Job descriptions, person specifications and job adverts often seem like the same thing, but they all serve a different purpose in the recruitment process. Today I’ll give you a brief overview of each of these things and why they matter!

Job Descriptions

This is the most traditional recruitment tool, which gives an idea of the daily tasks and responsibilities of the role. It will contain the job title, a summary of the purpose of the job, the location, working hours, benefits, and employer information.

Recruiters use them to write adverts, screen applications, prepare candidates for interviews, and to help when choosing where to advertise the role.

Job descriptions must be kept up to date and should be updated every time a position is advertised, because out of date information makes it less likely that a suitable candidate will be hired.


Person Specifications

Their purpose is to describe the type of person who is suitable for the job by describing the essential and desirable attributes, experience, skills, and qualifications. There are essential and desirable elements of the person spec: essential elements are those which are needed in order to do the job, and desirable elements are less crucial, but will enhance a candidate’s suitability.

Recruiters also use these to write adverts and screen candidates, as well as using them when it comes to shortlisting and interviewing.

The Equality Act (2010) must be considered when writing a person specification, as they cannot be discriminatory. The skills needed for the role must be related to the position, and must not discriminate against any of the nine protected characteristics. For example, gender specific terms must be avoided, and unnecessary/marginal requirements should not be included.

Job Adverts

These are made up of elements of the job description and person specification, and should attract the suitable candidates to apply for the position. It will give an idea of what the role entails, and the skills needed to be successful in it.

A good job advert doesn’t necessarily attract a huge amount of responses, but a suitable number of appropriate applications. In order to attract candidates to the role, the AIDA principle should be applied: Attractive, Interesting, Desirable, (call to) Action. These applications will then be narrowed down by the recruiter, and the best candidates will be assessed.


Hopefully by now you understand the difference between these three things, and for further information you can check out the rest of our blog posts on job descriptions, person specifications, and job adverts. We are also now offering a free advert optimisation service – no strings attached!