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Are you spending enough time on your person specification?

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A carefully considered person specification is a vital component of a successful recruitment process; but it often comes second to the job description. Here's why you should make it a priority in your recruitment strategy.

Creating the Job description

There’s already a lot of great content written about how to write a job description. In fact, a quick search on Google ‘how to write a job description’ returns over 2 billion results. A job description should cover the purpose of the role, the key responsibilities and accountabilities, and an outline any additional expectations.

  • Purpose of the role

The purpose of the role should align with overall business objectives. If it does not, consider whether the role has been scoped correctly or, in extreme cases, if it is even necessary.

  • Key responsibilities and accountabilities

describe what will be expected of the person undertaking the role. It can be worthwhile to consider how the role will interface with other roles in the organisation and include elements of this into the job description. Outlining this in the job description can be useful to clearly set expectations from the start.

  • Additional expectations

Additional expectations are a good place to put those catch-all elements of the roles for example travel expectations, attendance at head office, etc.

Drafting the Person Specification

There’s still a considerable amount of content regarding drafting a person specification- approximately 80 million results on Google. This is 25 times less than that of the job description results; and without wanting to draw too many conclusions from this, it’s often the case that the person specification often plays second chair to the job description.

However, this can be a mistake. A well-thought through person specification is a critical component of any recruitment process. The criteria defined here will influence what type of skills, knowledge, and behaviours you test for throughout the process. Or put more simply, get this wrong, and you may end up with the wrong person in the right role.

Good areas to think about when drafting a person specification are the following:

  • Qualifications
  • Experience
  • Knowledge
  • Skills and Abilities
  • Behaviours
  • Circumstances

Using a role diagnostic

A role diagnostic can be useful when drafting the person specification. Taking the time to fully understand the role; as well as its place in the organisation, the team, and the organisation’s culture, will make working out the right type of person for the role a lot simpler.

If it’s a role that has been done before, think about the types of people who have done it in the past or are presently in post (if you are expanding the team). What attributes did they bring to the role? What worked? What did not? These can provide useful data points for calibrating the person specification.

If the role is new to the organisation, it can be slightly more difficult to build the person specification without an internal benchmark for comparison. But it’s not impossible. In such instances, considering the team dynamic an organisational culture can be useful. It can also help to try and benchmark the role against other people you know in similar roles working for customers, suppliers, or competitors.

For more information, read our blog on how to consider your organisation values in your recruitment process here.

Conclusion

Recruiting the right person to the right role is the ultimate aim for every recruitment process; and taking the time to consider the person specification in as much detail as the job description will increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

For an in depth guide for building the best process for your organisation, download a free copy of our recruitment eBook, 'Is It Time To Recruit Well?'.

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