Job Analysis for Dummies*

As a student you get assigned countless papers and projects. Last week I was tasked with writing a paper that would explain how to write a job analysis. I am bored with papers so this format is a little less focused on structure and a little more on just sharing the information in a less drab way.

If you are now or ever intend to be in a management role, own your own business or be part of the hiring process then this is for you. I hope this entertains and informs you.

How Hiring

 Job Analysis for Dummies*

Start at the beginning. It seems obvious but too often, especially in business, people do not start at the beginning and they end up wasting time. You do not have to hang out at the beginning and loiter and overstay your welcome. Just start there. Make a plan. Move on.

So, you want to do a job analysis. This is how I would do it. I am a planner, I make lists, re-write them, type them, sometimes laminate them. Maybe you will not want to get to that place, um, some call “getting OCD”, I like to call it getting organized. I digress, organize how you see fit but here is where to start, or how I would start.

I would familiarize myself with why. Why am I doing a job analysis? A good job analysis will direct you, or Human Resources/the hiring manager, to the ideal candidate. A job analysis will help you uncover the type of person you want for a particular role at your organization. A job analysis should uncover what the position requires in terms of soft skills, job knowledge, behaviors, availability and what the organization’s goals are (“Job analysis,” 2013) (Entrepreneur).

Okay so now you need to collect this information. Disclaimer – Do not assume you can figure this out on your own. Regardless of your role you should include others in the job analysis. One person cannot fully understand the requirements of every role and the organization’s goals. Note that goals are not the same as a mission or vision statement.

Back to me. If I were conducting a job analysis I would set-up a time to sit with (talk to, email etc.) different people within the department [with the vacant position I need to fill]. If it is a large department speaking with everyone would be unrealistic and not a good use of time. I do see the value in speaking with the manager and people doing the job that you want to fill, if possible.

A manager will be able to provide you the background on what they need and their wish-list, so to speak. They can provide insight into what their goals for the department are and what the current strengths and weaknesses of the group are. Someone in the role can give you a more accurate picture of what they do everyday, what skills are used, not used, what they wish they had known about the job [before coming on board] and what kind of peer they would like to have.

I would recommend having questions ready for when you speak with the department. I would be prepared to set the stage. Let them know you are seeking feedback and that the information they provide will help you to write a more accurate job description [for posting and for the purpose of creating a compensation schedule – I suggest keeping that piece of information to yourself], create interview questions that are tailored for this position and ultimately help you to find the right candidate for the department and the organization.

This will help the staff understand what your role is in this, what you hope to gain and ideally create a productive environment. Be prepared to get off topic but refer to your questions and notes to help guide you and keep you on track. Sometimes getting off topic can take you into a valuable conversation but remain in control.

Below I have provided a list of questions I would ask if I were performing a job analysis. I would ask them of both the manager and the employees in the department. I dare say, sometimes managers have a different idea of what their people do and it does not always match with the reality of the situation. Best to know upfront.

  1. What are the physical requirements of the job (i.e. do you stand/sit for extended periods of time, do you lift or move items on a regular basis etc.)?
  2. Are there any extremes in this position (i.e. do you or your people ever work in extreme cold or hot weather, is part or all of the job conducted outside in the elements etc.)?
  3. What kind of equipment is used in the job (i.e. register, machinery, is driving required, computer, applicable software etc.)?
  4. What skills are required for performing this role (i.e. basic/advanced math, working in a detailed environment, sensitivity to time, face paced, etc.)?
  5. What forms of communication are used in your department (i.e. to determine a need for phone etiquette, ability to draft written correspondence, meet with people face-to-face etc.)?
  6. What are the hours and potential changes you see in the department (i.e. important to know if the business needs could require a schedule change, work weekends, nights, overnight, holidays etc.)?
  7. Is there stress present in this job? How would you describe it?
  8. Do you work closely with your peers or do you find that you work solo the majority of the time? (i.e. this is best for the staff not the manager necessarily)
  9. What level of education is required for this job?
  10. What skills would you prefer that the candidate possess upon hiring?
  11. What level of initiative would one need for this position (i.e. is everything done by the book or are there times when one might need to think on their feet, be creative)?
  12. What do you like about your job? If you could recommend two things to change, (about the department/organization) what would they be?

Keep in mind not all of the questions will pertain to your business and some will not assist in creating a posting but may come into play in the interview process (Doyle, 2013) (Entrepreneur).

If there are departmental vision statements this meeting would be the opportunity to get a copy. They should be reviewed to make sure that the person you seek fits the department and the organization. This individual may tire of a position (insert gasp) but if you sought out a good cultural fit you can find them advancement opportunities in a different role. On the other hand they could just be awesome and be promoted but that will only happen if you make a marriage of the needs of the current role and the needs of the organization.

What do you do if there is no mission or vision statements? Do not try and wing it and draft one up. Mission and/or vision statements help to define where a company is and where it wants to go. Mission statements are a whole other “for dummies” topic and should be addressed in a separate setting.

In a pinch take time to scribe some values and things that are viewed as important to your organization. Do not expect to knock it out of the park this is just a band-aid but you do need to have an idea of what your company is about. For example, do you or your people invest in the community (i.e. funds, volunteer time etc.), are you are green company (i.e. recycling, re-purposing, making changes in the office to reduce emissions etc.), does your organization foster a fun culture, a neighbors-helping-neighbors environment? Put a name to it and use that to complete the analysis.

A job analysis can, like most company documents, be living breathing entities. Writing these kinds of things is like parenting. You start with an idea and it works and sounds good but things evolve and you may have to add to it, take from it or at some point start over. When you do go back, revisit your plan and follow the steps. Do not reinvent the wheel .

The most important thing is that you have started the process and that is half the battle.

Let us recap. Make a plan, involve others in the process while retaining control and do not be afraid to make changes.

You are ready. Go forth and hire.

*Disclaimer. This is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the “for Dummies” publications.


Doyle , A. (2013, August 23). Top 7 most important soft skills. Retrieved from

Entrepreneur. (n.d.). How to write a job analysis. Retrieved from

Job analysis. (2013, September 14). Retrieved from

Say thank-you.

MR RI take classes at an organizational development Firm in Southern Maine. The subjects covered ranged from conflict resolution, supervisory skills and over the years the classes have morphed in to a series of classes spanning over six months that dig deep in to inspirational leadership and direct management.  I received a call from one of the owners of the firm about a week prior to an upcoming class. He asked if I would be interested in coming up with an activity for my group, about eight of my peers. I said yes before he even finished asking but without knowing what I would do.

Monday, April 15th, 2013. I was home from work. If you live in Maine or Massachusetts you were likely off from work observing Patriots Day (a day to commemorate the Battles of Lexington and Concord NOT the Patriot’s football team). Throughout the afternoon and evening images of the Boston Marathon bombings were being splashed all over the television and internet. In the midst of tragedy a soft, but poignant reminder was being shared online, a quote from the television personality Mr. Rogers,

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,

my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.

You will always find people who are helping”.

Something clicked. That was it. Every day we hear someone being mocked on radio or television, we find ourselves being irritated with something someone said or did. We wonder how our spouses could be so forgetful or our coworkers so rude. It seems easier to remember the negative, pick on the bad and harder to recall when someone did something nice, spoke kind words or touched us.

That was my exercise. I went into my class armed with blank thank-you cards and stamped envelopes. I explained to everyone what I have shared here and how I came across this quote. I went on in greater detail about how most of the time when someone does something nice, takes time out of their busy schedule to talk to us or lend us an ear we sometimes take it for granted and, I believe, more often than not we do not really understand the impact of a person’s kindness until after the moment passes.

I tasked my peers to think of a person that did or said something that had an impact on them. I told them it could be big or small. It could be someone that they knew well or someone they had only met once. I asked the group to come up with a person that they would thank, what they would say and share why it had such an impact on them.

The stories that were shared were personal and transformational. Some recalled moments from their childhood while another woman talked about how she would thank her mother’s hairdresser. She explained how her mother was diagnosed with Lupus and she could not be with her when she made the decision to cut all her hair off. She said that her mother’s hairdresser gave her confidence and support that she could not. She said she would thank that woman and tell her what her time and words did for her mom.

I learned more about my coworkers in that hour than I had in the five years we had worked together. I also learned that there is so much to be thankful for- not just things, but people. It is important to thank and appreciate people. While listening to all of the stories, some funny and others emotional, I thought of two more people that deserved to be thanked for the moment, the time and the impact they had on my life.

We enable behaviors every day. This is an opportunity to enable good behaviors and perpetuate them. Take the time to thank someone. Do not wait. Thank them today and make your thank-you personal.