By: David Ross
So by now some of you have probably seen more job postings than you care to think about. After reading through a few of them, it can be easy to “cut to the chase” and focus on applying for the position. While applying for job openings of interest is imperative, important clues can be revealed in job postings – minor details here and there – that not only signal whether the job is truly a good fit for you but also help you improve your application.
One of the first things job seekers look at is the position title. The more impressive the title sounds, the more interesting or significant the position may seem. Perhaps this is true in some instances, but it’s important not to instantly dismiss a position just because the job title is not exactly what you are looking for or what you ideally envision. Some organizations use their own classification or terminology for positions that may not make a lot of sense to those outside of the organization. But if the job responsibilities and tasks seem interesting, the position could be one of those hidden gems that ends up a strong fit for you. Another thing to look for is the experience/education requirement. Some position titles may imply a level of experience or education that doesn’t match your background. But looking closely at the details may reveal the position is indeed appropriate and can ensure you don’t miss great opportunities.
While on the subject of job duties and responsibilities (and even qualifications), it can be easy to lose sight of their significance. For some positions, you may already know what the job entails or have performed similar roles in the past. While that information and experience is certainly valuable, still be sure to carefully read through the job duties and responsibilities section. Similar roles in different organizations may vary in terms of the actual day-to-day assignments and responsibilities. Beyond that, any information in this section can provide tangible topics for you to consider addressing in a cover letter. Companies spend time including descriptions and overviews in their job postings for specific reasons – so why not focus on addressing these areas in your application materials? Detailed information listed in job postings can be helpful in attempts to tailor your cover letters to job opportunities at each organization.
What can also be quite interesting is information not included in the job posting. Sometimes postings can be somewhat vague or address some points of interest while neglecting others. For example, one posting may clearly highlight and indicate the requisite job duties and qualifications but neglect to signify how that position fits within the company’s organizational structure. For someone that values working in an organization as part of a team within a department, no mention of organizational structure may leave the applicant wondering about fit. Pay attention to any information important to you that’s missing from a job posting and use that as the basis for one or two questions to ask at the end of an interview. If you are focused on opportunities in one particular industry, it may be helpful to examine multiple job postings at different companies in that industry to compare and contrast them. What details are missing from one listing that are indicated in another?
Regardless of where you find a job listing (and I can’t emphasize this point enough), really stop to think if the posting is legitimate. Sometimes job opportunities are just too good to be true. I can think of several stories I’ve heard where applicants saw a job posting, applied for the position and found out the job really wasn’t as advertised. If you have a funny feeling or sneaky suspicion, don’t be afraid to ask questions or research to try to find more information.
These are just some of the ways to scrutinize job postings to reveal valuable information. Remember, sometimes there’s more than meets the eye…