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Writing Accurate and Useful Position Descriptions

A good position description can make the recruitment and placement of volunteers so much easier, but this foundation component of a program is often overlooked or put into a folder and never used.

This webinar will start with the basics of what should be included in a position description and will help you create or update position descriptions for all of your volunteer opportunities.

Once those position descriptions are created – use them! Learn how accurate and up-to-date position descriptions can help you recruit and train volunteers, and how they can help with retention and the development of leadership positions within your volunteer engagement program.

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Writing Accurate and Useful Position Descriptions

  1. 1. Writing Accurate andUseful PositionDescriptionsJennifer Bennett @JenBennettCVACVA, Senior Manager, Education & TrainingMatt Wallace @ItsMattWallaceSenior Associate, Nonprofit Relations Page
  2. 2. To hear the presentation by phone call:Writing Accurate and Useful PositionDescriptions (415) 655-0056 Access Code: 690-784-930 Jennifer Bennett @JenBennettCVA CVA, Senior Manager, Education & Training Matt Wallace @ItsMattWallace Senior Associate, Nonprofit Relations Follow this webinar on Twitter to join the conversation! Hash tag: #VMlearnJennifer Bennett, CVA, Senior Manager, Education & Training 2
  3. 3. Agenda• Components of a position descriptions• Getting started writing or updating position descriptions• Putting position descriptions in their place• Just don’t put them in a drawer• Using position descriptions in recruitment, training and retention 3
  4. 4. Parts of a Position Description• Title – Volunteer is a staff category, not a title• Team or Department – Reports to/Works with• Description of role – Brief but explains what the position does• Primary Responsibilities – Secondary Responsibilities• Skills and Experience – What a volunteer needs to know to be successful• Time Commitment – Hours/week, months 4
  5. 5. Involve OthersBefore you get started create a plan and timeline for creating or updating volunteer position descriptions.• Recruit a volunteer with HR experience• Have volunteers write their own position descriptions – Do the position descriptions written by volunteers match your expectations for the position?• Involve program managers, team leaders – Create a committee with representatives from each constituent groups to coordinate the process 5
  6. 6. Put Positions in Their PlaceIntegrate volunteer positions into the organization structure.• Use the reports to/works with section to determine how positions fit together.• Can positions be divided into new positions, graded levels or leadership positions? – Encourages volunteers to grow or take on more responsibilities. 6
  7. 7. Responsibilities• Primary responsibilities – Day to day activities – Recurring responsibilities – What are volunteers expected to do in this position? – What behaviors or actions are required for this position?• Secondary responsibilities – Actions or activities that are required of all volunteers – Team or program responsibilities 7
  8. 8. Creating Accurate ResponsibilitiesWhat responsibilities or activities are• Missing?• Appear on more than one position description?• Happen each shift or day? Seasonally or annually?Have they been included? What’s missing? – Seek feedback from constituents and others from within the organization. 8
  9. 9. Skills and Experience + TrainingAll the things a volunteer needs to know to be successful in the position.• Skills can be position or team specific – May include things that can only be learned in your organization or during a shift (on the job training.)• Experience or characteristics a volunteer needs to have to be a good fit for the position or organization• Career skills – Are volunteers expected to have these skills before they start, or can they be gained during service? 9
  10. 10. Don’t Just Put them in a Drawer!Use Volunteer Position Descriptions to recruit.• Tell prospective volunteers how they fit into the organization.• Outline the day to day work a volunteer can do.• Explain what skills you’re looking for, and what volunteers can learn.• Share the full position description with prospective volunteers so they can better under-stand what’s expected of them. 10
  11. 11. Don’t Just Put them in a Drawer!Use them to develop application and interview questions.• Create application questions to investigate a prospective volunteer’s previous experience.• Develop interview questions that explore a volunteer’s ability to fulfill the positions primary responsibilities.• Ask questions that help you understand how well a volunteer might work with the team or in the organization structure. 11
  12. 12. Don’t Just Put them in a Drawer!Use them to inform orientations and develop trainings.• Use primary responsibilities and skills to develop training materials and courses. – What does a volunteer need to know before they start work, and what needs to be learned on the job?• Integrate secondary responsibilities into orientations. – Standards and norms• Reports to/Works with can also help volunteers better understand the structure of the organization. 12
  13. 13. Position Descriptions and RetentionAn accurate position description can help you recruit and keep more of the right volunteers.• Clear positions and responsibilities can help mitigate difficult situations with volunteers. – Everyone is on the same page.• Give your volunteers room to grow – Graded or leveled positions, leadership positions, an opportunity to take on more responsibility or have a role to work towards.• Program managers and team leaders can better understand how volunteers fit into the organization. – Build support for volunteers, and the work they do. 13
  14. 14. ResourcesLearning CenterFind upcoming webinar dates, how-to videos and morehttp://learn.volunteermatch.orgVolunteerMatch CommunityAsk and answer questions after the webinar – use keywords Position Description,Volunteer Management Webinar Topics:•Where do I go from here? Evolving your Volunteer Program for moreInvolvement•The New Volunteer Manager’s Toolkit•Successful Volunteer Interview Strategies 14
  15. 15. Thanks for attending!Join us online: Like us on Facebook: Follow us on Twitter: @VolunteerMatch Visit Engaging Volunteers, our nonprofit blog: any questions contact:Jennifer Bennett(415) 15
  16. 16. Volunteer Position Description TemplateTitle: (Remember Volunteer is a staff category not a title. Example: Lead Science Lab Mentor)Department or Team:Responsible to:Works With:Description of Role: (Be brief but accurate. How does the position fit into the organization? What impact does theposition make?Primary Responsibilities: (Day to day actions and recurring responsibilities)Secondary Responsibilities: (team or organizational responsibilities, actions required of all volunteers)Skills/Qualifications Needed: (What does a volunteer need to be able to do to be successful?)Desired Experience: (Experiences, characteristics or traits that can help a volunteer succeed)Time Commitment: (Hours per week, length of commitment)
  17. 17. Sample Position DescriptionTitle: Crisis Counselor- 24 Hour HotlineDepartment or Team: Crisis DepartmentReports to: Jane Doe, Crisis Department CoordinatorDescription of Role:Crisis counselors possess a passion for ending sexual assault. Crisis counselors are advocates, educators, and asupportive ear.Crisis Counselors provide counseling support to survivors and significant others dealing with crisis surroundingissues of sexual assault on the 24-hour hotline or at Jefferson and Episcopal Emergency room.Primary Responsibilities  Successful completion of 65-hour Sexual Assault Counselor Certification  Provides Primary Crisis Response Counseling (e.g. Emergency Room, and Hotline).  Monitors and ensures that hospital, police and legal response to victims is appropriate.  Advocates for proper treatment of victims of sexual assault.  Must sign up for at least 15 hours on the hotline.  For each call counselors must fill out Client Form.  Within 48-hours after each shift, the counselor will mail or fax the Client Referral Form to the office at 5778 First Street.  Additionally, counselor must send an email that outlines the following: Date and time of shift Number of crisis calls received Number of informational calls Number of hospital support visits Number of unrelated callsSecondary Responsibility  Attendance at monthly volunteer meetings  Participates in appropriate staff development activities.  Stays abreast of information concerning sexual assault issues.  Stays abreast of information concerning legal issues, resources and protocols, crisis counseling techniques and interventions.Skills Required  Ability to complete 65-hour Sexual Assault Counselor Training  Ability to commit 15 hours a month for at least one year  Ability to attend all training dates  Access to phone line  Ability to manage client paperwork  Commitment to, and strong passion, to end sexual assault  Background check require  Ability to work independently Desired experience  Empathetic listening skills  Strong communicator  Ability to manage self-care Time Commitment The 65-hour Sexual Assault Counselor Certification training occurs on Tuesdays and Thurs from 6p-9p and Saturdays from 9a-3p April 1, 2011-May 2, 2011 Upon successful completion of the 65-hour Sexual Assault Counselor training, volunteers must commit to at least 15 hours per month on the hotline for at least one year.
  18. 18. Sample Position DescriptionTitle: Farm and Wilderness GuideDepartment: Environmental EducationReports to: Jane Doe, Director of Environmental EducationWorks with: Environmental Education GuidesDescription of Role:Farm and Wilderness Guides inspire in youth an awe for nature, love of animals, and willingness to taste newfoods from the garden. Guides teach ecological concepts, and organic farming to youth ages 7 to 10 who visit usduring a half-day field trip.Primary Responsibility:  Lead groups of 8 to 10 youth on hikes and tours of the farm and garden.  Teach ecological concepts and organic agriculture that is age appropriate using experiential education technique.  Manage safety.Secondary Skills:  Attend morning check-in meeting and afternoon check-out  Effectively assist adult chaperones attending trip with youth  Attendance at special events as neededSkills needed:  Passion for nature, organic farming, and youth empowerment!  Ability to engage youth.  Ability to manage group of 8 to 10 youth.Desired Experience:  Extensive training provided  Previous experience with youth a plus!  Knowledge of California native plants and ecosystems, organic farming, and ecology a plus!  Passion for the mission, environmental education, and youth empowermentTime Commitment:One half day each week
  19. 19. Sample Position DescriptionTitle: ESL Conversation Club CoordinatorDepartment or Team: Literacy ProgramResponsible to: Adult and Family Literacy Program CoordinatorWorks With: Literacy program staff (paid and volunteer) and clients/studentsDescription of Role: This position enhances the library’s services to English language learners by overseeing andimplementing volunteer-led Conversation Clubs. By providing this service this position enhances the library’s positionas an essential community agency. The Club Coordinator will also have the satisfaction of knowing that he or she haschanged lives, and brought a much-needed service to library clients.Primary Responsibilities:  Select, develop and lead a multi-talented team to enhance the library’s English Conversation Clubs.  Develop additional curriculum materials for English Conversation Clubs.  Expand the library’s role as an important community agency and become familiar with local adult education schools/resources.  Increase the community’s awareness about library services, programs and use of resources.Secondary Responsibilities:  Complete initial and ongoing training for Conversation Club Coordinators.  Meet monthly with each Conversation Club leader/team member.  Track attendance at Conversation Clubs  Log hours spent planning and conducting Conversation Clubs  Report any concerns or conflicts with other Conversation Club staff to Volunteer Coordinator.Skills/Qualifications Needed:  Knowledge and experience in the field of English language learning or another teaching discipline.  High degree of initiative and creativity.  Ability to develop and work with a team.  Leadership skills.  Experience in using Microsoft Office, internet and e-mail.Desired Experience:  Previous experience with adult education.  Previous experience creating or running programs, or organizing projects.Training:Initial training and orientation will be provided, as well as additional support and training to be developed as theprogram grows.Time Commitment:12 month commitment. Time per week flexible as determined by goals and objectives. Additional time spent meetingwith Conversation Club leaders/team members.