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What To Look For In Job Postings

When you are looking for a new job, the job search process can be long and difficult if you do not know how to maximize your efforts. Understanding what to look for in a job posting and how to best position yourself for an interview can help you reach a successful conclusion to your job search. Barring a personal connection to a potential employer or other inside track to a job opening, job postings are the typical way most people find a new job. But those job postings can vary greatly and can offer deeper insights into the role and the company if you know how to read them.

A typical job posting will indicate the basic information about the job role, the company profile and specific requirements the company asks of this position, as well as additional skills or attributes they would like to have in a candidate. Those basic points will tell you a great deal about the job and the company, so it is important for you to thoroughly review the posting before you apply, lest you miss an important detail and therefore miss an opportunity at employment.

What Is In A Job Posting?

Job postings can be found on job boards online, in classifieds sections, on a company website or on any other online forum. Job postings tend to be generally similar in their content, with variations for industry and certain companies that take a different approach to hiring in order to match their company culture. A job posting typically has each of the following sections:

  • The job title.The job title should indicate the level of management and the general skills and experience required of a candidate. But do not get caught on the title alone, as different companies and industries have different expectations for certain job titles. Make sure you read the entire job posting before deciding whether or not you meet the requirements.
  • The job requirements.These are the expectations of a candidate on a regular basis in this role. You must have the required skills and experience in order to get this job, but if you are close and can at least match some of the requirements with a bit of work needed to meet the others, it is still worth your time to apply.
  • The desired skillsWhile the requirements are high priority level, these additional skills will be beneficial for the role without being completely mandatory. If you have these additional desired skills but lack some of the required skills, it is worth mentioning in your cover letter where you excel and can fulfill their additional skill requests.
  • Responsibilities.This section will offer insight into the daily tasks and annual expectations of the job. You should be able to gather enough information from this section to know whether or not this role suits you and meets your own professional needs and goals.
  • The company profile.This section might be fairly generic and even copied from the company website, but you can still glean information from these details that will help you determine whether or not this particular company and this specific role are right for you.
  • Pay and benefits.This section might be vague, stating that compensation is negotiable or that wages are competitive, but you should be able to decipher if the pay is hourly or salary, as well as the potential benefits or other compensation you could expect to receive. These details will be more finely discussed later in the application process.
  • How to apply.This is a critical detail for you to pay special attention to. There is no easier way to lose a job opportunity than to ignore the application instructions. Follow these application instructions carefully, noting to whom and how to submit your application, maximum length for a cover letter or resume, types of application documents to include and any other details.

Read Into A Job Posting

While knowing all the basic components of a job posting can help you to start your job search effectively, knowing how to read into the posting to decipher even more information can help you to best cater your application to get to the next step in the process. Job postings will be written by someone within the company or by a recruiting agency hired to identify the best candidate for the job. The words used and the way in which the information is presented can tell you more about the company and about the role than the overall job posting might do at first glance.

When reading a job posting, take note of the words used to describe the requirements and the responsibilities for this role. Those words used are considered to be important industry jargon, so mirroring that language in your application might help you to get to the interview stage of the process.

Additionally, the way the company is described or the way the specific role is explained will tell you about the daily expectations and style of work you might find. A job posting mentioning that you must be a self-starter or an independent worker indicates minimal supervision or the need to take responsibility without oversight. A job posting that describes the company as a start-up can mean an unsure future, while a company highlighting perks, like company summer outings and break rooms with snacks might indicate a company that prioritizes the happiness of its employees. These subtle hints through specific word choice can tell you more about the role and the company if you take the time to read into the job posting and to take notice of these little clues.

Successfully Apply For A Job

Once you know how to read the job posting and how to discern the little nuances included via word choice and descriptions, you can better apply for the position using that information. As you write your cover letter, use the terminology included in the job posting to highlight your match for the role. Do not forget to customize your resume for this particular job at this specific company, and try to include these words and phrases from the job posting.

The job posting should tell you how to apply, so be extra cautious in reviewing those requirements. If a certain form is used or extra questions should be answered, make sure you complete each stage of the application process. Do your own research beyond the job posting to find out who will be reading your application documents so you can personalize your correspondence. These little changes in how you apply for a job can be the difference in successfully completing your job search.