August 11, 2011

How to Read a Job Ad

It can be frustrating to apply for job after job an never hear back. Lots of Americans are out of work, and if you live in a location where the job market is tough or work in an industry where every open position has hundreds of applications, it is common to send out tons of resumes before you hear back even once.

Sometimes, however, the problem isn’t that you aren’t a good candidate, but rather that you aren’t a good candidate for the jobs you’re pursuing. To more efficiently use your time, it is important to learn how to read a job ad. You’re more likely to get an interview – and even get hired – if you’re truly a good match. Here are a few tips to help you read any ad posted in the Job Monkey Job Center or anywhere else, online or off.

  • Check the educational and experience requirements.

Almost all job ads list the educational and experience requirements you need to meet to even be considered for the position. Occasionally, there’s a bit of flexibility – for example, if the position typically requires a master’s degree, but you have 20 years of experience, it might make sense to apply. However, in most cases, you can simply avoid applying altogether if you don’t qualify. No matter how great of an employee you might be, chances are that your cover letter won’t even be read when your resume doesn’t stack up against others who do meet requirements.

  • Recognize the tone of the job ad.

Unless you’ve worked for the company before, you can’t know what the internal environment is like. Some companies are super professional. Others allow their employees to bring their dogs to work and wear jeans unless a client is in the office. You can get a clue about the type of environment by the tone in the ad, which will help you send out the best resume and cover letter possible. Try to mimic the style of writing in your application pieces. When in doubt, err on the side of being more professional.

  • Look for buzzwords that you can use in your cover letter and resume.

You don’t want to fill your application pieces with fluff or – worse – things that are untrue, but as you read any job ad, take a moment to note a few words that tell you exactly what the employer wants and include those things in your cover letter and resume when possible. Take note especially of the items that are listed first or mentioned several times. These might be the areas where the previous employees were lacking (for example, if the ad mentioned three times that you’ll be working on a team, the last person in the position might have had problems being a team player).

Finding a job isn’t easy in today’s market, but learning how to read an ad can help. You will be more likely to get an interview if you’re a good fit based on the job ad posted, and you can stop wasting time applying to jobs where you don’t have a chance.

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