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How to Read a Job Ad Like a Pro

From the mundane to the ridiculous today we’re talking de-coding job ads.

Imagine you saw a job ad that began:

“The moment is now. Throw everything you know out the window. All in. Head first. Join the Orchard.”

And, went on to say:

“Be prepared to stumble and fumble and embarrass yourself.”

You might be… excited? Inspired? Or, like some other candidates you might think it sounds like a “weird/creepy” “cult’.

Far from being straightforward job postings can reveal a lot of information you can use to aid your application, tell you if a role is right for you, and up your chances of landing the jobs you do want!

Can you guess which global giant was responsible for ‘the Orchard’ ad? Find out at the end.

What is a Job Ad Exactly?

​If you think all job ads are alike and don’t read much beyond the role title then you’re missing the point. Tweet: If you think all job ads are alike then you’re missing the point. @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView
Job postings do two key things:

1. A job ad is an opportunity for a company to describe their ideal candidate
2. The way a job ad is worded and presented can tell you oodles about the company

So, let’s start at the beginning…

What’s in a Job Title?:

While the job title is just the tip of the job ad iceberg it’ll be key to your job search.

If you saw an ad for a Colour Distribution Technician, for example, would you even know what it was? A confetti spreader or a seller of Skittles, perhaps?

In fact it’s a painter & decorator.

An effective job title can tell you a lot about the role and where you’ll sit within a team. Tweet: An effective job title can tell you a lot about the role and where you’ll sit within a team @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView
So, pay attention to the job title: decide if it’s aimed at the level of job you’re after, and ensure that your personal statement and areas of expertise are in line with it.

How Much!? What the Salary is Telling You

After the job title, the salary is a good indicator of seniority. Tweet: After the job title, the salary is a good indicator of seniority @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView
They say you get what you pay for, so if you’re looking at a staggering hike in pay it’ll probably mean a lot more will be expected of you.

While that might sound good in theory, you don’t want to find yourself in a role where you’re out of your depth. A challenge is good, but you don’t want to struggle and maybe wind up doing a poor job.

So, Are You the Ideal Candidate?:

If someone asked you who your dream date was you might say someone like George Clooney or Julia Roberts, say. In essence you’d set your stakes pretty high.
Like you employers have their wishlists. A job ad often represents the ideal candidate – outlining some essential requirements and some nice-to-haves. Tweet: A job ad often represents the ideal candidate outlining essentials and some nice-to-haves @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView
But remember, you’re unlikely to tick every box.

Don’t get put off if you don’t possess every skill or quality – there’s only one George Clooney after all and he’s already taken!

But do make sure you understand what’s non-negotiable – you don’t want to waste your time.

You’re Not the Ideal Candidate. Should You Still Apply?

A well prepared job ad will break the content into essential and desirable requirements – making it easier for you to decide whether it’s worth applying.

But sometimes negotiable role requirements can be a bit more more fluid.

A job ad might demand 5 years’ experience, say, but what does that mean exactly?

It could be that you’ve worked your way up pretty quickly and gained a gamut of experience in just 3 years. Should you still apply?

Ask your consultant – if you’re signed with an agency – try calling the company’s HR department, if you’re going it alone; or compare the role to similar ones on LinkedIn to help make your decision.

It’s Not Just What it Says it’s the Way That it Says it…

When it comes to job ads all information is important information. Tweet: When it comes to job ads all information is important information @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView
Prefer to work in a collaborative environment? Then a job ad talking about “aggressive sales targets” might not be for you.

Pay attention to the adjectives – or descriptive words – used as they can tell you a lot about a company’s culture and values. Tweet: Pay attention to the adjectives as they can tell you a lot about a company’s culture&values @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView
If the job ad says the role is ‘fast-paced’, for example, then they’re looking for someone energetic and adept at working under pressure.

Whether you’ve got what it takes to do the role you might find this is where you decide this job is not for you.

Still on board? Use these keywords, or similar, to emphasise both that you’ve carefully read the job ad and to show the recruiter what a great fit you’ll be.

Remember: A survey of international employers found that over 80% of managers cited cultural fit as a top priority when hiring new staff!


So there you have it, a brisk look at job ads and how to read them more effectively.

Remember that divisive advert we mentioned at the start? Well, the clue was in ‘the Orchard’. The roles were with Apple – read the whole ad here.

Next Steps: Having trouble deciphering job ads? Can’t decide if it’s worth applying for a certain role? Looking for a new challenge, but not getting much response? Let us know!

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