The position description

The steps that need to be undertaken to create an accurate, written position description are: conduct a job analysis; create a position description and create a person specification.

Suggested Reading before you start, read What do job seekers really want which explains four proven approaches to tackling employee engagement (other then money).

Conduct a job analysis
Before you recruit, you need to understand the position you are trying to fill and the type of person required to fill it. Essentially this is the basis of a job analysis.

A job analysis is the process through which the tasks being performed and the skills, knowledge and abilities required to perform them are determined. Job analysis information is used to support the full range of activities around recruiting and managing people.

You will need to consider the elements of work to be undertaken, whether they will change in the next 12 months, what skills are required, what reporting structure will need to be in place, and what remuneration is appropriate.

If you are filling an existing position rather than creating a new one, consider whether any elements of the position need to be altered. For example, are there additional responsibilities to include and should the remuneration remain the same?

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Outline the type of role or job to be done

In considering the nature of the work involved, you should think about:

Which parts of the farm system the employee will be working in: milk harvesting, animal husbandry and heifer rearing, feed management and delivery, pasture production and cropping, repairs, maintenance and development, administration and risk management? What are the specific tasks to be done in each of these areas?

Is the type of position you are trying to recruit for at the level of:

– Assistant Farm Hand
– Farm Hand
– Senior Farm Hand
– Production Manager
– Senior Production Manager; or
– Business Manager?

Matching job categories to the Pastoral Award 2010 employee classifications

Match a job category with its classification in the Pastoral Award 2010.

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Create a position description

A position description should include:

  • the job title;
  • a summary of the role and how it fits into the business;
  • details of the tasks to be undertaken for the role;
  • the reporting structures and working relationships that apply;
  • levels of performance required; and
  • may include, time lines for various projects or undertakings.

Written position descriptions are important because they set guidelines and expectations and are often used as the basis of assessing performance

Once you have outlined the employee’s duties it is important to check that you have described a ‘realistic’ job. Review the list of duties and estimate the time required to do each task. Is the overall job a realistic one? Consult with relevant team members to ensure that you have identified the job well.

You can build position descriptions for your farm – select a template from those that have already been developed:

– blank template (headings only)
– Assistant Farm Hand 
– Farm Hand 
– Senior Farm Hand
– Production Manager
– Senior Production Manager
– Business Manager

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Create a person specification

The person specification takes the position description and answers the question, ‘What human traits and experience are required to do this job well?’ The person specification may be a separate section of the position description or a separate document entirely; often (as with the templates provided) it is presented on the back of the position description.

Areas to describe may include some or all of the following:

  • skills – e.g. stock handling, tractor driving;
  • abilities – e.g. good people manager;
  • knowledge – e.g. feed budgeting; appropriate behaviours towards farm animals;
  • degree of initiative – e.g. can work unsupervised and deal with unforeseen problems;
  • education and qualifications – e.g. chemical user’s certificate, Certificate II in Agriculture;
  • work experience – e.g. has managed staff in a large herd system; and
  • personality traits and temperament – e.g. gets on well with others, good ‘team player’.

The person specification should have ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ components. The most important traits or experience are usually considered essential and the less important are desirable.

Adapt the position to the employee

Don’t expect that you can always replace one employee with another who has a similar skill set and interests. It is often necessary to adapt the position to the new employee taking into account the new skills he or she brings to the farm. This may also mean a change to other position descriptions in the business.

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The way the person will be engaged

Once a position description and person specification have been designed, it is important to identify how you will engage the person on the farm.

Will the position be filled by:

  • family member;
  • an independent contractor;
  • a share farmer; or
  • an employee.

This decision will have significant ramifications when it comes to determining how you will contract with the person and also the remuneration and benefits associated with the role (see the section on Employment and Reward)

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