The ultimate guide to job analysis that every HR professional needs to know

Often teams complain about being short-staffed and needing extra support. Yet, there is a lot of ambiguity around what skills they really require and how these new hires would fit into existing teams.

To plug this gap efficiently, employers need to conduct a job analysis. 

Job Analysis, also known as job review or job classification, helps employers differentiate one role from another and determine which skills are required the most. The first step of job analysis is it involves gathering and analyzing information about the content and the human requirements of a proposed role, and the context in which the job is performed. 

This article seeks to provide a step-by-step strategy guide on how job analysis can be performed. Also, think of it as your #1 resource to help colleagues and teams in the company think about what they really need from a potential hire.

What is job analysis?

What tasks do individuals in a particular role perform and what are their duties? What qualifications and skills (aka competencies) must they have? What sort of materials, equipment, and work environment do they need to perform their job to satisfaction?

A job analysis systematically asks, seeks out, and records answers to these questions about a specific job. It also helps you identify the link between tasks and competencies for each job/role. 

A large part of this process involves research and data analysis. 

Ultimately, it helps construct a holistic picture of the essential requirements of any role, by understanding the job’s operations and responsibilities.

Important: Job analysis is not a review of how someone is performing in their role.

Upon successfully completing a job analysis, you will have a clear idea of the type of person and skills the role needs, which helps you prepare two essential documents — a job description (role focused) and job specification (talent-focused) – that will prove to be very useful in your company’s hiring process.  

Why is job analysis important?

Job analysis is a critical cog in the HR management wheel because it can help improve workflows ranging from recruitment, selection, and training to performance evaluation, compensation, and compliance.

Here are some ways in which it helps you secure better-suited candidates for a new role and strategize to improve employee experience:

  • Improves clarity about what sort of competencies are expected of the new hire
  • Helps you develop better job advertisements
  • Acts as the foundation for applicant assessment tools 
  • Offers some degree of legal protection for any risk related to candidate assessment and selection within the hiring processes
  • Enables employers to offer the right kind of resources, and training to new hires
  • Helps design the ideal compensation system for each member of the team
  • Defines the objectives of a job and sets KRAs for the employee, which helps in evaluating them for promotions and performance appraisals

Did you know: Many companies employ job analysts whose primary role is to conduct job analysis!

9 steps in a job analysis

  1. Figure out what jobs need to be analyzed.
  2. Choose which job analysis method(s) are a good fit for your organization.
  3. Collect data about job-specific tasks and competencies. 
  4. Categorize the role into specific positions and grade levels.
  5. Create a job description that outlines the duties, responsibilities, and functions of a specific job.
  6. Create a job specification that states the qualifications, personality traits, and skills needed to perform the job.
  7. Get both documents reviewed by a sample of affected employees and managers.
  8. Finalize the job specification and job description documents. 
  9. Sign and share the documents with the remotely-situated team using an eSignature platform.
  10. Periodically review the job descriptions and job specifications.

What are the job analysis methods?

Conducting in-depth job analyses may seem like an additional and time-consuming step, but the dividends are well worth the efforts. 

You typically use more than one method of data collection to get a better understanding of the job. On that note, the most common job analysis methods are:

  • Observation job analysis method: To understand each role better, you should observe incumbent employees in their natural habitat, going about their daily routines. This sort of first-hand information can help you pick out hidden or overlooked details about each employee’s role. 

The observation methods are further broken down into 3 sub-types which are:

  • Direct observation: Most reliable of these methods, direct observation requires the analyst to be physically present as the work is being done by an incumbent employee. Then, you may discuss the job’s tasks with the staff member’s supervisor. It is best to employ this job analysis method when the role features observable physical activities, such as a mechanic, weaver, or carpenter.
  • Work method analysis: This job analysis method is best for roles that are largely manual and repetitive such as those in the manufacturing assembly line. Here you analyze time, motion study, and micro motion.
  • Critical incident method: Here, you deep-dive into and analyze incidents frequently and seldomly experienced by the worker in their job, using the brainstorming technique. The JD and person specifications thus created can help frame situational interview questions.

Unfortunately, the information collected may be distorted if the employee is aware of the observation. For instance, they may work harder or do something out of the ordinary, when they know they are being watched. Another drawback is that in a short time frame it is difficult to observe all job duties and reactions.

  • Interview method: You need to conduct interviews with incumbent staff members. These sessions can be structured (with a standardized set of questions and analysis criteria) or unstructured. Here too, it helps to have a larger sample size so that you get the popular opinion. The only disadvantage is that since it involves a    face-to-face interaction, sometimes employees may exaggerate or omit vital details if they feel like it could affect their jobs.
  • Daily method: Instead of the job analyst observing the employee’s day-to-day activity, the staff can be tasked with recording these details on their own into a journal. Then, the supervisors and analysts can review these data points to arrive at the best description for the job.
  • Functional job analysis (FJA): This worker-focused and qualitative method is very specific about the tasks that need to be completed and the worker qualifications required to do so. And it requires the analyst to arrive at the complexity of job, based on the following 7 scales:
    • Data: How much and what kind of data does the worker need to obtain, use, and transform for the role?
    • People: Who will the employee interact with and in what capacity?
    • Things: What materials, environment, and machines are required for the role to be completed satisfactorily? 
    • Worker instructions: What sort of instructions does the employee need to perform the job?
    • Mathematical ability: How much of a mathematical mindset does the role demand? 
    • Reasoning: Does the role require a certain degree of analysis or logical reasoning?
    • Languages: What languages does the employee need to have aptitude in?

Questionnaires are used to collect the data. And this job analysis method is typically used by Government agencies as it makes it easier to set wage brackets and develop an employee succession plan.

  • Questionnaire method: This approach is the most commonly used one, simply because it is more affordable, faster, and easier to create and share with a large pool of employees. 

It involves getting employees to fill in a unique questionnaire that has queries about the tasks and requirements of their job. Responses to the questionnaire are checked by supervisors before being shared with the analyst.

The form can feature a mix of open-ended questions, multiple-choice questions, and checklists. 

It’s a great starting point for the job analysis process but you need to team it up with other methods that add reliability and authenticity to the findings. 

Major drawbacks to this job analysis method are that the questions may be misinterpreted, skipped, and/or inaccurately answered.

  • Job performance method: This is perhaps the most time and effort-intensive of the options discussed thus far, where analysts put themselves into the “work-shoes” of the employee in question to perform the tasks that are expected of the role. This offers a more authentic view of the job’s contextual factors including but not limited to its physical and emotional hazards and social requirements.

What information should you collect when performing job analysis?

  • Knowledge, skills, and experience required
  • Minimum qualifications required
  • Duties performed daily
  • Duties performed rarely
  • Machines, and other resources required for the role
  • Time spent on each duty
  • Physical energy input
  • Emotion energy input
  • Salary and compensation
  • Ideal work environment
  • Job satisfaction levels

When should you conduct a job analysis?

Not every new job requirement needs you to conduct a job analysis. 

But, in today’s dynamic job market with tech disruptions, high turnover, low employee satisfaction, and rapid organizational growth, it needs to happen more frequently as the nature of the job and expected compensation keeps changing.

This is why you need to review most positions at least annually, especially for roles where the requirements keep changing often (such as an IT job).  This will help keep your candidate selection tools up-to-date and valid.

You also need job analysis when onboarding or hiring a new member who will play a unique role that has not previously existed in your organization. 

Once you run the analysis, you can use Signeasy to share the JD with the candidate and the job specification with the hiring manager, anytime and from anywhere.

Find out more about onboarding new employees with electronic signature solutions.

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