What’s the difference between a job spec and a job advert?
Posted on 29th January 2024 at 14:57
If you are going to hire someone, you are going to need a full job spec AND a job advert so you can list it on the job boards.
These need to be different so let’s have a look at both and find out why you need both, and why they are not the same.
Can I see the job spec?
This is probably one of the most asked questions from candidates in recruitment and it’s vital to have one when you are hiring.
Your job spec is your ‘blueprint’ for the role you wish to fill. You want to get everything in there that you will want your new employee to do. It may be that your new hire can’t do everything (yet) on the spec, but the key is that this is what you will want them to be doing when they are established.
And don’t leave anything out that you want to hide.
One significant reason for candidates leaving a role soon after joining is that they find out they are required to do something they didn’t know they would be expected to do. ‘The job wasn’t what they said it would be’. It’s better to get it all out in the open and discuss it all at interview. If your chosen candidate doesn’t want to do something on the spec, then either don’t hire them or take it out.
So, get all the role duties down on the spec.
Other things you need to add are details about the company and maybe what the progression will be like.
You can really go to town here, but try to limit it to information that is not readily available elsewhere. Candidates will still want to refer to your website and any brochures for more information and background. You will also want to leave things to discuss at the interview. Also bear in mind, this document will be distributed so don’t put anything in here that you don’t want potentially shared widely.
With regards to skills and experience, you can be specific here, but it is a good idea to list these as either essential or desirable. You don’t want to put people off as they may not attend interview if they don’t think they can do the job. Again, these are matters to discuss at interview and you can quiz your candidate on their suitability by examining key skills that you want. If you can be flexible on their experience fine, but don’t hire someone who can’t do what you want them to do.
We recommend sharing the job spec before someone attends interview not when deciding as to whether apply for the role. And this is where the advert comes in.
Wow, this advert looks good!
The job advert is the sales pitch to encourage candidates to apply.
You will also want to appeal to people who may not actively be looking for a new job. It must be engaging, compelling and concise. You will want to get people jumping to hit ‘apply’ and it needs to be carefully written so it gets picked up by the job board algorithms and people see it.
If the spec is the ‘blueprint’ then the advert is the ‘precis’. It’s a snapshot of the role and your requirements and it’s laid out in an easy to read and eye-catching way.
We recommend something along the lines of:
Full package details.
More about us.
Job advert writing is a bit of an art. You want detail but not too much. You want it to sell but it can’t be ‘cheesy’, you want it to attract the right people, it can’t just be a list of demands and be the same as your job spec and it needs to be written in a way the job boards like otherwise it will get lost.
It is a separate and different document to your job spec. This is what you will put in your shop window to encourage people to walk through the door. It will be distributed widely on job boards and social media. People will apply based on what they see here, they won’t need the full spec at this stage. They may do further research and look at your website, but this is where it all starts.
When we write job adverts, we really like to get a feel for the company and get across in a very short document what it is like to work there and what will happen to someone when they get there.
I have had clients tell me that their chosen candidate told them they had applied because the job advert sounded exciting and compelling so that just had to apply!
In a candidate shortage employment market, there are likely to be lots of other companies seeking to hire for similar role. And it’s not just the highest paid roles that get the best responses.
If it is a USP for your company, say it. If you give 30 days holiday, say it. If the Christmas lunch is at Gordon Ramsey’s, say it. If the last person you hired in the same role has just been promoted, say it. If you do your best to reduce your carbon footprint and be sustainable, say it.
I think you get the message.
The job advert and the job spec are two different things, and you need both. They have different purposes. The advert draws people in and populates your talent pool and the job spec is more part of an employment contract, it is the more formal document that let’s your new employee know what they will be doing.
At Recruitment Rebellion, we write engaging, compelling and attractive job adverts that are easy to find and encourage people to apply.
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