Job Description Template

All non-student staff job descriptions are created using Job Builder. If you are a hiring manager and your department has designated you as a transactor in Job Builder, you can use the system to draft job descriptions.  Job Builder contains a library of UCSB jobs to search and copy from, as well as, a large library of other duty statements, skills, knowledge, and ability statements, and other job qualifications statements.

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Where Do Job Descriptions Live

The Job Builder online system stores the most current and historical job descriptions in an electronic Job Description Library. Job Builder includes a feature for employee acknowledgements for job  descriptions, so for Career, Limited, and Contract positions, it is no longer required that each department print off the job description and obtain signatures. For Casual/Restricted job descriptions, we DO require that the department retains a signed copy (hard or electronic). Here is a list of the various kinds of job descriptions and where the originals are stored:

Job Description Type

House of Record

Current Career and Limited Job Descriptions (JDs):

Historical OACIS Career and Limited Job Descriptions (JDs):

Electronic Copy: Job Builder
(JDs created after the implementation of Job Builder)

Hard Copy with Signatures: Department personnel files
(JDs created before the implementation of Job Builder)


Contract Job Descriptions (JDs):

Electronic Copy of JD: Job Builder
Original signed contract: Human Resources Files
Copy of signed contract: Department personnel files


Casual/Restricted Job Descriptions (JDs):
(Student Assistants, Interns, etc.):

Hard or Electronic Copy with Signatures: Department personnel files

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Guidelines for Writing a Job Description

  1. Determine the major functions, which are the titles/groupings under which you include the duties. Select 3-6 major functions. Use only 1-5 words.

  2. Determine the % of these functions in relation to the total job.

  3. Put the major functions in order of importance, from greatest to least, NOT in % order.

  4. For each function, determine the duties, which are actions taken when performing the job satisfactorily. It is an action that someone else can see, hear, or observe. Write no more than 6-8 duties. Answer the questions, what, how and why. Use simple, non-technical, but specific words.

  5. Duties should be described as currently performed, and not in terms of future expectations. Think of your job as it is really done, not how it could be or should be done. Duty statements are easier to write if you start each one with an action verb such as ‘reconciles’, ‘analyzes’, ‘negotiates’, ‘troubleshoots’, etc.

  6. Determine the frequency of each function (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly, etc.).

  7. Determine the requirements of the position (skills, knowledge & abilities). Tie them directly to the duties (actions) to be performed in the job. A knowledge or skill is something you know or can do that helps you do the duties of your job well. Examples are:

    • Public Speaking skill; including planning and preparing material and presenting it effectively

    • Typing skills

    • Speaking skills to talk with people of various educational and cultural backgrounds

    • Skill in negotiation, including listening and persuading

    • Clear, concise and precise writing of reports and letters

    • Technical knowledge of systems

  8. Determine if there are any physical, environmental or special demands.

  9. When a job is performed by multiple FTE, incorporate the principal elements into a single generic job description and avoid specifying minor differences in the way the work might be performed.

  10. Avoid repeating the organization/unit’s name in job description.

  11. Avoid organizationally specific part numbers or form numbers.

  12. Focus on essential activities. A duty that is performed frequently throughout the day may not be as “essential” or as critical to the job as something done only once or twice a week.

  13. Disregard minor occasional duties that are common to all jobs or are normally taken for granted, unless they are still “essential” to the job. If nonessential, list under non-essential section of job description.

  14. If you add a “Special Projects” function be sure to specify the on-going types of special projects that may come up and what duties would most likely be performed.

  15. Consider adding a small extra function or duty statement to each job description such as “performs other duties as assigned” to cover the extra work that may fall on the position from time to time.

  16. Avoid the narrative form. You are writing a job description, not a story.

Remember that the length of a job description does not indicate the importance of the job. Ideally, the essential duties section of the job description should be no more than 1-2 pages.


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Describing the Job

The job description itself is made up of numerous sections.  Below are descriptions of the main sections.

Types of Supervision

This section describes the way in which work is assigned, when it is reviewed, how it is reviewed, and what guidelines, prototypes and protocols are available.

Example — Business Officer

Assignments are given in terms of broad organizational goals and objectives.  Goal attainment is reviewed with department chairperson on a quarterly basis through presentation of status reports and formal discussions.  Department, campus and governmental guidelines relative to budgetary control, contract and grant administration, and personnel management are available for reference, however, interpretation and original problem-solving are required.

Definitions of Types of Supervision Received:

  • Close Supervision — indicates that the incumbent is assigned duties according to specific procedures.Work is checked frequently, and in addition there may be formal training.
  • Supervision — indicates that the incumbent performs a variety of routine duties within established policies and procedures or by referral to the supervisor’s guidelines.
  • General Supervision — indicates that the incumbent develops procedures for performance of variety of duties; or performs complex duties within established policy guidelines.
  • Direction — indicates that the incumbent establishes procedures for attaining specific goals and objectives in a broad area of work. Only the final results of work done are typically reviewed. Incumbent typically develops procedures within the limits of established policy guidelines.
  • General Direction — indicates that the incumbent receives guidance in terms of broad goals and overall objectives and is responsible for establishing the methods to attain them. Generally the incumbent is in charge of an area of work, and typically formulates policy for this area but does not necessarily have final authority for approving policy.

General Summary of Duties and Responsibilities:

A summary statement is required on every written job description and it provides a synopsis of the major purpose of a position and its role in the department.

Example — Business Officer

Under direction of departmental chairperson, manages all business and support functions for the Department of Cybernetics. Major duties include supervision of nonacademic staff, materiel management, space utilization, preparation and management of departmental budget and fiscal control of contracts and grants.


  1. A function is a major subdivision of work performed by one individual.
  2. It includes similar duties that make up one area of responsibility.
  3. Most jobs have 3-6 functions.


    • Assistant
      1. Front Office Reception
      2. Clerical Admin Support
      3. Meeting & Conference Coordination
    • Assistant Supervisor
      1. Supervision of Personnel
      2. Program Support
      3. Financial/Accounting Support
      4. Special Projects
      5. Other
    • Business Officer (under new Analyst series)
      1. Budgetary analysis
      2. Budget & Financial administration
      3. Contract and grant administration
      4. Supervision of personnel resources
      5. Space and Materiel Resource Management


  1. A duty is one of the work operations that is a logical, essential step in the performance of a function.
  2. It defines the methods, procedures and techniques by which functions are carried out.
  3. It should show:

    What is done (action).
    How it is done (procedures, materials, tools, or equipment).
    Why it is done (purpose).


    • Assistant — Conference Coordination
      Schedules speakers for bi-monthly departmental seminars by calling individuals from established listings, ascertaining availability, determining event dates and composing confirming correspondence
    • Assistant Supervisor — Staffing
      Initiates personnel actions including selecting new employees, conducting performance evaluations, recommending salary increases, providing counseling on disciplinary problems and recommending corrective actions in order to maintain effective staffing and production levels.
    • Business Officer — Budgetary Analysis
      Plans and prepares the annual budget by integrating departmental goals and program plans; research, laboratory and administrative requirements; and faculty, student and other statistical data.


  4. Begin each duty statement with a present tense action verb, e.g., writes, calibrates, analyzes.
  5. Carefully clarify the following verbs that have a variety of meanings and connotations:
    • Analyzes
    • Acts as liaison
    • Prepares
    • Supervises
    • Handles
    • Edits
    • Manages

    Examples of Clarification:

    • Manuscript Production:
      Edits manuscripts for post graduate researcher by correcting spelling, faulty phrasing and imperfect punctuation


      Edits manuscript for post graduate researchers with authority to review critically from a subject matter standpoint, checking and verifying content, condensing over elaborated topics, making additions to topics inadequately covered and rearranging material when not effectively presented.

      Preparing Reports:
      Prepares statistical tables by seeking out sources of basic information, planning the schedule and means of collecting the information, designing tables and writing interpretive text.

      Prepares statistical tables by copying numbers from given places on a schedule, posting them to a given column and line on a tabulation sheet, adding the columns, and computing the averages and percentages on a calculator.


  6. You can use the following alternative duty statement format when there is too much information for a single sentence (being mindful of the overall length of the job description).

    Staff Personnel Administration
    Processes annual staff merit increases:

    • Confers with principal investigators to determine their recommendations.
    • Answers questions regarding staff merit increase policy.
    • Monitors increases for budgetary restrictions and negotiates needed exceptions with the Dean’s Office.
  7. Define uncommon abbreviations.
  8. Do not include references to personal qualities or skills.
  9. Provide supporting documentation to substantiate qualitative terms, e.g., complex, large.
  10. Avoid phrases such as “assist in,” “responsible for” and “involved in” which obscure the action.

    (Poor) Assists Administrative Assistant in budget management by monitoring 30 supply and expense accounts.
    (Good) Monitors 30 intramural and extramural supply and expense accounts by posting expenditures and reconciling balances against the General Ledger.

Job Duties as Essential vs. Non-Essential

The Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 (ADA) requires employers to consider the essential duties of a job in evaluations and applicant’s qualifications. An essential duty is any task which is a basic, necessary and integral part of the job. In addition, when considering essentiality, one must focus upon whether the duty is essential to this particular job and not to the department as a whole. Further distinctions between essential vs. non-essential duties are the following:

  1. Are the duties required to be performed on a regular basis? If the duties are rarely performed, they may not be essential.
  2. s the duty highly specialized? The need for special expertise is an indication of an essential duty.

Non-essential duties are peripheral, incidental or are a minimal part of the job are considered non-essential. Further points to consider:

  1. Would removing the duty fundamentally change the job? If not, the duty is non-essential.
  2. Are there other employees available to perform the duty? If it is feasible to redistribute the work, the duty may be non-essential.

A statement such as “Other: May perform other duties as assigned” should be labeled as NON-ESSENTIAL unless specific duties and/or tasks are given to define what the “other” duties are.

Note: It is the supervisor’s responsibility to completely and accurately fill out the ADA section of the job description.

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Writing Sentences for Job Descriptions

  1. Use clear and concise language.
    • When possible, use words that have a single meaning.
    • Use examples/explanations for words which have varying interpretations
  2. Use non technical language whenever possible. A good job description explains the objectives, duties, and responsibilities of a job so that they are understandable even to a layperson.
  3. Use telegraphic sentence style (implied subject/verb/object/explanatory phrase)
    • Avoid unnecessary words

      The job incumbent transports all company mail to various locations throughout the entire facility.

  4. Keep sentence structure as simple as possible; omit all words that don’t contribute necessary information.
  5. Begin each sentence with an active verb, always use the present tense.
  6. Whenever possible, describe the desired outcome of the work, rather than the method for accomplishing that outcome. For example, instead of “writes down phone messages”- a task-oriented approach-you might say “accurately records phone messages.”
  7. Avoid words, such as “handles,” that don’t tell specifically what the employee does. Others you may want to avoid: “checks,” “prepares,” “examines,” “sends.”  If these words are the most accurate and specific ones available, it may be acceptable to use them. But if a more specific term would describe the task more clearly, use it.
  8. Use generic terms instead of proprietary names (“Microsoft,” “Xerox,” “Macintosh,” etc.).
  9. Avoid using gender based language.
  10. Qualify whenever possible. Don’t just say that a file clerk “files” materials; say that s/he “files alphabetically.”

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Writing Computer and Network Technologist Job Descriptions

In order to evaluate the appropriate classification for a technical job description, it should include the following information:

  1. The "General Summary of Duties" should indicate the employee's autonomy and freedom to act within the unit. In particular, does the employee perform specified tasks or determine tasks based upon general organizational goals? Does the employee play a leadership role in planning and development of goals and policies within the unit?
  2. The "General Summary of Duties" should also indicate the scope of the position — that is, how much of campus is directly impacted by the activities of this employee.
  3. Each "Essential Duty" should describe any special skills required to perform that duty. For example, a database development duty may require expertise in a particular database application.
  4. Each "Essential Duty" should also describe the resources the employee must manage to perform that duty (e.g., the number of desktop computers, server accounts, etc.) and the complexity of the environment (e.g.,U number of operating systems or protocols that must be supported and integrated).

If there are multiple technical employees in the unit, all aspects of the job description should reflect any shared duties between employees. For example, if you have two employees supporting 100 desktop computers, that resource should be described as "Supports 100 desktop computers along with the other departmental IT professional." The job description of each employee and the org chart should clearly reflect the relationship between the positions on any overlapping duties.

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