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All companies want to be able to hire great people, and there are many factors which will contribute to success or failure in this area. For instance, if you’re hiring, you need a clear idea of what salary ranges and benefits you will be offering for each role. Your overall Employer Value Proposition must be fit for purpose and well communicated. You need to know what type of candidates you’re seeking and what skillsets the ideal new hire would have.
But even employers who have given plenty of thoughts to these considerations fall down when it comes to writing a great job specification for their open vacancies. This can have a big impact on the time it takes to hire a new person and the quality of the candidate pool.
If you’re wondering how to write a great job specification that will attract top talent, this complete guide will tell you everything you need to know.
A job specification is primarily an outline of the qualifications, experience, traits and abilities needed for a particular role in a company or organisation. It is usually considered to be different to a job description, which outlines the roles, responsibilities and work relationships relevant to a job. A job specification (or job spec) will usually appear alongside or as part of a job description in job adverts and listings. You’ll find job specification examples on job listings websites, as they are fundamental parts of job openings, the hiring process and finding the ideal candidate. Requirements for work skills, education qualifications such as degrees or apprenticeships, and work experience all feature in a job specification, which should let a job candidate know the kinds of things they need on their CV to be considered for a position. A job specification may also list more subjective information, such as which personality types or work styles may be best suited to a job. Being able to compose an accurate, detailed and focused job specification can be an important skill for HR managers and hiring managers in general.
An accurate job specification is a vital part of the recruitment process, and helps ensure that candidates considered for a job opening match with the role they are applying for with regard to skills, experience and other factors. If you write a job specification well, you can help save your company time and resources by making it more likely that only candidates with the correct qualifications and experience apply. Writing a thorough job specification can help prepare both candidates and job interviewers for the interview process, as interviews should feature job specification information that can be elaborated on in person. Great job specifications can also help attract candidates. If you write a job specification in a clear, focused way, you are potentially showing that your company has a similarly clear, focused vision for the job in question.
A job specification template can be useful when creating a job listing. The following is a template checklist to help those researching how to write a job specification.
The educational qualifications needed for a job are often the first thing candidates check in a job specification. You can list the degrees, diplomas, apprenticeships and any other qualifications that candidates need to have achieved to be considered for a job. It is helpful to outline whether your listed education requirements, and perhaps specific grades, are must-haves or are simply beneficial for applications. You might want to mention what equivalents to the main qualifications you have outlined could be considered. This could be especially useful when you want to attract the best talent from a variety of countries, and candidates who come from differing education systems.
Many jobs require credentials that are sometimes considered to be outside the traditional remit of education.
Some journalism jobs will require candidates to have a National Qualification in Journalism (NVQ), which not all journalism degrees are linked to. A machine operator may need a specific qualification showing they can operate certain equipment. A driver may need a license showing they can legally drive a type of vehicle such as a truck or passenger bus. We would advise you to ensure that any such required credentials are listed alongside educational requirements.
Some jobs will require a certain number of years of job experience in a similar role, in which case this information should be included. Mention whether relevant experience levels are mandatory for application, or if people who may not have such experience could still be considered. You can help attract the right person for the position by outlining which fields of work experience will be beneficial to an application, beyond the field the job sits in. For example, if an IT job required someone to perform in a large team, leadership skills via management experience may be beneficial in addition to IT work experience.
For most jobs there are likely to be required skills that are not necessarily linked to a certification or educational achievement. These will need to be highlighted by the potential employee. For instance, administration staff may need to be familiar with the particular admin software your company uses, or a labourer may need a certain level of fitness or ability to meet physical demands. Make sure that these are on your job specification, as well as issues such as ability to travel, if required.
To help create a richer job specification, it can help to include the work or personality styles and emotional characteristics that may be best suited to the role you are advertising. These may not be things that your company will be looking to empirically test or define, but they can be helpful in attracting candidates and establishing good potential matches. For instance, a job specification for a customer-facing role might note that the role would suit confident, personable candidates. It could also be related to something about the wider company culture. For example, a firm may place a strong focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, even if it is not a directly sustainability-related company, in which case mentioning that an interest in ESG issues might benefit a candidate.
Sometimes the phrases ‘job description’ and ‘job specification’ are used interchangeably, but more often the job specification is a part of, or alongside, the job description. Be sure to look into how to create strong job descriptions that your job specifications might sit alongside, when approaching the hiring process.
At PageGroup, our consultants have the expertise and resources to support you with every part of the hiring process, from job specification writing to interviewing candidates and onboarding your new hire. To have an introductory conversation and learn how we can help you, get in touch today.
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