Journalism Jobs / Journalism skills

HOW TO… decode a job advert.

I’ve never really thought that people ‘decode’ job adverts. I’ve always read through each point of a specification carefully, and tried to match my covering letter accordingly, but I don’t think I looked into it as much as I could have. So when this advice popped up on an email from The Guardian Careers here, I thought it gave some great tips that people could benefit from.

Out of the four experts who gave advice, I picked out two points per person which I felt were really helpful. Here’s a snippet..

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Lisa LaRue, CAREER COACH AT CAREERWORX

  • ‘As a general rule, if you can tick 80% of the boxes, in terms of what the employer is asking for, then it might be worth applying. But sometimes you need to read between the lines, as some of the adverts can seem very vague at first.’
  • ‘Print out the job advert and go through with a highlighter, picking out the key words and phrases. Then, make sure those keywords appear in your CV and cover letter wherever applicable.’

Corinne Mills, MANAGING DIRECTOR AT PERSONAL CAREER MANAGEMENT

  • ‘There is no casual information in a job advert. Every word they put in has been carefully crafted for a reason so you need to look very closely.’
  • ‘If it asks for a particular skill, you not only need to have it, you have to be able to prove you’ve got it. Some skills may be more important than others in terms of weighting and you can sometimes make a case for why, despite not having something, you’re still a good candidate. However, don’t ignore any gaps hoping they won’t notice: they will. You must specify how you meet everything they are asking for if you want to get shortlisted.’

Bev White, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF HR CONSULTING AT PENNA

  • ‘Look at how the entire advert is constructed to understand the job level. Who does the role report to, how big is the company, how complex is the role, is it international or single country?’
  • ‘What language is being used to describe the role? For instance, if the advert talks about an “aggressive pursuit of sales growth”, that gives a clue on how you will be measured and the culture of the organisation. If the language bland and non-descriptive, then it might suggest the organisation is just fishing for CVs by a contingency recruitment firm, rather than looking to fill a specific job behind the advert.’

Dan Hawes, HEAD OF MARKETING AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE GRADUATE RECRUITMENT BUREAU

  • ‘Look for the qualifications they’re asking for. Within that you can find clues about the sort of skills that they’re looking for. As long as you can give evidence of each skill or attribute they’re looking for, you’re in with a shot.’
  • ‘Ideally, try to talk to someone who has done the job. If you can’t do that, LinkedIn can be helpful to see what responsibilities and skills people in the job have.’
[This content was originally by Guardian Professional. To get more content and advice like this direct to your inbox, sign up for their weekly Careers update.]

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