Reading Between the Lines: Analysing Job Ads to Boost Your Application

We all have our own little ways of doing things. The jury will always be out on whether it’s milk before water or water then milk to make the perfect brew, and we all have our own special technique when it comes to removing a particularly stubborn jar lid (we swear by running the rim under the hot tap). The truth is, having these little tricks up our sleeves usually makes for a job well done, and they can make things a lot easier, too. Job ads aren’t always the simplest things in the world to decode but we probably all have different ways of tackling them.

So, when you’re applying for jobs, what’s your go-to technique? If you don’t have one, then this could be the reason why your applications aren’t bringing in the results you’d hoped for.

One trick that successful job hunters use is analysing vacancy adverts. Before you have horrifying high school flashbacks of analysing an entire poetry anthology, it’s not as difficult (or tedious) as it sounds. It’s one thing to read the job advert, but what you need to do to make sure that your application ticks all the right boxes, is look a little deeper – what does the employer really want to see?

Taking time to really understand the obvious (and not so obvious) information that can be gleaned from a job advert will mean that you can cover all bases in your application, increasing your chances of success in securing the role. Below you’ll find our very best advice for analysing job adverts.

Get your facts straight

We know, job hunting can be as dull as dishwater, and after a while all the job ads start to blur into one. However, don’t be tempted to start skim reading adverts and firing out CVs left, right and centre. You need to support your application by demonstrating your understanding of the role. This means that reading, re-reading and re-reading again will only help your chances of success.

It’s best to make sure that you know all the facts surrounding the job – it’s easier than you think to overlook a deadline for submission, the details of odd working hours or exactly where the job will be based. You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot by providing irrelevant or incorrect information in a covering letter or during a telephone interview all because you didn’t read the ad properly!

Pay particular attention to who the opportunity is with. For instance, these days many employers use recruitment companies to source their new talent. Don’t get your wires crossed by thinking the role is with the recruiter!

Bust the jargon

Don’t ignore anything you don’t understand. But it’s just that one part, it’ll be OK, right? We’ll say it again: don’t ignore anything you don’t understand! Brushing over something that seems insignificant could have a significant impact on your application. Thanks to Google and other search engines, it’s easier than ever to find information – if a phrase or abbreviation stumps you when you’re reading a job advert, it’ll take you a few seconds to look it up! Doing so could make all the difference.

Job ads can often include terms you may not have come across before. Here are a few examples of jargon recruiters may use, to give you a head start.

OTE: This stands for ‘on target earnings’ and relates to a job’s salary. If a salary is described as ‘X amount OTE’, this means that the salary stated is dependent on your performance so may not always be as high or as little as stated.

DOE: Again, this usually relates to salary. It’s the abbreviation for ‘dependent on experience’ – this can either be good or bad, as the pay is negotiable depending on what level you’re currently working to.

Pro Rata: This one is a little sneaky, and normally appears in adverts for part-time vacancies. In such instances, the salary shown is that which you’d receive if you were working full time – you will only earn a proportion of the figure given.

What do they mean?

Sometimes job adverts can include what feels like an endless list of superlatives and adjectives, a lot of which can sound a little cheesy! However, pay attention to the characteristics, skills and qualities the business says it’s looking for in new recruits. They may sound like clichés but try to think about the more implicit implications.

For example, let’s say a company is looking for a ‘dynamic self-starter’. You may dismiss this as a go-to recruitment stock phrase because you’ve seen it in so many adverts before. Despite this, the recruiter is unlikely to have included it in their advert if they didn’t feel it was important. So, what does ‘dynamic self-starter’ mean? You need to be adaptable, flexible and able to motivate yourself to work hard. This implies that the job will be fast-paced, ever-changing and it will involve a lot of autonomy.

Looking more closely at a job advert and an employer’s requirements will allow you to assess whether you have what it takes, and if you think you do, you’ll know what evidence you need to work into your application so that whoever reads it thinks so, too!

Are you up to the job?

Once you’ve got a solid understanding of the full details of a job and its requirements, it’s time for you to get to work. Think about whether or not this is the job for you based on your personal skill set and personality. If you think that you like the sound of it, try to figure out how many of the boxes you tick and be realistic. That being said, don’t be too harsh on yourself, as long as you fulfil the majority of the criteria, you’re in with a shot!

The best way to support your application with your new analytical skills is to PEE. Yes, really! Point, evidence, explain. When you’re filling in that application form, writing a covering letter or answering interview questions, be smart and use the knowledge you gleaned from analysing the advert to sell why you’re perfect for the role. You know what they’re looking for, so make sure you let them know that you’re it! Outline what skills/experience you have, provide examples to evidence this and explain why they are important.

There you have it, a sure fire way to job application success is to really get stuck into those job ads, try to read between the lines and make it work to your advantage.

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