What is a Job Specification?

Felicia Dye

A job specification allows an employer to outline the best candidate for a position without describing a particular person. This is accomplished by communicating the desired characteristics of a qualified candidate, such as the skills and education that are required. The more complex a position is, the longer the specification is likely to be. By developing these tools for available positions, employers can save their time and that of potential applicants.

Group interviews may be used to determine which candidates best fit the job specifications and should be evaluated further.
Group interviews may be used to determine which candidates best fit the job specifications and should be evaluated further.

Some people make the mistake of believing that a job description and job specification are the same. It is important to understand that they not only differ, but are designed to serve different purposes. A job description is drafted to outline the tasks and duties that should be performed by a person in a certain position. A job specification is designed to outline the type of person who is qualified to be in that position.

There are several categories of information that are considered standard in a job specification. The categories are often displayed in large or bold type. Then specific requirements are listed below, generally with bullet points. All job specifications may not be arranged in the same order or format.

Educational requirements are one of the most common components of a specification. This section generally communicates the required level of education, such as an associate's degree or master's degree, and the acceptable majors, such as journalism or chemical engineering. If special licensing and certificates are required, those are also usually included in this section.

A section dedicated to experience usually requests that an individual have work history in a certain field for a certain amount of time. It may also outline specific tasks that a person should have engaged in, such as direct supervision of staff members or three years handling hazardous materials. Skills, knowledge, and abilities are three sections that may be combined or listed separately. These sections tell what an applicant should know and what she should be able to do.

Employers are often inundated with applications when they have positions available. Interviewing can be a lengthy process. A job specification can be a tool that drastically reduces the amount of time an employer wastes reviewing applications and conducting interviews with unqualified individuals. As many people will not choose to apply for jobs that they know they have little possibility of getting, having a job specification can also help individuals. They can use it to compare what they have to offer against what is being requested.

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