Idea 5: Prepare written job descriptions.

A written job description will keep expectations clear for both the volunteer and the organization. A good job description should include the job title, the purpose, activities, qualifications (including skills needed), location and schedule, time commitment, training provided, supervision and reporting requirements, and benefits. Many examples and templates are available to assist in preparing job descriptions. Job descriptions should be reviewed annually to make sure they are still accurate.

Voices from the field:

  • Ensure you portray the positions that are available for them to fill accurately and clearly as part of the screening process.
  • Make sure you will advise them:
    1. What is expected of them. Preferably have a job description
    2. The number of hours they can expect to spend each week, both direct instruction and preparation time.
    3. Length of time you expect them to commit to the program (e.g. 6 months, year, etc.)
  • Provide a clear job description and clarity re who they are responsible to and how to connect with that person easily.
  • Allow for flexibility – for example, if a tutor only has a month here, is away for three months and back for six months, keep a good record and tell them you can use them for short term or fill in positions – many tutors are retired and appreciate volunteering for an organization that understands that tutors may be reticent to make a solid yearlong commitment.

To learn more:

Beaudry, J. (2010). Developing job descriptions in Ontario’s community literacy agencies. Retrieved from
» Includes a template for developing job descriptions and sample volunteer job descriptions.

Graff, L. (2005). Best of all: the quick reference guide to effective volunteer involvement. Dundas, Ont.: Linda Graff & Associates.
»Includes a chapter on volunteer position design, emphasizing the importance of position design to success of volunteer involvement.

Points of Light Foundation. (2002). Fact sheet: Designing effective volunteer positions. Retrieved from
» Tips on creating and using position descriptions. Includes a sample worksheet.

Service Canada. (2011). Writing job descriptions. Retrieved from
A step-by-step process for writing job descriptions with a link to job description components.

Last updated: November 12, 2015