Role descriptions are not position descriptions

Government job applicants need to be aware that terminology changes can have a big impact. An example is a change in NSW where Role Descriptions have replaced Position Descriptions.

The difference is that Position Descriptions were highly individualised with an emphasis on specific tasks, whereas Role Descriptions are broader, describe roles in outcome terms, include the capabilities needed to perform the role and are not fixed,

Role Descriptions ‘facilitate employee mobility across the sector, promote sector consistency, support workforce planning, and broaden employees’ capabilities and provide them with new development opportunities.’ They provide a basis for job evaluation, recruitment, performance reviews and career planning.

You can learn more about Role Descriptions by taking the  elearning course.

What makes a Role Description useful is that it tells you:

  • What the purpose of the role is
  • What the key accountabilities are that a person needs to deliver
  • List the important internal and external relationships so you know who you have to deal with in terms of interpersonal skills
  • What the key challenges are so you understand what is likely to be demanding or difficult
  • Which capabilities from the NSW Capability Framework are most critical for the role so you don’t have to cover everything listed. These are called Focus Capabilities.
  • Adding further complexity to the application may be a list Occupation/profession specific capabilities.

Even if you’re not interested in the NSW public service, when looking at a job description it is useful to find out what the purpose is, the outcomes or accountabilities are, who the key relationships are, what the challenges are. This information then enables you to write a more targeted application.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.