What Is a Job Specification? (With Types and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 May 2022

You may often find several credentials specified in job descriptions, either requiring candidates to have specific experience or education. Understanding these credentials can help you determine if you qualify for a role or if there are steps you can take to become qualified. Learning about specifications hiring managers and recruiters create for job postings and why they're important can help you determine if you're a qualified candidate for a role. In this article, we discuss what a job specification is, explain why they're important to consider in your job search and explore six common specifications.

What is a job specification?

A job specification is an outline that describes which qualities are required for an individual to perform well in a position. Job descriptions and specifications often differ from each other in various ways. Job descriptions may include a role's title, responsibilities and work environment. A role's specifications include the skills, traits, education and experience that hiring managers are looking for in candidates. A hiring manager can check whether a candidate meets a role's specifications by looking at the skills, education and work experience section of their CV.

Related: 10 Tips for Job Seekers to Help You Get the Job You Want

Why are role specifications important?

The purpose of a role specification provides further insight into what skills and knowledge an individual is likely to use for the job. This often relates to the specific duties a position is responsible for at a company. Hiring managers can use these specifications to motivate the most qualified professionals to apply first and deter unqualified candidates to create a more efficient hiring process.

By creating applicable specifications, a company can source more relevant candidates. Job seekers can use specifications to understand more about what a role involves. For example, a job opening that specifies teamwork may indicate an employer has a collaborative work environment and that the role involves working in a team.

Related: How to Look For a Job in 13 Steps (Plus Job Search Tips)

6 common role specifications

Role specifications often vary depending on the exact position, employer and industry, but there are a few specifications you can expect to see in many job postings, including:

1. Experience

This type of specification is where hiring managers or recruiters can detail the experience a company prefers their candidates to have for a role. The more senior a role, the more years of experience hiring managers may expect from candidates. Employers may specify certain types of experience, such as roles, industries or specialisations. This means an employer may require you to have worked in a particular industry or role before they consider you as a qualified candidate.

Related: How to Get a Job with No Work Experience (With Tips)

2. Education

When you're searching for a job, companies are likely to specify the expected education level for candidates. Some common educational requirements can include earning a specific degree or completing a trade school. Employers usually specify both the level of education and the specific field. For example, investment-based roles often require candidates to have a bachelor's degree in finance. Education requirements are often not strict requirements as employers usually assign more weight to other specifications, such as experience or skills, and many employers provide on-the-job training.

Related: Sharing Your Educational Background on Your Resume and in Interviews

3. Certifications or licences

Certifications and licences can often be part of specifications in job descriptions. There are many professions that require specific licences, such as a delivery truck driver needing a driver's licence or teachers needing a teacher's licence. There are also certain certifications that are commonly expected in certain industries. Many technology employers expect certifications in certain software or hardware, depending on the role. Licence requirements are usually mandatory, but some companies may hire an otherwise qualified candidate on the condition they're able to obtain required licences within a certain time frame.

4. Skills

Hiring managers, employees and human resources professionals may work together to establish the skills they want candidates to have. These are qualitative specifications that employers often assess through interviews, aptitude tests and practical simulations. Skill specifications are usually very specific to the duties of a role. For example, a job that has many physical duties usually requires candidates to have adequate fitness levels. There are more commonly expected skills for more senior roles, such as leadership, communication and delegation, as leadership and managerial positions often have overlapping duties regardless of employer or industry.

5. Personality traits

While skills can be technical or job-specific relating to how a professional does their job, personality traits are qualities that reflect a candidate's character. The traits that employers expect from candidates often relate to the work environment and company culture. For example, professionalism is a trait that describes an individual who understands workplace etiquette and is helpful and respectful to their colleagues, which is often a desired trait in candidates for office-based jobs.

6. Daily job demands

Job postings may specify if there are physical demands. When writing the specifications for a job that may have more physical demands than others, it's essential for a hiring manager to specify requirements clearly. For example, if a warehouse job description says a role involves moving packages from one location to another, the role specification may include that you may lift boxes that weigh up to 60kg.

Physical specifications may identify how much weight you may carry in a role to ensure you can physically fulfil the requirements. Specifications of leadership positions often include how large of a team a role may be in charge of.

Job specification examples

Depending on the job and industry, hiring managers may write different variations of job descriptions. Some may include what the requirement or qualification is, including modifiers such as time or level of expertise. Here are some examples of different job specifications you may encounter when applying for different roles:

Required experience

Here are some examples that show variations in experience specifications you may experience when reading a job description:

  • Sales associate: Essential to have a minimum of two years of experience with field selling and one year of inside sales.

  • *Senior director: The ideal candidate has 10 or more years of senior management and proven success in managing teams in global locations.*

  • *Restaurant server: No experience required, but we provide training on the job.*

  • *Database manager: Candidates need a minimum of five years of experience in managing databases.*

Required education

Here are a few examples of education requirements for different jobs you may see:

  • Journalist: Candidates are required to have b**achelor's degree in English, writing, journalism or a related field.

  • *Mid-level manager: The ideal candidate has earned a bachelor's degree in business administration, management or related degree. Candidates with advanced degrees preferred.*

  • *Dental hygienist: Relevant diploma in dental hygiene required with additional training hours.*

  • *Professor: Candidates are required to hold a Ph.D. in chosen subject but no teaching experience is required.*

Required certification or licences

Some jobs that may include certifications in their role specifications are:

  • *Junior accountant****:** Bachelor's degree in accounting or related field and is a certified public accountant.*

  • *Medical technician: Candidates are required to possess CPR and MT certifications.*

  • *Construction inspector: Prior experience working in construction inspection and is a registered inspector or qualified surveyor.*

  • *Corporate finance advisor: Preferred candidates already have a representative licence for corporate financial advisory but may provide training for highly qualified candidates without a licence.*

Required Skills

Here are some examples of how you may see a list of skills in a role specification:

  • Administrative assistant: Essential to possess strong attention to detail, ability to multitask and proficiency with office hardware. Word processing and spreadsheet skills are a plus.

  • *Senior manager: The ideal candidate can manage a team of five or more individuals, is highly collaborative and is familiar with customer relationship management technology.*

  • *Store clerk: Strong customer service skills, including the ability to operate a cash register.*

  • Primary school teacher: This role requires patience, communication and adaptability.

Personality Traits

Here are some examples of how recruiters include desired personality traits:

  • Restaurant chef: Ability to remain calm under pressure and solve problems independently.

  • *Market researcher: Ideal candidates have a curious and analytical mind.*

  • *Customer service associate: Can maintain a high level of professionalism when dealing with upset customers.*

  • Financial analyst: Preferred candidates are ambitious, competitive and want to excel in their careers.

Demands

Here are some ways hiring managers can phrase the demands of a job in the specifications section:

  • *Video editor: The ideal candidate can view screens for long periods of time. Video content may contain vivid colours and flashing lights that may be sensitive for some individuals to endure.*

  • *Sales associate (retail): This role spends many hours standing, walking and carrying items.*

  • *Warehouse worker: This role involves placing items on shelves up to 1.7m high and items may weigh up to 50kg.*

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