HRDG 4335 - Merit Promotion Plan - Section B

HRDG 4335 - Merit Promotion Plan - Section B

Subchapter 4335
Merit Promotion Plan 

Section B - Job Analysis


Return to 4335 Table of Contents

What is a Job Analysis? A job analysis is a structured approach that outlines the major job-requirements and the knowledge skills and abilities that are necessary to successfully perform the duties of the positon. It is a useful tool which helps supervisors/managers and personnel specialists make employment decisions.
What is the Purpose of a Job Analysis?

When based on an accurate position description, a job analysis is essential to developing a rating plan to distinguish best qualified from basically qualified applicants.

When there are ten or less competitive applicants, the streamlined evaluation method in MRP Merit Promotion Plan Directive 4335.1 (also described at the end of this Section) may be used.

What if the Job Will Open at More Than One Grade? If the position will be announced through merit promotion at multiple grades (e.g., 9/11/12), the same job analysis may be used, provided the KSA(s) remain the same through all announced grades. Decisions as to whether or not a KSA distinguishes “Exceeds Acceptable” from “Minimally Acceptable” performers will change as the various positions in the career ladder are analyzed. An example of an appropriate grouping may be, grades 5/7 or grades 11/12. Where the KSA(s) evolve over the range of announced grades, then a separate job analysis must be constructed to reflect that evolution.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA)'s are the backbone of the job analyses.

Knowledge includes academic knowledge, knowledge of regulations, and information gained through work experience.

Examples of Knowledge:

  • Knowledge of laws on import/export of fruits.
  • Knowledge of science lab safety.
  • Knowledge of budgeting principles and procedures.

Skills include proficient know how acquired through practice.

Examples of Skills:

  • Skills in horseback riding.
  • Skills in typing.
  • Skills in using a microscope.

Abilities include competence to perform an observable activity, produce products, or solve problems.

Examples of Abilities:

  • Ability to write reports.
  • Ability to communicate verbally.
  • Ability to plan and organize work.
Who Prepares the Job Analysis?

The job analysis may be prepared by:

  • The supervisor, manager, or selecting official,
  • A subject matter expert (SME), or
  • A group of experts.

Assistance may be received from the classification specialist, staffing specialist, and/or the staffing assistant.

Note: The individual who prepares the job analysis may not be an applicant for the vacancy.

How Do I Prepare a Job Analysis?

The Job Analysis plays an essential role in identifying candidates who possess the work experience and skills levels for which managers are recruiting. Rating plans should be appropriate for the particular positions and grade levels being advertised.

The following table gives steps to complete a job analysis (JA). Detailed instructions, sample JA's, and assistance may be obtained from your servicing personnel office.

Remember: The individual who prepares the JA cannot be an applicant for the vacancy and must be identified on the forms. The worksheets that follow this table may be reproduced locally or may be entered into an automated system and used for your JA.

If you have an accurate position description (PD) in Factor Evaluation System (FES) format, you can use the KSA's listed in the PD and skip to step 6 in the following table. If you know what KSA's are needed to successfully perform the position, you may want to skip to step 6.

Step Action Worksheet
1 Identify major duties (limit to 4 or 5), using sources like job descriptions, qualifications and classification standards, functional statements, or similar documents. #1
2 Identify Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA's) needed to perform each major duty. #1

Determine which KSA's are essential (limit: three to seven) to perform the duties. The KSA's must be brought to the job and could not be learned in a reasonable time, e.g., 90 days.

Eliminate nonessential KSA's.


Combine similar KSA's. Determine which will distinguish exceeds acceptable, acceptable, or minimally acceptable.

Eliminate nondistinguishing KSA's.

5 List measurement tools where evidence of KSA's can be found; e.g., application, interview. #2

Develop KSA and if possible, an operational statement.

Example: Ability to communicate in writing in order to prepare scientific publications.


Develop level definitions for use with the rating schedule.

Examples of Level Definitions:

  • Exceeds Acceptable: Give presentations to high level Agency officials, justify and explain complex issues.
  • Acceptable: Give presentations on issues of a technical nature to agency employees.
  • Minimally Acceptable: Meets at less than fully successful level.

    Note: These level definitions are equivalent to an answer key on an exam and must be kept confidential!


Streamlined Evaluation Method
Number of
Evaluation Method:
10 or Less

This is a simplified method to identify best qualified candidates, based upon a rating schedule, which may be used only when there are ten or fewer qualified applicants. The servicing personnel specialist, together with the selecting official, decides if this method will be used.

1) The servicing personnelist, while evaluating candidates to determine basic qualifications, applies the following criteria to identify the best qualified. Best qualified candidates must:

  • meet all basic eligibility requirements;
  • have a summary performance rating of at least ‘fully successful' or equivalent;
  • show some related experience, education, or training in each of the evaluation criteria; and having a rating of:

    - Acceptable (A) or Exceeds (E) in all KSAs, and

    - At least 1 Exceeds (E) on any one KSA

Candidates not meeting the above will not be considered best qualified.

2) If a servicing personnelist cannot determine whether the experience, education, or training relates to the evaluation criteria, he/she will obtain technical advice from a subject matter expert. When this is done, the promotion action record should reflect the basis for any decisions made

More than 10 The selecting official may have the staffing specialist rate and rank the applications, or may refer them to a promotion panel. Promotion panel members must conform to requirements in the USDA MPP. Panels usually consist of 2 to 4 people who are at or above the full performance level of the vacancy. Applicants for the vacancy and selecting officials cannot be panel members.

Back to 4335 Table of Contents