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How to Write a Job Analysis and Description

Make sure you know what you're looking for in an employee before you actually start looking. Use these guidelines to help.

The employees you hire can make or break your business. While you may be tempted to hire the first person who walks in the door--"just to get it over with"--doing so can be a fatal error. A small company cannot afford to carry deadwood on staff; so start smart by taking time to figure out your staffing needs before you even begin looking for job candidates.

Job Analysis
Begin by understanding the requirements of the job being filled. What kind of personality, experience and education are needed? To determine these attributes, sit down and do a job analysis covering the following areas:

  • The mental/physical tasks involved (ranging from judging, planning and managing to cleaning, lifting and welding)
  • How the job will be done (the methods and equipment to be used)
  • The reason the job exists (including an explanation of job goals and how they relate to other positions in the company)
  • The qualifications needed (training, knowledge, skills and personality traits)

If you're having trouble, one good way to get information for a job analysis is to talk to employees and supervisors at other companies that have similar positions.

Job Description & Specification
Use the job analysis to write a job description and a job specification. Drawing from these concepts, you can then create your recruitment materials, such as a classified ad.

The job description is basically an outline of how the job fits in to the company. It should point out in broad terms the job's goals, responsibilities and duties. First, write down the job title and whom that person will report to. next, develop a job statement or summary describing the position's major and minor duties. Finally, define how the job relates to other positions in the company. Which are subordinate and which are of equal responsibility and authority?

For a one-person business hiring its first employee, these steps may seem unnecessary, but remember, you are laying the foundations for your personnel policy, which will be essential as your company grows. Keeping detailed records from the time you hire your first employee will make things a lot easier when you hire your 50th.

The job specification describes the personal requirements you expect from the employee. Like the job description, it includes the job title, whom the person reports to, and a summary of the position. However, it also lists any educational requirements, desired experience and specialized skills or knowledge required. Include salary range and benefits. Finish by listing any physical or other special requirements associated with the job, as well as any occupational hazards.

Writing the job description and job specifications will also help you determine whether you need a part- or full-time employee, whether the person should be permanent or temporary, and whether you could use an independent contractor to fill the position.

Excerpted from Start Your Own Business.

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