Most job-holders want to do their best work each day. To do this they need to have a clear idea what is expected of them. Accurate job descriptions are an important tool important for defining what is expected of jobholders in each job and at each level in an organisation.

Job descriptions are intended to define a job's purpose, set out the reporting relationships, describe responsibilities, the key tasks and often the skills required to perform them. However, jobs that involve working with people generally require job-holders to use Spotlight skills, which are hard to describe and measure. As a result, the key requirements are not clear. Skills are described as if they were individual personality traits rather than learned skills. Terms such as ‘relate well’ or ‘excellent communication’ do not really tell us what skill level is required.

 Spotlight is designed to add value to any existing tools you use to write job descriptions. It can be used to:

If you have employees already doing the job description you want to update:


Step 1

Ask one or more job-holders who are doing the job you wish to describe more accurately to complete a Spotlight Job Requirements Analysis Workbook – International Version or a Spotlight Job Requirements Analysis Workbook – Aotearoa/NZ version

You will normally find that employees are keen to have a clear and up to date job description and will be pleased to have input into this process.

Step 2

Analyse the data collected from the job-holder’s Spotlight profile (perhaps in consultation with the job-holder).

This will provide a clearer picture of the type, number and levels of skills that job-holders use in their current job.

You may have collected Spotlight profiles from several employees who do the same job but have spent different lengths of time in the job. If so, you may have a clearer idea about the difference in skill level between a beginning practitioner and an experienced staff member in this job and the length of time it normally takes to move from one level to the next.

Step 3

Take note of any skills and activities in the profiles that are missing from the current job description.

You may also wish to ask the job-holders to describe specific examples of activities from their current jobs. A completed Spotlight profile may be attached to the job description.

Step 4

In updating the job description you may also wish to draw upon terms from the Thesaurus of terms for writing further activity descriptors.





















The job description you want to update may use terms that require to be explained more fully, such as customer focus, problem-solving, teamwork and leadership. You can:

Use Spotlight to describe customer focus skills

Use Spotlight to describe problem-solving skills

Use Spotlight to describe teamwork skills

Use Spotlight to describe leadership skills


Example of a job description where Spotlight has NOT been used. [The job description does NOT clearly define the skills required or identify that there is scope for learning and development]:

The jobholder will work closely with others to ensure the smooth functioning of the office. The jobholder will be:

  • enthusiastic, professional and self-motivating, with a ‘can-do’ attitude’
  • strongly customer-focused, with a natural empathy
  • a team player with strong organisational skills
  • adaptable and able to solve problems
  • tactful and diplomatic.

The jobholder will:

  • relate well to people from a variety of backgrounds
  • have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.