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Position Description, Recruitment, Selection and Setting the Pay Rate for Student Employees

Effective Recruiting for a Student Position

The first step in the successful recruitment of a student employee begins with the development of an accurate position description. The more you know about what you expect from the position and what the position entails, the better your ability to hire the best candidate for the position.  Whether you are creating a new position or replacing an established job, every hire is an opportunity to add to your department’s team.  Your preparation in reviewing your department’s current and changing needs will help you establish the needs and requirements for your student employment opportunity.

Here are some questions to consider prior to writing the job description (even in cases when the position vacancy is a replacement):

  • What types of prior experience or training will enable students to satisfactorily perform the job duties for which the department is hiring?
  • How much time and capacity does the department have to train a student employee?
  • Is the department looking for someone whose field of study is related to the department’s work? 
  • Does the department need someone with prior customer service experience or someone who has a strong aptitude in this area? 
  • Does the department need an employee with strong interpersonal skills?
  • How important are analytic or problem solving skills to the department’s needs?
  • Based on the department' structure, will the student employee work independently or need close supervision? 

Supervisors will find that student applicants have a variety of work histories. For some students this will be their first paid employment, while others may have worked primarily in fast food or retail settings; some may have never worked in the United States before and have different cultural expectations, others may be returning to school after working for years. Some students are motivated to find campus employment related to their area of study, while others want a job on campus simply because the job is more flexible and convenient to their classes. Thinking through your department’s needs and goals in advance will help you find the right match for your positions.  

Writing Effective Position Descriptions

Recommended Student Position Description Template

An accurate position description is the key to clarifying the position’s purpose in your department and defining the essential functions of the job. It will also list the minimum qualifications that you want to establish for the position and the clear expectations you have for the student employee you hire. The position description should be reviewed, written and/or revised for each recruitment; it can then be easily modified to create a position announcement for advertising the opening.

Well-written position descriptions are a versatile tool for supervisors.  For example, if a worker must patrol the campus and parking structures, lift objects, or perform repetitive motions, this should be stated clearly in the job description, along with minimum qualifications (MQs).  Job descriptions should also include required “soft skills,” such as the ability to handle customer service interactions or organize disparate points of incoming information. MQs are especially critical when special licenses or skills are required, and they provide the basis for the initial screen of applications. 

Departments may set their own grade point average (GPA) requirements for employment. Departments must include the requirement in the recruitment announcement or provide students with sufficient advanced notice of a change in policy or practice.

In addition, the job description should be used to form interview questions to determine the presence of the preferred skills, knowledge and abilities. Position descriptions are used as a framework for assessing employee performance. There are resources on the HR website to assist in writing position descriptions: http://www.pdx.edu/sites/www.pdx.edu.hr/files/hr_pm_developing_position_description.pdf

Where to Advertise a Student Job

The easiest and most effective way to reach a large audience of students is to post the position on “CareerConnect,” the office of Advising & Career Services’ online jobs database. Supervisors can submit a position announcement and use the optional web-based features to manage applications and schedule interviews. Typically positions are posted for one month, but supervisors can call or email to have a position removed once the vacancy has been filled.  More information about posting positions is available at: http://www.pdx.edu/careers/jobs-databasecareerconnect.  

The Selection Process

Supervisors may consider formulating a selection committee of department members when hiring student employees.  These committees may be comprised of as few as two or three people to review applications and participate in interviews.  It is important for the hiring department to be thorough in evaluating candidates against the minimum qualifications and in light of the position description.  There are helpful methods for effective application screening and interviewing. Please complete a Search and Screen Matrix for your search and be sure to maintain student employment records as outlined in the section Student Employment Records and Retention. Applicants should also be sent a link to the EEO survey (Suggested Email Language). Please consult with your department’s HR Partner for best practices. For additional interviewing tips see the HR websitehttp://www.pdx.edu/hr/sites/www.pdx.edu.hr/files/Interview%20Tips.docx.

Determining the Rate of Pay - Student Wage Structure

Position duties, defined in a well-written and up to date position description, are the basis for determining placement in the Student Wage Structure and setting student pay rates.

  • Students must be paid at least minimum wage.
  • Any wage rate over $16.50 per hour requires advanced approval by Human Resources.

Position level is determined by the following: duties assigned, level of skill and years of experience required.

STUDENT PAY RANGES EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2016

Student Employee Level (See Level Description Below)
Minimum Maximum
1. Student Employee Entry Level $9.75 $11.75
2. Student Employee Intermediate Level $10.00 $12.75
3. Student Employee Advanced Level $10.25 $16.50
The following two levels require a pre-approval by Human Resources
You must submit a "Request to Pay a Student Employee above The Wage Cap" for pre-approval
4. Student Employee Pre-Professional Level $16.51 $20.75
5. Student Employee Performing at an Event
$16.51 +

1. STUDENT EMPLOYEE ENTRY LEVEL
Assumes basic knowledge required to perform such tasks as, but not limited to: data entry, filing, general office work, retail services, lawn care, making deliveries, mail processing, photocopying, and basic computer operations. Often performed within the first year of service in the position.

2. STUDENT EMPLOYEE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL
Positions require special training that a student may have acquired while working in an Entry level position within the department or have gained the training in some other way or may be complex in nature. Work is analytical, technical, and based on acquired skills and/or certifications. Requires minimum of 1+ years of experience.

3. STUDENT EMPLOYEE ADVANCED LEVEL
Positions require that a student possess a special skill or combination of special skills that may have been acquired through experience prior to being hired or through course work or both. Provides leadership in area of expertise. Positions work independently and are highly technical in nature. May act as lead to other student employees. Preferred 2+ years of experience.

4. STUDENT EMPLOYEE PRE-PROFESSIONAL LEVEL (REQUIRES PRE-APPROVAL BY HUMAN RESOURCES)
Highly technical and specialized area of expertise is required. Will perform work with expertise generally surpassing that needed for an advanced level. This work will be pre-professional in nature and will entail the most complex and intricate tasks performed by student employees at the University. Pre-professional positions will be filled as an exception that may happen on rare occasions and must be authorized by Human Resources.

5. STUDENT EMPLOYEE PERFORMING AT AN EVENT (REQUIRES PRE-APPROVAL BY HUMAN RESOURCES)
This job class is suitable for work involved in performing at events, such as but not limited to, playing musical instruments, DJ, etc. Performance based positions may be filled on rare or infrequent occasions and must be pre-authorized by Human Resources to qualify for a pay rate exception.

Student Employee Wage Cap Exceptions

To pay an hourly student employee a wage more than $16.50 per hour requires special approval from the Office of Human Resources.   Click here for The Request to Pay a Student Employee above The Wage Cap form.

  • A Wage Cap Exception, once authorized, will continue for that student employee in that position and at the approved pay rate for the student's duration of employment, unless a time frame is stated in the Wage Cap Exception Form or the pay rate is superseded by an authorized successor Wage Cap Exception request.
  • To request a Wage Cap Exception hiring departments will route the signed and scanned to the Student Employee Wage Cap Exception Form specially designated "overcap" e mail at this address:  overcap@pdx.edu.  The Employment Team will review the request and respond directly to the requesting department for further clarification, modifications and/or approval.  The Employment Team will process internally to the payroll unit.
  • The Request to Pay a Student Employee above The Wage Cap must be received in HR by the 10th day of the month to be reviewed and approved for an implementation date of the 16th of the same month.   The new pay will be effective in the paycheck of the following month.  Example:  If The Request to Pay a Student Employee above The Wage Cap is received in HR by 7/10/16 the new pay rate will be implemented beginning with work performed on 7/16/16 and be applied to hours worked during  the pay period from 7/16 to 8/16 and reflected in the paycheck received on 8/31/16.

For questions about the Wage Cap Exception process, please contact askhrc@pdx.edu, or call HR at 503-725-4926, and your question will be routed to the appropriate team member.

University Work Restrictions for Hourly Student Employees

  • Student employees may not work more than 40 hours per week.  However, it is highly recommended that on average students work less than 20 hours per week.
  • International students on F-1 visas are restricted by federal law to work no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session.
  • Position duties outlined as part of the SEIU Collective Bargaining Agreement for Classified Staff may not be filled with student employees.  Questions regarding this may be directed to the Employment Manager or the Compensation Manager in the Office of Human Resources at 503-725-4926.