Samford University

Job Description Guidelines

Job Description Template

After reading the following guidelines, use the Job Description Template at the Forms Library. It is necessary that we have consistency in format for all Samford University job descriptions.

Job Description Defined

A job description is intended to be a summary of the primary activities and responsibilities typically performed in a given job. It is not a comprehensive list of all activities performed within a job. Job descriptions should describe the job as it currently exists, not as it will exist sometime in the future.


The purpose of a job description is to:

  • Document the primary responsibilities and requirements of each job.
  • Ensure that employees have a clear understanding of their jobs.
  • Provide a basis for job evaluation, salary surveying, market pricing and career opportunities.
  • Provide a vehicle for posting internal jobs.
  • Communicate expectations which may assist employees in improving performance.

Guidelines for writing Job Descriptions

  • Keep the sentence structure as simple as possible-omit superfluous words that do not contribute necessary information.
  • Begin statements with action verbs such as: analyzes approves, authorizes, develops, evaluates, inputs, operates, organizes, performs, recommends, reviews and schedules
  • Chose verbs that relate to the appropriate role of the job. For a support role, it would be misleading to use "manages". A verb such as "administers" or "initiates" would be more appropriate.
  • Use examples, where appropriate, to add meaning.
  • The writing style should be clear and concise-use non-technical language whenever possible.
  • Avoid vague words which are subject to varying interpretation, i.e. "compiles monthly counts for reports and distributes report" versus "assists with preparing reports".
  • Focus on critical activities while disregarding minor or occasional duties that are not unique to a specific job.
  • The preferred sentence structure is present tense telegraphic style (implied subject/verb/object/explanatory phrase)
  • Consider all work performed over a 12 month period.
  • The best job descriptions are written in a factual and impersonal style – the description is not meant to describe the characteristics of any given incumbent.
  • The levels of education and experience should be stated as minimums and should be realistic in view of the duties and responsibilities. If requirements are inflated, they will serve to screen out people who are actually qualified