You have an open position. Fingers poised on the keypad, you're ready to write the job description. But wait… did you perform a job analysis for the role? If not, you skipped a crucial step.
What "job analysis" means
"Job analysis is a systematic process used to identify the tasks, duties, responsibilities and working conditions associated with a job and the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics required to perform that job." That definition comes from the U.S. Department of Labor. A job analysis is unique because it focuses on the actual job and its functions rather than the person who will be doing it. Although a job analysis sounds like a job evaluation, they are two different processes. Whereas the job analysis examines the job itself, a job evaluation compares the job to others within the company to determine the proper pay rate. That said, data gleaned from the job analysis can help inform pay decisions.
The importance of conducting a job analysis
Job analysis is a process that ensures a microscopic look at the position is taken so you will have all the information you need to successfully:
- Write the job description
- Recruit for the role
- Manage the employee's performance
Skipping this step can cause you to omit vital aspects of the role or provide incorrect information on the job description. If this happens, it can balloon into major problems – such as misleading job applicants about the job and causing new hires to quit as a result. A job analysis helps you:
- Identify the duties and responsibilities of the job
- Determine the competencies required for the role
- Ascertain training needs plus job classification and job grade levels
- Implement suitable pre-employment tests for the job
- Make appropriate personnel decisions, including during performance evaluations
- Gauge whether proper working conditions are present for the job that is being (or will be) performed
- Compare the job to other positions in the same department and job grade
- Deliver a smooth onboarding experience for each new hire
- Maintain a documented system for the above activities
The documentation from a job analysis can serve as a legal defense tool for your employment practices.
Your organization will be able to apply the data received from a job analysis to many initiatives, including:
- Workplace planning
- Recruitment and selection
- Performance management
- Career development
- Succession planning
- Health and safety
- Employee relations
- Employee termination
- Risk management
Tips for conducting a job analysis
Performing a job analysis can be very involved. So, let’s discuss the first three critical steps that need to be completed when preparing a job analysis document.
Collect information about the position
Below are ways to gather this information:
- Define the purpose of the job – meaning the reason it exists
- Directly observe an employee currently in the role – or observe employees in similar positions – and note the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) they use to do the job
- Have employees fill out a questionnaire about the KSAs needed for the role
- Gather input from the employee's manager/supervisor, immediate coworkers, customers, and other people the position is responsible for interacting with
- Talk to a subject matter expert (SME) within or outside of your company to gain deeper insight into the competencies and working conditions of the role
- Determine how the job will be executed, including methods, tools, or equipment
- Keep occupational standards in mind. To do this well, you need to consider the various rules and regulations when assessing the job requirements
If the position is new, work with SMEs to clearly define the parameters of the role. In the end, the goal is to assemble as much credible information as possible, and SMEs can help you achieve this.
Prioritize tasks and link them to competencies
Make a list of the required tasks for the job, based on the information received from employees, managers/supervisors, SMEs, and other relevant sources.
- Rate each task according to their level of importance.
- Determine competencies for the role, including those critical to the role.
- Rate the extent to which each competency is needed to perform the task.
- Remove any task that cannot be linked to one or more competencies.
Create an internal form for conducting a job analysis
This is essential to streamlining and formalizing the process. The job analysis form may include:
- Job title
- Name of the manager or supervisor
- Name(s) of people who will be interviewed for the job analysis
- An overview of the purpose of the job
- Details of the job – including what, when, and how tasks are done
- The extent to which the job requires the involvement of others, such as interactions with immediate manager and peers, people in other departments, executives, and customers
- Whether the role comes with decision-making authority or supervisory responsibility – and if so, to what extent
- How much physical effort the role demands, such as walking, standing, or lifting
- Work conditions, including any adverse conditions
- Education, training, and years of experience required
- Other requirements, such as licensure or bilingual skill
When do you need to conduct a job analysis?
You may need to update the job analysis if any of the following scenarios apply:
- The position is new
- The role you're looking to fill is different from the other positions in your company
- You've never done a job analysis for the role
- The last conducted job analysis for the position is outdated or unreliable
- The requirements of the job are likely to change quite often. Therefore, you should ensure the position's responsibilities are periodically reviewed (every 6 months or once per year).
You can perform a job analysis on an as-needed basis if the requirements of the role are relatively fixed.
The job analysis and the job description work as a team
After you've conducted a job analysis and you're confident about the results, you can create or update the job description for the position. Remember, poorly executing the job analysis can negatively impact the job description. This will result in a ripple effect leading to turnover. With that in mind, it's essential to carry out the job analysis in a systematic way that leaves no (or very little) room for error.