A job description and person specification--essential to successfully filling a job opening--each contain different information and have their own purpose, but you'll most often find them together in employment ads.

The Job Description

A job description serves as an overview of the responsibilities and tasks required to perform a job. It provides pertinent information about the position and/or company, with the main purpose of advertising an available job. Employers also use it to assess a current employee's job performance.

The Person Specification

Many employers also post person specifications when listing available positions. The specification outlines the qualities a successful candidate will possess and forms the criteria for evaluating applicants.

The Difference

While a job description lists specifics of a particular job, the person specification describes the ideal candidate to fill the opening.


To clearly communicate pertinent details, the job description must include the position’s title, department, supervisor, key responsibilities and terms of employment, as well as the minimum requirements for consideration. Personal specifications, however, may use "competencies," reports Tutor2U.net, such as the desired health, level of education, relevant experience and reasoning abilities, to paint a picture of the ideal candidate.


When writing personal specifications, employers must avoid excluding any groups protected by Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws by not including traits such as age, race, gender and religion in employment ads.