Guidelines for Writing a Competency Based Job Description

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Guidelines for Writing a Competency Based Job Description

OVERVIEW A job description serves several purposes: • • • • Provides essential information for assigning the appropriate pay grade, job function and/or title for the job, Assists in recruiting efforts for screening and interviewing, Identifies the essential functions of the job based on job specific competencies, and Provides the incumbent an understanding of the primary accountabilities, duties and responsibilities they are expected to fulfill.

Competencies are the knowledge, skills, abilities, personal characteristics and other “worker-based” factors that help differentiate superior performance from average performance under specified circumstances. Competencies are identified to clearly define the essential functions of the job. WHAT IS INCLUDED There are three types of competencies that can be included in a job description. They describe the skills, knowledge and behavior necessary to perform the job. • Skills – Abilities needed to execute job duties, such as software and computer proficiency, interpersonal skills, accounting skills, or specific laboratory techniques. Knowledge – Areas of specialty or expertise; for example, nursing, finance, employment law, or history. Behavior – Characteristics an employee must display in the job; for instance, initiative, collegiality, resourcefulness, or professionalism.

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Knowledge, Skills, and Behavior needed to succeed in a job can fit into two basic categories of competencies: “general/organizational” or “specific/individual.” A good job description includes both kinds. Updated 9/2/2004 1



General/Organizational – These competencies need to be demonstrated by everyone in a particular organization. Examples at Northwestern include: processes and outcomes, honoring University policies and all regulatory requirements Customer focus: Striving for high customer satisfaction, going out of our way to be helpful and pleasant, making it as easy as possible on the customer rather than our department or the University Communication: Balancing listening and talking, speaking and writing clearly and accurately, influencing others, keeping others informed Collegiality: Being helpful, respectful, approachable and team oriented, building strong working relationships and a positive work environment Initiative: Taking ownership of our work, doing what is needed without being asked, following through Efficiency: Planning ahead, managing time well, being on time, being cost conscious, thinking of better ways to do things Coachability: Being receptive to feedback, willing to learn, embracing continuous improvement People management (for those with direct reports): Setting clear expectations, reviewing progress, providing feedback and guidance, holding people accountable

Quality/Compliance: Achieving a standard of excellence with our work

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Specific/Individual – These competencies need to be demonstrated by people doing particular jobs. Examples include computer applications and deadlinesensitive (for a non-exempt job) or strategic planning and results orientation (for an exempt job). You should identify and define these kinds of job-specific competencies for each job you supervise.

A job description also contains the following specific items: • • • • • Representative duties and responsibilities, as well as accountabilities Reporting relationships within the organization, Education, licenses, certification, or other essential qualifications for the job, Special skills required to perform the job, and Work experience needed for effective performance.

Updated 9/2/2004

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STANDARD FORMAT Northwestern University has adopted a standard format for job descriptions. sections included in the description are: • The

Job Information which includes the official University job title, as well as the departmental job title, department name, the title of the job to which the described job reports, and...
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