Job Competency Profiles – Where Do I Start?

Andy Andrews

A job competency profile can be used across the organisation to provide a clear and consistent definition of the requirements of a job holder. This information can be used to help many business functions, including recruitment, onboarding and employee development. For some organisations Job Competency Profiles define the essential levels of competence required by individuals performing particular tasks in order for the organisation to meet regulatory requirements.

To create a Job Competency Profile you must first understand what makes a good competency definition – and that might be the subject of a much longer blog post. For now I will summarise with the following:

  • The competency must be clearly defined.
  • It should have a rating scale (proficiency levels) with indicators at each level that describe the behaviours that an individual working at that level should exhibit.
  • The behaviours should be something that can be referenced, by this I mean something that an individual DOES rather than something the individual knows.

A completed job competency profile is a collection of competencies that should be held by a role incumbent along with a specified proficiency level at which each competency should be performed in order for the role holder to be successful. The job competency profile builds a very clear view of the role requirements and can be used in the business functions previously discussed.

Is there a shortcut?

Writing comprehensive competencies is a time-consuming task and if you are intending to create a number of behaviour indicators for each competency then you need to be prepared to invest a lot of effort. This leads some organisations to question if they can ‘shortcut’ the definition of levels and use a generic description for each competency at a level instead of defining the competencies and behavioural indicators in full. The answer to that is… it depends.

At this point it is useful to take a step back and look once again at the outcomes that are required of the competency project. If the outcome is for job competency profiles that provide value to the recruitment and career development process then generic descriptions for each competency are unlikely to offer that kind of value. If the requirement is for a quick first-pass at capturing where competencies might be in the organisation then a simple level descriptor might work.

At Lexonis we have experience of building competency libraries for organisations and we also sell our own libraries and those from our partners so we are well placed to offer our advice – and that advice would be to source a competency library where possible and concentrate on realising the business benefits from that library. Not only do you get clear competency definitions and behaviours from libraries that have been through real-world implementations but many competency libraries also include additional attributes that are associated with the job competency profiles, such as Development Statements, Learning References, Coaching Tips and Interview Questions. With these additional attributes the business benefits you are looking for can be much more easily realised. For example, interviewing managers can simply select a set of the interview questions for a particular role or role holders can review learning for a role and the development tasks that they might undertake as part of their personal career development. These benefits are not easily realised from libraries that use generic level descriptors.

I have purchased a Competency Library and it has pre-defined Job Competency Profiles – is my work done?

Not yet!

The job competency profiles should be tailored to your organisation and this tailoring should include:

  • Adding competencies to the Job Competency Profile.
  • Removing competencies from a Job Competency Profile.
  • Changing required proficiency levels for a Job Competency Profile.
  • Creating competencies that are required by the organisation but that don’t exist in the library.

By purchasing the correct library you may have made your task much more achievable, however you do need to get the job competency profiles configured to match the needs of your organisation. This will probably involve experienced role-holders and managers who can review the role definitions provided with the library and update as required. If you have a large organisation or a large number of roles this can also be a significant effort so consider how you would capture this data, analyse it and then make changes based on the results. If you need further guidance please do contact us and we will show you some tools and approaches that we use to make this step as accurate and painless as it can be.

You may also like

Competencies 101

Competencies can be a complex topic and elicit many divergent…

Learn more
Manage IT Skills With SFIA – Start here

The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) has been…

Learn more
5 Ways to Retain Your Employees

One of the biggest overheads for many organizations today is…

Learn more