Job and Position Descriptions

Find information on job and position descriptions for all payroll categories.

Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are generic, action-oriented documents managed by Compensation that clearly and concisely state the primary duties performed, responsibilities carried out, and requirements of a particular job.

The Job Description Catalog, accessible to HR Administrators only, is an on-line tool that contains generic job descriptions for Administrative, SRS Administrative and Support Staff. Today, there are about 700 generic job descriptions in the catalog. As a way to help HR Administrators find job descriptions more easily, descriptions are organized by job family and where applicable, subfamily. Additionally, job descriptions are categorized by type of role: support, individual contributor and/or management.

 Job Catalog

Access to the catalog is limited to HR administrators. If you believe you should have access, please contact

Job descriptions versus position descriptions

Generic job descriptions for Administrative, SRS Administrative and Support Staff can be found in the catalog. These descriptions capture a significant amount of the work performed by each role, however, they do not capture every duty that someone might perform. As a manager, you may use these generic job descriptions as a baseline to create a more specific, detailed position description. Position descriptions capture additional and/or more detailed, specific information that a DLCI may want to include in a description. Learn more about position descriptions below.

Job titles versus position titles

A job title is a generic title assigned by HR and used by HR to group similar jobs together. A position title, determined at the School or DLCI level, is the public-facing title that appears in the MIT directory. For some roles, the job title and position title will be the same.

Position Descriptions

Position descriptions are specific, more detailed action-oriented documents managed by the DLCIs that clearly and concisely state the primary duties performed, responsibilities carried out, and requirements of a particular role.

How do I create position descriptions?

Please reference the jobs in the job catalog as the foundation for creating position descriptions for Administrative, SRS Administrative and Support Staff jobs. Additionally, over time, as you review/revise existing position descriptions, please ensure alignment with job descriptions in the job catalog.

The position description template (see Forms below) should be used when preparing descriptions for Sponsored Research Technical and Campus Medical jobs. 

Keep in mind

For the Compensation evaluation process, it is critical to provide an accurate and up-to-date description to Compensation so that positions can be classified appropriately. The classification process is interactive — requiring input from Compensation, the Human Resources Officer, and the manager or the appropriate department administrative officer. Typically, a job should not be posted until it has gone through this classification process.  In all cases, the classification process should be completed with Human Resources before having any discussions with employees or prospective employees.

Writing tips

Describing position responsibilities clearly and concisely can be challenging. The following tips may be helpful to you.

1. Initial preparation

Do some initial preparation and advance thinking:

  • What are the 4 - 6 major end results the position must accomplish on an ongoing basis?
    • What are the activities associated with getting these end results accomplished?
    • What type of independent judgment and discretion is exercised?
    • What types of decisions are made?
  • Begin by listing the activities associated with the position, then cluster those activities into related groupings. Review the groupings to identify the nature of the accountability associated with the activities.
  • List the responsibilities in descending order of importance and assign a percent of time spent on each. This helps the reader get a clearer picture of the position. (Note: the FLSA regulations no longer use "percent of time" in the duties tests, so this percentage will be used primarily to understand the job content.)
2. Put yourself in the reader's place
  • Think about how to describe the position to someone who is unfamiliar with the position or department.
  • Avoid the use of jargon, acronyms, or other non-standard language.
3. Structure your statements

Use the following model as a way to structure each statement:

    Action Word    +    Subject    +    Specific Activities

Hint: Make sure to be specific about the activities to be performed. See below for examples and see the glossary for more action words.


Action Word Subject Specific Activities
Prepare Monthly financial reports by
  • Collecting and verifying financial data
  • Entering current data into spreadsheets
  • Running analysis reports
  • Consolidating financial figures into standard monthly reports
Maintain Audio-visual equipment inventory by
  • Tracking borrowed equipment
  • Entering new equipment into equipment log
  • Ensuring the accuracy of the equipment database


The following terms are commonly used for describing position responsibilities. While this is not an all-inclusive list of acceptable terms, consider using them for either non-exempt or exempt positions.

Term Explanation
Administer To perform or direct in a prescribed manner.
Advise To counsel, recommend, or suggest.
Analyze To systematically study data, information or a situation to determine solutions or alternatives.
Appraise To evaluate or judge.
Approve To authorize action; exercise final authority; act independently without further consultation.
Assist To provide help, support, or aid.
Audit To examine in depth to verify accuracy or conformity with requirements.
Authorize To give others the power or right to act with final or definite authority.
Conduct To direct the course.
Control To exercise authority over; to regulate.
Coordinate To organize or harmonize actions or efforts for a common goal or purpose.
Counsel To give advice and guidance to another.
Delegate To entrust to another person's management and/or handling.
Design To conceive, invent or form a plan.
Determine To reach a decision about after thought and/or investigation; to find out exactly, to calculate
Develop To bring gradually and methodically into existence; to expand or realize potential
Direct To show or point the way, carry out the organization; manage, supervise, and determine the course.
Document To provide with factual or substantial support; construct or produce with a high proportion of details.
Edit To modify by deleting, adding, revising, correcting for clarity and length.
Ensure To make sure or certain; guarantee; protect.
Facilitate To make easier or to expedite.
Implement To carry with effect; fulfill; accomplish.
Initiate To cause or facilitate the beginning.
Maintain To keep in existence; to defend or sustain; to preserve or retain.
Manage To plan, organize and/or supervize a function or individual (s); to be in charge of; control.
Monitor To watch, observe or check for a special purpose; keep track.
Organize To give orderly structure; put into working order.
Perform To carry out; accomplish; to do in a formal manner.
Plan To formulate a program to accomplish or attain a goal or end point .
Prepare To put together or create by combining multiple parts, inputs, materials.
Promote To contribute to the progress or growth of; to advocate or urge the adoption of.
Propose To offer or suggest.
Provide To furnish necessary information, materials, or services; to make available.
Oversee To watch over and direct; to supervise.
Recommend To counsel or advise that something be done; to promote something as reputable, worthwhile, appropriate.
Review To examine with an eye to criticism, correction or approval.
Serve To actively carry out duties within the framework of a specialized activity, such as a committee.
Supervise To direct and inspect the performance of employees;  to instruct employees in details of the work they perform (either directly or by enforcement of well-established rules), distribute and assign work, observe performance in detail and work with employees to improve performance; to be responsible for hiring decisions and terminating employment.
Train To increase others' skill or knowledge though capable instruction, usually in relation to predetermined standard.
Validate To confirm, support, or corroborate on a sound or authoritative basis.
Job Level Guides

The generic job descriptions in job level guides capture a significant amount of the work performed by each role, but they do not capture every duty that someone might perform. The generic job descriptions in the job level guides can be modified to reflect more specific duties and responsibilities for a particular position in a DLCI.

Related Documents & Forms