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The University of Southampton
Human Resources

Grading and Career Development - Job descriptions

Job Description

A job description is an informative document, detailing the scope of accountability for key duties, responsibilities as well as the working conditions related to the job.

A job description has several purposes:

A job description is used in the recruitment process to inform applicants of the job profile and requirements to help ensure both the University and job applicants are on the same page regarding the job vacancy.

The job description continues to be of value beyond recruitment as it can be used as part of the performance management process to evaluate the employee’s performance against the job requirements.

It is good practice to keep job descriptions under regular review to ensure they continue to reflect a role's key accountabilities and responsibilities. An employee's appraisal meeting provides a good opportunity to do this, although revisions can be made at any time in consultation with the job holder.

Visit the online job description library to review a selection of University standard graded job descriptions in each of the job families.

Person Specification

A person specification details the skills and qualifications that an individual must have in order to complete the tasks and key accountabilities of a position offered by the University. A person specification will outline the essential and desirable educational requirements, training, experience as well as more personal qualifications that a job holder must possess.

Person Specifications should be closely aligned to the appropriate Contribution Matrix for the Job Family, Career Pathway and Pay Level.

Unconscious bias

When preparing a new or updated job description and person specification, you will need to be mindful of any biases you may hold.

Unconscious bias refers to a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgements and assessment of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal circumstances.

Implicit bias refers to the same area, but questions the level to which these biases are unconscious especially as we are being made increasingly aware of them. Once we know that biases are not always explicit, we are responsible for them. We all need to recognise and acknowledge our biases and find ways to mitigate their impact on our behaviour and decisions.

Before preparing a job description or person specification you are encouraged to use the following links to confidentially reflect on your attitudes and beliefs.  They are a good reminder that we all carry internal schema which are liable to make us make assumptions about our colleagues.

Equality and Diversity in practice:

Unconscious bias training

3 minute Unconscious bias video

The Implicit Association Test (IAT):

Other Equality and Diversity training:

Equality and Diversity Briefing

Managing Diversity

Further Guidance

Job Evaluation One Page Guide

Creating a job description and person specification

Job Evaluation Organogram/Structure Chart Template

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