We in the search business work on assignments that are specific to the needs of our clients. Each assignment is unique, and while some functional jobs may only differ slightly, there are other aspects about the "spec” that make it very distinctive for that client and that position only! Many of us refer to this as the position profile, job description or the job “spec”. So what does this mean (literally)? Some may think writing a spec is simple, and it can be if you know what you are looking for. The art of detailing the particulars of a role boils down to the definition of what you need, and what you determine the specifications for the exact role or job you're recruiting for should be.
Specification is defined as follows:
1. The act of specifying.
2. Usually, specifications. a detailed description or assessment of requirements
3. A particular item, aspect, calculation, etc., in such a description.
5. An act of making specific.
Sounds fairly straightforward... unless the job specification changes all of the sudden - in mid-stream. That’s where the search professional has to STOP, and make sure the client knows what they're looking for. What may seem like simple changes for the employer or hiring manager could be a major assignment shift for the search professional. Most search firms' researchers begin profiling and sourcing based on the spec – and when the spec changes, everything changes! Weeks and weeks of research and candidate screening can go right out the window if a job spec changes in mid-search. I’ve seen firsthand how mid-stream changes actually changes the job entirely, and that’s when the old search becomes something entirely different. Yes – in some cases, it’s a new search.
As a hiring manager, make sure you agree on the details of the job spec with your search partner and confirm your approval in writing so there's no misunderstanding. If you do make changes after your search partner has already started working on the assignment, make sure you're prepared to agree to a new engagement. Old job spec – New job spec could mean: Old search assignment – New search assignment! And if you are the one making late in the game changes, be prepared to pay a little extra and wait a little longer to interview candidates!