Frequently Asked Questions

What are the advantages of the Competencies Program?

The Competencies Program allows the University to support retention and attraction of top talent by:

  • Clearly describing jobs and identifying competencies required for successful performance
  • Clearly defining career ladders that show employees the vertical progression from entry level positions up to positions with higher levels of responsibility, authority, and/or pay
  • Increasing flexibility for managers to align their staffing needs with organizational demands
  • Increasing flexibility in recruiting and announcing jobs and reflecting market rates in salary offers
  • Streamlining the process for salary offers and position reviews
  • Retaining equability through consistent guidelines and audits of unit actions

How can the Competencies Program help me in the future?

By establishing levels within each job title, the Competencies Program creates clearer expectations for career growth. This will help you whether your interest is in moving to a different type of job, or developing your competencies for a higher-level position within your current job.

What is the relationship between duties and competencies?

Competencies are the identified set of knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors needed to perform the responsibilities of a job.

Job Duties are the actual tasks that are typically performed by employees in that Job Title.

What is the difference between the Job Title and a Working Title?

The Job Title is associated with a job based upon the required competencies and responsibilities of that position.

An alternate or working title typically further defines the specific duties of a job within a specific unit. These titles, which are approved by appropriate management, can continue to be used for the Penn State online directory, phone book, or marketing purposes.

An example of an employee alternate or working title is: Benefits Specialist. The official job title for this position is Human Resources Specialist Level 2.

When is a Job Responsibilities Worksheet (JRW) required to be completed?

A JRW must be completed for all job reviews. The JRW must also be updated each year as a part of the annual Performance Management process, in order to reflect changes that may have occurred, as well as identify potential career development opportunities.

How long will it take to review a job?

The time frame for completion of the review may vary depending upon the specific circumstances of the situation including the clarity of information provided, input from management, and review of similar positions within the unit or University.

Will a salary increase be given when moving up a level?

In most cases, an increase will be given when moving up a level within the same Job Title because the salary band will also increase. However, the amount of increase will vary based upon a number of factors including the unit's available funding, your salary within the new band, and equity considerations within the unit.

When moving from one Job Title to another, a salary increase will be given, in most cases, if the salary band of the new title/level is higher than the current salary band.

Within-level increase can occur when additional higher-level duties are being performed but are insufficient for an upgrade.

What percentage of change in duties is required for a job review?

There is not a specific percentage of change in duties that is required to initiate a job review. Rather, a decision to review a job is based upon a number of factors such as the addition of higher-level duties and required competencies.

Job reviews are not necessary as a result of additional duties of a similar level.

What should a Manager/Supervisor do if they feel that their employee has taken on higher-level duties?

They should consult with their unit HR to understand the process for reviewing a job.

What should an employee do if they feel that they have taken on higher-level duties?

Employees should consult with their Manager/Supervisor as the first step in discussing the possibility of a job review.

If a job is posted with a specific level(s), does it need to be filled at that specific level(s)?

Yes. The job must be filled at the level(s) posted. If the determination is made that hiring at the specific level(s) posted does not meet the unit's needs, the unit must re-post the position with the new level(s).

What is the purpose of a multiple level posting?

A job posted with multiple levels indicates that the unit has the opportunity to fill the position at any one of the specified levels based upon varying business needs and the successful candidate's competencies.

For postings where a single position is being filled, the maximum number of levels that can be posted is two. For postings where multiple positions are being filled, the maximum number of levels is three.

Jobs posted at multiple levels should all be the same FLSA exemption status.

How will I know whether a position is an upgrade, lateral, or downgrade when it is posted with multiple levels?

You will know what levels are being considered for filling the job, as well as the associated salary bands for those levels. The level that is offered will depend upon the candidate's experience and competencies and their applicability to the posted position. Candidates should consider their long-term career goals when deciding whether to apply on a position. For example, a lateral or lower level, in some cases, may provide more opportunities for growth and align with career goals.