Job Responsibilities Worksheet


The purpose of the Job Responsibilities Worksheet (JRW) is to document the current responsibilities of a position. It focuses on a specific position, provides details regarding the primary job duties, position scope, and supervisory and fiscal responsibilities (if applicable). At Penn State, this document serves as a staff employee's job description. 

The information provided in the JRW correlates to a staff job profile and level, therefore, it is important that the JRW accurately represent the way the position is currently functioning. The JRW also plays a key role in setting goals and expectations, as well as evaluating performance.

Getting Started

The employee and supervisor must discuss the position to ensure mutual understanding. The employee typically works with their supervisor to create their JRW. For newly created positions, the supervisor will complete the JRW to provide to their employee upon hire.

All sections of the JRW must be completed. Incomplete or missing information may lead to an inaccurate reflection of the nature of the position; and in the case of a job review request, may delay the process.

There are four main sections of the JRW. Click on the headings below to learn more about each section (printing this page will allow you to view this page in its entirety):

1. Position Summary

In 2-4 sentences, provide a high level overview of the primary purpose of the position. Keep in mind you’ll be able to elaborate in more detail about the duties, scope, responsibilities later in the JRW. Sometimes this is easier to draft after you've finished the rest of the JRW. 

Examples of well-written position summaries:

  • “The purpose of this position is to serve as an admission counselor for Penn State World Campus. This includes interacting with prospective students via email, phone, webinars, and face-to-face, planning and coordinating recruitment events and communication campaigns, and coordinating the World Campus Alumni Ambassador Program.”
  • “This position is responsible for the leadership, strategic direction, project management, and operations for the recently established Online Professional Education unit within Penn State Outreach and Online Education (Outreach). In addition to these strategic and operational roles, a significant portion of this resource must be devoted to developing and fostering high level relationships with University leaders within Outreach, the administration, and Colleges, including: Deans, Assoc. Deans, department heads, and faculty in order to understand potential opportunities within academic units and connect them to the most appropriate resource to help them address their needs.”

2. Primary Duties

List between three (3) and ten (10) primary duties of this position and estimate the percentage of time spent on each duty over a given period of time. When indicating the percentage of time spent on each duty, consider what is performed over a given period of time. Describe the position as it is being performed today and not as it might be in the future or as you think it should be (except in cases where a JRW is being completed for a vacant or new position). Statements should be written so that someone unfamiliar with the position can understand what the position does. 

Order the duties based on percentage of time, from most to least. The percentages must total 100%. Each duty should not be smaller than 10% or greater than 50%. The chart below provides assistance in determining percentage of time.

Percent to Hour Conversion
% of Time Day (8 hrs) Week (40 hrs) Month (173 hrs) Quarter (520 hrs) Year (2080 hrs)
5% 0.4 2 9 26 104
10% 0.8 4 17 52 208
15% 1.2 6 26 78 312
20% 1.6 8 35 104 416
25% 2 10 43 130 520
30% 2.4 12 52 156 624
35% 2.8 14 61 182 728
40% 3.2 16 69 208 832
45% 3.6 18 78 234 936
50% 4 20 87 260 1040

Strive to be accurate and concise. Be specific to the work being performed on a day-to-day basis. Use words which convey a good understanding of the work being performed rather than vague generalities.

Use the following pattern to write a primary responsibility statement: Action Word + Subject + Activities. For example: Reviews and validates (Action Words) transactions (Subject) by ensuring completeness and accuracy of the account balances (Activities). 

3. Supervisory & Fiscal Responsibilities 

Determine the type and scope of Supervision the position has:
  • If the position has authority to make decisions related to hiring, compensation, performance evaluation, etc. for full-time employees, select “Direct Supervisor for Full-Time Employees.”
  • If the position is not a direct supervisor of full-time employees but assists with scheduling, prioritizing tasks, etc. for a team, select “Indirect Supervisor for Full-Time Employees.”
  • If the position has authority to make decisions related to hiring, scheduling, etc. for wage payroll, student, and/or temporary workers or volunteers, select “Direct Supervisor for Only Wage Payroll, Student, and/or Temporary Workers or Volunteers.”
  • If the position has no supervisory responsibilities, select “None.”

If the position has supervisory responsibilities, indicate the number and level(s) of direct staff that the position supervises. If the position supervises both individual contributors and other supervisors, select both options.

Select the highest level of supervisory responsibilities. For example, if the position is a direct supervisor to both full-time staff and student workers, select “Direct Supervisor.”
Indicate whether the position has Fiscal/Financial Responsibility:
  • Describe the position’s level of involvement, if any, with budgets (e.g., planning/forecasting, approving).
  • Indicate if the position also has budget responsibilities for grants.
  • Indicate if the position has final signature authority (i.e., ability to sign contracts on behalf of PSU per policy FN11) and if so, the scope (e.g., University-wide, Department-wide).
  • Indicate the dollar amount of fiscal responsibility if you selected any of the above.
  • Provide additional comments as applicable.

4. Position Scope 

Of the options presented, choose the appropriate Scope of Responsibilities for this position.
  • University-wide: Scope spans the entire University (e.g., Colleges, Commonwealth Campuses, and Administrative units)
  • College, Commonwealth Campus, unit-wide: Scope is specific to one or more College, Commonwealth Campus, or Administrative unit but not the entire University (e.g., College of Medicine, Smeal College of Business, Penn State Behrend, or Intercollegiate Athletics)
  • Department: Scope spans the entirety of a department within a College, Commonwealth Campus, or Administrative unit (e.g., Psychology, Residential Dining, Comparative Medicine, or Center of Performing Arts)
  • Function, process, or job-specific: Scope is limited to the area of responsibility (e.g., Lab Coordinator, Education Program Specialist, or Facilities Representative)
  • Provide additional details if applicable

For Problem Solving and Independence of Action, select only one box and provide additional information if desired. Your selection does not need to be a perfect fit. Please select the best fit based on the position’s primary duties and how you spend the majority of your time.

Indicate the typical nature of the Problem Solving encountered in this position on a regular basis.
  • Routine: Problems encountered are routine, somewhat repetitive, and generally solved by following clear directions and procedures.
  • Moderate: Problems are varied, requiring analysis or interpretation of the situation. Problems are solved using specialized knowledge and skills, and general precedents and practices.
  • Complex: Problems are highly varied, complex and often non-recurring; require novel and creative approaches to resolution. New concepts and approaches may have to be developed.

Consider problems and issues faced on a day-to-day basis. Do these problems differ in nature? Can they be solved with clear directions or do they require training, critical thinking, and/or creativity?

Indicate the degree of Independence of Action this position has in conducting work.

  • Work is closely monitored by supervisor: detailed instructions and procedures are generally provided.
  • Work progress is monitored by supervisor: incumbent follows precedents and procedures, and may set priorities and organize work within general guidelines established by supervisor.
  • Results are defined: existing practices are used as guidelines to determine specific work methods; carries out work activities independently; supervisor is available to resolve problems.
  • Results are NOT defined: incumbent sets own goals and determines how to accomplish results with few or no guidelines to follow, although precedents may exist; supervisor provides broad guidance and overall direction.
Indicate the nature of Communication and Collaboration (interactions, and/or sharing of information to others) required in this position.
  • Internal to Working Unit: Contacts and information sharing are primarily within my working group, department, and/or college/campus/unit.
  • Internal to University: Contacts and information sharing are external to my department and/or college/campus/unit, but internal to the University (i.e., other colleges/campuses/units, central administration/services such as Human Resources, Payroll, Finance, Information Technology, etc.).
  • External to University for Scheduling/Coordination: Contacts and information sharing are external to the University for the primary reason of scheduling, coordinating services, etc.
  • External to University for Business Purposes: Contacts and information sharing are external to the University for the primary reason of conducting business relevant to the scope of my position (i.e., outreach, engaging external organizations, compliance, etc.)
Select all statements that apply. Your selection does not need to be a perfect fit. Please select the best fit based on the position’s primary duties and how you spend the majority of your time.


Does the position have any Additional Requirements

Provide any additional comments or information that was not covered in the prior sections that you feel are pertinent to this position, such as required licensures, accreditations, certifications, effort, skills, etc.

Best Practices

Things to keep in mind when completing your JRW:


  • Use a factual and impersonal style when writing your JRW
  • Write clear, concise, and complete sentences
  • Begin each task with a present tense action verb
  • Focus on key/critical responsibilities critical to the position
  • Base the content on the responsibilities and duties of the position
  • Include expectations of a fully proficient incumbent meeting all position requirements
  • Use explanatory phrases telling why, how, where, or how often to add meaning and clarity
  • Generally include 4-6 responsibilities

Do not...

  • Cut and paste information from this guide, job profiles, matrices or any other reference tools
  • Use narrative, first person form, or specific individual names
  • Use unnecessary words that add “fluff” to the duty
  • Base the content on what the person doing the position can or can’t do
  • Include one time, short-term assignments or an exhaustive list of all, minor, or occasional tasks
  • Write the JRW based on the desired classification outcome
  • Write the JRW as a procedure manual on how to do the position
  • Utilize template JRWs when positions have notable differences

Additional Resources

If you have questions about completing and submitting your JRW, please contact your supervisor or your HR Consultant.