The Art of Decoding a Job Ad

If searching for a job wasn’t painstaking enough already, the use of confusing jargon and buzzwords can really make your head spin directly into a concrete wall.

“Is able to promote dynamic, synergistic relationships between departments and their counterparts.”

Let’s have a look at what’s important in an ad and how to pull out the useful information whilst cutting through the fluffy bullshit.


Beware the job title


Different titles can mean different things across different industries, so it’s important to consider what it is you’re really looking for prior to rapid-firing your resume across the internet.

To use an example from The Office, “Assistant Regional Manager” and “Assistant to the Regional Manager” are two completely different things, despite what Dwight may think.

It’s also worth noting that this is the first aspect of the job that the hiring manager or HR department considered when they created it, so it should reveal a lot about what they’re actually looking for.

But watch out for the too-good-to-be-true titles, often written in caps and usually contain the word “LIFESTYLE”. For example, “ENTRY LEVEL MARKETING ROLE! BIG $$$, LIFESTYLE”.

These are either door-knocking or harassing-people-on-the-street jobs. You don’t wanna do this.


Pay attention to the responsibilities


These are the duties you’ll be performing on a daily basis. Typically, the top three or four are the most important, so consider these carefully and whether you’re happy to do them every day.

You should make sure that your resume provides clear examples of prior experience in these duties or something transferable.


Consider the qualifications


Like the responsibilities, the top three or four points on the sometimes lengthy list are the most important. If you can meet these requirements and at least know of the others, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

You should absolutely make it clear in your resume summary that you meet these criteria. This way, the employer knows immediately that you’re qualified for the jerb.


Get what you can from the rest of the ad


While a lot of it might be corporate fluff, it’s still worth scanning for useful info. If the ad makes the company known, do some research to see if their values align with yours. Some of them will even go ahead and spell it all out in the ad.

The more information you can get out of a listing, the better you can tailor your application. Speaking of which…


Send a unique resume to each employer


Don’t be sending the same resume to every employer because a generic resume is boring and will likely end up in the bin. Trust me, when you get hundreds of applications for one job, the easiest way of culling them is to trash the lazy ones.

Me deleting your junk.

Use the job listing to customise both your resume and cover letter. Yes, it takes longer, but quality far outweighs quantity in this realm.

Address each of the important criteria in your career summary at the top. They should be either short sentences or dot points that are instantly noticeable and easy to read.

And don’t write a boring cover let, get creative! To give you an idea, I once applied for a job at Spotify with a cover letter that had a link to a supplementary playlist I created in the program. Every song was titled “Give Me a Job”.

I didn’t get the job, but making your application stand out it important. Think outside the page.