Create a Position Description

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An effective, well-written position description can:

  • Identify the skills and interests a member should have
  • Clarify expectations of the new member as well as staff
  • Explain the service assignment to the new member
  • Help the member understand their role in the organization

The first step in creating an inclusive national service program is to review your program's current position descriptions (VADs for VISTA). Before you can begin to recruit, be certain about the tasks that need to be accomplished, where the participant will serve, and other important details of the position.

During the recruiting process, a properly prepared position description will aid you in:

  • Crafting your recruitment message to target potential members who possess the skills your program needs
  • Writing appropriate interview questions
  • Determining whether a person is qualified to perform the essential functions of the position
  • Identifying reasonable accommodations to enable a person with a disability to perform the essential functions

Later, you can use the position description or VAD as a performance measurement tool, so you can look back and see what the member has accomplished.

Seven steps to a great position description
The best position descriptions are concise, use action verbs, and avoid jargon. Include these seven elements, and you'll be on your way to attracting the right members for your program:

  1. Ensure an accurate service assignment title is included.
  2. Write a 1-2 sentence summary of the assignment's general purpose and primary service assignment functions.
  3. List 5-8 essential duties in descending order of importance.
  4. Identify skills, interests, methods, and tools member will need or use to complete the work.
  5. Explain the position's relationship with others in the organization; address supervision and collaboration with partners.
  6. Provide other pertinent facts, such as required travel, physical requirements, working conditions, etc.
  7. Include other responsibilities or requirements, such as mandatory training, hours of service, etc.

Use these resources as a starting point for your own position descriptions:

  • AmeriCorps Position Descriptions (DOC) (or as a PDF) includes tips and two examples of AmeriCorps position descriptions. Attract the right member candidates. Use these samples as a starting point when writing your own AmeriCorps position description. This first position description was contributed by Easter Seals Wisconsin AmeriCorps Partnership (Madison, WI), an AmeriCorps*State program that addresses critical needs faced by people with disabilities and their families by providing respite care, volunteer management, and aquatic programs.
  • VISTA Position Descriptions includes tips and three examples of VISTA position descriptionsAttract the right VISTA candidates. A concise, accurate assignment description is one of the best ways to attract the right members for your program. Use these samples to help find VISTA members with the interests and skills you need.
    Sample Volunteer Coordinator Description (DOC) (or as a PDF), contributed by Schools of Hope project (Madison, WI), a VISTA program that trains and coordinates academic tutors for low-income students and students of color in the primary grades to improve academic achievement.
  • VISTA Family-School-Community Partnership Coordinator Assignment Description (DOC) (or as a PDF), contributed by Family-School-Community Partnerships (Madison WI), a VISTA program that works to close the achievement gap in schools serving low-income families by developing family-school-community partnerships.
  • Position Description Template (PDF) can be used as a starting point for your own position description, contributed by Amy Thompson (CAC Consulting, Austin, TX), AmeriCorps trainer and VISTA PSO Facilitator.
  • Sample VAD (DOC) (or as a PDF) is another example of a VISTA Assignment Description, developed by Project STAR and is also used in the VISTA Supervisor Orientation, developed by Education Northwest/Bank Street College(BSC).

 


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