A guide to decoding job descriptions

Like recruiters are known to skim through resumes, job seekers are known to skim through job descriptions. The downside of skimming through job description is that you usually spend too much time applying to roles that you might not be a fit. You might find that you receive more rejection emails than interview calls, but you can change that. 

The ability to read a job description right and applying to roles that closely match your skillset can save you time, effort, and increase your motivation. The sole purpose is to apply for opportunities that are worth pursuing and avoid chasing dead-end opportunities.

Here is a step by step guide on decoding job descriptions that can lead to improving your chances of finding your next fulfilling job:

Consider job titles with a pinch of salt

Each company and each industry would state a job title differently. It's essential to read through the job responsibilities and requirements to understand the scope of the role.

Understanding the job responsibilities in crucial

The ability to understand the job responsibilities leads to tailoring your resume with relevant information that can help you stand out. The first few responsibilities stated in the job description are always the primary responsibilities, followed by other supporting duties. As you read the job responsibilities, it's imperative to ask yourself,
- Do you have experience in completing these tasks?
- How did you carry out this task in the past?
- What was the result?
- How do you feel about these tasks in your next job role?As you find answers to the questions, tailor your resume stating the experiences and any other relevant experience that translates into a great career story. If most of the job responsibilities are unfamiliar, it could be a sign to move on from applying to the next role. The goal should be to apply for positions that you have to experience maximum experience.

Elements to look out for

Watch out for red flags

Incomplete and vague job descriptions should be avoided. The job description aims to attract the right talent and can only be determined by providing all the crucial information about the job role and the company. If you come across a job description that states "great pay for performance" are often commission-only, low-end sales opportunities that you might want to consider before applying. 

Ads that run frequently show up on your feed are also signs of low-end, high-turnover positions that require a constant stream of new hires or poor hiring process.

Mirror the language

Job descriptions if paid close attention to give out details about the company culture. Make sure to tailor your resume by speaking the same language of the job ad; you can use a word cloud builder like Wordle or print out the ad to highlight common terminologies that can be included in your resume.

Look for hints and understand buzzwords

Buzzwords are a great way to tailor your resume and gives you insight into the job role and company culture.

Some of the more common phrases—self-starter, great communication skills, flexible—are intended as clues. Does a job require a "good sense of humor"? That might signal that daily frustrations abound, and if you can't roll with the punches, you'll find yourself frustrated in the position. Jobs that require "multitasking" and "deadline-driven" applicants may have a bit too much work for one person to juggle. Learn to read between the lines. A project that applicants will "independently develop" in the responsibilities section. That's a tip-off that applicants should be comfortable working without supervision and in a leadership role.

Read the job description on different occasions – before applying, while applying and before interviews to bag the job offer. While you might find the task overwhelming in the beginning but eventually reading job description might seem the easiest task you carry out in your job search process. The key is always to apply your experience to craft a winning, tailored job application.