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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kiernan

Moving to Competency-Based Job Descriptions without Enterprise Resources

Updated: Feb 24

Moving to competency-based job descriptions involves a shift from focusing solely on qualifications and experience to highlighting the specific skills, knowledge, and behaviors required to perform a job successfully.


Organizations don't need to hire costly consultants to make the transition. Instead, follow our simple guide to moving to competency-based job descriptions without spending a fortune to do so.


person on laptop editing job description

In today's rapidly evolving workforce, organizations are starting to recognize the value of competency-based job descriptions. Rather than solely focusing on qualifications and experience, this approach emphasizes the specific skills, knowledge, and behaviors required for successful job performance.


Competency-based job descriptions align with organizational goals, enable effective candidate assessment, optimize performance management, and ensure fair compensation based on merit.


However, the transition to this approach has traditionally been perceived as resource-intensive, involving hefty investments in third-party consultants, software expansions, and extensive job analysis.


This blog post explores a more feasible solution for lean or under-resourced HR organizations—a hybrid job description model that combines traditional content with competencies.


Additionally, the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) tools now enables lean HR teams to curate competencies, create competency-based job descriptions, and facilitate real-time feedback loops with ease and accuracy.


Let's delve into the steps to implement competency-based job descriptions, even without large enterprise resources.


Why are competency-based job descriptions appealing in today's workforce?


Competency-based job descriptions can be aligned with organizational goals and objectives. Hiring managers can broaden their focus by assessing candidates' relevant competencies rather than relying on narrowly defined qualifications and experience.


As for recruitment, this approach increases the likelihood of finding the right fit for the role in rapidly changing and competitive talent markets where 75% of employers report difficulty filling roles.


Current employees, managers and employees can be aligned on the most critical skills and behaviors for optimized performance and career progression. 


Also, for compliance and wage optimization, competency levels can be benchmarked to ensure pay decisions are based on merit and performance rather than less relevant factors such as 3-5 years of experience or a college degree in an unrelated subject matter.


Sounds great, why isn’t everyone doing it?


A transition to competency-based job descriptions can easily lead to six-figure investments into third party HR consultants, HCM software expansions, in-depth job analysis and months of cross-functional project management.


Such an endeavor hardly seems viable for growth-stage organizations, or worth it given the speed at which jobs and workforce dynamics change.


What’s the answer for lean or under-resourced HR organizations?


More growth-stage companies are starting to implement a hybrid job description model to maintain traditional job description content while implementing competencies and skills into their job descriptions.


Over time, competencies can be curated and consolidated into a framework that can serve as a reference for employees, managers and HR professionals without the need for heavy internal resourcing and costly third-party consulting.


The advent of new artificial intelligence tools are enabling lean HR teams to curate lists of competencies per role, define those competencies and (re)create competency-based job descriptions in days rather than months. With the new release of "GPTs" users have even created a custom GPT dedicated to the development of competencies.


Click here to check it out (you will need a subscription to ChatGPT) HR Assistant: Core Competency Library Development.


AI generated job descriptions include hard skills, soft skills and behaviors that are core to any job with accuracy and ease. Lengthy and costly job analysis can be minimized or replaced with real time feedback loops between HR and subject matter experts.


Using modern AI tools to draft job description elements makes job description updates across cross-functional organizations much faster and easier.


Steps to implementing competency-based job descriptions.


  1. Add a competency & skill section to your job description and prompt ChatGPT: ‘curate a list of defined competencies for X job’.

  2. Share the newly curated list with internal subject matter experts for collaborative input, feedback and comments.

  3. Update your job descriptions and align your HR team to support interview guides, performance management, and wage-setting processes with your new competency-based job description.


Bonus: If using the above mentioned GPT- the tool will walk you through by selecting the default prompts the process of setting up competencies for your organization.


Embracing Competency-Based Job Descriptions for Lean HR Organizations

As the modern workforce continues to evolve, adopting competency-based job descriptions becomes increasingly appealing for organizations of all sizes. While the initial investment and resource requirements may seem daunting, the hybrid model and the integration of AI tools offer viable solutions for lean or under-resourced HR teams.


By curating a list of defined competencies, seeking collaborative input from subject matter experts, and aligning HR processes with the new competencies-based framework, organizations can reap the benefits of enhanced recruitment, performance management, and wage optimization.


Embracing competency-based job descriptions not only positions companies for success in today's competitive talent markets but also fosters a culture of continuous improvement and alignment. With the right approach and tools at hand, any organization, regardless of its size, can leverage the power of competencies to drive growth, efficiency, and employee success.


Mosh JD allows companies to use AI to build job descriptions and competency lists. Visit our website now to book a demo.

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