A quick guide to Job Descriptions and Person Specifications

Great Jobs for Great Graduates

The Gradsouthwest Recruitment Guide provides information and resources to guide and assist you in attracting, selecting and developing graduate talent. It’s based on our experience of working with graduates and SMEs. You can use this resource as a step-by-step guide or you can dip in and out to use what you need. Here are the sections on job descriptions and person specifications for you.

Job Descriptions

A job description…

  • Summarises the main purpose of the role in one or two sentences.
  • Lists the key tasks and responsibilities using active verbs.
  • Describes the scope of the role – who it reports to, who it works with, supervisory responsibilities, degree of precision required etc.

Active verbs are an effective way to communicate about the job. Examples include;

Negotiate, influence, supervise, evaluate, design, train, motivate, organise, create, promote, persuade, plan, manage, identify, produce, delegate, research, time-manage, facilitate, review, analyse, problem solve, direct, monitor, advise, initiate, present, arrange and develop…

Sample headings

When writing your job description, it may be useful to use the following:

  • Job title
  • Location
  • Department / section
  • Duration (if not a permanent appointment)
  • Normal working hours per week (you could mention that some flexibility will be required)
  • Main purpose of the job (short description of why the job exists)
  • Key responsibilities / tasks
  • Key contacts / relationships (internal and external)
  • Challenges (what are the most difficult, complex or challenging parts of the job?)
  • Responsible for (staff, equipment, budgets etc)
  • Responsible to (line manager)
  • Additional information (working to appropriate policies etc)

Person Specifications

A person specification…

  • Lists the skills, knowledge and behaviour that the candidate will need to bring to your organisation.
  • Breaks down your list into qualifications, knowledge, experience and skills.
  • Prioritises this list – which are essential and which are desirable?
  • When writing your person specification, you can refer to our downloadable sample person specification.

Sample headings

You may find it useful to use the following:

  • Company name
  • Job title
  • Knowledge (including qualifications and experience)
  • Skills
  • Attributes
  • Other

For more information and further resources to guide and assist you in attracting, selecting and developing graduate talent go to our Recruitment Guide pages.  You can download example templates there, and can use this resource as a step-by-step guide or you can dip in and out to use what you need.

Dr Deborah Watson

Director, Gradsouthwest

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