8 Mistakes You’re Making When Writing A Job Spec

Posted 28/1/2013 by Benet Hanley

Amidst the ongoing war for talent, it’s crucial to put the effort into your search for the talent you need for your company. One engineer might be perfect for one business but wouldn’t last a week with another. Not happily, at least. This is through no fault of the individual but simply a case of a cultural mismatch.

It isn’t new information that you need to find a personality fit as much as you need to find a skills match. Over the past few years this has become common knowledge among recruiters – but I think that this slips the mind of some employers writing their job spec!

In an aid to make employers’ (and our) lives easier as well as helping the right candidate find the right job, we thought we’d address some common job spec mistakes. Are you guilty of any?

  1. Looking for a clone of the person who came before
    Perhaps you had someone working for you in the past who provided your company with their own skills and knowledge, and you gave them a title to sum up what they do. Well unfortunately you can’t hire back the person who just left, so clear that slate. Think back to when you were hiring them – what was their original role?
     
  2. Asking for Designers when you mean Developers
    So simple yet so common. You don’t actually know what you’re looking for so you put up an advert and wonder why none of your candidates have the skills you need. If you’re not sure of the specific title of the role you need to fill, discuss what skills you need them to have and what you would need them to do for the company, and your recruiter can specify the role that you need to fill.
     
  3. You want people with 5 years experience in software that was developed 2 years ago
    We have genuinely had people ask us to find people with 5 years experience in software that was developed 18 months ago. You need to accept that some engineers won’t have as much experience as you would like, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable.
     
  4. Amalgamating the roles of more than one person into one jobs spec
    If you’re wondering why nobody has all of the skills you’re looking for, it’s very likely that you’ve been looking for one person when in reality, you’ll need three.
     
  5. Refusing to consider training the right person
    Sometimes a candidate can be refused an offer because they don’t have all of the right skills. However, if you find somebody who is a perfect cultural fit and for the most part fits your job spec, it is undeniably worth taking the time to train them in the areas required. Hire for attitude, train for skills!
     
  6. Including EVERY tech aspect of the company
    Do give a good impression of the company as a whole, but do not suggest that everyone in a digital company needs to know all things digital. Does the sales and marketing person really need to know scripting languages?
     
  7. Not giving enough detail of the role itself
    Some job specs look more like an advert than anything else. Remember that people have probably already seen the advert, and are now looking at the spec for more detail. What exactly do you want them to do on a daily basis? Specifically how do you expect this role to benefit the company?
     
  8. Is it inclusive or exclusive?
    And if exclusive, are you excluding the right people? For example, are you excluding people who genuinely wouldn’t be interested in the role, or are you excluding people who could be perfect, but you’ve advertised the role in a way that pushes them away? Let’s not forget Klout and their horrendous attempt at… well frankly, we don’t know what they were trying to do.

To put it simply – show what you’re looking for and why it should appeal to the (right) candidate.

All of these need to be considered when writing a job spec if you want to attract the right person for your company. Whether you’re looking internally or using the help of a specialist recruiter, the spec is vital in attracting the right person. And in these times of candidates being in such high demand, you need to make sure that your job spec is the one that catches their eye.

Can you think of any other common job spec mistakes?

Enigma People Solutions is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. We find technical leaders for the deep tech and emerging and enabling technology industries. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in electronics, photonics, semiconductor industries. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com - 0131 510 8150.

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