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How to turn your job spec into a job spectacular

Why are most job specs so dull?

On the great smorgasbord of vocational choices that make up the UK job market, job specs have turned into the plastic parsley garnish that gets taken out the HR cupboard and thrown on the plate at the last minute. No matter how enticing your company brand, culture, product or employees actually are, all that the jobseeker will remember is that sad looking parsley job spec blinking up at them, it’s face pock-marked by a thousand cut-and-paste scars.

“Oh, but we’re a fun, creative, professional and hard-working team, delivering a market-leading service in an inclusive and dynamic environment.” Ummm…. that’s not what parsley says. Parsley says turn around and run like hell.

So throw out your parsley I say. Throw it out and do something different. Don’t let your job spec be a tired garnish, let it be an appetiser. Or better yet, let it be a sumptuous set menu that demands to be sampled.

Step 1 – the purge

Burn all previous job specs. If you’re not writing a live spec for a live role, then you’re describing what was before and not what needs to be now and in the future.

Step 2 – understanding the role

Talk to the person who is actually in this role, or at the very least working in a similar role in your company. Ask them to write down the top three things that they do in this role. Ask them what they would change if they could. Ask them what the best part of the role is, and also what the biggest challenge is.

Step 3 – looking under the bonnet

Talk to the person this role reports into. Ask them what they want a new person to do differently. Ask them how they think this role can be better than it was before. Ask them what companies they think do this role really well and why.

Step 4 – putting the role in context

Write a few paragraphs that really sell what your company is, what you are trying to do as a business and why someone would like to join. Keep it human and don’t fib. If you can’t articulate this then you need to sit down with a selection of people from different functions at different levels and ask them.

Step 5 – explain why this role is being hired

Write down in no more than two sentences what the point of the role is. It’s mission statement if you will. If you can’t do this, then repeat the conversations at steps 2 and 3. Saying it’s a replacement role is not a reason. Saying how it will affect the business and lead to growth etc is a reason.

Step 6 – building your job spectacular

Proudly place those inspiring and relevant company paragraphs at the top of the page, and underneath, write that job mission statement. Then, in concise and plain-speak bullet points, write out those three most important tasks that you just learned are critical to the success of this role. Then add in below a brief description of the kind of environment that you feel the successful candidate will come from. Finish with a paragraph about the context of the role and how it fits within the wider company and how critical it is.

How to use your shiny new job spectacular

Take this living, breathing document you have passionately nurtured and developed, and treat it with respect. Don’t throw it to the wind and see who bites, but instead talk it through with a trusted recruiter so they understand what it really means and how to find someone for it. Then set it free and keep an open mind. Those who apply or who are submitted may not answer it 100%, but recruitment is a percentage game so dedicate some time to meeting people and getting a flavour of who is out there and what they can offer. If both sides understand the role, then the interviews will be much more productive.



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