Thoughts on What a Great Job Spec Looks Like 👑

Out of the many levers you can pull to add applicants to your hiring funnel, I feel revisiting your job specs is a good place to spring cleaning your hiring process. Here’s a quick guide on what you need to get right in order to write a great job spec. You know, one that applicants will actually want to apply to.

Why Care About Job Specs Anyway? 🤔

I see a well written job spec as a key part of hiring success, because it is the fruit of a much more important overall process — an internal job brief. A job brief details the hiring teams, budgets and criteria of the role. This brief needs to be signed off by a hiring manager to make sure everyone involved is aligned on how the team has chosen to best support the needs of the business.

The brief will give you all the information needed to draft a public, shareable version for your job portals, a sort of “why, what, when, how and with whom” of a role. In here, you’ll showcase everything from the mission of the role, detailing the ideal candidate criteria to highlighting what success looks like in the job.

You shouldn’t underestimate that adding some TLC to drafting a good job spec will have a positive impact on the quality of candidates you attract. So what does a great job spec look light then concretely?

The Top Three Things Candidates Want 💎💎💎

Hiring at an early stage startup, bootstrapping yourself through the first years of team building, it’s unlikely you’ll match Google salaries, extra holiday days, endless benefits and travel deals.

You can turn that into your luck though and use as an effective screening filter. Here are the three things to nail down in order to catch the attention of the more adventurous, mission and impact driven self-starter type candidates fit for your company stage.

1 | The Mission

In my view a strong job spec is a bit like telling a good story. You allow the candidate to imagine themselves in the shoes and dream of how they will make a valuable contribtion to a cause they deem worthy of their time. Your job spec should highlight a clear mission for the role in the greater context of the company vision.

2 | Growth Opportunities

Equally you want to make break that mission down into the specific challenges to be solved by joining the team. Ambitious candidates are attracted by opportunities where they will be challenged and grow on the job.

Show a trajectory of where they can go with the role, beyond the immediate company needs. Help the candidate dream with you on how you can help them get to where they need to be (in life too).

3 | The Team

Great candidates also deeply care about who they work with. I like job specs that paint some sort of picture for the organisational structure and reporting lines that help the candidate understand who’d be on their team and who they’d report to.

Also, your team is your strongest asset especially at an early stage startup when the product is still coming into existence. Show them off. Help them help you get their strong peers in. You know what they say — “great people know great people”.

Template Structure 🕸

I like sticking to a similar logic in building job specs to save me time and create a consistent tone across all roles. I’ve added a template structure I’ve found helpful when writing a standard job spec down below.

This can read as a descriptive text, bullet points or a combination — but the punchier the better. You’ll maybe want to play around with different formats for Twitter, LinkedIn or Medium. Get creative using images and videos to tell your story authentically and stand out to attract the right candidates. You want to make it an enticing, vivid read to get the applicant excited about your company.

1 | Company Vision | 1 Short Sentence

  • Start with one punchy sentence about the vision of the company.
  • Reuse language and tone that’s consistent with existing branding material.

2 | Mission of the Role | 2 Sentences

  • Then add a sentence on why the company is looking for this position, why the company needs you for this role.
  • This is that mission for the role within the context of the wider company vision we talked about earlier.

3 | Outcomes | 5 Bullet Points

  • Continue with details on the key challenges and responsibilities to need be solved. Beyond that you want to show specific results or outcomes that are expected to be delivered, ideally within a specified timeframe. It’s a neat way to show what success for the position concretely looks like.
  • Don’t forget to have a sentence on who the candidate will work with and report to as well in this section.

4 | Ideal Candidate Competencies | 5 Bullet Points

  • Build an inviting storyline of the type of profile your company needs, what would make an ideal candidate. This is where you detail the set of behaviours or “competencies” you’re looking for in an A-player candidate.
  • The Who: The A Method for Hiring has a list of well researched characteristics common in A-Players, worth a read!

5 | Why Us Now | 2 Sentences

  • Finish off with a few sentences on what is unique about the role and company.
  • It’s a sort of “why us now” pitch with a clear CTA, selling what you can learn, contribute with and how the company will help you get to where you want to be.

P.S A Short Note on Compensation 💸

I think a good example of one relevant information to include is compensation brackets and equity package. I understand you might not have open compensation policies in place and no clear budgets set and want to keep options open. However, some level of transparency here helps candidates orientate how you see the role, and attract the right level of experience. You can always make it clear salaries are open to negotiation and make wide role brackets. However, let’s face it — competitive talent is never cheap. for a good reason.

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That’s it! Hope that set you up with some new ideas to experiment with and a helpful structure to base your next job specs on.

Thanks for reading as always!

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