Talent Quest: Person Specification Part 2 of 3

In the first part of this three part series we advised that the key part of creating both the Job Description and Recruitment Text lies in knowing your story. This is the story of what you have achieved in your community building efforts, how you came to be in the position of looking for more people and most importantly what are the visions of the community that you want your recruit to be a part of achieving.

We feel that if you do know your story, tailoring the Job Description using the guide document shared it should be possible to match it to the uniqueness of your journey. In this part we turn our attention to the Person Specification.

Across many areas of work the Person Specification is considered a linchpin document of a recruitment effort, forming a sort of human talent shopping list of qualifications, skills and abilities. In an ABCD approach the three preparation documents (Recruitment Text, Job Description and Person Specification) are useful tools, in so far as they can be used to recognise the gifts and assets applicants have to share that can become part of the efforts you are inviting them to join.

The major weakness of allowing these documents to become too powerful is the age old missing the woods for the trees. People have gifts, many of them; given an open, welcoming and friendly chance to discuss & offer them, the challenge for the recruiter will be focusing on what they need to record from the many gifts that will be made visible. In the last part we will look at the Recruitment Event, where keeping notes for a plenary discussion will be an important step. In this part, we have a similar challenge to typical views towards recruitment as we had in the first part: a Person Specification isn’t there to state what skills and qualities a person must have, we don’t want to advise any one to pursue what might become a deficit minded approach: where a Person Specification becomes a list against which a person is found lacking. Instead the Person Specification is there to help with the tasks of the recruitment team:

  • be a shared list of commonly agreed gifts for observers to look for
  • challenge observers to note how the applicant displayed gifts and what evidence was shown
  • be a guide to the design of the activities of a Recruitment Event
  • be part of organising the plenary discussion
  • be part of understanding people’s gifts in the context of community building efforts.


Please take a moment to download and look through: ABCD Community Builder Drafting The Person Specification. The document includes ideas and sample text that come from our learning experiences, but should not be looked at as prescriptive, essential or exhaustive. The key to creating a useful document for the post offered lies in the story of your community’s vision.

The Recruitment Text you write will be used to create the notices and adverts that will invite people to join your team. If from the outset the invitation is accurate, authentic and well shared it will invite the right people to come forward and offer their gifts to your team. From that point it is the recruiters task to facilitate applicants to show those gifts and to succeed in observing them. Communities are unique, though Person Specifications for posts that work closely with people have much in common, such as a focus on communication skills, the one you craft should at least specifically reflect the ‘Community Development’ and ‘Key Values And How They Are Expressed’ sections from your Job Description. The more tailored the Person Specification is to the future vision and the story that a person is being invited to be a part of, the more useful it will be to a successful recruitment.

Helping and encouraging organisations to recruit the right people has for a long time been an important part of our work that Cormac has wrote about in detail. I would like to recommend these pieces of Cormac’s writing be read alongside this series:


In the final part we will look at preparing and conducting a Recruitment Event, and share materials to help with those tasks. With the essential preparation of writing meaningful and tailored Recruitment Text, Job Description and Person Specification done; the final steps should be straightforward, and the Event itself become an opportunity for discovery of gifts to be enjoyed.

Rashid Mhar

Talent Quest: Job Description Part 1 of 3

Talent Quest: Recruitment Event Part 3 of 3

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