The changing business environment has created a very important phenomenon in the activities of many departments in various companies and sectors. Hough & Oswald (2000) largely attribute these changes to the flexible global markets, technological advancements, and continuously diversified workforce (p. 632). Many organizations have realized the value of the human resource in the provision of the necessary platform for accomplishing all their strategic goals through its contributions towards gaining the competitive advantage in their field of operation (Gary 2003). In fact, the importance of the human resource department is visible on the basis of its role as the channel in which the organizations’ most priced assets (employees) pass through before they are approved as part and parcel of the organization. But the overall human resource activities begin with its clear and precise understanding of the nature of the job it monitors, which subsequently leads us to one important aspect of the recruitment, Job analysis. The recruitment process is defined as the procedure that involves attracting, seeking, and selecting a pool of employees whose qualifications are proven to end up with an appropriate candidate for a specific job (Stone 2005). In this aspect, it is important to note the impact of this job analysis in the process of recruitment, that is, its usefulness as the human resource department tries to set the benchmark for the organization’s goals and strategies. This paper thus emphatically outlines the critical importance of job analysis in the overall recruitment process. Within the recruitment process is also the selection process which has been slightly touched in the ensuing discussion.
The Role of Human Resource
Critically, it is acknowledged that human resource is the cornerstone of all the organization’s strategic plans (Stone 2005; Nelson 1997). This is because, in the present status of work environment, it is noted that only human resource can cope with the dynamism in business factors such as technology, competition, and other market forces influence the business environment (Nelson, 1997). This is done through the provision of the necessary resources in the name of skills to help modify the business strategies in order to cope with the changing environment for business and gain competitive advantage (Anthony, Perrewe & Kacmar 1996). It, therefore, follows that human resource takes charge of the job analysis with a clear understanding of what is needed to accomplish the specific task in line with the organization’s goals and objectives. Nelson (1997) puts it; job analysis is the most critical function of human resources (p.40).
Job Analysis as an Aid to Design
Many authors have described job analysis as an important ingredient of recruitment, and most of all the overall value it brings to the whole process of organizational activities (Bartlett 2000; Gary 2003; Heron 2005). According to Bartlett (2000) job analysis is that process that identifies the specific roles and responsibilities of a specific job to come up with the list of needed skills, abilities as well as certain qualifications that would enable the job holder to perform the task fully and responsibly (p.16). Another emphasis of job analysis’ importance is found in the description by Heron who states that it is a process that is performed systematically in detail to help break down the overall work into specific duties and tasks that is to be performed by an employee of an officeholder in the managerial position (Heron 2005). In this process, a systematic approach is given such that a step-by-step collection of information on the requirements of the job and further analysis and interpretation follows in order to clearly and articulately outline the specific requirements and expectations from the job holder so as to come up with detailed criteria for recruitment (Bartlett 2000; Heron 2005). Bartlett (2000) further clarifies that job analysis specifically focuses on the job to be done and not an individual to be recruited or the one already holding the job. Some basic fundamental principles have been outlined in line with the human resource’s role in the process of job analysis during recruitment and selection: all jobs must be analyzed and recorded; it requires only simple steps and processes that can easily be interpreted by both members and non-members of the organization; the description of skills, knowledge and the ability of an individual to be recruited should be defined in line with the specific operations expected and not the personalities; the needs of all parties should be taken into consideration when designing the analysis; the process should be open for the improvement of the communication as part of the recruitment process to take care of the unexpected changes that may occur; offer a valid contribution to the department of human resource management and help in cutting the cost of operations and process itself (Clifford 1994).
During the process of job analysis, human resource management may achieve one very important trait, efficiency. This is because the job analysis process has a possibility of enhancing validity and sufficiency during the whole process (Anthony et al. 1996; Bartlett 2000). In order to sufficiently analyze and confirm the validity, Anthony et al. (1996) outline four critical aspects that must be taken care of as follows:
- A clear definition of how and to what extent the employee will be involved in the process of analysis. He, therefore, advises that through double-checking of the information, it is possible to do inquiries from the former job holders and from the outgoing job holder to ensure the information laid down are accurate;
- A clear predetermination of the scope of the job analysis helps the recruitment process stay on course as well as classify whether the job in terms of its level of specificity;
- Through job analysis, the recruiters are able to specifically identify whether this particular job is new, has been existing, or whether it is a job affected by the changes in management or technology;
- It is helpful to analyze the job so as to identify whether it requires that the status quo be maintained or if some changes are expected in the future. The latter is critical if the organization or the firm is experiencing consistent growth and expectations are that it will be bigger and more advanced, while the latter is useful when information about the present status of the job is seen (Anthony et al. 1996, pp.160-161).
Additionally, it is acknowledged that a proper understanding of some specific items in the process of job analysis is needed. Such items may include but are not limited to elements, tasks, duties, positions, job and occupation (Clifford 1994).
A proper and large amount of information is needed to ensure a sufficient analysis is carried out. Even though the gathered information may be used differently for different departments, Gary (2003) outlines some of six specific categories of the information that are required in the process of job analysis. They include work activities- identifies some specific areas such as how, when, and why the task must be performed; Human behavior- means specific information as regards what the job requires e.g. abilities to sense, communicate, and other behavioral traits that the employee designate will be required to have in order to help him or her to perform the task with the support from machines, tools, equipment and work aids; standard for performance- this outlines that standards that would be used to appraise the job; the context of the job- entails such information as the conditions of work, individual and company schedules, and to some extent, the organization’s social aspects; and the inherent human requirement- entails information that is in line with what human requirements the job needs e.g. establish the level of skills and knowledge as well as the ability of the person to be in charge to perform the task (Gary 2003).
Job Analysis and Recruitment Data
There are various important methods of information acquisition during recruitment that are guided by the job analysis. Available literature highlights several methods of information acquisition whose validity and reliability have been proven e.g. through conducting interviews, observing the candidates, carrying out the survey, an outlined checklist, focus group discussion and many more (Doron & Marco 1999). The specific nature of the organization or the firm and that of the job will dictate which form of information acquisition method is to be used. In most cases, interviews and focus groups are the popular means to acquire information (Doron & Marco 1999). For example, many firms will advertise for a vacant position to be filled and then later schedule for an interview. The interview may be followed by a focus group to know the specific attitude of the candidate in relation to the new assignment. Heron (2005) observes that most of these methodologies are dependent on each other such that a whole person to be recruited cannot be known by just one approach. He gives an example of observation, which he says may be a good indicator of physical, sensory, and intellectual abilities of a candidate as per the job requirement and at times very important in the verification of the information contained in the curriculum vitae, but it’s a deficiency in the identifying the candidate’s perception means that it requires the support of other methods (p.33).
Job Analysis and Gap Identification
Information provided after appropriate job analysis is critical for the organization since it helps to establish the valid and appropriate job requirement, identifying when, how and who to recruit for a particular post or vacancies (Hough & Oswald 2000). According to Hough & Oswald (2000) job analysis gives significant support to the processes of job announcement development, preparing the summary for the job descriptions and the needed skills, gives that needed facilities for the recruitment process, and more importantly, the organization can have a well defined and clear audit trail (p.632). This means that it is through job analysis that some irrelevant and junk information can be eliminated and a clear gap on what is lacking can be established, hence helping the human resource department to accurately and efficiently make an advertisement for the vacant position (Stone 2005).
It is noted that this information is not only important to the organization but also to the individual applicant for the position. In essence, the individual applicant would have a proper understanding of what the job entails in terms of its nature as well as contents and the required skills, knowledge and ability (Bartlett 2000). Through this, the applicant is able to do self-assessment before making an attempt to apply for the job consideration, hence the ability to choose what job is most appropriate for his/her level of qualifications and attributes. This is critical in the recruitment process since the organization is able to limit the number of applicants to the most qualified groups only, thus easing the whole process (Bartlett 2000).
Job Analysis and Appraisal
Human resource management requires that continuous job appraisal is conducted in an effort to update and improve on the gaps that may have been left out during the design (Anthony, et al. 1996). In other words appraisal of the employees is one of the classic appraisal instruments in the management of human resources. Logically, there are various objectives why personnel appraisal is carried out in an organization, and the act of appraisal is not carried out in the same degree of measure for different groups of employees (e.g. executives, staff members, and management) (Anthony, et al. 1996). Often than not we see many organizations pay more attention to the managerial staff, particularly the larger organizations. In place of this, the managerial staffs often have their own Management Development department, while other staff members are placed in a separate department (Anthony, et al. 1996).
The type of job information distinguishes the type of appraisal to be conducted, especially by the help of the type of sign and information to be used (Doron & Marco 1999). Doron & Marco say that in the past, a lot of emphases was placed on the personality traits (sign) in the appraisal system (p.163). They emphasize that this type of appraisal had an obvious problem, especially where it concerns the appraisal of the present job performance (p.163). In essence, personality traits provide very limited clues to offer concrete changes in behavior that may be necessary to achieve a performance improvement (Doron & Marco 1999). For this reason, far more concrete information is needed that directly refers to required behavior in the job in question. It is therefore sufficient to apply the information acquired in the job analysis to help appraise the job to be occupied by a new employee or staff.
Job Analysis and the New Technology
From the introduction of new technology particularly computers, it is noted that the nature of works keeps on changing from time to time. Clifford (1994) notes, a shift can be seen from both physical to mental (cognitive) work (p.321). This could apply to the use of computers in the manufacturing process, and service provision e.g. control systems and internet or information system in the office setting. He, therefore, concludes that interactive computer use has become an integral part of the modern workplace and many people now rely on it such that those who lack the specific computer skills will not fit in certain jobs they would have fit so well before computer introduction (Clifford 1994). Clifford, therefore, gives an example by stating that there is a fundamental difference between operating machines or devices and the interactive use of computers (p.332). The former requires a limited number of operational controls with which people can react to the signals that indicate the status of the process of the tool while the latter on the other hand possess a completely different kind of communication between man and the machine (Clifford 1994, p.333). In this process, both the man and the machine can separately interrupt the information flow or communication, ask questions, or redirect communication in different phases of interaction (p.333).
Thus from the job analysis perspective, it is strikingly observable that the characteristics of the new technology are that there is a shift from observable to non-observable behavior of the worker (Clifford 1994). It thus creates a scenario where the methods from the category behavior descriptions are less relevant since the emphasis is put on the observable rather than non-observable (p.334). The behavior requirement approach, therefore, implies that it will need both mental and physical simulation of tasks hence the need for appropriate and an all-inclusive approach in the job analysis. Subsequently, it is prudent to conclude that the increased use of technology has changed the way job and task analysis are carried out, requiring specific forms of skills that must be considered during the recruitment process.
Job Analysis and Selection process
Within the recruitment process, there is the selection process. This process involves selecting or choosing the most appropriate and qualified candidates from the pool of candidates (Nelson 1997). This process of selection requires various but specific methods e.g. interviews, aptitude tests, and any other form of qualification tests (Nelson 1997). As stated earlier, the validity and reliability of this process will be very critical in the process. For the process to achieve the two important aspects of validity and reliability it will require appropriate information from a thorough analysis of the whole process. According to Heron (2005) job analysis data is an important deliverable that may be taken as the bedrock for the creation of multiple derivative products such as the guides for the interview, self-assessment as well as organizational assessment tools. It is thus prudent to the belief that job analysis will be beneficial in the process of selection as it will make it easy to fairly validate and reliably select specific and appropriate methods (Heron 2005). It will also be crucial to explicitly elaborate a documented procedure between the selection methods contents and the specific job (Heron 2005). For instance, Heron (2005) gives an example from his study when says, a good interview needs to follow a particular predetermined structure or checklist, which are derived from appropriate job analysis, hence reliability and validity are achieved.
The changes that have occurred in the past have created a new phenomenon in recruitment, a constant headache for the human resource departments. The new factors that have been identified to change the work environment are changing global market, new human resource environment that has changed the employment policies. It, therefore, requires a more strategic approach to recruitment that also requires background information from reliable and valid job analysis. It is this information from the job analysis that will determine the design of the job, the nature of the recruitment process, appraisal procedures considering the changes that have occurred due to such issues as technology.
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