[Blog 46] How to write a competency-based job description

How to write a competency-based job description

Small businesses often have a harder time attracting and hiring the best employees for specific jobs when they write traditional task-focused job descriptions in their job ads.

Competency-based job descriptions is different from a standard job description. In a competency-based job description, it emphasizes the employees competencies rather than the job. After reading it, potential employees will know the exact skills and experience they need to succeed in a job offered. Having a competency-based job description will help organisations decrease the chances of hiring the wrong candidate for the job.

What is a Traditional Job Description:

A traditional job description emphasizes the work to be done, listing the duties and responsibilities of the position. For example, a job description for a bookkeeper would list duties such as making bank deposits, keeping a ledger, monthly bank statement reconciliations and issuing checks. It’s important to create a comprehensive list of duties and responsibilities for a job description, not only to help with the creation of job ads, but also to help managers evaluate the performance of employees, give them annual reviews and understand the role of each position in a small business.

What is a Competency-Based Job Description:

A competency-based job description emphasizes the skills and experience the jobholder will need, or will need to learn, to successfully handle in the position. In the example of a book keeper, a competency-based description might include college coursework in bookkeeping, accounting and finance, knowledge of specific software, industry experience, a specific length of time performing the tasks associated with the job, and specific licenses or certifications. This is important not only for creating job ads, but also for creating different levels of staffing, such as coordinator, manager and director positions within a department, and giving employees a chance to see a career path in the organisation.

How do you determine Competencies:

Step 1: To adequately hire any position within your organisation, it is important to create a detailed job description. Start with the duties and responsibilities of each position, then review all of your positions to make sure each of the tasks needed are assigned, and aligned to the management direction, correct department or job role.

Step 2: After you have listed down all the tasks necessary for your organisation and relevant positions, list the skills, knowledge and abilities necessary to perform each specific task. Make a note of which ones are mandatory (core) for new hires, and which preferred or desired skills might be learned after an employee joins your organisation.

Step 3: In addition to competencies directly related to the skill, general abilities, such as the ability to lift a specific amount of weight, type a certain number of words per minute, travel and work evenings, weekends and holidays might be considered job competencies.

How do you write the job ad:

A job ad should include job duties, but emphasizing on what skills an employee needs for a position will let him better understand the set expectations of the position.

Step 1: Start your ad with the proper title and note under which staff member the position will report. Stating that a marketing manager will report to the marketing director ensures the potential applicant understands she will not be the department head and will receive supervision.

Step 2: Follow this with a thorough job description so applicants will understand what they will be asked to do.

Step 3: Finish with a list of competencies a successful applicant will need to eliminate any preconceived notion. Let applicants know that all competencies, such as degrees, licenses, certificates and prior employment, must be verifiable.

Competency-based job descriptions have proven to reduce turnovers for companies that adopted them. This results in a more productive effort by the hiring team to get the right candidates onboard.

Contact HRguru today to access our deep HR experience and practical real-life solutions to solve your business HR needs. Learn more about our HRguru Advisory, Consultancy or Solutions Services by contacting us now at contactus@hrguru.com.sg. You must also check out our recently released book – Nothing Surprises Me, I work in HR for more insights on our Chief Guru Tommy Ng’s personal journey in HR. Definitely a book every HR Leaders should have! 

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