How to Read Between the Lines of a Job Posting

job posting

You can score a job interview if you know how to read a job posting and respond to what it does – and doesn’t – state. Here are the little-known secrets to look for:




Read all the job advertisements

It is natural to look only for the titles of the jobs you are seeking. However, it’s best to get into the habit of reading all advertisements placed by organisations you’re interested in joining. Just because they’re not seeking someone like you in one advertisement doesn’t mean they wouldn’t welcome a cold approach from you. And you will have the advantage of learning about them from their advertisements, and can make a needs-orientated approach.

Use a telephone number to make contact

The golden rule of job hunting is to find out about an organisation before applying to it. This can be time consuming and difficult – unless a name and phone number is given in the advertisement. Use these to learn all you can and
to establish a rapport with the person advertising. This will help when applying officially; ‘You’ll remember my skills are…’ Ask questions to establish their precise needs. Most people aren’t brave enough to take this step – by doing this, it will single you out.

Visit their website

A growing number of organisations and recruitment agencies have websites which are referred to in their
advertisements. You simply must score points over your rivals by visiting the site to find out all you can and commenting on it when you apply. The same goes for an email application. This will put you in the fast lane to success.

Match up all the stated requirements

Many advertisements list the attributes that the successful applicant needs to possess. Extend your covering letter by an extra page, list the required qualities in one column and what you have to offer in another one. This demonstrates you have read the advertisement carefully, thought how best to help the organisation, and that you are ideally suited to it as well.

Suggest the skills that are required

Never assume an advertiser knows the precise details of the job and exactly who they want to employ – it’s rarely the case. If the job description is vague, build your own job by suggesting the skills needed and demonstrating how you have them. What you’re doing is making them realise that you, with your extra skills, can bring more to the appointment than they first thought.

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Use their language

Identify the style of the advertisement and reproduce it in your covering letter and CV. Go through it, underlining
words and phrases that are out of the ordinary. Pick out any jargon used too. If they’ve used bullet points, do the same in your application. It’s like ‘mirroring’ in a job interview, when you subtly copy the interviewer’s body postures. ‘People like people who are like them’ is an old saying, and a true one.

Sidestep requests for salary information

An elementary mistake made by many job applicants is to reveal their current salary or financial expectations. Too high, and you may be excluded automatically from the shortlist. Too low, and you may sell yourself short. If an
advertisement asks you to give details of your present earnings, use a phrase such as ‘I am confident that, if you agree we are well suited, salary will not be a problem’. Let them keep their options open.

Ask a friend to apply to a box number

Be wary of these – people have applied inadvertently to their existing employer in this way. Ask a trusted friend or relative to apply instead. A reply to them should contain details of the vacancy and you can then make a cold approach without revealing that you knew about it.

Go for every job that appeals to you

Don’t be put off by a lengthy list of requirements if you are attracted to the job on offer. The longer the list the better, because it is more likely that the organisation will fail to find the perfect match. Even if they do, they may have another opportunity arising soon for which you are well matched – and they’ll save money, time and effort by not having to advertise it.

Adjust your application to the job advertisement

Emphasise your skills and suitability for this job by featuring achievements in your career that could solve the organisation’s current problem. An achievement is something you did which used your skills, produced measurable benefits, and which you enjoyed doing. In your covering letter, draw attention to these achievements and show, point-by-point, how they are relevant to the advertised appointment.

Be enthusiastic and positive at all times

Why: a job often goes to the one person who states ‘I really want to work for you!’ These are wonderful words because they mean you are offering commitment and feel real excitement at the prospect of making a contribution to the company. Enthusiasm is a key quality as it makes a huge impact on the recipient. In your covering letter show with enthusiasm that you understand what they want; then demonstrate in your CV how you can deliver. And: every employer wants upbeat, ‘can do’ employees.

Therefore, even if you don’t have all the qualifications that they are looking for, give it a go. Don’t use phrases like ‘although I have no experience of contacting customers’. Turn it around and say how quickly you learn new skills, how much you relish a challenge, and how you enjoy talking to people; then prove it in your CV. Think like a winner and you’ll become one.

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