Job Description Guidance - Support Staff
The following guidance has been developed for managers and staff to develop a single job description for both grading and recruitment purposes for support staff roles. If you require advice regarding job design and structure please contact your Faculty Human Resources Manager in the first instance. To obtain a grade for a support role for recruitment purposes, the job description will need to go through the University of Bristol Job Evaluation Scheme (UBJES), and a job description will need to be written if a new role is created, or revised if a role has substantively changed since the last evaluation. For information and advice on recruiting to your vacancy, please refer to the University’s recruitment and selection guidance.
For support staff roles use the guidance in this document, the New role form/Job Description Template or Request for Re-evaluation/Job Description Template, and the Job Description Examples for Professional/Administrative Staff or and Job Description Examples for Technical staff where appropriate.
The UBJES process is not required for a role in the Research and Teaching job family, on one of the academic career pathways. However, the appropriate academic career pathway and role profile will need to be selected to determine the grade, the relevant pathway and Faculty specific template should be used and the University’s policy for the recruitment and selection of academic staff should be followed.
General advice about using the job description template
The job description template exists for the dual purposes of grading and recruitment, and where possible the sections are common to both purposes. Exceptions are the supplementary information for UBJES evaluation, and information which is only applicable for recruitment such as grade, salary range, application process etc. Follow the section by section guidance below to complete the template. Managers should be aware that the job description is indicative of the requirements of the role, and should where appropriate, provide staff appointed to the role with a more detailed list of specific duties.
A job description may be evaluated by UBJES panel members who have little or no prior knowledge of the field or area. It is therefore important to use plain English to describe the role, not to use acronyms or take for granted that a reader will understand the process or technique that you are referring to. In the case of a re-evaluation, completion of the job description will be the joint responsibility of the role holder and line manager. It should therefore be discussed and agreed by the role holder (or in some cases a representative) and the manager to make sure it is a true reflection of the role. It is anticipated that agreement on the content of the job description will be reached in the majority of cases. However, if reaching a consensus is difficult please contact your Faculty Personnel Manager who will be able to help. Further information is available on the evaluation procedure for new roles and re-evaluations.
Once the job description has been completed and agreed, an electronic version should be emailed to your Faculty Human Resources Manager.
The job description template can be completed for a group of role-holders who do a very similar role (a generic job description). You should follow essentially the same approach as an individual job description, but with the following provisos:
- Author needs to ensure the template is written in a broad fashion to cover all the role holders indicating typical responsibilities, not the specific responsibilities of every role holder
- In the work examples focus on typical responsibilities, not the specific responsibilities of every role holder
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Detailed advice about using the template
- Please complete the form using a font size of 11 or more.
- Avoid use of weblinks since all information must be contained in the job description.
- Ensure that no ‘grades’ or ‘names’ (other than on the cover sheet) are included in the job description when submitting for job evaluation.
- Information provided in the job description should relate logically across each of the different sections.
The following sections need to be completed:
The Job Title
This can be a broad job title covering several jobholders if the job description covers a group of staff. If the submission is a re-evaluation you may wish to take the opportunity to revise the current job title, please get consensus from the role holder(s).
Section 1: Job Description
- Academic Faculty/Support Services Division: Name of the “Parent” Faculty or Division.
- School or Division/Address: Name of the organisational unit in which the job is based and full address.
Complete the following information once the role has been graded and is ready to be submitted for recruitment.
- Job Family/Grade: Professional/Administrative or Operational Services or Technical Services, Grades A-M.
- Salary range: The University's Starting Pay Policy is that the starting salary for any appointment must be within the service increment range for the grade(s) at which the role has been evaluated and advertised.
- Hours of work: Number of contracted hours per week.
- Work pattern: Full or part time (if part time specify days to be worked, for example 5 mornings a week, 2 ½ days per week). Indicate if job share is available.
- Contract type: Permanent or fixed term (state length of contract if fixed term). Further information is available on the appropriate use of fixed term contracts.
Section 1.1: Main Job Purpose
The main job purpose outlines the overall contribution the job makes, or alternatively “why” the role exists.
- For Professional/Administrative roles, the Professional and Administrative Grade Descriptors may be a starting point in helping you to develop the main job purpose, and may need customising where not specific enough for the role.
- Job Purpose = what is done (verb); to what or whom (area of impact) and with what result.
- The statement is normally capable of being contained within a small number of sentences.
- What is it that the job is intended to achieve?
- What would not get done if the job did not exist?
- What is the particular contribution that the job makes?
- The main job purpose does not include a detailed list of how the job is done
- It is not a list of problems, tasks and activities
- It should not exceed a paragraph in length
Section 1. 2: Statements of Responsibility
This section includes the key responsibilities of the job or “what” the role is intended to achieve. These indicate the end result or outputs for which the role holder is responsible.
For Professional/Administrative roles only:
- A set of Professional and Administrative Grade Descriptors have been developed to assist in identifying the level of role required, and must be used when developing responsibility statements. The Descriptors provide typical activities for the main job description template headings for each level of Professional/Administrative role, from grades D to M.
- When completing the responsibilities section, first refer to the set of Descriptors to identify the Descriptor which matches your requirements most closely. The ‘statements of responsibilities’ section of the Descriptors illustrates typical examples of what is expected at the relevant grade for the responsibilities in Professional/Administrative roles. When providing responsibilities against each of the responsibility sub-headings on the job description template (which are the same as the sub-headings on the descriptors), for example, Analysis, Reporting and Documentation, customise the examples where they are not specific enough to the role. For example, under the Analysis, Reporting and Documentation sub-heading, you may want to use the statement ‘Monitor trends and anomalies within source data, reporting findings accurately and appropriately and resolving where appropriate (e.g. accounts/budget reconciliation, orders/invoices, data preparation/cleansing)’ for an Admissions role, and adapt this to say ‘Monitor trends and anomalies within Admissions data, reporting findings accurately and appropriately and resolving where appropriate (e.g. data preparation/cleansing and forecasting)’.
- Provide more than one statement against each sub-heading, where applicable. Delete any sub-headings which are not relevant, add any key responsibilities not covered by these sub-headings, re-order the sub-headings in order of importance, and re-order the responsibility statements under these sub-headings, if more appropriate to the role.
- Although some responsibility statements could fit against more than one sub-heading, do not duplicate the statements under the different sub-headings, instead choose the most appropriate sub-heading according to the focus of the work.
For all roles:
- It is essential when drafting responsibilities to consider the overall purpose of the job and the key areas in which results must be achieved to fulfil that purpose.
- It may be appropriate to write a responsibility statement in the form: ‘Do something in order to achieve a stated result or standard’.
- Each responsibility should be distinct, and describe an important aspect of the role in which results must be achieved; focussing on what is required, not how the role is fulfilled.
- Where the role is not Professional/Administrative in its focus, use of the responsibility sub-headings on the job description template are optional, and if not relevant should be deleted before finalising the job description template.
- Where the role is not Professional/Administrative in its focus, please ensure that no more than 12 responsibility statements are submitted, as this will result in the job description being returned for re-drafting.
- The statements should be listed in order of importance.
- Whilst day to day elements of the job are important the statements should not necessarily encompass all the individual tasks the role holder has to undertake, but should provide a clear picture of what they have to deliver and represent all the major outputs expected of the role.
- In line with the Equality Act 2010, the statement of responsibilities must include descriptors outlining any potential health-related hazards, particularly when specific health checks are required due to the nature of the role.
Section 1.3: Relationships and Contacts
Line manager, Line manager to (where appropriate)
Please complete the job title of the line manager and, if the role-holder line manages staff, the titles of their roles; do not include names.
Internal Contacts and External Contacts
Please identify the most significant internal and external relationships that the role has, describing the overall purpose of the relationship.
- Take into account relationships with senior and junior colleagues as well as with more immediate colleagues.
- Describe the purpose of the relationship (for example, exchanging information, negotiating, motivating, keeping up to date with best practice, reaching agreement on budgeting issues, maintaining team’s operational effectiveness, etc.)
- Describe the frequency of the contact (for example, how often does the role holder meet with manager, peers etc.)
- Internal relationships relate to colleagues within the University of Bristol.
- Do not describe every relationship the role involves, only those that play an important part in getting the job done.
Section 1.4: Organisation Chart(s)
Please provide an organisation chart, showing the whole Division/School/Process in broad outline to indicate where the role sits in the larger structure. If it is not possible to show the more immediate team on Division/School/Process organisation chart, provide a second chart showing the more immediate team(s) and reporting structures as they impact on the role:
- The organisation charts should show the formal reporting relationships relevant to the role.
- The organisation charts should include job titles.
- Please indicate the position to be evaluated and recruited to in the organisation charts by inserting the word ‘role-holder’ after the job title.
- Reporting lines must be clear, as must any sharing of duties and the scope for gaining support and/or advice.
- For the organisational chart showing the whole Division/School/Process, it is advisable to provide all roles and reporting lines within the Division/School/Process. To avoid organisation charts not fitting onto a page, summarise job titles where appropriate e.g. ‘130 academic staff’.
- Solid lines on organisation charts should be used to indicate formal reporting lines, and where necessary dotted lines can be used to show other activity e.g. service provision.
- If there are any particular aspects of your chart(s) that require explanation, such as where the role operates across more than one school/division, please clarify in a short paragraph.
- Do not include names of individuals or grades.
Example of organisation chart one, (i.e. whole Division/School/Process) showing the whole division for a Library Assistant role in Information Management, Library Services).
Example of organisation chart two, (i.e. immediate team reporting structure) showing the immediate team structure for a Library Assistant role in Information Management, Library Services).
It is likely that your School/Division/Process Area will have organisation charts that you can use.
Creating organisation charts & formatting tips
Creating organisation charts:
It is easy to create the boxes and lines within MS Word as follows:
Boxes: Go to Insert > Text Box
Lines: Go to Insert > Picture > Autoshapes (will give you a choice of lines and arrows)
You can change the organisation chart page on the form to landscape as follows:
Place your cursor in the organisation chart box > Go to page layout > Orientation > Landscape (the form is set up so the rest of the document will stay portrait)
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Section 2: Person Specification
Relevant Experience, Skills, Knowledge, Qualifications, Communication and Interpersonal Skills and Additional Criteria
Section 2.1, 2.2, 2.3
Detail the experience, skills and knowledge, relevant qualifications, communication and interpersonal skills, that are essential to the effective performance of the job. The requirement for these should be reflected elsewhere in the job description, for example if the role requires a professional qualification it should be clear from the work examples and statements of responsibilities that the role is operating at that level.
For Professional/Administrative staff roles only:
- When completing this section refer to the set of Professional and Administrative Grade Descriptors, read the information in the ‘Qualifications, knowledge skills and experience’ section of the relevant descriptor, and provide any knowledge, skills and/or experience which is essential or desirable for the role, for example, ‘Proficient in Microsoft Office, e-mail and web (may include web site authoring and maintenance)’. In addition, follow the guidance below.
For all roles:
- Provide what is required for recruitment purposes, since this will help separate the attributes of any current/past/future job holder(s) from what is actually required.
- Include details of the nature and context of each type of experience required, remembering that experience does not necessarily have to be gained in an identical environment.
- Avoid specifying a required length of experience. Using such a requirement, particularly where it is for a lengthy period, could potentially be seen to be discriminatory against both younger workers and women who have taken career breaks when having children and therefore in breach of the Equality Act. Instead, focus on what type of experience you are looking for rather than an arbitrary duration, which is unlikely to be a good indicator of performance in any case. For instance, "Significant experience of providing a service in a busy, customer-focused environment" rather than "Three years customer service experience".
- Skills may include:
- Operating machinery or computer packages or job-specific processes
- Planning and organising skills including where in the role they are relevant
- The need for particular flexibility or multi-tasking over a range of activities
- Conceptual and methodological skills
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Indicate if there is a job requirement to maintain professional accreditation through appropriate updating of skills and knowledge.
- The level of skill or knowledge required may in some cases be indicated by reference to particular qualifications or types of training. If quoting specific qualifications or training accreditations, append with ‘or equivalent’.
- Do not include age-related criteria in job and person specifications, selection criteria and advert wording. Avoid words like "young", "recently qualified" and "mature", as these could potentially be seen to be discriminatory to older or younger workers and therefore in breach of the Equality Act.
- There can be a tendency to overstate formal qualification requirements, so think carefully about whether having specific knowledge or skills, proven through experience, is more important.
- Do not just list the qualifications of the current or previous role holder – state only what would be essential for someone to be considered for the role.
Section 2.4 Additional criteria
- Include any additional criteria that are not covered by the other categories but are a relevant requirement for the job. Do not include additional criteria unless it is absolutely necessary, for example if the job involves travel do not automatically specify car ownership or possession of a driving license, as this may exclude suitable candidates who would use other forms of transport.
- In line with the Equality Act 2010, criteria relating to any potential health-related hazards may be included, particularly when specific health checks are required due to the nature of the role.
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Section 3: Background Information
Section 3.1: The School/Division
Further information on the context within which the role operates
- Provide School/Division/Process area information where appropriate, that will provide a fuller understanding of the wider context within which the job operates in relation to the School/Division/Process area’s wider activities.
- The School/Division/Process should have a standard form of words to be inserted into the job description, to ensure consistency for roles and avoid duplication.
Section 3.2 The University and the City of Bristol
The wording of this section is standard and should not be edited by the school, as it is used for recruitment for all roles.
Section 3.3 The University’s Positive Working Environment
The wording of this section is standard and should not be edited, as it is used for recruitment for all roles.
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Section 4: Application Process
The wording of this section is standard and should not be edited, as it is used for recruitment for all roles, with the exception of the reference number and application closing date, which should be provided prior to recruitment by the recruiting manager.
Section 5: Selection Process
The wording of this section is standard and should not be edited, as it is used for recruitment for all roles, with the exception of interview date(s) which should be provided prior to recruitment by the recruiting manager.
Section 6: Supplementary information for UBJES evaluation
Please use this section to provide important contextual information to supplement the job description, which is essential for an accurate evaluation of the role. Please note that this section will not be shown on the template when it is used for recruitment purposes, as it will be removed by the Recruitment Team.
Section 6.1 Work examples
Please include a minimum of three and a maximum of five work examples relating to the key and representative responsibilities of the role. Limit your response to a paragraph per example, and a maximum of ONE AND A HALF PAGES of A4, covering all your examples.
- The work examples should ‘tell the story’ of how the role-holder will be required to fulfil the responsibilities outlined and are a critical part of the evaluation decision-making process.
- Ensure that each work example clearly illustrates the nature and scope of planning and organising, decision-making, and problem-solving in the role, and that these relate to the key responsibilities of the role.
- Clearly describe the steps that are involved, who else is involved and how qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience are used.
- Planning considerations include typical planning decisions made by the role-holder, typical planning and organising timescales (daily, weekly, monthly etc), the role-holder’s contribution to the planning process and others’ contribution (e.g. line manager), to identify the level of autonomy in the role or ‘where the buck stops’.
- Decision-making considerations include typical decisions made by the role-holder, the role-holder’s contribution to decision-making and others’ contribution (e.g. line manager), to identify the level of autonomy in the role or ‘where the buck stops’.
- Problem-solving considerations include the typical problems/issues encountered in the role, the role-holder’s contribution to problem-solving and others’ contribution (e.g. line manager), to identify the level of autonomy in the role or ‘where the buck stops’.
- The examples should be used to give a sense of the most essential parts of the job
- the way skills are used
- the kinds of problems that have to be dealt with and what are decisions made
- the extent to which the job is or isn’t constrained by strict systems or close supervision
- the level of autonomy in the role
- the planning and organising requirements of the role
- the physical conditions under which the work is carried out.
- In some cases it may be appropriate to use an example to illustrate a part of the job that would otherwise be obvious only to a specialist.
- These examples should not be occasional or one off elements to the role.
- Work examples that exceed the maximum limit (more than five work examples, and more than one and a half pages of A4) will be returned for re-drafting.
Section 6.2 Additional Statistical Information
Include here statistics relevant to the job, providing information that can give a fuller understanding of the job. These can relate to the operational (e.g., service provision, number of customers and/or students), financial (e.g., budgets, grants and contracts) or staffing (e.g., number of employees supervised) aspects of the job.
- Range and type of service provided.
- Number of research grants and contracts.
- Number of customers and/or students the role affects directly or indirectly.
- Number of rooms/offices serviced.
- Recurrent budget, grants and contracts, discretionary funds.
- Number and profile of staff supervised.
- Number of staff the role affects directly or indirectly, other than through direct supervision.
Section 6.3 Relevant Physical and Environmental Information
In this section, please describe any physical and environmental information which is not covered elsewhere, but is essential for a proper understanding of the role.
- Provide any relevant information about physical effort and/or strain and working environment that have not been included in the other sections.
- Provide the frequency / duration / intensity of the activity and/or working environment.
- Do not include additional information unless absolutely necessary.
- Do not include contextual information in this section, please put this into the Background Information or the Additional Statistical Information section.
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