What is a person specification template?
A person specification is a written description of the ideal candidate for an open (or soon-to-be open) role at your business or organisation. Typically, person specifications for jobs outline the skills, qualifications, and professional experience that applicants should have in order to be considered.
Person specifications aren’t just useful for potential job applicants, though. They’re also a great way for employers to decide which skills and attributes are essential for candidates to have and which would be an additional bonus. They can also be useful for comparing candidates against during the later stages of the recruitment process and deciding between two frontrunners.
What are person specifications used for?
Person specifications are used by applicants and jobseekers to help them decide whether they’re truly right for a role before applying for it, as well as by managers to help them find the right person for the job.
Constantly referencing the person specification right the way through the recruitment process can also help businesses protect themselves against claims of bias in the event that an applicant (who could well be an existing member of your team) questions the decision to hire one person over another.
What should be included in a person specification?
Person specifications should be based on two things: the role you’re hiring for, and the dynamic of the team your successful hire will be joining. Focus on just one of these elements and you’re likely to find yourself searching for a replacement before too long!
But what kind of details should a person specification reference in order to be effective? Here are a few quick examples (download our sample person spec for more):
- Personal attributes. What kind of person are you looking for? A team player? Perhaps you’re seeking someone who’s especially results-oriented or able to work unsupervised?
- Experience. State a desired or minimum number of months/years in particular roles or environments in order to be considered. Try to be conservative here: the more experience you ask for, the smaller your pool of candidates will be.
- Skills. These will differ depending on the role and your industry. Typically, they’re things like customer service skills, numeracy, proficiency with particular software, attention to detail, etc.
- Qualifications. Things such as school education, college/university courses completed, professional qualifications, first-aid certificates, etc.
The most important thing to remember when writing a person specification for a role at your business is whether the points you’re including are genuinely relevant for the role. Additional, “desirable” criteria are always useful to include in your person spec, but try not to get too bogged down in them.
Finally, remember that person specs should never mention things like race, gender, sexual orientation, or age. These are “protected characteristics” under UK law, and as such must never be discriminated against.