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How to write a job & person specification


When liaising with a recruitment consultant, it's easy to outline what sort of person you're looking to recruit, and what they'll be doing. But before you register your vacancy, it's wise to invest some time evaluating just what it is you're after.


The advantages of detailed specifications

Preparing detailed specs will help you to focus on exactly what skills you seek, whilst aiding your HR department or recruitment consultant 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.

The job specification is a tailored description of the vacancy, including the responsibilities and goals of the post-holder.

The person specification is a profile of the person you consider best fits the bill.

Job and person specifications also help candidates. It will help to attract those who might not otherwise apply and narrow 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 time being lost 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 speedily and ruthlessly, as well as providing a list of pertinent questions for interview.

The job specification



  • Department and job title
  • Salary range
  • Core job description
  • Aims of the position
  • Specific responsibilities


Range of responsibilities

  • - Day-to-day duties
  • - Who the job-holder reports to
  • - The 'job process' from start to finish
  • - A 'typical day' (if appropriate)
  • - Examples of one-off projects (livens up the job - livens up the spec)   


The person specification


Skills & abilities

  • Abilities you expect your ideal candidate to demonstrate
  • Think in terms of technical, organisational, communicative or creative skills
  • Apply each skill required with the specific job tasks   


Qualifications & experience

  • What specific education or course background do you require?
  • What level of experience (if any) is needed?
  • Is the candidate required to have held a prior job of similar description?
  • Length of experience gained – in which specific industries and departments


Character & personal qualities

  • 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
  • Character traits of a person with a love of the industry or a similar role


Ideal qualities

  • What other qualities would you like your employee to display?
  • 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


Don't be vague

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 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 on 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.

To find out more about how our specialists can help you attract high quality applicants, contact us at your nearest Hays office


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