Job Analysis

Job analysis is the detailed study of a position, which includes all aspects of the job from environmental conditions to physical requirements, as well as a breakdown of tasks on a micro level. Job analyses are often conducted when creating a position description, or in response to an accommodation request.

Benefits of Job Analysis

Without a thorough job analysis, it is difficult to ensure that position descriptions include enough information for effective decision-making in relation to hiring qualified candidates, granting accommodation requests, and evaluating performance. When well-conducted, a job analysis can help in all of these areas, and more, by:

  • Providing a basis for distinguishing between marginal and essential functions.
  • Measuring and evaluating the frequency and average time it takes to complete each task.
  • Determining physical and mental requirements.
  • Establishing performance measurement criteria.

These observations and processes are especially critical to identifying and providing potential reasonable accommodations to facilitate the employment and productivity of employees with disabilities.

Note: While certain positions can be learned on the job, others require that employees bring specific experience or education to the position. It is important to evaluate whether or not there is room for compromise within this criteria to avoid screening out candidates who might be excellent employees, but lack certain qualifications.

Furthermore, when conducting a job analysis, each element of the position should be evaluated in relation to the skills, knowledge, and abilities required for successful performance. Actions that are commonly taken during a job analysis include:

  • breaking down larger tasks into "micro-tasks";
  • reviewing the necessary background knowledge one must have to be successful in all aspects of the job;
  • establishing the minimum standards of the position in terms of potential schedule flexibility, including any possibility of performing tasks outside regular hours;
  • assessing the estimated regular workload and evaluation of mental demands such as independent judgment;
  • evaluating the necessity to meet hard deadlines, ability to complete quality work with minimal supervision, the degree of technical skill and expertise, etc.;
  • reviewing the requirements for collaboration with others in a team environment or in a customer service role;
  • assessing the physical demands of the position including any strenuous activities, repetitive motions, or sedentary requirements;
  • studying aspects of the environment such as noise level, exposure to certain odors, lights, or temperatures, restriction of movement due to confined space, frequency of interruptions, etc.

Having detailed information about a position can facilitate effective job matching and performance evaluation, and can also be useful to jobseekers – with and without disabilities – in determining whether or not a job would be a good fit. This is particularly true for veterans, to identify areas where their military experience may be transferrable and/or has direct applicability, or when the duties of a particular job have changed.

Determining Essential and Marginal Functions

For the purpose of compliance with the ADA, it is important to differentiate between the functions of a position that are deemed essential and those that could be considered marginal.

The frequency with which a task is performed does not necessarily determine whether or not a function is marginal or essential. For example, a department manager might only have to develop a budget once a year. Even though this is not a task performed regularly, it would arguably be an essential task for an effective department manager. Conversely, a development associate who assists with fundraising efforts in a nonprofit organization may stuff envelopes for mass mailings on a monthly basis. However, the ability to stuff envelopes might be considered marginal compared to their other duties.

The Role of Vocational Rehabilitation Providers

Conducting a job analysis is a great opportunity to maximize relationships with community resources, such as vocational rehabilitation service providers (The Job Shoppe). Many community-based providers have specific training in job analysis and are able to evaluate a position. Those who refer candidates with disabilities to an employer may request the option of conducting a job analysis in order to ascertain whether or not the applicants they are working with are qualified for vacant positions, or whether a job has the potential to be shared between two employees (often referred to as a "job share").

Occasionally, a provider might review the tasks associated with positions in a specific area of the business and suggest that certain marginal functions be pooled together to create a new position (this is referred to as a “job carve”). A job carve can create a competitive work opportunity for an individual with a significant disability, while helping to maximize the efficiency of existing employees.

Familiarity with the details of a position has many benefits to the employer and can facilitate more effective onboarding, training, performance management, and consideration of accommodation requests, thereby enhancing overall recruitment, retention, and compliance efforts.

Reference: Job Analysis. (2014, February 27). Retrieved from on September 22, 2014.