Job Description Vs Job Specification: Comprehensive Guide

The terms “job description” and “job specification” are often used interchangeably. However, they serve two distinct purposes. While both play an integral role in the hiring process, it is essential to know what differentiates them. Understanding the differences between job description and job specification is important for getting the most out of your hiring process. 

This article discusses the distinctions between a job description and a job specification. Understanding their differences and how you can use each to your advantage can effectively streamline your recruitment process. Let’s dive right in!

What is a job description?

A job description is a formal document that lists the obligations and requirements of a specific position. It is a detailed document that provides information about the job duties, required skills and qualifications, and the working conditions of a job. Job descriptions serve to inform job candidates about the expectations and requirements of a job and to attract qualified candidates. 

A job description includes the job title, location, duties, and responsibilities, required skills and qualifications, and working conditions. It also includes information about the salary and benefits associated with the job.

Both employers and employees benefit from a job description since it helps establish a common understanding of the role and expectations of the job. 

What is a Job Specification?

A job specification is a document that lists what skills, abilities, knowledge, and experience an employee needs for a particular position. Employers use this document to determine the qualifications necessary for employees to succeed in a given role.

A job specification typically includes information about the required education, training, and experience necessary for a job role. It also indicates the length of experience needed, such as previous experience with a similar role or industry.

In addition to education and experience, a job specification may include information about specific skills and abilities required. These skills may include using software or equipment and more general skills like communicating effectively or working well in a team. Information about required skills, such as an industry understanding or a foreign language proficiency, may also be indicated in a job specification.

Additionally, job specifications describe the skills and requirements needed to succeed in a chosen profession. Employers use this tool to determine the most qualified candidates for a given role and to communicate expectations and qualifications.

colleagues having a discussion session around a table with a manual between them
Photo by The Jopwell Collection on Unsplash

Differences Between Job Description and Job Specification

Job descriptions describe the duties, responsibilities, and requirements of a job, typically used by employers to attract and screen candidates. 

On the other hand, job specification outline the skills, abilities, knowledge, and experience is required to succeed on the job. Employers use them to determine the qualifications necessary for employees to be successful in a given role.

Here are six differences between a job description and a job specification:

1. Purpose

Job descriptions are used to recruit and screen job candidates, while job specifications are utilized to determine the qualifications needed to succeed. 

2. Content

Job descriptions describe the role, while job specifications describe the abilities, knowledge, and experience required.

3. Level of detail 

Job descriptions provide an overview of the duties and responsibilities of the job, while job specifications outline the qualifications required.

4. Audience

Job descriptions are typically used to attract candidates, while employers use job specifications internally to determine qualifications.

5. Timing 

Before posting a job, a job description is prepared; when the job is defined, a job specification is created.

Job Description Sample

Job Title: Customer Service Representative

Location: San Francisco, CA

Position Type: Full-time

Salary: $40,000 per year

Job Summary

The Customer Service Representative will respond to customer inquiries and complaints via phone, email, and chat. The person will handle customer matters in a timely and professional manner and work to resolve problems and maintain high customer satisfaction.

Responsibilities

  • Respond to phone, email, and chat queries and grievances from clients.
  • Handle customer issues in a timely and professional manner.
  • Work to resolve problems and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.
  • Document customer interactions and information in the customer relationship management system.
  • Maintain a thorough knowledge of the company’s products and services.
  • Provide feedback to the management team on customer issues and trends.

Requirements

  • High school diploma or equivalent.
  • 1-2 years of customer service experience.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Proficiency in client relationship management systems and Microsoft Office.

Benefits

  • Health insurance.
  • 401(k) plan.
  • PTO (Paid Time Off).

Job Specification Sample

Job Title: Marketing Coordinator

Education

  • Marketing or a similar subject bachelor’s degree.

Experience

  • 1-3 years of marketing experience.

Skills

  • Proficiency in Adobe Creative Suite and social media platforms.
  • Strong communication and organizational skills.
  • Ability to function both individually and as a team.

Knowledge

  • Understanding of marketing principles and best practices.
  • Familiarity with market research and data analysis.

Abilities

  • Ability to create marketing materials, including brochures, flyers, and email newsletters.
  • Able to manage social media accounts and create engaging content.
  • Capacity to plan and execute events, including trade shows and conferences.
  • Ability to conduct market research and analyze data to inform marketing strategies.
  • Ability to manage and update a company website and online presence.

Personal qualities

  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Ability to prioritize tasks and meet deadlines.
  • Positive attitude and strong work ethic.
  • Ability to work well under pressure.

Conclusion

Understanding the distinctions between a job description and a job specification is crucial to using them correctly.

The main difference between job descriptions and job specification is their purpose and content. Job descriptions are used to recruit and identify job candidates. However, employers use job specifications internally to assess job candidates.

Understanding the differences between job description and job specification help employers communicate the expectations and requirements of specific job roles.

Job Description Vs Job Specification: Comprehensive Guide

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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