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

Successful recruitment of a student employee includes an accurate position description, advertising to a diverse pool of applicants, a fair selection process, and appropriate pay. Every hire is an opportunity to add to your department’s team, and meet your department’s current and changing needs. The tips and resources provided here will help you through the recruitment process.

Writing Effective Position Descriptions | Where to Advertise a Student Job | The Selection Process | Determining the Rate of Pay | Student Employee Wage Cap Exceptions | Hiring Students


Writing Effective Position Descriptions

A position description clarifies the position’s purpose, defines essential functions of a job, and provides a framework for assessing job performance. It should list the minimum qualifications and set clear expectations for the employees you hire. The position description should be reviewed, written and/or revised for each recruitment; it can then be modified to create a position announcement for advertising the opening.

Consider the following prior to writing the job description:

  • What types of prior experience or training will enable students to perform the job duties?
  • 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? 

Position descriptions should provide realistic expectations for employees. Along with minimum qualifications, consider if any of the following should be included:

  • Physical requirements: lifting, walking, sitting, standing, repetitive motions, etc.
  • Soft skills: Ability to handle customer service interactions, written communication, or organize disparate points of incoming information. 
  • Work environment: Quiet office setting, frequent interruptions, outside in all types of weather, etc.
  • Special licenses or certifications that are preferred or required
  • Minimum GPA set by department. Note: Must be included in recruitment announcement or provide sufficient advanced notice of a change in policy or practice

The job description should be used to form interview questions to determine the presence of preferred skills, knowledge, and abilities. 

Note: Position duties outlined in 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.

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 “Handshake,” the online jobs database maintained by Advising & Career Services. Supervisors can submit a position announcement, manage applications, and schedule interviews. Supervisors can call or email to have a position removed once the vacancy has been filled. More information about posting positions is available from Advising and Career Services.

The Selection Process

Supervisors may consider forming a selection committee of department members when hiring student employees. We recommend including 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 position description. The following resources will help create an effective application screening and interviewing process:

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 $18.50 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 Employee Level (See Level Description Below)

Minimum Maximum
1. Student Employee Entry Level $14.00 $15.25
2. Student Employee Intermediate Level $14.25 $16.25
3. Student Employee Advanced level $14.50 $18.50
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 $18.51 $22.00
5. Student Employee Performing at an Event $18.51+


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.

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.

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 $18.50 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" email 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 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.

Hiring Student Employees

Student employees are hired using the Electronic Personnel Action Form (EPAF). Guides for using this system are linked below: