How to Do a Job Analysis and Why It’s Important

A job analysis details the tasks, responsibilities, and skills needed to perform a job. It provides the facts you need to write an accurate job description and hire the right person. Here’s why job analyses are important and how to prepare them.

Writing a job analysis is something new small business owners often neglect to do before hiring an employee. In a rush to fill a vacant position or to fill new jobs as the business grows, employers often fall back on generic job titles and job descriptions instead of considering the specific tasks the new employee will need to do or the skills the job candidate will need to perform the job successfully.

Don’t fall into this trap. It can lead to hiring the wrong person. Bad hires are costly, stressful, and time-consuming to deal with. They’re also quite common. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 74% of small business employers say they’ve hired the wrong person for a job. Whether you’re hiring your first employee or your 10th, you can improve your chances of hiring the right job candidate by doing a job analysis.

What is a job analysis?

A job analysis is an in-depth study of the tasks, responsibilities, skills, and soft skills needed to perform a job successfully. The job analysis should be conducted as the first step in the recruiting process. Writing the analysis helps you clarify your needs and expectations. It also pulls together the information you will need to write a good job description.

RELATED: 5 No-Fail Hiring Tips for Small Businesses

How to Do a Job Analysis

To analyze the job, make a list of the tasks that you’ll expect the new hire to perform, and be clear about what you hope to achieve by having someone do these tasks. 

For each task, identify and list the skills, training, abilities, and soft skills needed to perform the task. You may know, for instance, that you need someone to help answer phones, take orders, and do other “routine” things. But the devil is in the details. Be clear about how that work will need to be done.

Will the employee need computer skills? Will they have to take care of orders that come in through an online shopping cart as well as over the phone? Will the employee have to pack up and ship the orders, as well? If so, will they have to lift anything heavy? Will those “other routine things” you’ll want done include ordering supplies and managing inventory?

What about answering questions about your products and services if customers call in, or replying to email inquiries or customer complaints? Will the person you hire need excellent spelling and grammar skills? Will they also be expected to update spreadsheets, manage your appointments, and make arrangements for travel and meetings?

What about language skills? Will the new warehouse supervisor you want to hire need to be fluent in some language other than English in order to communicate with the people they supervise? If you’re hiring a server or cook for your restaurant, will they have to be able to read and write English or need to be bilingual? (A friend and I had dinner one night in a Chinese restaurant on Long Island, New York, and when we got our check we couldn’t tell what each of us owed. The server had written our orders down in Chinese.)

Or perhaps you need an administrative assistant or secretary. In a small company, it’s not unusual for the admin or “secretary” to be a key player who knows how to complete documents for government agencies, screen calls, set up accounts for supplies, interact with vendors, or even do the bookkeeping. Will this person handle the office in the owner’s absence? Oversee and manage other employees? Many job applicants can type 50 wpm, but not everyone is cut out to handle these other tasks. 

Hiring technical or scientific staff? How skilled do they need to be? What specific programming skills will that web developer need? And what instrumentation will the chemist need to know? How much independent work will your tech or scientist be expected to do? Will they have to speak in public or deal directly with clients? Write scientific papers? Or will they just be following orders and doing routine work?

A thorough job analysis is equally important for the most senior of positions to be filled. Sales and management are critical to a company’s success, especially a small or growing enterprise. Experienced applicants bring to the company backgrounds that must be evaluated. Were they successful? Were they team players? Did they merely follow directions or did they take control of their previous work environment, devising innovative solutions to tough problems? Did they achieve the results desired, and can they get results for your company?

RELATED: How to Conduct Reference Checks on Job Applicants

Put your job analysis on paper

Don’t just “think” about skills the employee will need and the tasks you’d want them to do. Create a formal job analysis document.

If someone other than you will be supervising or interacting in some way with the new employee, have that person complete a job analysis, too. The supervisor may think of requirements that slipped your mind. Before you proceed, compare your analysis with theirs to identify differences in opinions on what’s needed. Doing so will help make sure you haven’t left out any major criteria.

Putting your needs, wants, and expectations in writing may take thought and time, but it’s one of the most important steps in the hiring process. If you aren’t clear about the skills and traits you need an employee to possess to do a good job, how can you find the right person to fill that job? The documentation of your needs will guide you throughout the entire hiring process, whether you do the recruiting yourself or hire a recruiter to find the right employee.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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