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Job Analysis and Position Descriptions

The key to any robust recruitment process is having a clear understanding of what you are looking for. This extends to both getting an understanding of the position itself, as well as what a potential successful candidate might look like. In the consultancy space, we often spend a great deal of time with clients to get an understanding of these requirements. But what is the process if you are conducting an internal recruitment exercise?

It stands to reason that having an in depth understanding of the role requirements, will better equip you in matching suitable candidates to the vacancy. In order to ensure this, a good first step is to conduct a Job Analysis. Quite simply, a Job Analysis is the process of gaining an understanding of the tasks, duties, nature of the work being done and finally, the qualifications or experience required to complete the role effectively.

How do you gain these details? The most common methods are:

  • Interviewing the current employee in the role, or conducting an exit interview with any staff who may be moving on;
  • “Shadowing” and observing employees and taking notes; and
  • Questionnaires and Surveys.

The process of Job Analysis can at first seem daunting or even perhaps not worth the effort. However, it does not have to be a difficult or time consuming exercise. Many small business owners (or HR Managers in bigger organisations) already have a fair understanding of what each role entails. That being said, simply having an informal discussion with someone in a similar role to the vacancy, can yield a great deal of information. Perhaps it might even require spending a day working alongside an employee of interest and recording points of note. From here, a Position Description can be created.

In the simplest terms, a Position Description, is the expression and explanation of a role within an organisation. A robust Positon Description can aid with both the recruitment of vacancies as well as performance management of existing staff members. A good Position Description will cover:

  • Title of the Role and who the person reports to.
  • Summary of the Role – A brief outline of the role itself.  
  • Primary Role Responsibilities - This section should consist of bullet pointed sentences, outlining in a broad way, the tasks and duties required of someone in that position.
  • Requirements of the Role - This can include education and work experience requirements, but can also extend to things such as personality expectations. For example, “Must have a clear communication style and be able to build strong relationships with stakeholders”.
  • Special Considerations – Also include any special considerations for the role for example, rotating rosters, working at heights, operating machinery etc.

Completed Position Descriptions should be made available to employees when requested and also updated regularly. It is also best practice when completing a recruitment exercise, to ensure that both the new employee and their direct supervisor “sign off” on the PD, prior to the new employee starting. Thereby significantly reducing ambiguity around the role requirements.

By investing time in these processes, you can actively improve hiring efficiency and staff retention. The net result of course, is a positive effect on your business’ bottom line. 

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