Due to dynamics of today’s business, many rapid-growth companies need to create new positions to handle ever-changing demands in management, marketing, and technology. These new positions often require greater level of integration and diversification in job functions. For example, a new position of social media manager may require job functions across multiple departments of marketing, sales, public relations (PR), research and development (R&D), and information technology (IT). An employee on this position must demonstrate integrated skills and knowledge not only in management, but also in internet marketing, social networking, web technology, and social psychology as well. This phenomenon will certainly challenge I/O psychologists in job analysis and determination of required qualifications for the new jobs. The purpose of job analyses is to recognize all tasks required to perform the job and the conditions necessary for the tasks to be executed. Job analysis also identifies qualifications including knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) needed for performing the tasks under the given conditions.
In the first step of a job analysis, the I/O psychologist needs to distinguish primary job dimensions and the tasks to be done for each dimension, as well as systems, tools, and facilities needed to complete the tasks. All of the information can be gathered by collecting historical data on related jobs, interviewing subject matter experts (SMEs), and observing workers’ behavior and performance. (Aamodt, 2010).
After all tasks are properly identified, the second step requires the I/O psychologist to write task statements. Both task inventory and job description will use these task statements. According to Aamodt (2010), a well written task statement should “contain an action (what is done) and an object (to which the action is done)” (p. 50); furthermore, task statements usually include important components “as where the task is done, how it is done, why it is done, and when it is done” (p. 50). After all tasks are stated, they should be analyzed and rated based on the importance or criticality of the task being performed. The rating on a task determines whether or not it will be included in the job description.
The third step of job analysis is to identify knowledge, skill, ability, and other characteristics (KSAOs) needed to perform the tasks. Here knowledge refers to intellectual contexts needed to do the work, skills reflect the proficiency to execute a learned task, and ability is defined as the general capacity for completing various types of tasks, obtaining knowledge, or learning a skill. Other characteristics include variety of personal factors such as personality, motives, attitudes, willingness, interest, education, credentials, and experience. In general, KSAOs are referred to as competencies and they were used to be called job specifications. KSAOs reflect the desired qualifications for the new positions.
Finally, the job analysis should result in the job description . According to Levy (2010), a job description typically includes “the job title and descriptions of the tasks and machinery involved, and it sometimes includes information about the working conditions and physical environment, social environment, and conditions of employment” (p. 69). To make a job description valuable and useful, the I/O psychologist must describe the job in enough detail and with maximum accuracy so that correct decisions about hiring and training new employees can be made based on the job description. As Pavur (2010) stated, accurate job descriptions are crucial for filling new positions. If a rapid-growth firm needs to fill an executive position, the hiring team must “conduct a contextual job description and combine accurate job analysis with the leadership mandate” (p. 119) in order to generate high-quality prospects and locate a more successful executive.
Aamodt, M. G. (2010). Industrial/organizational psychology: An applied approach (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Levy, P. E. (2010). Industrial/organizational psychology: Understanding the workplace (3rd ed.). New York: Worth Publishers.
Pavur, E. R. (2010). Use job descriptions to support leadership. The Psychologist-Manager Journal, 13(2), 119-122. doi:10.1080/10887151003776596