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How to write a great job spec

The CV is a candidate’s “sales document”.  In the same way the job spec should be a piece of content that sells the opportunity on behalf of the company.

Frankly, too many job specs are one-dimensional and appear to have been put together in a rush.

Not spending due care, attention and time bringing your opportunity to life on paper will mean that you are already lagging behind when it comes to attracting the very best talent.

At Macildowie we work closely with our clients, advising and consulting on how the job spec can and should be improved, ensuring that candidates are attracted by the opportunity and helping to entice some who aren’t actively looking.

You can download a pro-forma job spec by clicking here.

We believe that there are five main aspects to the job spec:

  1. Describe the Company.  Within this section you should explain the vision, the values, the strategy, who the competitors and customers are.  We also actively encourage links through to the company social sites like facebook, Linkedin and twitter to give candidates an insight into what your employees share and say about the business.
  2. Describe the department.  Within this part of the job spec you should, as the Line Manager, describe the culture of your department, where your team sits in the overall function, who some of the most influential people are, who the stakeholders are and why the most recent people joined.  It is worth considering including the links to the Linkedin profile of some of the team members that the successful hire is likely to work with.
  3. Describe more about the Line Manager.  The saying goes “you join a company, but you leave a boss” is so true.  Similarly, if a candidate is thinking about whether or not to apply for a job, the background and personality of the line manager could be the deciding factor.  Candidate’s want to work for someone who is passionate about the company, who they feel that they will learn from.  The Line Manager should absolutely include the URL to their Linkedin profile.
  4. Describe the job itself.  In the same way that a candidate needs to bring their CV to life, it is your responsibility to bring the job to life.  Splitting it into main responsibilities, expected projects, where and how the role can impact the business commercially, internal customers that the candidate will work with, if it’s a management position explain the experience level of the direct reports.  Crucially, candidates like to know the answer to the question “if I do this role successfully, what next?”.  So if your company has a positive track record of promoting candidates internally, explain this in the job description.  The final point here is that if you have a number of must-have’s in terms of experience and skills, we recommend that you highlight them accordingly on the job spec.
  5. Describe what success looks like.  This may sound obvious, but explaining what you believe success will look like will help the candidates you meet at interview to pin point aspects of their experience that are most relevant to the job.  It also gives confidence that they are being interviewed for a job with set expectations, where their development needs can be discussed early on in the process.

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