Writing Job Specifications

The job specification takes the job description and answers the question, what human traits and experience are required to do this Job well? It shows what kind of person to recruit and for what qualities that person should be tested. The job specification may be a section of the job description, or a separate document entirely.

Specifications for Trained Versus Untrained Personnel:

Writing job specifications for trained employees is reactively straightforward. For example, suppose you want to fill a position for an accountant (or counselor or programmer). In cases like these, your job specifications might focus mostly on traits like length of previous service, quality of relevant training, and previous job performance. Thus, it’s usually not too difficult to determine the human requirements for placing already trained people on a job.

The problem are more complex when you’re filling jobs with untrained people (with the intention of training them on the job). Here you must specify qualities such as physical traits, personality, interests, or sensory skills that imply some potential for performance or for being trained to do the job.

For example, suppose the job requires detailed manipulation in a circuit board assembly line. Here you might want to ensure that the person scores high on a test of finger dexterity. Your goal, in other words, is to identify those personal traits – those human requirements that validity predict which candidate would do well on the job and which would not. Employers identify these human requirements through a subjective judgmental approach or through statistical analysis (or both). Let us examine both approaches.

Specifications based on judgment:

Most job specifications come from the educated guesses of people like supervisors and human resource managers. The basic procedure here is to ask, what does it take in terms of education intelligence training and the like to do this job well?

There are several ways to get educated guesses or judgments. You could simply review the job’s duties, and deduce from those what human traits and skills the job requires. You can also choose them from the competencies listed in Web based job descriptions like those at www.jobdescription.com. (For example, the typical job description there lists competencies; like that generates creative solutions and manages difficult or emotional customer situations). O*NET online good option. Job listings there include complete listings of educational and other experience and skills required.

Use common sense: In any case common sense when compiling list of the job’s human requirements. Certainly, job specific human traits like those unearthed through job analysis – manual dexterity say on educational level are important. However, don’t ignore the fact that some work behaviors may apply to almost any job (although they might not normally surface through a job analysis).

For example on researchers collected supervisor ratings and other information from 18,000 employees in 42 different hourly entry level jobs in predominantly retail settings. Regardless of the job here are the work behaviors (with examples) that the found to be enriched – in other words, that seem to be important to all jobs.

Job related Behavior:

Industriousness: Keep working even when other employees are standing around talking; takes the initiatives to find another task when finished with regular.

Thoroughness: Clean equipment thoroughly creating a more attractive display; notices merchandise out of place and returns it to the proper area.

Schedule flexibility: Accepts schedule changes when necessary; offers to stay late when the store is extremely busy.

Attendance: Arrives at work on time; maintains good attendance.

Off task behavior (reverse): Uses store phones to make personal unauthorized calls; conducts personal business during work time; lets joking friends be a distraction and interruption to work.

Unruliness (reverse): Threatens to bully another employee; refuse to take routine orders from supervisors; does not cooperate with other employees

Theft (reverse): (As a cashier) Under rings the price of merchandise for a friend; cheats on reporting time worked; allows non employees in unauthorized areas.

Drug misuse (reverse): Drinks alcohol or takes drugs on company property; comes to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs.