What is a job zone?

Using job zones to make better hires.

In the process of hiring for a specific position, hiring managers may yield better results if they write job descriptions and job titles that accurately reflect the role's job zone. A job zone is a group of occupations similar in regards to how much education, experience, or on-the-job training an employee would need to complete the required tasks.

Even if you're hiring candidates for a role, it's possible that you're not familiar with job zones. Many hiring managers and recruiters don't realize the valuable information they can provide in a job description to attract the most qualified candidates for a role. Knowing the position's job zone can help in this area.

What is job zone 1?

You are hiring for a role in job zone 1 if the position requires little, if any, preparation or education. These roles may involve following clear instructions, taking orders, and assisting others.

Candidates may need a high school diploma or GED certificate to land this kind of job. For example, a server at a restaurant doesn't need any college or vocational training to complete their responsibilities.

A position in job zone 1 may not require much knowledge before the employee shows up for their first day on the job. For instance, a barista need not ever have made a cup of coffee before getting a job at a coffee shop. Job training with the exact equipment in your workplace would possibly be more beneficial.

Job zone 1 requires little on-the-job training. In this zone, training takes just a few days or up to three months. Another worker can provide the training. This applies to positions like food prep workers, landscape workers, and dishwashers.

What is job zone 2?

Job zone 2 positions require some preparation. In these positions, employees use their skills and knowledge to assist customers, patients, and patrons.

These positions typically require a high school diploma. For example, a customer service representative may benefit from having a high school diploma with no need for a college degree to be successful in the role.

In these roles, it is beneficial to hire candidates who have some previous work-related skills or experience. For instance, if you're hiring for a cashier position at the grocery store, you might look for candidates who have already worked in a customer-facing position in the past. These roles may be beneficial for workers looking to move from one company to another in the same position.

Those who take job zone 2 positions require anywhere from three months to one year of on-the-job training. Other experienced workers typically provide the training, but in some cases, an apprenticeship may be helpful. For instance, a security guard may learn by shadowing their co-workers.

What is job zone 3?

In job zone 3, new workers benefit from more preparation. These positions may involve supervision, management, and training others. They may also involve higher levels of responsibility than other roles.

Occupations in job zone 3 often attend vocational schools or receive an associate degree. For example, barber roles are in job zone 3 because they may require candidates to attend a training program before working in the field.

In many cases, job zone 3 applicants already have related work experience. These positions may even require work-related skills or knowledge. For instance, electricians or estheticians must pass a licensing exam after taking career training to complete the role's responsibilities.

In these occupations, workers may need one to two years of on-the-job training or apprenticeship. For instance, a medical assistant may need to work alongside another assistant for about a year to understand the nuances of a workplace and job responsibilities.

What is job zone 4?

If you're hiring for a role in job zone 4, you want your candidates to have more preparation. These roles often require coordination, supervision, or management of others. In other roles, they require critical thinking and extensive decision-making.

In many job zone 4 positions, candidates need a four-year bachelor's degree. Of course, there are exceptions, and some roles do not require a degree at all. For example, it's possible to become a successful real estate agent without a four-year degree, but it may be helpful to have one.

For these positions, it's crucial to have some work-related experience or skills. A role in graphic design is a prime example. Candidates may need several years of experience working with graphic design programs to be successful in this role. Job training and work experience may extend several years in these zone 4 roles.

What is job zone 5?

Finally, job zone 5 requires extensive preparation. In these roles, workers are often put in positions of high responsibility. As a result, they may need to have strong communication skills in addition to management experience.

In most cases, job zone 5 positions require graduate school. While some of these positions may require a master's degree, others require a terminal degree, like a Ph.D., J.D., or M.D. For example, lawyers should have a J.D. and pass a licensing exam.

In terms of experience, job zone 5 requires extensive knowledge and skills. In fact, these roles might require that candidates have several years of experience before they enter the field. A medical physician is a prominent example. Before the physician begins working in their own clinic, they need to have several years of college in addition to medical school and internship training.

In these types of roles, some on-the-job training is useful, but you may determine that the candidates already have extensive experience. As a result, they may not need years of additional training once they're hired. For example, a professor may have years of experience teaching as a graduate student before they are ever assigned their own classes to teach.

What can you do with job zone information?

No matter which job zone you intend to hire in, it's important to know what you expect from candidates. When you understand the profile of the best candidate for the job, you can best cater your job description and interview questions toward those applicants. These are some of the best ways to ensure you're considering the right candidates.

"When you understand the profile of the best candidate for the job, you can best cater your job description and interview questions toward those applicants."

Understand what's important to your candidates

While many candidates are focused on providing for their families, you'll find that workers still want to feel valued for the work they do. In fact, one of the biggest reasons why people leave their jobs is to find jobs where they feel more valued. This is especially true for job zone 2, in which many candidates face barriers to finding new roles and often feel undervalued in their current roles.

Show candidates the value they add

While many candidates want to know how the company they work for will value them, they also want to know how they can benefit others. For instance, some candidates want to know that they'll make a difference in the world. Others want to know that they'll contribute to the community or that they'll be an integral part of the workplace culture.

Know how candidates find you

Next, it's valuable to know how job seekers find roles. Most workers find positions through employer websites, but some seek out jobs through social connections, like friends and family members. In fact, those in job zone 2 are much more likely to seek jobs from friends and family members, whereas those in job zone 4 are more likely to find roles through former colleagues or recruiters. When you know how individuals in these job zones find you, you can determine the best ways to advertise an open position.

Finding the right candidates for a role can be difficult, but understanding these job zones can help you find them. When you know how to use job zones to your advantage, you'll attract qualified candidates with the necessary experience and skills.


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