Won’t life be much easier if anyone can just enter through the doors of a company, declare that he needs a job, and gets hired on the spot, no questions asked? It won’t even matter what the job is, as long as there is someone who is willing to do it.

The company will also probably have it easier, since it only has to announce that it has an open slot in the company, and they need someone – anyone – to fill it in. Maybe not even a day will pass and there will be someone coming in to fill that position.

Yes, it may sound really easy and simple at first glance, but when you think about what will happen afterwards, you may think differently.

One of the reasons why some people have a hard time looking for jobs is that they are not qualified for the position. Sure, they may be determined and hard-working, and they may have top grades at school, or even have a lot of experience in the workplace.

However, the moment they look at the qualifications that they should have in order to be considered for the open position, they will back down when they realize they do not meet them.

What Are Job Requirements and How to Define Them

© Shutterstock.com | Mila Dubas

These qualifications are known as job requirements, and they are called such precisely because they are what the employee or worker must possess in order to be able to satisfactorily perform the tasks and functions that come with the job.

In this guide, we explore 1) what are job requirements, 2) its components, and 3) how to define job requirements.


If we are going to assign a simple and easy to understand definition for “job requirements”, it would be the “qualities or qualifications that an individual must have in order to be considered suitable for a specific job”. These qualities or qualifications refer to the specific skills, attributes and experience that an employer is looking for in the candidate who is applying and may be hired for the position.

If you take a look at job postings, they specifically contain descriptions of the job. It is in the job description where you will know what the job requirements are. The most common job requirements mentioned are the specific skills, educational requirements, personal qualities and attributes, types and amounts of work experience, as well as the professional certifications and accreditations that the employee must have to his name.

Often, the job description may also include other skills or credentials, although they are not requirements of the job. Some job descriptions explicitly make a reference to the fact in the posting, while others may omit that, so it will be left to the judgment of the candidate to figure out which are required and which aren’t.

Purpose and Importance of Job Requirements

  • To improve the accuracy of the recruitment process, resulting to the company being able to hire the right person for the job, or the candidate with qualifications that match the requirements of the job.
  • To reduce the number of potential applicants. Without the job requirements, pretty much anyone and everyone may apply, and would have to be considered, for an open position. By making the jobs requirements as specific as possible, employers are able to reduce the pool of applicants further, resulting in a shortlist of candidates that possess the necessary qualities and qualifications for the job.
  • To assist applicants in making decisions on whether to apply for the job or not. They may be interested to apply for the open position in the company. However, when they go through the job requirements and realize that they do not meet these requirements, then they can look elsewhere for other job prospects.


It was mentioned earlier that job requirements are specific, so that they target only the candidates who are qualified for the job. But what are the requirements that employers focus on throughout the recruitment process?

Skill and knowledge requirements

There are jobs that require specific and, often, technical skills and knowledge that are unique to the job.

A nursing assistant is expected to know how to take vital signs and monitor them in order to be of assistance to registered nurses. A Certified Public Accountant is expected to know about tax laws and regulations, as well as the international accounting standards. These are the specific skills and knowledge that are indispensable because, in their absence, there is no way that the job will be performed.

Years of work experience

Employers often pay attention to two aspects of work experience: the quality of work experience, and the amount or duration of the work experience.

  • Quality of work experience. The relevance of the experience will be taken into account. A candidate for a nursing assistant job may boast that he has a total of 10 years work experience. However, when you take a look at his work history, it appears that 6 out of those 10 years were spent working as an office assistant in a real estate company, while the other 4 years were as an assistant in a private physician’s clinic. The only relevant work experience that will be taken into consideration will be the 4 years.
  • Amount of work experience. This refers to the number of years of work experience of the candidate. It could be in a general capacity, where the employers specify that the candidate must have at least 5 years experience working in the IT industry. In some cases, it is stated in a more specific manner, explicitly underlining the role they are looking for. The employer may require that the candidate have at least 5 years experience working as a software developer or programmer, in the IT industry.

Educational requirements

There are jobs that require candidates to have obtained a certain level of education, and that fact will be emphasized in the job posting. For example, a company looking to fill an office administrator position may require that the candidate have at least a college degree, while it may only require a high school diploma from those who are applying for a data encoder position.

Do all job postings define education as a job requirement? Most do, with only several exceptions. In those cases, however, they accept “equivalent experience” in lieu of education credentials.

Equivalent experience

Equivalent experience” is what employers accept in lieu of some or all educational requirements, or even direct and paid work experience. For example, the job posting may require the candidate to “at least have a Bachelor’s degree, or a certification from a specific regulatory agency”. Another example would be where an employer requires candidates to have “at least 3 years work experience in the health care industry, or a minimum of 6 months’ volunteer work in charitable organizations”.

When defining equivalent experience in lieu of educational requirements, there is no universal standard used, and although there may be legal requirements that must be complied with, they are only very few and far between. What prevails, however, are reasonable ranges that have become generally accepted in the respective industries that the businesses or companies belong to.

For example, an industry standard that was set by general acceptance and application is to recognize 18 months to 4 years work experience as equivalent to an Associate’s Degree. Here are other examples of equivalent experience:

  • Six months of experience as a nursing assistant is accepted in lieu of the required two-year course work.
  • A master’s degree in business administration is accepted in lieu of 10 years of relevant work experience.
  • Four to eight years paid work experience is accepted in lieu of a Bachelor’s degree.

Professional certification

There are jobs that require the jobholder to be licensed or certified as a professional. For instance, an Accountant position requires the jobholder to be a Certified Public Accountant.

If the open position is as a lawyer to complete the legal team, the candidate must have passed the bar exam. These certifications or licenses are also deemed as job requirements, since the jobholder will not be able to perform the tasks and duties of the job unless he is licensed or certified.


Defining the company’s requirements for its open positions is important for the success of the recruitment process. Here is an open position that the company needs to fill up, and the person selected must have the skills and qualifications that are required for the job to be carried out satisfactorily.

In order to define job requirements, the company has to perform several processes. It is not as simple as looking at the job title of the open position, and deciding right there and then the requirements that you expect from the candidates. This may work for some organizations, but it is haphazard at best, and there is a risk that the recruitment and selection process may not go about the way they want it to.

Much of the success of recruitment and selection depends on how properly the company has defined the requirements of the job, as stated in the job description on the posting. And the first thing that must be done is to perform job analysis.

Job Analysis

Job analysis is the process performed to determine and identify the particular tasks, duties and requirements of a given job, and why they are important.

According to the HR-Guide, job analysis is performed to “establish and document the job-relatedness of employment procedures, such as training, selection, compensation, and performance appraisal.”

In the recruitment process, job analysis is very useful in determining the duties or tasks that will be included in the crafting of job postings and advertisements. It is also a vital tool that is used in the determination of the salary level or range for that position. During the screening, the selection tests, as well as the questions that will be asked during the interview will be developed by using the results of job analysis.

In the context of this discussion on defining job requirements, job analysis is used in recruitment and selection procedures to identify the minimum and other requirements for the screening and selection of candidates.

In the analysis, the job will be broken down into its component parts, where all the tasks and activities of the person who will perform the job are taken into careful consideration. The next thing that will be considered will be the competencies, behaviors and attributes that the company will be looking for in the person.

That is one thing that must be underlined: job analysis is an analysis of the job, not of the person. After all, it is the job that will be described, and not the person who will do the job.

Steps in job analysis for setting job requirements

Step 1. Make a list of the factors that will be used as a guide in gathering information.

The factors that information will be collected on include:

  • Duties and responsibilities of the job. What are the activities, functions and tasks involved in the job?
  • Skills and knowledge required for performance of the activities. What are the skills needed to accomplish the identified activities, functions and tasks? Examples are leadership skills, clerical skills, marketing skills, manual skills, and technical skills. What knowledge is needed to accomplish the activities, functions and tasks? Examples are knowledge in software development, foreign languages, and other technical knowledge.
  • Attitudes and behaviors of the jobholder in performing his functions. What attitudes are expected and required of the person who will carry out the tasks, functions and activities? Should he be flexible, punctual, outgoing, etc.?
  • Context of the job. Does the job entail constant contact with other employees? With the customers? What are the unique working conditions of the job that are likely to have an impact on the jobholder and his performance of his tasks and activities?
  • Responsibility levels. Does the job entail supervision of other employees or workers? What supervision will the jobholder require? Who will the employee report and be accountable to?

Step 2. Identify your sources of information

Obviously, your best source of information will be within the organization, where the job is. This will not be much of a problem if we are talking about a small operation, where there are only around five people, because they are likely to be well-informed about the nature of the job and its requirements.

In the case of larger companies, with around a dozen to a hundred and even thousands of employees, it’s going to be a different story. The logical step taken by those who perform job analysis is to narrow things down, maybe per department or division. But there is no assurance that the head of the department or division will know what the job truly entails, especially when his functions are basically that of a manager or an overseer.

Some of the identified best sources of information include:

  • A former employee who actually held the job. If the job under analysis is one that already exists, look for someone who performed the actual tasks and functions of the job in the past. Their actual experience will definitely aid the analysis. The risk in using this source is that there may be some bias on the part of the former employee, especially if the circumstances of his being a “former” employee are favorable. An employee who was fired or terminated, for example, may have a grudge against the company, and will refuse to give objective input in your data-gathering efforts.
  • The immediate supervisor, or the employee that is directly responsible for supervising the job. At best, the supervisor will know the basic or fundamentals of the job, although not its details or nitty-gritty. The risk in using this as the sole source of information is that the supervisor may be unaware of the smaller details about the job, since he is mostly tasked to manage. That does not mean, however, that this source of information should be discounted entirely. What job analysts do is use the information gathered from this source to corroborate and support those obtained from other, more reliable sources.
  • The division, team or work group where the job will belong to, and where it will be performed. The members of the team may have knowledge and even experience about what the job entails, even if it’s not to its full extent. Do not just get information from the team leader or the head of the department. You will find that the better sources are the co-workers, or those who are roughly on the same level as the job under analysis.

Step 3. Collect or gather information.

There are several methods employed by analysts to gather or collect the information needed. The most commonly used methods are:

  • On-site observation: Information is gathered by observing a person actually performing the tasks, activities or functions of the job. This may be applicable if there is already someone who may be observed. It won’t be as reliable if the job being analyzed is new, and there is no one actually performing the tasks yet.
  • One-on-one interviews: If the job already exists and the plan is to obtain information from former jobholders, the best method to use is an individual interview. This same method is effective when current or incumbent jobholders and supervisors are being tapped as sources of information.
  • Panel or group interviews: In this setting, members of the group or team where the job is performed may be interviewed collectively at one time.
  • Questionnaires: Questionnaires and check lists may be distributed to incumbent and former jobholders, supervisors and managers, and team members and co-workers. The questionnaires may be structured, or they may be open-ended.
  • Existing records related to the job: Review of records that pertain to the job and its performance may also be conducted. Examples of these records are task inventories and work logs.

Example: Job analysis of an Office Manager position


  • Delegation of work to the staff with matching skills and knowledge
  • Procurement and distribution of office supplies and materials
  • Bookkeeping
  • Monitoring of costs and expenses
  • Training of staff

Skills required:

  • Communication
  • Time management
  • Computing and numeracy
  • Clerical
  • Teaching and mentoring

Knowledge required:

  • Procurement and reorder procedures
  • Inventory management
  • Awareness of staff skills and qualifications

Attitudes/behaviors required:

  • Pleasant, friendly and approachable
  • Strict adherence and commitment to schedule or timetable
  • Desire to involve everyone and make them feel that they belong to a unit

The Job Description

Results of the concluded job analysis will then be used to create the job description, or the broad statement that describes the job. It contains the job’s main purpose and its scope, as well as its duties and responsibilities, and the tasks that will be performed. It usually comes in a capsule description composed of two to three sentences.

Normally, you will find the following in the job description:

  • Job title (ex. Office Manager)
  • The Line Manager or immediate supervisor of the jobholder (who he will report to)
  • The job titles of the staff that the jobholder will supervise
  • Any other functional relationships of the job
  • A bullet-point listing of the tasks and responsibilities of the job

Here is an example of the job description of a Certified Nursing Assistant job.

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) assist patients by providing support on personal hygiene and other daily living needs, along with providing limited medical care such as vital sign monitoring. They work in many settings such as hospitals, private homes, assisted living facilities and mental health homes where they are required to provide direct patient care.

Since certified nursing assistants work closely with patients, they often develop a personal bond with them. It is this bonding with patients that males working as a CBA fruitful on a personal level. Additional responsibilities of a certified nursing assistant include providing support to registered nurses in taking vitals and constant monitoring of patients’ conditions.

The duties of a certified nursing assistant are:

  • Provide patients’ personal hygiene by giving bedpans, urinals, baths, backrubs, shampoos, and shaves; assisting with travel to the bathroom; helping with showers and baths.
  • Provide for activities of daily living by assisting with serving meals, feeding patients as necessary; ambulating, turning, and positioning patients; providing fresh water and nourishment between meals.
  • Provide adjunct care by administering enemas, douches, nonsterile dressings, surgical preps, ice packs, heat treatments, and therapeutic baths; applying restraints.
  • Maintain patient stability by checking vital signs and weight; testing urine; recording intake and output information.
  • Provide patient comfort by utilizing resources and materials; transporting patients; answering patients’ call lights and requests; reporting observations of the patient to nursing supervisor.
  • Document actions by completing forms, reports, logs, and records.
  • Maintain work operations by following policies and procedures.
  • Protect organization’s value by keeping patient information confidential.
  • Serves and protects the hospital community by adhering to professional standards, hospital policies and procedures, federal, state, and local requirements, and jcaho standards.
  • Update job knowledge by participating in educational opportunities; reading professional publications; participating in professional organizations; maintaining licensure.
  • Enhance nursing department and hospital reputation by accepting ownership for accomplishing new and different requests; exploring opportunities to add value to job accomplishments.

Now let us take a look at the job requirements (the skills and qualifications) of a certified nursing assistant.

  • At least a graduate of secondary school
  • Certification or award of formal training as a nursing assistance
  • State-issued certification as a nursing assistant
  • Multi-tasking
  • Medical teamwork
  • Bedside manner
  • Nursing skills
  • Pain management
  • Acute/critical care
  • Health promotion and maintenance
  • Infection control
  • Creating a safe, effective environment
  • Informing others
  • Judgment

The job requirements are going to be referred to again and again by the hiring manager carrying out the recruitment process, because it is the basis to find out the suitability of a candidate for the job. The job requirements will be compared to the qualifications of the candidate, and this will direct how the recruitment process will proceed.

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