Applying for a job seems simple these days. Just hit the “Apply” button or send an email, and you are on your way to a new job. Yes? If you have been job-hunting for a while, you know it isn’t that simple. Job applications and resumes seem to fall into black holes, disappearing forever, which can be very discouraging. However, you need to realise that you are not the only person to have just applied to ten different jobs with ten clicks. Employers are inundated with responses to each job posting, and are often unable to respond to everybody. So before you hit that Apply button, take the time to make sure that your response stands out from that crowd.
What worked before doesn’t work today.
The number of applicants for a job, especially one that is heavily advertised, has increased. With the ease of emails and online applications, it does not take much effort to apply for multiple jobs with a few clicks. Managers are receiving greater interest in positions from a diverse group of candidates. There is a good chance that your application is just going to be tossed aside if you submit a brief resume. To get hired, it is crucial to differentiate yourself as a serious candidate for the job you want. By understanding how to decipher job descriptions, and tailoring your application to cater to their requirements, you can exponentially increase your chances of getting hired.
How to read a job description?
A job description is an outline of a job, and it can be anywhere from a few sentences to a few pages long. Being able to quickly and correctly analyze job descriptions can help you search for employment more effectively. In order to analyze job descriptions you must recognize the education, skills and experience required.
Assess the educational requirements to see if they are looking for a specific qualification (Eg. BA, MA, diploma) or a specific degree (Eg. BA in History, MA is Education). You can then judge how your application stacks up against candidates who will meet the exact requirements. If the application mentions a minimum degree classification, be sure to apply only if you meet that, unless you have an exceptional specific skill that is more important than your degree classification.
- WORK EXPERIENCE
Similarly with work experience. How specific are their work experience requirements?. Do they require knowledge of a specific sector? Are they looking to hire industry experts or freshers? Look to differentiate between requirements and desired qualifications. Do not waste your time applying if you do not meet the minimum requirements.
Certain jobs require very industry-specific skills, like the use of a particular software. Assess the skills required versus the skills you possess. Many skills can be learnt on the job, but this is rarely mentioned in the description. See if you possess skills that are not specified in the description but you feel might help your chances of getting employed.
What can you do?
Now that you know how to read and understand job descriptions, what can you do to make sure you are applying for the right job? Answering the following questions can help better understand your capabilities and whether they match with the job requirements.
- ARE YOU REALLY RIGHT FOR THE JOB?
In a competitive job market, employers typically have their choice of job candidates, so unless you meet at least half of the requirements described, don’t waste your time by applying for the job. Pay particular attention to the education requirement. While the education requirement listed may seem unrealistically high, education is very easy to check – and to verify – so it is often used as a key criteria. The other requirements are usually (but not always) listed in descending order of importance. So if you meet the bottom three requirements, but not the top two, you might be better of spending your time applying for a different job.
- WILL YOU ENJOY YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES?
When applying to multiple jobs, it is easy to get carried away and send your resume to all the companies you can. However, will you be happy doing all these jobs? Maybe the job title is “administrative assistant” (a job you want), but the job requires someone to do some financial reporting, which you can do (but hate). Carefully read the description of what the person in the job will be expected to do, often called ‘Duties’ or ‘Responsibilities.’ Often, like the job requirements, the duties/responsibilities are listed in descending order of relevance and importance to the job. Note the things in the list that you don’t enjoy doing or don’t do well – how high are they on the list?
- IS THE EFFORT WORTH THE COMPENSATION?
How many hours a week will you be involved in your work? Will you have to bring work home or can it all be accomplished at the office? What are the perks and benefits offered? You will ultimately have to consider if the job is worth your time. You will do a bad job if you are not happy with your work environment and situation. Really consider if you are going to enjoy doing the work for the compensation that is offered.
Applying to jobs has gotten easier but getting a job has gotten a lot more competitive. To stand out from the crowd, make sure that you keep your profile updated.