Agriculture Law and Management


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Position Description

Thoughts on developing a position description.



Sample Format for a Position Description

Employee name:
Employee ID number:
Position Title:
Mission of business:  how does the business generally intend to achieve its overall goal
Purpose of position:  how is this position expected to help the business achieve its overall goal

Some of these details will remain empty as the position description is developed.  They can then be added after teh person has been hired.


Responsibility #_ (repeat as necessary)
  Statement of responsibility or duty: what will the supervisor consider during the evaluation or review process.  These considerations suggest the position's responsibilities.  If this is what the supervisor wants this position to accomplish, list those expectations as the position's responsibilities in the position description.  Make it clear that this is what this position is to achieve.
  Approximate percent of time:
  Tasks involved in fulfilling responsibility or duty:

It can be difficult to distinguish a responsibility from a task; it may also be difficult to accurately state the responsibility. For example, do not state that the responsibility is to "feed the livestock" and the tasks include "operating the feed equipment." Instead, it may be more accurate to state that the responsibility is to "care for the livestock" and the tasks include "visually check the livestock each day to determine whether they are eating an appropriate amount based on the feed remaining from previous feedings, assess how much feed needs to be provided, and determine and remedy what may be causing the livestock to eat less than expected; check the watering system to assure it is operating, repair if necessary or inform ___ if unable to make necessary repairs; visually check the livestock for illness, disease, or injury, and take necessary action if a problem is observed; operate feeding equipment; check housing and corral facilities for damages or needed repairs, complete or report needed repairs." 

A well-prepared position description requires the manager to thoroughly understand and explain the responsibilities and associated tasks.

Consider an explicit responsibility of working safely; also an explicit responsibility for attending training or development (including workplace safety training); each of these might be several percent of time (e.g., 3-5%).

Total percent of time for all responsibilities must equal 100%.


Required education or training:
Required work experience:
Required license or certification:
Required specific skills (e.g., equipment operation, equipment maintenance):

A required characteristic means that individuals who do not have the characteristic will not be considered for the position.  What are the minimum qualifications for this position?


Preferred or desired (but not required) education, training, work experience, license, certification, or skills:

A preferred characteristic implies that if two individuals have all the required characteristics, but one also has some of the preferred characteristics, the person with the preferred characteristics would be given the job.  A preferred characteristic is NOT required, but it certainly is desirable.

Experience is a common qualification.  If experience is required, consider stating the type of experience and the extent of the experience; e.g., " 3 years of sales experience is required."  In this case, a person without 3 years of sales experience would not be considered.

If experience is preferred but not required, do not specify a time limitation; instead state that "sales experience is preferred."  Then if one candidate has the designated experience and one does not, the experienced person will be preferred. Also, a person with 5 years of experience can be preferred over someone with 2 years of experience.


Unusual or hazardous working conditions:
Frequency of unusual or hazardous working conditions:
Precautionary measures to be taken:

As part of the position description, note what conditions pose a risk of injury to the worker. Also indicate that steps should be taken to minimize the risk of worker injury. Awareness of risk, training to reduce risk, and strategies or practices that minimize risky activities are initial steps to decrease the likelihood of a workplace accident or injury.


Physical job requirements and frequency of requirement (check appropriate column)









Use hands        
Reach with arms        
Talk or hear        
Taste or smell        
Lift up to 10 pounds        
Lift up to 25 pounds        
Lift up to 50 pounds        
Lift up to 75 pounds        
Lift up to 100 pounds        


Closing details

Position or person who supervises employee:
Signatures and date that employee and supervisor discussed the position responsibilities/description.

Issues such as salary/wage, benefits, work hours, leave benefits, etc generally are not included in the position description but instead are incorporated into the employer's employment policies or letter of employment provided to the employee when hired.

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