1 The ‘person specification’ is a development from the job description.
(a) Explain what is meant by the terms:
(i) ‘person specification’; (4 marks)
(ii) ‘job description’. (4 marks)
(b) Briefly describe the way in which a ‘person specification’ differs from a ‘job
description’. (3 marks)
(c) Summarize the purposes for which a person specification might be used. (4 marks) (15 marks)
Overview: A traditional job description can only list or outline the tangible elements of a job. As work becomes more challenging, more information is required about the skills needed to perform that job. A person specification is of greater value in the service and professional sector, especially accounting, where it is inappropriate to assume repetition and where there is a greater degree of discretion in performing the task.
(a) (i) A person specification (sometimes also referred to as a personnel specification) provides the organisation with a profile of the kind of person that would match the needs of the post. It sets out in written detail the education, qualifications, training, experience, personal attributes and competencies a post holder must have to perform the task to the satisfaction of the organisation. It describes the person needed to fulfill the task.
(ii) The job description is based on information gathered from a job analysis and defines the position (i.e. the role) that has to be fulfilled. It is a statement of the component tasks, duties, objectives and standards and describes the purpose and relationships of the specific job together with the physical, social and economic factors which affect it. It describes the job to be done.
(b) The difference between a person specification and a job description is that a person specification sets out the qualities of an ideal candidate whereas a job description defines the duties and responsibilities of the job.
(c) The person specification may be used for a number of purposes:
In recruitment, to provide an illustration of the type of candidate sought prior to the selection stage.
In selection, the most obvious and popular use of this document is to assess whether an individual’s personality, abilities and experience match the organization’s
For promotion, to evaluate whether an individual has the necessary ability and personality to move within the organisation.
In evaluation of performance to assess whether the person has demonstrated the necessary skills to do the job effectively.
2 Currently, your employer has no formal recruitment procedures, but now realizes that formal procedures are required.
Identify and explain the stages involved in planning for recruitment. (15 marks)
Recruitment of suitable staff is fundamental to organisational success. Too often the recruitment and provision of staff is treated as a secondary, unimportant activity. It is important therefore that a formal procedure exists to ensure that recruitment and selection is successful.
The Recruitment and Selection Plan
This needs to be an organized and systematic process aimed at matching the correct candidate to the post. It begins with the recognition of a vacancy or vacancies and should be based upon the requirements detailed in the human resource plan. The recruitment and selection plan must follow a logical process and requires: 1. A Job Description:
This will specify the job content and the relevance of the vacancy to other posts. It must include the main duties and responsibilities of the post holder, the major tasks and limits to authority. It will also detail the job title, location and relationships with others in the organisation.
2. The Personnel (or Person) Specification:
This is often overlooked during the recruitment process, the assumption being that the job description suffices. The personnel specification identifies personal characteristics (as opposed to, for example, technical qualifications) such as physical attributes, aptitude, team approach, aspirations, intelligence, communication skills, personal disposition, experience and generally ‘fitting in’ to the organisation.
3. A Job Advertisement:
Most organisations will place an advertisement in an appropriate newspaper, professional journal or job centre. It is important to recognise that this advertisement must be targeted effectively and attractive to a potential employee, should include information about the vacancy (salary, work details, qualifications) and the organisation.
It may be the case that no advertisement is required because recruitment agencies or ‘headhunters’ are used. However, details along the lines of an advertisement would
still be required.
4. Application Form:
These are an effective and efficient way of gathering information about candidates and a mechanism for comparison. The form has to be designed to be completed in a logical manner so that the correct information is provided. It must include questions on age, qualifications and experience. It must also reflect the vacancy and the culture of the organisation. For example, if the vacancy is in the caring professions, then questions might be asked about social interests and family background. Space should always be provided for the candidate to write about his or herself and the reasons why he or she is attracted to the vacancy. The application form allows early sifting of candidates.
5. The Interview:
This follows the sifting of the application forms. It is the most important stage in the process. It provides an opportunity to assess the candidate and for the candidate to learn more about the organisation. The interview process must have clear goals. It should aim to find the best person for the job, allow the candidate to understand what is expected of him or her and ensure that the candidate feels that he or she has been fairly and equitably treated.
The interview should be structured so that all candidates are put at ease, are asked the same questions and allowed the same opportunities to ask questions. A scoring system is sometimes adopted to ensure that some form of rational comparison is undertaken. 6. Selection Testing:
Is a scientific method of assessing a candidate’s ability. These techniques are being
widely used throughout business and industry and may include tests on intelligence, aptitude, proficiency and personality. They are however expensive to administer and may only be used for senior appointments.
Often overlooked, the new employee should undertake a period of formal induction to familiarise his or herself with other staff, procedures, duties and safety requirements. This learning will of course continue on an informal basis throughout the individual’s
employment within the organisation
It is often the case that new employees require both formal and informal training. To this end the employee’s present level of ability and skills are determined and a
training programme developed.
3 An organisation is recruiting additional staff and has decided to compare the benefits of appointing existing internal staff with that of appointing external candidates.
(a) Define and describe the advantages of internal promotion. (5 marks) (b) Define and describe the advantages of external recruitment. (5 marks) (c) Describe three factors that should be taken into account when deciding upon whether to use recruitment consultants. (5 marks)
Recruitment of staff, especially if large numbers are involved, may be time consuming and a drain on resources. Additionally, the expertise may not exist within the organisation, requiring the organisation to seek suitable candidates outside. (a) Internal promotion describes the situation where an organisation has an explicit policy to promote from within and where there is a clear and transparent career structure. This is typical of many management and administrative staff and of certain sectors of the economy such as the public services.
The advantages of internal promotion:
– it acts as a source of motivation and provides good general morale amongst
– staff seeking promotion are known to the employer
– inexpensive in terms of time and money
– training and induction costs are minimised
– further training can be product and organisational specific
– the culture of the organisation is understood by the individual
– illustrates the organisation’s commitment to encouraging the staff
– the individual will already be familiar with the other members of the organisation. (b) External recruitment describes the situation where the organisation decides to recruit someone from outside the organisation to fill a staff vacancy. The advantages of external recruitment:
– may be essential if particular skills or expertise are not available within the organisation
– is necessary to restore staffing levels or where an organisation urgently needs new employees
– can bring new ideas and novel approaches to the organisation and to the specific task
– provide experience and work methods from other employers.
(c) Any organisation which is considering the use of external recruitment consultants would make its decision upon the following:
– the availability, level and appropriateness of expertise available within the organisation and its likely effectiveness
– the cost of using consultants against the cost involved in using the organisation’s own staff, recognizing the level of the vacancy or vacancies against the consultant’s
– the particular expertise of the consultants and the appropriate experience with any particular specialised aspect of the recruitment process
– the level of expertise required of potential employees and therefore the appropriate knowledge required of the consultants
– the need for impartiality; this may be of particular importance with public sector appointments, organisations with particular needs of security or impartiality or where it is felt that an external, objective assessment is required
– the time involved in the consultants needing to learn about the organisation, its requirements and the vacancy or vacancies
– if there is a ready supply of labour then consultants may be less useful, standard vacancies may be readily filled by advertising or similar inexpensive means – the views of internal staff as to the likely effect of using outside consultants – what effect the use of consultants might have on the need to develop expertise within the organisation, the use of consultants will not assist with developing internal organisational expertise
– the likelihood of existing staff to have misgivings about the presence of, or recommendations of, outside consultants which can lead to mistrust and rejection of any candidates recruited by the consultants.
4 You have been asked to provide guidelines on the structure and content of an advertisement to be used for the future recruitment of new staff.
(a) What factors need to be taken into account when preparing a recruitment advertisement? (5 marks)
(b) Briefly describe five factors which will influence the choice of advertising media. (10 marks)
Organisations need to recruit the best possible individuals and a common means of recruitment is to place an advertisement. The purpose of the advertisement is to attract potential employees and act as a means of pre-selection.
(a) Writing a recruitment advertisement that is attractive and informative is no easy task. If it is poorly constructed then the appropriate potential employees will not be reached.
Preparing an advertisement requires:
Skill and attention to fulfill the objective of attraction and pre-selection and must be concise yet contain enough information about the job, rewards and specifications. It must be constructed in such a way as to be attractive to the maximum potential
employees and at the same time the advertisement must present the organisation in a positive way.
It must be honest and not contain claims that are exaggerated and its contents must be relevant and appropriate.
(b) The types of organisation. Different vacancies will be advertised in different
ways. Local businesses may advertise only through local outlets while large international businesses may well look at a wider employment market. The type of job. An organisation seeking a financial director may advertise in a professional journal or national newspaper.
Advertisements for skilled factory workers would appear in the local press. The cost. Advertising must be seen to be cost effective because advertising in any media is expensive. Government sponsored employment organisations are the cheapest way of advertising. Local newspapers are a useful medium and inexpensive. However, for senior appointments, the expense of trade and professional journals or international newspapers may be seen to be worthwhile.
The readership, circulation and suitability of the chosen medium. The advertiser
should strike a balance between advertising to a large audience and yet reaching the target market of suitable candidates. For example, accountants read national newspapers but would look for job advertisements in their own professional journals or magazines.
The frequency with which the organisation needs to recruit staff.