How To Say What A Job Does, Part 2

Shawna HendersonMarch 15, 2016

Job Task Analysis can be a formidable challenge. It’s about breaking down a job into tasks and then analyzing them. How do you best say what a job does? There needs to be method, or it ends up in madness.

Here’s a simplified version of the process for ‘just in time’ or ‘on the job’ training, modified from an excellent overview of Instructional Design from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.


The job has to be identified. That’s step one. Then the major tasks have to be identified. That’s step two. The tasks have to be analysed, and possibly, broken out into subtasks, depending on the answers to the two questions below:

1: What do you need to know and be able to do to perform the job task?

2: Can you teach – and can someone learn – that task in 30 minutes?

Question 1 needs answers that start with an action verb. The action must be measurable, and there must be an object, or a recipient of the action. Huh? Use words like:

Action Verb >>> Object

Create… an epic poem in the Japanese style

Execute… ten push ups every day

Measure… daily office coffee consumption

Develop… a content marketing strategy

Frame… a wall

Brainstorm the task list, writing the tasks down in any order. List as many as possible.

Use a 3 column worksheet to go through this process.

Column 1 is the answer to Question 1

Column 2 and 3 are the Yes/No answer to Question 2


Once you have identified the tasks through question 1, it’s time to go back to them and determine the answers to Question 2. Can each task be taught and learned in 30 minutes. Mark each one yes or no.

If the answer is yes, that task is ready for a module to be developed. If the answer is no, then break that task into subtasks, that can, in turn, be taught and learned in 30 minutes.




Does the person being trained need to know or be able to carry out other tasks before learning the ones you’ve listed?

Yes? Add them to the list, and put them through the two-question process.


Once you’ve gone through this process a few times, and your tasks are all within the 30 minute time frame, you can prioritize the list of tasks in a sequence that makes sense.

Then…it’s time to build your training module!

 Missed Part 1 of this article?


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