The Advance Project

Enhancing the academic careers of women in science, technology, engineering, & mathematics

Think Big, We Do.
Rhode Island Seal

 This is an archived site.

Before: Defining & Writing the Position Description


Why / Research Rationale

Develop broad hiring goals to cast a wide hiring net.


Write a clear and specific position description about primary job responsibilities; overview of the department/institution; and commitment to diversity in students, teaching, and research — combined with flexibility in qualifications for the position


Write 2 position descriptions – what is minimally necessary vs. what is desirable. Assess if the “desirable” description will unnecessarily limit the applicant pool.


Use the words “preferred” vs “required” & “should” instead of “must” to broaden the applicant pool without significantly altering the nature of the position (Turner, 2002).


Strategize support of your new hire – cluster hiring, collaborative networks, and facilities

To avoid weeding out applicants by sounding austere and inflexible.


Your goal is to attract applicants by making a favorable impression . Simple linguistic conveniences can help:

  • provide detailed, relevant information both about the posted job and the institution (Zusman & Landis, 2002)
  • persuade applicants to generate a favorable impression of what the institution has to offer them (Roberson, Collins, & Oreg, 2005)
  • try to sell the department/institution to an applicant rather than attempting to screen them out (Williamson, Lepak, & King, 2003)
  • endorse diversity at all levels versus displaying tokenism at lower levels (Avery, 2003) while revealing your motivation for doing so (Avery & McKay, 2006).


Create a performance-enhancing environment for everyone: Underrepresented faculty placed in a solo-status position where they are negatively stereotyped can suffer damage to their performance simply because they are alone, without the influence of any other ability-related factors (Keifer, Sekaquaptewa, & Barczy, 2006; Thompson & Sekaquaptewa, 2002). By strategizing appropriate support social and resource structures for everyone in the department, you can set your new hire up for success, instead of failure.

Copyright © 2016 University of Rhode Island.

The University of Rhode Island
Think Big, We Do.
A-ZDirectoryContact UsJump to top