JOB advertisements come in many formats and if you are not careful, you may eliminate yourself as a possible applicant by not interpreting a job posting accurately.

Here are some tips on finding the deeper meaning of job advertisements. Learning how to interpret these four components of job postings is the first step to successfully applying for them:

1. Experience required

2. Salary required

3. Organisational skills required

4. Proficiency required


The single most common requirement stated in job advertisements is experience. Some positions require no experience at all, others might require one to two years of experience, while the most senior positions might require 10 or more years of experience!

These numbers can be very intimidating, but the right approach can make a difference. When thinking about the experience required by a job, consider these three options:

* Work experience need not be just job-based. Internships, volunteer work and working in a club are all valid forms of experience. Any learning opportunity is considered work experience.

* Tailor your resumé to fit the job description. If an advertisement says that a position requires three years of experience in sales, make sure your resumé highlights the fact that you have three years of experience in sales.

* Not meeting experience requirements does not take you out of the running. More than anything, companies want good employees. Between your resumé and your cover letter, if you can persuade a company to think you are diligent and quick to learn new skills, you have a good shot at the job.


In addition to a resumé, many job advertisements ask that you submit your “minimum salary required”. This request strikes fear in the hearts of the timid. If you give too high a salary, a company may not be interested in you. If you give too low a salary, you may not be able to make ends meet financially.

When you are caught in this dilemma, you have two options:

* Say that your salary requirement is “negotiable” without giving a specific number. Putting off salary negotiations until you actually have the job is a good stress reliever.

* Call the employer anonymously to get information. If a specific number is absolutely necessary, provide a salary range.

Organisation skills

Anytime a job advertisement makes a point to mention “organisational skills” or “communication skills”, the employer actually wants to know three things: do you get the job done on time, do you do the job correctly, and do you work well in teams.

Be sure to answer the secret questions you are being asked:

* Incorporate your ability in working with deadlines and working on team projects into your resumé. Your resumé creates the first image an employer will have of you. That image must be what the employer is looking for.

* Employers love multi-tasking. Convey the fact that you had many responsibilities at previous jobs, and you always succeeded.

* Don’t beat around the bush. Explicit examples are always good. If they do not fit in your resumé, work them into your cover letter. Otherwise, mention them in your interview.


Besides the generic traits that employers like to see in applicants for any position, job advertisements will make statements about specific skills related to a specific job.

It seems that the most favourite description to use is “proficiency in”. Other popular descriptors are “command of” and “working knowledge of”.

These phrases might be used to describe understanding of software, industry expertise, etc. Whenever you see specific skill requirements and wonder whether or not you meet them, consider these issues:

* Certain skills have official certifications. If you have an official certification, be sure it is on your resumé.

* Being proficient means being comfortable using something on a day-to-day basis and being able to answer simple questions about it.

* When it comes to languages, there is a difference between being fluent and understanding most things. There is no shame in saying you have a “conversational” understanding.

* If the same skills continue to pop up in job postings, it may be time for you to acquire them.

Get an edge

Perhaps job advertisements are not as direct as they should be, but it is up to you to be able to read them correctly. These tips should give you a good starting point for tackling new job advertisements that come your way.

Keep them in mind, because deciphering the language of a job advertisement will put you a step ahead of everyone else.