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Definitions About Staffing

    Before reviewing the many guidelines throughout this Library topic and its various subtopics, it might be useful to understand the most common terms used in staffing and, thus, included in many of the subtopics. The terms might become more clear as you progress through the guidelines in this overall topic of staffing in the Library. For now, try get a basic sense of what each means.

    • Staffing includes a broad scope of activities — the activities are best depicted by glancing at the links listed below.
    • The word hiring is sometimes used interchangeably with staffing, which does an injustice to the broad scope of activities involved in staffing. Hiring might be thought more specifically as screening the best job candidates, but especially making a formal job offer to the best candidate.
    • Even before a new employee is hired to do a job, the job should be clearly designed or defined. A job is a collection of tasks and responsibilities that an employee is responsible to conduct. Jobs have titles.
    • Job are usually designed by conducting a job analysis, which includes examining the tasks and sequences of tasks necessary to perform the job.
    • task is a typically defined as a unit of work, that is, a set of activities needed to produce some result, e.g., vacuuming a carpet, writing a memo, sorting the mail, etc. Complex positions in the organization may include a large number of tasks, which are sometimes referred to as functions.
    • Note that a role is the set of responsibilities or expected results associated with a job. A job usually includes several roles.
    • The job analysis also looks at the areas of knowledge, skills and abilities (the competencies) needed by the job. Typically, competencies are general descriptions of the abilities needed to perform a role in the organization. Ideally, competencies are even described in terms such that they can be measured.
    • Job descriptions are often used to describe a job and include lists of the general tasks, functions and/or responsibilities of a position, whereas competencies list the abilities needed to conduct those tasks, functions and/or responsibilities. Typically, the descriptions also specify to whom the position reports, qualifications needed by the person in the job and salary range for the position.
    • Staffing is sometimes considered to be a subset of the activities in Human Resource Management. To further confuse things, many people refer to Talent Management as the activities of Human Resource Management. Each of these phrases has its own topic in the Library and the introductory sections of each topic explain the use of that particular term.