How to write a job specification and why it’s important to get it right

18 September 2017 Gina Van Der Westhuizen

Job Descrip

How to write a job specification and why it’s important to get it right.


Writing a job specification is one of the most important parts of recruitment. Get it right and you can save a lot of time and money. You’ll recruit the right person, first time, and gain the ideal staff member to help you grow your business.

What is a job spec for?

Obviously, a job spec specifies what the job entails. But it has another function: it showcases you and your business, ensuring that the highest calibre of candidate applies. The job specification will be shared by your recruitment consultant, will appear online and, depending on the way your company operates, you might even email it to people in your talent pipeline. You want people to want to work with you – a good job spec will whet their appetites.

Why does a clear job specification matter?

Once these potential candidates see your job specification, they will read it to see if they fit the bill. If you’ve clearly detailed the different responsibilities, they will immediately know if they’re the sort of person you’re looking for. The advantage to you, the employer, is that your candidates will self-select. If you’re looking for a management accountant, for example, and working with pivot tables is essential to the role, making it clear in the job specification will ensure that only people with pivot table knowledge apply.

A clear job spec will also shape the way a candidate writes the application. If it’s clear from the job spec that you have a vacancy for a client-facing role, the applicant will make sure that their experience of working directly with clients stands out. The benefit for the employer is that you won’t have to trawl through the covering letter to try and find this important point.

How to write your job specification

Getting the job spec right isn’t difficult, but it does require thought. It’s a good idea to start by identifying the sort of person you want for the role. Remember that you’re looking for a real person, not perfection! Someone who truly thrives in a team is unlikely to be good at working independently – choose one or the other. Beware of being over-prescriptive – you might deter the best person for the job because they can’t meet one requirement.

It’s also helpful to divide the job spec into key areas. This will keep you on track and make it easier for candidates to follow too. Most job specifications separate naturally into overall purpose, core competencies and key objectives – use these headings as a guide to produce a clear job spec.

If you’re struggling with a job spec, or aren’t sure how to attract the right candidate, talk to us. Our expert team can help you navigate the recruitment process and hire someone who’ll be an asset to your business.