

SECTION III. MAJOR RESPONSIBILITIES: List essential functions and marginal duties. 

Essential Functions: Duties that are critical, necessary, primary and fundamental to the position. These are the basic job duties that an employee must be able to perform, with or without accommodations. Essential functions will typically comprise the majority of the position’s duties. Once these are identified, they should be organized into 4-5 major categories and listed in order of priority with percentages of no less than 5%. The percentages should total to 100%. A job function can be a small part of the position’s duties and still be essential, especially if the incumbent is the only qualified person to perform it. 

Marginal Duties: Duties that are non-essential, minimal, or incidental that could be removed without fundamentally altering the purpose of the position. These may be included in a position description; however, these should be identified separately from the essential duties.

Section IV. CHANGES IN RESPONSIBILITIES Be specific. If responsibilities have increased or decreased, which ones and in what way? What new duties were added and what did they replace? 

Section V. WORK DIRECTION OVER OTHERS: List the employees and position titles of employees supervised. 


List education and years of experience required, as listed in Classification Standards. If applicable, include necessary certificates and licenses (Driver’s License). These must match those listed in the classification standards. For classifications with skill levels, entry qualifications must match those listed on the class standards.

List REQUIRED skills, knowledge, and abilities required for this position. As listed in Classification Standards. Include knowledge, skills and abilities. These must match those listed on the classification standard. For classifications with skill levels, the typical knowledge, skills and abilities for the skill level can be viewed as a menu as possible KSAs. 

List PREFERRED skills, knowledge, and abilities required for this position. Supplemental qualifications in addition to those listed above should be listed as “preferred” or “desired”. 

SECTION VII. Background Check, Credit Check, and Sensitive Information: 

Answer all questions pertaining to the background check.

ATTACHMENT A – Complete for all positions: 

To comply with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, specify the physical, mental, and environmental conditions of the essential functions of the job. 

Physical Requirements 

Physical requirements describe the physical demands to perform the essential functions of the job. Mental requirements describe the mental abilities required to perform the essential functions of the job. Environmental working conditions describe the physical environment of the job. The basic conditions and specific physical conditions needed to perform the essential functions of the job are listed in this section of the position description. 

Physical and mental requirements and environmental working conditions are tedious to complete on position descriptions and may seem obvious, but they must be documented on the position description.

Position descriptions must identify the physical requirements that are necessary to perform the job. These should focus on what needs to be accomplished, not how it is done. The analysis of physical demands must include an estimate of the amount of time the demand is present and in performing which job functions. Generally, less than one-third of the time is considered occasionally, between one-third and two-thirds of the time is referred to as frequently, and more than two-thirds of the time is considered constantly. 

Physical demands must be written to avoid exclusionary terms and must be associated with the essential duties of a position. For example, an individual can move about without necessarily needing to walk.

ATTACHMENT B: Complete for all positions 

Sensitive Position: For current employees who are voluntarily reassigned or reclassified to a sensitive position, a background check is also required. Answer all questions in order for Human Resources to designate the position appropriately as sensitive or non-sensitive.

ATTACHMENT C: Complete for MPP Positions Only

Mental Effort: Enter frequency or occurrence for all applicable management activities.

Note: The Position Description Template is a fillable Word format. Please submit your completed position descriptions to Human Resources for review and approval. Once approved, Human Resources will sign the form and convert to a PDF document for use until further changes are needed. Changes should not be made to existing position descriptions without a final review from Human Resources.

Use the following form below to submit a new Position Description:

  • A Position Description describes the knowledge, skills, abilities, and duties of a specific position, not the characteristics or traits of the current incumbent.