Part 1: How to write a good job specification

Part 1 – How to write a good job specification

In the first of a double bill on the job specification, we look at why it’s not a good idea to pull the old job spec out of the drawer and hand it to your recruitment agency. It pays to take a fresh look at the job specification, for you, your recruitment agency and the candidates. Here’s why:

It helps you to:

1. Think about the role in a strategic way

In putting on paper the objectives and working through the duties involved in the role, you will have a much greater understanding of how this person will fit into the bigger picture of the team or organisation. It may lead to some surprising conclusions. In the case where you’re replacing someone you may realise the role is much bigger than one person. Conversely, you may realise that there isn’t enough to the role to justify one whole person. The process of writing the specification provides you with an opportunity to take a helicopter view of the whole department or organisation. Is this your chance to shift duties and workload around to make things work better in general?

2. Think about the person you need

The process of writing the job spec forces you to think about the role in a much more detailed way than you may have done up to now. “We really need another person in the marketing team” might be what you are thinking, but what type of person exactly do you want? What skills are you lacking that this person should bring? Is there a specialist role that would really help you achieve your business objectives that this person could do? Let’s say you are lacking good analytical skills and the ability to crunch numbers; what skills and experience does the ideal candidate need to complete this role? Really quite different ones to a general marketing person. A good job spec will pinpoint exactly the qualifications and experience the right person should have.

3. Prepare for the interview…

The job spec makes a good basis for your interview preparation. You can assess the CV against the job spec and identify anything you might need clarity on at interview.
…and for performance reviews
Specifications are also useful after the vacancy has been filled, as they can help to assess a new recruit’s performance and to determine their future training needs.

It helps prospective candidates:

1. Assess whether or not they should apply

Candidates reading through a detailed specification will be able to pick up the nuances and rule themselves in or out at an early stage. If the finance role sounds like there is a lot of credit control involved, for example, a candidate who lacks experience in that area might decide not to waste their time – or yours – by applying.

2. See the job for what it is

A realistic job spec helps manage the expectations of successful new employees, avoiding a situation where, a few weeks in, they are in your office saying the job isn’t what they signed up for.

It helps your recruitment consultant:

The more comprehensive the brief you give to your recruiter, the more effective he or she will be. It will allow them to rule in or out candidates with confidence, resulting in a much faster response and a better match.

Job Specification Advice Part 2 can be found here.

Need more tips to perfect that Job Spec? Here are some great articles tackling this same topic.

“Job Description examples for various Industries/Job Types” –

“How to write a job description and person specification” – KnowHowNonProfit

“5 simple steps to writing a concise Job Description” – Recruit Loop