Recruiting and hiring employees is difficult for most small business owners. Whether you are going to hire your first employee or your tenth, it's important to choose the right person for the job. Bad hires are costly, stressful and time-consuming to deal with. They are also quite common. According to a Robert Half report, 62% of small business owners have made a bad hire.
One thing that causes business owners to employ the wrong person is a failure to do a detailed job analysis before starting the recruiting process. In a rush to fill a vacant position or to fill new jobs as the business is grows, employers often fall back on generic job titles and job descriptions when they write help wanted ads. They may know, for instance, that they want to hire an administrative assistant or a salesperson, but they don’t think about all the tasks the new employee will need to do and what skills the job candidate will need to perform the job they will be hired to do. Don’t fall into this trap.
What is a job analysis?
A job analysis is an in-depth study of the tasks, responsibilities, skills and soft skills needed to perform a job successfully. The job analysis should be conducted as the first step in the recruiting process. It gathers together the information you will need to write an job description.
To perform a job analyis, make a list of the tasks that you will expect the new hire to perform, and be clear about what you hope to achieve by having someone do these tasks.
For each task, identify and list the skills, training, abilities and soft skills needed to perform the task. You may know for instance, that you need someone to help answer phones, take orders, and do other "routine" things. But the devil is in the details. Be clear about how that work will need to be done.
Will the employee need computer skills? Will he or she have to take care of orders that come in through an online shopping cart as well as over the phone? Will the employee have to pack up and ship the orders as well? If so, will they have to lift anything heavy? Will those "other routine things" you'll want done include ordering supplies and managing inventory? What about answering questions about your products and services if customers call in or replying to email inquiries or customer complaints? Will the person you hire need excellent spelling and grammar skills? Will they also be expected to update spreadsheets, manage your appointments, and make arrangements for travel and meetings?
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What about language skills? Will the new warehouse supervisor you want to hire need to be fluent in some language other than English in order to communicate with the people they supervise? If you're hiring a waiter or cook for your restaurant, will they have to be able to read and write English or need to be bilingual? (A friend and I had dinner one night in a Chinese restaurant on Long Island, NY, and when we got our check we couldn't tell what each of us owed. The waiter had written our orders down in Chinese.)
Or perhaps you need an administrative assistant or secretary. In a small company, it's not unusual for the admin or “secretary” to be a key player who knows how to complete documents for government agencies, screen calls, set up accounts for supplies, interact with vendors, or even do the bookkeeping. Will this person handle the office in the owner’s absence? Oversee and manage other employees? Many job applicants can type 50 wpm, but not everyone is cut out to handle these other tasks.
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Hiring technical or scientific staff? How skilled do they need to be? What specific programming skills will that web developer need? And what instrumentation will the chemist need to know? How much independent work will your tech or scientist be expected to do? Will they have to speak in public or deal directly with clients? Write scientific papers? Or will they just be following orders and doing routine work.
A thorough job analysis is equally important for the most senior of positions to be filled. Sales and management are critical to a company’s success, especially a small or growing enterprise. Experienced applicants bring to the company backgrounds that must be evaluated. Were they successful? Were they team players? Did they merely follow directions or did they take control of their previous work environment, devising innovative solutions to tough problems? Did they achieve the results desired and can they get results for your company?
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Put your job analysis on paper
Don't just "think" about skills the employee will need and the tasks you'd want them to do. Create a formal job analysis document.
If someone other than you will be supervising or interacting in some way with the new employee, have that person complete a job analysis, too. The supervisor may think of requirements that slipped your mind. Before you proceed, compare your analysis with theirs to identify differences in opinions on what's needed. Doing so will help make sure you haven't left out any major criteria.
Putting your needs, wants and expectations in writing may take thought and time, but it's one of the most important steps in the hiring process. If you aren't clear about the skills and traits you need an employee to possess to do a good job, how can you find the right person to fill that job? The documentation of your needs will guide you throughout the entire hiring process, whether you do the recruiting yourself or hire a recruiter to find the right employee.
Save time preparing job analyses with our free Job Analysis Form. The reusable template lets you type in your requirements and skills needs and save it. You can get the form free when you subscribe to the free Business Know-How Newsletter, Click here to subscribe and to get immediate access.
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