How to Read a Job Advertisement

 You’ve come across a promising job posting, but remember- you only have one chance to apply.  You need to get it right.  Before you submit your resume, it is important to take a close look at the job description to make sure that you don’t skip over any crucial information. Here are the details that you should focus on when looking at a job posting:

Requirements:  Take a look at the requirements for the position.  Circle the requirements that you possess, and put a star next to the requirements that you are lacking.  For the requirements that you have circled, make a note of related details and examples.  For example, if the advertisement is asking for a particular certification, write down when and where you received that certification.  If the advertisement is asking for five years of management experience, include the details about your own management experience, and record any related achievements.  Take a closer look at the requirements that you don’t possess to determine if you do have some related experience that may not have initially come to mind.  If you definitely do not have the requirement, think about what would be involved in getting that requirement.  Is it something that you can reasonably pursue?  Also, think about the requirement in the context of the job advertisement.  Is it a major requirement for the position, or is it just a minor one?  If it is not a main requirement, then you can still apply for the position.

Job Duties/Responsibilities:  Follow the above system with the job duties and responsibilities section.  Circle those responsibilities that you have done before, and put a star next to those that you haven’t.  For the responsibilities that you have circled, make a note about where you had that particular responsibility, and exactly what was involved.  This would also be a good place to highlight any relevant accomplishments.  For the responsibilities where you have a star, make a note of transferable skills or related experiences that you’ve had in the past that would equip you to do that particular job.

Company information:  Take a look at the company information that has been provided.  What type of organization is it?  What is their product or service?  What is their mission?  Are they a large or small organization?  What are their values?  In what direction are they headed?  You will be able to get some of this information by looking at the job advertisement, but don’t stop there.  You should also take a look at the company web site.  These details will help you when you are customizing your resume and cover letter, and will also be useful to you at the interview.

Keywords:  Now that you have gone through the most important sections of the job advertisement, you can look at it as a whole.  Take out a highlighter and go through the job advertisement again.  Highlight words or themes that seem to be repeated throughout the advertisement.  It could be something like teamwork, creativity, or the ability to be detail-oriented.  These repeated phrases give a strong clue as to the type of employee that they are hoping to hire.

Is it a scam?  Before you apply, make sure that the job advertisement is not showing any indication of being a scam.  Is the information provided extremely limited?  Does the organization appear to have no physical location?  Does the job seem to be too good to be true?  These are all clues that the job advertisement could be a scam.  You may want to take a closer look before you apply.

Application information: Your last task is to look closely at the instructions about how to apply for the position.  Be careful, some organizations are very specific about how they want you to apply.  Be sure to note any file numbers that they ask you to quote, or names that should be written at the top of your cover letter.  It would be unfortunate to do all that hard work and then be disqualified because of a simple oversight.

Congratulations.  You are ready to apply!  Now that you are armed with a multitude of useful information from the job advertisement, you are prepared to impress them, and to get that job.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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