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Writing a Job Spec

Getting to grips with your job spec can be tough. Here are a few helpful VIQU tips to get you started

When speaking to a member of our VIQU team over the phone, it’s easy to relay what sort of person you think you’re looking for and what they’ll be doing. But how could you benefit from really getting to grips with a detailed job and person spec?
It’s often the case that what you think you’re looking for, and what you actually need, are two completely different people. 

What’s the benefit?
Before you place a job advertisement or register your vacancy with VIQU, 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 incumbent 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 and VIQU 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 CVs more speedily and ruthlessly, as well as providing a list of pertinent questions for interview.
Things to consider when writing your job spec:


  • Range of responsibilities
  • Department and job title
  • Salary range and benefits
  • Training and career options available
  • Core job description
  • Aims of position
  • Specific responsibilities and day-to-day duties
  • Who the job reports to
  • The ‘job process’ from start to finish i.e. time lines, interviews and offer
  • A ‘typical day’ (if appropriate)
  • Examples of one-off projects (livens up the job – livens up the spec)

The person spec:

  • Skills & abilities
  • Essential and desired technologies
  • Qualifications & experience
  • Abilities you expect your ideal candidate to demonstrate
  • Think in terms of organisational, communicative, soft skills or creative skills
  • What level of experience (if any) is needed?
  • Character & personal qualities, and 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
  • Include any other areas of the person and job that you have not included
  • 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 fulfil 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.

When reviewing your recruitment needs, and perhaps a specific vacancy you have, please call the VIQU team on 0121 227 8200. You can also say hello on VIQU Chat or contact us here.