Human Resources - Information for Managers

Job Descriptions and Person Specifications

How to write a job description

Writing an accurate job description involves breaking the job down in to its component parts and defining the key objectives. A good job description should:

  • Define the overall purpose of the job and the main tasks
  • Provide an overview of the role for potential applicants allowing them to decide whether it is suitable for them
  • Place the role or job into the organisational context
  • Provide a basis to performance manage the successful applicant once employed against the job requirements
  • Inform the rest of the recruitment process i.e. the person specification, job advert, interview questions etc.

The criteria contained in the job description should be strictly relevant to the requirements of the post. Care is needed to ensure that the job description is not unnecessarily restrictive so as to exclude any particular groups as this could be viewed as indirect discrimination which is unlawful.

Other areas to consider:

  • Avoid acronyms and use clear non-technical language
  • For research posts please refer to the standard nationally agreed research profiles
  • Job Descriptions are evaluated on the level of the duties involved and not the volume of duties. Thus an increase in duties will not necessarily mean a higher grade, unless the duties are of a higher level of responsibility
  • If you need templates or assistance with writing the job description please contact the recruitment team and we will be happy to provide these. We can also provide copies of job descriptions that have been used for similar roles in the past
  • Include an organisation chart of your organisation which includes the vacancy so that we can assess the level of post that the position reports to/is responsible for and whether there are any other similar posts within the department

How to write a person specification

The person specification details the necessary skills, qualifications, experience or other attributes needed to carry out the job. Using the person specification throughout the recruitment and selection process will enable you to ensure that the best candidate is selected and that the legal obligations and best practice objectives of the University are complied with.

Other areas to consider:

  • Ensure the level of knowledge required is on the person specification, as this will be counted towards Job Evaluation
  • Essential/Desirable Criteria. These should be clear and sufficiently detailed to provide candidates with the information they need, but also to help them self select
  • Essential criteria should be exactly that, i.e. that the job cannot be done without that particular set of skills. However, you may wish to think about whether certain qualifications are essential or whether equivalent professional experience would also be sufficient
  • Indicate at which stage of the selection process each criterion will be tested

Job Evaluation

The University currently evaluates new posts or those that have changed significantly. Please allow circa two weeks for this process to take place, prior to the authorisation stage, as roles must be evaluated by a panel of trained evaluators. From 1 September 2017, the University will be using the Hay Framework to evaluate all jobs (except academic and research roles which are covered by the National Role Profiles and are not affected). The new Hay job description template and guidance notes are now available on the Job Evaluation web page. All job descriptions should be submitted on the new template from 1 September 2017.

Registry, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ

Enquiries: +44 (0)1227 764000 or contact us

Last Updated: 23/10/2017