Writing Task Statements for Job Descriptions

Task analysis describes in a way that is definable, measurable and communicable the basic units of work that are performed in a job. The task as a part of the function, is defined as a action or sequence of actions that contributes significantly to the completion of a specific work objective.

Tasks are to be expressed in the format of a task statement. The task statement is considered the single most important element of the task analysis process because it provides a standardized, concise format to describe worker actions. If done correctly, task statements can eliminate the need for the personnel analyst to make subjective interpretations of worker actions.

Task statements should provide a clear, complete picture of what is being done, how it is being done and why it is being done. A complete task statement will answer four questions. These questions can serve as a useful guide in writing accurate task statements. These four questions are:

  1. Performs what action? (verb)
  2. To whom or what? (object of the verb)
  3. To produce what? or Why is it necessary? (expected output)
  4. Using what tools, equipment, work aids, processes?

Begin each task statement with a verb to show the action you are taking. Use verbs that convey a very specific meaning. Do not use abbreviations. Use common, easily understood terms. Make statements so clear that a person with no knowledge of your department or the job will understand what is actually done.

Examples of Correct/Incorrect Task Statements

Incorrect: Ensures that residents receive medical attention when needed.
Comment: First, the what is ambiguous and gives no real information as to the action. Second, neither the expected output nor process explanations have been addressed. Finally, this statement leaves some doubt as to the real object of the action.
Correct: Administers minor medical treatments or medication (taking temperatures, treating minor cuts and bruises, giving aspirin or cough syrup) to correct or treat residents' minor health problems using common first aid supplies and using own discretion to determine need following established institutional medical department procedures.
Incorrect: Assists with the inspection of construction projects.
Comment: First, the what is ambiguous and gives no real information as to the action. Second, neither the expected output nor process explanations have been addressed.
Correct: Inspects construction operations (erosion control, concrete paving, asphaltic concrete paving, painting, fencing) to insure compliance with construction specifications and plans and verbal instructions for daily review by the supervisor.
Incorrect: Shake down clients for contraband.
Comment: Although in this statement the action verb and the immediate object are fairly clear, the expected outcome (why) is vague, and the using what tools and aids question remains unanswered.
Correct: Shakes down clients to identify and confiscate contraband (drugs, weapons, alcohol, money) by personal put down search of client and by visual inspection of residence, grounds and client's personal possessions (clothing, lockers, automobile) all within established laws and departmental procedures.