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Should I Proceed with a Job Analysis During a Crisis?

June 18, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted much of the world, and presently, there is still great uncertainty as to what the future holds for credentialing programs. While these programs have experienced a decrease in candidate testing as many test centers across the globe were shut down temporarily, other aspects of program maintenance and development have been affected as well.

Should I proceed with a job analysis during a crisis?One affected key component of certification and licensure programs is the job analysisThis periodic endeavor involves surveying a population of practitioners to update exam content outlines and ensure that exam content is current, relevant, and representative of a given job role. 

Job analyses (aka: practice analyses, role delineation studies) are often conducted once every three to seven years, and for some credentialing programs, 2020 was the year for this to take place. However, given how quickly COVID-19 changed the worldcertification and licensure program leaders may be rethinking their job analysis timelines. 

With that in mind, here are a few questions you should ask yourself to determine whether to delay or proceed with a job analysis in this new labor market:

What is the impact of COVID-19 on the current job role? 

Has the role of your target population temporarily changed as a result of COVID-19? For example, healthcare organizations around the country have shifted their workforce to accommodate relief efforts. Other industries, such as travel and tourism, have laid off and furloughed employees.

If your target population for job analysis has experienced short-term changes in job duties, surveying practitioners about their current role may not actually reflect their true role in normal times. Furthermore, if a sizable portion of your target population is suddenly unemployed, would surveying only those who still hold jobs adequately represent the broader role of interest?

Will the crisis impact the potential responses to your job analysis survey? 

Using a baseline, determine your expected response rate under typical circumstances. Now, how do you think your response rates would be impacted as a result of the crisis? For example, the volume of your total responses may be impacted, especially if the workload of your target population has grown due to COVID-19Furthermore, different areas of the country – and the world – have varying rates of infections, pace of business re-openings, relaxation of social distancing restrictions, and so on. Because of geographic differences in responses to and recovery from the crisis, you also need to consider whether your job analysis survey will elicit a representative sample of your target population

Will the crisis impact the future of the job role? 

It is feasible that for some industries, the new “normal – whatever that may be – will look quite a bit different post-COVID-19. For instance, it is possible that healthcare systems and policies around the world change considerably in response to the pandemic. Thereforecertain healthcare professions may undergo a sea change in terms of work activities and responsibilities. For credentialing program leaders, determine your expectations for the future of your industry and your target population for the next few years. Is broad change on the horizon? And if so, when do you expect things to sufficiently settle?

Contemplating these questions can help you decide the appropriate time to conduct a job analysis for your credentialing program. Whereas some professions that have been relatively insulated from crises can proceed with a job analysis as scheduled, other exam programs must determine if 2020 is still the right time to move forward.

If your target population is sufficiently impacted by crisis, it may make sense to delay the survey portion of the job analysis to ensure a sufficient response rate from a representative sample of practitioners, reflecting the actual job functions of the roleIf you expect longer-term changes to your industry, it may be prudent to delay the job analysis process for even longer. In any case, certification programs must ensure that job analysis is performed on a frequent enough basis to support the validity of their examinations. 

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Scott Frohn, PhD Scott Frohn, PhD is a Director of Psychometrics at PSI. He earned his doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with an emphasis on Developmental and Learning Sciences. Dr. Frohn provides psychometric oversight for certification programs in a variety of industries, which includes activities such as job analysis, standard setting, equating, item writer training, as well as statistical, accreditation, and research support. He uses his expertise with R statistical software and Microsoft Excel to develop programs and tools for the department and is a valued and dedicated contributor to the PSI Psychometrics team.