Guide to creating an effective job spec

If you’re in the market for a new hire in your team then a great place to start is creating a job specification. Getting the job specification right will have many benefits for your organisation such as speeding up the recruitment process, ensuring you spend your valuable time with the right candidates and aligning the requirements with the needs in your organisation.

From a job seeker perspective, a well written job description and person specification will inform and attract the right type of applicant. In today’s competitive job market, it’s an essential step of the recruitment process and will hopefully ensure that you have quality applicants that match your requirements as well as their career aspirations.

Check out our step by step guide to creating a winning job specification:

1 – Identify who you need

The first step in writing your job description is identifying what gap you currently have. Does that gap require a short term temporary worker? Someone on a fixed term contract to cover a period of time? Or, is the role a permanent requirement? Then include key stakeholders in the business to sense check your decision.
Consider is there is an internal applicant that would be well suited to the gap you have, who you can progress? Doing that may help in retaining and motivating your key members of staff. If there isn’t anyone internally that can fulfil the requirements of the role then it makes sense to go out to advert.
Getting the job title right will also determine your application rate. For example, “Telesales Executive” won’t sound desirable and will be highly competitive as there will be lots of these roles online. Can you get creative with the job title to attract a higher rate of applicants? Sometimes, the role duties will be the same but a different job title will help it stand out online.

2 – Have a start date in mind

Consider when you’d ideally like someone to start work with you. Is this position an urgent requirement, or is it one for later down the line? If it’s not for now then going out to advert too early can be costly. Candidates that see your job advert will be looking for a career move now and in the competitive marketplace will likely not be around with your extended timescales.
Also, your view on the role and requirements may change so it’s a good idea to create the job description and go out to advert 6-8 weeks before you’re ready to hire. That gives time for job seekers to apply, adequate time to review CV’s, shortlist and arrange interviews. It also allows for a 1 month notice period which is standard, unless for more senior roles which can be 3 months.
If the role you’re recruiting for is senior then bearing this in mind it’s worth going out to advert 14-16 weeks before your ideal start date. Possibly, longer for both if the role you’re filling is in a candidate short market.

3 – Don’t make it too lengthy

A job advert that is too lengthy may put people off. With the world of job hunting being mainly digital today and candidates often applying for roles on the hoof job seekers don’t have lots of time to read job adverts that are too long. This may also attract unsuitable candidates to apply, who don’t read it and then your time is spent going through an un-necessary amount of CV’s. Keep it short, sharp and punchy, ideally no more than one side of A4.

4 – Sell your company

Considering the competitive marketplace and that no doubt there will be other businesses recruiting at the same time as you, another way to make your job specification stand out is to sell what makes your company great.
Tell the story here of who you are, what you do, how long you’ve been trading, awards you’ve won, maybe what your customers say about you or even your staff! It’s great to paint a picture of not only what you do, but what it’s like to work there and include any benefits that are worth shouting about.
Some good examples of this are increased holiday allowances, pension contributions, private healthcare, online benefits platforms, “bring your pet to work days”, company socials, early finishes on a Friday, your Birthday off etc.

5 – Have a salary banding

When advertising the role, you will no doubt have a salary in mind that you’d like to pay and of course you will have to consider parity with your existing team.
Rather than pitch the role at an exact salary it’s advisable to have a banding based on experience. This may increase your application rate and will help you assess candidates skills/experience against their salary requirement.
Your ideal match may be something different to what presents itself in the application process but finding the right person is what matters most!

6 – Clearly define the role and person specification

This part of the job spec is about telling prospective employees about the role purpose, the duties within the role and what you’re looking for in the ideal candidate.
Role purpose – How does the role fit into your organisation? Who does it report to? What is the overall purpose of the role function and how does it link to your business strategy?
Duties – Define the duties within the role. These are typically a bulleted list of daily/weekly/monthly duties that the person would normally do. There may be things outside of this which can be covered with a final bullet of something such as ‘other duties may be required outside of this list’ or “other ad-hoc duties as required”
Person spec – Define what skills and experience you’re looking for. Again, these are typically in a bulleted list of requirements. Think of it as your wish list. There will be some non-negotiables which can form part of your essential criteria and some things which would be nice to have but aren’t essential. These are the desirables which may favour one candidate over another.
Typically, you may include industry knowledge, a specific computer system or package you work with or a relevant qualification. It’s important here not to discriminate so be as specific as you can in terms of what you’re looking for but don’t make it linked to a number of years’ experience.
It’s hard to demonstrate that one candidate is more desirable than another because they have for example 4 years’ experience where another has 2. It’s about the right person for the role. If you think the candidate will most probably have 4 years’ experience to perform the duties within the role and to meet the expectations, then use ‘ideally’. For example, “Ideally, 4 years’ experience in a similar role”

7 – Decide on an application process

Tell candidates how you’d like them to apply – is it via the advert link or would you prefer CV’s straight to your inbox, or your recruitment team? Would you like a cover letter to support their application and if so what would you like including on there?
Or, how about a video CV? It’s future forward and some love it! Tell the candidates the recruitment process including timescales such as closing date, dates for interviews and the ideal start date.

Here is a suggested template which you can use to incorporate the above:

Job Title [job title here]
 Location – include the normal workplace location of the role any travel to other sites/any territory the role covers  –
Salary/Package – include basic salary, commission earning potential and anything that comes with the role such as company car etc.  –
Our company – tell them about your business, what you do, what you’re well known for, how long you’ve been trading and why it’s great to work there. What is your culture like? And what benefits would they get working with you  –
The role – detail the role purpose and the duties within the role  –
The person spec – detail the essential and desirable requirements separately. Consider here what the ideal candidate would have done that would make them suitable and also the soft skills you’re looking for such as friendly, personable etc.
How to apply – include a closing date if necessary, and whether you’d like the candidate to email you directly or apply via the ad. Also, if you’d like a cover letter/supporting document include that too. In this section, if you’ve pencilled a date in for interviews include that as well as a suggested start date  –

8 – Promoting the position

Now that you’ve created your job specification the next thing to consider is how you’re going to promote it. There are lots of ways and methods such as your own website, online job boards, via recruiters and social media.
For advice and support on the right recruitment campaign to target the type of candidate you’re looking for why not drop us a line? Our talented team of recruiters are experienced in working in partnership with employers to find their perfect match.
Recruitment isn’t a one size fits all and we don’t work with every client the same. For more information on how our recruitment service can help you give us a call on 0114 321 1873 or email a request to

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