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Writing a Job Spec

Writing a job spec

Writing a good position description is key to successful recruitment. A position or job description identifies the skills, experience, qualifications, knowledge and qualities required to successfully perform a role.

Written successfully, an IT position description details the role functions and interconnecting relationships. It also interests and engages the candidates you wish to attract to your company.

Poorly written descriptions can lead to future employees refusing to carry out a relevant task because “it wasn’t on their job description”. Hiring managers unaware of employment law can also potentially put their company at risk inadvertently.

A Spark Consultant can assist with promoting your job to the best ICT candidates.  We also have a toolbox available for clients, Please contact us

Top tips for writing a successful IT position description

  1. Address your whole business needs

  2. Do your research

  3. Analyse the role

  4. Keep it relevant & accurate

  5.  Use selection criteria effectively

  6. Sell the role: use appealing language

  7. Comply with anti-discrimination & EEO

  8. Maintain flexibility: allow for growth

  9. Keep it current

Address your whole business needs

When writing or updating an IT position description, ensure that it addresses the critical needs of the whole business including:

  • recruitment

  • job evaluation and classification

  • performance management

  • career planning

  • training and development

  • managing change

  • legal compliance

Do your research

It’s worth spending time researching the facts about the position you are describing. Speak to the current staff undertaking these duties (in the same or similar roles), supervisors/managers and team members of the proposed/established position.

Information can also be sourced from performance plans of the current incumbent, evaluations/customer feedback forms and HR staff.

Analyse the role

From your research, group tasks into functional areas listing them in order of importance. The following questions may help your analysis:

Tasks & responsibilities

  • What are the day-to-day and long-term responsibilities of the position?

  • What are the specific tasks and how will they be done?

  • Why do they need to be done?

  • How the work is currently organised?

Knowledge & skills

  • What is the minimum knowledge and skills required to do the position?

  • What technologies do they involve?

  • What equipment or working aids are required?

Context & Impact

  • What is the purpose of this position?

  • What are the key challenges that currently effect the position?

  • What are the future directions/objectives of the team/business?

  • What impact does this role have on other positions in the team/business?

  • Which clients will this position service and what are their needs?

  • Who will this position report to?

  • Will any positions report to this position?

Practical requirements

  • What working hours and days are required for this position?

  • What is the duration of the appointment?

  • What is the primary location for this position?

Keep it relevant & accurate

When writing a position description it’s important to stick to the current requirements of the position in order to attract the right candidate to the role. Avoid including future wish-list items and remove any outdated descriptions.

  • Include the main responsibilities only

  • List responsibilities in order of importance

  • Avoid including short-term or temporary duties

  • Check it meets your company’s hiring and HR policies

  • Meet EEO & anti-discrimination requirementsUse selection criteria effectively

Once you’ve identified the requirements for the role, separate them into ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ criteria.

Selection criteria often contains the following statements: Ability to … Demonstrated experience … Proven ability … Experience in … Knowledge of … Qualifications in …

Try to…

  • Use simple, straightforward statements. Break up complex concepts or statements into separate criterion.

  • Limit overall criteria to 4-6 statements

  • Only include explicit skills or experience where absolutely essential e.g a particular software package.

  • Maintain a degree of flexibility. Avoid deterring potential applicants who may only require minimal training to meet specific requirements.

  • Adhere to EEO and anti-discrimination requirements.

Avoid…

  • Overstating the qualifications and training required in the role - you might attract over-qualified applicants.

  • Being too strict about explicit skills or experience. You may limit your pool of candidates.

  • Over-using words such as “coordinates” or “assists” that imply secondary involvement and less accountability.

Sell the role: use appealing language

When writing an IT position description, think about the style of language used. Will this interest and appeal to the candidates you are after? What does this say about your company? Consider the following tips:

  • Use language that reflects your company and brand

  • Avoid jargon and acronyms

  • When using abbreviations, write them in full the first time they appear

  • Use present tense and active voice e.g. “You enjoy working as part of a team in a fast-paced environment” rather than “An ability to work as part of a team in a fast-paced environment will be expected of the chosen candidate.”

  • Cut unnecessary words. Keep it direct.

  • Avoid gender-specific language

Comply with Anti-Discrimination & EEO

Employers should comply with Anti-Discrimination laws and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) guidelines.

In Australia it is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin (Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act 1975), Age (Age Discrimination Act 2004) and sex, marital status and pregnancy (Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984).

In addition, in New South Wales, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 , makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person, or any of their relatives, friends or associates, on the grounds of race, gender, pregnancy, marital status, disability, age, or sexuality.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is the creation of conditions that allow all workers to have an equal chance to seek and to obtain employment and to advance in their jobs. EEO requires that employees are chosen, advanced, and treated on the basis of their individual talents and capabilities. EEO aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination in recruitment, selection, training, personnel practices and conditions of employment. EEO does not assume that everyone has the same abilities, or that everyone will reach the same level. It requires that everyone have a fair chance to use their talents and abilities rather than to be blocked by barriers irrelevant to their capacity to achieve.

Maintain flexibility: allow for growth

Flexible job descriptions encourage your employees to grow within their roles and learn how to make larger contributions to your company.

Being too explicit in your description can deter potential applicants who may only require minimal training to meet specific requirements.

Limiting essential criteria and having more desirable requirements opens the position up to a wider pool of talent. This is also useful for offering the position as a development opportunity.

Keep it current

By scheduling regular updates, you can keep job descriptions current and relevant.

Many roles are subject to change, due to either personal growth, organisational development and/or the evolution of new technologies. These changes should be reflected in the position description.

Ongoing review also gives you an opportunity to simplify complex procedures and get rid of unnecessary or outdated activities.

A Spark Consultant can assist with promoting your job to the best ICT candidates. Contact Us