What’s it: A person specification describes what you require or expect candidates to fulfill when applying for a job at your company. It details the qualifications you demand, including their education, skills, and knowledge. It becomes an important part of the job advertisement along with the job description. Sometimes also called a person specification.
How do a job specification and a job description differ?
Job specifications with job descriptions are the main content of job advertisements. In it, you explain what vacant positions, what candidates will do in your company, what you expect and require from them and what you have to offer.
The job description details the position and what jobs you offer. It contains job title, duties and responsibilities, work location, and who they will report to when working at your company.
Meanwhile, job specifications contain the qualities you require from a candidate. For example, it contains requirements regarding education or certification, skills, work experience, knowledge in related fields or general knowledge, and skills such as communication and presentation.
Why is a job specification important?
People work in your company to get compensation such as salary, benefits and a comfortable work environment. And, you expect them to help and support you in achieving your vision and mission. And, you need them to have the related skills and knowledge to act and work effectively.
And, when you offer a job vacancy in an ad, your expectations are listed in the job specification. Thus, it is important to give the candidate an understanding of what qualities you need. Thus, it is easier for them to judge whether they are eligible or not.
Another reason why job specifications are important is to make sure those applying are qualified. They suit your needs. When they do not qualify, they admit they are not eligible to apply.
You also need to screen potential candidates before moving on to the next hiring process. For example, some candidates have the appropriate skills. Yet, others may possess those skills and have long experience. So, you can choose which one is better.
What are the contents of a job specification?
Parameters for job specifications can vary, depending on what position you are offering and what you need. And the general criteria include experience, education, skills, knowledge, and personal qualities.
You may prefer a candidate with more experience in the position you are offering. They are likely to be more adaptable, work more effectively, and require less training.
However, it also brings other consequences. For example, they may ask for a higher salary because they feel more skilled and have high working hours.
In addition to having worked in a similar position, the length of service is also a consideration. For example, to fill the division head position, you require the candidate to have experience in a managerial role for at least seven years.
These requirements may include general accomplishments such as a high school, undergraduate, or postgraduate diploma. Their major is also another consideration. For example, to fill a vacancy in the accounting and finance department, you require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in finance.
When education is relevant to the position you are offering, you are more likely to find a qualified candidate. This is because they have adequate understanding and knowledge.
However, in some companies, educational requirements may not be the main thing. Instead, they may consider individual qualities more than that. Or they only require certification rather than educational background.
Sometimes, education alone is not enough as a prerequisite. You may want the candidate to be certified. For example, to fill a position as an investment manager, a company may require the candidate to graduate and hold a professional certificate as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).
Another related aspect is licensing. For example, working as an investment manager requires official permission from the regulator. Thus, a license as an investment manager is a prerequisite.
Knowledge can have specific and general dimensions. Specific means related to the job position you are offering. Educational background and certification are among the indicators.
Meanwhile, general knowledge can include managerial knowledge, and the industry in which your company operates. It can be obtained through experience, training, or other sources. For example, when you recruit staff for the human resources department, you may prefer those with knowledge of health and safety-related laws and regulations, even if they do not have a legal education background.
Skills and abilities
Skills refer to the potential possessed by a candidate to perform a job and can be learned through training or experience. For example, for workers in factories, companies require skills in operating machines. A position as a financial analyst requires skills in creating financial models, operating accounting software, or Microsoft office.
Meanwhile, ability refers to the innate potential in the candidate. It is usually difficult to imitate, although it can be improved through training and experience. For example, extroverted candidates tend to communicate better than introverted ones. Indeed, it can be learned, but there are often significant differences between them.
Character, attitude, interests, passion, and motivation may be other prerequisites in the job specification. It might play a bigger role in influencing candidate performance than any other aspect. For example, some of your employees may not have adequate education in finance. However, they have a passion for learning, discipline, and a high work ethic. So, they can be effective in their current role.
Individual qualities can play a big role when you are developing innovation. You need open-minded people who don’t like the status quo and are passionate about finding solutions to problems. That usually depends not on the education or certification obtained but on the individual character.
Google is a good example. It favors those who love to keep learning, are growth-oriented, and are constantly passionate about tackling big changes.
What to read next
- Job Description: Why It Matters, Examples
- Job Specification: What Is It And Why Is It Important?
- Internal Recruitment: How it Works, Advantages and Disadvantages
- External Recruitment: How it works, Advantages and Disadvantages
- Job Analysis: Its Importance, Methods, and Steps
- Job Advertisement: Contents, How to Create, Factors to Consider
- Recruitment: Its Importance, Types, and Stages