Reading Between the Lines to Decipher a Job Description

The Job Description and Your Career

You are searching for an opportunity when you find a job description that catches your eye. You seem to possess most of the qualifications that the employer is looking for and experience that mirrors the position responsibilities. But how do you know if this is the role that balances where your career is at and where you want it to? The place where fulfillment, growth and compensation form a happy medium. The environment in which you create results and retain a voice that is heard. While there is no surefire way to ensure that the description you read is the role you want and need, we have few tips to help you assess the scope of the job and its relevance to your employment trajectory.

Job Description at First Glance

job description words on paper with pencilVirtually every job seeker is searching online and uses a combination of keywords and location data to pinpoint potential opportunities. Put simply, the job description is a written statement explaining an open position.

#1: Review the required skills, years of experience and qualifications.

#2: Look for keywords and see how closely they match those in your resume.

#3: Check to see when the position was posted and if there is an application deadline.

A Closer Review

#4: Examine the first 3 bullet points of the job duties; many career counselors assert that these represent 80% or more of what the candidate will be responsible for in his/her role.

#5: Find the company name and look up their website. Study the company ‘About’ section as a source of information for how the company wants to be seen. Consider if the tone, mission and themes presented align with your values and goals.

#6: Compare the job description at hand to the information you have unveiled about the company to see how this role may contribute to the bigger picture. This may also give you a starting point of some questions to ask if you get contacted for an interview.

#7: Re-phrase each listed job requirement as a question to ask yourself… and then do a ‘gut check’ once you provide your answer. Think of each qualification as an expectation: are these duties you are able, willing and excited to fulfill?

What To Do Next

#8: Pay close attention to how the employer wants you to apply. Be sure to use the employer’s job portal if directed to do so.

#9: Tailor your resume to include specific accomplishments that meet each of the required experience types listed. The more relevant specifics you provide, the higher likelihood of a response.

#10: Recognize that understanding job descriptions is an art… and often an abstract one. Consider working with a recruiter who has direct experience with the employers themselves – and knows more precisely what a successful candidate looks like in the eyes of the organization and not just via words on paper.

While not every job description will outline a role in black and white, you can unearth some vibrant insights using the tips provided, and it might even be fun. 😉

If you want tips for how to prepare for an interview, check out our blog post called “Five Steps to Prepare for an Interview.

At the PJF Group, we pride ourselves on our diverse and well-developed network  of both talent and employers. The result is increased clarity and enhanced hiring satisfaction for everyone involved. Feel free to reach out with any questions, any time.


Resources Used:

How To Decipher A Job Description To Improve Your Chances Of Getting Hired:

Positives and Negatives About Job Descriptions:

How to Read a Job Description: