Human Resources

Identifying and defining the role


Before recruiting for a new or existing position, it is important to invest time in gathering information about the nature of the role. It is also important to consider the skills and personal attributes needed to perform the role effectively.

What do I need to consider?

Before going ahead with your recruitment you may wish to consider other options for fulfilling your resources. If recruiting a new staff member is your preferred route, you should consider whether you could save time by using or tailoring existing job descriptions either in the department or elsewhere in the University. You should also plan ahead, particularly if you need HR to grade the role, as other teams may not always be in a position to meet your planned timescales.

Appointments to the posts of Head of Subject Area/Department and Associate Dean, are for a fixed term period of 5 years and filled by secondment from a permanent contract in another capacity within the University. The posts may be renewable and a Staff Approval form is not required for recruitment to these posts. Read more about  Appointing to Head of Subject Area, Head Of Department or Associate Dean.

What do I need to do?

To begin the process of appointing to a role, you need to follow these steps:

1)  Obtain authorisation to recruit

All positions must have the appropriate authority to recruit (by Executive Planning Group for new posts, Finance Department approval if the post is funded by contract, or approval from the Faculty if the post is a replacement or redesignation of another vacancy).If it is a new position, then it must be evaluated or confirmed (using Higher Education Role Analysis (HERA) before proceeding); and this is the responsibility of the Human Resources Department (HR).

For more information, please read the Staff Approval Process guidelines* on the University Finance pages, where you can also access the Staff Approval form for replacement posts.*

2)  Write a job description and person specification

Writing a job description means thinking not only about the content such as the tasks of the position, but also the purpose, the outputs required by the job holder and how it fits into the organisation’s structure. For guidance on writing a job description, please read writing a job description and person specification*

The UoP locally agreed academic role guidelines* are generic descriptors of the demands and responsibilities required of most academic staff. For academic and support roles, download the Job Description template.

Person Specification

It is also important to consider the skills and personal attributes needed to perform the role effectively. A person specification states the essential and desirable criteria for selection. This is based on a set of competencies identified as necessary for the performance of the job. The person specification should be used to inform the criteria you use to shortlist applicants.

In general, the person specification should include details of:

• skills, aptitude, knowledge and experience.

• qualifications – which should be only those necessary to do the job.

• personal qualities relevant to the job, such as ability to work as part of a team.

3)  Carry out a job hazard assessment

The Job description/person specification template includes a section on job hazard identification, which needs to be completed for each position, using the Job Hazard Information document, which is produced by the University Occupational Health team .  A copy of the form should be retained by the recruiting manager and copies returned to both HR and Occupational Health.

4)  Ensure the role is graded

The grading process covers the evaluation of a "new" job/role.  The definition of a new job/role is where no other similar jobs/roles exists within the University at the grade required. Information and guidance is available from Grading a new role*.

What else do I need to know?

As part of Recruitment and Selection training, a module is available on Job Descriptions, Person Specification and Grading. Find out about the full range of Recruitment and Selection training modules.

The Equality and Diversity Unit provide online training on Unconscious Bias Awareness. To request access to this please email You may also wish to consider completing the Harvard Bias Implicit Analysis Test. This test is anonymous and for your information only.

How do I get help?

Use this help form to get in touch (please note that you need to be logged into your UoP staff email account to access this form).


*Internal only