Judging ability is tricky. Sometimes ability is an innate, personal trait, and other times it is a by-product of education or experience. In considering abilities necessary to perform a job, be sure to separate abilities from educational requirements when applicable.

In some instances, ability is related to education, and only after a certain amount of education does a person have the ability to perform certain tasks. Consider lawyers and accountants. Generally, they must have an advanced degree and be certified in the state where they practice. Their ability to perform their duties is a by-product of their education and certification.

But sometimes, ability is not related to a specific educational attainment. Some people are natural-born communicators, for instance, and they tend to deal with people well. They can communicate easily and can develop a sense of rapport with people that makes people want to deal with them. This is a wonderful quality in a salesperson or an office receptionist. It is not something that is necessarily a product of education.

When you consider abilities, look not only at those that come from education, but at those that are desirable or necessary personal traits for that job, such as being able to communicate well with others.


Be sure that the abilities you include in your job description are not discriminatory by requiring abilities that would keep a certain racial, gender, ethnic, or religious group from being hired, unless the ability is a BFOQ (bona fide occupational qualification) of the job; in other words, where the person's religion, gender, or national origin is "reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise." For example, a religious school teacher may be required to be a practicing member of the religion being taught. This does not mean that you can have religion-based, gender-based, or national origin-based differences in pay for those holding the same job.