Understanding job advertisements

Understanding job advertisements

Job advertisements are usually broken up into several parts. Expect to see information about the company, details on the desired qualifications of applicants, and some description of the responsibilities involved in the role.

  • Job title: Remember that a job title can mean different things in different industries. Look at the job title for clues about the required experience in the position, the level of responsibility involved, the salary, and the nature of the work.
  • Qualifications: This may also be called 'requirements' or 'experience' but this section is where you'll find details on the background applicants should have, including prior experience and accomplishments at other jobs, education and skills. You may not have all of the qualifications listed, but ideally, you'll have most, and the majority will be at least familiar to you. 
  • Responsibilities: It is what you would do in the job. Take a close look – would you enjoy this work? Look for responsibilities that match those on your cv. Some job ads will describe responsibilities in broad terms (e.g., 'lead the team in ABC'), while others will provide more specific details (e.g., 'create weekly report'). If some of it doesn't seem familiar, that's doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't apply. But if you're totally unfamiliar with all the responsibilities, it could be a sign this isn't the job for you.
  • About us: Most job ads will provide background on the company. This should be your starting point in researching the company, and understanding its culture and values.
  • Benefits and pay: Companies usually do not state the salary, rather talking in terms such as 'salary commensurate with experience' or 'competitive salary'. Benefits are usually more openly stated as all employees  generally receive the same benefits.
  • Experience level: This may be stated in terms of years or career level - eg. ' 3 to 5 years experience' may have a different salary and responsibilities to a 'mid- to senior-level' position.

What to Look For

As you read a job ad,  keep in mind that the most important items are probably listed toward the top. If you fit four out of five of the bullet points listed under qualifications, that's cause for celebration, not despair.

Remember, with many job ads it is impossible for any one person to be a perfect match. Read with an eye toward what's essential for applicants ("must be comfortable using Excel") and what's a nice-to-have, or a softer skill ("detail-oriented and organized").
Be on the lookout for repetition: Does the job ad ask for 'self-starters' under qualifications, and then mention a project that applicants will 'independently develop' in the responsibilities section? That's a clue that applicants should be comfortable working without supervision and in a leadership role.
Common phrases, such as 'self-starter',' great communication skills' – are intended as clues. Does a job require a 'good sense of humour'? This could signal that there will be daily frustrations and if you can't roll with the punches, you'll find yourself frustrated in the position. Jobs that require 'multi-tasking' and 'deadline-driven' applicants may actually have more work for one person can manage.
In summary then, don't make the mistake of only skimming the job ad. While you may find them difficult to read, or repetitive, the information included in job advertisements will help you submit the perfect application, and give strong responses to interview questions.
Remember, if you need help with writing your cv or job application, we are available to help, just contact us.
Thank you to balancecareers.com for these tips.

Posted: Thursday 28 February 2019