If you're an experienced job seeker, you remember when job ads were three or four lines in a classified newspaper section. Today's job descriptions, however, range from a 300-word ad to longer than 1,000 words; it can be a lot for job seekers to digest.
Perhaps the hiring manager does not know exactly what the position will entail. This may be a red flag if you're not interested in jumping in and creating a role for yourself. On the other hand, it may be the dream opportunity if you enjoy forging your own path.
Does the job description use words such as “flexible,” “fast-paced” and “high energy?” These could be code words for “be willing to do whatever no one else is doing,” “never take a break” and “work long hours and weekends.” You'll want to rely on networking and what you learn in interviews to determine what these words really mean.
(MORE: Creating a Career-Change Resume)
For example, keep an eye on the order of the skills and qualifications listed and how often certain types of skills are mentioned.
If the description uses five synonyms for the word “teamwork” or “dedicated,” for example, you can be sure that's an important item to address when you apply. If the first three qualifications focus on one particular skill, it's clearly crucial.
For example, if the most used or alluded to concept in the description is “integrity,” be sure your resumé describes examples of how you have demonstrated that skill in your past positions. Emphasize results and accomplishments so it's very clear that you are well qualified for the job.
Copy and paste the job description into a file and highlight the parts of the job you can demonstrate that you've done in the past.
If you don't highlight the majority of the description, don't waste your time applying, because that job isn't a great fit. Instead, find jobs whose descriptions showcase your skills and spend your time, effort and energy showing those hiring managers how well qualified you are for those positions.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Business Success, Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success.
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