The Secrets to the Perfect Job Specification

on 30 August 2018
The Secrets to the Perfect Job Specification

The Office for National Statistics recently released their report on the UK Labour Market, the report showed that the pool of unemployed workers had decreased by 64,000 people since March 2018, and 124,000 in the last twelve months. This change has handed power over to jobseekers in the market, with the pool of available candidates now becoming smaller. This can have a major impact on the interest a job post can gather as there shall now be less candidates searching for the roles, so we saw this as the perfect opportunity for us to give our thoughts on how to create the perfect job specification! Statistics taken from our own website show that a user spends no more than 50 seconds reading a job specification before deciding whether to apply or not, with the average session time being closer 30 seconds so you don’t have much time to wow the readers. Often the first piece of information a candidate shall receive about a business, typically it is important that the job specification projects the desired image of the company from the start.

Job Title, Location & Salary

The job title is the very first thing a candidate is going to view, and this is going to determine whether they read on or skip over your specification. In 2013 Microsoft Canada found that the average attention span of a human had fallen to eight seconds, which means that you have only eight seconds to grab the attention of a candidate and engage with them. Our consultants say it is important to keep the job title relevant to the role and professional. The use of terms such as “ninja” or “Rockstar” are more likely to insult a candidate with professional qualifications that wants to be taken seriously. Think about job titles a person would be proud to tell friends & family. Whether you include salary or not is a talking point that often splits opinion in the world of recruitment. There are two schools of thought towards this; withholding the information keeps the power of negotiation with the hiring manager or providing salary information ensures that all applicants are likely to accept the salary advertised, however the emergence of salary checkers has meant candidates can now research the market value of the role they are applying to. There was also an A/B test ran by a hiring manager at Stack Overflow found that job ads with the salary included received a 75% higher click through rate, so it seems a pretty simple choice to us!

About the Company

This is your chance to really sell the company to the candidate, outline the reason for the businesses existence and what value you add to your customers lives. We would recommend you also focus on the business vision, where you feel you are heading rather than where you’ve been. This allows the candidate to visualise what they could be a part of and really get excited about joining your team. Try and avoid describing your office as “fast paced” or “a high energy environment” as these terms are so overused in job specifications, that they now have the same impact as “passionate” and “motivated” does on candidate CV’s.

About the Person

Here is an opportunity to detail the professional history you are seeking from your applicants, to what level should they be educated, what professional skills should they possess and what technologies should they have experience with? You can also add in the personal specification you feel will fit the mould of the role, will they be working in a team or independently, will they be managing a team or department, and would they need experience of liaising with stakeholders and delegating tasks? Its important to strike a balance here between professional qualifications and personal/interpersonal skills, you will want to attract talent that is qualified for the position and will also work well within the team/department you are placing them within. If you do not work closely within this area, then you may want to speak with those that do and get a better understanding of the persona they are looking for. A cultural mismatch between company and employee is the leading factor in new hires failing to stay with a company beyond a year.

Roles & Responsibilities

A very important section, one that a candidate may skip straight to, this section is all about what a candidate can expect to be doing on a day to day basis. This is where the role is defined, and expectations are set for the work they shall undertake. The responsibilities can range from operational tasks to performance-based objectives, when creatively curated this section can drum-up real excitement about the role and be the difference maker in attracting motivated candidates that are looking for the right challenge. The language used here is dependent on the role you are producing it for, feel free to include industry relevant jargon that you would expect your applicants to understand. This can act as a barrier to entry for underqualified readers who will lose interest in the language they do not have an understanding of, this also puts the qualified readers at ease that you know exactly what you are talking about and what you are looking for, this can be of significant importance if you are not a tech based company whom is looking to attract tech talent. If you are struggling with what to add to this section, then try and imagine what the successful candidate would tell people they are doing at work.

Perks & Benefits

The readers of this section have got this far because they have an interest in the role, this is your opportunity to really sell the business and the experience an applicant shall have as an employee. In a survey conducted by Glassdoor, 65% of hiring managers said they struggled to compete with competitors in compensation & benefits packages so you should take some time considering what sort of package you want to offer the successful applicant. If you feel your office has a really great location for its accessibility to bars & restaurants for lunch/after work, or if it is in a place of natural beauty then you should be letting the readers know. Companies like UKFast & Sky have offices located in areas without shops or restaurants so they have cafés on site which offer heavily subsidised/complimentary meals as part of the package, they publicise this very well to attract applicants. There are also companies that offer a personal/professional development fund to their employees to encourage them to gain new skills, adding value to their working experience with the company. This section of the job specification needs to excite the reader so make sure to keep an eye on what your competitors are offering as a package and look for ways to keep ahead of the trend.


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