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Understanding What Works: Identifying Requirements Through Job Analysis
What is Job Analysis? Organizations routinely invest considerable time, effort, and resources to select, develop, and maintain an effective workforce. For example, a recent report estimated that organizations spend over $100 billion annually on training initiatives. However, for such efforts to be successful, they must be clearly linked to critical job requirements. The techniques used to identify such requirements are known collectively as job analysis.
The typical job analysis seeks to answer two key questions:
- “What tasks do job incumbents perform?”
- “What knowledges, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) do workers need to perform these tasks effectively?”
In sum, most job analyses provide information about the characteristics of both the work performed, as well as the characteristics needed by workers to be successful in their jobs. This information is often collected through a variety of methods, including surveys, focus groups, interviews, or observations of actual job performance.
Our Experience and Approach
HumRRO has conducted hundreds of job analysis projects for organizations including Federal and state government agencies, public companies, professional associations, and the military. Both the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection as well as considerable legal precedent highlight the importance of grounding human resource systems in high-quality job analysis data. Therefore, we often work with our clients to develop applications (e.g., selection tests, competency models, performance appraisal systems) that are rooted in the job analysis data we have collected.
HumRRO recently conducted job analyses for several Federal law enforcement agencies. In each case, we used existing job information to develop preliminary task and KSAO lists for each job. These lists were updated and refined through a series of iterative focus groups with job incumbents. Once the lists were finalized, incumbents and supervisors completed surveys to rate the tasks and KSAOs on a variety of relevant metrics (e.g., KSAO importance, time spent performing a task). The survey results were used to identify critical tasks and KSAOs, and a different set of job incumbents then performed a linkage exercise to determine which critical KSAOs were required to perform specific critical tasks.
Using Job Analysis Information to Enhance Personnel Management and Assessment
Our clients have used job analysis information in multiple ways to enhance their personnel and assessment systems.
Selection of Candidates for Promotion.
One law enforcement client has developed a work simulation called an “assessment center” to identify candidates for promotion to managerial levels, which measures critical KSAOs identified through the job analysis.
For the Girl Scouts, HumRRO developed a multisource performance appraisal system using job analysis information.
We conducted a job analysis for the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy that informed the development of an updated test blueprint for their physical therapy licensure examination.
Identification of Changes in Job Requirements.
HumRRO has also conducted job analyses to identify how job or occupational requirements may look in the future. In one such project, the U.S. Army Research Institute used future-oriented job analysis data to develop experimental measures to select new recruits.
Development of O*NET.
HumRRO also contributed to the design and development of the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), the Department of Labor’s intended replacement for the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, and continues to collect data and conduct analyses to populate and update O*NET.