What Are The Differences Between a Job Description and Job Specification?

written by Matt Smith

There are two sets of criteria that applicants for travel jobs must satisfy. Firstly, they must hold the necessary qualifications and experience to undertake the tasks required of the post. Secondly, they must possess the personal qualities and attributes required to fulfil the role. These criteria are laid out in two key documents that should be sent out to every applicant as part of your recruitment process: the job description and the job specification.

When they receive the job description and job specification, applicants for your vacant travel job can decide whether or not they meet your criteria. This will help unsuitable applicants to self-select out of the application process. It will also enable suitably qualified applicants to present themselves in the best possible manner in their CVs and at interview.

The Importance of Current Job Descriptions and Job Specifications:

Every time a travel job vacancy arises within your company, it is worth reviewing the job description and job specification for the role. Job descriptions and job specifications can become out of date over time. Allocated tasks may change, with new duties added and outdated responsibilities removed. The skills required for travel jobs may evolve. For example, ICT skills will become more important if new technology is introduced by the company. In order to attract talented candidates for your vacant travel jobs, your job descriptions and job specifications must be as accurate as possible.

Job Descriptions for Travel Jobs:

Within each job description you should list the key duties and responsibilities that require to be carried out by the postholder. The most straightforward method of doing this is compiling a bullet-pointed list. While it should cover the main tasks allocated to the post, the list of duties and responsibilities does not need to be exhaustive. If you try to list everything a postholder may have to do, the job description could run to several pages. Even then, you are unlikely to think of every possible eventuality. To keep the job description at a reasonable length, you should group tasks by generic headings. To cover any tasks that are not set out in your list, include a general statement at the end of the job description indicating that the postholder will be expected to carry out any reasonable tasks assigned to him by his line manager.

Each job description should include a brief organisation chart that illustrates which post the travel job reports to and any subordinates for whom the postholder has line management responsibility.

Job Specifications for Travel Jobs:

A candidate's personal qualities and attributes can make a significant difference to how she will perform in a travel job. Essential personal qualities and attributes should be written down in the job specification. For example, many travel jobs require individuals to have excellent interpersonal skills because they will be dealing with people every day. Lack of interpersonal skills could lead to conflict and tension between the postholder and customers.

Each company has its own values and ethos. To ensure that you recruit people who share your company's values, relevant attitudes and behaviours should be outlined in the job specification for each job within the company. If your company prioritises first-class customer service, every job specification should include a requirement that postholders understand the importance of delivering a high-quality service and are customer focussed.

It is vital that the personal qualities and attributes listed in the job specification are limited to those that are essential for the role. This will help the company avoid allegations of discrimination. Indirect discrimination can creep in to job specifications when unnecessary requirements are imposed on applicants. For example, if a job specification states that candidates must have ten years experience in a role, this may discriminate against younger applicants unless this figure can be justified.

Time invested revising and updating the job descriptions and job specifications for vacant travel jobs will pay dividends when you attract top-quality candidates.

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