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Job or Person Specification

When looking to hire a new employee for your business, it's a good idea to draft a job and person specification to help you in your recruitment process. These two documents will save you a lot of time in the long run and make your hiring process and decision as effective and efficient as possible. Here's our guide on the difference between the two documents and some pointers to help you write them.

What's the Difference Between a Job and Person Specification?

Job Specification

A job spec details the roles and functions of the individual that you're looking to recruit. This includes the day-to-day responsibilities of the vacancy as well as the job title, host department and who the successful candidate will report to.

Person Specification

A person spec is the details and profile of what your ideal candidate would look like. This includes everything from the skills, qualifications, or experience you want your dream employee to own and the personal characteristics and traits that would help them fulfil the role.

Why Should You Write Both Specifications?

  • It will help your recruitment consultant – In most cases, a job and person specification are handed to the team looking after your recruitment process, for instance, your HR department or a recruitment agency. Giving your recruiter a comprehensive brief of the role to fill and the person to find will increase their chances of finding that candidate quickly and effectively.
  • It will narrow the pool of applicants – Detailed specifications let applicants know exactly who you're looking for and will increase your chances of the right person applying for your role. This can help to cut unsuitable candidates at the first step by giving them some criteria they need to meet to be considered for the position.
  • You can use the documents as a checklist - When evaluating applications, it can be helpful to refer back to these two specifications, which will ultimately stop you from missing something and save you time in the process. 
  • They will probably be helpful in the future – Particularly if you're an employer for a large business, you will have similar roles in your organisation, and you can re-use these documents for other recruitment processes. Alongside this, you may have to recruit for the same position again in the long term!

What Should You Include in Job and Person Specifications?

We have written a detailed guide on how to write job and person specifications – but here are some key things to include in the documents:

Job Specification

  1. The Job title – Where do they fit in the company?
  2. The location of the role – Where will they be working from day to day?
  3. The general objectives of the job – What are they working towards?
  4. Responsibilities of the job – What are they in charge of? Who are they in charge of?
  5. Salary & benefits package – What is the basic salary? Is there a bonus structure?

Person Specification

  1. The level of experience required – How many years do they need to have completed in a similar role?
  2. Qualifications & education – Are there any specific qualifications a candidate needs to have? Are you looking for someone with a degree?
  3. The skills needed to fill the role – This element can cover a broad range of things, e.g., leadership, technical, or communicative qualities which the ideal candidate would have.
  4. Interests– This is often a 'nice-to-have' rather than mandatory, but sometimes you will have a clear picture of a candidate, and their interests will matter!

Job and Person Specification Checklist

Here at Aaron Wallis, we have written this checklist to aid you in writing your specifications. By following this list of questions, you will have written a successful person and job specification:

Mandatory, Essential and Preferred Attributes (MEP)

Once you've drawn up a list of requirements for the role, we think using the system MEP is useful for evaluating candidates. Now, this is quite simple, once you've got your list:

  • M is Mandatory. This is what the individual has to display in their CV to attend the interview.
  • E is for Essential. This is what the candidate has to display at the interview for you to employ them.
  • P is Preferred-- the 'nice to haves'. The things that would be the icing on the cake but aren't necessarily essential.

This system can be used throughout the recruitment process and can be really important for making sure you get your priorities right when considering candidates!

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About the author

Rob Scott

Rob is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff for businesses across a broad range of commercial sectors. Before setting up Aaron Wallis, Rob spent ten years at a specialist Sales and Marketing recruitment division of a £0.5BN recruitment group, leaving in 2007 as Marketing & Sales Director to establish Aaron Wallis.
 
With over 24 years of experience in sales recruitment, Rob is a History graduate with an MBA (Merit) and a PgCert in Management Practice.  In 2007, 2009 and 2013 Rob conducted the most extensive surveys of sales professionals in the UK and is a trusted authority in the sales industry. From guiding employers through the recruitment process to helping candidates find their dream job, Rob's advice has been quoted in leading publications such as Business Insider and The Independent, as well as OnRec, which host The Online Recruitment Awards every year.

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