The importance of a good Job Spec

11 November 2020

Over my career I’ve seen LOTS of job specs. Some good, some bad and some downright terrible. I’m sorry to say that the trend of companies writing awful job briefs still lives on strong today. 

I for one cannot fathom why companies expect to hire and attract the right people for a role when they don’t put together a decent job brief. 

Let’s first of all look at why the job spec is so important after all. 

  • If you don’t know what you’re looking for then how can you expect to hire someone suitable for the Job? 
  • You need to be able to sell the role effectively to attract the right level of talent 
  • If you’re using a 3rd party to help with the search, they too need to know what you need 

So with this in mind what do I think makes a good job Spec? 

At this stage it’s important to mention that whilst it’s a good idea to get the spec written onto paper/word etc it isn’t a must! That’s right. You don’t always need to write the job spec down. For example when working with an agency (especially to find a contractor), you can give your brief verbally to work out what you want and it’s then up to that agent to make notes. Sometimes these are the best job specs out there because the discussion almost always helps to pinpoint what is needed first time! 

If you do put finger to keyboard, and you are going to be working with a 3rd party to help source great people, I would always suggest having a discussion about it anyway. This can help you understand what is really possible for you to find.  

Most of the time written briefs are long list of skills you wish to see from a profile that might apply for the job. Whilst it’s great to showcase your nice to haves, try not to create information overload on the spec as it can put people off applying. Try to stick to what you really need. What’s important to ensure this person can do the job. 

I often see years of experience on a spec and whilst I understand why this can be beneficial, there is another way. Try putting down the reason why those years of experience might be needed. What deliverables do you want and what inputs will someone have done in the past so they can be seen to have that experience. Your perfect match might not have the years of experience, but they will perhaps have the right experience for the job! 

Don’t forget to sell the role. What exciting things will someone be doing (if there is anything exciting about it)? Why would someone want to join the company?  

If you don’t have truly exciting tasks then at least list out the task you would expect this person to carry out so it’s clear for all to see. If you can do this then you can use your job spec as a template for when the new person starts. Expectations are set and this new starter knows what they need to do right away. Unfortunately companies still get this wrong and more often than not this is why someone will leave a business in the first 6 months of joining! 

So to summarise the job spec is important on many different levels. It helps you understand who you’re looking to hire all the way through to helping to manage the new hire when they start. It really is important to get it right! 


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