Develop the role description
The role description provides information that will help a job seeker decide if they are interested in applying, such as the current context of the role and how applicants will be assessed.
The role description is often the first contact a job seeker will have with your agency, so it needs to be candidate friendly.
The Recruitment and selection directive states the role description must outline:
- a description of the duties to be undertaken and the key capabilities against which applicants’ merit will be assessed
- any mandatory qualifications or requirements including whether an applicant must possess any particular attributes to be eligible for appointment (for example, roles where an agency has identified that the position is to be filled by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander applicant)
- the location and duration of the vacancy (e.g. permanent, temporary, availability of flexible working arrangements etc.)
- any pre-employment checks (including disciplinary history and criminal history) that may be undertaken
- any probationary period which may apply
- information regarding the obligations of newly appointed public service employees to disclose employment as a lobbyist.
Role descriptions should generally not be longer than 2 pages.
Be honest in describing a job opportunity. Provide applicants with realistic information about what the job involves; the work to be undertaken, the job environment, the benefits and the challenges. Accurate information can assist applicants in appropriate self-selection (in or out).
Inconsistency between the marketed opportunity and the reality of the job can lead to employee dissatisfaction and, particularly with high calibre employees, early exit.
Be clear and concise, avoiding the use of jargon and ‘public service speak’. Consider whether the terms you’re using will be equally understood by internal and external candidates. References to location should be the city/town/region.
Have a look at what else is out there—what works and what doesn’t?
Template and examples
- Role description template and guide
- Role description example – AO5 Policy Officer, Legislation and Policy
- Role description example – AO7 Principal Consultant, Public Service Commission
- Role description example – AO5 Finance Officer, Queensland Health
The role description provides the opportunity to:
- show people where they will fit into the bigger picture
- demonstrate how the role they’re considering contributes to outcomes for Queenslanders
- state whether the work is a direct client contact role or otherwise.
Your attributes for success
List the capability/attributes applicants are being assessed against. Keep the list to a reasonable amount (no more than five) and avoid describing each attribute as having a multitude of diverse components.
Focus on the most important attributes rather than every desirable competency for the role. Distinguish between what the person must bring to the role and what they can learn on the job.
Ensure the statements are drafted to reflect the sought after capability—not drafted to suggest or require direct experience in the advertised or other public sector role.
Be clear and consistent in your use of terminology:
- proven or demonstrated means someone has actually performed the activity/used the skill
- ability to (rapidly) acquire means someone has skills/abilities that will allow them to undertake a task or gain specific knowledge
- thorough or high level means an advanced level of skill or knowledge.
Conditions of the role
Highlight a few of the key conditions/entitlements of the role or the working environment; focusing on things you think will help attract applicants e.g. hours per week/work-life balance /potential for flexible working arrangements/leave entitlements (including additional leave for remote/regional areas).
For hard-to-fill roles, consider whether the directive on attraction and retention incentives should be applied. If so, this is the appropriate place to highlight the extra incentives applicable to the role.
Interested in applying?
This section should explain the process for applying for the role and what the application should contain.
The information requested for the application is at the discretion of the agency It is not mandatory to ask applicants to provide a written response to identified selection criteria. In deciding what to request, consider what information will assist the panel in confirming if a candidate holds any mandatory qualification or registration required for the role and what other information will facilitate the first phase of assessment.
If there are mandatory requirements for the role, clearly explain that only applicants who hold the mandatory requirements will be considered. When asking for a resume, consider whether referee details are required at this point. Potential private sector applicants may be reluctant to provide referee details at such an early stage, preferring to provide such information later (e.g. if offered an interview).
If asking for a cover letter, emphasise that this should not be a restatement of the resume, but an opportunity for the applicant to tell you about themselves, why they’re interested in the role and what they will bring to it, including highlighting the transferability of skills and experience.
This section should provide any additional information that is relevant to the applicant, but is not role critical information.