If you are looking for work (or an apprenticeship) then you have probably already had a look over a few job adverts – whether in a newspaper, online, or at a recruitment agency. Of course, each job ad is different as it relates to a particular job, but there are some interesting similarities that you can pick out and even use to make your application better. The key is in understanding the advert and what it is saying about not just the job itself, but the company as a whole and what they would expect from you as an employee.Job Advert Basics
The first thing to understand is that a job advert is not, as some might like to call them, a job ‘opportunity.’ Don’t get it confused, the employer is most definitely trying to sell their job to the right candidate as much as you are trying to sell your skills and experience to get it. As such a job advert is unlikely to say much about any less desirable aspects of the job.
It is also worth considering where the advert appeared. If you saw it in the ‘graduate’ section of a newspaper, then chances are they want someone with a degree. If the job was advertised at a careers fair for young people, then it is probably an entry-level position (If you are looking for an entry level job you can search right here on NotGoingToUni to see what is available where you live).
It’s All About Skills
Before you go any further you need to know your own skills, knowledge and experience so you can match them to any job adverts you see. Obviously, if the advert uses lots of technical jargon that you don’t understand at all, the job is probably not for you. Be honest with yourself, as applying for jobs you have no chance of getting is just a waste of time and effort for everyone. However, if you can match your skills to around 80% of what the job is asking for, then you may want to consider applying.
Going Beyond The Job Title
Job titles can be misleading. One ‘administration’ role can be very different from another, while other job titles can seem to make a job sound much better than it actually is (a pretty common tactic). Remember that the employer will be trying to make the job sound as attractive as possible, so be a bit cautious with what they are saying to you.
Delving below the job title will allow you to see more about the job itself – including the responsibilities and any skills they want. You will need to be able to prove you match the skills and qualifications they want, so you will need to think about the evidence you can present to them – even if it is something from outside work.
Some skills will be more important than others, so it may not matter too much if you are lacking some of the lesser ones. However, don’t ignore them and hope the employer won’t notice, you will need to try to match them as best you can while explaining while you are still a good candidate for the job.
Is The Job Too High Powered For You Right Now?
It can be tricky to tell if a role is too advanced for you right now, as you may feel you could do the job even though you lack some of the skills. The salary is a good indicator of the level of the role – if it is much higher than the one you are on, or would expect to be on, then chances are it is a step or two above where you should be looking. You can still go for it, but you will need to be able to prove you can make such a big step up. If you decide to go for the job you will want to try and give examples of where you have shown the potential to do what would be asked of you.
There will be other clues in the advert itself – including who you report to, how complicated the role is, and the level of accountability you face in the role. The higher these things are, the more senior the job will be.
You can also try to get more information about a job by speaking with someone who has already done it. Maybe you know someone at the company you are applying to who can tell you more, or maybe you can try to track down someone on LinkedIn? Oh, and while we are on the subject of social media, don’t forget to make sure your social media accounts are presenting the best image of you possible – employers do check!
Job Adverts & Culture
The words used in job adverts are carefully chosen to deliver a particular message about the job and even the employer themselves. If there is talk of a ‘fast paced’ environment, then there is a good chance that you will need to be able to cope with a busy schedule and probably work under pressure too. Pay attention to the adjectives that are used to describe the job as they will offer extra clues – think why they chose a particular word and what it tells you about the employer.
The less descriptive the language, the more likely it is that the advert was written by someone without a great deal of knowledge about the role – such as an agency – and the employer may just be fishing for recruits.
The language of the advert will also tell you something about the culture of the employer – even when they don’t specifically mention much about the company values. Do they sound like a high-pressure, results-based business, or a more relaxed type of employer? Is this the sort of employer that you want to work for?
Ready To Apply?
Once you have worked out what the job is all about, checked the values of the employer, and seen how your skills match up you are ready to apply for the job. Use a highlighter to pick out important words from the advert and use them in your application and C.V. These words will resonate with the employer and may even be used on a computer program that skims applications looking for specific keywords!
Using the language of the job advert when you apply also helps you to appear aligned with the employer and the role. Just don’t be tempted to try and play the numbers game by sending off stacks of generic C.V.s or application letters – work smart with your applications and you should land that job or apprenticeship sooner. Even if you don’t have a lot of work experience, you can still make your C.V. sell you to an employer while remaining honest.