Writing a Job Specification
It’s easy to say over the phone to a recruitment consultant, what sort of person you’re looking for and what they’ll be doing. But how could you benefit from really getting a grip on a detailed job and person spec?
Before you place a job advertisement or register your vacancy with a recruitment consultancy, it’s wise to invest some time evaluating just what it is you’re after.
The job specification is a tailored description of the vacancy, including the responsibilities of the post-holder and goals of the job. The person specification is a profile of the person you consider best fits the bill. Preparing a detailed spec helps you to focus on exactly what skills you seek. The finished document aids your HR or personnel department or recruitment consultant in identifying candidates for you to interview. It’s also a great exercise in re-evaluating your departmental needs, giving you the opportunity to juggle around responsibilities amongst your team if necessary.
Job and person specifications help candidates. They get a better grasp of the job for which they are applying; helping to attract those who might not otherwise apply and narrowing the field by hopefully excluding those who don’t fit the bill or who don’t even like the sound of the job. Many employers make the mistake of advertising a vague-sounding job, with the intention of seeing ‘who turns up’. This invariably leads to lost time spent sifting through irrelevant applications or interviewing candidates who, when confronted with the reality of the position, discover the role is not for them after all.
The specifications you prepare will help you evaluate resumes more speedily and ruthlessly, as well as providing a list of pertinent questions for the interview.
THE JOB SPECIFICATION
• Department and job title
• Salary range
• Core job description
• Aims of position
• Specific responsibilities
Range of responsibilities:
• Day-to-day duties
• Who the employee reports to
• The ‘job process’ from start to finish
• A ‘typical day’ (if appropriate)
• Examples of one-off projects (livens up the job – livens up the spec)
The person spec skills & abilities:
• Abilities you expect your ideal candidate to demonstrate
• Think in terms of technical, organizational, communicative or creative skills
• Apply each skill required with the specific job tasks
Qualifications & experience:
• What specific education or course background do you require?
• What level of experience (if any) is needed?
• Is the candidate required to have held a prior job of similar description?
• Length of experience gained – in which specific industries and departments
Character & personal qualities:
• What sort of personality would fit in with your team?
• Use descriptive words that would describe the nature of your ideal candidate
• Think of traits that would help them complete the job efficiently
• Character traits of a person with a love of the industry or a similar role
• What other qualities would you like your employee to display?
• Include any other areas of the person and job that you have not included already
• Think laterally in your descriptions – delve into the underlying nature of the person and job
Be specific: by specifying as much as possible your exact needs, jobseekers will know exactly what the job entails and be able to say better if they fulfill your expectations. By specifying exactly who it is you are looking for, you are avoiding the problems that can arise once the successful applicant has actually started work.
Vague (or non-existent) descriptions can even result in an employee leaving prematurely because they have found that the job has not fulfilled their ideals or you can feel continually frustrated due to mistakes that have been made in the job because the employee has not known the job requirements. In essence, a job or person spec is a communicative document between you and your department, your HR or personnel officer and your job applicant.