Job specification

  • Recruitment
Job Specification
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Job specification is a written statement of specific qualities for a job you’re advertising. As part of your job analysis, find out how to structure your recruitment process.

Every business hopes to attract and hire the most suitable candidates. Which is why it's important for employers to have an effective hiring process. This includes writing job specifications for any available roles at your company.

A job specification, or a job spec, can make recruitment simpler and saves time. Without a job spec, your recruitment team may have difficulty finding suitable talent.

In this guide, we'll discuss what a job specification is, the difference between job specs and job descriptions, and how to write one.

What is a job specification?

Unlike job descriptions, a job specification states the personality traits - or skills - a potential employee needs to do a certain job. These include educational qualifications, essential skills, and work experience. As well as details of the company culture.

Hiring managers will typically draft job specifications for their employer. But, smaller business owners may ask employees in senior management positions to create one. Or even write it themselves.

Why are job specifications important?

A job specification is important for several reasons. It saves time for your HR manager and makes it easier to identify ideal candidates.

A job specification can also streamline the recruitment process. As well as establish what your business expects from day one.

The components of a job specification

There are many elements to a job specification. So, it's important you cover each one thoroughly.

Let’s explore the components you need to include.

Education requirements

Your company may need candidates with specific qualifications to perform a certain role.

Qualifications could include:

  • A-levels.
  • An undergraduate degree. 
  • A master's degree.

Some job specs may even require someone with a degree in a specific field or area of study. For example, a person wanting to be an engineer would need a degree in engineering.

Licenses, certifications, and credentials

Not all jobs need extensive education. And some job specs could include fewer required skills. Some positions may only need applicants with certain licenses, certifications or credentials.

For example, a job seeker would need to have a relevant certification in teaching to apply for teaching roles.

Relevant experience

Sometimes employers ask candidates to have relevant experience. This will depend on the level of the position.

For example, entry-level jobs may note that work experience is not necessary and that the needed training will be given on the job. Whereas, senior management positions may ask for a candidate to have experience in a leadership role or team management.

Skill requirements

Before writing a job specification, the employer or the HR manager will sit down and decide what skills the role requires. They can conclude this from the job responsibilities.

Examples of job-specific skills include:

  • Computer expertise.
  • Leadership skills.
  • Experience with certain softwares or programs.
  • Problem-solving abilities.

Physical demands

Some jobs require an employee to perform physical demands. This may include heavy lifting and standing for long periods of time. Or, working in extreme weather conditions.

For example, a bricklayer will need to be strong enough to lift bricks all day. As well as being able to work on severely hot or cold days.

It's important to note a role's physical demands on a job specification. This way, applicants know if they have the strength and stamina for the role.

Personality traits

Applicants must have the right personality traits for certain roles. These traits may include emotional characteristics. Such as the ability to remain calm in intense situations and being able to maintain confidentiality.

For example, mental health roles will require the right candidate to have a certain level of emotional intelligence. This is because they will be dealing with patients who may have complex issues.

Consequently, a job specification may note that the best prospects will understand how to manage a patient. Especially in extreme, emotional circumstances.

The difference between a job description and job specification

You need both a job description and a job specification to help find the ideal candidate for a role. Whilst they're different, using both can aid the selection process.

A job description states the duties of the role, as well as specific details about the role. Whereas, a job spec details employee specifications and business requirements.

A job description may include:

  • The job title.
  • A job summary.
  • The job duties and responsibilities.
  • salary

The difference between job analysis and job specification

To write a job specification, you should perform a job analysis.

A job analysis collects ample information about a particular job. From this, an employer can establish what skills a candidate must have to perform the role's responsibilities.

A job analysis can also help determine which workers fit which roles. And identify training needs for those who are unable to perform a specific task. Employers can also use job analysis to evaluate employees.

How to write a job specification

Now you know what to include in a job specification, you can begin writing one. And if you've not done it before, there are a few things you can do to ensure it’s effective.

These include:

Check out a sample job specification

You should check out a sample job specification when writing your own. Especially a job specification that's relevant to your role or industry.

Your company may require different skills and qualifications. But, they can give you an idea of what other employers, or even competitors, are looking for in their business.

Regular reviews

In a work environment that’s always changing, you should regularly review your job specifications. This is because a role’s responsibilities may change and leave the spec out of date.

For example, you may have a position which involves dealing with a specific customer or client. But, if this client ceases business with you, that would no longer be relevant to the job spec.

Be inclusive

You must not discriminate against workers with protected characteristics on a job spec. The Equality Act 2010 outlines these characteristics.

These characteristics include:

Get expert advice from Peninsula UK

As an employer, it's important to have an efficient recruitment process. By creating job specifications for your live roles, you can find the most suitable candidates for your company.

Without a job spec, you may find it difficult to compare candidates' skills to the job description. This can cost your business time and money. As well as the potential of missing out on new hires.

Peninsula offers you expert 24/7 HR advice and support, helping you manage your workplace's recruitment process, as well as offering job specification advice. Contact us on 0800 051 3685.

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