Job Analysis and Job Descriptions
The is a formal system developed to determine what tasks people actually perform in their jobs. The purpose of a job analysis is to ensure creation of the right fit between the job and the employee and to determine how employee performance will be assessed. A major part of the job analysis includes research, which may mean reviewing job responsibilities of current employees, researching job descriptions for similar jobs with competitors, and analyzing any new responsibilities that need to be accomplished by the person with the position. According to research by Hackman and Oldham (Hackman & Oldham, 1976), a job diagnostic survey should be used to diagnose job characteristics prior to any redesign of a job.
To start writing a job analysis, data need to be gathered and analyzed, keeping in mind Hackman and Oldham’s model. Figure “Process for Writing the Job Analysis” shows the process of writing a job analysis. Please note, though, that a job analysis is different from a job design. Job design refers to how a job can be modified or changed to be more effective—for example, changing tasks as new technology becomes available.
The information gathered from the job analysis is used to develop both the job description and the job specifications. A job description is a list of tasks, duties, and responsibilities of a job. Job specifications, on the other hand, discuss the skills and abilities the person must have to perform the job. The two are tied together, as job descriptions are usually written to include job specifications. A job analysis must be performed first, and then based on that data, we can successfully write the job description and job specifications. Think of the analysis as “everything an employee is required and expected to do.”
Two types of job analyses can be performed: a task-based analysis and a competency- or skills-based analysis. A task-based analysis focuses on the duties of the job, as opposed to a competency-based analysis, which focuses on the specific knowledge and abilities an employee must have to perform the job. An example of a task-based analysis might include information on the following:
With task job analysis, the specific tasks are listed and it is clear. With competency based, it is less clear and more objective. However, competency-based analysis might be more appropriate for specific, high-level positions. For example, a competency-based analysis might include the following:
You can clearly see the difference between the two. The focus of task-based analyses is the job duties required, while the focus of competency-based analyses is on how a person can apply their skills to perform the job. One is not better than the other but is simply used for different purposes and different types of jobs. For example, a task-based analysis might be used for a receptionist, while a competency-based analysis might be used for a vice president of sales position. Consider the legal implications, however, of which job analysis is used. Because a competency-based job analysis is more subjective, it might be more difficult to tell whether someone has met the criteria.
Once you have decided if a competency-based or task-based analysis is more appropriate for the job, you can prepare to write the job analysis. Of course, this isn’t something that should be done alone. Feedback from managers should be taken into consideration to make this task useful in all levels of the organization. Organization is a key component to preparing for your job analysis. For example, will you perform an analysis on all jobs in the organization or just focus on one department? Once you have determined how you will conduct the analysis, a tool to conduct the analysis should be chosen. Most organizations use questionnaires (online or hard copy) to determine the duties of each job title. Some organizations will use face-to-face interviews to perform this task, depending on time constraints and the size of the organization. A job analysis questionnaire usually includes the following types of questions, obviously depending on the type of industry:
Once all employees (or the ones you have identified) have completed the questionnaire, you can organize the data, which is helpful in creating job descriptions. If there is more than one person completing a questionnaire for one job title, the data should be combined to create one job analysis for one job title. There are a number of software packages available to help human resources perform this task, such as AutoGOJA.
Once the job analysis has been completed, it is time to write the job description and specifications, using the data you collected. Job descriptions should always include the following components:
Be sure to include the pertinent information:
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