Job description and job specification are two very important tools that are developed as an outcome of job analysis. An important part is played by these tools in the hiring process as they are needed for every position within the organization. The process of recruitment is quite complex, and requires a series of activities. The foremost step in this regard is carrying out a job analysis. Following this, a statement known as the job description is developed to list down the basic requirements of the job. Job description is essentially a document that presents basic information about the job. After creating job description, the job specification is determined. Job specification is the document used to present the eligibility criteria for a certain job. It presents the requirements that individuals need to fulfill to be able to apply for the job. The right candidates for the job are selected in accordance with the job specifications.

Hence, job description and job specification are both very important for organizations and it is vital to understand them clearly so as to not use the two terms interchangeably.

Definitions and examples

Job description

A job description is a statement that is developed with the aim of explaining the responsibilities, duties and tasks of a specific job that need to be fulfilled by the job holder within an organization. Job description is the immediate outcome of job analysis and essentially presents all the vital facts regarding a job. It includes the key job-related information, such as the nature of job, location, working hours, working conditions, kind of tasks that need to be fulfilled, technical expertise required and the overall objectives of the job.

In other words, job description can be defined as a summary of the job that presents all the important details of the job in a comprehensive manner. When a clear job description is available, it becomes easier to provide rewards and punishments. In addition, it also makes it possible to determine the training requirements of the employees for a specific job.

Job specification

Job specification is formulated on the basis of job description. It is a statement that presents the minimum qualifications needed, level of experience, communication skills, physical and emotional attributes and other relevant qualities that an individual needs to possess to be able to perform the job adequately.

Job specification is a statement listing the human qualifications that are needed for the job. A job specification is developed as a result of the collaboration between the supervisor and the human resource manager.

A few common characteristics that are included in a job specification are:

  • Demographic characteristics: age, education, experience gender, skills and capabilities, etc.
  • Physical attributes: height, weight, eyesight, etc.
  • Personal qualities: attitude, manners, behavior, etc.
  • Psychological characteristics: logical thinking, mental strength, agility, etc.

Though these characteristics are hard to define for a certain job, they help in formulating a basis for recruiting an individual.

Difference between job description and job specification

The main difference between job description and job specification is given below:

1. Meaning

Job description is a statement of the responsibilities, duties and tasks that are part of a specific job. It is a descriptive statement that systematically presents comprehensive information about the nature of job. In contrast, job specification is a document listing the lowest qualifications, skills and experience that an individual should possess to be recruited for a given job.

2. Derived from

Job description is derived from job analysis, while job specification is created on the basis of job description.

3. Describes

Job description presents an overview of what an employee is supposed to do after being chosen for the job, whereas job specification, refers to the qualities an individual should have to be able to get selected for the job. In other words, job description presents a description of the jobs, whereas job specification presents a description of the job holders.

4. Consists of

Job description typically includes the job title, summary, working conditions, job responsibilities and duties, salary, reporting authority, etc. Job specification usually includes the criteria for selecting employees for a certain job, for example, qualifications, age, experience, training, mental abilities, etc.

5. Advantages

Through a well-defined job description, the management is able to assess job performance of employees and determine the training required by employees. On the other hand, job specification plays an important part in helping individuals apply for a certain job to determine if they fulfill the criteria required for that job or not.

6. Importance

Job description is vital for organizations as it helps them determine the specific roles of their employees. On the other hand, job specification enables management to take decisions on various issues, like bonus, increment, promotion, transfers, etc.

Job description vs job specification – tabular comparison

A comparison of terms job description and job specification in tabular form is given below:

Job description vs Job specification
A comprehensive statement listing the requirements of a specific job A statement defining the eligibility criteria for a given job
Derived from
Job analysis Job description
The job The one carrying out the job
Consists of
Job designation, responsibilities, duties and activities Qualifications, experience, skills and capabilities of the employees required
Analyze job performance of employees; determine training needs Helps candidates determine whether they are suitable for a certain job or not
Determine the relevant roles of employees and what they are supposed to do Take decisions related to increments, promotion, bonus, transfers, etc.

Conclusion – job description vs job specification

Job description and job specification are two very important processes for organizations seeking to hire competent individuals. When clearly defined job descriptions and job specifications are in place, it is ensured that the right fit for the job is hired. A job description ensures that companies are able to find the most appropriate candidates for the job. It explains the requirements of a job opening and different tasks that the employee may be assigned.

On the other hand, job specification also plays a critical role by clarifying the eligibility criteria for a job. This ensures that only those individuals apply for the job who have the required set of qualifications and skills. In addition, it provides an opportunity to the organization to carry out performance analysis and evaluation of the employees.