What is a job specification?
A job specification lists the qualifications required for a role and is typically listed below a job description on a job posting. It lets job candidates know what employers are looking for and what expectations they’ll need to meet. This includes minimum education experience and skill requirements. The details in a job specification are usually determined by a job analysis.
Job specifications are important for a number of reasons. If hiring managers don’t include job specifications on a job posting, they could end up hiring someone who won’t be successful in the role. Job specs are also useful for asking the right questions in job interviews, helping narrow down your list of applicants and giving new employees a guide for how to be successful in their new role.
So, what’s the difference between a job specification and a job description? A job description provides a general overview of the job, including the job’s title, duties and responsibilities, and usually a brief description of the company and its culture. A job specification, on the other hand, outlines the job’s eligibility requirements, detailing the necessary skills, personality traits, qualifications, education and other requirements needed for a role. In some cases, job description and job specification are synonymous.
How to write a job specification
The more clear, organized and thorough your job specification is, the better job candidates will understand what you’re looking for in an employee. Follow these steps when creating job specifications:
1. List the job qualifications
A job specification should include the minimum qualifications employees need to meet. This could include education, experience, required skills and more. Consider breaking out your job qualifications into a list of must-haves vs. nice-to-haves to attract a wider range of candidates.
2. Add any special demands
Include any extraordinary conditions that come with the job. For example, if the employee will be required to stand for a long period of time, work in dangerous conditions or extreme temperatures, lift heavy machinery or experience other special demands, include those in the job spec.
3. Proofread and organize your job spec
Before finalizing your job specification, proofread it by checking for spelling, grammar and tone. Read through the job specification and organize it so it makes the most sense for applicants.
4. Update your job specification when needed
Job requirements may change over time. That’s why it’s important to keep your job specifications updated. This will ensure the applicants are meeting the new qualifications rather than the old ones.
Crucial things to include in job specifications
In order to create an effective job specification, make sure you’re including all of the necessary elements. Here are a few crucial things to consider including in your job specification:
- Required education: Include the minimum education requirements for the job, such as a high school diploma, bachelor’s degree or another educational degree or requirement. Note: You may choose to omit an education section if you’d like to hire based on experience level.
- Licenses or credentials: Some job may require a specific certification, license or other credential. For example, a teacher usually needs a state teaching license and a driver may need to have a certain type of driver’s license. Include these requirements in your job spec.
- Required experience: Include the minimum experience needed for the role. For example, three to five years for a senior role or 0-1 years for an entry-level role.
- Necessary skills: If applicants need any particular skills, such as mathematics or software skills, make sure to list them in your job spec.
- Extraordinary or special demands: If the job has any special demands or conditions such as travel, heavy lifting or extreme temperatures, list them in your job specification.
- Personality traits: What personality traits would contribute to success in the role? For example, you may be looking for someone who can stay calm under pressure, work in a fast-paced environment and handle tight deadlines.
Job specification template
Here’s an example of a job specification template:
- [Minimum education level]
- [Required licenses, certifications or credentials]
- [Minimum experience level]
- [Necessary skills]
- [Personal traits]
- [If applicable, list any extraordinary demands required for the job]
Job specification example
Here’s an example of a job specification for a graphic designer role:
- Two to five years’ professional experience in a design agency, firm or similar role
- Bachelor’s degree in graphic design or related field
- Strong typography skills
- Fluent in Adobe Creative Suite
- Word processing and office skills
- Advanced photo retouching skills
- Friendly personality and willingness to learn