This is the third in our series of articles aimed at demystifying the recruitment process, in which we will explore the many styles of adverts that abound and give some pointers to help understand what the advertiser wants.

A quick glance at any job board or newspapers vacant section will quickly show the reader that there are lots of different types of adverts, and while they are all different, what they have in common (or should do) is the following:

  • A description of the job: (Duties, responsibilities, what they want you to do etc)
  • A list of what they want from the successful candidate: (Qualifications, experience etc)
  • Technical details: (Job location, salary, hours of work etc)

Sometimes these can be very detailed with whole job descriptions being published but sometimes they can be very scant of information. In either case you need to be able to decipher exactly what they want.

A long list of duties or requirements can be quite daunting and leave you scratching your head wondering how is it possible for one person to have all that and do all that? The solution is for you to in some way categorise the various items listed. Next comes a process of prioritising the categories so that you can decide if the job is what you are looking for. Once you have done that you can start to consider your ability to meet those requirements and fulfil those duties.

It is important to carefully consider each of these before applying. It’s often best to start with the candidate requirements. Do you meet the basic requirements? If you don’t have the exact qualifications, knowledge and skills they want, do you have something equivalent?  Remembering that in your application, you should highlight any differences and how your particular set of skills can match their requirements.

Unfortunately the opposite, where there is very little information in the ad, it is even more difficult to deal with. You can be assured that what little there is in the ad is probably the important stuff so measure yourself against that to see if you fit the bill.

If you still cannot make sense of the advert, look for some contact details and make contact, letting the advertiser know that you want some clarity around the requirement so that you can decide if it’s the right opportunity for you and whether you should be applying.

So, if there is a tip for advertisers, have a balanced advert, highlighting what it is that you want the person to have in terms of knowledge, skills and experience and what the key deliverables are for the job.

In all cases, if you can identify the company (this is not always possible as employers will often prefer to advertise ‘blind’) then you should start your research into the company. The obvious place to start is the company website. Have a look to see if you can find the company mission statement, long term goals and company values as these give you a great insight into the company culture. You might be able to find information about products, processes and market position as well, which is all very helpful as it rounds out your understanding of what they are looking for.

If you can’t tell which company it is but can figure out what industry it is, then do a quick Google search for industry associations, (Do this even if you know the company). You will get an insight into some of the issues facing the industry, the challenges and opportunities. Also, who the major players are, the leaders and the followers. All of this helps you make a considered decision about opportunities in the industry. Of course if you already work in the industry you will know all this but it’s still good to recap.

Applicants, remember the following:

  • Read the advert carefully
  • Make sure you understand the content of the advert
  • Research the company
  • Research the industry
  • Match your skills, knowledge and experience with the advertised requirements

Remember, this might be the first impression a recruiter, HR manager or hiring manager has of you, make sure it is a meaningful one.