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Importance of Job Analysis

Introduction

Job analysis is one of the most important functions of a human resource manager. Performance appraisal, job design, personnel selection, employee training, and career development and planning are among the many activities that depend upon the information gathered in the job analysis. The process of systematically collecting information about jobs, for any of those purposes, is referred to as job analysis. A job analysis results in two important documents: job description (which describes the activities of a job) and the job specification (which describes the qualifications required to perform the job).

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Personnel managers and managers in general, traditionally have been concerned with the analysis of jobs. The job analysis process results in two very important documents, the job description and the job specification. Luis R. (2006) describes the job descriptions describe the duties, responsibilities, working conditions, and activities of a particular job. Job specifications describe employee qualifications, such as experience, knowledge, skills, or abilities that are required to perform the job.1

Importance of job analysis

Although the reasons for conducting a job analysis are numerous, the establishment of wage rates and recruiting and placement needs usually compel management to undertake a systematic program of job analysis. The significance of job analysis can be expressed through the following key terms:

Job evaluation

The information gathered during a job analysis is mostly used as input for the organization’s job evaluation system. Anthony, W. P. (2002) mentioned that the job evaluation determines the worth of a particular job to the organization. This information is primarily used to determine the pay for the job. Thus, employees should be paid more for working on more difficult jobs. Job analysis information is instrumental in determining which jobs contain more difficult tasks, duties, and responsibilities.

Recruitment, selection, and placement

A good job analysis should provide information useful in planning for recruitment, selection, and placement. Managers will be better able to plan for the staffing of their organizations if they have an understanding of the skills needed and the types of jobs that will most likely open up in the future. Further, selecting an individual for a job requires a thorough understanding of the type of work to be done and the qualifications necessary to perform the work. 2

Selecting individuals to fill positions is only effective if there is a clear and accurate understanding of what the job entails. Job analysis information is also useful for detecting unnecessary job requirements. For example, a manager for a manufacturing plant may be able to hold recruiting and salary costs down if the job analysis reveals that it is not necessary for first-line supervisors to have a college degree. Finally, placing employees into jobs by means of promotions and transfers is made easier if the details of what the job entails are known and the qualifications necessary to do the job are well understood.

Labour and personal relations

Information generated from the job analysis can help both labour and management understand what should be expected from each job incumbent and how much employees should be compensated for performing a particular job. Obviously, the information generated from the job analysis is most beneficial if it is clearly communicated to both employees and management. This communication can help alleviate perceived inequities among employees.

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Utilizing personnel

All managers who would like to utilize their employees are not performing even adequately. Job analysis information can help both employees and managers pinpoint the root of the problem. By comparing what the employee is supposed to be doing with what the employee is actually doing, supervisors can determine if the employee is performing adequately and if not, what areas need improvement.3

Training and development

Newstrom, J. W. (2002) argued that job analysis information can also be useful for training and development needs. By clearly depicting what the job entails and what qualifications are necessary to do the job, managers should be able to discover any qualification deficiencies. Most deficiencies are probably best remedied by training or retraining employees. In addition to identifying training needs, job analysis information is helpful in career development. Especially, managers will be able to tell employees what will be expected if the employee desires a transfer or promotion. This information can help employees prepare for career advancement.

Uses of job and person specification in recruitment and selection

Recruiting and selecting the right employees have always been a challenge for managers. Current economic and demographic factors of the labour force will undoubtedly increase the challenges managers face. During the next decade, the overall growth in the workforce will slow down as fewer young people enter the workforce and the employees already working begin to grow older. Approximately 83 per cent of new entrants into the labour force will be minorities, immigrants, and women. The diversity among workers will call for new strategies and approaches to recruitment and selection. In addition, jobs will require increasingly skilled workers.

Recruitment procedures

Most job openings are filled with people from within the organization and entry-level positions are the most likely to be filled by external sources. Methods of internal recruiting include job posting, skills inventories, job bidding, and referrals. Methods of external recruiting include school and college recruiting, advertising, employment agencies, and executive search firms.

Internal recruiting

Job posting

Many positions can be filled by posting the job opening on bulletin boards or announcing the opening in the company newsletter. DeCenzo, D. A. states that a job posting procedure enables employees to strive for better a position within the company. Notices of position openings should include all important information about the job (for example, brief job description, the education or training required, the salary, and whether it is full or part-time).

Although posting jobs can be an efficient method of recruiting, a number of problems have also been associated with it.4 For example, job posting can lead to conflict if an employee perceives he is more qualified for the job than his chosen peer. In addition, competing for jobs can put a supervisor in a very stressful situation. A supervisor might have to decide among three very qualified employees- all of whom would do a good job.

Skills inventories

Bloisi, W. (2007) explains another internal recruiting method is the use of skills inventories. Essentially, a skills inventory includes a list of employee names, their education, training, present position, work experience, relevant job skills and abilities, and other qualifications. The organization can search through the company skill inventory in order to identify potential candidates for the position opening.

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Job bidding

When a union is present, the labour-management agreement typically establishes job-bidding procedures. These procedures typically specify that all jobs covered by the agreement must be filled by qualified applicants who take competitive examinations and the position is filled by the highest scoring applicant. In either case, only those currently employed are permitted to apply. This has the effect, especially among blue-collar and other unionized jobs, of filling only entry-level positions from external sources.5

Referrals

An excellent source of information is the current employee who may know someone who would be qualified and interested in the open position. This source of information is very low cost, yet can yield a number of good prospects. Employees usually have a clear understanding of what the job entails and what type of person would “fit” with the organization.

External recruiting

School and college recruiting

Recruiting at high schools or vocational schools is often the strategic approach adopted by organizations with position openings at the entry-level or in internal training programs. Recruiting at the college level serves as a major source for acquiring managerial, professional, and technical skills. College recruiting can be expensive, so human resource managers should be certain that a college degree is needed for successful performance in the position openings. In general, professionals (such as engineers and human resource managers) are recruited nationally while more technical or lower-level jobs are recruited regionally or locally.

Advertising

Foot, M. (2005) states that advertising job openings in newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and other media sources (such as radio) is a relatively inexpensive recruiting mechanism. Advertising is also useful for filling open positions quickly. However, advertising is not usually targeted at a specific audience; thus, the organization may receive numerous responses from unqualified or marginally qualified candidates. The cost of screening candidates may preclude the use of media sources for most jobs other than entry-level. The effectiveness of media advertising for position openings should be examined periodically. Evaluating the success or failure of recruiting efforts by counting the number of qualified candidates is not a recommended method.6

Public employment agencies

All states provide employment services to job seekers and employers. An effort has been undertaken in recent years to improve the image and the services provided by the public employment service. Traditionally, employers and job seekers believed that the public employment system was only useful for filling blue-collar, unskilled jobs. In part, this resulted from the association the public employment system has with the payment of unemployment compensation. However, the service has been used successfully by employers even though this utilization has been focused on unskilled or low-skilled jobs.

Private employment agencies

Private employment agencies vary considerably in size and effectiveness for good sources of employees and must be chosen carefully by employers and job seekers alike. For a fee, these agencies will conduct the preliminary applicant screening for the organization. Agencies usually charge the job seeker a fee if he is hired by an employer through the agency. The employer may agree to pay all, part, or none of this fee. Regardless, the fee is usually based upon some multiple of the employee’s salary.

Executive search firms

Some employment agencies focus their efforts on seeking quality management-level employees. Bratton, J. (2007) states that an executive search is characterized by aggressive action on the part of consultants and managers who actively pursue the optimal candidate. The search is directed toward identifying those whose careers are on track with their current employers and those who are not actually looking for another job but would be interested in considering another opportunity. Recently, some companies have decided to not limit this type of recruiting activity to executives. Recruiting for any position within the organization can be done by sending out “scouts” to look for good employees who are not necessarily looking for another job. 7

The Selection Process

Application blanks and resumes

The initial screening of potential employees is usually done by examining resumes and or having the applicant fill out an application blank. Application blanks usually include information regarding the name and address of the applicant, work history, education, training, skills, and references.

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Much of the information gathered on application blanks is objective so that the human resource manager can verify it. Taylor, S. (2005) illustrates that some organizations have developed weighted application blanks, in which responses to questions on the application form are compared with measures of job performance. Thus, certain items are found to be more important than others in regard to performance. The important or predictive items are then weighted and used to help select future performance, the time and cost of developing an effective system are often prohibitive.8

References

Most organizations will ask an applicant for a list of references to include supervisors or coworkers. Since this list of references is generated by the employee, these individuals will most likely present a positive image of the applicant. Letters of recommendation are also considered a type of reference.

Reliability and Validity in Testing

Selection testing is a means of obtaining standardized information from potential employees. Standardization means that the test contains the same content for each applicant and is administered and scored in the same way for everyone. Using tests as a selection device is useful only when the tests are reliable and valid.

  1. Reliability: test reliability means that the test is consistent in its measurement. Two common types of reliability will be discussed: stability and internal consistency. Both stability and internal consistency rely on a correlation coefficient as the index for reliability. Essentially, a correlation coefficient is a numerical index that represents the degree of relationship between two variables. A correlation coefficient indicates the direction as well as the strength of a relationship. Correlations vary from -1.00 to +1.00. a negative correlation means that as one variable increases, the other variable decreases (for example, as employee satisfaction increases, intentions to quit decrease)
  2. Validity: specifically, if a test is valid, it accurately and consistently measures what it purports to measure. Luis R. (2006) said that a test must be reliable if it is valid but the reliability of a test does not ensure validity. Thus, the arrest might accurately and consistently measure ‘something’ but human resources managers do not know what something is, the test is reliable but not valid. Two types of validity will be discussed: content and criterion-related. Content validity means that the test items are representative of behaviours to be exhibited in some performance domain. For example, suppose a human resource manager develops a typing test for selecting secretaries. If the secretarial job includes typing, computer knowledge, and shorthand the test is not a representative sample of what abilities are needed to perform the job. 9

Criterion-related validity focuses on comparing the results of a particular selection device (such as the interview or a paper and pencil test) with one or more independent measures (criteria). The relationship between scores on a selection test and the criterion variable, such as successful job performance, indicates the degree to which the selection test is job-related.

Types of Selection Tests

A number of selection tests have been developed to aid the human resource manager in selecting employees. The following section will cover mental ability tests, work sample tests, trainability tests, personality and interest inventories and polygraph tests as selection devices.

  • Mental Ability Tests: paper and pencil tests have been developed by psychologists and are purchased by organizations to measure mental ability and aptitude. Ability and aptitude tests examine a variety of traits, such as general intelligence, numerical skills, reasoning and comprehension. 10
  • Work Samples: these tests may measure motor skills or verbal skills. Motor skills include physically manipulating various job-related equipment. Verbal skills include problem-solving and language skills. Work sample tests should test the important aspects of the job.
  • Trainability tests: for jobs in which trainability is necessary due to (a) the skill level of the job applicants or (b) the changing nature of the job, trainability tests are useful. Essentially, the goal is to determine the trainability of the candidate. Anthony, W. P. (2002) describes that in the first step of the process, the trainer demonstrates how to perform a particular task. Second, the job application process is asked to perform the task while the trainer helps to coach him or her through the process several times. Finally, the candidate is expected to perform the task independently. The trainer carefully monitors the performance recording any errors to determine the overall trainability of the job applicant.

Personality and General Interest Tests

Personality and general interest inventories are tests with no ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ answers to them. Interest tests are used to measure an individual’s work and career orientations. Personal tests focus on identifying traits or typical behaviours of individuals and are used to measure a variety of tests including aggression, self-esteem, and Type of behaviour. Anthony, W. P. (2002) said that although personality tests can be costly, they can help human resource managers determine individuals characteristics not obtained from a resume, thus increasing the likelihood of finding a good fit between the job position and the employee. Most human resource managers and psychologists’ caution, however, that personality and general tests are not usually predictive of performance on the job and should not be used as selection devices. Nevertheless, some evidence exists in support of the use of personality inventories as a selection device. 11

Polygraphs

Commonly called lie detectors, polygraph tests measure an individual’s respiration, blood pressure, and perspiration while this individual answers a series of questions. Although they are not 70 per cent accurate, prior to 1988 over 2 million polygraph tests were administered every year and 98 per cent of the testing took place in private industry.

Establishing a system for conducting an interview can improve the reliability and validity of interview assessments. The following guidelines should be followed when establishing a system for interviewing:

  1. Determine the job requirements through a formal job analysis.
  2. Focus on only those knowledge requirements, skills abilities and other characteristics necessary to performm the job well.
  3. Develop interview questions based on the information gathered in the job analysis.
  4. Conduct the interview in a relaxed setting. Try to put the job applicant at ease by giving general information about the company and asking simple questions.
  5. Evaluate each candidate according to his or her relevant job knowledge, skills and ability.

Conclusion

Job analysis is important to develop job evaluation, recruitment, selection and placement, labour and personal relation, utilizing personnel and training. The establishment of wage rates and recruiting and placement needs usually compel management to undertake a systematic program of job analysis. Recruiting and selecting the right employees have always been a challenge for managers. Jobs will require increasingly skilled workers. So Recruiting and selecting procedures are important.

Bibliography

Anthony, W. P. Prrewe, P. L., & Kacmar, K. M. (2002), Strategic Human Resource Management, 4th edition, The Dryden Press, London, ISBN: 0-03-096543-8.

Bloisi, W. (2007) Introduction to Human Resource Management, 2nd edition, McGraw-Hill: London, ISBN-13: 978-0-19-877543-0.

Bratton, J. & Gold, J. (2007) Human Resource Management, 4th edition, London: CIPD, ISBN: 9781843982005.

DeCenzo, D. A. & Robbins, S. P, (2008), Fundamentals of Human Resource Management, 8th edition, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, ISBN: 9812-53-171-8.

Foot, M. Hook, C. (2005) Introducing Human Resource Management, 4th edition, Prentice Hall: London, ISBN: 9780273681748.

Luis R. Gomez-Mejia, David B. Balkin, Robert L. Cardy, (2006), Managing Human Resources, 4th edition, Prentice Hall: London, ISBN- 81-203-2804-3.

Newstrom, J. W., Davis, K. (2002), Organisational Behavior, 11th Edition, Tata-McGraw Hill Publishing Company Limited, London, ISBN: 0-07-047264-5.

Taylor, S. (2005) People Resourcing, 3rd edition, London: CIPD, ISBN 1-84398-077-0.

Footnotes

  1. Luis R. Gomez-Mejia, David B. Balkin, Robert L. Cardy, (2006).
  2. Anthony, W. P. Prrewe, P. L., & Kacmar, K. M. (2002).
  3. Newstrom, J. W., & Davis, K. (2002).
  4. DeCenzo, D. A. & Robbins, S. P, (2008).
  5. Bloisi, W. (2007).
  6. Foot, M. Hook, C. (2005).
  7. Bratton, J. & Gold, J. (2007).
  8. Taylor, S. (2005).
  9. Luis R. Gomez-Mejia, David B. Balkin, Robert L. Cardy, (2006).
  10. Anthony, W. P. Prrewe, P. L., & Kacmar, K. M. (2002).
  11. Anthony, W. P. Prrewe, P. L., & Kacmar, K. M. (2002).

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