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Key things to consider for a person specification

The recruitment process can seem daunting for many businesses. Roles need to be filled and you want to find the best person for the job, but it can be hard to pinpoint the exact requirements.

The first step is to advertise the role with clear and accurate information about the position available. Something to work alongside the job description is the ‘person specification'.

The person specification is an important part of the recruiter’s toolbox. This allows you to communicate the traits you find desirable in their ideal candidates: such as education, previous work experience and any extra traits that are needed in the role.

Many companies rely solely on a Job Spec, focussing on the job and not the person. With talent more sought after than ever the more people focussed businesses are doing just that - focussing on the people.
Chris Adcock, Senior Divisional Director

The five purposes of a person specification are:

  1. It makes the interviewing process more refined and streamlined from the start
  2. Job seekers are able to assess themselves before applying and understand how they will fit in with the role and your business. This allows them to match themselves according to suitability and not just skills.
  3. It clarifies the two types of personal qualifications important to the employer, essential and desirable. This enables the employer to be explicit in what they want and how the candidate matches this criteria.
  4. It helps to communicate equal opportunities policies within the recruitment culture of a business. The law is very clear about discrimination. A person specification ensures you are assessing a candidate on their abilities related to the role.
  5. It means you test all of your candidates against the same list of priorities set out in advance. This helps remove bias, prejudice and personal interest, all of which can be problematic for recruiting successfully.

What to include in a person-specification

Below are just a few examples of the types of information about candidates. It’s important to know what is and isn’t appropriate for the vacancy you’re looking to fill. For example, some roles have a legal requirement for the candidate to have a set level of training and qualifications. For specialist advice to your industry, get in contact with one of our consultants here. It can be a sensitive document if approached incorrectly, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Attainments - e.g. qualifications, experience, positions held
  2. Soft skills - e.g. relationship building, public speaking, time management
  3. Job-specific capabilities - e.g. use of different software or programmes, or team management
  4. Personality traits - e.g. proactive, patient, motivated, attention to detail
  5. Physical attributes - e.g. height, eyesight (note - these must be a justified requisite to complete the tasks within a role, not a preference) 

While the employee and the employer have similar goals, ethics and job satisfaction, the employee will continue to work hard and give loyalty
Claire Harvey, Managing Director

Top tips when writing

Easing the onboarding process

Once a candidate has been chosen, the person specification makes integration and training much more organised because you will already be aware of what the candidate is able to do. For example, if your specification required someone with excellent computer skills as being essential to the role then you would only need to give a brief induction to the computer systems of your business. It can also assist with creation of learning and development plans where they perhaps didn’t have certain desirable skills (yet)!

Recruitment agencies are experts in creating person specifications. Get in touch with one of our specialists for more advice on finding the best person to help reach your business goals. 

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