Reading between the lines: 5 Tips for Decoding Job Advertisements

When you’re out of work, one of the most direct ways of searching for employment lies in looking for job advertisements and seeing which ones best fit your needs and qualifications.

Nowadays, job ads can be found across the Internet as well as in newspapers and magazines, with their sheer volume often making it difficult for job seekers to make the right choice. It doesn’t help that job ads usually aren’t written in the most straightforward English, usually due to various legal requirements as well as a desire to be as eye-catching as possible.

In such scenarios, knowing how to properly read and interpret an ad can be the difference between finding the job of your dreams and falling for one that only looks the part.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the key job advertisement secrets in the industry and see just how job seekers can take advantage of them in order to get a leg up on the competition:

1. The Company

Reading between the lines: 5 Tips for Decoding Job Advertisements

How a company presents itself holds clues as to what its expectations are. Most ads have a section where they provide a detailed description of the company that’s behind the job listing. Study this closely to see if your values align with those of the business you’re aiming to join.

What’s more, pay careful attention to the tone of voice they employ in their writing, as it can often be a window into the company’s culture. As a general rule of thumb, laid-back enterprises tend to adopt a friendlier tone, while companies that prize professionalism over all else will likely sound more pragmatic and businesslike.

2. The Job itself

This is the most important part of the ad, the one where the open position will be described in detail. Start by reviewing the job title and see if the duties listed below it fit with what your expectations of such a job title would entail.

For instance, the word “manager” is often bandied about these days, including in circumstances where the managerial aspects of a position are limited or even non-existent. Even if that’s not the case, make sure you’re comfortable with the duties you’ll be expected to fulfill, and try to avoid ads that offer extremely vague job descriptions.

3. Their Ideal Employee

Next up, every job ad will have a portion dedicated to mentioning the things that a company expects from those who apply for that position. Companies tend to go for broke when it comes to describing their ideal employee, so make sure you take their wishes with a grain of salt.

Instead of seeking to match them on an individual basis, try to see if you can identify yourself with the overall image that the company is trying to convey and then share your feelings with them through a well-written cover letter.

4. Qualifications and Special Requirements

All job ads will contain a list of qualifications that candidates are expected to meet. That being said, not all qualifications are of equal importance in the eyes of an employer. The ones that are listed under “must have” or “you’ll need” are almost always obligatory and cannot be circumvented, but you’ll often see some written down next to words like “preferably” or “ideally”, which suggest at least some degree of flexibility.

Remember, however, that it’s important to be honest with yourself above all else, as people often tend to lose their objectivity when it comes to high-paying positions, a defect that can only lead to more disappointment down the road.

5. What You can Expect

Finally, be sure not to overlook your own well-being when trying to decide which job to pursue. The best companies have nothing to hide, so they’ll often be frank about their compensation and benefits. Exact salaries won’t usually be mentioned in a public listing, but some companies do offer ballpark numbers of what you can expect.

Perhaps even more importantly, things like health insurance, vacation time and other benefits can also be listed and will definitely help tip the scale one way or the other in those situations when you’re still undecided.

When looking for a job, the ability to properly read a job advertisement can save your time and nerves. Also, don’t forget to always keep in mind that companies are looking to sell their position just as much as you’re looking to sell your time and skills.

This way you’ll be able to start the job-hunting process on an equal footing and hopefully get closer to finding the best position for your skills and personality.

Written By
Mila Payton is an economist by profession. Currently she works as a Freelance writer, always eager to tackle interesting business stories. While looking for answers, she can be found on business events worldwide.

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