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Excerpt--The Manager's Guide to HR

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2009, 300 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 978-0-8144-1076-9

SHRMStore Item #: 61.15008

Order from the SHRMStore or call (800) 444-5006.



Chapter 1. Hiring


Hiring dumb is easy. Hiring smart is hard.

All it takes to hire dumb is to select a job description written by someone once upon a time, a long time ago—one that is hopelessly out of date when compared with the job as it currently exists—and then use that job definition to recruit a candidate who fits the job description, not the actual job.

Hiring dumb also involves advertising job openings in ways that discriminate against potential candidates based on their race, religion, age, sex, national origin, physical disabilities, or other legally protected characteristics.

Hiring smart involves defining the job properly, and then developing a job description that is more than a bullet list of generalized descriptors of technical skills.

A well-researched and well-developed job description is the foundation stone of smart recruiting, interviewing, and hiring, as well as staff retention.

Defining the Job

The first order of business in hiring smart is to analyze the job in terms of:

• Skills and knowledge required

• How the work is performed

• Typical work settings

Analytic Steps

Identify and determine in detail the particular job duties, requirements, and the relative importance of these duties and requirements for a given job by undertaking the following steps:

1. Review existing job description, if any.

2. Review public source information and job classification systems.

3. Conduct incumbent surveys and interviews.

4. Conduct supervisor surveys and interviews.

Review Existing Job Description

Although your existing job description could well be out of date, it does represent a starting point from which to derive basic technical skills, reporting relationships, and other information.

The existing description also provides you with a baseline against which to measure the current job—in other words, how the job has evolved or materially changed.

Review Public Source Information and Job Classification Systems

Looking at how other companies describe jobs will help you write a good job description. Here are some examples of public sources of that information:

The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) System (

• Database of occupational requirements and worker attributes

• Comprehensive source of descriptors, with ratings of importance, level, relevance, or extent, for more than nine hundred occupations

• Common language and terminology describing occupational requirements

The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) (

• Publication of the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

• Includes information about the nature of the work, working conditions, training and education, earnings, and job outlook for hundreds of different occupations

• Released biennially with its companion publication the Career Guide to Industries

These sources will give you a good idea of how to classify a job.

Conduct Incumbent Surveys and Interviews

Find out what the people who have actually been doing the job think. What technical skills do they think are required, to whom do they believe they report (irrespective of what an organization chart says), whom do they believe reports to them, whom do they interact with on an ongoing basis, how do they believe the job is actually performed, what percentage of their time is being spent on various tasks or undertakings, and so forth?

Help them help you. Most staff members do not think of their jobs in an organized fashion or spend any time trying to measure how many minutes or hours per day they engage in any particular task versus any other. However, that is precisely the information you need to successfully analyze the job and develop a meaningful job description. Consequently, provide incumbents with box checklists, surveys, and questionnaires to fill out.

Return to Book.

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