In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Job Analysis and Competency Modeling

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Textbooks
  • Books on Specific Methods
  • Chapters in Handbooks
  • History of Job Analysis
  • Job Analysis versus Competency Modeling
  • Preparation and Planning for Job Analysis
  • Accuracy and Quality of Job Analysis Ratings
  • Job or Work Description
  • Testing for Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities Identified through Job Analysis
  • Personality-Based Job Analysis
  • Testing for Certification and Content Validity
  • Training to Improve Job Knowledge and Skills
  • Ergonomics / Human Factors
  • Legal Issues

Management Job Analysis and Competency Modeling
Michael Brannick
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 September 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 September 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0110


Job analysis is a systematic process of discovery aimed at understanding what people do at work. It may be directed primarily at the work itself (What does the worker do? What gets done?) or the worker attributes (You should be good at this; or, Do we need people who are persuasive or fluent in Russian?), or it may be directed at both. Job analysis for a bus driver might focus on the work of operating the vehicle (such as the tasks of steering and of navigating), the attributes that a driver needs (knowledge of traffic laws and visual acuity), or both. Job analysis provides the foundation for many human resources applications, including personnel recruiting and selection, training, compensation, performance management, and many others. Competency modeling has two distinct meanings. One such meaning concerns broad personal attributes (e.g., results orientation, product knowledge) that apply across many jobs within an organization. Organizational-competency models tend to be more focused on organizational goals and attributes that distinguish superior from average workers, and thus provide value or competitive advantage to the organization. Job analysis tends to be more focused on the individual job and the behaviors it requires for successful performance. Both job analysis and competency modeling relate to individual differences (skills or proficiencies) valued by the individual and by the organization. In the business world, people may mean several different things when they say “competency,” so it is important to discover the process by which the characteristic was determined and the use for which it is intended. The other meaning of competency is the capacity to apply skill and knowledge in a real-life situation; for example, the competence to drive a bus safely. In educational and job-training contexts, job analysis and competency modeling may be very similar. They begin with breaking down a task into a series of steps and analyzing what the trainee must know and do in order to complete each step successfully. They end with a determination of whether the trainee can complete the series of steps independently well enough to be labeled competent or successful. For the example of the bus driver, imagine the conclusion of training followed by a written test of rules of the road and a driving test. The successful trainee could be awarded a license that indicates he or she is judged competent to drive a bus. This article contains general sources of information, a section comparing job analysis and competency modeling, sections on the methodology of job analysis and competency modeling, and a section on common applications of job analysis. Many applications are not covered in detail here (e.g., performance appraisal, compensation) because there is little in the way of current research in the area. However, such topics are covered in many of the overviews that are cited in the article.

Reference Works

The edited reference works tend to be encyclopedic and are consulted on particular topics as the need arises. They contain chapters on many specific topics (e.g., a specific approach to rating human attribute requirements). The authors of each chapter are typically recognized by the field as experts in the domain described in the assigned chapter. Gael 1988a and Gael 1988b are attempts to be very comprehensive in scope. A more recent but slightly less exhaustive volume is Wilson, et al. 2012. Each provides a description of many topics within job analysis in detail.

  • Gael, Sidney, ed. The Job Analysis Handbook for Business, Industry, and Government. Vol. 1. New York: Wiley, 1988a.

    Covers the history of job analysis, major uses in organizational administration, and human resources management, with many chapters on work-oriented methods, including industrial engineering and ergonomic methods.

  • Gael, Sidney, ed. The Job Analysis Handbook for Business, Industry, and Government. Vol. 2. New York: Wiley, 1988b.

    Covers worker-based and task-based methods. It also contains many chapters on specific jobs, such as firefighter and life insurance agent.

  • Wilson, Mark A., Winston Bennett Jr., Shanan G. Gibson, and George M. Alliger, eds. The Handbook of Work Analysis: Methods, Systems, Applications and Science of Work Measurement in Organizations. Series in Applied Psychology. New York: Routledge, 2012.

    Covers the traditional topics in detail. Contains newer approaches such as web-based job analysis, and special topics such as selling job analysis to management and a summary of sources of inaccuracy in job analysis.

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