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Frequently Asked Questions Classification

  • OPM does not maintain a library of position descriptions. Please check with your servicing human resources office for position descriptions within your agency.
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  • A position description or "PD" is a statement of the major duties, responsibilities, and supervisory relationships of a position. In its simplest form, a PD indicates the work to be performed by the position. The purpose of a PD is to document the major duties and responsibilities of a position, not to spell out in detail every possible activity during the work day.
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  • Position classification standards encourage uniformity and equity in the classification of positions by providing a common reference across organizations, locations, and agencies. Classification standards may cover one or many occupations. They usually include a description of the work performed; official titles; and criteria for determining grades. Classification flysheets describe the work, but refer the user to other standards or guides for grading guidance. Some broad standards are issued as "functional guides" and provide criteria for determining the grade level of work in multiple occupations. Position classification standards and guidance covering most Federal positions are accessible on the internet at: http://www.opm.gov/fedclass/index.asp for white collar positions, and http://www.opm.gov/fedclass/html/fwsdocs.asp for trades, craft, and labor positions.
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  • Contact the hiring agency for guidance on providing this information. Typically, the hiring agency will accept your band in place of grade in the application process. Your band will be noted on your SF-50 in block 10 and/or 18. If you do not have a copy of your most recent SF-50, please contact your servicing human resources office.
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  • Position classification is a process through which Federal jobs (i.e., positions) are assigned to a pay system, series, title, and grade or band, based on consistent application of position classification standards.
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  • The classification website includes many useful documents, including the following handbooks: Additionally, your agency human resources office can answer most of your classification inquiries. To contact OPM, please send email to fedclass@opm.gov.
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  • The Standard Form 50 (SF-50), Notification of Personnel Action, contains your series, grade, and other information useful to you or required if applying for reinstatement. Refer to box 9 and/or 17 for the series or "Occ. Code." Box 10 and/or 18 provides the grade. If you do not have a copy of your last SF-50, you can obtain it from the National Personnel Records Center of the National Archives and Records Administration. Civilian personnel records are normally transferred to the National Personnel Records Center within 120 days after an employee's separation from Federal employment. To obtain copies of your SF-50s, send written authorization to: National Personnel Records, Annex 1411 Boulder Boulevard Valmeyer, IL 62295 Your request should contain, at a minimum, the following information:
    • Full name used during your Federal employment
    • Date of Birth
    • Social Security Number
    • Name of your employing Federal agency
    • Approximate beginning and ending dates of your employment
    • Identify the documents needed and explain the purpose of your request
    Finally, be sure to SIGN YOUR LETTER. No information will be released without a signed request. For more information, please visit their website at: http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/civilian-personnel/  If the records center does not have your records, or you have left Federal Employment within the last 120 days, contact your previous agency's human resources office.
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  • The Congressional personnel system does not use a classification system like the one maintained by OPM and used by most Federal agencies. Because of this, you do not have a series or grade. If you are applying for a job with another Federal agency, contact the hiring agency for further guidance. The hiring agency may ask you to identify the series and grade your position most closely matches. Your servicing human resources office may be able to provide assistance with matching your position.
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  • "Classification" and "qualifications" are often confused; however, each has its own distinct function.
    • Classification pertains to a position or job and the evaluation process that determines the appropriate pay system, occupational series, title, and grade/pay band.
    • Qualifications pertain to a person and describe the knowledge skills and/or abilities a person must have to be successful in a particular occupation.
    OPM publishes minimum qualifications for white collar jobs in the Federal service in the Operating Manual: Qualifications Standards for General Schedule Positions. For trades, craft, and labor positions, refer to The Job Qualifications System for Trades and Labor Occupations. HR specialists use these manuals to evaluate applicants for vacant positions in the Federal service.
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  • A position which has been identified as "supervisory" is typically classified by applying the General Schedule Supervisory Guide, online at http://www.opm.gov/fedclass/gssg.pdf. This guide can be used to evaluate the grade level of General Schedule supervisory positions, regardless of the occupation.
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