Job Descriptions and Person Specifications

Graduate Recruitment Guide: Job Descriptions and Person Specifications

Job descriptions and person specifications are the basis on which to build your recruitment. They'll help you to focus on what you need, write your recruitment advert and know what to points to consider when you interview. They also help to keep the recruitment process objective and fair. 

Graduate Job Descriptions 

A good job description...

  • Summarises the main purpose of the role in one or two sentences.
  • Lists the key tasks and responsibilities using active verbs.
  • Describes the scope of the role - who it reports to, who it works with, supervisory responsibilities, degree of precision required etc.

Job descriptions typically start with a summary section: This is where you can give all the key information about the job; job title, location, department, duration (remember to state if this is a fixed term position), normal hours of work and the salary. 

This is a good time to think about the salary you will offer. Lots of businesses simply state that the salary will be 'competitive' but this can make it difficult for candidates to understand whether the role is pitched at their level. In our experience, an annual salary under £19,000 per annum is not likely to attract the best candidates, although this is, dependent on the role, sector and location. If the role is part time, you need to be clear that the full time equivalent salary will be pro rata to reflect the contracted hours. And of course, you need to ensure that you are offering equal pay for men and women. You can get a good idea of graduate salary ranges by browsing similar recruitment adverts on Gradsouthwest.

Once you've stated the basics, you can outline the role in more detail; the main purpose of the job, key responsibilities, key contacts, challenges and reporting relationships.

It's a good idea to conclude with any additional information that might be relevant (occasional travel etc) and a general statement about the expectations of the recruit in working to your other policies and procedures. And because jobs can and do change and evolve, it's always worth adding a section that covers this. 

Example Graduate Job Description

Graduate Person Specification

A person specification...

  • Lists the skills, knowledge and behaviour that the candidate will need to bring to your organisation.
  • Breaks down your list into qualifications, knowledge, experience and skills.
  • Prioritises this list - which are essential and which are desirable? 

Graduates may not have had the opportunity to develop very specific skills or to gain lots of relevant experience. What they do offer is a vast capacity for learning, so try and balance your person specification to reflect this whilst being realistic about what you need. 

It's important to think about how you will assess whether candidates have the skills, knowledge etc you require. This might be through the application form, interview, assessment tasks etc. State this on the person specification.

 Download our template: sample person specification.

Sample headings

You may find it useful to use the following:

  • Company name
  • Job title
  • Knowledge (including qualifications and experience)
  • Skills
  • Attributes
  • Other