Writing a person specification – how will it help your business?
Even if you have never drawn up a Person Specification, you will have had an idea of the ‘right sort of person’ for the job when you have been recruiting. Having this kind of mental picture can be extremely useful but we have to take care that we distinguish between ‘the right skills and attributes for the job’ and ‘my sort of person’. We are all drawn to like-minded people and we build an easy and natural rapport with them so it is tempting to fill our team with them. The risk is that we overlook people with a better skills match or that our teams are not well rounded.
Writing down a Person Specification is an important step in planning your next recruitment. Whether you are filling a new role or replacing a member of staff, you need to create a profile of the personal skills, qualifications, abilities and experiences you are looking for in the recruitment and selection process.
The criteria you decide on for your Person Specification should relate directly to the duties of the job description and contain the minimum requirements essential to do the job effectively. These criteria should then form the backbone of the job advert to ensure you attract the most suitable candidates. They will also be the basis of the selection criteria.
Ideas for drawing up a Person Specification
- From the job description pick out the duties, grouping together those which are similar.
- Translate duties into the abilities and skills needed to do the job. Specify necessary skills as far as possible in precise job-related terms.
- Identify any specific knowledge requirements for the job or requirement of some evidence of ability to learn.
- Where relevant indicate qualifications and level of education required for the job, be as precise as possible.
- Identify experience required to carry out the job. Define the extent.
Essential and desirable specifications
You will need to decide which skills, experiences, qualifications are essential to the job and which are only desirable.
Essential means that this is the minimum criterion needed to carry out the job and the job cannot be done without these criteria. Someone who lacks these criteria will not be offered the job; no matter what other attributes they might possess.
Desirable refers to those criteria which are not essential; someone could do the job without them. If more than one candidate satisfies the essential criteria, specified desirable attributes can be taken into account in selection (it may be useful to set out the desirable criteria in order of priority).
Any attributes which are not identified as either essential or desirable should not be taken into consideration in the selection process.
We hope that you will find this review of creating a Person Specification helpful.
Many of our clients value our input at this stage in the recruitment process. Because we are independent and professional we are able to bring an experienced and objective view to your recruitment. If you would like to talk to us about your recruitment plans, please call 01865 292141 for a free, confidential discussion.
The Team at Sue Rees Associates
July 2008, Issue 3
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