02. Defining your requirements (ii): Job analysis
Job analysis is the process of breaking down a job into its component parts. It requires you to think carefully about all the tasks (eg book-keeping, selling, etc) undertaken by a defined job holder. Once you have considered all the tasks, think about the competencies, attributes and behaviours (eg imagination, initiative, ability to work under stress, etc) which you will be looking for in the person. You may find it helpful also to think about the importance of individual tasks, the frequency of tasks, the relative difficulty of tasks, and the consequences of error.
Job analysis is a critical element in the process of recruitment. When a post becomes vacant, there is the opportunity to look not only at what is involved in the job, but what should be involved, offering an opportunity to introduce change and to eliminate bad practice which may have crept in.
Here are some of the ways in which you can develop a set of criteria that will help you select an appropriate candidate for the job. In order to decide on criteria, information will be needed about the following factors:
- What does the job involve? What sort of tasks? What sort of skills will be needed to carry out those tasks: manual skills, clerical skills, selling skills, leadership skills? What sort of knowledge: equipment, software, foreign languages? What sort of attitudes? Does the jobholder need to be friendly, flexible, caring, etc?
- In what context is the job performed? Is it in constant contact with customers or other staff? What levels of responsibility are there? Who would the jobholder report to and what type of supervision will they require? How would working conditions impact upon the type of person who would fit the job requirements?
Once you have developed a list of factors, you can ask where you would be likely to find such information. In a smaller organisation (or department) of, say three or four people, most of the people working there are likely to know quite a lot about the requirements of the job, because they are already doing all or part of it. The growth of a company (or department) to beyond six or seven people means that it is not all that easy any more. A manager or supervisor may think they know what a job entails, but often only know what managing the job entails, and this is a quite different set of information.
You should look at the likeliest sources of effective job information. Often you can assume that the boss is the most likely person to know what the job requires; 'doing', however, is a different skill to managing. You may find that as you develop your management skills you become more distant from the job and need to look elsewhere for your information.
There are a number of sources of information, and methods that you can use to collect it, to help you develop a clear picture of the job requirements. Some of these are complex and may not seem worth the effort. Listed below are some of the sources of information from which you might gain a clearer picture:
- Someone who has held the job in the past - this person will have a great deal of information about the job, although it may be biased. In the case of a new job, this source is unavailable and you will need to consider the next most accurate source;
- The group or team in which the job is to be performed - in a smaller business unit, working under pressure, existing staff are likely to be doing the job already to some extent; and,
- The boss or the person who is directly responsible for supervising the new job - this may be the most inaccurate source of job-related information as that person may offer criteria related to their own personal preferences and not to the needs of the job. This is, however, the most common source of job-related information.
Where possible you should always use more than one information source when deciding what it is that the job requires. Do not make assumptions that you alone know what a job entails. You may be wrong.
Once you have decided on the sources of information you will use, you may wish to consider how you intend to collect it. When collecting information you need to use methods which will give the best possible picture of the needs of the post. You can use three main rule of thumb methods:
- Observation - this applies where there is already a person in the post to observe;
- Individual interview - again, this is of more use where there is already a postholder to interview; and,
- Group interview - this means involving the group or team who may be already doing the job between them and asking what it is likely to involve and what type of person would be needed to fill it.
Job analysis: Job Title: Office Manager
|Allocate work to suitable staff.|
Reception, word processing, book-keeping and other work as required.
Maintenance of equipment.
|Awareness of staff skills.|
Skills to operate machines.
Able to use equipment.
|Ability to prioritise time planning.|
Desire to complete jobs on time.
Willingness to join in.
Understand importance of cost control.